Worgan: Complete Organ Music

Timothy Roberts (St Botolph’s without Aldgate)
65:26
Toccata Classics TOCC 0332

My first introduction to this interesting composer was (rather indirectly) from an organ improvisation in his style on a recent disc of music from Vauxhall Gardens by David Moult and London Early Opera. Now here he is himself, played on the beautifully restored contemporary Renatus Harris organ of St Botolph without Aldgate, an instrumant well known to him and his family.

John Worgan was probably first taught by his elder brother James, but later also had lessons from Thomas Roseingrave and Francisco Geminiani, and the influence of both of the latter, as well as that of Handel (whose organ concerti he is known to have played at Vauxhall Gardens) is to be heard in his music.

The pieces recorded here are (according to Timothy Roberts’ fine sleevenote) a ‘mixed bag’ and he has done an excellent job in linking them into satisfying musical groups. The three opening Pieces, for example, begin in French Ouverture-like dotted rhythm, and move, via a charming fugato with almost Mozartean episodes (echoes of the last movement of one of the Piano Concerto finales!) to a stately triple time with bassoon-like drones. The final three tracks also link well – another grand triple time melody is followed by an allegro with much harmonic and rhythmic quirkiness, and the set (and disc) concludes with a virtuoso allegro with more rustic drones in the middle section.

Timothy Roberts plays with style and taste; he is fortunate in having chosen such a fine and appropriate instrument, which helps bring these works to colourful life.

Alastair Harper