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MIKE WHEELER listens to the last of
Derby Cathedral's 2007 summer organ recitals


Kerry Beaumont, Director of Music at Coventry Cathedral, had the job of wrapping up this year's series of summer organ recitals at Derby Cathedral (Derby, UK, 22 August 2007), and he did so with playing full of flair and panache.

He brought an infectious sparkle to Buxtehude's F sharp minor Praeludium, BuxWV146, handling the different sections with care for both contrast and continuity. Clérambault's Basse et dessus de trompette showed a delight in drawing on the Derby Cathedral instrument's range of colour to splendid effect. There was a compelling sense of the music's overall architecture in the performance of J S Bach's A minor Prelude and Fugue that followed, though also a hint of rhythmic unsteadiness in the Fugue.

Schumann's canonic Studies Op 58 were originally written for pedal piano. The organ has one advantage -- the canons can be played on different manuals, differently registered to bring out the canonic parts more clearly, as on this occasion. Even so I'm not convinced that they sound completely at home on the instrument. Their poetry is intimately bound up with Schumann's piano textures, and is better served by, say, Debussy's two-piano transcription. But Kerry Beaumont's choice of registration did allow us to follow the canonic writing easily.

Kerry Beaumont
Kerry Beaumont

Eugène Reuschel is a name new to me. His Promenades en Provence are vivid tone-poems in which colour is a major resource. Kerry Beaumont rose to the challenge, with some pungent reeds in 'Vieux Noëls Provencaux' and capturing the energised shimmer of the toccata-like 'Nuages ensoleillés sur le Cap Nègre'.

'Feux Follets', from the Pièces de Fantaisie, has to be Vierne's most bizarre piece, full of strange shifting shapes and dislocations. It got a properly phantasmagorical reading, aptly complemented by a performance of Langlais' 'Chant de Paix' from his Neuf Pièces, which maintained a compelling sense of continuity despite the music's immense slowness, rivalling Messiaen at his most intensely meditative.

Flor Peeters' Toccata, Fugue and Hymn on 'Ave maris Stella' ended the evening, and the series, with enjoyment of colour and firm structural grip in perfect balance.

Copyright © 29 August 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK




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