Gothic Toccata

Christopher Maxim
Church Music Quarterly (UK)

Despite its title, Gothic Toccata spares us the Boëllmann Suite Gothique, offering something much more off the beaten track, with music by composers who were born and/or work(ed) in Australia: Richard Mills(b. 1949), Andrew Schultz (b. 1960), Greame Koehne (b. 1956), Ross Edwards (b. 1943), Colin Brumby (b. 1931), George Thalben-Ball (1896-1987), Alfred Hill (1870-1960), Phyllis Batchelor (1915-1999), Fritz Hart (1874-1949) and Percy Grainger (1882-1961).

The music ranges from the pastoral lyricism of Phyllis Batchelor’s When I was one-and-twenty and the dignity of Thalben-Ball’s famous Elegy, to the angular syncopations of Ross Edwards’s Organmaninya and the chord-clusters of Andrew Schultz’s Études Espace. The programme culminates in Grainger’s jolly Children’s March.


Dr Calvin Bowman performs with panache and demonstrates the magic of the vast Grand Organ of Melbourne Town Hall, which boasts a 32ft Contra Trombone on the Great, three Vox Humanas (forgive the ungrammatical pluralisation) on the Swell, numerous percussion stops, a 64ft Gravissima, and strings and Tubas galore!