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Organ of St Matthew’s Church, Northampton
The Parish Church of St Matthew, Northampton was consecrated on 21 September, 1893, with Canon Rowden Hussey as its first Vicar. The church quickly became known for its dignified worship and excellent music, and both were developed further in the time of Walter Hussey, who became the second Vicar or the church and commissioned and outstanding succession of fine works of art and music including works by Britten, Finzi, Rubbra, Mathias, Howells, and Leighton.
The magnificent 4-manual 1895 Walker organ was built in the same year as the composition of Elgar’s Organ Sonata in G, Op 28, and is an ideal instrument on which to perform this music by Elgar and Bairstow.
This is the first recording of the St Matthew’s organ for many years.
Callum Alger is one of the most promising organists of his generation, and is currently Director of Music at St Peter’s Collegiate Church in Wolverhampton. In 2019 he graduated with a first-class honours degree in Music Performance from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, studying organ with Henry Fairs and David Saint, and choral conducting with Paul Spicer. He has recently completed the Advanced Postgraduate Diploma (Professional Performance) course there, under the guidance of Daniel Moult. During his time at the Conservatoire he has been accompanist to the critically-acclaimed Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir, accompanying the choir on their most recent CD Rosa Mystica with SOMM Recordings. Callum also studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater ‘Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’ in Leipzig under the tutelage of Martin Schmeding as part of the ERASMUS scheme. He has previously held positions at Portsmouth Cathedral, St Matthew’s Church, Northampton, St Thomas’ Church, Stourbridge, and Westminster Cathedral. Callum has performed extensively as a soloist in the UK. Recent recital venues have included Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, and St John’s Smith Square. He won first-prize at the IAO/RCO Organ Playing Competition (2018) in Peterborough, and Dame Gillian Weir Messiaen Competition (2018) in Birmingham, and was a finalist in the St Albans International Organ Competition (2021). He is a prize-winning Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, and an Associate of Trinity College, London. He has performed on BBC Radio 3 and 4, and was a Making Music Selected Artist 2020–21.
Total Playing time: 62:13
Recorded in St Matthew’s Church, Northampton on 22/23 March 2022 by kind permission of the Vicar and Churchwardens
Recording producer and engineer: Gary Cole
Sample audio extracts
A largely enjoyable mix of the familiar and less well known. Of the two sonatas featured, Elgar’s is a cornerstone of the repertoire, while Bairstow’s quirky number has one constantly expecting the unexpected. ★★★ BBC Music Magazine December 2022
‘The performances are outstanding and the sound… spectacular, with excellent notes on the music by the performers, and specifications. If you like organ music of this period, you cannot go wrong…’ American Record Guide January 2023
‘…a thoroughly enjoyable recital, with Alger again demonstrating his command of already considerable interpretative and technical abilities..’ Choir and Organ November 2022
‘Callum Alger displays musicianship and technical command of a rare order. Even if you possess other recordings of some of this music, I strongly advise the acquisition of this disc: artistically and technically, it is strongly recommended. ’ ★★★★★ The Organ Summer 2022
‘…magnificently mature performances…’ Church Music Quarterly December 2022
‘My latest ‘desert island disc’… What an utter delight! ’ Organists’ Review March 2023
‘a very impressive recital from this outstandingly talented young organist. ’ Cathedral Music Magazine Spring 2023