An Appleton Anthology
Seven organs by Thomas Appleton
RAVEN RECORDS OAR-600
From PO Box 25111, Richmond, Virginia, VA 23260, USA
This CD celebrates the North American organbuilder Thomas Appleton, who worked in Boston in the first half of the 19th century. His instruments are found chiefly on the East Coast of the USA - Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, South Carolina - and seven organs built between 1812 and 1843 are heard on this CD.
Lois Regestein is to be congratulated on coping with the different instruments, some of which are only just about playable. She's chosen an attractive, varied selection of pieces and composers to show off the organs to their best advantage, and we hear music by Arne, Handel, Mendelssohn, Pachelbel, Stanley, S S Wesley and others. The highlights for me are Kotzwara's The Battle of Prague, Zeuner's Fantasia and Fugue (Zeuner was a contemporary of Mendelssohn) and Daniel Pinkham's Gabriel where a peal of church bells take over from the end of the organ piece - a lovely effect. Regestein's performances are good, if not exceptional, and this CD will appeal primarily to organ historians seeking aural documentation of early 19th century organbuilders.
There's quite a degree of uniformity the specifications of the seven organs and they're all of modest proportions; the largest has 19 stops over two manuals and pedals. All the instruments have been restored, altered or resited, and inevitably, bearing in mind their age, there's quite a bit of action noise. However this adds to the old-world charm, and one can read an account and stoplist of each organ in the detailed booklet, which has photographs, notes on the music and a biography of Thomas Appleton. The sound of the organs is very similar to the instruments of 18th/19th century British builders like Byfield, Green,Hill and Snetzler. Sweet-toned 8 foot stops, sparkling upperwork and bold-sounding reeds are to be heard on this CD which gives us a fascinating glimpse into the organ culture of early 19th century USA.
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