Richard Pantcheff (b. 1959)
Passacaglia on a Theme of Benjamin Britten
A Sequence for St George
Chorale Prelude ‘Werde munter, mein Gemuete‘
Trio Sonata No.1
Two Short Pieces for Organ
Simon Passmore (organ)
rec. 2020/21, St Ann’s Church, Manchester, UK
Prima Facie PFCD174/175 [2 CDs: 92]
Richard Pantcheff has a background in church music, was a student at Christ Church, Oxford under Simon Preston and Francis Grier and has undertaken a significant number of commissions, both in this country and internationally. He also has the distinction of being one of the few people who can regard Benjamin Britten as having been their mentor. The only other name that comes readily to mind is that of Arthur Oldham.
Britten’s theme, which is the basis of the work that gives this disc its title, was provided by the composer to his friend Ralph Downs to give to the great French organist Jean Langlais as a basis for an improvisation with which he would end his recital at the Royal Festival Hall. The resulting Passacaglia is a finely wrought work which consciously or unconsciously seems to acknowledge its debt to the older composer. Listening to the other works on this disc, the style is recognizably contemporary, but still rooted in tonality, so that one is not discomfited by what appears to be dissonance for its own sake.
Simon Passmore, the performer, is currently Director of Music at St Ann’s Church, Manchester, where this recording was made. He is the recipient of a number of prizes and awards as a pianist, but he is clearly a very talented organist and plays this music with complete assurance and technical command. It is usual to supply some details of the instrument used for the recording, but none are given here, although they can be found easily by consulting the National Pipe Organ Register. As a conspectus of the composer’s work as a writer for the organ, this is a very satisfying recording and I would be interested to hear more.
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