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Unleash the feet! (Hall of Fame #92-91)

#92, Organ Symphony No. 5 in F major - Charles-Marie Widor


Feet are the most underutilised body parts in music. Drummers, pianists and electric guitarists get to use pedals, does anyone else? Oh yeah, harpists. But does any instrument demand more from a poor foot than the mighty organ? As if four separate keyboards (manuals) for your hands weren't enough, the feet have a giant wooden keyboard to themselves. This footboard is reserved for the lowest, most guttural notes, which threaten to rearrange your internal organs.


So it pleased me that organist Sebastian Küchler-Blessing set up a camera especially to capture his footwork on the Toccata from Widor's fifth Organ Symphony. No one cares about the rest of the work, just the toccata. It gets played at weddings so you might, like me, hear the first few bars and go, "ohhhhh". Marvel at the command of limbs on display.



#91, Mass in B Minor - Johann Sebastian Bach


From one Sebastian to another (sort of). Perhaps for the only time in this top 100 countdown I have actually heard the work performed live - last year in fact. Which is good because this mass lasts about two hours and I don't fancy listening to the whole thing again. Not that I didn't enjoy the concert. It was pretty wonderful, and I'm not just saying that because my mother was involved, along with a couple of friends.


The experience of hearing such a vast piece was a bit like floating down a river. The scenery changes very slowly, occasionally details catch your interest, sometimes you zone out for a while, but you're constantly being carried downstream by layers of intricately woven currents. In the same way that after jazz gigs my brain keeps rolling out phrases of 'ba-do-be-do-ba-do-be-da-ba', I left the church with phantom baroque melodies still cascading through my head.


Here's the opening Kyrie Eleison, being played on period instruments by the English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir.



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