David Stevens

David Stevens demonstrates the range of ‘king of instruments’ at St Andrews’ lunchtime recital

It’s no surprise that almost half of this year’s Summer Lunchtime Recitals at St Andrew’s involve the church’s impressive organ, since it’s one of the largest in the South West.

David Stevens had carefully chosen his programme not only to show off the instrument’s best features, but also to confirm that the so-called ‘king of instruments’ isn’t just about sheer volume and bombast.

Given the organ’s overtly Romantic voicing, the immensely-powerful Carillon on the Bells of Longpont by Louis Vierne provided an ideal concert-opener, and perfectly matched by the plaintive Bach Adagio to follow.

Thalben-Ball’s well-known Elegy gave David a further opportunity to show off some of the instrument’s individual stops, while a selection of five short manual-only pieces from eighteenth-century England made a welcome break on the ear without the pedals, and where keyboard dexterity and neat articulation were the order of the day.

Boëllmann’s Suite Gothique was back once more in this organ’s comfort zone, where an exciting performance of the Toccata proving an effective close, even though the encouragingly large audience asked for more, and were rewarded with a sprightly encore of Noel Rawsthorne’s eminently light-hearted Hornpipe Humoresque.

Certainly another very enjoyable recital, but one that also highlighted the fact that this particular ‘king of instruments’ – installed new back in 1957 – is now in need of some urgent refurbishment, and that just doesn’t come cheaply.


Philip Buttall

Philip Buttall

Philip R Buttall was the Classical Music Writer at Plymouth Herald from 1997-2017. He is a sought-after piano teacher, composer and arranger, and online concert and CD reviewer. Further information and contact details are available at www.philiprbuttall.co.uk
Philip Buttall