Specialists in Classical Location Sound Recording

Southwell Splendour 2 (OXCD-120)


Paul Hale plays the Nicholson Organ of Southwell Minster

1. A Festival Toccata—Malcolm Archer
2. Chorale variations on ‘Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern’—Dietrich Buxtehude
3. Variations on ‘O Filii et Filiae’—Jean-François Dandrieu
4. Choral IV—Hendrik Andriessen
5. Harmonies du Soir—Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Douze Pièces Nouvelles—Théodore Dubois
6. Marche triomphale
7. Offertoire
8. In Paradisum
9. Fiat Lux
A Southwell Suite—Christopher Rathbone
10. Hymn tunes
11. Fantasia
12. Larghetto
13. Allegretto scherzando
14. Adagio
15. Toccata

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With some of these tracks first released on the CD Southwell Splendour which is no longer available, this title is supplemented with two previously unrecorded works, A Festival Toccata by Malcolm Archer and A Southwell Suite by Christopher Rathbone which was specially written for Paul Hale to celebrate his 20 years as Rector Chori.

Southwell Minster
Paul Hale
Nicholson Organ Builders

CHOIR&ORGAN (Mar/Apr2014): More than half of this second offering on Southwell Minster's IV/51 tracker-action Nicholson organ from Paul Hale was included on the first, now deleted volume released in 1999 (on which Hale shared duties with Philip Rushforth). No bad thing per se, given the quality of the performances. But the focus here is on three new recordings: an expressive set of variations by Buxtehude and two premieres on this disc: Malcolm Archer's elegant, beautifully crafted French-style A Festival Toccata and Christopher Rathbone's A Southwell Suite, imaginative and virtuosic variations on a tune by H Irons. Celebrating his 25th year in Southwell in 2014, Hale ranges easily and eloguently over a familiar instrument.
ORGANISTS' REVIEW (Mar2014): This is an excellent demonstration of the four-manual Nicholson organ at Southwell Minster. The organ's main purpose is to accompany the daily office to the east of the dividing screen, but it is clearly equipped to do much more than that, and this cleverly devised programme is ideally suited to demonstrating that the instrument is able both to produce a wide range of sonorities and to speak convincingly in both Baroque and Romantic musical styles. In addition to its versatility, this instrument can also boast consistently excellent tone quality. Roughly half the tracks are taken from a previous CD (Southwell Splendour). These are supplemented by new recordings of works by Malcolm Archer and Hendrik Andriessen and a recent Southwell Suite composed for Paul Hale by Christopher Rathbone. Some colourful registrations in pieces by Buxtehude and Dandrieu amply demonstrate the organ's Baroque credentials, while works by Andriessen and Karg-Elert reveal respectively some dark, dramatic sonorities and the expressive strings at the player's disposal. Dubois' Fiat Lux is a particularly good choice for showing the organ's dynamic range, as the whole piece is one long build-up (very deftly managed, by the way) from the ppp opening to an impressively powerful and brilliant ffff climax. Rathbone's Suite, based on H.S. Irons' major-key hymn tune Southwell with a brief reference to the better-known and older minor-key tune, also uses a variety of colourful textures and composing styles.
To judge by this CD, the people of Southwell are surely justified in their enthusiasm for this splendid instrument.
GRAMOPHONE (May2014): In 1998 OxRecs released a critically acclaimed disc of music released to celebrate the installation of the new Nicholson organ on the Screen of Southwell Minster, a few miles west of Newark. On that occasion the playing honours were shared between the Minster’s Rector Chori and Organist, Paul Hale, and his then assistant, Philip Rushforth.This second volume includes some of those 1998 tracks, in music by Buxtehude, Dandrieu, Karg-Elert and Dubois. Such is the versatility of this instrument that it can tackle a wide range of repertory with ease. Since it speaks eastwards into the Choir, the reverberation length is a little drier than some listeners might expect in such a large building. Nevertheless, there are many organic thrills to be had, with old favourites juxtaposed with strong and fresh new music.Archer’s attractive Festival Toccata dates from 2011 and owes a good deal to French models, while still retaining more than a hint of the Lancastrian Fells in its striding, undulating theme. Equally welcome is Rathbone’s Southwell Suite, which is almost entirely inspired by H Irons’s hymn tune, Southwell. This plain little melody undergoes an exhaustively (though entertainingly) wide range of treatments and transformations, before rounding the disc off with another rousing Toccata.The most substantial single movement on the programme is the fourth Choral composed in 1921 by Hendrik Andriessen. Firmly in the Franckian tradition (albeit with a heavy dose of the neo-Baroque), this is a fine showcase for a magnificently symphonic instrument, played with consummately polished artistry by its designer.
CATHEDRAL MUSIC (May 2014): The Nicholson organ at Southwell was installed on the screen in 1996 and contains a significant amount of pipework from a Victorian instrument originally installed elsewhere. It is therefore suitable for playing a wide range of pieces, as demonstrated most ably by Paul Hale on this disc.... Paul Hale gives a committed performance of the programme and the recording quality is good, which makes for an interesting disc. [Extracted]
Individual tracks may be previewed and purchased from several sites including these below: