horizontal line

With a history dating back to the late 17th century and the hands of many illustrious organ builders involved in its various transformations in the intervening years, the Grand Organ of Gloucester Cathedral is one of the UK’s most venerable instruments.

This 14th volume in Priory’s ever-generous video series – including Blu-ray and DVD discs together with a conventional CD – serves as an attractive showcase of the instrument’s neo-classical-accented voice, with the cathedral’s assistant director of music, Jonathan Hope, as tour guide.

The tried-and-tested formula remains the same, with more than an hour of bonus features on the two video discs and the customary recital – here a collection of substantial pieces, excerpts and lollipops showing off the instrument’s considerable resources – featured on all three discs.

Hope’s own ‘tour’ of an organ memorably described by ‘Father’ Willis as his ‘stepping stone to fame’ is both pleasing and disappointing: his detailed history of the instrument is fascinating, but his commentary on the instrument’s pipework rather straightforward and matter of fact.

The programme boasts some fine performances. There’s something of the ‘wow factor’ about the ‘bonus’ account of Leo Sowerby’s Pageant, its intricate pedal work (demanding the athleticism of a gymnast and the poetry of a dancer)shown in a revealing split-screen perspective that is mesmerising to watch.

Just as characterful are the two opening movements of Handel’s Organ Concerto no.13 summoning up in the work’s nickname, The Cuckoo and the Nightingale, the tranquillity-into-tumult of Liszt’s St Francis of Paola Walking on the Waves, and a preening, biceps-bristling Pomp and Circumstance March no.1. Even so, it is Hope’s own evocative arrangement of Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice that steals the show with its rich use of the edgy, decidedly un-English clarinet sound of the choir’s 8ft Cremona adding its own unsettling spookiness.

MICHAEL QUINN Read the full review on Agora Classica


   Read full review   


To continue reading, please upgrade to a premium account. You will have immediate full access.



Read more classical music reviews online here:



Choir & Organ, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing