The Merton Organ: the new Dobson organ of Merton College, Oxford

In a golden age of organ-building, Merton College’s new Dobson instrument stands out as exceptional. It is only the third American-built organ sent to the UK since the Second World War, a bold commissioning choice which Benjamin Nicholas, Reed Rubin Organist and Director of Music in Merton’s recently established choral foundation, and his colleagues made after considering three factors. The College required an instrument that could sympathetically accompany its daily choral services – with sufficient flexibility to accommodate the works of many eras – and that honoured the Chapel’s ancient architecture.

The instrument also had to be equipped to perform a large part of the solo repertoire, and it is the success of this third aim that Benjamin Nicholas sought to demonstrate when putting together the programme for the instrument’s first recorded outing. From the pre-pedalboard sophistication of native Stanley, to the mesmerising hues of Messiaen – and encompassing snapshots from the instrument’s vast literature in between – no inquisitive listener will feel short-changed by the gluttony of textures and colours on display here. In his debut appearance on disc as a soloist, Benjamin Nicholas combines flair and intelligence as he presents the stunning instrument he helped mastermind.

"Nicholas is a highly competent player and one as prepared as anyone to display virtuosity...It's a wonderful instrument, happily meeting the demands of any repertoire"

"Delphian's characteristically clear, focused and framed recording and the finely delineated playing of Benjamin Nicholas offer their own recommendations."

"Nicholas judges expertly the variety of colours in his performance...The new Dobson organ is a splendid addition to Merton College Chapel"

"Nicholas' in-depth knowledge of the organ shows through in the ease at which he makes it sing everything...The recording makes me want to go to Merton and see and hear the great organ"

Producer: Paul Baxter
Release date: 7 April 2014
Catalogue No: DCD34142
Total playing time: 1:11:51

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