Mendelssohn, Schumann, Bolcom, Gershwin, Karg-Elert & Jongen

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bolcom,Gershwin,Karg-Elert & Jongen,Mendelssohn,Schumann
LABELS: Signum
ALBUM TITLE: Royal Albert Hall Organ Restored
WORKS: Various works
PERFORMER: Simon Preston (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 084
The Royal Albert Hall has the biggest and most impressive of Britain’s ‘town hall’ organs, and has recently been refurbished. In a tour de force of programming, one hears most of its myriad colour combinations on this disc. Though Preston sometimes gets into a motoric mode that you could set your watch by, it is this technical rat-tat-tat that draws many to his playing (viz the second of Schumann’s fugues). Rhythmic drive has always been fundamental to his brand, but the sheer force of gesture and manipulation of tone colour are the winning qualities for me. The pacing of the Schumann fugues, building up to the final ones irrepressible climax, is masterly

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(it would be churlish to quibble about the rather podgy registration of the fifth). And the Bolcom Free Fantasia (a piece hitherto unknown to me that makes a ‘darkness to light’ journey through ever-diminishing levels of dissonance) is treated as an exercise in clarity of colour and line. If the Jongen Sonata Eroica is a piece that should have been drowned at birth, it is nevertheless well performed. The organ sounds wonderful, with all the shimmer and shudder that a High Victorian organ should have. Difficult to capture, but Signum has done a pretty good job. William Whitehead