Anne Page - Ave Maris Stella

Published Monday 9th March 2015
Anne Page - Ave Maris Stella
Anne Page - Ave Maris Stella

STYLE: Classical
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
LABEL: Regent REGCD436

Reviewed by Steven Whitehead

This CD is dedicated to the memory of Kenneth Tickell (1956-2014), a founding member of the Institute of British Organ Building who was also organist at St Mary's, Northampton for a number of years. No doubt organ enthusiasts will read the technical notes in the CD booklet with interest where they will find that the organ at Little St Mary's in Cambridge was completed in time for Easter 2007. However I assume that most listeners will be more interested in the programme and the player. The programme was complied with two aims in mind: to show the versatility of the instrument across a range of organ repertoire, and to reflect the church's High Anglican tradition in which music plays a key role. The chosen theme reflects the fact that the church is named for the Virgin Mary and the programme opens and closes with Magnificat settings from northern Germany framing three pieces based on Marian plainsong from composers spanning four centuries, together with lesser known works by Bach and Mendelssohn. The opening Magnificat is by Heinrich Scheidermann (c.1595-1663) who is a musical link between Sweelinck and Bach. The finale is by Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) and comes in nine inventive sections. The triptych from Bach may not all be by the great man but if you want the details I will have to refer you to the informative booklet notes by Anne Page. For the record they are "Prelude in G" (BWV 568), "Fugue in G - Gigue" (BWV 577) and "Choral Fantasia: Wo Gott der Herr Nicht Bei Uns Halt" (BWV 1128). Mendelssohn's contribution is "Allegro (Chorale, Fugue) in D Minor/Major" from 1844 which shows the composer's admiration of Bach. We also have two contemporary contributions from composers with Cambridge connections: David Aprahamian Liddle (born 1960) gives us an "English Organ Mass" using the plainsong-derived setting of the service by John Merbecke which is sung regularly at LSM, and Ian de Massini (born 1959), a former organist and Director of Music at the church, contributes his setting of "Ave Maria Stella" in the form of an Arabesque. Also featured are a five verse "Salve Regina" by John Bull (c. 1562-1628) and "Toccata, Fugue et Hymne sur Ave Maria Stella" by Flor Peeters (1903-1986). So, as promised, an interesting and thoughtfully compiled programme played very well indeed by the Australian organist and harmonium specialist Anne Page. The audio quality is excellent, the music interesting and while probably of most interest to collectors of organ music the general listener will find much to appreciate and enjoy.

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