At the centre of his technique was the desire to give the organ the flexibility and subtlety of the orchestra. He absorbed all he could of orchestral playing and orchestral music, and made some spectacular arrangements of popular orchestral pieces. The Toccata di Concerto is an original organ piece whose manual parts have a superficial resemblance to the French toccata style. But beneath, on the pedals, strides an epic theme worthy of a place in a great Romantic opera or tone poem, music crying out for a Richard Strauss orchestra. At the centre of the piece the heroics subside after a pedal passage marked ‘furioso’ and there is a soft-focus romantic interlude, rich in ascending chromaticism, before the volcanic energy of the original theme erupts again, even more vigorously than before.
This is the piece which the organist and journalist Harvey Grace (1874–1944) found ‘a terribly difficult affair’ because of the virtuosity required, although he did concede that there is ‘more good stuff in it than such works are wont to have.’
from notes by Ian Carson © 1992