What the Critics say... 


Bach Organ Music

On the organs of Douai Abbey

Lammas Records LAMM 150D




"An engaging program has been put together by Terence Chariston, played on the organs of Douai Abbey (in Woolhampton, England). Charlston is an acknowledged exponent in Great Britain of early keyboard music, and he plays Bach with unusual elegance, assurance, genuine musicality, and of course, stylistic awareness. All this adds up to splendid Bach organ performances - something of an endangered species nowadays. Just about everything in Charlston’s playing is attractive. For the most part, his registrations are discerning and work very well. Even so, the great G-minor Fugue, played all the way through to the bitter end on a 16’ pleno, with the sesquialtera stop ‘thrown in for good measure, is less than titillating. And a similar registrational concoction for the five-voice Gravement in the G-major Fantasy thoroughly mud-dies its elaborate and wondrous polyphony. This is offset by a fascinating metallic ensemble made up of reeds and upper work in the final segment, Lentement, which is reminiscent of French baroque organ timbre. Buy this disc for Charlston’s fine playing. The main organ itself is a trifle disappointing because of its small sound, which relies heavily on reeds for power and brilliance. The pedal of this 1994 Tickell organ (3 manuals, 29 stops) has only three registers. The sound of the instrument is nevertheless musical, of a chamber-like dimension, and it is well recorded. A second organ, a one-manual Tamburini choir organ (1979) in the Italian style with 'old Italian temperament', is heard in the Pastorella and in Vom Himmel Hoch. Its suspended key action serves to illuminate Charlston’s superb, delicately gradated touch.

Classical Music on the Web july 2003

"This is a high quality CD from many points of view. The selected programme superbly balances the different compositional forms and organ sounds. Above all, it perfectly suits the sound character of Tickell and Tamburini organs. The booklet is highly informative containing all the necessary notes for a CD of its kind. Terence Charlston’s notes for the performed programme are excellent and offer the listener a highly accurate commentary. The booklet also gives the organs’ stop-lists and the chosen registration, followed by the history of the Abbey and the organs. The Tickell organ is a very nicely voiced instrument with Germanic features. Its sound spreads nicely within the big acoustic of the Abbey. The one-manual Tamburini organ is tuned to an unequal old Italian temperament and the result is an instrument with an ‘historic’ sound. Both of them, due to Charlston’s chosen registrations, offer the listener’s ears real enjoyment. Terence Charlston has the ability to make the music come alive with a professional and sensitive musicality. His performances present convincingly the different elements that Bach applied to his compositions; from the South German and Italian characteristics of the Pastorella to the French style Fantasia in G major. His playing is highly committed and spirited with superb rhythmical flexibility, colourful ornamentation and convincing articulation. His chosen registrations work effectively all way through, especially in the Prelude, Trio and Fugue in C major. They also produce some very nice echo effects as in Fantasia in G major. The articulation is so well handled that all the lines come across clearly in spite of acoustics that produce substantial reverberation. The use of the Pedalexercitium as an introduction to the Fantasia and Fugue in G minor is really effective. Above all, these performances are unique for the superb control of the rhythm, which leads to dramatic outbursts as in the Fugue of Toccata and Fugue in D minor or the Fantasia in G major.

This recording is of a highly musical quality. You need to buy it now!"

Christina Antoniadou


THE ORGAN nov 2003  

"Here is a disc that is a delight from start to finish. Performances of well-known pieces of Bach played on the two fine organs in Douai Abbey. The Pastorella in F major, BWV59O and Vain Himmelhoch do komm ich her, BWV738 are both played on the Tamburini organ of 1978, both sounding very clear and bright. Perhaps a little too bright and forward with upper-work added; a little more distance from the engineer might have been sympathetic. None-the-less, this does not impede these intrinsically musical and lovely performances. The Tickell organ is undoubtedly the star of the disc as much as the player. All the performances are clear, intelligent, musical and satisfying, nothing more could be required. An interesting piece of programming is the Pedalexercitium in G minor BWV598 which leads straight into the G minor Fantasia and Fugue, BWV542; it caught me by surprise the first time I heard it, but on repeated hearings it works very well. The organs are well recorded (previous minor caveat reiterated) and the acoustic of the Abbey is perfect for the music, enriching the tone but allowing phrasing to come through. Charleston’s notes (written in the first person) are concise and informative and registrations are included. (A slight irritation with booklet layout is that the programme is only included on the back of the CD ‹ where it should always be ‹ and not in the booklet, so one has to carry both booklet and case to the listening position to refer to the programme running order.) Despite this, the disc gains an unqualified recommendation." AR


Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians April 2003


This is a superlative performance of a variety of works of J. S. Bach, performed on the two organs of the Abbey in Woolhampton. In addition to the omnipresent Toccata and Fugue in D minor and Pièce dŒOrgue, Charlston presents several chorale preludes. He uses the little Pedalexercitium as a prelude to the Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, a coupling that works well. He interpolates the second movement of the Trio-Sonata No. 5, BWV 529, between the movements of the Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 565, making a nice three-movement work. All of these are played on the III/36 organ by Kenneth Tickell & Co. (Northampton, 1994), an instrument of robust and clean tone. A special treat is the two works‹the Pastorella in F major and the Vom Himmel hoch, BWV 738‹played on the radiant I/ 8 Tamburini organ (1978). Charlston¹s technique is solid and his rhythmic drive compelling; I might wish for a bit more Baroque nuance (not Romantic rubato!), but his style is informed and convincing. The booklet contains essays, photographs, the specifications of the two organs, and (most helpful) a table of complete registrations employed. The recorded sound, as we have come to expect from Lammas, is crystalline and sympathetic.

Victor Hill

Choir and Organ July 2003

 This disc contains refreshing performances of popular Bach works on the relatively new organs of Douai Abbey. The informative booklet gives details of all registrations used, which is useful since Chariston uses varied and imaginative combinations. There is a chance to hear both the 1994 Tickell organ and the 1978 Tamburini instrument (which sounds particularly beautiful in the Pastorella in F. Other works of note are the Toccata & Fugue in D, the Fantasias in G and G minor, and the Prelude, Trio & Fugue in C.

Nicholas Danks


Cross Rhythms Jul/Aug 2003

"One can only marvel at the creative gift of Johann Sebastian Bach. Here we have 70 minutes of wonderful music and yet the’re is so much more that could have been included, The opener is the glorious Toccata & Fugue In D Minor and the quality hardly lessens afterwards, with Bach’s full compositional range being demonstrated, including the awesome Fantasia & Fugue In G Minor. Terence Charlston plays the organs of Douai Abbey supremely well and those who have a serious interest in this branch of music will read the copious notes with profit and pleasure. And I fully expect that many top organists will be on their way to sit on the same stools. If they can persuade Lance Andrews to record them perhaps the results will be as satisfying as this recital."

 Steven Whitehead


Review from Cathedral Music Issue 2/03

"I inserted this CD into my car's player expecting to hear a French organ, after all, Douai is in France. Isn't it? Yes, but its associated abbey is 383km distant and is near Woolhampton, West Berkshire. The Douai community was found­ed in Paris in 1615. Mter the Revolution it moved to Douai in 1820 and was finally expelled from France in 1903, settling in England. The following information is supplied in the notes: 'The Choir Organ was built by G Tamburini of Milan, Italy, and was installed in 1978 and stands adjacent to the monastic choir. It has suspended key action and its temperament is the builders' own, unequal, based on an old Italian temperament. The Great Organ was built by Kenneth Tickell of Northampton and was installed in two stages between 1994 and 1996. It has three manuals, pedals and 31 speaking stops, and employs mechanical action, but with electronic stop control gov­erning six adjustable pistons on each manual.' These lovely instruments pos­itively sparkle, and are evidence, if it were needed, that the community takes its music very seriously. What you get here is exactly what it says on the box: It's all Bach, and a very skilful and accurate performance at that. In places, Terence Charlston's timekeeping rivals that of my metronome. In particular, his performance of the mischievous G minor fugue (Fantasia & Fugue in G Minor BWV542) sets off at a foot-tapping pace, which is maintained more or less constant to the very end, and sounds, well, just joyous! This is a well-engi­neered recording which puts the listener close up to the instruments whilst still allowing the acoustics of the building to intrude and so enhance the overall tonal quality." Michael Smith.

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