John Challenger – Salisbury Meditation (2021) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

John Challenger – Salisbury Meditation (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:02:40 minutes | 1,1 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © ajm

This collection of organ music from Salisbury Cathedral has a unique story, and its commercial, or as it happens noncommercial, success is unsurprising. The great 13th century cathedral, the spire of which has been the tallest in the U.K. since 1561, was pressed into service in early 2021 as a COVID-19 vaccination site, and organist and Salisbury assistant director of music John Challenger decided to perform on the cathedral’s restored Father Willis organ during vaccination sessions. The present recording is drawn from some 270 hours of such performances, and it is one of the few live recordings made in Britain or anywhere else during the first part of 2021. The result is a win-win-win. Proceeds from album sales benefited a variety of U.K. National Health Service charities. Those being vaccinated were likely hearing live music for the first time in a year or more, and the organ renovation, probably not a high-profile event normally, received a publicity boost. The sound engineering is exemplary, catching the live background ambiance but never letting the music become vague. The pieces, nearly all familiar to average British listeners with any affection for organ or church music (MacDowell’s To a Wild Rose is perhaps the wild card here, but one wild card benefits the overall effect), certainly were delivering the Salisbury Meditation promised by the album’s title. For a keepsake of the terrible times of 2020 and 2021, this can be highly recommended.

01. Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068: II. Air (Arr. for Organ)
02. Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, BWV 147 (Arr. for Organ)
03. Chanson de Matin, Op. 15 No. 2 (Arr. for Organ)
04. Adagio for Strings & Organ in G Minor (Arr. for Organ)
05. Sheep May Safely Graze, BWV 208 (Arr. for Organ)
06. Berenice, HWV 38: Minuet
07. Sicilienne
08. Water Music Suite No. 1 in F Major, HWV 348: VI. Air
09. Carnival of the Animals, R. 125: XIII. The Swan (Arr. for Organ)
10. Salut d’Amour, Op. 12 (Arr. for Organ)
11. Chanson de Nuit, Op. 15 No. 1 (Arr. for Organ)
12. Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes: II. Rhosymedre
13. Ten Woodland Sketches, Op. 51: No. 1. To A Wild Rose (Arr. for Organ)
14. Sonata in A Major, Op. 56 No. 3: II. Andante tranquillo
15. Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen
16. Suite Gothique, Op. 25: III. Prière à Notre-Dame