Organ of the Antipodes

organtip2Organ of the Antipodes

Volume One: music by Boellman, Vierne,
Wesley and Haydn

Rhys Boak (organ) Ryoko Mori (organ)

reviewed by Neville Cohn

One of the most musically valuable of the many recording initiatives on the MOVE label is its growing series of compact discs devoted to music for the organ. This is a particularly attractive compilation which features two organists of considerable merit: Rhys Boak who works tirelessly to advance the cause of organ repertoire and the Japanese-born and – trained Ryoko Mori.

There is much to savour here ranging from Mori’s account of Leon Boellman’s Toccata from the Suite Gothic to delights such as an arrangement for organ of the andante movement from Haydn’s Symphony No 94 (The Surprise). The latter, Haydn at his most droll, is pure delight – and the Boellman Toccata is an immensely dramatic opening track. With its massive waves of sound, it is an irresistible call to attention.

How very different is the adagio from Louis Vierne’s Symphonie pour orgue No 3, music that has about it an ominous, dark quality that would have made it ideal as background music for a movie like the 1922 silent vampire movie Nosferatu.

Boak and Mori pool their talents in Samuel Wesley’s Duet for organ. This is music of no great depth but its opening allegro is played with buoyancy and first rate synchronisation that make it some of the most eminently listenable of the CDs eleven tracks. And a couple of extra hands certainly help to bring off the concluding fugue, an initially frothy concoction that concludes in a blaze of grandeur.

In the first movement of Vierne’s Symphonie No 2, Boak, like some musical Zeus, responds to the score by hurling great blocks of sound through the speakers. A softly bouncing scherzo is a pleasing contrast.

This CD marks the centenary of the installation of the George Fincham organ in Malvern Presbyterian Church in Melbourne. Boak is only the fifth organist at Malvern since 1886 and the “CD is dedicated to the memory of three musicians from the former Chinese mission who had an outstanding love for and ability in making music”, among them William Wong Loy (Bill) who was organist from 1920 to 1986 which must surely have broken some records for length of service.

In passing: in 2005, Boak and Mori became the first musicians to give an organ recital series in mainland China.

Copyright Neville Cohn 2006

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