The Organ

The English Cathedral Series vol. 8

Scott Farrell at the organ of Newcastle Cathedral

The organ of Newcastle Cathedral has had a varied career. The 1676 case by Renatus Harris survives within the present instrument and the pipework dates from 1891 (Lewis), 1911 and 1954 (Harrisons) and 1981 (Nicholsons). It's a very large eclectic instrument and to be honest it's not one of the best cathedral organs you'll hear. There are some lovely quiet registers but the tutti is congested and tubby and capped by some rather unlovely mixtures.

It's difficult to know what will sound well on this type of instrument; Scott Farrell's all-French programme is as good as anything, I suppose, and lovers of this repertoire will be well satisfied with his flowing and faithful performances of Guilmant's 1st Sonata and works by Messiaen and Vierne. It's great to have on this CD Tournemire's wonderfully calm, serene and atmospheric Suite 35 from L'Orgue Mystique and also Saint-Saens's fine Fantaisie in D flat major. As ever, Gary Cole's recording is excellent.