Audience thrilled by Rossini and original Mustel harmonium

11 June 2018

The audience greeted the final concert of the season on Saturday 9 June 2018 with obvious delight and appreciation, with cheers for Chorus, soloists and instrumentalists – and for the amazing Mustel harmonium! Played magnificently by acclaimed organist and harmonium specialist Jonathan Scott, this rare instrument was put through its paces in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonelle, a work rarely performed in it’s original scoring for harmonium and piano.

Jonathan began the concert with an enthusiastic account and demonstration of this particular instrument, built in 1880 by Victor Mustel, from the collection of Pam & Phil Fluke of Harmonium Hire. Mustel is widely acknowledged as the Rolls Royce of  harmonium makers, and this is one of very few that still exist in their original condition. The 22 stops with 6 rows of reeds in the bass & 8 in the treble provided plenty of ‘colour’ and a bright, ‘clean’ sound which clearly delighted audience members who had come especially to hear it.

Rossini’s wonderful work was conducted with assurance by Chorus Music Director Darius Battiwalla and expressively and accurately sung by the chorus and all four soloists – soprano Charlotte la Thrope, alto Margaret McDonald, tenor Richard Rowe and bass Charles Murray. The chorus was especially thrilled with the excellent piano accompaniment provided by their one-time accompanist Nigel Gyte.

Acclaimed pianist Tom Scott came to hear his brother play the Mustel harmonium in the City Hall’s beautiful art deco ballroom, and made a short video of Jonathan playing Boléro de Concert Op.166 (1865) by Louise-James-Alfred Lefébure-Wély (1817-1869). Watch the video on You Tube.