REVIEW: ARUNDEL FESTIVAL ORGAN RECITAL, ARUNDEL CATHEDRAL

Neil
Neil

Arundel Cathedral once again was the imposing venue for the 30th Annual Festival Organ Recital

Organised by the “Plumley Collection”, founded by the redoubtable Nick and Sarah Plumley, this year’s recital featured ace-organist Neil Wright from Farnborough Abbey, exchanging the Abbey’s Parisian Cavaillé-Coll instrument for the restored 1873 Hill organ of the Cathedral.

Neil specializes in French organ works by 19/20 century composers such as Theodore Dubois, Cesar Franck, Jean Langlais and Maurice Durufle. The only two exceptions today were the immortal J.S.Bach and Wright himself, who today gave the 1st performance (and possibly his last) of his own Improvisation on a hymn tune handed to him by Nick only seconds away from the performance!

Organists are expected to improvise at the beginning and end of Sunday services, and it takes considerable talent, ingenuity and daring to create a substantial piece using a given theme. Wright studied both improvisation and composition with some of the world’s finest teachers, winning prizes and performing in many countries across Europe

The organ is known as the King of Instruments, producing a plethora of magical sounds and effects in the capable hands (and feet) of the right performer. Today we were transported into the ether in “Fiat Lux” (Let there be light), the triumphs of “Pièce Heroique” and the glory of “Te Deum” (Praise be to God), as well as the spell-binding celestial sounds of “Pièce Modal de Re” and “Prelude and Fugue sur le nom d’Alain” Even the great J S Bach’s contribution sported a French title “Pièce d’Orgue”

Wright also studied piano, harpsichord and clavichord, and in addition worked as a choral director, organist and singer in the United States, founding and directing Lauda early music ensemble. But it was as a virtuoso organist that Wright earned the appreciation of today’s audience.

Marilyn Hurdwell

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