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There is an all-too common thread of composers being wowed by the seemingly endless resources of a big ‘modern’ organ running through this collection of 21st-century British pieces. Philip Wilby, commenting on his work which gives the disc its title, admits as much: ‘My three pieces offer listeners some of the grand and colourful contrasts for which the modern organ is most renowned.’ There is certainly no shortage of contrast here; from the over-wrought minimalism of Nicholas Kingman’s pieces in honour of Jehan Alain (other than the Litanies quote, the musical language seems much further away from Alain than the composer suggests) to David Briggs’s post-Dupré/post-Cochereau Song Without Words and The Legend of St Nicholas (predictably Gallic, tantalising and richly programmatic but often like listening to Briggs improvise to a silent film). Paul Walton plays with great virtuosity and an iron-strong sense of purpose, but the choice of organ undermines his considera- ble endeavour. The five-times rebuilt Anneessens in the dead acoustics of Bridlington Priory may provide extremes of dynamic and no little clarity but its bleak, colourless canvas lacks warmth, poetry, drama, lyricism and individuality – characteristics much of this music requires to bring it offthe page.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Choir & Organ, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing