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Simon Preston at Westminster Abbey (The Argo Organ Recordings)

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Simon Preston at Westminster Abbey (The Argo Organ Recordings)
Simon Preston at Westminster Abbey (The Argo Organ Recordings)


From 1962 (when he made his Royal Festival Hall debut) to 1967, and again from 1981 to 1987, Simon Preston held posts at Westminster Abbey, initially as sub-organist, then as organist and master of the choristers. These recordings were made during that first period: signing off the compilation in style, Widors Toccata was in fact first to be recorded, in June 1963, as the voluntary within a recording of Evensong for the feast of the translation of Saint Edward, King and Martyr, commonly known a Edward the Confessor at whose command the Abbey was built, and consecrated in 1065. The Abbeys organ is a rather more recent construction, built by Harrison & Harrison, and installed in time for the Coronation of King George VI in 1937, and thus still in fine working order when Preston made these recordings. On two days in February 1964 he recorded the Schübler chorales of Bach and the two works written by Mozart in his last year of life for a mechanical clock, imposing out of all scale to their commissioned instrument, but perfectly apt for their original, macabre purpose as funerary music to accompany the display of a life-size wax figure of a recently deceased Austrian general. The music on CD2 demonstrates the extraordinary versatility of the organ, with repertoire that ranges from popular hits what could be more familiar than The Prince of Denmarks March or the Pilgrims Chorus from Tannhäuser? to such largely neglected inspirations as Schumanns Study No. 5. The album is one of five released by Eloquence, newly remastered and in unique compilations. They also include Prestons complete recordings of Messiaen (482 4917), Romantic organ music (482 4941) by Brahms, Liszt and Reger, and 20th-century organ music (482 4925) by Elgar, Hindemith and Maxwell Davies, and an organ spectacular featuring the Variations on America (482 8101) of Charles Ives. Mozart's K608 is brisk and lively, the climaxes generously powered without mere noise. K594 cheerfully accepts much less, with its Handelian sweep neatly projected in a small-scale performance. Musical Times, March 1965 The two marches by Guilmant and Karg-Elert are played with equal zest and panache, with the Schumann Etude in subtly contrasted tone-colours. A disc for all seasons. Gramophone, November 1977


  1. Name
  2. JS BACH: Six Schubler Chorale Preludes
  3. WA MOZART: Orgelstück (Fantasia) Für Eine Uhr In F Minor, KV 608
  4. Adagio And Allegro In F Minor, KV 594
  5. WALTON Crown Imperial: A Coronation March (arr. Herbert Murill)
  6. CLARKE The Prince Of Denmarks March (arr. Simon Preston)
  7. HANDEL Dead March (from Saul, HWV 53) (arr. F. Cunningham Woods)
  8. CLARKE Trumpet Tune (attributed To Purcell) (arr. C.H. Trevor)
  9. ELGAR Imperial March, Op. 32 (arr. George C. Martin)
  10. VIERNE Final (from Symphony No. 1 In D Minor, Op. 14 For Organ)
  11. WAGNER Pilgrims Chorus (from Tannhäuser) (arr. Lemare)
  12. GUILMANT March On A Theme Of Handel, Op. 15
  13. SCHUMANN Study No. 5 (from Six Studies For Pedal Piano, Op. 56)
  14. KARG-ELERT Marche Triomphale: Nun Danket Alle Gott, Op. 65
  15. WIDOR Toccata (Allegro) (from Symphony No. 5 In F Minor, Op. 42 No. 1 For Organ)
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