All products and recordings are chosen independently by our editorial team. This review contains affiliate links and we may receive a commission for purchases made. Please read our affiliates FAQ page to find out more.

Elgar: Organ Works (Tom Winpenny)

Tom Winpenny (organ) (Naxos)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Organ Works: Organ Sonatas Nos 1 & 2; The Black Knight; Vesper Voluntaries, Op. 14; plus other works (arr. organ)
Tom Winpenny (organ)
Naxos 8.574366   84:18 mins


Although an early work, Elgar’s Organ Sonata in G major (1895) occupies an important place in the composer’s output as his first big essay in abstract forms, pointing towards his later symphonic achievements. Musically rewarding and technically demanding, it supplies the impressive opening in Tom Winpenny’s survey of Elgar’s organ music. Playing at Hereford Cathedral, in the Elgarian heartland, Winpenny has flair and feeling for the work’s structure, also highlighting textures (not least in the second movement) that sometimes get glossed over.

Long before he achieved fame, Elgar found his voice in the organ loft of St George’s Catholic Church in Worcester, which is where the Vesper Voluntaries (1889) were conceived. Keeping their modest scale in mind, Winpenny evokes their charming lightness. The rest of the programme consists of versions or arrangements for organ, including the authorised transcription of the Severn Suite, originally for brass but published late in Elgar’s life as the Organ Sonata No. 2. Winpenny’s affectionate reading is built around a tumultuous Toccata movement. Among the smaller pieces, he makes something unusually musical of the obscure Loughborough Memorial Chime, and in the Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4 he unleashes the full resources of Hereford’s Father Willis organ to exciting effect.


John Allison