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Cathy Lamb at the organ,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


Cathy Lamb, Assistant Organist at Lichfield Cathedral, began her nicely thought-out and varied programme (Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 23 July 2008) with Gigout's Grand choeur dialogué. Her fairly steady tempo effectively brought out the antiphony between the different departments of the instrument. In J S Bach's so-called 'Dorian' Toccata and Fugue, BWV 538, the Toccata benefited from a rock-solid pulse, while the contrapuntal strands of the fugue were kept beautifully clear.

The four movements of Mendelssohn's Sonata No 4 were sharply characterised with, again, clear textures in the finale. Flor Peeters' set of variations on the tune known to English speakers as 'King Jesus hath a Garden' -- the last of his Ten organ chorales, Op 39 -- has become something of a favourite over the years. Cathy Lamb relished Peeters' piquant harmonic style, keeping the tune clear even in the clamorous last variation.

Cathy Lamb
Cathy Lamb

Her contribution to the Messiaen thread running through this year's series consisted of two movements from La nativité du Seigneur. This was some of the most lucid Messiaen playing I've heard: a mesmerising 'Les Mages', and a well brought-out but not overstated contrast between the sombre and the tranquil in 'Jésus Accepte la Souffrance'.

The finale of Vierne's Symphony No 1 rounded the evening off in a performance with plenty of power and sonority -- Lamb evidently discovered how to make the instrument roar without leaving the audience feeling bludgeoned.

The sprinkling of smaller pieces in between the bigger works included the Voluntary No 7 by John Stanley -- a nicely pointed contrast between the quietly meditative opening and perkiness of the rest -- and Alfred Hollins' jolly A song of sunshine, projected with uncomplicated enjoyment.

The energy and enthusiasm of Cathy Lamb's performances spilled over into her spoken introductions. A real breath of fresh air.

Copyright © 2 August 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK





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