GMCD 7130 – David Liddle plays Liddle
David Liddle – Organ
l’orgue no. 243 Juillet-Août-Sept. 1997
Cet organiste non voyant qui fut un des derniers élèves d’André Marchal composa ces pièces de 1980 à 1985 pour différents types d’instruments, mais selon un langage contemporain particulièrement élaboré. Les deux Ballades en attestent, qui s’adressent aux sonorités d’un orgue romantique à travers une structure savante, la première fondée sur des éléments thématiques traités selon les principes les plus rigoureux (fugue, canon), la seconde sur deux thèmes et une échelle donnée: sol dièse, la, si do, ré dièse, mi, fa.
Les trois pièces de 1980-1983 conviennent au contraire à des palettes plus modernes, ce que justifie leur caractère sensiblement «classique». Ainsi le Choral Prelude on «Praise, my soul, the King of heaven », Allegretto à 6/8 avec cantus firmus à la pédale, s’adapte-t-il bien à tout orgue de synthèse et la Fugue on André Marchal, hommage à son maître, fut composée pour «Jean-Sébastien», un des instruments de salon de l’organiste de Saint-Eustache autrefois à Hendaye et aujourd’hui à Londres. La troisième pièce, un Scherzo dédié à David Briggs, fut inspirée par l’orgue du King’s College de Cambridge et, comme c’est le cas dans le précédent morceau, utilise le nom du dédicataire. À noter que David Liddle a lui-même enregistré ces trois pièces sur l’orgue new-yorkais de Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola, grand ensemble de tendance néo-classique et symphonique (69 jeux) qui fait merveille dans ce type de composition (Guild, GMCD 7130, PO Box 05, Hadleigh, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP7 6QF, Angleterre). Ce même disque comporte, en sus, plusieurs autres excellentes ouvres de Liddle, notamment la Toccata, op. 3 et The valse Locrienne, op. 5 d’un langage moins ardu que celui des pages commentées précédemment. Suit une English organ Mass, op 6 aux combinaisons contrapontiques recherchées, dont les différentes parties alternent avec la messe de John Merbecke (1550) sur les thèmes de laquelle les interventions instrumentales sont fondées.
The organ Vol. 76, No. 300, Spring 1997
Well known as a concert organist David Liddle is perhaps less known as a composer – this CD seeks to rectify that. It Includes a wide variety of works for organ dating from 1988 – Toccata Op 3 – to the Nocturne of 1992-5.
Perhaps most interesting of the seven works here presented is the English Organ Mass Op 6, based on Merbecke’s setting of the text from the Book of Common Prayer. Such a post- reformation Anglican organ-mass is surely unique and combined here with the original chants is a fascinating undertaking: would that Merbecke, in its original form, were still used in the liturgy.
As always it is a fascinating exercise to identify those composers who might have influenced David Liddle: Vierne and other more recent French composers come to mind and Bartok in the Nocturne but if my own organ compositions were to be similarly judged, I would not be too upset! This is an interesting collection of pieces all of which could certainly do with more outings.
The organ at St Ignatius New York has been praised as the finest modern import to the USA for many years and from a trans-atlantic viewpoint, it could perhaps be considered as one of Mander’s finest instruments. AII I need to say here is that it comes over superbly in this fine recording and, if you have yet to hear it on CD, this is certainly a recording worth seeking out, full of interest both musically and organically.
Organist August 1997
This recording displays a cross-section of David Liddle’s activity as a composer. His music is highly crafted and displays great integrity. As a consequence of this it can seem somewhat austere. I find this especially true of the relentless opening Toccata but the inexorable drive to the climax is impressive, and displays the symphonic grandeur of the Mander instrument which throughout the recording provides a rich resource of colour. It also possesses an ideal clarity which is essential for the successful performance of many of the pieces which are highly contrapuntal, in a post-Hindemith way. Even the Valse Locrienne and Arabesque, although more relaxed in style, are by no means lightweight.
The English Organ Mass is based on chants of John Merbecke (which are sung, somewhat distantly, between the organ movements) and here the style is more concise, and more accessible, clearly growing out of the practices of the great French improvisers. The Nocturen is an extended piece, and one of the most successful, with the emotions closer to the surface than elsewhere. The playing throughout the disc is eloquent and superbly controlled, despite the technical challenges of much of the music.
The presentation is good with informative notes by Liddle himself and the recording quality transparent and immediate. The disc as a whole offers an impressive tribute to human determination and a fascinating insight into the private musical world of this blind musician.
The Times 3/8/97
A musical maze
A WELCOME new summer series of recitals is being given on the enlarged and freshly overhauled five-manual Harrison & Harrison organ at Westminster Abbey. A special feature of the Abbey series is the inclusion to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death of all six of Felix Mendelsson’s organ sonatas.
The Mendelssohn Fourth Sonata formed one of the two extended works in the opening recital by David Liddle, whose accompaniments and extemporisations furnish a regular feast for Sunday-morning worshippers at St. Barnabas’s, Pimlico, where, amid an extensive annual recital and lecture programme, he serves as organist.
The opening Bach chorale prelude “Wir galuben all’ an einen Gott, Schöpfer”, BWV 690, with gentle pedal reed beneath soft diapason chorus, gave early evidence of the remarkable, instant command of registration Liddle, who has been blind since the age of nine, achieves on the numerous instruments (including many of the great Paris organs) on which he is invited to give recitals. The second Bach item was characterise by a clear-voice quint or nazard, and some evocative use of tremulant.
Liddle seems an unashamed romantic – and the results can be invigorating. French repertoire – he was a pupil of, among others, the late André Marchal – is his undoubted strength. Two Vierne pieces at the Abbey recital’s close, including Resignation, a charming companion piece to Vierne’s famous Berceuse, posed few problems, though here, as in the second Bach and the Andante Religioso of the Mendelssohn, there was a slight tendency to launch at a promising pace, but settle back to something a little slower and less convincing. A legato treatment in the Mendelssohn left the opening Allegro not quite sufficient air to breathe, whereas, paradoxically, in the Maestoso finale the same approach enhanced the build-up, and a late infusion of reeds heralded a satisfying climax. Alfred Hollins’s A Song of Sunshine, performed with wonderfully apt cheek on Liddle’s superb priory disc of Hollins, seemed a ray or two less dazzling here. The pièce de résistance was Liddle’s own composition. Symphonic Labyrinth, op. 4, one of his boldest attempts at an extended piece on not so much a French as an almost Lisztian scale.
The range and registration were equally impressive, and Liddle has undoubtedly shaped his own voice, though the material is complex and marginally elusive, so that I found it earned my respect rather than my involvement – whereas the Toccata and Arabesque on Liddle’s recent admirable recording (Guild GMCD 7130) of his own works (including his English Organ Mass on the outspoken instrument at St. Ignatius Loyola, new York) are miniatures and models of their kind.