Southwell Splendour 2
In 1998 OxRecs released a critically acclaimed disc of music released to celebrate the installation of the new Nicholson organ on the Screen of Southwell Minster, a few miles west of Newark. On that occasion the playing honours were shared between the Minster’s Rector Chori and organist, Paul Hale, and his then assistant, Philip Rushworth.
This second volume includes some of those 1998 tracks, in music by Buxtehude, Dandrieu, Karg-Elert and Dubois. Such is the versatility of this instrument that it can tackle a wide range of repertory with ease. Since it speaks eastwards into the Choir, the reverberation length is a little drier than some listeners might expect in such a large building. Nevertheless, there are many organic thrills to be had, with old favourites juxtaposed with strong and fresh new music.
Archer’s attractive Festival Toccata dates from 2011 and owes a good deal to French models, while still retaining more than a hint of the Lancastrian Fells in its striding, undulating theme. Equally welcome is Rathbone’s Southwell Suite, which is almost entirely inspired by H Irons’s hymn tune, Southwell. This plain little melody undergoes an exhaustively (though entertainingly) wide range of treatments and transformations, before rounding the disc off with another rousing Toccata.
The most substantial single movement on the programme is the fourth Choral composed in 1921 by Hendrik Andriessen. Firmly in the Franckian tradition (albeit with a heavy dose of the neo-Baroque), this is a fine showcase for a magnificently symphonic instrument, played with consummately polished artistry by its designer.