The Organ


David Dunnett at the organ of Norwich Cathedral

It is good to be able to review a CD featuring the 'mighty organ' in one's home town; and lest I be accused of some form of favouritism, let me say, that for many years now, I have regarded the fine Hill, Norman and Beard organ as one of the most versatile in our English Cathedrals. There are those who would say that with its 101 speaking stops, so it should be - but this is a difficult instrument to play, getting the balance right in this large building needs a lot of research by the player and to record it must be a sound-recordist's nightmare. On this disc, David Dunnett shows his mastery over the organ, whose console 'is as pretty as a field of daisies' according to one of HN and B's workmen when it was installed, and the recording engineer has captured the instrument's sound, triumphantly, as it really is.

Dunnett plays a catholic programme including Fanfare by John Cook, which shows off the fine reeds to advantage and follows this with Harold Darke's Rhapsody in E, Opus 4, in which some of the organ's quieter stops are used effectively. Other composers represented on this fine disc include Alfred Hollins, Baistow, Harris, Ronald Watson, York Bowen and Herbert Howells, whose soulful melodies and subtle changes of key characterise the final work on the disc, his Rhapsody in D flat, containing exuberant whirls and cascades of tone that lead to an earth-shattering climax of dissonance before the sound melts away, slowly and gently.

This is a disc every organist and organ-lover should have. It is a real delight to hear these truly English compositions played upon an unreservedly English Romantic organ. David Dunnett's playing leaves nothing to be desired. The sound of this instrument is enhanced by its outward appearance, clothed as it is in the remarkably fine case by Stephen Dykes-Bower.