Review: Colin Walsh; Organ Recital; Bury St Edmunds Festival; St Edmundsbury Cathedral; May 19

Distinguished organist Colin Walsh took to the console of the new cathedral organ for the first of the two recitals which are taking place during this year’s Bury St Edmunds Festival.

As a long-lapsed organ student myself I was delighted to see the innovative use of large screens spread around the nave which allowed us to observe the organ keyboards as they were being played, along with an inset screen showing the pedals.

Many other members of the pleasingly large audience were clearly fascinated too as we all watched a master of the instrument make the performance look, as well as sound, almost effortless. The opening Praeludium in E minor by Bruhns (1665-1695), a work in ever-changing short sections, gave an opportunity to hear many of the beautifully voiced and subtle sounds of the new organ. Various pieces from the French repertoire, particularly loved by the recitalist, employed atmospheric and delicate tone colours, whilst Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E minor BWV 548 gave substance and weight to the central part of the programme, and reminded us why that composer stands apart for so many musicians.

After a beautifully played piece by Jean Langlais, with whom Colin Walsh studied for three years, the recital concluded with the Toccata in D flat by Joseph Jongen (1873-1953), which was a classic example of the style, employing fast-moving fingerwork and big pedal melodies – a rousing end to a great recital.

Wynn Rees

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