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In the unlikely event that he would care to, George McPhee, organist of Paisley Abbey since 1963, may now rest on his laurels: Harrisons’ 2009 rebuild successfully overcame historical winding flaws in the Abbey’s Cavaillé-Coll/HN&B/Walker instrument and a couple of tweaks to the spec (see feature in C&O, May/Jun 2011) finally gifted McPhee the IV/63 organ he always wanted. Here, he invests a lifetime of experience in a programme to show it off: Gigout’s Grand choeur dialogué, Langlais’s Te Deum, Alain’s Variations sur Lucis Creator, plus movements from Vierne’s 24 pièces en style libre and Dupré’s Le tombeau de Titelouze. Franck’s Choral no.2 and Duruflé’s Méditation reveal the expressive warmth of the organ’s foundation stops, strings and smaller solo reeds to balance the blazing brilliance and vigour of the French reeds. The dancing dexterity characteristic of McPhee’s playing throughout his long career is fully on display in the Finale of Vierne’s Third Symphony; the joyful vigour of Messiaen’s Dieu parmi nous crowns his achievement in every sense.

GRAEME KAY Read the full review on Agora Classica


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