William Thomas Best (13 August 1826 — 10 May 1897) studied at Carlisle Cathedral under John Norman and Abraham Young. Organist of the Pembroke Road Chapel, Liverpool, 1840-55; the Church for the Blind, Liverpool, 1847; the Royal Panopticon, Leicester Square, London, 1853-54; Lincoln’s Inn Chapel, 1854; St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, 1855; St. George’s Hall, Liverpool, 1855-94; Wallasey Parish Church, Birkenhead, 1860-63; Holy Trinity, Liverpool, 1863; West Derby Parish Church, 1879. Engaged in 1871 to give recitals at the Royal Albert Hall (stayed for only a short time). Solo Organist at the Handel festival at the Crystal Palace. Opened the organ in Sydney Town Hall, 1890. Was one of the greatest English Organists of his time. Received a Civil List pension of £100 per annum. Composed church services, anthems, organ pieces, &c. b. Carlisle, England, Aug. 13th, 1826; d. Liverpool, May 10th, 1897 (buried in Childwell Churchyard).
Best was certainly the most famous British organist of the time, and was proclaimed by none other than Franz Liszt to be THE greatest virtuoso on ANY instrument!
He is said to have had a repertoire (ready to play!) of over 10,000 pieces!
This work is the elevnth in the collection of "Twelve Short Preludes on Old English Psalm-Tunes. This melody dates from 1562.
In this performance, Choir 8' & 4' flutes are played for the "filigree" and the chorale appears on the Zart Flote and Echo Oboe with tremulant of the Echo. The effect is very delicate.
In this work, you can hear just how well Best incorporates features of the Baroque period. To me, this sounds like an aria from a cantata, or perhaps even a movement from a setting of the Passion.
Despite the fact that these are short pieces, there is a lot of music in a short space of time.
Photos of Best are attached below, as well as the great Willis organ in St. George's Hall, Liverpool.