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Glowingly Realised

Robert Manning, David Johnson and Tom Corfield
share an organ recital at Derby Cathedral,
appreciated by MIKE WHEELER


Derby Cathedral (UK) wound up this year's organ recital series with one of those three-organist spectaculars they like to go in for from time to time [23 August 2006]. If this was a bit less spectacular than previous occasions, it is because there was not so much emphasis on high jinks. Not that the fun and games were completely absent -- Peter Anthony Monk's Bis! A suite of encores, for organ duet, had Tom Corfield and Robert Manning (Director of Music at Highgate URC, North London) sharing some witty repartee, while the pedals-only third movement enabled Robert Manning to contribute an added percussion part.

Monk was present to hear his piece performed, as was Brian Collins, whose Fanfares was commissioned by Robert Manning. He gave the five movements a sharply characterised performance, particularly the dialogue between loud, argumentative reeds and soft, conciliatory strings in the fourth, 'A Fanfare of Compromise'.

Tom Corfield's solo contributions consisted of the most substantial piece on the programme, Stanford's Sonata no 2, and a gently meditative miniature, Eric Thiman's Canzonetta on 'Horsley'. The Stanford is a wartime piece of great strength and dignity, and got a performance to match. The subtle quotations from La Marseillaise were not spotlit but were woven unobtrusively into the musical fabric -- which no doubt is what Stanford was after -- even in the later stages of the last movement, where he tends to over-play his hand in this respect.

David Johnson opened the evening with an elegantly turned Prelude and Allegro arranged by Patrick Williams from a concerto grosso by John Stanley, and ended it with Arthur Wills' Introduction and Allegro, in which his grasp of the Allegro's momentum and architecture were particularly impressive. He also provided the centre-piece in the form of a short Mozart group -- two tiny Versets, K154a and the Fugue in G minor, K401 -- and a repeat performance of Francis Jackson's Three Hymn Preludes which he commissioned and premièred last year. As before, the rumination on Parry's hymn-tune 'Repton' left a particularly deep impression, and the rich colours of the final piece were glowingly realised.

Copyright © 4 September 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK





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