Alex West is a familiar figure to music lovers in Exeter. He is choirmaster at St Michaels Church, Mount Dinham, and now takes responsible for "Music@StMichaels", a series of Wenesday evening concerts, held roughly once a month at the eponymous church in the St David's Hill area of Exeter.
As well as his mathematical modelling research with the Meteriological Office, Alex is also a piano and organ scholar. His first appearance at Glenorchy, to demonstrate the piano and organ works of nineteenth century Parisian composers, was an unforgettable event. (See "Classical Journey" 27 Apr 2011.)
In addition to his own series of concerts (including many organ recitals on the newly refurbished organ at St Michael's Church) Alex still takes time to entertain us at Glenorchy. This Wednesday he played 45 minutes of delightful baroque and classical music.
His opening piece on piano was Johann Sebastian Bach's 'Toccata No 4', a delighful piece, originally for harpsichord, in four movements. The opening presto was deceptively short, but led to a restful allegro and adagio, and a playful closing fugue.
On the organ Alex went back to Bach's inspiration and mentor, the Danish composer Dietrich Buxtehude. His "Praeludium in A" ran seamlessly into more fabulous baroque music, this time from France - François Couperin's "Mass for the Convents" - selecting just six from the monumental 21 movements.
The opening was the first and second of the five movements intended to intersperse the Kyrie Eleison, "Plein Jeu" and "Fugue sur la Trompette" (using the wonderful trumpet sound of the Bevington organ). Then came the seventh and eighth of the nine movements of the Gloria, "Trio" and "Recit de Tierce". The extended "Dialogue sur les Grands Jeux" was intended to accompany the Offertoire - and allow sufficient time for the congregation to give generously. Finally Alex played the closing "Deo Gratis".
Having impressed us with his skill and delicacy on the organ, Alex concluded the concert with an entertaining piece of classical music. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Sonata no 13 is scored like a concerto, but with the orchestral music played by the pianist as well. The cadenza in the final allegretto grazioso gives way to - more spectacular playing by Alex himself.
A lovely concert.
To hear the live recording, tune in to Soundart Radio on Sunday 18 January at 3pm. Soundart transmits on 102.5 FM to the South Hams of Devon - but can be heard live on line, anywhere in the world, by opening the Soundart Radio Website, or going straight to the Soundart Radio Player.
Glenorchy & St Michaels concerts continue throughout the spring of 2015.
Find all the details on the "Classical Journey" concerts blog.
|Bach & Mozart|
on the Venables piano
|Buxtehude & Couperin|
on the Bevington organ