Bach, Busoni, Rachmaninov, Guillou, Heiller

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COMPOSERS: Bach,Busoni,Guillou,Heiller,Rachmaninov
LABELS: Priory Celebration
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Toccata
WORKS: Chaconne from Partita for Violin in D minor (transcr. John)
PERFORMER: Keith John (organ)
The two-man team of Neil Collier and Paul Crichton, which forms the driving force behind the church-music label Priory Records, has come a long way since its humble – dare I say ‘parochial’ – origins in the early Eighties.


Fifteen years later, the Priory catalogue runs impressively deep and wide, with several ongoing series of choral and organ recordings filling gaps in the repertoire. To celebrate this anniversary, Priory has brought out a budget-priced ‘Celebration Series’ of 15 CD-singles, using recordings from the mid-Eighties which feature artists most closely linked with the label. Judging by the first two discs to come my way, this will be a series well worth adding to your library.

Kevin Bowyer’s modestly entitled ‘Feast of Organ Exuberance’ was recorded on the splendid Walker organ of Blackburn Cathedral in 1986, and typifies the kind of recital at which he excels. Barnstorming technique allied to intuitive musicianship pervades the opening Toccata delectatione by Leidel, and Giles Swayne’s catchily named Riff-Raff, here benefiting from a clear, open acoustic, is given an exemplary performance, the ostinato and antiphonal effects brought vividly to life with stark, colourful registration.


Keith John is well known for his own organ arrangements, and in his recital from St Mary’s, Woodford, recorded in 1987, he transcribes two previous arrangements of Bach violin solos. These work well in the context of a hard, Germanic-sounding organ, though purists may wince at his rather outlandish treatment of the originals. Stephen Haylett