ENGLISH ORGAN MUSIC FROM HULL CITY HALL
AMPHION PHI CD 197
With a central section that allies itself to the same theme of Tallis’ used by Vaughan Williams in his Fantasia For Double String Orchestra, together with a revolving theme of death through a Funeral March, Basil Harwood’s Rhapsody in E minor, Opus 38, finds a marvellous purveyor of its style in Roger Fisher at the console of the organ of Hull City Hall. The work goes through many dynamic changes on its journey that are handled well by the organ, Fisher sensitive to the marked contrasts found in each section.
The organ was first built by Forster and Andrews, a firm local to Hull, directed by Philip Selfe – he designed the organ case also, which looks truly magnificent from the photograph in the booklet. The first recital on the new organ was given by Edwin Lemare in March 1911. The organ became a victim of the Second World War following bomb damage to the roof of the City Hall in 1941, which led to the hall being shut down. It was only in 1950 that the hall re-opened and the John Compton Organ Company restored and enhanced the instrument to more or less what we get today, although between 1985 and 1991, Rushworth and Dreaper rebuilt the organ console. The Organ Curator today is Dr John Pemberton for those who wish to find out more about the instrument.
Thomas Dunhill, Percy Whitlock, Armstrong Gibbs, Christopher Steel, William Faulkes and Francis Jackson fill up the disc following Harwood. A fair representation of British musical thought throughout the twentieth century. Fisher is in his element on this organ as nothing feels overly done, a certain perfection accompanies each of the works performed. Christopher Steel’s Variations on a Theme of Guillaume de Machaut, Opus 65, has thirteen variations and is made central to the programme. Fisher takes care of its inherent sensitivities, which the organ responds to marvellously, while the natural musical phrasing is a delight to hear.
How better to end the recital than with Francis Jackson’s Toccata, Chorale and Fugue, Opus 16.The contemplative mood of the Chorale reflecting much of the programme before a forthright themeexposes the Fugue. Distinguished playing from Roger Fisher that is well recorded by Martin Monkman.