Wednesday 23 October 1 pm
On 23 October 2019 we welcomed Royal College of Music student William Fielding to Brentwood Cathedral. Already an accomplished organist and pianist, William is Organ Scholar at Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, Hampton Court. Please read full programme details at the end of this review.
With autumnal colours surrounding the Cathedral, we gathered to hear an impressive programme of Baroque and Romantic organ music. William’s opening piece was ‘Prelude and Fugue in D minor (Dorian), BWV 538’ by J.S. Bach, composed between 1708 and 1717 while Bach was in Weimar. This work is similar in style to Bach’s ‘Fantasia and Fugue in C minor (BWV 562)’, and there is also the ‘D minor Prelude and Fugue (BWV 565)’, but today we heard the ‘Dorian’, and therefore written without a key signature. The Prelude was fresh and exhilarating, resonating brightly throughout the building. The Fugue was long and complex, with a theme that included syncopated rhythms within the contrapuntal development, ending with the expected full Baroque cadence. We thoroughly enjoyed William’s most articulate performance of this Prelude and Fugue.
The second piece was by the great Romantic French organ composer, Louis Vierne, organist at Notre-Dame Cathedral for nearly 40 years, where he died while giving a recital in June 1937. ‘Clair de Lune’, part of Suite No. 2, Op.53 from ’24 Pièces de Fantasie’, is one of his more technically advanced works and William’s gentle ‘legato’ playing reflected both the ethereal nature and varied organ effects of this graceful piece, transporting us all to a lunar world.
This was followed by ‘Rhapsody 11’ by Herbert Howells, a popular English composer amongst organists and particularly well-known for his music for the Anglican Church. From the start, we heard bold, descending chords through the depths of the organ, soon to give way to a contrasting quieter section, before those rich, sonorous tones returned to complete this deeply pensive rhapsody, with consistent careful attention to detail given by William in his interpretation.
For his final piece, which he said was his favourite in the programme, William played ‘Choral 11 in B minor (No.2)’ by the Romantic Belgian composer César Franck, associated for many of us with his popular sacred piece, ‘Panis Angelicus’. The ‘Three Chorals for Organ’, along with many of his works, were composed at the end of his life, hence the advanced harmonic nature of these Chorals. ‘No.2’ opens in sombre mood before gathering momentum with ever richer textures, arriving soon at the main choral theme, beautifully and sensitively introduced by William. There is so much variation in this piece, with occasional references to Franck’s instrumental and symphonic works. We heard an emphatic opening to the second section, leading to long contrapuntal phrases and further reminders of the original evocative theme: all so emotional, and ending with an ethereal quietness. In the last few minutes we were surprisingly privileged to witness some purple, pink and yellow hues, reflected from a stained glass window onto a pillar in the Cathedral, which faded with the closing notes – a perfect conclusion to an uplifting recital.
After the concert Nina How thanked William for his inspiring performance, and then went on to wish our, somewhat surprised, Director of Music, Andrew Wright a very Happy Birthday. This was followed by lively and enjoyable conversation with refreshments in the Song School.
On behalf of Andrew Wright and everyone who attended this lunchtime recital, we would like to thank William Fielding for his exquisite playing and for sharing his talented musicianship with us today. We wish him every success with his studies and hope to welcome him back to Brentwood Cathedral again soon!
William Fielding, 19 is studying at the Royal College of Music, London and is organ scholar of Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, Hampton Court. He works largely as an organist and collaborative pianist, and has more recently begun performing as a solo pianist.
Recent concert highlights have included performances of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, a varied programme of violin and piano music in venues across Europe with violinist Joel Munday and a collection of two piano works performed alongside Lukasz Krupinski in Marbella, Spain.
William has performed in venues including: The Queen’s Hall and The Usher Hall, Edinburgh; Glasgow Royal Concert Hall and The Barbican, London and has performed organ recitals in Blackburn, Chelmsford and St Mary’s Cathedral (Edinburgh) and at Hampton Court and the Royal College of Music Concert Hall respectively. William looks forward to his remaining years at the RCM and upcoming recitals across Europe.
Refreshments were served in the SONG SCHOOL afterwards
Admission is free, but there will be a retiring collection to help to fund these recitals. If you are able to use Gift Aid this will increase the value of your donation by 25% at no extra cost to you