"There’s no doubt that Robert Quinney’s suberb CD will be my Christmas present. His supreme artistry at the organ of Westminster Cathedral transcends the boundaries of organ-playing, giving the listener a moving, magical experience."
The Gramophone - December 2007
- Editors Choice -
"Smiles, tears and breathless excitement - now that’s what makes a great record
This is a great recording - I’ve no hesitation in saying it’s one of the best organ CDs you’ll ever hear. Robert Quinney has devised an ingenious programme of transcriptions and original works which are well suited to Westminster Cathedral’s charismatic four-manual 78-stops Willis organ. This majestic instrument has a vast wealth of orchestral colours which are fully exploited by Quinney in his splendid performances of Brahms and Wagner. He produces rapid, smooth and seamless changes of tone and dynamics - a phenomenal achievement - and despite the complexity of the scores everything is heard with utmost clarity.
Quinney’s performances of Dupré are equally fine and two aspects of his interpretations are worth noting. First, he’ll use different stops to what Dupré prescribes for greater impact; and, second, he’ll occasionally play faster and very often play slower than the printed metronome markings. All this results in some of the best playing Dupré playing on disc.
Alongside his impeccable performances, Quinney’s greatest achievement is to produce music-making which really communicates itself to the listener. The quieter moments of Brahms and Wagner are magical while Quinney’s account of the Die Meistersinger prelude is as joyful and as thrilling as any orchestral version. In contrast the anguish and passion of Dupré’s Evocation brought tears to my eyes; the playful fairground-like Noël Variations had me smiling broadly; and the dazzling virtuosity of the Preludes and Fugues left me breathless with excitement. Let me say again: this is a truly great recording."
The Gramophone - February 2007
Performance: ***** - Sound: *****
"It’s not just the performer who is versatile here - Westminster Cathedral’s mighty four-manual Willis III organ built between 1922 and 1932, can apparently do just about everything. Considered Willis’s grand masterpiece, it’s a sort of cross between the best of the 19th-century French symphonic movement (typified by the organ builder Cavaillé-Coll) and the British ’town hall’ instrument of the period built for grand occasions - and orchestral transcriptions.
So Robert Quinney’s choice of programme is tailor-made for the Westminster organ: disc one shows off its ’town hall’ side with grand arrangements of Brahms by Lemare and Lionel Rogg plus some effective Wagner - also arranged by Lemare. As Quinney writes in his own notes, the Meistersinger Prelude seems almost to have been written specially for the organ. And its power is almost paralysing; so, too, however, is the beauty of the organ’s more intimate moments. Disc two is given over entirely to the music of Marcel Dupré, who advised on the Cathedral organ’s design and whose music combines 19th-century French harmonic colour and texture, a 20th-century biting edge and sophisticated counterpoint.
Quinney’s playing has an effective straightness and unshowiness from the sonic avalanche of the B major prelude and fugue to the multi layered, sweet toned, poignant Cortége et Litanie. The music - and the building - needs an unfussy approach; Quinney’s technique is impeccable and his registration spot on, achieving some magical, ethereal effects in the softer moments of the Variations sur un Noël. Recording organs of this size within echoey spaces is a tricky business but I’m delighted to say that the record company Signum serves Quinney excellently; we get a sense of the performer’s articulation, dexterity and smooth pedal work without missing out on the grand scale of both the instrument and the building. Bravo to all concerned - it’s spine-tingling stuff."
BBC Music Choice - December 2006
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