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Monday
Nov272017

The Grand Organ of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Richard Lea plays the following selections on the grand organ of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral:
1.        Tielman Susato & Henry Purcell  "Mohrentanz and Rigaudon"         
2.        Jon Kristian Fjellestad  "Toccata"
3.        G. Ronald Mason "A Song of Sunshine"                 
4.        Stephen Adams (arr. Dr. A. H. Claire) "The Holy City"                
5.        J. S. Bach "Liebster Jesu Wir Sind Hier BWV 731"             
6.        Joseph Bonnet   In Memoriam - Titanic             
7.        "Prelude on Londonderry Air" (arr. Noel Rawsthorne)           
8.        George Martin  "Theme One" (arr. Dr. A.H. Claire)          
9.        Paul McCartney "Save The Child"  (arr. A. H. Claire)          
10.      Franz Liszt "Fantasia and Fugue on 'Ad Nos Ad Salutarem Undam'" 

Priory specializes in church and organ music. The package has a Blu-ray, a DVD, and a CD! Per the publisher, this is the first organ recital to be released in Blu-ray. Recorded and produced by Paul Crichton; filmed and edited by Richard Knight; Associate Producer was Callum Ross; Executive Producer was Neil Collier. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Grade: A

Unlike later editions in this series that take place in centuries-old Anglican cathedrals, this title is filmed in a modern, Roman Catholic cathedral. Here we see the exterior of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, completed in 1967:

The interior is one massive room with the altar in the center and the organ console nearby:

Below is a shot of the cathedral from the ground level:

The design aesthetic, while using elements of traditional church iconography, certainly feels more at home in a modern-art museum than a typical cathedral:

Below we see Organist and Assistant Director of Music for the Metropolitan Cathedral, Richard Lea:

For a few moments during "Theme One" by George Martin, organist's assistant Charlotte Rowan joins Lea in an unusual 4-hands organ passage:

Below we have a close-up of the main case of the organ, which includes many actual horns:

Two "behind-the-scenes" shots of the hidden pipes:

We take a step back from the cathedral to learn more about Liverpool. Below we see the distinctive spire of the cathedral in the middle of the Liverpool skyline.

The old and the new exist side-by-side in Liverpool:

Here we have the other major cathedral in Liverpool, the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral:

The Anglican Cathedral is seen on the left of this historical map of Liverpool. The Roman Catholic cathedral on the right was never finished:

Below we have a memorial for the Titanic, which departed on its fateful voyage from Liverpool:

A scale model of the ship at a Liverpool museum:

During the Great Famine in Ireland (1845-52), many Irish people emigrated to Liverpool. This migration changed the demographics of the city; the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral was built due to the high number of Catholics who lived in the area. Below we see a memorial statue dedicated to the Great Famine:

Below is the "Hall of Fame" at the Cavern Club, a famous club where bands like The Beatles played. (The image is superimposed on that of a jukebox):

In addition to the main recital, there are three bonus features:

  • A discussion on each piece and why it was selected (12 minutes).
  • A narrated, multi-screen version of "Theme One" by Martin (5 minutes).
  • A tour of the organ and its stops (40 minutes).

Like the rest of the titles in Priory's line of Grand Organ Blu-rays, this title has great sound and picture quality. The colorful and modern cathedral pops in high-definition. And the sound, despite not being recorded with 96kHz/24-bit sound sampling, is still very worthy.

This title was released in 2013 as the first of Priory's Grand Organ Blu-rays. (We reported it last because it was hard to find at vendors for some time.) It probably has the heaviest playlist of the series. (The later Grand Organ releases tend to have shorter pieces including more transcriptions.) But it has less information about the cathedral and the surrounding city than any of the later Grand Organ titles. (Historical information and "local color" is stressed more in the later releases.)

Richard Lea does an excellent job of commenting on his playlist and discussing the organ console. His performance of "Fantasia and Fugue on 'Ad Nos Ad Salutarem Undam'" is stupendous.  Of the titles in the Grand Organ Blu-ray series, this one was perhaps aimed mostly at the organ professional. The later titles broaden their appeal somewhat to a more general market. 

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