The Organ

Sounds Messianic

Jamie Hitel plays the organ of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Akron, Ohio
59' 34"

Jamie Hitel is a native of England and former director of music of Waltham Abbey, having previously worked in Norway for three years. This recording is from his current church in Ohio, which has a large four-manual Wicks organ (opus 6320 no less!). The programme comprises Messiaen's great cycle of 1939, Les Corps Glorieux, and Franck's famous Choral No 1 in E. The reverberation time in the building is short which doesn't help either work. However, the organ has a wide range of colour and sounds pretty convincing in both works, especially the Messiaen.

On the negative side, some of the reed tone sounds fairly rough or nasal. The Messiaen is well played with strong character and the organ copes with the many unusual registrations demanded. The struggle between life and death is well conveyed in the fourth movement and there is a real sense of joy in the sixth. The whole piece feels like a 'performance.' The Franck is fluent if brisk and there is some unusual 'soloing out' in the final line. The booklet contains very full programme notes, biography and a specification.