Rick Wakeman

At Lincoln Cathedral

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Part of Heliopause's series of audiophile albums recorded at the Lincoln Cathedral, this set features Rick Wakeman playing the cathedral's grand organ. There are few recordings of Wakeman at the grand organ, fewer more in a solo setting, without an audience, and majestically recorded. For this rare occasion, he wrote a handful of brand new pieces and structures to improvise within. Melodically speaking, this is not his strongest material, but he is clearly enjoying the thrill of playing the behemoth and he puts a lot of feeling into his delivery. That is what makes At Lincoln Cathedral a fairly interesting release. "The All Mighty Almighty" -- very heavy in the bass range, as one could expect from the title -- is the undisputed highlight of the set: thundering, imposing, and simply downright loud, the piece will have you shaking in your seat. "Dawn and Dusk" and "Soul Mortality" are also good pieces, in the man's introspective average. In addition to the five pieces at the organ, Wakeman performs one more at the piano (a Steinway grand, if you please), the 15-minute "Da Vinci Variations." At Lincoln Cathedral is a two-CD set. Disc one presents all six pieces in very satisfactory stereo sound. Disc two contains binaural mixes of the five organ pieces, for headphone listening only. The various registers of the organ are more widely spatialized, which gives the listener a stronger impression of "being there." There is also a DTS Surround Sound mix of "The All Mighty Almighty" that adds a bit more clarity, but this piece actually requires good woofers (and subwoofer) before a DTS decoder. There is also an MPEG video of the same piece.

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