Peter Dyke Organ Concert, 14 May 2019 by Walter and Linda Jennings

All the colours of Hereford Cathedral's organ were displayed to the full in this wonderful concert. Beginning with gloriously magisterial Charpentier (the Prelude to his Te Deum), we then moved on to the beauty and  subtlety of Bach's six 'Schũbler' Chorale Preludes, played in two groups of three, separated by some dramatic Vierne, Sur le Rhin, and Carillon de Westminster. We then moved on to the brilliance of Peter's transcription of Saint-Saěns Carnival of the Animals: enthralling and hilarious at times, so full of humour and life.

The most common arrangement of the Carnival is that for full orchestra and two pianos, the original version being for a chamber group of two pianos, string quartet, flute (and Piccolo), clarinet, glass harmonica (today, a glockenspiel!) and xylophone: we can only give thanks for Peter's musicianship and his great skill as an organist that this Carnival was just as exciting as the original. The wonderful Hereford organ's glockenspiel  stop  was used to great effect in the Aquarium, but there are also  many stops that are rarely, if ever, used in our liturgical worship, either being too quiet or even barely audible! Nevertheless, Peter Dyke's great gift for creating combinations of sound, like an artist mixing the colours on his palette, meant that his pianistes could  be heard practising (including their mistakes!), the lions roared,  the cuckoo called gently in the peaceful woodland, the donkeys brayed, the aquarium sparkled, the swan floated majestically on the calm water, the fossils clattered, the elephant lumbered along, and the lion marched imperiously. This was a really thrilling version of Saint-Saëns' masterepiece. Live performances are naturally ephemeral: as they are being heard their sound is also floating away; those who are there will remember them, and those not present will never be aware of what they have missed. For those present, this was an unforgettable evening. But the cathedral should have been full for such a significant event.

We really are so fortunate to have such very gifted musicians at the Cathedral, from small choristers, the gentlemen behind them, Peter and the organ scholars who accompany them, and Geraint who directs and holds them all together! Whatever they offer, they all deserve our support, because our worship would certainly be much less rich without them. 

Hereford Cathedral are hosting many organ recitals and concerts this summer. Click here for more information.