Leighton: Complete Organ Works

Reviewed on Wed 15 Feb, 2017

Both the Prelude, Scherzo and Passacaglia (1963) and Et Resurrexit (Theme, Fantasy & Fugue) from 1966 generate a formidable organic power and cumulative thrust in Stephen Farr's deeply understanding renderings.

Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988) wrote with consummate skill for the organ. His thrillingly communicative 1970 Concerto for the instrument with string orchestra and timpani is a bona fide masterpiece, and there are a healthy sprinkling of offerings on this hugely nourishing 3-CD set that likewise operate on the highest plane of inspiration. Both the Prelude, Scherzo and Passacaglia (1963) and Et Resurrexit (Theme, Fantasy & Fugue) from 1966 generate a formidable organic power and cumulative thrust in Stephen Farr's deeply understanding renderings, while the magnificent, large-scale Missa de Gloria (Dublin Festival Mass), Veni Redemptor (A Celebration) and Veni Creator Spiritus (composed in 1980, 1985 and 1987 respectively) show Leighton at the peak of his powers during the period leading up to his cruelly early death. Elsewhere, Farr partners John Butt in a simply stunning performance of the exhilarating, four-hand Martyrs: Dialogues on a Scottish Psalm-tune (1976), and there are also stylish appearances from tenor Nicky Spence in These are Thy Wonders (A Song of Renewal) from 1981 and violinist Chloë Hanslip in the Fantasy on a Chorale ('Es ist genug') from 1979. A special mention, too, for the exemplary contribution of Adam Binks in his multiple roles of producer, sound engineer, editor and annotator. In a word: essential.
–Andrew Achenbach