The Organ

The Percy Whitlock Companion

Seven Voluntaries - Charles Avison junior (edited by Simon Fleming and David Patrick)
Twelve Short Preludes on Old English Psalm Tunes - William Thomas Best (edited by David Patrick)

Fitzjohn Music Publications; £8 each

Avison is the little-known son of the Newcastle organist Charles Avison, and these voluntaries come from a set of eleven short pieces once attributed to his father. Being roughly contemporary with Mozart, Avison's style generally displays a simple Classical style, rarely departing from a straightforward two-voice texture except for some occasional homophonic chords or baroque roaming bass lines, and will be welcomed by amateur organists in particular for their ease and the editors' suggestions as to registration.

Best was a 19th century organist in Liverpool and London who did much to popularise Bach in this country at that time, so it is no surprise to encounter a smaller Orgelbuchlein of his own. Here a selection of hymn tunes, such as Old 100th, Hanover, Surrey and St Anne, is given variously a harmonically Romantic or rigorously contrapuntal treatment: the close imitation of the counterpoint in 'Give ear, Thou judge of all the earth' through which the tune is interwoven is worthy of Bach himself. The set naturally requires a much more ambitious instrument and technique than the Avison, but it will be welcomed for purposes of study and performance within and outside the Church.

Curtis Rogers