on 30 May 2012
For the seventh DVD in the Grand Organ series we are in sunny Devon and the Cathedral City of Exeter. One of the glories of English church architecture is to stand at the west door at Exeter and take in the vista of the longest unbroken length of palm vaulting in the world. The eye is also drawn to the imposing organ case on its stone screen. This disc is therefore a double delight of both visual and musical splendour.
As with the others in the series there is a DVD in 5.1 digital surround sound and a bonus CD with the musical content in stereo. The DVD also offers bonus features. These include a Organ History and Tour, Some tracks played on the small 'box' or continuo organ in the cathedral, a guide to the musical programme and one of the works the Howells 'Rhapsody' with the organist narrating how he registers the work.
The short coda from the Elgar second sonata (ED Ivor Atkins) takes us across the close into the cathdral and up the steps to the organ loft. The March 'Dignity and Impudence' by Percy Whitlock (arr Malcolm Riley) provides a stirring opening very Elgarian with a central big tune and fanfares.
A more solemn mood prevails for the 'Larghetto' by Samuel Sebastian Wesley one time organist of the cathedral and buried in the old cemetary in Exeter, The piece perhaps reflects the loss of his daughter at the time. The organist playing is interspersed with shots around the exterior of the building and Wesley's resting place.
Bach next and the 'Wedge' Prelude and Fugue neatly played with the camera work focusing on some of the interior fittings of the cathedral. Vierne and Gigout in the form of the 'Berceuse' and 'Toccata' images of the Virgin along with the numerous 'Green Men' and roof bosses for the first and the organ case for the second. One of Mozart's works for mechanical clock a 'Fantasie' offers images of the various old clocks and bells in the cathedral.
English cathedral sound abounds in Howell's turbulent 'Rhapsody'. The association of the work written during a Zeppelin raid is highlighted with the damage suffered by the cathedral and city during the second world conflict. An arrangement of Greensleeves revels in the rolling greenery of the Devon countryside.
The 'Te Deum' Prelude of Charpentier showcases the Trompette in the historic 'Minstrels' gallery and gives us a tour of the pipework. Noel Rawsthorne's Hornpipe Humoresque lets the hair down and features contributions from other famous composers! Whitlock's 'Salix' is firmly back to the wistful nostalgia mode and is complete with scenes of Plymouth.
A double take is next with the organist seemingly swapping between two organs in different places in a Handel concerto The magic in the title for the review. The main organ and a small chamber instrument in the Lady Chapel. The neckware gives the game away. A jazzy Toccata by Mons Takle concludes with a hint of the end of the pier!
Everything is more than capably played by the resident organist Andrew Millington. The playing is solid rather than showy but none the worse for that. Video is sharp and clear with a good balance between views of the playing and the building. None of the video detracts from the music. The sound is rich and full with a great roll around the surround speakers and more than plenty to give the sub-woofer a workout.
The extras are a comprehensive guide to the history and various sounds of the organ. A couple of short works played on the Tickell box organ. The narrated guide to the programme shows the reasoning behind the choice of works.
The Howells 'Rhapsody' is a useful guide to the management of a large cathedral instrument and features multi camera angles including the feet.
There is more than a couple of hours of enjoyment contained within the box more than enough to satisfy the enthusiast. This more than maintains the standards previously set and wets the appetite for Salisbury which is next. Dont hesitate in buying.
on 24 May 2014
This recording company is well experienced in recording organs, "just as they are", i.e. un-doctored, and lives up to its well deserved reputation. The accompanying visual is impeccable. The recital itself is superb, with especially top-rate work on enabling Andrew Millington to play both the main organ part and the chamber organ part (i.e. two separate instruments) of the Handel Organ Concerto. (This normally required two players). The additional tracks on the DVD present an excellent description of the organ and the pieces played. I can't "put it down".
on 16 July 2013
As ever in this series: wellplayed, by the Director of Music, well photographed and well produced.
The music must cover most tastes; a 'tutorial' on Howells Rhapsody, Noel Rawsthornes' cheeky Hornpipe Humouresque and a fair amount of 'brass work'
Throw in a tour of the Cathedral, the organ pipes etc.
What else do you need?
It should entice you to visit the Cathedral (if you can).