Romantic and Virtuoso Works for Organ: Vol. 2

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COMPOSERS: Edmundson,Ireland,Kromolicki,Ravanello,Ropartz,Vierne,Weitz
LABELS: Avie
WORKS: Works by: Edmundson, Ireland, Kromolicki, Ravanello, Ropartz, Vierne, Weitz
PERFORMER: Jane Parker-Smith (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 2144

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The title of Jane Parker-Smith’s ongoing series might throw up a few questions, but in practice it signifies a sensible programming strategy which interleaves breathtaking display pieces with breath-restoring interludes.

And if, in a sense, Parker-Smith is playing to (and from) the gallery, no one can accuse her of fingering the usual suspects by playing Kromolicki or Ravanello (sometime organist at St Mark’s Venice).

The instrument is the imposing Seifert organ in the Basilica of St Mary’s Kevelaer, a turn-of-the-20th-century Romantic leviathan which Parker-Smith manages with fluent aplomb, matching colours to music with a sense of adventure which makes the most of both organ and repertoire.

It’s easy to cut a dash with full organ at the beginning of Guy Ropartz’s Introduction et Allegro; it takes imagination, though, to winkle out the aqueous shimmer which bubbles up in the Kromolicki; and the Vierne, tenderly shaped, consolidates Parker-Smith’s French credentials.

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Better still is Edmundson’s Toccata, and, in a neat acknowledgement of the Basilica’s pre-eminence as a site of Marian pilgrimage, the concluding work is the irrepressibly ‘French’, plainsong-derived Weitz Symphony, whose three movements solicitously salute the ‘Queen of Peace’, the ‘Mother of Sorrows’, and the ‘Star of the Sea’. Paul Riley