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Organ recital by Daniel Cook 29th October 2016

It was a joy for me to sit in the audience and to hear the Malmesbury Abbey Organ away from the organ stool! It must have been a challenge for Daniel Cook to play a 2 manual organ, when he is used to the 4 manuals of the Westminster Abbey Organ. However the Malmesbury Organ does contain a wide variety of stops – a ‘little giant’ as Ian Tracey used to describe the instrument.’

I was unfamiliar with the Buxtehude fantasia on the Te Deum. The piece had many contrasting sections so was ideal for us to hear the different colours of the Abbey Organ stops. Yes – Buxtehude was the organist that the young J.S Bach walked over 200 miles to hear in Lubeck.

It was appropriate that the next two pieces were composed by former Westminster Organists-Henry Purcell and William McKie. The latter was director fo Music at the 1953 Coronation. The first half concluded with the famous Fantasia and Fugue in G minor by J.S.Bach ( a favourite piece for FRCO exams!). The Fantasia was played very powerfully, and the fugue with great virtuosity – what a brilliant piece this is!

Part Two explored French and German repertoire – Reger, Karg-Elert, Durufle, Jongen and Cesar Franck. A highlight for me was the first Chorale in E major by Cesar Franck. The first of three Chorales he wrote late in life, which are surely some of the finest organ works ever composed.

It was appropriate to finish with the Carillon de Westminster by Vierne. (Although we were told that the piece was written for Westminster Cathedral!). This brought the concert to an exciting conclusion.

It was enjoyable to hear about the life of an organist in Westminster Abbey – an entertaining talk after the interval.

Congratulations Daniel. That was one of the finest organ recitals I have ever heard in Malmesbury Abbey. And thankyou Neil for arranging the concert.

John Hughes

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