Pipeworks @ the NCHMark Duley – Pipeworks at the National Concert Hall, Friday 28th February.

A multitude of different colours cascades out of one of the country’s largest organs at Mark Duley‘s recital. The organ in Dublin’s National Concert Hall has four manuals and fifty stops, and perfectly suits the vibrant music on display. The short opening piece, Hamburger Totentanz (Hamburg Death Dance) by Guy Bovet is surreal in nature. Echoes of Beethoven and Offenbach are mangled with declamatory sections, as the piece gradually becomes more frenzied, replicating something you would expect to hear on a ghost train at a fairground. Duley presents the piece with great animation though, and educes a few titters and raised eyebrows from the audience.

César Franck’s Grand Piéce Symphonique in F Minor is the centrepiece of the concert, a piece designed to match the dynamic range of symphonic orchestras of the mid-nineteenth century. One of the challenges Duley faces is how to keep momentum going through the various stop combinations and pedal parts. A carefully constructed performance ensures that the piece never drags throughout the thirty minutes. The principal theme of the first movement is introduced and as it unfolds the organ’s sound gradually increases as if one can hear the theme’s progress through the pipes. Each new idea is greeted with a new timbre, before a sentimental Andante section precedes a livelier Allegro. In the final movement Duley allows a considerable weight of sound to herald the return of the principal theme, now in F Major, for a glorious ending.

The most impressive aspect to this Pipeworks concert is its value for money. With entry free, there is hardly a better way for any music fan to spend thirty-five minutes on an Friday night in Dublin.