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Lutyens: Organ Works

Tom Winpenny, Dewi Rees (organ) et al (Toccata Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Lutyens
Organ Music: Epithalamion*; Pièces brèves; Plenum IV**; Nativity*; Sinfonia, Op. 32; Suite, Op. 17; Music from A Sleep of Prisoners; Chorale Prelude; Temenos
*Philippa Boyle (soprano), Tom Winpenny, **Dewi Rees (organ)
Toccata Classics TOCC 0639   70:47 mins

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Though a pupil of the composer-organist Harold Darke and a sometime organist herself, Elisabeth Lutyens was largely a secular composer. Her striking output is perhaps too knotty to have won a wide following in the decades since her death in 1983, but the rewards of Lutyens’s music are demonstrated again by this fascinating disc of her organ works, mostly previously unrecorded. Tom Winpenny is a compelling advocate for this music, both in these performances at St Albans Cathedral and in his detailed notes.

The earliest dated work here is the Suite of 1948, dedicated to Lutyens’s second husband, the Second Viennese School-supporting conductor and BBC producer Edward Clark. The four pieces are Webern-like miniatures, and serialism is even more strictly applied in the Sinfonia – an austere score that ignores the organ’s colouristic possibilities. But there is colour elsewhere, not least in A Sleep of Prisoners, ‘incidental music’ to a play first performed in the cathedral in Perth (Australia) in 1966, and in the beautifully transparent Trois Pièces brèves. Winpenny makes strong sense of Temenos, a major work, and is joined by Dewi Rees for the duet Plenum IV and by the soprano Philippa Boyle in two pieces (Epithalamion and Nativity) that further underscore Lutyens’s range.

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John Allison