Dr John Kitchen thanked the substantial audience for braving the freezing cold for this great lunchtime recital of Baroque organ concertos.
The opening work by Handel was written for either organ or harp, so needed to played lightly – the ponderous but dignified Larghetto movement was particularly enchanting.
Kitchen never fails with his unique flair, both in his execution and also with his commentary. He is the Edinburgh City Organist, and it was a treat to hear an entire recital dedicated to the organ (restored in 2003), by way of contrast to the more accustomed orchestral led performances that the Usher Hall often hosts in the evenings.
The Taglietti concerto was intended for strings and was only subsequently transcribed by Walther for organ. The Allegro movement was obviously redolent of the Sailor’s Hornpipe – something not lost on the audience. Walther’s reworking of the concerto resulted in a bright and jolly piece, the final movement gathering and gaining with its own momentum.
Stanley’s Concerto in E Major originally came with no middle movement, so Kitchen had inserted the song ‘The Blind Boy’ to fill the gap. This was of course eminently apposite, Stanley having become blind himself following an accident, aged 2. This short but pensive piece constituted a reflective interlude between the two very contrasting outer movements. Stanley had acquired the idea of the organ concerto from Handel – meant for both orchestra and organ; yet we know that even in the 18th century, such pieces were regularly being performed on the organ alone.
Handel’s ‘Hornpipe’ was an appropriately loud last piece to round off the recital – as Kitchen himself commented, he wouldn’t want anyone to go home disappointed that they hadn’t heard the full organ! This was a splendid 45 minutes of hearing the organ played – a wonderful way to spend the middle of the day.
Recital on Monday 15th January 2024, 1.10pm