The Organ

Benchmarks: Vol. 6

Paul Derrett at the organ of Ledbury Parish Church
76' 32"

When Paul Derrett started his series of CDs in 1996 featuring some of the smaller 'organs of merit' in Cheltenham, he could hardly have foreseen the interest that has since arisen from all parts of the country. Today he features but one instrument on this CD, at Ledbury Parish Church, fifteen miles east of Hereford where, in 1820 Thomas Elliott built a small 2-manual organ, enlarged by Nicholsons in 1895 and further altered by them in 1969. Before undertaking more work in order to improve the effect of the organ within a building somewhat lacking in acoustic, much thought was given to the project and Percy Daniel of Clevedon were appointed. On 15 July 2000 Dr Roy Massey gave the opening recital in which he demonstrated just how much improvement they had made.

On this CD Paul Derrett shows, in his inimitable way, just how splendid the instrument now sounds in a typical recital of organ works both old and new taking care that we hear something of significance of each and every stop. All that is needed, of course, is a designer with good ears who can foresee how the egress of sound can be improved simply by moving a soundboard from A to B and making a swell-box that works! Here, Percy Daniel & Co. Ltd have made a winner.

If I had to choose but one of Paul Derrett's examples, it would be the Sinfonia to Cantata No 146 by Bach, played with a brilliance and rhythmical perfection worthy of the occasion. In a lighter vein are the Andante in F by Mozart, the Scherzo arranged by Derrett from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a lovely Andante by Cor Kint, the Cantilène in B minor by the blind organist Horace Watling, ending with the heroic and virtuosic Tanz Toccata by Anton Heiller and the Variations on a New Year Carol by one of Paul's former teacher's, Richard Popplewell. You will enjoy every minute.