AVE MARIS STELLA - Various Composers - Anne Page (Organ) - Kenneth Tickell Organ of Little St Mary's, Cambridge - 802561043621 - Released: February 2015 - Regent REGCD436

1} Heinrich Scheidermann - Magnificat quinti toni (4 verses)
2} Johann Sebastian Bach - Prelude in G BWV 568
3} Johann Sebastian Bach - Fugue in G BWV 577 'Gigue'
4} Johann Sebastian Bach - Choral Fantasia: Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält BWV 1128
5} Felix Mendelssohn - Allegro (Chorale, Fugue) in D minor/major
6} David Aprahamian Liddle - English Organ Mass Op. 6
7} John Bull - Salve Regina (5 verses)
8} Ian de Massini - Ave maris stella
9} Flor Peeters - Toccata, Fugue et Hymne sur Ave maris stella Op. 28
10} Dieterich Buxtehude - Magnificat primi toni

Sometimes when you're small, in order to be heard and respected, you need to speak clearly, and with confidence and eloquence. And that's precisely what this little (comparatively speaking) pipe organ achieves. The Kenneth Tickell Organ of Little St Mary's, Cambridge, completed in 2007, may only have 2 manuals and about 22 stops, but they all speak true and are evenly matched, not only to each other, but also to the building's acoustics. It sounds exactly like an instrument from the late Renaissance to early Baroque period. The programme of pieces chosen for this new recording well serves to put in evidence this organ's qualities and versatility, and includes some pleasant surprises.

Organist Anne Page certainly employs the best registration to highlight the Fugue in G BWV 577's nimble character. The Choral Fantasia: Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält BWV 1128, discovered in 2008, receives the same attention only this time to bring out it's multiple voices and layers. For me, it's the Salve Regina by John Bull that best emphasizes this instrument's pitch perfect tone and versatility, and highlights some of its best stops, including the Cornet, Trumpet and Sesquialtera. One of the aforementioned pleasant surprises comes in the form of a beautiful Ave maris stella by Ian de Massini (b. 1959), which seems to fuse the ancient and modern seamlessly. The other big surprise, is to hear the bold and powerful Toccata, Fugue et Hymne by Flor Peeters performed on this organ. The only other recording reviewed here that I've heard of this piece was on a much larger instrument, so I assumed that this tiny instrument would not be able to do it full justice, but Anne Page pushes it to its limits and delivers as convincing an interpretation despite the lack in the bottom end. This work's main melodic line holds your attention from start to finish, and the whole thing ends with an uplifting harmonic twist.

So here you have it. Further proof that size doesn't matter. Sure, it's thrilling to hear a 5 manual 84 stop organ with some pipes wider around than my waistline playing full bore in a gothic cathedral, but for some pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries, nothing beats a small, well balanced organ captured by a well engineered recording in a more intimate setting.

Jean-Yves Duperron - February 2015