There couldn’t have been a better way to kick off this season’s series of Summer Recitals than Ed Jones’s outstanding performance at the splendid St Andrew’s organ.
Opening with Bach’s Prelude in B minor, the playing was characterized by sureness of line, and textural clarity, always making the best use of the instrument’s impressive array of stops.
Dispelling the myth that organs are always loud, two short pieces by Jeanne Demessieux successfully showed off some quieter and more intimate sounds, yet still as impressive in their unpretentious way, as some of the fortissimo harmonic clashes in the second movement of Hindemith’s first organ sonata that followed.
Here Ed had wisely forewarned his listeners to expect some challenging dissonances soon after the work’s essentially calm opening. However, taken in the context of the piece as a whole, these all contributed to the movement’s lasting impression, and no more so than in its closing section, where the sound of shepherds’ pipes are alluded to, in fact not unlike the skirl of the bagpipes which Ed would surely have heard as he grew up in the Scottish Highlands.
Franck’s Prélude, Fugue et Variation elicited some more fine playing, with registration choices ideally suited to the instrument’s essentially Romantic voicing, just leaving a stirring rendition of Marcel Dupré’s arrangement of a Bach original to bring this most enjoyable recital to an exhilarating close.
PHILIP R BUTTALL