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AN INVIGORATING PERFORMANCE

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Paul Hale provides a fitting end to
Derby Cathedral's summer organ series,
and MIKE WHEELER was there

 

Organist of Southwell Minster Paul Hale wrapped up Derby Cathedral's 2009 organ series in spectacular style, not just with his playing but also by attracting what was undoubtedly a record audience in the twenty four years since these recitals started (Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 19 August 2009).

He began with nods to not four but five 2009 anniversaries. Two Trumpet Tunes and an Air by Purcell, put together by Henry Ley, and Henry Coleman's transcription of the overture to Handel's Occasional Oratorio made for a stately opening, with some effective tonal contrasts; the Allegro of the Handel really sparkled. After four intimate but perky little pieces for mechanical clock by Haydn, the French reedy tone of four movements from the Suite du premier ton by Michel Corrette (1709-1795) came almost as a shock. It was an invigorating performance, in which the 'Basse de Trompette' movement positively danced. At this point Paul Hale invited the audience to turn round and admire the organ case -- a nice touch.

His contribution to this year's Mendelssohn strand consisted of a brisk (and all the better for it) 'War March of the Priests' from Athalie, transcribed by Frank Brown, and the Sonata no 2 -- wistful and elegant in the opening movement, and finding an appropriate grandeur in the last.

Vierne's Clair de Lune provided a heavily scented oasis between the Mendelssohn and the juggernaut of Healey Willan's Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue, in which Hale's grasp of the music's scale and architecture was impeccable; there was a real sense of exhilaration in the Fugue's final moments.

Nigel Ogden's Saints on a Spree made a jolly end to both the evening and the series.

Copyright © 22 August 2009 Mike Wheeler,
Derby UK

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DERBY CATHEDRAL

GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL

FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN

FELIX MENDELSSOHN

LOUIS VIERNE

HEALEY WILLAN

DERBY

UNITED KINGDOM

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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller