Organ Master Series Volume 2
Dame Gillian Weir plays the Phelps Organ at Hexham Abbey. Priory CD 752 is the Organ Master Series Volume 2, featuring organs built by her late husband Lawrence Phelps. Playing works by Attaignant, J.S. Bach, Schnizer, Mozart, Hindemith and Françaix, Gillian Weir takes you on a musical time-machine adventure through the centuries using the Hexham instrument as the vehicle. The music spans a period of over 400 years, ranging from the simple delights of Attaignant to the sophisticated colors and rhythms of Françaix. This CD is an accomplishment on so many levels, revealing Dame Gillian Weir's precise, sensitive, musical performances and refreshing repertoire; Lawrence Phelps' instrument of color, refinement, power and beauty; Priory's fine sound recording, all on the Abbey's fortunate choice of project for its 1300th anniversary in 1974!
“As expected, her authoritative playing pours like a fine claret from the speakers, everything perfectly measured and weighted. A delightful programme...” Andrew Bryden, Cathedral Music 2002
“Gillian Weir certainly knows how to choose music that best shows off a particular organ and she does full justice to Hexham's lovely Phelps instrument. The programme takes us from six cheeky anonymous dances to Bach's epic Sei gegrüsset partita, via Mozart, Schnizer, Hindemith and Françaix. As always, Weir's playing is bursting with character and the recorded sound has near perfect clarity – just right for showing every sparking detail of the performances.” Choir & Organ, March/April 2002
“The remarkable thing, though, is that both instruments speak with a distinctive voice that is recognisably the same. Phelps had the sheer genius to know precisely what was ideal for each very different environment, and his distinctive signature is preserved in these performances... [the Hindemith Sonatas] a rather grand work in the romantic tradition, finds its ideal expression on the large Boston organ... whilst the second is beautifully served at Hexham -- the same musical language, spoken to perfection, in places blessed with the intuitive musical talents of Phelps and Weir... nothing gets in the way of the music itself... The Hexham experience, if less obviously spine-tingling, is all sheer delight.” David Thompson
“Although it has only 34 stops over two manuals and pedals, it has more strength of character, beauty and variety than many English cathedral organs. Such is Dame Gillian's outstanding musicianship that it's easy to imagine her as a singer, conductor, or ballerina. More than any other player she has the ability to make the organ dance (as in the Attaignant and Schnizer works), sing (in the slower passages of the Mozart and Françaix pieces), and her command of the organ's resources in the Hindemith Sonata echoes that of a great conductor... one is left with the impression that she enjoyed making this CD, and it should bring much pleasure to all music lovers.” Christopher Nickol
Priory Records(external link) PRCD 752