The Organ

JS Bach: Organworks

Picture of CD cover played by Andrew Sampson on the Mander Organ at St Matthew's, Westminster
CARDINAL CSCD 105 79' 09"

Here is a welcome CD of Mander's 1989 instrument installed in the Church of St Matthew's, Westminster. Andrew Sampson sells the Organ and the Church well with a booklet that leaves nothing to be desired. Furnished with excellent photographs of the instrument and building, one is captivated by Sampson's undiluted enthusiasm and insightful erudition concerning his working environment and the instrument in particular.

The delightful J S Bach programme offered is full of contrasts that expose the workings of the 12 stop, two manual and pedal organ, styled on the eighteenth century English tradition. It goes on to prove that the instrument is a worthy contender as, so Sampson describes it, one of the finest in London. Indeed, directly from the opening Prelude and Fugue in E flat, BWV 552, we are immediately made aware of this small instrument's powerful output as well as playing of strong technical facility that digs deep into the psyche of the music. The kind of depth I'm talking about can be found in, for example, tenth track, where its tranquil design transforms the mood into something quite transcendental, the slow meter never undermining the lines' sense of motion.

The superb quality of this recording, engineered by Paul Barton Hodges and produced by Ann Elise Smoot, was uppermost in my mind and is consistent with Sampson's detailed performance upon an instrument that has a keen master who can deliver Bach with clarity, depth and stylistic responsibility. I look forward to further recordings on this lovely instrument. I am also informed that Andrew Sampson organises lunchtime recitals at St Matthew's, Westminster, for every second Wednesday of the month at 1.05pm - well worth a visit! DA