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This is a spectacular debut solo album by Canadian Rachel Mahon, now assistant director of music at Coventry Cathedral. Mahon plays with presence and muscularity to match her fireproof virtuosity, and her time as organ scholar at St Paul’s Cathedral seems to have given her an intuitive sense of how to use large acoustics to dramatic ends. The music is all interesting – Healey Willan’s Introduction, Passacaglia & Fugue is a warhorse of course, but given a stellar performance, while Gerald Bales’s attractive Petite suite breathes the same modally tinged air as the music of Flor Peeters. Having been composed as recently as 2008 in a firmly post-Vierne harmonic idiom, it would be easy to write off Rachel Laurin’s First Symphony as mere pastiche. However, the thematic material, tightly controlled structure and volcanic drama comprehensively banish the epithet; this is a very fine work indeed. The repertoire well suits the Coventry organ (largely paid for by Canadian donations), and the recorded sound is both exciting and atmospheric. Tremendous stuff.

CHRIS BRAGG Read the full review on Agora Classica


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