Britten, Tippett, J Lambert, Howells & Vaughan Williams

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COMPOSERS: Britten,Howells & Vaughan Williams,J Lambert,Tippett
LABELS: Regent
ALBUM TITLE: Twentieth-Century Organ Music
WORKS: Works by Britten, Tippett, J Lambert, Howells & Vaughan Williams
PERFORMER: Timothy Bond (organ)
John Lambert’s Organ Mass of 1964-8 opens out from a declamatory start to reach an ending of pregnant stillness; while clearly informed by the composer’s knowledge of the instrument, it steers well clear of the clichés of ‘organist’s music’. It’s the centrepiece of an imaginative programme which also includes three Britten rediscoveries – among them the sombre Voluntary on Tallis’s Lamentation which Bond premiered at this summer’s Proms – and his published Prelude and Fugue on a Theme of Vittoria, Tippett’s engaging Prelude to Monteverdi’s Vespers, Howells’s familiar Master Tallis’s Testament and Vaughan Williams’s Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes. The recording was made in St Wolfgang’s, Schneeberg, in Saxony, a church boasting a fine new organ by Jehmlich of Dresden and an acoustic with an astonishingly long and smooth die-away. The sound as recorded seems woolly and ‘English’: surely an organ designed above all for Bach could offer more brightness and clarity in Vaughan Williams’s Bachian ‘Rhosymedre’ Prelude? And there are moments when I wished Bond would show a little more toccata-like freedom and flamboyance. But his playing is never less than assured and musical, and his advocacy of the fine Lambert piece is especially welcome. Anthony Burton