Phil ScrivenPhilip Scriven’s concert on the Mander Organ in Chapel on 29th January ended with the last movement of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony in the transcription by David Briggs.  The whole symphony formed half of a concert Philip gave last summer in Westminster Cathedral which is talked about by organ buffs as one of the great London events of recent memory.  Those readers who live near Guildford may wish to know that they can hear the whole symphony at the United Reform Church on the Portsmouth Road (a short walk from the station) on February 21st.  There will be many from the large audience at the Cranleigh recital eager to hear the other three movements after Philip’s stunning virtuoso rendition of the exciting finale at a hell of a tempo.  Fans of transcriber David Briggs will wish to be reminded that on March 5th he will be performing his famous improvisation to the 1925 silent film ‘Phantom of the Opera.’

Modestly, Philip Scriven advertised this phenomenal event but the audience will be aware that Philip himself is not far behind Mr Briggs in the world rankings.  The concert also showed us that Philip is himself a talented transcriber, as we heard his remarkably eloquent version of the beautiful third movement of Brahms’s Third Symphony, which he arranged for organ when studying at the Juilliard in New York.  Some of the famous names on these transcriptions, such as Best, come from the highpoint of organ concerts of symphonic music, bringing these works to an audience who did not have access to symphony concerts.  It is pleasant to think that, though many of us can hear a recording of this music so easily, some of the pupils in the concert were hearing these pieces for the first time and might be led on to discover the orchestral repertoire, such as Holst’s ‘Planets’ suite, from which we heard ‘Mars’ transcribed by Peter Sykes.  In this item Mr Scriven’s hands (and feet) were supplemented by the hands of Jakub Bartoszewski, Cranleigh’s first organ scholar.

Other highlights of this 90-minute concert included an exquisitely delicate interpretation of the ‘Scherzo’ from Mendelssohn’s music to ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in Edwin Lemare’s transcription and Murrill’s well-known version of Walton’s 1937 coronation march ‘Crown Imperial’ in which (as in last term’s lunchtime series) Phil Scriven’s rubato in the big tune was idiomatically effective.

Readers are reminded of the ongoing lunchtime concerts, the dates of which are on this web-site.  All are welcome!