The third concert in this 34th Annual Series forms part of a special pairing of two consecutive concerts featuring two different current organists from the same cathedral. Joseph Beech, sub-organist at Durham gave a brilliant recital and next week he will be followed by his ‘boss’!
Opening with a rarely heard early work by JS Bach, the Toccata in E, we were left in no doubt that the All Saints organ was once again in capable hands (and feet) with a wonderful rendition of this florid baroque German music. The first half featured further lesser known works – Cantabile by 19th Century Parisian organist-composer, Cesar Franck. Completing the half and nicely complimenting the preceding geography was a rather austere Sonata in A minor by British composer William Harris. I personally enjoy hearing music I have not heard before and I would like to congratulate Joseph for bringing us so much that was new (to me, at least).
The second half opened with two pieces by long-serving York Minster organist Francis Jackson, the fiery Intrada and the beautifully mellow Prelude on his own hymn tune, East Acklam. It was pointed out that Dr Jackson’s music could mostly be grouped alongside one or other of the two styles demonstrated here. Nadia Boulanger’s Trois Pieces are becoming a little more known and were followed here by another contrasting pair of pieces, this time by another French romantic organist who bridged the 19th and 20th centuries. Louis Vierne’s Clair de Lune and Carillon de Westminster are both popular pieces and brought the evening to a satisfying and fitting conclusion – well almost. We were treated to another popular piece in very different style – Alfred Hollins’ A Song of Sunshine, a cheeky but mellow offering, as our organist said, the desert to the main course which had just been served up.
A very enjoyable, well-balanced evening with performances of a high standard from an organist I had not heard before. He already has an impressive CV and much experience of some other notable Willis organs, which stood him in good stead for his expert handling of the Hastings “Father” Willis. I am sure he will continue to go far and hope he will not be put off journeying back to Hastings to entertain us again in the future.
Next week’s concert – Daniel Cook