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Rhythmic Drive

MIKE WHEELER listens to
The Midas Touch Organ Duo


'You gotta get a gimmick', sing the showgirls in the musical Gypsy. Ending an organ recital with a selection of James Bond themes may not be a gimmick, exactly, but the Midas Touch Organ Duo have certainly got this particular field to themselves, as far as I know.

Formed in 2005, the Duo consists of Roger Sayer, Director of Music at Rochester Cathedral, and the former organ scholar there, Charles Andrews. They started (Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 13 August 2008) with three joint items. Mozart's F minor Fantasia, K608, began imposingly, conveying a feeling of solidity and strength in the first fugue and gentle lyricism in the andante third section. The pedal-dominated opening of Leighton's Martyrs (subtitled 'Dialogues on a Scottish Psalm-Tune') had a real air of mystery and the performance showed impressive control of the work's two great waves of mounting energy. After the brooding atmosphere of that piece, the light and airy opening of Langlais' Double fantaisie came like a splash of cool water, while there was plenty of taut rhythmic drive in the work's second movement.

They followed this with two solo pieces each. Roger Sayer kept the Fauré-like Scherzo from Vierne's Second Symphony light and bubbly, and gave a spirited reading of the opening Allegro from Widor's Symphony No 6. In a change to the advertised programme, Charles Andrews kept the chorale melody clear in J S Bach's Chorale Prelude on 'Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr'. He brought a nicely phantasmagorical touch to the Prelude of Dupré's Prelude and Fugue in G minor; the Fugue had plenty of rhythmic bounce, although textures were not ideally clear.

Then it was time for 007 to make his appearance, beginning with Monty Norman's Dr No, the one we think of as the James Bond theme, and moving on to a nicely contrasted selection of John Barry's songs from some of the other films. Sonically, the transcriptions were effective. You wouldn't want to sit through it too often or for too long, but as a one-off it was fun.

There -- I managed that without a single bad joke about gold fingers.

Copyright © 21 August 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK








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