Dame Gillian Weir as a distinguished concert organist needs no further introduction. This double-CD set consists almost entirely of Toccatas but these are mainly less well-known pieces. We have Toccatas from composers from Austria, Britain, Italy to Russia and the works span over three-and-a-half centuries. These works would delight audience in a recital.
The opening Toccata and Fugue ("Dorian" BWV532) is heavy in texture especially with the use of pedal 32' and reeds towards the end. It is a proclamation of power at the outset but at risk of giving listeners indigestion. But don't be put off: things lighten up a bit thereafter. The other pieces consist of a variety of styles, from Baroque to Gregorian themes to more modern rhythms and clashing harmonies; and the change of registration occurs frequently to keep the listener attentive.
The set of six variations on 'Tea for Two' by William McVicar, the present curator of the Royal Festival Hall organ, is a pastiche of familiar themes and a portrait of six organists.
The whole programme concludes with a flurry display of the Trompette en charmade and 'pulling out all the stops' so to speak. It is spectacular throughout. I'm left marvelled at the magnificence of the instrument and the virtuosity of Gillian Weir. She has a fluent and dazzling style and her command of the instrument is truly remarkable. The pieces are predominantly loud to very loud so you might want to listen to a selection at a time.
This is not the first recording of the Birmingham Klais organ: Thomas Trotter has made several. The present set's sound is closer than Trotter's. It would have been informative to give us details of registration in the booklet. I am interested to know, for example, if the trumpet in the Buxtuhude is from the Great, Solo or Positive division.
Those wishing to hear the more well-known Toccatas (Bach BWV565, Widor, Boëllmann, Dubois, Gigout or Vierne) should look out for "Great Toccatas" from Marie-Claire Alain on Erato and "Toccatas" from Olivier Vernet on Ligia Digital (both recorded at Saint-Sulpice).
This set is strongly recommended for hearing Gillian Weir, the Symphony Hall organ and the relatively unknown repertoire. Wouldn't it be more marvellous still if we get high resolution audio and video? Two other recordings from her, at the Royal Festival Hall (in 2005 before the restoration) and the Royal Albert Hall (in 2004 on the restored instrument) are not to be missed.
J.S.Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D minor (BWV 538) "Dorian"
Dietrich Buxtehude: Toccata in F (BuxWV 156)
Max Reger: Toccata and Fugue in D minor/major (Op.59, nos 5 & 6)
Anton Heiller: Tanz-Toccata
Georg Muffat: Toccata Duodecima
Sergei Slonimsky: Toccata
Georgi Mushel: Toccata
CD 2 (42'27)
Michelangelo Rossi: Toccata Settima
Flor Peeters: Toccata, Fugue et Hymne sur `Ave Maris Stella'
William McVicker: Six variationen über una tema di Vincent Youmans
Peter Planyavsky: Toccata alla rumba
Léonce de Saint-Martin: Toccata de la LibérationRead more ›