Enjoying a Master Organist at Work; Gillian Weir, Bromsgrove Parish Church CBSO, Symphony Hall
Morley, Christopher, The Birmingham Post (England)
The roster of distinguished visitors to this year's Bromsgrove Festival gained its latest recruit on Friday with an absorbing recital from Dame Gillian Weir.
This First Lady of the organ-loft devoted the first half of the programme to an exploration of the music of Bach in this year commemorating the 250th anniversary of his death.
Illuminatingly introducing the works herself, she described the range of national styles employed by this inexhaustible composer, relating the organ-sounds of each country to their language-characteristics: the guttural German, the dulcet, flowing Italian and so on.
From the Parish Church's organ she conjured an amazing panoply of registrations and textures; and full marks to the organisers for installing closed-circuit television, allowing us, for once, to witness a master organist at work.
A Bachian subtext ran through a more disparate second half, where highlights included a sumptuously rhetorical Liszt Prelude and Fugue on BACH and a charming, effective little Praeludium by the still under-rated Max Reger.
From Weir's touching display of humility in the face of genius we turned to an altogether less attractive display of wilfulness when the CBSO entertained pianist Olli Mustonen in Saturday's latest instalment of its highly-rewarding Sibelius/Prokofiev cycle. …