Since the Royal Albert Hall organ was inaugurated by W.T.Best, the most famous performer of his day, in the presence of Queen Victoria on the 29th March 1871, it seems appropriate to begin this programme with one of Best’s own organ transcriptions: the Overture to Mendelssohn’s Oratorio St. Paul. Mendelssohn’s own performances of Bach on the organ in St. Paul’s Cathedral and elsewhere during the 1830s had been wildly acclaimed by the crowds who came to hear him and Best took full advantage of the enormous surge in interest in performances of music arranged for the organ. After the Mendelssohn Overture it is but a short step to the symphonic nature of Schumann’s Six Fugues on the name B-A-C-H, to which the wide dynamic range and sonic possibilities of the Albert Hall organ are ideally matched.
About £1.7m has been spent on refurbishing this illustrious instrument, and it sounds wonderful in Preston’s performances of a repertoire designed to show off its versatility – The Sunday Times
Now Simon Preston has devised this magnificent programme of music, magnificently played and impressivley recorded, that suits the instrument’s ample dimensions ideally – The Sunday Telegraph
Rhythmic drive has always been fundamental to his brand, but the sheer force of gesture and manipulation of tone colour are the winning qualities for me – BBC Music Magazine
His programme is electrifying … trademark virtuosity, dazzlingly displayed … as a communicative, musical and absorbing performance, this is unbeatable … this disc is an absolute must have – International Record Review
Preston glories in the organ’s inexhaustible versatility – Cambridge (Magazine of the Cambridge Society)