COMPOSERS: Hindemith & Reubke,Jongen,Willan
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Organ Master Series, Vol. 1
PERFORMER: Gillian Weir (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: PRCD 751
There comes a point in every great artist’s career when a retrospective collection becomes appropriate and desirable. As she approaches her 60th birthday, Gillian Weir has embarked on just such a venture, with three discs of warhorses from the organ repertoire. And what a Boadicea there is in charge! The first disc programmes four of these works: Jongen’s Sonata eroica, Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm, Willan’s Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue and Hindemith’s First Sonata. The gestures are at all times grand, the personality of the player palpably communicating itself beyond the microphone. The retrospective tenor of the series betokens an artist at the height of her powers.
The theme behind the discs is that the organs are all designed by the performer’s late husband, Lawrence Phelps. The vast instrument of Boston’s First Church of Christ, Scientist is well equipped to carry these pieces of widely differing origin. The Romanticism of the Reubke is captured well by the warmth and breadth of the tone, while the more restrained Hindemith is projected with clarity and sparkle. If there is a minor quibble, it is that the acoustic in which the organ is sited is somewhat problematic, lending a slightly boxy quality to the sound. But this is a small price to pay, given the towering musicianship in evidence from beginning to end. William Whitehead