WORKS: Organ Works
PERFORMER: John Scott (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: Nl 5367 DDD
William Mathias’s music has been well served by Nimbus in recent years, with recordings of the three symphonies and a large portion of choral music in the catalogue. This release, recorded some six months after Mathias’s death, includes music that spans his entire creative output, and as such gives an important perspective to his musical personality. Mathias’s style is essentially dramatic, generating much of its energy from sharp contrasts of texture and rhythm, and thus lends itself perfectly to the organ.
Nimbus has struck gold here with John Scott, who gives some compelling performances on the organ of St Paul’s Cathedral. Although best known for his short ceremonial pieces such as Processional and. Jubilate, Mathias shows his true worth in the more extended works, and here Scott draws imaginatively on the organ’s kaleidoscopic range of colours. Berceuse, a late work distinctly ‘un-Chopinesque’ in its haunting, climactic beauty, is well paced, and the opulent acoustic of St Paul’s provides a resonant glow. Both Invocations and. Fantasy introduce the Fanfare reeds, nicely captured by the engineers, and the virtuoso manual work sparkles.
Certainly, Mathias does not always make for easy listening, but if you like organ music with real power, turn up the volume and bask in the blaze of the St Paul’s organ at its most thrilling. Stephen Haylett