Colin Walsh lunchtime recital under way with a well-crafted programme that took the audience on a journey from darkness to sunlight via mild peril.
The Prelude from Durufle‘s Op.5 Suite got proceedings off to an eery start before heading off into a heady mix of nostalgia and hope.
Some of the upper manual orchestration lacked fluidity. Still, Walsh exploited the rich storytelling opportunities in Durufle’s music.
(I’ve added a recording of the prelude to the Thoroughly Good Spotify Playlist – you knew about that, didn’t you?)
Tournemire’s Petite rapsodie improvisee is a dark textural oddity, after which Ropartz‘s Prelude Funebre seemed surprisingly orthodox with hints of a rock-like odyssey in parts. A solo flute towards the end gave the melodic subject a palpable fragility.
The real drama was reserved for Vierne‘s third organ symphony. In the first movement lavish chords are unravelled with terrifying effect – a musical illustration of a rag being run dry.
A more contemplative near-confessional second movement follows, after which a dark grotesque waltz full of intrigue, mystery and mild terror.
Here Colin Walsh succeeded in transforming an otherwise sunny lunchtime in SW1 into a thick foggy afternoon with limited visibility. Ravishing.
An exquisite fourth movement tricks the listener into a sense of modest resolution. What followed was pure showmanship: musically unnecessary, but gratefully received nonetheless.
St John’s Smith Square Thursday Lunchtime Concerts continue next week with the Maclet-Hadjiev Duo playing Handel, Kodaly and Bach