We must treasure and value our own and an Eric Sweeney concert at Christ Church Cathedral, on a chilly Spring Sunday, is something indeed to treasure and enjoy. And Sweeney rose to the occasion with a well thought out programme of organ music as the bright sunshine poured into the Cathedral.
Opening with a J. S. Bach Fantasia, you could feel the twirls and swirls of sound leading into a familiar processional tune with a thundering Toccata finale. A Bach Partita or variations on a hymn tune followed – O God, thy pious holy God, with lots of changes in emphasis that allowed the organist to show off his virtuosity. The quiet passages had a warm beauty.
It was once again a fine delight to hear one of his own compositions Le Cercle Du Lumiere (circle of light) inspired, the composer told us, during a solar eclipse. There was a great circle of chords, a flexion of sound as triumphant notes gave way to tentative explorations and great dramatic passages with vibrating deep tones like pins and barrels. Sweeney’s finger and footwork was projected onto an altar screen and it was almost surreal, the way the great bursts of spring sunshine blotted out or eclipsed the image.
The composer guided the audience through each section of the programme with clearly audible and informative detail. His Cesar Franc choice of The Heroic Piece was a real treat with happy quirky twists, powerful and dramatic sections and an heroic climax.
He described two Lefebure-Wely pieces as lollipops and they were a fun finale to a fine concert. The Andante had a bubbly slow measure, as sweet as candyfloss, with a tune like Sugar Baby Love, on a candycane flute. He said the Sortie In Eb was an unashamedly vulgar piece but I loved its unabashed fairground sound of barrel organs waltzers and chairaplanes. All the fun of the fair.
For a brief moment I thought he was going to burst into – I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside, but he didn’t.