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:Virtuoso! Music for Organ

Virtuoso! Music for Organ - Daniel Moult performs virtuosoic twentieth-century organ music on the Bridlington Priory organ CD and DVD coverGramophone Magazine

An exhilarating, mostly French recital on a sumptuous Yorkshire instrument.

The mighty nave of the former Augustinian priory church of St Mary is one of Bridlington’s three treasures (the others being local resident David Hockney and that equally well-known landmark Flanborough Head). Organ lovers have long beaten a path to Bridlington Priory to experience the grandeur of its sumptuous instrument, installed by the Belgian organ builder Charles Anneessens in 1889 and recently comprehensively restored by Nicholsons. A particular draw is the monster 32’ Tubasson reed without which any recital (live or recorded) might be deemed a “poor show”. Fortunately Daniel Moult holds nothing back in his programme of 20th century tours de force, the video camera giving the best possible vantage point of the console, which is at chancel floor height. The DVD’s extra features include a tour of the instruments palatial and immaculate interior.

French music predominates. Dupré’s Trois Préludes et Fugues are rattled off with the lightest of touches; similarly Duruflé’s Toccata spins sweetly and evenly to its brilliant conclusion, setting the scene for a trio of contemporary works, the most memorable being Miroir by Dutch composer Ad Wammes. One of this discs great virtues is that nothing outlasts its welcome. Alain’s superb miniature Fantasmagorie (a sort of Petits Litanies) makes an excellent adjunct to Schmidt’s teutonically thorough Toccata. Messiaen’s effervescent Transports de Joie makes a sparkling conclusion to a thrilling production.

Simon Eadon’s ideal recorded balance has caught a strong stereo image and made the most of a dryish acoustic, allowing one to marvel even more at Moult’s exhilarating musicianship.

Malcolm Riley

Gramophone Magazine, September 2010


Choir and Organ

In his introductory piece to camera, Daniel Moult engagingly contrasts the Lisztian view that virtuosity is a central component of musicianship with Wagner’s typically forthright and possibly disingenuous remark that it is a ‘trifling indulgence for the serious musician’. Moult wryly adds that if virtuosity pursued for its own ends can make the musician into a ‘performing seal’, the skill of the delivery mechanism risks diverting attention away from the paramount skill and accomplishment of the composer. ‘At heart, this is music I love,’ he concludes winningly, ‘and I hope you enjoy it.’

Organ performance videos have a strong part to play in lifting organ loft anonymity and persuading the public that organists’ unique combination of performance skills are every bit as demanding as any headlining artist at Carnegie Hall or the Concertgebouw. Here, the open console of Bridlington Priory’s large 1889 Anneesens / 2006 Nicholson organ lends itself to bright, even lighting in a directorial approach which, as befits the DVD’s title, concentrates on Moult’s exceptionally fluid keyboard and pedal technique. Hundreds of thousands of keystrokes whiz by as Moult works his way through toccatas by Franz Schmidt, Duruflé, and an exciting exercise in process syncopation – Gothic Toccata by Graeme Koehne (b. 1956). And the bulk of the pieces not named as such harbour toccata structures, such as Dupré’s op.7 Preludes & Fugues, Messiaen’s Transports de Joie, the popular Miroir by Ad Wammes (b.1953) and the Praeumbulum super Mi Fa by Andres van Rossem (b.1957).

Apart from some pleasing interstitial views of Bridlington Priory’s architecture and organ pipes, the unfussy camerawork rarely strays from Moult’s presence at the console, as he demonstrates a contained virtuosity with no need of Lisztian wild hair, arm-waving, catsuit or rhinestone sparkle. To the lay observer, he risks making it all look deceptively easy; but this is a DVD that serious students of the organ will want to revisit for an object lesson in the unfussy performance of some fiendishly difficult repertoire. For the technically minded, the DVD is filmed in 16:9 surround-sound, and plays on both the PAL and NTSC systems; DVD extras include detailed specifications of the organ (its intermediate pedigree also includes Abbott & Smith, Hill, Norman & Beard, John Compton and Lycock & Bannister) and there is an accompanying audio-only CD of the music.

Graeme Kay

Choir and Organ Magazine, September / October 2010


Organists' Review

Daniel Moult performs virtuosic twentieth-century music on the organ or Bridlington Priory.

There is no doubt that Daniel Moult is a virtuoso when it comes to playing the organ and the repertoire he has chosen for this DVD certainly enables him to illustrate his skill and demonstrate his formidable technique. He has picked the 1889 Annessens/2006 Nicholson organ in Bridlington Priory,Yorkshire,  with its great power and array of beautiful colours to showcase these twentieth century works. From the outset the photography is excellent and the building well lit. The shots of the playing hands on the manuals and the feet on the pedal board are well framed and reveal the precision of the nimble footwork. There are close ups of Moult’s agile fingers and he demonstrates just how effortless playing something like Duruflé’s Toccata can be. The music that Moult chooses contains some wonderful gems and ends with an exhilarating performance of Transport de joie. Moult is an impressive player who uses apt registrations and gives powerful readings of all the pieces on the DVD and accompanying CD, where he brings out the vast range of expression and tone. His photogenic piece to camera at the beginning of the DVD allows Moult to set the scene with Bridlington Priory behind him in the distance.  If you like the repertoire included on this CD then you will enjoy this DVD. Good camera work and virtuosic playing come together here for a satisfying experience.

Andrew Palmer

Organists’ Review, August 2011


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