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A dash of bitters

Basil Ramsey listens to organist Kevin Bowyer

CD Review

Kevin Bowyer plays the organ of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, WarwickThe two Johns on this CD - Rose and Joubert - are both from South Africa, departing their native country years back. Their styles are not dissimilar by using chromaticsm freely, although Joubert has always been exceptionally disciplined to the point of austerity. Rose's Prelude & Fugue and Scherzo-Intermezzo-Toccata are large-scale and elaborate, meant for a well-equipped organ and dexterity from the player. Bowyer wins with his usual aplomb. His technical delivery outstrips most challenges thereby enabling the music itself to benefit from his keen musical mind in performance. Joubert's Short Preludes on English Hymn Tunes typify his ability to enshrine the spirit of both tunes and words in music seemingly simple yet cast exactly for the purpose.

Donald Bousted's A Waldgate Requiem stems from a searing tragedy when children were involved in a road accident. Its cataclysmic violence gradually recedes and dissolves into spiritual calm. With Norman Kay's Second Sonata, the musical purpose is to develop a chorale from its first serene appearance through development and elaboration to a collosal finish. The style is eclectic, nonetheless dramatic and skilfully controlled. The closing piece is a Pastorale by the English composer Peter Racine Fricker, who spent the last years of his life as Professor at Santa Barbara, California. His music is always translucent, often with a dash of bitters, and invariably fascinating to the ear.

Kevin Bowyer is familiar with this large Nicholson organ in Warwick, so the result maximises the resources and presents the music as the composers would wish.

Copyright © Basil Ramsey, May 30th 1999

plays the organ of the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, United Kingdom

Cathedral Classical CC 003 70’04”

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