William Mathias: Complete Organ Works

Richard Lea

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William Mathias: Complete Organ Works Review

by James Leonard

Though advocates of countryman Alun Hoddinott might argue over whether or not William Mathias is the greatest of Welsh composers, Mathias is certainly the most recorded Welsh composer to date. Though there have been recordings of Mathias' organ works before, none prior to this 2009 Priory two-disc set could claim to contain his complete organ works. The composer's admirers thus owe a round of applause to Richard Lea for taking on the challenging task of performing all Mathias' tremendously difficult organ works and for succeeding so brilliantly. Playing the mammoth organ of the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, Lea plumbs the depths of introverted pieces such as the Berceuse and reaches the heights in celebratory pieces such as the Toccata Giocosa. Most importantly for admirers of the composer, Lea presents the world-premiere recording of Mathias' Prelude, Elegy and Toccata, a youthful piece of audacious verve and infectious enthusiasm. With big and broad digital sound that captures the power and glory of the Liverpool organ, this disc will be obligatory listening for anyone interested in postwar British organ music.

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