Sunday at 2
Carol Williams at the Spreckels Organ of Balboa Park, San Diego
Every Sunday afternoon at 2.00pm - come rain, come shine - the San Diego Civic Organist gives a recital on the outdoor Speckels organ. Carol Williams has the privilege of being the Civic Organist at present and giving these regular concerts. I doubt if there is any equivalent in Great Britain and certainly no recital series attracts the numbers that they get in San Diego. The Editor hopes to be in San Diego towards the end of the year and will bring back a full report at that time - including full details of the 1915 Speckels four manual & pedal organ - but for the meantime this new CD gives a very good indication of the range of music and style of performance.
Where we are perhaps used to a popular item being introduced to add a contrast to more serious works the main focus of the Sunday afternoon concerts is to help people enjoy the organ while introducing the occasional more challenging piece. Thus there is an impressive range of familiar music ranging from Tchaikovsky to Purcell, but at the heart of the CD is a fine performance of Reger's Dankspsalm and Bruhns' Praeludium in E. These are the most substantial works on the recording though George Shearing's arrangement of Amazing Grace comes a close third.
For those of us used to performers who these days romp through at lightning pace the tempi often seem on the slow side but ones ear soon adjusts to the more relaxed approach which allows detail and rhythm to come to the fore.
As an introduction to a very different approach to both concerts and repertoire it is fascinating and highly enjoyable.