In the soloist's own words, all the music on this recording has featured in his regular recitals in the Usher Hall, and has proved highly successful with young and old alike. Arthur Sullivan's pieces certainly need no introduction, but those by Michael Thomson (1949-2016) merit some background information.
Thomson was an Aberdeen-based musician who was continually connected with St Machar's Cathedral since his teenage years; indeed he was Master of Music there. This position enabled him to be very active not only as a church musician and organist, but also as a composer. Church duties aside, he was also occupied as a cinema and theatre organist, playing for many years in the Capitol Cinema in Aberdeen, sadly no longer extant. During these years his reputation grew steadily and he was regarded by many as a formidable natural talent. Thomson also obtained a Bachelor of Music degree from Edinburgh University and was instructed by such eminent names as Kenneth Leighton and Peter Williams. From them he acquired a sound knowledge in harmony, counterpoint and keyboard skills; the things that matter most in music, and his craftsmanship is all too evident in his various original compositions in different styles, mostly for the organ.
Listen — Michael Thomson: Salute to Busby Berkeley
(track 5, 0:02-1:01) © 2018 Delphian Records Ltd :
Mike and John were great friends, so it is no surprise that when the former died in the summer of 2016, the latter took part in a memorial concert in St Machar's the following April, where he played four of the pieces recorded here. This wonderful collection brings back to life the cinema organ style neglected for decades, and the programme is indeed a feast of exhilarating favourites full of joy and carefree sounds.
Listen — Michael Thomson: Tullich to Inverey: Scots March
(track 11, 0:02-1:00) © 2018 Delphian Records Ltd :
All the Sullivan pieces (greatly admired by Kitchen), except track 12, are adapted and arranged by Kitchen himself and all are premiere recordings in those arrangements.
Listen — Sullivan, arranged by Kitchen:
Oh, is there not one maiden breast? (The Pirates of Penzance)
(track 6, 5:36-6:35) © 2018 Delphian Records Ltd :
The Thomson pieces are all the composer's original arrangements. A gem of a disc full of wit, warmth and colour, brilliantly executed on the Usher Hall Organ by John Kitchen, who is indeed a passionate advocate of the two composers. Sonics and notes are top-drawer stuff.
Copyright © 23 April 2019
CD INFORMATION: JOHN KITCHEN PLAYS BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC