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Marcus Huxley played at Derby Cathedral
and MIKE WHEELER was there


Marcus Huxley, Director of Music at Birmingham Anglican Cathedral, has an unassuming platform manner which contrasts strongly with the bold, forthright quality of his playing [2 August 2006, Derby Cathedral, UK]. In his opening piece, the Marche Pontificale from Widor's Symphony No 1, he made full use of the instrument's reed stops to lend the music a touch of brashness that was not out of place.

His transcription of Mozart's B minor Adagio, K540, was more problematic. In this context his chosen registrations took on a lurid day-glo quality that was at odds with the expressive nature of Mozart's sombre masterpiece.

It was refreshing to hear the D minor Toccata and Fugue, BWV 565 (which may or may not be by Bach, may not have been originally for organ, or in D minor, etc) treated as a piece of music rather than an excuse to show off. Refusing to wallow, Huxley kept the Toccata on the move -- a little too fleet-fingeredly for ideal clarity, perhaps. On the other hand, his steady tempo for the Fugue was a revelation. In particular, it allowed the pedal part to stand out more clearly than I ever remember hearing before.

A mellow, fluid and graceful account of Frank Bridge's Allegretto Grazioso was followed by Guy Bovet's Salamanca, a pungent little piece based on a Spanish folk song, in which Huxley coaxed the Cathedral organ into a pretty convincing impersonation of the 'fierce reeds' of Spanish baroque organs he mentioned in his introduction.

Howells' Master Tallis's Testament was given thoughtful treatment, a profoundly meditative pause before the last two pieces, Henry Smart's cheerfully vulgar Festive March and Eric Thiman's brief-and-to-the-point Finale in D minor.

Copyright © 10 August 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK






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