Collection: Tour de Force

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bach,Boëllmann,Bridge,Buxtehude,Dubois,Elizabeth Stirling,Guilmant,Haydn,Mathias,Pachelbel,Purcell,Reger,Samuel Wesley,Sweelinck,Tournemire,Vierne
LABELS: Melcot
WORKS: Organ music by Bach, Buxtehude, Purcell, Bridge, Sweelinck, Reger, Haydn, Pachelbel, Boëllmann, Mathias, Vierne, Tournemire, Samuel Wesley, Elizabeth Stirling, Guilmant, Dubois,
PERFORMER: Carol Williams (organ)


Surveying the work of one particular organ-builder on a single disc can lead to a highly imaginative choice of repertoire, especially when one has such vividly diverse instruments at one’s disposal as in this instance. Incidentally, a similarly attractive disc appeared three years ago on the Regent label, celebrating the work of organ-builder Peter Collins. The six church organs on display here are all the work of the small family firm of BC Shepherd & Son, and are played by Carol Williams, already well known in organ circles for bridging the divide between pipe and electronic organs.

As one would expect from six different recording venues, acoustics vary enormously, from the transparency of the church at Notre Dame de France, Leicester Square, to the airlessness of the United Reformed Church at Highgate, and some are captured better than others. Despite the title of the disc, which conjures up images of a barrage of French toccatas, Carol Williams has tailored her recital intelligently to suit the resources of each organ.


The opening ‘Improvisation sur le Te Deum’ by Tournemire is played on the big three-manual organ of Notre Dame with great flair, even if it suffers from a harsh and shallow recording, but the ‘Prière et berceuse’ by Guilmant, from the same venue, benefits from a close miking, and is played with much delicacy. Elsewhere Carol Williams gives commendable, if sometimes prosaic, performances, saving her best for a sparkling concluding ‘Carillon de Westminster’ by Vierne. Stephen Haylett