Jeremy Filsell plays the 189-rank organ of the National Cathedral, Washington, DC, where he has been artist-in-residence since 2010, in compositions created during the cathedral’s first century by American-based composers, many of whom have associations with the cathedral. Opening in 1912 with a 27-rank organ built by E. M. Skinner in the earliest part of the Cathedral to have been completed, the building received a large organ in the upper church in 1937 as built by E. M. Skinner & Son and, despite several rebuildings to date, 43 stops remain from the original organ and 78 of its stops have been installed by other parties since 1963. 2-CDs for
the Price of One
Weidner: Scherzo (Alleluia)
Hancock: Variations on Palm Beach
Were you there?
Near: Sonata in 3 movements: Chaconne, Lento, Fugue
Baker: Berceuse- paraphrase Silent Night
Decker: La Pantera
Briggs: Three Preludes & Fugues “Homage à Dupré”
Dirksen: Urbs Beata
Gawthrop: Elegy, Caprice
Fantasie on a National Air
Purvis: Novelette II
Purvis: A Retrospection
Major: Concertino in 3 movements: Chorale, Retrospection, Celebration
Reviews Jean-Yves Dupperon in Classical Music Sentinel, October 2012:
Organist Jeremy Filsell certainly picked a selection of works that, each in their own distinct way, emphasize the qualities of this large pipe organ, from its beautiful Carillon to its powerful Trompette en Chamade or seismic wave producing 64' Bombarde Basse.
Highlights include the technically challenging Toccata by Nancy Plummer Faxon. The Prelude "Were you there?" and Carillon by Leo Sowerby, both of which are perfectly suited to display this organ's gentle singing voice and beautiful, mellow flute stops. Jeremy Filsell takes all the time in the world to allow the beauty and serenity of Prelude "Were you there?" to transport your soul. You wish the ever-so-quiet final chord would never end. George Baker's evocatively stirring contemplation on the baby Jesus in his Berceuse-paraphrase, masterfully crafted around the melody to "Away in a manger", ending on a sublime note with the surprise inclusion of the first four notes of "Silent Night". This piece would make a wonderful addition to any Christmas concert or CD. All three offerings by David Briggs, most particularly the fugues, all worked out over some rather challenging harmonic progressions. The sure-to-put-a-grin-on-your-face Novelette II by Richard Purvis, with its quasi barrel-organ antics. And last but not least, the "dispose of your neighbours" Concertino in three movements by Douglas Major. Its powerful final movement titled Celebration makes full use of all the organ's stops, including the impressive Trompette en Chamade and the pedal 32' and 64' stops. I wouldn't be surprised if the organist and recording technician went around the cathedral afterwards checking all the stained-glass windows for cracks.
Organist Jeremy Filsell performs every piece with flair and makes a point to seek out each one's unique characteristics, and matches them to this instruments versatility, beauty and power. The people at Raven Recordings once again prove that the full dynamic range of a pipe organ of this magnitude, and the natural acoustics of the edifice it occupies, can be captured with exactness and true fidelity.