Symphony Hall’s 21st Anniversary also gives us the chance to celebrate the eleventh anniversary of its magnificent Klais organ, as Thomas Trotter pointed out during Wednesday afternoon’s enthusiastically-received recital by this most genial, sympathetic and world-renowned performer - who has relaxed a bit of showmanship into his act.
This instrument has brought a bonus perhaps not envisaged at the time when enough pennies were eventually scraped together to commission its building: the amount of new work it has engendered.
We heard three examples of this, most spectacularly with the premiere of Errolyn Wallen’s specially-commissioned ‘Triptych’, three short movements moving from C minor to an eventual resoundingly fruity C major, via a questing opening movement, then an explosive juxtaposition of rhetoric and chorale, and a beefy, swaggering finale. Big-handed gestures didn’t always tell, but the overall effect was stunning.
As was Michael Nyman’s ‘Fourths, Mostly’, receiving a welcome rehearing after its premiere during the organ’s inauguration concert in 2001. There is an amazing amount of pounding energy here, with disparate elements demanding huge efforts of concentration and physical co-ordination; Trotter was brilliant.
He also contributed a premiere of his own, a witty, cheeky and totally effective transcription of Dukas’ ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’. Mickey Mouse cannot help elbowing himself to the fore here, and why not? Trotter, following on from Walt Disney, has added another layer of enjoyment to this delightful piece.
Framing the recital, but never in second place, were Walton’s ‘Crown Imperial’ busy and stirring, Bach’s E-flat Trio Sonata, confidingly intimate from this huge instrument, Howell’s ethereal ‘Master Tallis’s Testament’, and the Adagio preceding for once the Toccata from Widor’s Organ-Symphony no.5, where manuals pounced and pedals grunted and roared.