Brian Runnett Memorial Recital
CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich Cathedral
> Norwich Cathedral
To mark the death of Brian Runnett, the cathedral's gifted organist, in a road accident 35 years ago, this fine memorial recital was designed to reflect his influence and show the respect in which he is still held.
The unusually lavish programme booklet included a range of tributes. One of them was a brief biography and character sketch by the highly regarded Norwich-born composer Diana Burrell.
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One of the works performed had been dedicated to Runnett in 1968 and another had been written in his memory. The two composers, Arthur Wills, who served for many years at Ely Cathedral, and Francis Jackson, the renowned elderly master of music at York Minster, had taken the trouble to attend.
The soloist was Graham Barber. The first and, in the opinion of most, the best UEA organ scholar, he still looked back to his training under Runnett with affection and gratitude.
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He has gone on to become a Professor of Performing Studies in the Music Department at the University of Leeds, and has won a reputation as an outstanding organist. It did not take long for him to show us why.
He began with a Prelude and Fugue by Johann Krebs, a pupil of Bach and a composer of music with strength and sinew.
After the contemporary English work, he went on to Alain's Funeral Dance in Honour of a Heroic Memory, a piece well calculated to capture the mood of the occasion while showing another facet of organ music.
Variations and Fugues on an Original Theme, by the 19th-century Bavarian Max Reger, offered the most substantial fare. Lasting more than half an hour, it had strength and complexity, tenderness and power. It was a fine demonstration of the values that Brian Runnett held dear.