Charles Andrews; All Saints, Hastings

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Monday 19 August, 2013

Charles Andrews is a man of few words but a keen sense for the creation of colour. His programme opened with a substantial number of works by J S Bach, flowing into Widor and Dupre, allowing him to demonstrate not only his own skill but also the ability of the Willis to move easily from north German baroque to French romantic.

His first piece, however, lay outside of this, bringing us Weitz’ Fanfare and Gothic March to show off the range of reeds on the Willis. A surprisingly heavy handed rendition of Saint-Saens’ Le cygne led us into the Bach sequence. The solo voices in O Mensch bewein were pleasing but it was BWV678 from the Clavierubung which really impressed with fine fluidity and clear solo voices.

The Prelude and Fugue in G BWV541 was bright and bold, with seamless changes of registration, and led to a gently refined Wenn wir in hochsten. Dupre’s transcription of the opening sinfonia from BWV29 brought splendid articulation and a staccato attack.

The second half opened with the F major Toccata BWV540 which was almost too fast for the action and became somewhat garbled in places. The programme now moved to the French repertoire with the Andante cantabile from Widor’s fourth symphony. An unfamiliar piece to many in the audience, we perhaps need to hear more of Widor than the familiar lollipops. Its gentle beguiling tones were very effective. Saint-Saens’ Op99 Prelude and Fugue sounds more pianistic with its rapid arpeggios even in the more austere fugal writing. Dupre’s Magnificat was probably the most challenging work of the evening though the final Prelude and Fugue, with its dancing syncopations and stream of little bells was charming.

In total contrast Charles Andrews played Walton’s Orb and Sceptre as an encore. Again, over fast, the detail was often lost in translation.

Next week, Gordon Stewart will give the final concert in this 25th anniversary season. BH

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