Organ Music by Samuel Wesley
Jennifer Bate at the organ of St James's Church, Bermondsey
SOMM SOMMCD 036
The west gallery organ in St James's, Bermondsey, was installed by James Bishop in 1829. It was restored by Bishop in 1975 but it was not really until the Goetze and Gwynn rebuild of 2002 that it was returned to its original condition. Pitched at 432, the tuning was pitched from the original length Swell pipes and conforms with Bishop's own notebooks of the period. It is this fine instrument we hear on this new CD with works which eminently suit it.
Wesley's Eight Variations in B flat on God Save the King are followed by eight other works by Wesley before concluding with the Three Variations in D on God Save the King - passing through Rule Britannia on the way - nothing if not patriotic. These early nineteenth century works are a world removed from the baroque classicism of the previous century and - while they are not quite romantic in tone - often come very close to it. The instrument is here a very impressive vehicle for the works as it is clearly an English liturgical sound with just the odd burst of steel in its reeds. For the rest the quietly rounded sounds are gently persuasive.
SOMM are due to release an accompanying volume to this plus a future series of all Mendelssohn's organ works. If they are as successful in finding the right instruments as they have been here we can anticipate with pleasure.