The 2nd concert in the 34th Annual series saw David Bednall present an interesting and wide-ranging programme on the “Father” Willis organ. David combines responsibilities for the choir at Clifton (Catholic) Cathedral with sub organist duties at Bristol (Anglican) cathedral as well as other conducting, recording and composition work.
He saved the best until last – a wonderful improvisation on a theme given to him earlier in the day – combining two songs – I do like to be beside the seaside with a very special tune to this area, Sussex by the Sea.
Throughout we were treated to a number of mainly shorter pieces from a range of composers in different styles and from different periods. The first half opened with Sumsion’s stirring Ceremonial March. It ended with two pieces by Guilmant, including Sortie pour la Fete de l’Assomption de la Sainte Vierge. Much of this half consisted of quieter pieces, allowing different colours to be highlighted. There was music by JS Bach and Kenneth Leighton as well as two interesting pieces for chamber organ by Herbert Howells – Dalby’s Fancy and Dalby’s Toccata. The inclusion of Three Short Pieces by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor was a highlight for me. They are not often heard – I must dust off my copy!
The second half featured mostly music based on existing hymn and other melodies. It began with David Bednall’s own highly enjoyable Fanfare-Postlude on Hyfrydol. Another contemporary piece by Esther Bersweden (Interlude on St Botolph) sat alongside music by Dupre, Parry and Francis Jackson.
Three of Haydn’s Pieces for Musical Clocks and a jazz-inspired Greensleeves (Bluesleeves) by Malcolm Archer provided lovely contrasts. Before the wonderful encore we had Widor; as Mr Bednall said, “not that Widor”, but the equally triumphal Final from Symphonie 6.
A lovely relaxed evening, despite the screen being out of action, and enhanced by the not totally unexpected visit from the neighbour’s cat!
Next week Joseph Beech will be visiting from Durham Cathedral.