Review: Peter Litman organ recital: Ely Cathedral Summer Organ Recital Series 8th August 2010 5.15 p.m.

Peter Litman’s contribution Ely Cathedral Summer Organ Recital Series was positively charming. He presented a delightful programme of organ pieces that were much appreciated by the sizeable audience. When Assistant Organist to Ely Cathedral, Jonathan Lilley, introduced this fine performer there was no doubt that the recital was going to be a good one.
Bach’s ‘Toccata in F’ BWV540 set the tone. This performer was well in command of the instrument and every line was clearly delivered. The pace was unhurried, engendering a general aura of calm and assurance that pervaded the whole recital. This performer knew what he was doing. Astute selection of organ stops and an intuitive awareness of musical structure wove Bach’s breathless phrases into a magical fabric.
A Cathedral organ the size of Ely Cathedral’s specimen is likely to be exploited for its tremendous power but Peter demonstrated that musical quality can come from the most fragile of expressions. He demonstrated the organ’s capacity to illuminate the most delicate and sensitive of phrases in Samuel Sebastian Wesley’s ‘Larghetto in F sharp minor’ that followed. His accuracy, precision and exquisite timing were especially evident in this piece.
The dramatic, complex and involved texture of Max Reger’s ‘Te Deum’ op 59 no12 provided a strong contrast.
The final Messe Basse op.30 by Vierne also exhibited Peter’s appreciation of the softest sounds and the audience was spellbound as the organ almost whispered in the opening movements. Vierne’s attractive tundeful themes were always to the fore while contrasts of mood and volume were fully and effectively explored. When the rousing, triumphant exclamations of the final movement resounded in the Cathedral vaults, the audience burst into applause. This had indeed been a fine concert.
The remaining organ recitals for this series (at 5.15 in Ely Cathedral) will feature:
15th August Paul Trepte
22nd August Oliver Hancock
29th August Parker Ramsay



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