ORGAN FIREWORKS - Volume 14

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ORGAN FIREWORKS - Volume 14 - Christopher Herrick (Organ) - Organ of Melbourne Town Hall - 034571177588 - Released: October 2010 - Hyperion CDA67758

Hyperion must be the label of choice for all collectors and completists. What with all the outstanding series of recordings this label has produced to create complete editions on a various array of projects. The complete piano music of Liszt, the complete piano music of Bach, the Romantic Piano Concertos series of recordings of which they have now reached Volume 52 and are still going strong, Romantic Violin Concertos, Cello Concertos, the complete Schubert and Schumann lieder editions, the soon to be launched complete Liszt vocal music edition, and the list goes on. And of course, the always excellent series of organ recordings with organist Christopher Herrick playing on different grand organs from around the world titled Organ Fireworks of which this is volume 14, with no end in sight.

This time around, the instrument on display is the Australian Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ, considered to be the largest musical instrument in the southern hemisphere, with more than 6000 pipes, including a 64' Gravissima stop, which was completely restored and enhanced in 2001 at a cost of 4.5 million dollars. Its power and stature are immediately put in evidence with the opening piece, the Grand March from 'Aida' by Verdi, demonstrating this organ's fine trumpet stops. At the other end of the spectrum is the Animal Parade by Farrington , which shows that even an instrument this massive can display a sense of humour, a light touch, and the finest detail down to the smallest pipe. The Marcel Lanquetuit Toccata in D major very much resembles the music of Léon Boëllmann in this genre. And if it's at all possible, the Triumphal March by Hollins outstrips the Verdi, and the Dudley Buck 'Variations' bring out this organ's warmer side, showcasing what sounds like its Vox Humana, Flute and Bourdon stops. But don't get lulled into a false sense of security, as the following Sonata by Guilmant opens with 'House of Horrors' sounding harmonies and chords with enough power to wake the dead, and whose final chord will send shivers down your spine and dispose of your neighbours.

GIUSEPPE VERDI - Grand March from 'Aida'
PAUL SPICER - Fanfares and Dances
CÉSAR FRANCK - Pièce héroïque
IAIN FARRINGTON - Animal Parade [Penguins - Giraffes - Barrel Organ Monkey]
MARCEL LANQUETUIT - Toccata in D major
ALFRED HOLLINS - Triumphal March
SAMUEL SEBASTIAN WESLEY - Choral Song and Fugue
DUDLEY BUCK - Variations on 'Old Folks at Home'
ALEXANDRE GUILMANT - Organ Sonata No. 1 in D minor, Op. 42

And of course, all of this is handled with flair by Christopher Herrick, one of today's leading organists, and reproduced with aplomb by the well-engineered Hyperion recording.

Jean-Yves Duperron - October 2010