Gothic Toccata

Elaine Siversen
Fine Music (2MBS) (Australia)
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The magnificent Gothic Toccata of Graeme Koehne is the highlight of this disc and truly shows the splendour of the Melbourne Town Hall grand organ. The original grand organ of 1872 was destroyed by fire in 1925 and a new organ was built by Hill, Norman and Beard and inaugurated in 1929. Its range and capacity are in the tradition of the English romantic grand organs. This organ was restored and re-launched in 2001 ...

The works on the disc are by Australian composers although it is probably stretching the point with London-born Fritz Hart who spent four years here and then lived the rest of his life in Hawaii. However, to his credit, two of his students were Peggy Glanville-Hicks and Margaret Sutherland and his Fantasia in G minor gives full rein to the colours of the organ.

The two works of Ross Edwards (Dawn Canticle and Organmaninya) also come close to exploiting the power of the grand organ as does the very brief Over the Hills and Far Away by Grainger. Other composers represented are Andrew Schultze, Colin Brumby, George Thalben-Ball, Alfred Hill and Phyllis Batchelor.

All works are played with great competence by organist, harpsichordist and pianist, Dr Calvin Bowman, who is much in demand as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician. He has recorded the complete organ works of JS Bach and one critic wrote: ‘... at each step along the path of this massive enterprise Bowman is producing masterly interpretations’. His interpretations of the works of these composers of the 20th and 21st centuries are excellent and probably much appreciated by the composers ... the aforementioned Gothic Toccata which, in my opinion, stands supreme in this collection and is one of the great works of Australian musical literature.