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Peter Gould plays the organ at Derby Cathedral,
reviewed by TONY WESTERMAN


Readers may be surprised to know that the summer series of organ recitals in the Cathedral is well attended -- and not just by organists. The audiences go to listen to national and international artists play the large and extremely powerful Compton organ which sits in the west gallery. One would have to travel a considerable distance to hear an instrument of similar size and power.

The Compton dates from a period when organs were used as a substitute for the orchestra and so had to have a wide range of stops to provide all of the varied colours one associates with a large orchestra. Organists during the first part of the twentieth century often included orchestral transcriptions, particularly in civic halls, as it was cheaper to pay one competent organist rather than hire an orchestra! There was also the excitement of seeing one person manipulating so many controls whilst still giving a fine musical performance -- in fact, organists invented multi-tasking!

What we in Derby inherit from that period is a large instrument capable of supporting music from many periods and countries, hence the steady stream of artists who visit Derby to perform on the cathedral organ.

The penultimate recital in the current series (Derby, UK, 15 August 2007) was given by Peter Gould, Master of the Music at Derby Cathedral, who presented a challenging programme which called for a fine technique, panache and sensitivity. The Buxtehude Praeludium, BuxWV 137, with which he opened the programme, was registered to allow clarity of line and yet support the brilliance which Buxtehude's flamboyant writing calls for. The work was clearly articulated and whilst the tempo was brisk it still allowed the phrases to breathe.

The Stanford Fantasia and Toccata which followed was quite different in style and very challenging; Mr Gould's training as a pianist at the Academy was no doubt an asset in the rhapsodic sections though fine pedal work and stop control were also called for. The Toccata in D minor by Albert Renaud (a Derby organist) provided a suitable sorbet before the next course.

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Copyright © 29 August 2007 Tony Westerman, Derby UK


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