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Christ Church Spitalfields was closed for urgent repairs in 1957, and not until 2004 was it possible to consider restoring the much altered Bridge organ. William Drake had been chosen for this, and for many years he painstakingly researched the history of this hugely important instrument, finding that sufficient of the 1735 organ had survived to make possible a restoration to its original state. Bill was excited at the prospect of bringing this organ back to life, saying it would completely change our perception of the English 18th-century organ. In particular he talked of the French influence on the reeds, and what a splendid sound it would be in the spacious acoustics of the church. How sad, then, that he died of cancer shortly before the restoration was complete, and never heard the magnificence of the result, completed in exemplary fashion by his team of organ builders. This superb recording demonstrates the organ in repertoire with which it would have been familiar when new, and Gerard Brooks, curator organist of the church, gives stylish performances which fully endorse Bill Drake’s vision. Music by, among others, Handel, Greene, Stanley, Bull, Purcell, Boyce, Walond and Arne is used to show off the warm, vocal Diapasons, delicate Stopped Diapasons, the variety of reeds and cornets, a huge rich tutti, and echoes using the Swell closed, while the 5th comma tuning gives added colour. This is a ‘must have’ recording not just for organ enthusiasts, but for anyone who thinks the English organ of the period is a small second best to those of the continent. A giant reborn indeed!

DOUGLAS HOLLICK Read the full review on Agora Classica

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