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Malcolm Archer at the organ of Derby Cathedral,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Malcolm Archer, about to leave St Paul's Cathedral for Winchester College, chose a rewardingly un-showy programme for this recital (Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 11 July 2007).

Buxtehude's Ciacona in E minor, BuxWV 160 had a suitably dance-like feel, with the different sections clearly but unobtrusively marked out, and similar qualities informed his playing in J S Bach's Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV 544.

In Howells' Rhapsody No 3 he focussed on its expressive contrasts, heightening the emotional drama in its dark-to-light progression. His own Elegy was, for the most part, content to work within the conventions established for such things by the likes of George Thalben-Ball, but with hints of greater intensity coming to the surface towards the end.

He explored the typically Schumannesque fantasy of the composer's Four Sketches, Op 58 (originally for pedal piano), finding some unexpectedly reedy sounds for Nos 1 and 4.

After a richly coloured reading of Franck's Cantabile, the programme ended with a Vierne group. From the 24 Pieces in Free Style we heard a quiet, self-communing account of 'Lied', 'Scherzetto' dispatched with an engagingly light touch and silvery registration, and a gentle 'Berceuse'. Finally came one of the most energised performances I can remember of Carillon de Westminster, in which the familiar (though inaccurately recalled) chimes were not required to force their way through a London fog, but were allowed to stand in broad daylight, to compelling effect.

Copyright © 25 July 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK





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