David Briggs studied with Jean Langlais in Paris and was profoundly influenced by the playing of Pierre Cochereau, Organist Titulaire at Notre Dame Cathedral (1955-1984), from an early age. Briggs was the first British winner of the Tournemire Prize at the St Alban’s International Organ Improvisation Competition. He is Organist Emeritus of Gloucester Cathedral, where he directed the music for eight years. He is renowned worldwide for his brilliant improvisations and is also a prolific composer.
This disc includes Briggs’ Messe pour Notre Dame, and features four movements of David Briggs’ own improvisations—the Introït, Offertoire, Élévation and Sortie. Very much aligned with French liturgical practice, this is Briggs captured in the heat of the improvised, unedited moment. These improvisations display a masterful range of mood and colour. There is delicacy, reflection and repose, alongside mighty bombast and truly gothic ‘shock and awe’. Listening to them is an uniquely thrilling musical experience.
Also included are some of Briggs’ much more Anglophone anthems. The Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, who have been winning increasing praise for their Hyperion recordings, perform with their inspirational director Stephen Layton, and the composer, of course, at the organ.