MIKE WHEELER listens to organist
Matthew Owens at Derby Cathedral
Matthew Owens, Organist and Master of the Choristers at Wells Cathedral, launched his recital [Derby Cathedral, UK, 8 July 2009] with one of J S Bach's great triptychs, the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, BWV 564. He gave the Toccata a genuinely improvisatory feel without losing the music's sense of direction. The Adagio had a minuet-like grace, while the clarity he brought to the Fugue was a hallmark of his playing throughout the evening.
Owens neatly pointed up the contrast between the sectional nature of Pachelbel's inventive variations on 'Christus, der ist mein Leben' and the more seamless arch of Mendelssohn's Andante with Variations. This prefaced a robust performance of Mendelssohn's Sonata No 4, given a bold forward drive in the first movement, while the third had a winning minuet-like lilt.
After steering Graham Fitkin's Wedding smoothly from its surprisingly gentle opening to its ebullient, toccata-like close, Owens vividly characterised the attractive five short pieces that make up Naji Hakim's Mariales, from the floating serenity of No 3 to the endearingly quirky No 5.
Guilmant's March on a Theme of Handel, Op 15 no 2 (which should, strictly speaking, be called 'March on Bar One of a Theme of Handel') ended in glorious welter of sound but, again, not at the expense of clear detail.
Copyright © 14 July 2009 Mike Wheeler,
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH