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DVDs of organ repertoire are nothing new, but when well filmed they can add an enjoyable visual dimension to the listening experience. Watching the organist interpret the notes at close quarters can add much to our appreciation of the music, but if you find it a distraction, there is usually, as here, a free CD enclosed so you can listen in the normal way with the benefit of your sound system.

Chester Cathedral’s mainly-Hill-and-Rushworth IV/72 instrument is not in top condition, as Roger Fisher recounts in his informative sleeve notes; yet David Wells’s professional care has it sounding in fine fettle for this recording. Although some tempi err on the pedestrian side, Philip Rushforth’s playing is polished and meticulously articulated. There are some fun war horses present – not least the opening track, Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra. Of further variety are the cerebral and humorous Riff-Raff (Giles Swayne), and Trumpet Minuet (Alfred Hollins), which shows offthe instrument’s nobility (and a massive Trumpet stop!). Rushforth’s neat fingerwork is evident here. The charming Bell Scherzo of Edwin Lamare, and the grand finale, ‘Jupiter’ from The Planets (Holst, here in the arrangement by Arthur Wills), are of particular note. The Holst especially suits this English leviathan of an organ, and is well handled by Rushforth.

Visually, there is also plenty of interest here. Well-filmed interior, aerial and close-up views of the instrument go as far as showing us the relevant pipework that we are hearing. Watching Rushforth play is something of a lesson in preparedness and control. There is a revealing exploration of Chester Cathedral inside and out. The DVD also contains some bonus features. As with all music DVDs, though, listening through good-quality headphones or playing back through a decent sound system is a must to get the most from the recording. Altogether an enjoyable and informative release.

MATTHEW POWER Read the full review on Agora Classica


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