ELGAR Organ Works
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.