Works by N Boulanger, Britten, Debussy, Frances-Hoad, Gowers, Messiaen, Ravel et al
Anna Lapwood (organ)
Signum Classics SIGCD 688 68:22 mins
This debut solo album brilliantly played by the rising young organist Anna Lapwood should certainly engage organ aficionados, especially fans of the grand Harrison & Harrison instrument in Ely Cathedral – the complete specification of which is tabulated in Lapwood’s detailed booklet notes. Whether her choice and ordering of items will satisfy general listeners is a more open question.
The transcription of three movements from Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin go persuasively enough, though the organ cannot quite trip lightly in the ‘Forlane’, while An Occasional Trumpet Voluntary by the late Patrick Gowers, which follows, proves a faintly Widor-like toccata. A more explicitly French group ensues with Guilmant’s arrangement of the slow movement of Debussy’s String Quartet and the third of Nadia Boulanger’s Trois Improvisations flanking the young Kerensa Briggs’s Messiaen-tinged meditation Light in Darkness – with real Messiaen turning up later in the form of Lapwood’s transcription of his very early Vocalise-Étude. And if Owain Park’s Images proves a somewhat etiolated sequence of distant fanfares and twiddles, the upwardly whirling scales of Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s Taking Your Leave create a suitably ebullient sortie.
The real curiosity, however, is Lapwood’s own arrangement of Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes. Much of this works surprisingly well, though the quiet passage towards the end of ‘Storm’ fails quite to come off. By contrast, ‘Sunday Morning’, complete with actual bell to match Britten’s church bell effect – though oddly, Lapwood only brings it in at Britten’s third chime – is strikingly effective and the high point of this wide-ranging recital.