There must be weirder ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than stuck inside a church organ, but there can’t be many. Balancing on planks between 2,000 precious pipes was a
catwalk cakewalk compared to hanging off nave-top ladders to get a decent shot of the crown and mitres. This organ’s a massive two storey structure. Lavender’s Blue commissions have ranged from supermodels to super models, redaction to red action, beds to dog beds, but never capturing images of the innards and outtards of one of the finest Baroque church organs in England. All at the behest of one of the most distinguished organists in England. It was a first.
After a half century silence and a £1 million restoration, the organ is back in tune. International concert organist Gerard Brooks, Organ Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, Director of Music at Methodist Central Hall Westminster and Curator Organist at Christ Church Spitalfields, related, “Thanks to the generosity of the Friends of Christ Church Spitalfields, the 18th century organ originally built by Richard Bridge was magnificently restored by William Drake.” Richard Bridge was the greatest organ builder of Georgian England. Handel played the instrument when visiting friends in the neighbourhood.
An inaugural performance was held to mark the launch of a double CD with a wonderfully illustrated sleeve. Yes, that photography session. A Giant Reborn features Gerard Brooks playing Baroque music by the likes of Purcell, Prelleur, Stanley and of course Handel. Introducing the evening, Reverend Andy Rider declared, “Christ Church is the best place to be in London before Christmas! This is a very special night in lots and lots of ways. It is the first recording of the Richard Bridge Organ in 300 years.”
“When it was completed in 1735 it was the largest organ in the country. It is now the largest surviving Georgian organ in existence,” explained Gerard. “This organ is made for music as envisaged by composers of that period – there are relatively few like it. You are hearing what 18th century ears would have heard. The keyboard goes down to Bottom G so music written in the lower register can be played. Prelleur was the first organist of this church. Handel knew Richard Bridge and spoke very highly of him.”