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There’s a neat symmetry in this recording, which is shared by Peter Crompton, just retired after nearly 40 years as director of music at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, and his successor William Saunders. The RHS instrument is a justly renowned (and tonally unsullied) IV/64 Hill, Norman & Beard masterpiece of 1930 which speaks into a grandly resonant space. Saunders handles the English side of the repertoire, bringing his invariably nimble fingerwork and acute ear for drawing colour from both the music and this beautiful organ to Whitlock’s Rustic Cavalry March and Five Short Pieces, Francis Jackson’s Prelude on East Acklam and running through the full sound palette for William Mathias’s Invocations. The piece was premiered in 1967, in the similarly resonant acoustics of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, by Noel Rawsthorne, who taught Peter Crompton. Rawsthorne clearly passed on his flair for filling the big space to his student, whose love for Franco-Belgian music is reflected here in Mulet’s Carillon-Sortie, Bonnet’s monumental Variations de concert and sylvan Elfes, Vierne’s Berceuse, and Jongen’s Petit prelude. Crompton signs off from Holbrook with an exuberant account of Marcel Lanquestit’s Toccata, to my mind the toccata earworm to finally oust ‘the Widor’. Producer Gary Cole and engineer Andrew Post capture the organ’s full richness. A thrilling disc.

GRAEME KAY Read the full review on Agora Classica

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