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wolsey

Simon Preston CBE

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It's somewhat sad to see that Simon Preston's 80th birthday last Saturday has passed us by with scarcely a comment. At least the Eloquence label has seen fit to mark it by reissuing (last November) all the solo organ recordings which he made for Argo. A good many here will remember his Reger recordings from Westminster Abbey; I, for one, am pleased to hear again his reading of the Hindemith Sonatas on the Walker organ at St John's, Islington. Mander should also be allowed to bask in his glory, as I value Simon Preston's 2006 recording of the then-recently restored organ of the Royal Albert Hall: Royal Albert Hall Organ Restored (Signum).

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I had the absolute pleasure of being on tuning standby for a week of recording with Simon Preston, for his Bach series on DeutchseGramophon.  After the first day of reading endless paperbacks, I was warmly invited to be at the console to turn pages,  comment on any dubious passages (should there ever be one!), listen and comment on playbacks in the control room, take lunch with the production team, etc.   I found him to be an absolute delight, a fount of amusing anecdotes, generous yet humble, above all, a man  at the height of his formidable musical ability.  His performance of the Dorian Fugue has remained in my memory, with the final pages building to a truly thrilling close.  He did confess that the Bach series had put him to the test, as he had never learned all the P's & F's !  I would never have guessed.  Belated birthday greetings to one of the giants of the organ world.

 

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