Wednesday 19 June 2019 – 1:00-1:40 pm
It was with great pleasure that we welcomed back Samuel Ali to Brentwood Cathedral on 19th June for another beautiful lunchtime recital as part of the Eleventh Organ Series.
After Nina How welcomed us all to the Cathedral, Samuel played the ‘Prelude and Fugue in B-flat minor BWV 867 (WTC 1)’ by J.S. Bach (1685-1750) to begin the recital. The opening Prelude which is Bach at his most sublime was movingly and expressively captured by Samuel. This particular piece, composed in 1722, is from Book 1 of ‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’, which Bach wrote as a collection of two sets of preludes and fugues in all twenty-four major and minor keys, originally for harpsichord and clavichord. It was sometimes played on the organ, but it was Max Reger (1873-1916), post-Romantic composer and organist, who transcribed this work for organ, which Samuel performed today. The peaceful Prelude was followed by an uplifting Fugue, played with confident dexterity, concluding this ethereal Baroque piece. There is an unconfirmed yet plausible story that the cellist Pablo Casals regularly played the Prelude on his piano, regarding it as his ‘evening prayer’.
The other work performed today was ‘Sonata on the 94th Psalm’, completed in 1857 by the late-Romantic German composer Julius Reubke (1834-1858), which is considered one of the pinnacles of the Romantic organ repertoire. Reubke was the eldest son of an organ and piano builder, so it is hardly surprising that he also became a fine organist and pianist. During his short life Reubke’s musical achievements were immense and he is said to have been inspired by both Liszt and Wagner; he was also a favourite pupil of Liszt, who sent a heartfelt tribute to Reubke’s family after his death, praising his talents and dedication.
The Sonata has three long movements, beginning with ‘Grave – Larghetto – Allegro con fuoco’, in which Samuel perfectly illustrated the contrasting musical tones and dynamics throughout. The second movement, ‘Adagio – Lento’, was played with equal sensitivity and attention to detail, with sustained chords and broad phrases giving ample time for reflective spiritual thought, lightening our emotions somewhat in the ‘Lento’. For the third movement, ‘Allegro – Piu mosso – Allegro assai’, Samuel filled every corner of Brentwood Cathedral with musical energy and colour, the acoustics complementing and supporting the accelerating tempi until the final exhilarating ‘Allegro assai’. The audience showed their appreciation with loud and prolonged applause!
On behalf of Andrew Wright, Director of Music, we would like to thank Samuel Ali for his impeccable playing and beautiful performance and we wish him every success and happiness in his career. We hope to welcome him again soon to Brentwood Cathedral!
Programme – TBC
Samuel Ali was born in 1990 at Gravesend, Kent, and has Turkish and Italian heritage. He is the organist at Christ Church in Chelsea and a postgraduate student at the Royal College of Music in London. In September, Samuel will become the first organist to study for the Artist Diploma at the RCM, having also completed his master’s degree there. He studies the organ with David Graham and Andrew Dewar, improvisation with Sophie-Veronique Cauchefer-Choplin and continuo with Robert Woolley. Highlights of the last 12 months include being the soloist in an RCM performance of Poulenc’s organ concerto; giving a solo recital as part of London Bach Society’s 2018 Bachfest; and giving a joint recital with his teacher at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory as part of an RCM cultural exchange trip. Summer 2019 sees Samuel travel to Slovakia to give three concerts in organ festivals across the eastern part of the country. Previously, Samuel studied for a BMus with Darius Battiwalla at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where he was supported by a Leverhulme scholarship, before which he held the organ scholarship at Rochester Cathedral.
Refreshments were available in the Song School after the recital
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