COMPOSERS: Bach,Daquin etc,Sweelinck
WORKS: The King of Instruments: works by Bach, Sweelinck, Daquin, Luccinetti, Muffat, J Haydn, Schnitzer, F Couperin, Buxtehude, Saint-Saëns, Liszt, Widor, Handel, Wagner etc
PERFORMER: Gillian Weir (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: PRDVD 7001
Recorded over 20 years ago and first broadcast on BBC Wales in 1989, these six half-hour films richly deserve their new lease of life on DVD. Gillian Weir’s ’80s hairstyle and shoulder pads may look dated now, but her performances hold up extremely well.
Taking us on a tour of six major European organs, she vists Haarlem, Ottobeuren, Rouen, Odense, Belfast and Stockholm – the first three on this list being the most spectacular both visually and sonically – and intersperses the varied repertoire with chat that occasionally turns coy or coquettish but is always interestingly informed.
Most major organ composers are represented here. She opens with flourish and flair with (inevitably, perhaps) Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, but then backtracks to encompass Sweelinck, Buxtehude and Couperin. Making welcome space for Daquin, she covers such Romantics as Liszt and Saint-Saëns, working through Franck, Widor, Vierne, Dupré and their lesser contemporaries towards Messiaen.
The series is filmed with imaginative camera angles that show off the beauty of the instruments and the buildings that house them. Indeed, it more than justifies Mozart’s much-abused description of the organ as ‘the king of instruments’, offering a firm reminder that Gillian Weir is the queen of organists. John Allison