The Organ

Romantic & Virtuoso Works for Organ Vol 1

Jane Parker-Smith at the organ of St Martin, Memmingen
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There is often a good case for taking a risk and on this occasion it comes off with alacrity but you may have simply to take my word for it! Outside of a potentially closed body of enthusiasts most of the composers here - to say nothing of the works - will be unknown, as will the instrument. Happily Jane Parker-Smith's reputation is a fine one and she is on excellent and exciting form throughout.

She opens with a scintillating performance of Marcel Lanquetuit's Toccata followed by the more tranquil tones of Joseph Boulnois's Choral in F sharp minor. Henri Mulet is better known and his gentle Rosace exposes the delicate voicing and upper work of the instrument. Jongen's Sonata Eroca is the most substantial item on the recording and a demanding one for the listener, though worth exploring at leisure.

With the Whitlock centenary this year we are understandably getting more recordings of his works and Jane Parker-Smith includes the Fantasie Choral No 1. Though the tone colour is pleasing the work drifts for a considerable time before finding a sense of purpose. Jeanne Demessieux' sprightly Rpons pour le Temps de Pques, with its Messiaenic influences, is a fine contrast and romps through to an exultant climax. York Bowen's refined Melody in G minor gives way to Wilhelm Middelschulte's Passacaglia in D minor which opens noisily before moving to a reserved statement of the theme upon which he creates sixty-two variations, introducing Ein feste Burg towards the end and a vast coda thundering out B-A-C-H.

The whole programme - as indicated at the start - is a tribute to the conviction both of the organist and producer who really have given us a combination of rarely heard music that deserves a wider understanding and an introduction to a new instrument which should itself be the subject of further recordings.