Sonata in A, Op.65/3
Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV544
Symphony No.2 in E minor, Op.20
David Hill (organ)
Reviewed by: Rob Pennock
Reviewed: 24 February, 2005
Venue: Royal Festival Hall, London
David Hill is a multi-faceted musician, a conductor, choirmaster and organist. But his organ skills, on the evidence of this recital, do not equal his achievements in other fields. Throughout there were finger-slips and a lumpy approach to rhythm and decoration. Mendelssohn’s Sonata had suitable Victorian gravity but the more animated central section was under-characterised and the tonal palette unvaried. In the Roger-Ducasse Pastorale, Hill made effective use of the organ’s capacity for spatial effects, but couldn’t disguise the fact that the music itself is pretty thin and undistinguished. In addition, much of Hill’s phrasing lacked fluidity. Bach’s B minor Prelude and Fugue was a very smooth, evenly-voiced affair, the Fugue in particular lacking impact and definition – an approach you might get away with in a chapel.
Vierne’s Symphony No.2 is a peculiar work: it is in sonata form, with the unifying element of two first-movement themes recurring throughout the piece. But there is also an incongruously massive second-movement chorale, at the end of which several members of the audience applauded! Hill’s finger-work here was more precise and he effectively delineated the two core themes and gave an eloquent account of the elegiac third movement, although the last movement’s march theme would have benefited from more attack.