The 9th volume in Christopher Herrick's laudable Organ Fireworks series is a cross between familiar items such as Widor's Toccata from the 5th Symphony and modern commissions such as Eftestol's Seven Allegorical Pictures. Herrick also arranges Bartók's Six Romanian Dances to stunning effect; it is quite amazing to note how the deft music takes such a tantalizing turn in an organ arrangement.
I was particularly chuffed by the Bach/Reger arrangement of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue BWV903, the free florid tunes take on a much romanticized vein in the Reger view. Eftestol's work is one of the hardest I ever came across, with severe dissonance forming an essential part of the composition, although Herrick handles all with unabashed panache and sails through the complexities of the piece with flying colours.
Jean Langlais 'Gregorian Paraphrases' are also very beautiful, especially the last piece which is a model of clarity and a tribute to the chants of the past. Finally, we have two modern pieces, Wolstenhome's 'Bohèmesque' and Rawsthorne's dashing 'Line Dance' from his eclectic Dance Suite. Everyone knows Widor's splendid Toccata, which Herrick dispatches with splendid panache all the way.
Excellently recorded on the organ of Berner Munster in Switzerland, this recital is definitely a must for collectors of this splendid series.
Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech