October 2001 The Organ
Repackaged, and with a much more punchy title, this CD bursts its way back onto the market with all the aplomb you would expect from an artist and a scholar as considerable as Kimberly Marshall. Claims for feminine authorship of some earlier repertoire may be tenuous, but claim it she does: and who cares, as she plays it with such conviction and understanding (though I wondered a bit about some brisk tempi). Of pieces by the known women composers, Ethel Smyth’s short Prelude and Fugue shines out as the class act. Margaret Vardell Sandresky, however, could not have a better advocate than Marshall, whose superb playing, and the pungent colours of the Rosales organ, are here excellently paired. Elfrida Andrée’s contribution failed to arrest, but the Suite No 1 by Florence Price revealed a charming melodic style, with hints of early Vierne, and a refreshingly naïve musical language in the delightfully named “Toccato”.
The Rosales organ betrays lush colours, in a thanklessly dry acoustic, but with some lack of warmth in the foundation stops - or is it just a recording fault that the tutti seems to rely on the reeds to give body? Snarls plus high mixtures summarise its effect, but I hope I am wrong. The booklet is excellent, with scholarly programme notes and imaginative illustrations. This disc (originally released by Gamut) gives full value, for all sorts of reasons.
Kimberly Marshall's research "marks a new departure in feminist musicology...it changes our view of women's roles as musician, replacing familiar images of frustrated aspirations with plentiful, well-documented instances of fulfillment and power. Such a study can only cheer and inspire."