Elgar Organ Works

Timely and rewarding Elgar from the organ virtuoso

Author: 
Jeremy Nicholas
 Elgar Organ Works Elgar Organ Works

ELGAR Organ Works

  • Sonata for Organ No. 1
  • Cantique
  • (11) Vesper Voluntaries
  • Sonata for Organ No. 2
  • Chanson de matin
  • Variations on an Original Theme, 'Enigma', Nimrod
  • Pomp and Circumstance, No. 4 in G (1907)

It is extraordinary that no major label has got Thomas Trotter, the greatest British organist of his generation, cuffed hands and feet for life. It has been left to the small Wolverhampton-based Regent label to do the honours – and it does him proud.

There are few organs better suited to Elgar than Salisbury Cathedral’s Willis. It speaks with a mellifluous, unforced authority (preferable, in this repertoire, to Trotter’s own Symphony Hall Klais with its brazen reeds) in a clear acoustic that avoids the generalised rumblings of many English cathedrals. The G major Sonata unfolds with impressive breadth and command of structure (Keith John on Hyperion sounds ponderous by comparison), a dramatic contrast to the intimate Cantique, a short work derived from an early (1879) piece for wind quintet, and the attractive eight Vesper Voluntaries of 1889.

Three of the final four works are transcriptions by a Three Choirs triumvirate of Elgar’s organist friends: the Organ Sonata No 2 arranged from the Severn Suite by Ivor Atkins (Worcester), Chanson de matin (Herbert Brewer of Gloucester) and Pomp and Circumstance No 4 by the work’s dedicatee George Sinclair of Hereford – GRS and his bulldog Dan from the Enigma Variations. From the latter, “Nimrod” is heard in the transcription by WH Harris (St George’s, Windsor) and it is only here that I wish Trotter had opted for a more measured pace and emotional response. But throughout this superbly engineered recording his mastery of tonal gradation, innate stylistic sense and imaginative colouring make for a recording as rewarding as it is timely.

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