NOEL Rawsthorne, during his days at Liverpool Cathedral, established an international reputation as an organ recitalist.
However, since his retirement 25 years ago, he has carved out another career which is now being widely recognised, that of a composer of organ and choral music.
A new CD released by Priory Records has an impressive selection including works written for performance in Liverpool, Chester and Blackburn Cathedrals and settings of They That Go Down to the Sea in Ships, Eternal Father and Psalm 150. The 30 choral pieces are beautiful sung by the Collegiate Singers directed by Andrew Millinger and superbly recorded by Neil Collier in St Bride's, Fleet Street, London. There is also a splendid organ realisation of Nun Danket alle Gott played by Richard Moorhouse and the organ makes a substantial contribution to the disc.
Now can some company record Rawsthorne's Dance Suite?
It is being played on Classic FC, on disc in Germany and the USA but not available in this country. You have never heard On Ilkley Moor sounding like it!
Classic FM are also featuring organ music by Lefebure-Wely. Mention this mid 19th century French composer to most organists or organ buffs and you will be met with hoots of derision. But he himself declared that he wrote for people's pleasure and was a real jackdaw at copying other people's styles.
Once again it is Priory Records who have taken him up and come to Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral where they have captured the finest sound of the organ I have heard on disc.
Cathedral maestro Richard Lea clearly enjoys putting the instrument through its paces in movements from L'Organiste Moderne. This is the first of several discs and I suspect that Priory have detected a new market demand, as it is all very entertaining.
The American conductor JoAnn Faletta appears with the RLPO at Hope Street tomorrow night. She has a new CD released by Naxos on which she conducts the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in Aaron Copland's music.
This is a cracking disc, including two well known pieces, Rodeo and The Red Pony and two curiosities, Prairie Journal and Letter from Home. Here we have the American "folk" idiom par excellence, which Copland created single-handedly. Carl Davis will be at the Phil shortly and preceding him is a 2 CD set from Naxos of his ballet music for Aladdin, premiered at Edinburgh in 1999.
He conducts the splendid Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpus and the 126 minutes of music give great pleasure. He knows exactly how to make an orchestra sparkle, Tchaikovski is never far away and while he is pushed to create a truly memorable tune, this is nice music to have around the house.
Finally to Rawsthorne, not Noel but Alan, the Haslingden man, whose three string quartets and a violin duo are well realised by the Maggini quartet, led by Warrington's Lawrence Jackson on another fine release in their series of English chamber music for Naxos.