Hollins, Elgar, Handel, etc

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Elgar,etc,Handel,Hollins
LABELS: Delphian
ALBUM TITLE: The Usher Hall Organ
WORKS: Works by Hollins, Elgar, Handel,
PERFORMER: John Kitchen (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34022
A demonstration disc for the newly restored Usher Hall organ in Edinburgh, this ‘town-hall’-type programme ranges from Bach to Hollins via Walton. The organ is an Edwardian period-piece by Norman and Beard, with some astonishingly bold timbres to it. These include pungent, not to say acrid, strings, bright choruses, orchestral reeds and a carillon sounding uncannily like a suburban door-chime. Kitchen leaves no stone unturned in his search for colour, and reveals how close this type of instrument is to its cousin, the theatre organ. Given that fact, the St Anne Prelude and Fugue of Bach come off surprisingly well, and Liszt’s Weinen, Klagen is suitably dark-hued. The Walton Popular Song and Hollins Triumphal March see the organ in its natural habitat and Kitchen’s playing is instinctive and full of pizzazz. The whole disc was apparently recorded in a single day, and only occasionally does one get a hint of this time constraint. In terms of the captured sound, the tenor registers of the organ dominate, and I would hazard a guess that the acoustic properties of the hall prove a refractory engineering challenge. Nonetheless, this is a commendable disc from a label with high artistic aspirations. Watch out for many more excellent discs appearing from this source. William Whitehead

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