JS Bach, Mendelssohn, Vaughan Williams, Dubois, Rawsthorne

COMPOSERS: Dubois,JS Bach,Mendelssohn,Rawsthorne,Vaughan Williams
LABELS: Signum
ALBUM TITLE: The Organ of Buckingham Palace Ballroom
PERFORMER: Joseph Nolan (organ)
It’s rather fun to think that Queen Victoria was a closet organ fan: on selling the Royal Pavilion back to Brighton in 1849, she made sure that its three-manual instrument was moved to the ballroom at Buckingham Palace to keep the 1856 Erard grand piano company. Built by Lincoln in 1818 and restored in 2002 by William Drake, the instrument is rather heavy at ‘full organ’, but shines brightly when some of the pretty solo stops are drawn as in Vaughan Williams’s Rhosymedre. Oddly, the programme starts on a stodgy registration for Bach’s Passacagalia: an authentic 18th‑century-style instrument would have been so much more attractive in this work. By contrast, Mendelssohn’s Sonata No. 3 sounds both majestic and feels right on this organ, as does the Dubois Toccata and, to some extent, the jokey Rawsthorne Dance Suite (you can imagine this being played before investitures). But this disc would have been, in my view, both more enjoyable and more cohesive had the programme consisted entirely of English music of the late Victorian age.The instrument would have benefited from some more tuning and the stoplist in the booklet notes, rather irritatingly, fails to detail pipe lengths.