Joseph Nolan's return to our annual organ concert after ten years was another triumph. His programme showcased his virtuosic playing and the wide range of sounds possible from the the organ and its fine digital technology.
His opening piece, J S Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, he considered to be Bach's greatest and most magical work – a view shared by audience members I spoke to. It certainly enabled him to create some gloriously deep bass sounds and showcased the organ's range.
During the Prelude, Fugue and Variation by César Franck, the projected video image enabled the audience to appreciate the astonishing hand and feet movements, and the dexterous use of the three keyboards and stops. The Suite Gothique by Léon Boëllmann had four contrasting elements. There were some light, delicate touches in the Introduction – Choral, contrasted with the Menuet gothique, the gentle Prière à Notre-Dame and the heavier, frenetic style of the Toccata.
Throughout the first half, we were treated to some majestic sounds that especially delighted some of the organists present. They described his playing as simply brilliant, being especially impressed with the clarity of his playing and his use of the stops to colour the music.
The second half began with Marcel Dupré's Variations sur un Noel. This virtuoso work written by Dupré during a tour of the USA was described as a means of showing off the organ and organist in 15 minutes and it did just that. There was clever use of the three keyboards and a recurring theme around the words of the hymn "Now the green blade rises from the buried grain."
When the Saints go Marching in by Nigel Ogden was a stirring, fun piece with wide variations of style. The final Dance Suite by Noel Rawsthorne was a foot-tapping finale based on Ilkla Moor Baht 'at. It once again showcased Joseph Nolan's virtuosity with changing pace and expression as well as inter-twining other tunes such as Lord of the Dance, The Hornpipe and Old MacDonald, to name but a few.
The prolonged applause drew the customary encore and overheard departing comments such as, "I thoroughly enjoyed all of it" and "It was one of the most enjoyable concerts for years".
Next year also promises to be a special year with the outstanding Scott Brothers Duo booked for 8th May 2019 at 7.30pm. Jonathan Scott will be on the organ and brother Tom on the piano. As a taster, you can listen to their rendition of Mozart's 'Magic Flute' on YouTube.
Finally, Gill Marks did a great job as compère for the absent organiser of these events, Derrick Matthews, who is newly home from emergency back surgery. We wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to his welcoming us all to next year's 34th organ concert.