Following last week’s concert by Durham Cathedral’s sub-organist, this time it was the turn of the cathedral’s Master of the Choristers and Organist, Daniel Cook, who has performed in this series on a number of previous occasions.

The varied programme followed a geographical structure beginning in Germany and moving through England to France. Handel’s Overture to the Occasional Oratorio got the evening off to a rousing start (with its own contrasting bridge to the concluding march). Bach’s gentle but complex chorale prelude: Dies sind heil’gen zehn Gebot’ followed before the technically demanding Mendelssohn Sonata No 6 in D minor.

Three pieces by late 19th/early 20th Century English composers followed – Francis Jackson’s Praeludium and Allegretto grazioso by Frank Bridge, with William Harris’ Flourish for an Occasion bringing the first half to a rousing conclusion. A variety of registrations were employed allowing some of the wonderful Willis solo stops to be in the spotlight.

French music filled the second half. A very inventive Fantaisie in D flat by Saint-Saens showed a great amount of dexterity from the organist, as did the concluding work, a new-to-me (and harmonically pleasing) Toccata by Marcel Lanquetuit, in similar style to the well-known Widor and others! There were also two examples of the more experimental early twentieth Century style by Langlais (Hymne d’actions de grace – Te Deum) and Alain’s impressionistic Le Jardin Suspendu. A strange inclusion was a repeat (from just last week) of Franck’s Cantabile which once again featured some lovely lower register solo reeds.

This was an evening of great contrasts and expert handling of the Willis from a performer who knows this music and these instruments very well. A good mixture of styles and mostly lesser known but accessible repertoire. We look forward to more!

Next week’s concert is by Robert Quinney from New College, Oxford.

Stephen Page