Album Review

Posted: Friday 11th February 2000
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Kodály: Choral Works – Organists’ Review

The opening of this disc was quite a shock, as I wasn’t expecting to hear an organ with such a French sound and phrase freedom. The first few bars are positively boiling. Jeremy Filsell’s playing throughout is masterly too.

Kodály seems to have been in the doldrums lately, but it is, after all, 32 years since he died, so perhaps he can expect a revival soon. He certainly deserves one, as his music is harmonically colourful, has plenty of variety, plenty of melody and lots of drama. I well remember Kodály visiting Oxford in about 1960. He was being shewn round the Faculty of Music by a very powerful elderly lady and Dr H K Andrews was heard to exclaim “it’ll be a splendid thing for him when he gets back to the comparative freedom of the iron curtain”!

The motets and the Mass alike on this disc are well worth hearing (just try Laudes organi on the first track or the glorious Pange lingua on track three) and especially in performances of this stature – the choir is splendid (and it is a measure of the care taken in producing this recording that the singers have been specially coached to sing in Hungarian). Even if the choral singing was not on the highest level of technique, colour and drama, which it certainly is (just listen to the wonderfully atmospheric Kyrie of the Mass), the disc would be worth buying for the organ alone, so don’t hesitate! Now, please can someone produce an equally good recording of the Budavari Te Deum.

Roger Fisher
Organists’ Review