Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) is surely one of the finest composers in European history although not one particularly associated with church music. Indeed, this release, enjoyable though it undoubtedly is, has no discernible Christian content. Why, then, am I drawing it to your attention? If you enjoy a good tune this disc features several of Tchaikovsky's major orchestral works, including movements from the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies, the Overture to 'Romeo And Juliet' and the 'Nutcracker Suite', in outstanding transcriptions for solo organ by Edwin Lemaire as well as the organist for this recital, Jonathan Vaughn. What may be of special interest to at least some of our readers is the instrument on which the music is played, the 1911 Harrison and Harrison organ of St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol. Indeed Arthur Harrison considered this to be one of his finest and the major rebuild carried out between 2009-2010 has restored and preserved the original tonal quality. It has one of the widest dynamic ranges of any church organ and this recording takes us from almost inaudible whispers through to thunderous climaxes, all captured with his usual skill by producer/engineer Gary Cole. It is certainly interesting to hear a great composer in this different context and Jonathan Vaughn is a most able interpreter. Vaughn is a former organ scholar at St John's College, Cambridge before almost 10 years as assistant organist at Wells Cathedral and is now Associate Director of Music at Christ Church, Greenwich, Connecticut. Those with a special interest in church organ music will appreciate this recital and listeners who like a good tune will be happy to listen in.
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