Michael Quinn
Choir & Organ
August 2016

This second offering from Naji Hakim on the robust IV/71 Schuke organ of Bilbao's Palacio Euskalduna features five self-composed pieces inspired by the Lebanese virtuoso's travels. There's much to admire, the Overture Libanaise opening proceedings with a bone-rattling energy entirely characteristic of Hakim. The rondo toccata conclusion of Esquisses Persanes and Suite Française, with its richly stylised borrowings from renaissance and early baroque dances, thrilling rollercoaster rides wholly secure yet driven along with panache and flair. The Three Basque Dances are no less vividly colourful, the Suite Norvégienne infusing simple pastoral melodies and watercolour harmonies with a becoming variety of expression. Entertaining, if also somewhat exhausting.