David Lee (organ)

 

THE best parts of David Lee's organ recital at the National Concert Hall on Friday evening featured playing which was forceful in character and rock steady in technique. He achieved this even though he had been suffering from painful gout for the previous few days. Indeed, it felt as if the intermittent occasions when he did not produce these qualities - mostly near the beginning of the recital - were due largely to his being distracted.

Lee's programme, presented as part of the NCH's series devoted to all of Bach's organ music, included some rarely heard corners of that composer's output, plus some of the better known pieces. The latter from the Oigelbuchlein and the Preludes and Fugues in C minor BWV574 (after Legrenzi) and B minor BWV544.

In the Orgelbuchlein preludes, the resourceful registration and crystal clear shaping were a pleasure to listen to. O Mensch betsein dein Sunde gross and Wir danken dir, Herr Jest Christ, BWV622 and 623, stood out. The most interesting of the rarities was the Kleines harmonisches Labyrinth BWV591, which explores chromatic progression with a purposefulness I cannot imagine would have been be possible from any other late Baroque composer.

The highlight was the Prelude and Fugue in B minor, which closed the recital. This is one of the most interpretively demanding large works in Bach organ music, and Lee's performance was compelling. His speeds were last without being brisk, and his rhythmic energy was strong yet steady. So the performance had a remorseless, majestic drive which made the piece sound, for every second, the great work that it is.