The Organ Music of Sir Walter Alcock

Article excerpt


THE ORGAN MUSIC OF SIR WALTER ALCOCK. Daniel Cook, organist. IV/68 organ of Salisbury Cathedral, England ("Father" Henry Willis, 1877; rebuilt by Willis in 1934 and 1969; restored by Harrison & Harrison in 1978, 1993, and 2006). Priory Records PRCD 1008.; sales@priory. Knighted in 1933, Sir Walter Alcock (1861-1947) was regarded as one of the finest organists of his generation. In 1895, he succeeded Edwin H. Lemare as organist of Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, eventually realizing his early dream of becoming organist of Salisbury Cathedral in 1916. There he trained several generations of choirboys in the esteemed Salisbury tradition of purity and fullness of tone. Active as a concert organist, teacher, and examiner, Alcock found ample time to pursue his many hobbies, including astronomy, photography, building coal-powered steam engines, driving experimental motor cars, restoring old cars, and fly-fishing. All of these activities left him little time to compose, although he possessed enormous creative powers that were best summoned by commission or request.

Daniel Cook's brilliantly performed program presents most of the organ works. Alcock was a master miniaturist, with splendid gifts of melody, counterpoint, and craftsmanship. His works in this category are perfectly complete musical expressions. These include "Rather Slowly" (from A Little Organ Book in memory of Sir Hubert Parry), Alla Marcia, Andante Grazioso, Voluntary, Toccatina, Sketch in B Minor, Impromptu in D, Introductory Voluntary, Andante, Con Moto, and Moderato. Alcock was no less skilled at managing larger forms, having a keen sense of structure, contrast, drama, and pacing, as exemplified in his Toccata, Impromptu in G, Postlude, Fantasie-Impromptu, and Marche Triomphale. …