THE SPEED MERCHANT
Jonathan Scott plays the organ of Derby Cathedral,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER
What is it about the overture to Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila that seems to brings out the speed merchant in so many musicians? Jonathan Scott started his recital (Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 9 July 2008) with a transcription by his teacher Darius Battiwalla. A brilliant display piece, sure, but the headlong tempo rather sidelined the piece's musical interest. And when will organ transcribers learn that transferring pizzicato bass lines to the pedals merely ends up sounding unintentionally comic?
Not an encouraging start, then, and much of what followed remained on this superficial level. The D minor Toccata and Fugue, BWV 565 by Bach (or not) was prone to some volatile tempi, undermining the music's architecture, and the Siciliana from the Flute Sonata, BWV 1031 (which is probably not by Bach either), in Scott's own transcription, was subject to some none-too-subtle rubato.
As it happens, the piece I was looking forward to least turned out to be the most enjoyable. I dreaded to think what Guilmant's transcription of the Andantino third movement from Debussy's String Quartet was going to sound like, but it's actually a very sensitive piece of work. It got a performance to match, though with a tendency to skate over the recitative-like passages.
The recital ended with Duruflé's Suite, Op 5. The first two movements were given quite thoughtful treatment, but with the final Toccata Jonathan Scott got the bit between his teeth again. In the process some essential contours became fuzzy and it all ended up sounding rather manic.
Copyright © 15 July 2008
Mike Wheeler, Derby UK
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