Whitlock: Organ Sonata in C Minor

£12.00

The first release from the restored organ of the famed Temple Church, London. Performed by associate Organist of the church Greg Morris, the programme includes several highlights of the organ repertoire, centered around Percy Whitlock’s stunning Organ Sonata.

SKU: SIGCD379

What people are saying

" Arthur Harrison’s instrument, originally built for Lord Glentanar’s ballroom, epitomizes the opulent 1920s with all the grandeur of a fine Rolls Royce. This new recording follows a sensitive rebuild helping the instrument to speak more convincingly into the fine acoustics of the Temple Church, and it has never sounded better …" Choir and Organ, July 2014

"a singularly impressive release." Gramophone, September 2014

Greg Morris

Release date:5th May 2014
Order code:SIGCD379
Barcode: 635212037928

  1. Sonata in C minior: I. Grave – Animoto – Percy Whitlock – 13.59
  2. Sonata in C minior: II. Canzona – Percy Whitlock – 6.41
  3. Sonata in C minior: III. Scherzetto – Percy Whitlock – 4.46
  4. Sonata in C minior: IV. Choral – Percy Whitlock – 22.42
  5. Litanies – Jehan Alain – 5.29
  6. Cort?ge et Litanie, Op. 19 No. 2 – Marcel Dupr? – 6.27
  7. Choral No. 3 in A minor, Op. 40 – C?sar Franck – 12.47

You may think that Percy Whitlock might nor have been the most likely composer to produce a successful organ solo work of symphonic proportions. After all, his reputation rests on his colourful organ miniatures, which mingle a neat turn of phrase, derived from his involvement in light music, with piquant harmonies. Greg Morris and the enticing organ of the Temple Church conclusively prove otherwise. 

With its self-conscious echoes of Elgar and elusive references to the kind of soured pastoral nostalgia of Delius, there is certainly potential for a harmless game of spot-the-influence among both performers and listeners to while away the Sonata’s 50-minute duration. But Whitlock was driven by a passion for Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony; the Sonata, cast in the same key and lasting almost the same time, powerfully evokes not just the emotional extremism but also the structural long-windedness of its Russian exemplar. 

The Sonata’s identity crisis throws up real problems when it comes to presenting it on disc. It is neither church nor theatre music, and its symphonic language and proportions are not spiced up with the exciting organistic gestures of the French. Whitlock’s is music which, for all its derivative elements, has a distinctly personal resonance, and it requires not just a player who can sit outside the emotions and let them speak for themselves but an organ that combines both the gravitas of an English cathedral instrument and the exuberance of a theatre one. 

The Temple Church’s Harrison and Harrison, originally built for a cottish baronial ballroom, fits the bill perfectly, its London location adding a wonderfully rich acoustic to a specification which can best be described as hearty. Morris paces the work to perfection, keeping the climaxes at ann’s length and holding back tantalisingly where others might be tempted to over-indulge. The motley assortment of French showpieces added as fillers is, at best, incongruous, but does not prevent this being a singularly impressive release.

Gramophone, Marc Rochester, September 2014

Arthur Harrison’s instrument, originally built for Lord Glentanar’s ballroom, epitomizes the opulent 1920s with all the grandeur of a fine Rolls Royce. This new recording follows a sensitive rebuild helping the instrument to speak more convincingly into the fine acoustics of the Temple Church, and it has never sounded better (although the recording is rather bass-heavy). Whitlock’s Sonata provides ample opportunity for Greg Morris to showcase the wealth of colour and expression available. I would have preferred a continuation ofEnglish music for the rest of the disc, but Morris crosses the channel: Franck’s Third Choral sounds glorious but Alain’s Litanies lacks the sparkle found elsewhere on this disc.

Rupert Gough, Choir and Organ