Visits to the Parish Church, URC and St. George's in Kendal
3 November 2001

Review by Tracker

We first assembled in the Parish Church to be welcomed by Hugh Davies, Eric Robinson (Priest) and very welcome coffee and biscuits for the travel weary. A wonderful treat in the form of a short recital by Hugh started our meeting. He played the Dupré arrangement of the Bach Sinfonia from Cantata 29; the Chorale Prelude `Wir glauben' by Bach and the first movement of the C# minor Sonata by Harwood. Needless to say the playing was mesmerising. In the Sinfonia the speed of the semiquaver deluge defied belief. The chorale prelude is just right for the petrified pianists to get the feel of the pedal board since each foot has its own tune! The Harwood was the icing on the cake because the sonata is heard too rarely. Kendal Parish Church has now acquired a second organ to accompany the choir when it moves from the west end to the communion area. It is a very tonally robust Bevington, not, as Hugh explained, ideally suited for subtle choir accompaniment in all genres but nevertheless a step in Hugh's development of the music at the Parish Church. Hugh also gave us a performance of Bach's Prelude and Fuge in C on this organ. We were especially grateful for Hugh's hospitality because he had to rush of to conduct the RSCM festival in Carlisle Cathedral.

A few members tried their luck. The Chairman as usual indulged in far too demanding offerings. I thought that there were passing resemblances to Bach's Toccata in his performance of Bach's Toccata. Chris as usual provided his miscellany of favourites. Clare played two Bach chorale variations with her usual clinical accuracy. I could almost smell the antiseptic. There was also a world premiere of Bach's Fantasia in G played in stereo on the two organs more or less simultaneously.

After a leisurely lunch at the Abbots Museum cafe, we proceeded to the URC Church, which is set back behind the high street. The organ is a two manual, seriously altered Wilkinson (of Kendal fame). Following a ritual blessing by Chris, the organist; Mr. Mason, gave us a short demonstration and a very interesting account of his experiences with the firm of Wilkinson. He was candid enough not to extol too much their tonal achievements. The highlight of this visit was an extemporisation played by Adrian Self; who made a very welcome attendance at this event. Those gifted enough to extemporise have the great advantage of expressing themselves rather than another composer's music. Adrian's music was to me a deep commentary on the gadarene career of the human species towards the abyss of environmental catastrophe. It is possible Adrian may not agree!

Our last visit was to St. George's where there is probably the best unaltered organ by Wilkinson and there was nothing wrong with its tonal effect. It is a large 3 manual instrument which Brenda Blake, the organist, explained was shortly to be renovated. Brenda and the church are to be congratulated in obtaining the necessary funding and we look forward to visiting St. George's again when the work is complete. Again a few of us had a go. The Chairman was much in demand to play the bottom five notes on the pedal whilst an excited mob round the corner from the console observed the behaviour of the pipes. Clare demonstrated her interest in early repertoire with a piece by Felton. The afternoon was completed by what was advertised by Anne as 'a quick cup of tea' but was a veritable cornucopia of confections and an opportunity to catch up on the gossip. The chairman concluded the proceedings with a warmly received vote of thanks to Anne for organising a wonderfully relaxed day.

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