The Grand Organ of Gloucester Cathedral


Jonathan Hope plays the following selections on the grand organ of the Gloucester Cathedral:

  1. Purcell arr. Hope "Two Trumpet Tunes and Air"

  2. J. S. Bach "Toccata and Fugue" in D minor

  3. Ralph Vaughan Williams "Rhosymedre"

  4. Paul Dukas arr. Hope The Sorcerer's Apprentice

  5. Handel "Organ Concerto No. 13" in F (movements 1 and 2)

  6. Pierre Cochereau trans. Filsell "Final" (from Symphonie de Boston)

  7. Liszt arr. Rogg "St Francis of Paola Walking on the Waves"

  8. Herbert Howells "Psalm Prelude Set 2 No. 1"

  9. Elgar arr. Lemare "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D"

Priory specializes in church and organ music. This package has a Blu-ray, a DVD, and a CD! Recorded and produced by Paul Crichton; filmed and edited by Richard Knight; Associate Producer was Callum Ross; Executive Producer was Neil Collier. Released 2016, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. Grade: A-

Here we have another in the series of titles from Priory about English cathedral grand organs. This one is found at the Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucester, near the Welsh border. The cathedral was built in 1089, and the organ itself dates to 1666. Here you can see it rising above the town and the English countryside:


Below are two shots of the cathedral from different sides:


A menacing gargoyle looms:

Below we see the main case of the organ from two sides of the same hall:

And now we see the ornamental detail of the case. The pipes are painted with deep reds, greens, and golds:


Organist Jonathan Hope, Assistant Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral, is seen below playing this recital. He selected works that would:

  1. fit with the history of Gloucester Cathedral and the surrounding areas (like "Rhosymedre" by local composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and "St. Francis of Paola Walking on the Waves", which relates to the local River Severn and several water-related plate glass artworks in the Cathedral), or

  2. showcase the capabilities of the French-style organ ("Two Trumpet Tunes and Air" by Purcell and "Final" from Symphonie de Boston by Cochereau).


Below we see two close-ups of Hope which show the fine resolution achieved by videographer Richard Knight:


Here we see some ruins of St. Oswald's Priory, which was replaced as the local church when Gloucester Cathedral was built. It was mostly destroyed in the English Civil War in 1643.

An English nursery rhyme mentions a Doctor Foster having a bad time in Gloucester:

And yet we see his liquor company doing well on the waterfront to this day:


Another shot of the city around the River Severn:


Below is the Beatrix Potter Museum. This house was the inspiration for the story The Tailor of Gloucester:

The toys and knickknacks of the museum inspired Hope to include in his recital the whimsical and light-hearted "Organ Concerto No. 13" by Handel. The picture, of course, is Beatrix. (BTW, we have a delightful HDVD called Tales of Beatrix Potter that tells you much about the inhabitants of Gloucester in the old days.)


Returning to the Cathedral, we see some of the religious iconography. Here is a roof with many statues of saints and angels:


And here we have an old cross for an old cathedral:

Below is a stain-glass memorial for Alfred Herbert Brewer, who was the head organist of Gloucester Cathedral for 30 years (1897-1928):


There are some shots of the newer ranks and divisions of pipes, which are located in recesses of the cathedral:


Finally we see several war memorials in and around the cathedral while Hope plays the rousing finale of "Pomp and Circumstance" by Elgar:


Along with an hour and fifteen minutes of recital, this disc comes with four bonus features:

  • a discussion by Hope of the works he picked (11 minutes)

  • a history of the organ and a tour of its stops (34 minutes)

  • a re-edited version of Final from Symphonie de Boston with commentary from Hope (6 minutes)

  • an unforgettable bonus performance of "Pageant" by Leo Sowerby showcasing the pedalboard (13 minutes).

Below we see the bonus version of "Final." It is split into 4 screens so the viewer can see exactly what Hope is doing with his hands and feet and how the swell shades open and close. The excellent added commentary  allows the viewer to understand the intricacies of the instrument as it is played in real time:


This is the fourth Grand Organ title we're reviewed from Priory Records (See the Coventry Cathedral Organ, the Norwich Cathedral Organ, and the Durham Cathedral Organ). Much like these other titles, the picture and sound quality are good, and the performance itself is excellent. A standout is "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," arranged for organ by Jonathan Hope himself. However, unlike other entries in this series, the information about the cathedral and the town is limited. There are nice shots of the city and the countryside, but aside from some references to things like Doctor Foster and Beatrix Potter, the title doesn't give much of a sense of space or personality for Gloucester beyond any number of idyllic country towns in England. For that reason and for lacking 96kHz/24-bit sound sampling and lossless surround sound, I give this title an A-. But if you are an organist or a keen fan of organ music, you have to get this title just to have the almost unbelievable display of pedal virtuosity in "Pageant" by Leo Sowerby.