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HANDEL AND HIS ENGLISH CONTEMPORARIES - Robert Woolley (Organ) - 802561038221 - Released: May 2014 - Regent REGCD382

The organ pieces by George Frideric Handel, William Boyce, Starling Goodwin, William Goodwin, Maurice Greene, John James, James Nares, Thomas Roseingrave, John Stanley and William Walond, gathered together to form this collection may not be considered musical masterworks, because after all Handel was not Bach, and his contemporaries were not Handel, but it is their interpretation and the authenticity of the instrument's sound that are the main attractions on this new recording. The works in question are each given meticulous attention to detail and interpretive style by organist Robert Woolley, known to many for his fine (solo and ensemble) harpsichord recordings on the Chandos label. His choice of registration, despite being limited to twelve stops on this organ, is always varied and in keeping with each piece's character.

The pipe organ itself, the 1766 Thomas Parker Organ at St Mary and St Nicholas, Leatherhead, Surrey, built for just over $300.00 at the time, was restored by Goetze and Gwynn in 2007. Most of the original pipework remains intact, and although the wind system, and the key, stop and valve actions are new, they still retain the same mechanism based on a copy of the 1750 Thomas Parker organ at Great Packington. This is what should make this recording such an attractive item for pipe organ music fans and collectors. The pipes speak clearly and close, and you can actually hear the valve and piston mechanical action at work everytime a key is depressed. It all sounds so natural and authentic, that it seems as if you the listener, are actually standing in the loft next to the organ's console, turning the pages for old George.

Below is a short video of organist Robert Woolley playing on the oldest surviving church organ in England.

Jean-Yves Duperron - May 2014