Thomas Trotter at the organ of Derby Cathedral,
heard by MIKE WHEELER
Thomas Trotter launched Derby Cathedral's 2009 series of summer organ recitals with as splendidly varied a programme as we've ever had (Derby, UK, 1 July 2009).
This year's series focuses, as you might expect, on Mendelssohn. Trotter opened with a transcription of his Midsummer Night's Dream Overture in which he commanded a delightful range of colours, fleet-fingered in the scampering fairy music, but with the more solid passages sounding, perhaps inevitably, rather more grandiose than in the original.
Four engaging anonymous sixteenth-century pieces, presented with unfailingly apt registrations, were followed by C P E Bach's D major Sonata, Wq70 No 5. This is CPE at his least unconventional and quirky, but it's a pleasant enough piece, with its crisp, bouncy outer movements. In the second movement Trotter brought out the music's soft, wistful shadings.
American composer Isaac Flagler (1842-1909) based his Variations on an Old American Air on Stephen Foster's Old Folks at Home. On this evidence Flagler emerges almost as a kind of American Lefébure-Wély, with similarly entertaining results. Variation 2 had a right-hand part swooping around like a manic ondes martenot, while the final variation includes a horrendously difficult-sounding pedal part.
Virtuosity of a different kind is needed for Ligeti's Hungarian Rock. Trotter was in full command of both its particular textural intricacies and its expressive range, with its mounting energy levels and sudden tranquillity at the end.
Elgar's 2nd Sonata, largely Ivor Atkins' transcription of the Severn Suite, was given a vivid performance, the second movement teeming with energy, and with a firm current maintained in the third. Pomp and Circumstance March no 4, transcribed by George Sinclair (of Dan the bulldog fame) had a suitably dignified bearing.
As an encore Trotter played the scherzo from the Sonata in C minor by Alfred Holloway (1865-1942), sometime organist at the Crystal Palace. A delightful little will-o'the-wisp, it neatly took the recital full-circle.
Copyright © 7 July 2009 Mike Wheeler,
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
CARL PHILIP EMANUEL BACH