Gothic Toccata

Peter McCallum
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

The Grand Organ in the Melbourne Town Hall has a family and a musical relationship with the Sydney Town Hall monster.

Sydney's instrument was built by Hill and Son, who later became one third of Hill, Norman and Beard, who were commissioned to build the Melbourne instrument in 1929 after a fire. Both are large civic organs in the British romantic tradition with plenty of scope for bombast, populism and vulgarity.

Calvin Bowman's wonderfully played disc is a vivid and intelligent survey of how the Empire tradition was adapted in Australia throughout the 20th century. Richard Mills's Epithalamium frames a central section reminiscent of the French romantic style with outer sections of robust exhilaration.

Andrew Schultz's Etudes Espace evokes a lonely sense of space, while Graeme Koehne recreates a Bach choral and a virtuosic French-style toccata. There is also music by Edwards, Brumby, Thalben-Ball, Phyllis Batchelor and Grainger.