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Bank Holiday Recitals

Guest Cynic

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Guest Cynic

Jealous of those of you able to list such wonderful music over Holy Week and Easter Day, I thought I'd post a very quick write-up of what a little party from Hull [humble peasants up beyond the sticks] were able to enjoy yesterday.


Rising at a respectable time, travelling on clear roads (remember them?) by 10.30am we were at St.Bartholomew's Armley for an 11am recital. We found a warm church, friendly folks, a good cup of tea and a seriously well-designed Bank Holiday programme from Dr.Graham Barber. The instrument was in fine fettle - a single note adrift, otherwise in perfect tune and regulation.

Concerto in A minor (1st movt.) -Vivaldi-Bach

Ave Maria - Bach/Gounod arranged by GB - fabulous fluework, luscious balances!

Transcriptions of Jesu joy, Mortify us by Thy goodness and Sheep may safely graze - Bach/Rowley and Stanley Roper

Toccata and Fugue in D minor - Bach - a 'normal' performance full of vigour and colour - nothing like the 'correct' version someone gave us last year!

Salix and Toccata from the Plymouth Suite - Whitlock

Priere and Toccata from Suite Gothique - Boellmann (great stuff - sounded wonderful!)


The instrument was lovingly displayed and an audience of around 100 were there to enjoy it.


We then pootled north, stopping for a good while at a suitable hostelry, to Ripon where we found a well-supported 'Try the Organ' for kids was under way. At 3pm there was an extraordinary recital by Tom Leech (Assistant Director of Music). There were only two works:

Sinfonia to Easter Oratorio - Bach (arr.Leech)

Symphony no.9 'From the New World' - Dvorak arr.Szathmary.

Forget your Holst Planets arrangements, your Elgar Enigma Variations, I have never heard such a hard work, kaleidoscopic arrangement. The sequencer was in action throughout with subtle and impressive colours at every turn. Indeed, the sequencer alone wasn't enough, Andrew Bryden (DOM at Ripon) also assisted with a few changes. It was an amazing performance! Not least, it was a splendid choice because at Ripon on a Bank Holiday the audience can gather in close to the (year 2000) H&H mobile console. Talk about a 'tour de force!' TL is a young man to watch. The only thing that spoiled this recital for me was a fair number of tuning problems - can't the Ripon folks afford an Easter tuning? One did wonder.


Ah you say, you have major talent Down South, - well of course you do. There is a fair number of truly world-class UK players in that generation. Ah, but do you have the unique [nonogenarian] Dr.Jackson?


Our third recital was at 6pm in Beverley Minster. It's a wonderful place to sit, even without a good programme to listen to.

A good-sized audience (despite the dreadfully cold day) was present to witness what amounted to a virtually unbelievable performance:

Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C - Bach (startlingly clean and rhythmic - with an Adagio that would melt anyone's heart!)

Sonata in E flat - Bairstow (the ultimate performance! FJ has lost none of his cunning - stops just seemed to appear, glide into our consciousness and gently fade away, every phrase knew where it was going, the whole thing so beautifully and naturally shaped)

Rhapsody in C - Statham

Prelude on 'East Acklam' - Jackson

Prelude on 'East Acklam' - Spedding (an excellent pastiche of Bach with EA as the chorale, 'Jesu joy'-style)

Carillon de Westminster - Vierne

the encore was also by Vierne (not one I play, not time to look it up but I think it was 'Madrigal')


All right, I admit it: we had fabulous playing on wonderful (non-messed-up) organs but we didn't have anything stridently modern. Shame? Mind you, we heard three top class players doing what they do well and everyone went home happy, which for me has always been of great importance.

Our round trip was 170 miles all within Yorkshire [of course], a quarter of a tank of diesel. I'd do it again tomorrow.


OK then, where did you go - whom did you hear and enjoy?

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I only managed two of the above recitals (St. Bart's and Ripon Cathedral) but as Cynic has pointed out already, what great performances they were. The only downside was, and nothing to do with the organ, was some young scroat at Armley snatching and running off with a third of the proceeds. The police were called. and turned up very quick (10 mins) and yours truly gave a statement and will wait to hear what happens. The upside was Graham Barber said I could record his programme, as long as he got his copy. I got stuck on the A1, (livestock loose on the road :( ) so could not make it to hear Dr. Jackson which was a great shame.



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The usual full house at Liverpool Anglican for Ian Tracey in the morning. The new nave division was dedicated by the dean, even though it's been in use since December, but this was the first time in a recital. We then had Rigaudon de Louis XIV in c by Lully, using the nave as an echo. The division blends well as we heard later in the recital, I understand it's very effective in congregational singing. Unusually for Liverpool we were blessed with two ciphers but D. Wells was on hand to fix them in a jiffy. An extra item was inserted in the recital, Franck Fantasie in A, not announced, which threw those in the audience who didn't know the music as they thought the penultimate piece was the last. Hey-ho. They thought that Peeter's Lied to the Sun was an encore!

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"OK then, where did you go - whom did you hear and enjoy?"


On this side of the North Sea there is also a tradition of Easter Monday organ recitals. I went to Zwolle to hear Sietze de Vries play the big 1721 Schnitger. Programme (rather different from the offerings in Yorkshire!):


Es ist das Heil, uns komen Herr (complete, 30 minutes!), Matthias Weckmann

Christ Lag in Todesbanden (partita on the Sinfonia from BWV 4), Anthon van der Horst

Improvised partita (Bach style) on Jesus, meine Zuversicht, Sietze de Vries


It was, as usual from S de V, excellent. Someone said he improvised for 27 minutes.... The van der Horst piece is well worth the study if you don't know it.


For the statistics I guess the audience was around 130.



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Cor blimey! I feel deprived and envious, because I was working.


What a list! Liverpool Cathedral, St.Bart's Armley, Beverley Minster, Ripon Cathedral and Zwolle across the North Sea; with players to match. That's a whole International Congress in the same day, all played on world class instruments of great diversity.


Isn't Francis Jackson a walking miracle?


I have that "definitive" recording of him playing the Bairstow (not my favourite composer by any means), and he just "makes it his own" every time. I think this is the recital I would most have liked to attend.....but sadly, it was not possible.



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