Richard Walker - The Organ of St Chad's, Shrewsbury

Published Monday 17th February 2014
Richard Walker - The Organ of St Chad's, Shrewsbury
Richard Walker - The Organ of St Chad's, Shrewsbury

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Independent

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

Although there has been an organ in St Chad's Church, Shrewsbury, since it was built in the 1790s, the current instrument dates from 1904 when the then organist, Benjamin Pritchard, worked with Norman And Beard of Norwich in specifying his requirements. There have been rebuilds and additions since then, detailed in the CD booklet, with a major refurbishment undertaken by Harrison And Harrison in 2011 and this CD celebrates the completion of the project in grand style. It is not an overtly religious programme with Sigfrid Karg-Elert's "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" being the only recognisable hymn tune. That leaves an hour of excellent organ music played very well by Richard Walker, Assistant Director of Music at St Chad's, with the usual immaculate production from Gary Cole of Regent Records. We open with John Stainer's rousing "March in D" followed by a debut recording of a "Song" by Richard White and "The Mirrored Moon" by Karg-Elert, both of which are contemplative and show the sensitive side of organist and organ. Brahms' "Academic Festival Overture" and "The Cascades", a Scott Joplin rag, show us a different side before a more reflective piece, "Zoe", by Jeffrey Fraser. We conclude with an unexpected treat, Heinrich Grimm's organ arrangement of Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" with narration from Gay Walker. This takes us off into all manner of unexpected places with the familiar, perhaps over-familiar, folk tale and Prokofiev's clever use of different motifs bursting into new life which is, dare we say, not at all inappropriate for a church organ. Collectors of church organ music will appreciate this CD and lovers of tuneful music will find much to enjoy as well.

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