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Peter King’s 30-year tenure as Bath Abbey’s director of music came to an end this year. During that time he was responsible (along with Nicolas Kynaston) for the design and installation of the IV/62 Klais organ in 1997 that incorporated elements of earlier instruments, including pipes by William Hill & Son and Norman & Beard, together with casings by Thomas Jackson (1914) and Alan Rome (1972).

Now organist emeritus, King’s knowledge of the versatile instrument and the Abbey’s warm and clear acoustics is second to none, and it shows in this pleasing recital. During a 16-minute ‘tour’ of the organ, King highlights some of its distinctive features: Hill’s original 32ft Double Open Diapason, the battery of three Reeds comprising 16ft, 8ft and 4ft pitches, its delightful Cymbelstern (heard to bewitching effect in Bach’s chorale prelude In dulci jubilo) and the Cornet, which offers a particular sound that King describes as ‘like adding a twist of lime to a sauce’. I would have welcomed more from him about the organ’s resources and mechanics (there’s some fun to be had watching him squeeze into some of the instrument’s more confined spaces) and from his short commentaries on the featured music.

The wide-ranging, adroitly chosen programme shows off various facets of the organ, as in the peeling semiquavers that open both Boëly’s B flat Fantasy & Fugue (op.18) and the recital itself. Eben’s ‘Moto Ostinato’ (from Sunday Music) and Saint-Saëns’s E flat Fantaisie dextrously employ three manuals, while the 16ft Bourdon richly colours Reubke’s C minor Sonata, The 94th Psalm, its combustible closing fugue ‘like God stomping the ungodly into hell.’ Works by Mendelssohn, Messiaen and Vierne complete the musical bill of fare.

King’s booklet notes are informative and the choice of accompanying images both inside and outside the Abbey are well chosen. Recorded sound is excellent.

MICHAEL QUINN Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Choir & Organ, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing