Carnival priory PRCD1247

Francesca Massey (organ)
rec. 2022, St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds, UK
Priory PRCD1247 [80]

The music on this CD was chosen to be a celebration of the new organ at St Edmundsbury, and so this is the theme which runs throughout this very enjoyable programme. The choices are enterprising with a new work by Thomas Hewitt Jones which gives the disc its title. Space is also found for a number of fine works which are seldom heard, such as Sunday Music by Petr Eben and Tanz-Toccata by Anton Heiller. The final two tracks are by living composers, Guy Bovet and Ad Wammes.

The composer Jean Roger-Ducasse wrote only one organ work, the Pastorale. While it begins in the manner of many pieces bearing the same title, it builds to a huge climax and virtuoso tour de force which is not for the fainthearted. His pupil Jehan Alain provides exoticism with his Deux danses à Agni Yavishta. Agni is the Hindu God of Fire and Yavishta means in Sanskrit, ‘the young one’. These pieces are heard far less often than the same composer’s Litanies or Le Jardin Suspendu and here receive a performance of complete technical command and conviction. They complement the final track by Ad Wammes Vallée des danses, which uses ostinati and constantly shifting patterns, but the influences here are minimalism and electronic music; information provided by the player in her excellent notes.

Francesca Massey is a widely experienced player, who has held a number of prestigious posts. This is an unusual and well-assembled programme which adheres to a general mood of celebration, but contains sufficient variety to allow the listener to enjoy the experience of a complete musical journey. The recent organ of St Edmundsbury Cathedral sounds splendid and bigger than its 59 speaking stops might suggest. A most enjoyable recording.

Martyn Strachan

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Presto Music

Thomas Hewitt Jones (b. 1984)
Jehan Alain (1911-1940)
Deux danses à Agni Yavishta, AWV 61
Petr Eben (1929-2007)
Sunday Music
Jean Roger-Ducasse (1873-1954)
Anton Heiller (1923-1979)
Guy Bovet (b. 1942)
Suite pour Souvigny III (saint Mayeul et Saint Odilon)
Ad Wammes (b. 1953)
Vallée des danses