Big Statements

Laurence Caldecote plays works by Théodore-César Salomé, William Harris, Hendrik Andriessen, George Frideric Handel, Wallace Sabin, Herbert Howells, Leonard Butler and Jean Sibelius for the Derby Cathedral Autumn Organ Recitals, heard by MIKE WHEELER


Laurence Caldecote, Assistant Organist at All Saints' Church, Northampton, opened his recital - Derby Cathedral, Derby, UK, 23 October 2020 - with Théodore-César Salomé's Grand-Choeur in C, Op 68 No 4, projecting its grand manner with style. The Prelude from William Harris' Four Short Pieces was a nicely-judged response - placid and unruffled.

Hendrik Andriessen is probably best-known as Louis Andriessen's father, but on the evidence of his Thema met Variaties he deserves greater recognition as a composer in his own right. It packs a lot of experience into its compact (barely seven-minute) time-frame, from the imposing theme, through a sequence of variations ranging from the gentle to the grandly gothic, from a subdued, furtive scherzo to a highly-coloured rhetorical ending, all delineated with an aptly-chosen variety of registration.

Laurence Caldecote
Laurence Caldecote

Handel's Organ Concerto in F, Op 4 No 5, HWV 293, worked well as a solo piece, with separate manuals differentiating between the orchestral and solo passages. In particular, the two quick movements, the second and fourth, bounced along merrily.

Northamptonshire-born Wallace Sabin (1869-1937) trained in the UK before moving to California. As the title indicates, his Bourée in D recreates the lively baroque dance, with Caldecote conjuring up some gentle sounds in the quieter middle section.

From there we moved to the very different world of Herbert Howells, and his tribute to a great sixteenth-century predecessor, Master Tallis' Testament. The interior musings at the start opened out effectively, with both composer and organist careful not to overplay their hand. The quiet ending, which can seem like a bit of an afterthought, here felt like a natural summing-up.

Capricietto, by London-based Leonard Butler (1869-1943) was a delight, playful, full of shifting colours and with a neat pay-off, neatly dispatched.

Finally, another big statement, Sibelius' Finlandia, in Herbert Fricker's not totally successful transcription. The paired chords of the opening merged into each other, lacking the snap and crunch of the orchestral original, added to which Caldecote tended to muddy the waters with some over-registration. The quieter passages were generally more effective, and the well-known tune glowed, but structurally, the performance felt slightly disjointed overall.

Sad to say, from where I was sitting Caldecote's spoken introduction was largely inaudible.

Copyright © 29 October 2020 Mike Wheeler,
Derby UK






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