CAPRICCIO - Margaret Phillips

CAPRICCIO - Contemporary Music for Organ - Margaret Phillips (Organ) - 2006 Beckerath Organ - 802561041924 - Released: July 2014 - Regent REGCD419

1} Lionel Rogg - Hommage à Franz Liszt
2} Fredrik Sixten - Prelude and Fugue In Memoriam Maurice Duruflé
3} Sebastian Forbes - Haec Dies
4} Lionel Rogg - Partita sopra Nun freut euch
5} Ad Wammes - Miroir
6} Brian Chapple - Six Bagatelles
7} Toon Hagen - Shalom
8} Sebastian Forbes - Capriccio

This new recording by Regent Records is a first in more ways than one. It's the first solo recording of the new 62 stop, four manual Beckerath organ in Marlborough College Chapel. It also presents first recordings of some works written for and/or premièred by organist Margaret Phillips. She recently concluded a highly acclaimed series of recordings, also on Regent, of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Two of which are reviewed here and here. Unlike many musicians who, after spending many years perfecting the music of Bach, can't seem to shake it from their style of playing, Margaret Phillips executes a complete about-face here performing these 20/21st century organ works.

Each piece in this collection presents its own set of challenges, be they musical or technical, none of which seem to intimidate Margaret Phillips. Take for example the work Miroir by Ad Wammes. By the time I myself would have learned and mastered its simultaneous triple rhythmic patterns and multi-tasking right-hand, left-hand and pedals combinations, I would be bald from all the hair pulling. But she makes it all sound so easy, and musical to boot. Her choice of registration in each and every piece never fails to complement the music and elevate it to the next level. It brings out the mysteries within the Six Bagatelles by Brian Chapple and really highlights this wonderful organ's wide gamut of voices during the aptly titled Capriccio by Sebastian Forbes. And musically speaking, the two works by renowned organist Lionel Rogg, the Hommage à Franz Liszt and the Partita display a wealth of imagination, harmonic and contrapuntal prowess, and solid writing skills. And of course the Beckerath instrument itself is the main attraction. It sparkles at the top and speaks boldly at the bottom end. And not surprisingly, the well engineered Regent recording captures all of the above with ease, and sits you directly in the chapel's sweet spot.

Just because a pipe organ inhabits a church, doesn't mean the music performed on it need be formal and stodgy. Enjoy!

Jean-Yves Duperron - August 2014