Paul McCaffrey

CHRISTOPHER SMITH St Andrew's Hall, Norwich


St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

The confident soloist at this week's organ recital in the St Andrew's Hall lunchtime summer series was Paul McCaffery, the assistant director of music at the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook in Suffolk.

On the evidence of this performance, it seems likely that his pupils generally leave the chapel with a spring in their stride.

The Heroic March by Herbert Brewer made a stirring opening. With fanfares building up the celebratory mood, the determined tread of the pedals added movement. An eloquent melody made all the more impact by contrast.

A Toccata and Fugue by the 17th- century master Dietrich Buxtehude brought a change of style. Textures were always clear, and the phrasing delightfully crisp and neat in two movements that gloried in carefully controlled complexity.

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The appeal of William Walton's Prelude on Wartime Sketches was less intellectual. Its heartening climaxes belonged to the tradition of those films that were supposed to stop us getting downhearted in difficult days.

There were a different set of emotions in Geoffrey Burgon's Brideshead Variations. Bringing back those pictures of superior people in elegant surroundings, they were full of melancholy that bordered on sheer weepiness. The theme grew louder, then was repeated down in the bass, and it was impossible not to be carried along in waves of nostalgia.

Feelings were no less strong in excerpts from Elgar. But there was sterner stuff here, a sense we ought to square our shoulders as McCaffery carefully coloured and moulded these particularly well known pieces.

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