This is a very interesting collection of English Organ music, drawing from different sources: the Mulliner Book, the anonymously composed Dancing Master, a suite by John Blow, and smaller pieces from Farnaby, Purcell, Boyce, Croft, Walond and Gibbons (Christopher, not Orlando). This is good survey of early (and occasionally some not so early) English organ music, which has so shaped and been shaped by the English church since the Reformation in different ways.
Joseph Payne, the featured organist, was born in China to British missionary parent, and was trained in England and Switzerland before coming to America. Based in Boston since 1965, he has performed a full season of concerts for years on organ and harpsichord.
This particular recording features two different organs in New England - the Bozeman organ at St. Paul's Church, Brookline, Massachusetts, and the Adams organ in the Annisquam Village Church, Cape Ann, Massachusetts.
One of the features of this recording is the Voluntary, on seven separate tracks. According to Payne, during the Restoration, new organ technology from the continent was introduced into England, but it was also a time when the Anglican service was placing less emphasis on organ music. 'But the Voluntary continued to evolve as an indigenous musical form. Instead of the ill-defined piece that it was in the sixteenth century, it developed into a two-movement structure.' This often involved highlighting a particular stop, most frequently the trumpet.
These pieces are played with grace and gusto, which a lot of spirit behind them. Do not be fooled by the low price - cut-rate cost does not mean cut-rate quality in this case. Payne is an expert performer, and this recording by Naxos is a brilliant production.