Each quarter our team of church musicians reviews the latest books, CDs, and printed music for the RSCM’s magazines, CMQ (Church Music Quarterly) and Sunday by Sunday. All reviews are now available online, including additional material not published in the magazines – please follow the links below.
THE CHOIR OF MAGDALEN COLLEGE, OXFORD: ARCHIVE RECORDINGS 1906–60
Includes recordings by members of the choir and the full choir · OxRecs Digital OXCD-116
This disc opens with an introduction by John Betjeman: ‘Magdalen College and its Chapel’ from a BBC Cathedral Music broadcast in the mid-1960s. It transports the listener back to the time around which many of the performances on this CD were made. It is, however, in 1906/7 that we begin, with hazy old recordings of John Lomas (bass lay-clerk) singing Gounod, and the Magdalen College Glee Club singing pieces by Joseph Barnby and Arthur H. Brown. There follow recordings of the full choir under H.C. Stewart (a fragment of Hymnus Eucharisticus by Benjamin Rogers recorded on top of Magdalen’s Great Tower at 6.00am on May Day, 1931), Philip Taylor (Sumsion in G); and (the lion’s share of the disc) Dr Bernard Rose, directing music by Martin Peerson, Richard Davy, Thomas Ford, Richard Deering, John Sheppard, Purcell, Lassus, Tomkins, Leighton, W.H. Harris and Rose himself. This disc will be of great interest to those who have a connection with Magdalen College or an interest in changing practice in English choral singing.
A YEAR AT TRURO
The choir of Truro Cathedral / Luke Bond (organ) / Christopher Gray · Regent REGCD377
This CD presents a good mix of old and new. Advent is represented by Vaughan Williams’s arrangement of The truth from above, Christmas by three pieces: The World’s Desire by Paul Drayton, an arrangement by Philip Stopford of the Sans Day Carol and Noe, noe by David Bednall – well worth getting to know. Another Stopford arrangement, We three kings, covers Epiphany, while Brahms’s intense Warum ist das Licht gegeben is suitably Lenten. Fauré’s setting of Ave Maria provides some Annunciation brightness before Bruckner’s dark Christus factus est invokes Passiontide. Wood’s This joyful Eastertide does for Easter before we progress to some meatier fare among the final pieces: Finzi’s glorious God is gone up (Ascension), Grayston Ives’s pretty Listen sweet dove (Pentecost), Blessed be the Holy Trinity (Trinity) by David Cheetham (b. 1943), who composed this elegant piece for the Truro Cathedral Voluntary Choir, Walton’s superb The Twelve (All Saints), Bairstow’s monumental Blessed city, heavenly Salem (Dedication) and Jonathan Dove’s attractive Seek him that maketh the seven stars (Christ the King). The choir is in good voice and copes well with some very demanding repertoire, though the trebles’ diction is not always as clear as it might be. The singers are accompanied ably by Luke Bond.
INSPIRED BY PSALMS
THE COMPLETE PSALMS OF DAVID (Priory Records)
Vol. 2 · Salisbury Cathedral Choir / Daniel Cook (organ) / David Halls
Vol. 3 · Liverpool Cathedral Choir / Ian Tracey (organ) / David Poulter
Priory PRCD 1058 and 1079
These audio portraits of very different psalm-singing in two contrasting Anglican cathedrals, Salisbury and Liverpool, are part of a new project to record the entire cycle of 150 psalms around the UK according to the Book of Common Prayer. The journey began in Exeter, and continues with these recordings; Salisbury has been allotted Psalms 20 to 36, Liverpool 37 to 49. Both choirs provide text-book, though contrasting, examples of unhurried chanting. In Salisbury, the recitation of the words is very deliberate and fairly even. In Liverpool, however, the rhythm of the words is very much to the fore. In both locations the art of reflecting the mood of the texts – whether in joy or sorrow – is alive and well. Liverpool has more light and shade (including plenty of men only and ATB singing) and a wider dynamic range in the singing; the only detraction here is the frequent weighted pause of the penultimate syllable at the end of many phrases; for example ‘Glory be to the Fa-ther’, which gets a little wearing. In Salisbury there is a greater degree of purpose, movement and pace even if the singing is mostly SATB throughout. Ian Tracey and Daniel Cook demonstrate masterful control of their respective instruments, though Daniel Cook wins the prize for ‘roaring lions’ and ‘thunder’. Priory successfully captured the ambience of each building.
Music inspired by the Psalms of David · Choirs of the Chapels Royal, HM Tower of London / Andrew Arthur (organ) / Colm Carey · LIR Classics LIR026
The quirky and tricky chromaticism of Poulenc, the serenity of Palestrina, the energy of Leighton, the grandeur of Parry and lush harmonies of Herbert Howells are all here in settings of a variety of psalm texts. The professional choir of ten singers who provide the music at two of the chapels at the Tower of London have caught the tube to record this in the church of St Jude-on-the-Hill, in Hampstead Garden Suburb. It’s a splendid recording. The last of Parry’s Songs of Farewell is movingly and sensitively sung. Particular mention must be made too of Purcell’s Hear my Prayer, and Bob Chilcott’s My Prayer which takes much of Purcell’s material and bends it to make its own anguished plea. Mendelssohn’s Hear my Prayer separates the two. This is a very good listen; the choir shows itself to be adept in handling a variety of musical styles.
WE RECOMMEND ...
LOUIS VIERNE: SYMPHONIES 2 AND 3
Ashley Grote plays the organ of Gloucester Cathedral · Acclaim Productions APCD4014
Vierne’s intense second and third organ symphonies are given arresting performances by Ashley Grote on this CD. Few other British instruments can match the Gloucester organ in this repertoire; and the cathedral’s acoustic plays its part, too, in some wonderfully dramatic moments when the organ’s roar reverberates around that glorious space. The openings of both works have something thrillingly monstrous about them in Ashley Grote’s hands, and his melodramatic evocation of gothic horror in the Final of the third symphony is worthy of a Hammer film! Among the softer sections, the Cantilène (second movement) of the third symphony is particularly lovely. Ashley Grote’s fine legato enables the oboe melody to sing, supported by an impeccable accompaniment. A great performance of great organ music.
CONTEMPORARY BRITISH ORGAN MUSIC VOLUME 4: PAUL PATTERSON
Michael Bonaventure plays the organ of Coventry Cathedral · sfzmusic SFZM0212
The sfz label does sterling work to bring contemporary organ music to the public. Michael Bonaventure is a gifted exponent whose fearless performances carry you along on a (sometimes terrifying) tidal wave of virtuosity – appropriately, since the first piece on this disc is Tsunami, commissioned for a concert in memory of those who died in the Asian tsunami of 2004. The Trilogy that follows is composed of pieces that were not written as a set, but which the composer encourages organists to play together. The second of the three, the ghostly Interludium, is more melodic than most of Patterson’s other organ music. Games is included twice: a longer interpretation at the centre of the programme and in a shorter reading at the conclusion. These alternative versions are possible because Games is a graphic score, an extract from which is included in the sleeve notes. This work was a commission for the 1977 St Albans International Organ Festival. Listeners who feel they would prefer to dip their toes into the deep waters of Paul Patterson’s organ music before taking the full plunge might like to start with the penultimate work on the disc: his manic Brumba.
Kerry Beaumont plays the organ of Coventry Cathedral · Herald HAVPCD 377
The 50th anniversary of the organ of Coventry Cathedral (also used by Michael Bonaventure for his recording of Contemporary British Organ Music) is celebrated on this disc with a splendid programme of 20th- and 21st-century composers. The instrument sounds as glorious as ever and, while it plays a broad repertoire as well as virtually any other English cathedral organ, it is not only its excellent sound, but also its appearance and the building in which it is sited that make it so perfect for the music of the last half century.
With music by Jonathan Dove (Niagra – an excellent toccata), Philip Moore, Bob Chilcott, James MacMillan, Bryan Kelly, David Bedford, Grayston Ives, Mathias, Judith Bingham (the transcendentally gorgeous St Bride, assisted by angels), Simon Preston (Alleluyas), David Matthews, John Madden, Philip Wilby and John Casken, a broad range of styles is covered, highlighting the versatility of the instrument, something of the variety of organ music produced by British composers over the last half century, and Kerry Beaumont’s tremendous skills as a performer of remarkable vitality and expressive power.
THE ORGAN OF GUILDFORD CATHEDRAL
Katherine Dienes-Williams and David Davies play the organ of Guildford Cathedral · Herald HAVPCD 371
The organ of Guildford Cathedral was built by Rushworth and Dreaper in 1961–2 using (in part) materials from a pre-existing instrument. As well as the usual four-manual departments in the north transept, there is a Positive Organ placed nearer the choir. Katherine Dienes-Williams (Organist and Master of the Choristers at Guildford) and David Davies (formerly Sub Organist at Guildford, and now Assistant Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral) put the organ through its paces in an imaginative programme. An arrangement of the Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music launches the disc in energetic style. Highlights include Howells’s luxurious Psalm Prelude set 1, no.1, Tarik O’Regan’s foot-tapping Colimaçon, Whitlock’s evergreen Folk Tune. Lefébure-Wély’s Sortie in E flat puts in a lolloping appearance, along with Guy Bovet’s flamboyant Salamanca. There are also pieces by Calvin Hampton, Reger, Vierne, Saint-Saëns, Charles Wood, Bach, and David N. Johnson (1922–1987) – a grandiose Trumpet Tune in A that shows off the organ’s impressive tuba. There is much to enjoy on this disc, in terms of the programme and the two organists’ stylish playing.
BUXTEHUDE: THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS
5 volumes · Christopher Herrick plays the organs of:
(i) Helsingør Cathedral, Denmark · Hyperion CDA67666
(ii) Niros Cathedral, Trondheim · Hyperion CDA67809
(iii) St-Louis-en-l’Île, Paris · Hyperion CDA67855
(iv) Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge · Hyperion CDA67876
(v) Mariager Klosterkirk, Denmark · Hyperion CDA67964
Begun in 2007, the Herrick/Hyperion project to record all Buxtehude’s extant organ music was completed in 2012. The discs have been released individually, so readers might have come across some enthusiastic reviews already. Christopher Herrick’s masterful interpretations realise the architecture of even the most improvisatory of the pieces, while simultaneously giving a sense of spontaneous invention. Anyone preparing to perform Buxtehude would do well to listen to carefully how Herrick paces, shapes and ornaments the music. If his interpretations are more ‘English’ than, say, those of Ulrik Spang-Hannsen (Classico label, recorded 1990–1993), they are distinguished by their vigour, grace, articulation and tasteful yet imaginative registration. Herrick’s performances have a convincing ‘naturalness’ about them and are happily devoid of mannerism or sense of self-consciousness, particularly in his capturing of the spirit of the stylus phantasticus. The recording quality is also worthy of mention, as are the concise and informative programme notes by Dr Relf Clark.
Each CD was recorded on a different organ: five superb instruments with individual personalities, but all well suited to Buxtehude. The booklet that accompanies each disc features a photograph of the relevant organ and gives its stop-list. From Volume 2 onwards there is also information about the registrations used on each track. It is a pity that the photographs are all monochrome and, while the performer is pictured at the console of some of the consoles, it is regrettable that not all are shown.
Buxtehude composed organ music in a variety of genres: multi-sectional preludes, toccatas, fugues, ground bass pieces, chorale preludes, chorale variations, chorale fantasias, and canzonettas. Whereas the student might have found it more convenient had the music been arranged across the discs by genre (e.g. all the praeludia on one disc), each CD presents a complete and satisfying programme, containing a range of both ‘free’ compositions and cantus firmus settings – a more musical choice that affords the listener the opportunity to hear works in the same genre across different instruments and works in different genres on the same instrument.
To own the complete set of Christopher Herrick’s Buxtehude CDs is a joy.
HAEC DIES: Byrd and the Tudor revival
Choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge / Annie Lydford & Nick Lee (organ) / Geoffrey Webber · Delphian DCD34104
As well as the first-class singing of the choir of Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, Geoffrey Webber’s programmes are always illuminating. On this CD he explores the relationship between English composers of the 16th and 20th centuries with music by Vaughan Williams (Whitsunday Hymn), W. H. Harris (Eternal Ruler, based on a Gibbons tune), Holst (Man born to toil), Whitlock (O living Bread, who once didst die), Finzi (Up to those bright and gladsome hills), Britten (A hymn to the Virgin), Howells (Haec dies) and Bax (the perfect little Lord thou has told us). There are also organ pieces: an original composition (Howells’s Master Tallis’s Testament) and two arrangements. Martin & Geoffrey Shaw’s Funeral Music gives Tallis’s Third mode melody an early 20th century makeover. Beware: there is a high-pressure reed involved! In J. E. Borland’s adaptation of Byrd’s Fantasia in C the notes are Byrd’s but, like the Shaws’ arrangement, the registrations are for an organ with pedals and multiple manuals, including swell. One suspects that, not so very long ago, Dr Webber could have been deprived of his Fellowship and his organ scholars sent down for playing pieces of this kind! But now, of course, these arrangements are themselves of historical interest and significance and indeed enjoyable. Two earlier pieces are included: Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices and Pearsall’s Tu es Petrus, his own adaptation of his lovely ‘madrigal’ Lay a garland. Rarely have text (‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church’) and music seemed less suitably matched – but the music remains glorious. Indeed, this is a glorious disc.
J.S. BACH ORGAN MUSIC
MARGARET PHILLIPS PLAYS BACH
VOLUME V: St Nicholas (Bovenkerk), Kampen; Hervormde Kerk, Noordbroek
VOLUME VI: St Bavo, Haarlem; St Louis-en-l’Île, Paris
VOLUME VII: St Jacobikirche, Sangerhausen; Petrikirche, Freiberg
All 2-CD sets · Regent REGCD301, REGCD307 and REGCD308
These most recent additions to Margaret Phillips’s survey of Bach’s complete organ works are as fine as the preceding discs. The music is played on instruments of great beauty – indeed, it is almost as great a pleasure to listen to the colours of these instruments for their own sake as it is the music, but the music comes first and is played by Margaret Phillips with immaculate taste.
Volume V includes the famous Toccata & Fugue in D minor BWV 565 (possibly not by Bach, of course), Trio Sonatas no. 2 in C minor and no. 5 in C major, the Concerto in G major (after Ernst), the Pedal-Exercitum, Toccata & Fugue in D minor BWV 538, Toccata, Adagio & Fugue in C major, Prelude & Fugue in C major BWV 545, plus numerous chorale preludes and two partitas.
Volume VI opens with the mighty ‘Wedge’ (Prelude & Fugue in E minor BWV 548); and also features the Preludes & Fugues in B minor BWV 544 and G major BWV 550. The great Fantasia & Fugue in G minor is a highlight, as is the ‘Gigue’ Fugue BWV 577. There are concertos in C major (after Ernst) and D minor (after Vivaldi); Trio Sonata no. 1 in E flat; chorale preludes; and other miscellaneous pieces.
Volume VII presents the Passacaglia in C minor; various Preludes and Fugues (some paired, some not); concertos in C (after Vivaldi) and E flat; chorale preludes; and other pieces, including the Kleines harmonisches Labyrinth.
Each volume comes with an excellent booklet with concise but insightful notes by the performer, fascinating details of the organs and attractive colour photographs.
MENDELSSOHN ORGAN MUSIC
MENDELSSOHN Organ Sonatas
James Lancelot at Durham Cathedral · Priory PRCD 1071
Jonathan Dimmock at Weißenau, Germany · Loft LRCD1112
The closest that many organists get to the music of Felix Mendelssohn is the much loved Wedding March. This is a shame because the six organ sonatas have much to offer: tenderness, gentility, wit, dignity, and virtuosity for hands and feet. Each presents interpretative challenges and James Lancelot and Jonathan Dimmock rise to the task in their respective performances. Both instruments here are very different: James Lancelot plays the wonderful Willis organ in Durham whilst Jonathan Dimmock, an accomplished American organist, plays a classical Holzhey organ (tuned to Werckmeister III) in Bavaria, an instrument which Mendelssohn loved.
The composer set considerable technical demands – fast arpeggios, busy pedal passages on the one hand, and expressiveness on the other. Lancelot abounds with energy, while Dimmock is generally more considered in his tempi. In the last movement of the first sonata for example, Lancelot (on his home ground) is thirty seconds faster than Dimmock, and gives a relentlessly energetic and even dramatic account. Dimmock nonetheless, executes fine performances on an instrument with a straight pedal-board. As far as the recordings themselves are concerned, it is the Durham recording that is the better; on the Holzhey recording many of the higher-pitched runs are lost amidst much middle tone. Whichever your preference, the performers do Mendelssohn proud; one of these movements could be an alternative wedding march!
MUSIC FOR ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS
ADVENT: The Music of Christ Church South Yarra
The choir, clergy and congregation of Christ Church South Yarra / Siegfried Franke & Samuel Allchurch (organ) / Philip Nicholls · Christ Church Music Foundation CC0004CD
Christ Church South Yarra is situated in Melbourne, Australia. The sleeve notes speak of how the musicians of the parish are not regarded as performers, but as ‘the leaders and encouragers of the music-making of the community as a whole.’ This disc shows in abundance not only how lively a musical life flourishes within the parish, but also how high the musical standards in the liturgy are as a consequence.
The programme takes the form of the music of a Eucharist and an evensong. Many of the tracks will be familiar: the hymns ‘Long ago, prophets knew’, ‘Let all mortal flesh keep silence’, ‘O come, O come Emmanuel’ and ‘Lo, he comes with clouds descending’, a number of organ pieces (Bach and Widor) played on the church’s 1998 Kenneth Jones organ, and choral pieces such as the canticles based on Latin-American rhythms (in C) by Bryan Kelly. There are also ‘local’ pieces: the Missa Aedes Christi by Christopher Willcock and responses by Martin Rutherford who was Director of Music at Melbourne Grammar School. This disc is an inspiration and a challenge for all parish musicians.
GLORY TO THE NEW-BORN KING
The Choir of Chester Cathedral / Benjamin Chewter (organ) / Philip Rushforth · Priory PRCD 1076
This hugely enjoyable collection of Christmas music includes the splendid organ of Chester Cathedral in pieces by Langlais, Mulet, Gigout, Sumsion and Leroy Anderson (yes, the Sleigh Ride!), as well as the glorious singing of the choir. Several Warlock carols are included (Adam lay ybounden, Balulalow, Bethlehem Down) and other composers include Joubert (There is no rose), Ireland (The holy boy), John Sanders (Tomorrow shall be my dancing day), Michael Head (The little road to Bethlehem) and Poulenc (Hodie Christus natus est). It is good to hear some fine newer pieces, too: Carl Rütti’s excellent I wonder as I wander, Morten Lauridsen’s atmospheric O magnum mysterium, andPhilip Stopford’s melodious Lully, lulla, lullay. Dotted among these are some well-loved carols (‘It came upon the midnight clear’, God rest you merry, gentlemen’, ‘Hark! the herald-angels sing’). A particular treat is the fifteenth-century Song of the Nuns of Chester, arranged by Martin Bussey. This disc is perfect listening for Christmas.
CHRISTMAS FROM SAINT LOUIS
The Saint Louis Chamber Chorus / Philip Barnes · Regent REGCD373
Under their British-born conductor, Philip Barnes, the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus makes a deliciously homogenous sound, the members singing as if with one voice. Their a cappella programme features several pieces by American composers (including ‘It came upon the midnight clear’ to its original tune and ‘We three kings of Orient are’), and is built around music by Virgil Thomson. There are several pieces on the disc that were written for the Chorus, including Martha Shaffer’s charming If ye would hear the angels sing, New Zealander Clare Maclean’s intricate Susannine, Yakov Gubanov’s The garden of roses, Sasha Johnson Manning’s Two Tree Carols, and David Bednall’s From heaven above to earth I come, a work that explores a variety of moods in its eight minutes. If you want a Christmas disc that offers something rather different from the usual repertoire, this is ideal.
Northampton Bach Choir/Ian Clarke (organ) / Lee Dunleavy · Northampton Bach Choir NBC001
This heart-warming disc looks, on the face of it, simply a collection of the most popular carols, but, while there is much that is cosily familiar, there is plenty of updating in the arrangements of the carols and not everything is as it might appear to be at first glance: Away in a manger, for instance, does not use the usual tune. And there is just as much in the programme that is new and/or less familiar, such as Let an anthem of praise, a carol of joy by Caleb Ashworth (1722–75) who was Principal of the Dissenting Academy in Daventry. Other composers and arrangers include Gordon Lawson, Malcolm Tyler, Stephen Cleobury, Duncan Faulkner, John Bertalot, Malcolm Arnold, Edmund Rubbra, Simon Johnson, Lyndon Hilling, Trevor Hold, Robert Walker, Andrew Reid and Andrew Shenton, not forgetting organist Ian Clarke and conductor Lee Dunleavy themselves.
CAROL OF JOY
The Choirs of All Saints Northampton / Lee Dunleavy · All Saints Northampton ASNCD002
Beginning with ‘Once in royal David’s city’ and ending with ‘Hark! the herald-angels sing’ and ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’, the programme resembles Lee Dunleavy’s Northampton Bach Choir CD, but most of the repertoire is different. Adrian Self’s Jesus Christ the apple tree is sung with great sweetness by the girls. Richard Rodney Bennett’s The Shepherd’s Carol and The holly and the ivy were commissioned by the choir of All Saints and are welcome additions to the repertoire. Lee Dunleavy’s own The Robin stays is a super piece for sopranos and organ. The disc draws its name from Carol of Joy by American composer Dan Forrest (b.1978). Carl Rütti’s jaunty My dancing day is one of the highlights on an altogether enjoyable CD.
19TH AND 20TH CENTURY CHORAL
JOHN RUTTER: THE TEWKESBURY COLLECTION
Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum / Carleton Etherington (organ) / Benjamin Nicholas · Delphian DCD34107
Whereas many composers are recognizable within a few notes of almost any of their pieces, Rutter is, like Stravinsky, a composer of many voices. The different sides to Rutter’s musical personality are explored on this fine disc, from his Vaughan Williams-esque Lord, thou has been our refuge, to his post-Walton Wells Jubilate, to This is the day (composed for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) and so typical of the style for which Rutter has become well known that it is almost a pastiche of himself.
Conductor Benjamin Nicholas is now full-time Organist and Director of Music at Merton College, Oxford. This final disc with the Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum is an impressive summation of his enormous achievement with the choir.
QUAM DILECTA: French Romantic Choral Music
The Choir of Christ’s College, Cambridge / Roxy Summerfield (organ) / David Rowland · Regent RECD 375
Showcasing motets by Saint-Saëns, de Sévérac, Fauré and d’Indy, this disc presents choral repertoire that is heard infrequently, though it is tuneful and expressive and mostly within the capabilities of choirs less accomplished than that of Christ’s College, Cambridge. Under Professor Rowland’s sensitive direction, the singers give performances that show this music at its very best. The highlight of the disc is the exquisite little setting of Tantum ergo by de Sévérac.
Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral Edinburgh / Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama Brass / Duncan Ferguson · Delphian DCD 34071
This is a splendid recording of arguably Bruckner’s finest choral writing; his outpourings for the church were an expression of his faith. A selection of motets (including Ave Maria, Os justi, Locus iste and Christus factus est) are given spirited performances by the St Mary’s Cathedral Choir, accompanied where appropriate by RSAMD Brass and organ. The tenors (and others) certainly enjoy Ave Maria, while Locus iste has a languid expressiveness. By contrast, what a grand and striking sound we hear in Ecce sacerdos magnus! The recording is excellent, with an appropriate spaciousness. The conductor, Duncan Ferguson, appointed Organist and Master of the Music at St Mary’s in 2007 at the age of 26, directs much fine playing and singing.
CHORAL MUSIC FROM COVENTRY CATHEDRAL
Boy Choristers, Girl Choristers and Choral Clerks of Coventry Cathedral / Alistair Reid (organ) / Kerry Beaumont · Herald HAVPCD 369
With choral music by Tallis, Byrd, Weelkes, Mozart, Stanford and Dyson, much of the repertoire on this attractive disc will be familiar. If you do not know Jonathan Dove’s Seek him that maketh the seven stars, here is a good opportunity to discover this atmospheric piece. Adorate Deum by Kerry Beaumont (Director of Music at Coventry Cathedral) is strongly rhythmic and characterful. Anthony Caesar’s concise Missa Brevis Capella Regis is a fine piece, and Harrison Oxley’s O gladsome light concludes the disc melodiously. There are also two organ works: Egil Hovland’s exuberant Toccata on Nu las oss Takke Gud (‘Now thank we all our God’) and Alain’s Litanies, both of which sound glorious on the organ of Coventry Cathedral.
A YEAR IN EXETER CATHEDRAL
Girls and Men of Exeter Cathedral Choir / David Davies (organ) / Stephen Tanner · Priory PRCD 1066
The girls and men of Exeter Cathedral are in fine voice in a number of tuneful pieces by Director of Music Stephen Tanner, in addition to such composers as Gabriel Jackson, Warlock, Purcell, Ouseley, Palestrina, Sumsion, Victoria and Vaughan Williams. There is a setting of Salvator mundi for upper voices by David Bednall: a disc dedicated to his music is reviewed below. In their performance of Battishill’s masterpiece O Lord, look down from heaven, the choir follows the practice of singing ‘Where is thy zeal and thy strength?’ rather than ‘The sounding of thy bowels’, the words set by the composer: a small disappointment in a beautifully paced and impassioned performance. The clear tone of the girls is a particular distinction.
A YEAR AT SOUTHWARK
Choir of Southwark Cathedral / Stephen Disley, Jonathan Hope, Peter Wright (organ) / Peter Wright · Regent REGCD376
Numerous favourite choral pieces grace this disc, including Weelkes’s Alleluia, I heard a voice, Byrd’s Teach me, O Lord, Stainer’s God so loved the world, Vaughan Williams’s O taste and see, Lotti’s Crucifixus, Stanford’s For lo, I raise up, Ireland’s Greater Love and Brahms’s Geisliches Lied. There are also less well known pieces by James MacMillan, Alan Weakley (an alto in the choir), Bernard Rose and Neil Cox. I particularly enjoyed Southwark’s crisply articulated performance of Philip Moore’s All wisdom cometh from the Lord. Andrew Tipple (bass) is to be commended for his solo and Stephen Disley for the demanding organ part. Although Southwark has an excellent girls’ choir too, it is the boys who sing on this release.
A YEAR AT WINCHESTER
Choir of Winchester Cathedral / Simon Bell (organ) / Richard McVeigh (synthesizer) / Andrew Lumsden · Regent REGCD372
Opening with Wood’s luminous Hail, gladdening light and ending with Rutter’s Winchester Te Deum, other highlights include Jonathan Dove’s haunting The Three Kings, Byrd’s Senex puerum portabat, Purcell’s Hear my prayer, Stanford’s Ye choirs of New Jerusalem and Elgar’s The Spirit of the Lord. The pièce de résistance, however, is Patrick Gowers’ Viri Galilei. If you do not know this anthem (and a fine performance by St Paul’s under John Scott was released over 20 years ago by Hyperion), do take this opportunity to discover it here. If you do know Viri Galilei, on the other hand, then note that, on this recoding, the second organ part is performed (as intended) on a synthesiser – to amazing effect. A thrilling disc.
THIS IS THE DAY
Music on Royal Occasions · Cambridge Singers / Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano) / Aurora Orchestra / Andrew Lucas (organ) / John Rutter · Collegium Records COLCD 136
In the wake of the Diamond Jubilee comes a disc of music for royal occasions; but not a compilation of coronation music. John Rutter has instead put together a programme with strong popular appeal and several pieces that many people will not associate with royal occasions, e.g. Schubert’s The Lord is my shepherd, Mozart’s Laudate Dominum, Duruflé’s Ubi caritas, Elgar’s The spirit of the Lord is upon me, Brahms’s How lovely is thy dwelling place and others that have stronger royal associations, including McKie’s We wait for thy loving kindness, Tavener’s Song for Athene and Britten’s ‘Choral Dances’ from Gloriana. The sleeve notes indicate when each piece has been performed at a royal wedding, funeral or other event in the last sixty years or so. The disc opens with Rutter’s This is the Day, composed for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Paul Mealor’s Ubi caritas, sung at the same service, is also included. The Cambridge Singers’ sound is as polished as ever: perfect tuning, immaculate articulation and silky-smooth tone.
A SENSE OF PLACE
INTO THY HANDS
The Music of the Grosvenor Chapel · The Choir of the Grosvenor Chapel directed by Richard Hobson · Regent REGCD351
This CD, sung by a choir of nine professional singers, takes its title from a superb unaccompanied anthem by Jonathan Dove; Into thy hands is a setting of words by St Edmund of Abingdon and is the final track. It is preceded by a wide range of fine English anthems from the Renaissance (Tallis, White) and the English Baroque (Blow, Purcell) to the present day (the aforementioned Dove) and Francis Jackson’s Come thou Holy Paraclete. The central works are Handel’s As pants the heart, and Mozart’s splendid Missa Brevis in D, K194. Of course, Viennese mass settings come alive with orchestral accompaniment, and the performance here with two violins, cello and double bass is no exception. Throughout there is stylish singing and sensitive phrasing.
CATHOLIC COLLECTION III
Music through the Church’s Year from Douai Abbey · Douai Abbey Singers directed by Dr John Rowntree / Monks’ Schola directed by Dom Alban Hood · Herald HAVPCD368
This musical journey from Advent to Easter encompasses a wide range of appropriate seasonal works, some based on plainchant. Colin Mawby and John Sanders feature with mass settings written specially for Douai Abbey, a Benedictine foundation in Berkshire. The twenty singers of the Abbey’s lay choir are joined by instruments for two pieces by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, namely the delightful motets Salve puerule for Christmas and the passiontide Stabat Mater. In addition to well-blended choral ensemble there is finely poised solo singing in Colin Mawby’s tricky setting of Jesus Christ the apple tree which uses the Vexilla Regis plainsong. The Abbey’s monks are heard too, singing plainsong hymns such as Victimae paschali. With splendid French Baroque organ music, this is a CD which has a definite sense of place, reflecting a fine tradition at Douai Abbey.
SINGLE COMPOSER DISCS
Henryk Górecki (1933–2010) Choral Music · National Youth Choir of Great Britain / Mike Brewer · Delphian DCD34054
The National Youth Choir of Great Britain is many times larger than most choirs whose discs are reviewed in CMQ; and their weight of tone is ideally suited to the monumentality of the choral music of Henryk Górecki. The disc opens with Euntes ibant et flebant: a largely static, very atmospheric, trance-like setting of verses from psalms 125 and 94. Lobesgesang (‘Song of Praise’) follows, highly intense and with a glockenspiel part. Totus Tuus, Górecki’s best known and perhaps most approachable choral piece comes next, followed by Salve, Sidus Polonorum, which is close on half an hour in duration. The programme concludes with Amen, whose eight minutes’ duration sets just one word. This is profoundly spiritual music that demands much of the performers. The National Youth Choir of Great Britain delivers.
THE SACRED VOICE
Sacred vocal works by Graham Gordon Ramsay · Various musicians / Heinrich Christensen · Albany Records TROY1304
Graham Gordon Ramsay is an American composer, born in 1962, who writes in a contemporary idiom that is sure to appeal to a wide audience. Some pieces are very approachable (e.g. Ave Maria, If you love me, De Profundis); while others, though still tonal and pleasingly expressive, are a little more challenging (Missa Sancti Stephani, Three Psalms, Laudate Dominum). The longest work on this recording is Obedience, a cantata for soprano, baritone and organ, composed in a post-Romantic manner that reminded me a little of the music of Patrick Hadley. This disc is well worth exploring, with performances of a high standard.
BEYOND THE STARS
Gabriel Jackson sacred choral music vol. II · Choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh / Nicholas Wearne (organ) / Duncan Ferguson · Delphian DCD34106
Gabriel Jackson’s high-impact music is performed with panache by the choir of St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh. The singers give the impression that they thoroughly enjoy singing it – and with good reason: it is fresh and contemporary, yet recalls the music of the past in ways that make it sound uncannily familiar. Medievalisms such as drones, isorhythm and hocket are found, but so are modernisms such as glissandi, shouts and bold dissonance. The opening track, The Glory of the Lord, grabs the listener and convinces immediately that this disc is worth attention. The exuberant organ piece that follows, Fanfare for St Mary’s, is even more ecstatic. Other pieces provide contrast, such as The Land of Spices, an exquisite and gentle setting of George Herbert for sopranos and organ. Hymn to St Margaret of Scotland is appropriately Scottish in flavour. If you have any interest in contemporary choral music, this disc is a ‘must’.
Choral music by David Bednall, vol. II · Wells Cathedral Choir / Jonathan Vaughn (organ) / Matthew Owens · Regent REGCD320
Although his musical language is deeply indebted to Howells, David Bednall speaks with an individual voice that is really worth hearing. Every note of Bednall’s music demonstrates a composer who truly understands ‘from the inside’ how to write for choirs and for the organ, and how to exploit cathedral acoustics. The wonderful pieces on this disc are Everyone Sang; The Wells Service (settings of the alternative canticles at evensong: the Cantate Domino and Deus misereatur); Behold, O God our defender; The souls of the righteous; Missa Sancti Pauli; O Jesu, victim blest; O come let us sing; The Wells Service (Magnificat and Nunc dimittis) and Psalm 150. The harmonies, use of counterpoint, melodies, textures and colours are fabulous – and brilliantly performed by the Wells team. Glorious!
Jewish Organ Music · Dianne Halliday on the organ of St Peter’s Church, Wellington, New Zealand · Organism ORG003
This CD of Jewish music from New Zealand provides a reminder that the organ is not just a Christian instrument of worship. Dianne Halliday is Director of Music at St Peter’s Church in Wellington, an RSCM affiliated church since the 1950s. It has had a relationship with the city’s Progressive Jewish community for over twenty years. Many of the works here stem from the Reform (Progressive) tradition; organs started to appear in their synagogues during the nineteenth century, being used for accompaniment of cantors, choir and eventually, congregations. The names may be unfamiliar: Horvit, Beimel, Fromm, who between them have produced pieces based on Jewish chants and tunes such as Shalom Aleichem. It is difficult to pinpoint a style, but the name of Hindemith did flash across my mind. Dianne Halliday uses effective registrations on this 1887 Hill organ.
NOT A CD . . .
IN THE DARK
Platinum Consort / Scott Inglis-Kidger · Resonus RES10110
Available to download from resonusclassics.com in MP3, AAC and FLAC formats
This is a first for CMQ: a review of an album that is not available on CD, only online as a download from resonusclassics.com and also from ‘other reputable online retailers’. The eight-voice Platinum Consort was formed in 2005 from students at Cambridge University. They make a delightful sound: pure yet warm. The programme is of pieces associated with Passiontide and Holy Week: Tristis est anima mea (Lassus), Ecce quomodo moritur (Victoria), Tristis est anima mea (Gesualdo), Crucifixus (Lotti), Christus factus est (Anerio), Hear my prayer (Purcell) and Miserere (James MacMillan). A sizeable portion of the album is occupied by the group’s composer-in-residence, Richard Bates, whose stylish and accomplished music sits well with the established masters. For those willing to buy a classical choral album in virtual format, it is hard to think of a better album with which to take the plunge.
THE GRAND ORGAN OF SALISBURY CATHEDRAL
David Halls · Priory Records PRDVD8
This is a compelling DVD. David Halls proves a naturally engaging raconteur in his documentary feature about the music and the instruments (there is a track about the chamber organ as well as the mighty Willis). He also includes a commentary track to his performance of Eric Coates’ Dance in the Twilight describing his ideas of arrangement and registration: a kind of master-class. He has devised a programme in which most pieces have a (sometimes tenuous) connection with Salisbury. It includes popular items for the tourist (Lemare and Handel), meaty items (Flor Peeters: Toccata Fugue and Hymn ‘Ave maris stella’, Howells: 2nd Rhapsody, Vierne: Carillon de Westminster), together with Bach, Alcock, G. Bush, Stainer, a Fanfare by himself and rarities like ‘Sunrise on Stonehenge’ (from the suite Scenes on the Downs by Blackpool organist Frederic Wood) and Sir Walter Alcock’s Andante grazioso. David Halls’ playing is very convincing: even the Bach Toccata in F played on Father Willis will sound marvellous to all except purists. Priory’s recording skills are complemented by excellent graphics and video production. There is something here for most tastes, together with educational material for organists and for the tourist. These discs are highly recommended.
TOWARDS A MODERNIST ORGAN
Three Organs in Nottingham · David Butterworth · Fugue State Films FSF-DVD-0006, www.fuguestatefilms.co.uk
During the early 1970s, as the ‘English Organ Reform’ movement was gathering pace, several neo-baroque instruments were installed in Nottingham. One of these was the Marcussen in St Mary’s church, designed by David Butterworth, former organist there. Butterworth also was a consultant for the restoration of both the Binns instrument in Nottingham’s Albert Hall and the chamber organ in Wollaton Hall. These three instruments, all good ‘modernist’ examples of their own time, form the core of this DVD. Two other small neo-baroque organs also feature in the film, the Grant, Degens and Bradbeer in Butterworth’s house and a delightful Beckerath chamber organ in the German Lutheran Church. The history of all five organs is recounted in a short documentary.
Butterworth’s playing is very good but will not set you on fire. His 21 items date from the 16th century to a Fanfare for Nottingham by Naji Hakim specially commissioned for the centenary of the Albert Hall organ in 2009. This ‘Hakim-meets-Lefébure-Wély’ piece (now published by Schott) is based on the hymn tune Nottingham. There is also some contemporary Scandinavian music by Jesper Madsen and Lasse Toft Eriksen which sits very well on classically-voiced instruments. It is good to have a recording of Hartmann’s Sonata movement, a very fine piece too rarely heard, but a pity that Butterworth ignores many of the echo effects and manual changes marked in the score. This romantic piece would have better served on the Albert Hall organ. Of the 21 music tracks, only seven were composed after 1800 confirming that the ‘modernist’ title refers to the instruments and not the music. Both recording and video production are good with even the Binns sounding as if it resides in a hall rather than a cathedral. As with other projects from Fugue State Films, the set includes a separate CD of most of the music.
DURUFLÉ REQUIEM, HOWELLS REQUIEM, VAUGHAN WILLIAMS VALIANT-FOR-TRUTH
The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys / John Scott · Saint Thomas Recordings
Some of the most beautiful choral music of the twentieth century – Howells’s Requiem, Vaughan Williams’s Valiant-for-Truth and Duruflé’s Requiem (in the organ-only version) – is given highly refined performances on this disc. Under John Scott’s masterly training and direction, the men and boys of New York’s Saint Thomas Church sound like a fine Anglican cathedral choir: tuning, diction and balance are all immaculate. It is interesting to consider, though, why an American choir should want to sound so English. Frederick Teardo’s execution of the fiendish accompaniment to the Duruflé is excellent and Kirsten Sollek sings the Pie Jesu beautifully, ably supported by Myron Lutzke (cello). Dr Martin Ennis’s sleeve notes are well worth reading. The clear way in which he compares the structures of Howells’s Requiem with Walford Davies’s Short Requiem in D minor is particularly interesting. Some listeners may prefer performances with a little more fire; but for those who like reserve and understatement; this disc is hard to beat.
HUGH BENHAM: A TRIUMPH SONG – MUSIC FOR CHOIR AND ORGAN
Convivum Singers / Michael Higgins (organ) / Neil Ferris · Convivium Records CR011
This is an excellent CD of compositions by Hugh Benham, organist and choir director of St Boniface, Chandler’s Ford, Hampshire, and a writer of academic and educational articles. It makes for devotional listening, and will also be of interest to church choir directors looking for accessible pieces with straightforward part-writing. Titles include Let my prayer rise before you, O sacrum convivium and Ave, verum corpus. The Convivium Singers, a group drawing members from all over the UK, includes some at the start of their performing careers. They are in excellent voice; the sound is clean and fresh, and either energetic or expressive as the mood of each piece dictates. Also includes are four organ pieces. The Chorale is redolent of Howells, whilst the remainder have a whiff of the French organ school about them – one of them distinctly in the Tournemire vein. Hugh Benham’s music is currently unpublished, but for more information go to www.conviviumrecords.co.uk
The Sound of the Boy Treble · Regis RRC1379
MOZART: VESPERAE SOLENNES DE CONFESSORE, ‘CORONATION’ MASS IN C
Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum of Dean Close Preparatory School / Charivari Agréable · Benjamin Nicholas · Delphian DCD34102
Angelic Voices is a compilation of recordings of trebles made by Harry Mudd, of Abbey Records fame, from the mid-sixties until 1989. Mudd was also a founder member of the Campaign for the Defence of the Traditional Cathedral Choir. The CD itself contains some key suspects of treble repertoire, Ave Maria (Bach/Gounod), Pie Jesu (Fauré), O for the wings of a dove, along with several secular items: Strawberry fair,Dowland’s Come again,and(slightly incongruous for a young treble perhaps) It was a lover and his lass. Nine choristers are immortally captured here, but their representation is unequal. Andrew Wicks, of Chichester Cathedral in the mid-seventies, sings ten tracks including secular fare, while Robin Blaze, now well known as a counter-tenor, is heard in just one, Vaughan Williams’s Love bade me welcome. This is a fascinating and pleasant collection and an important audio document of a period when the pure head voice was alive and well! The CD cover alludes to a tradition that is ‘very much on the wane’, demonstrating ‘the level of musicality and professionalism that prevailed among the boys trebles at the time’.
I dare say that the boys of the Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum would not be seen dead wearing the sixties hairstyles and outfits photographed on the CD cover of the Angelic Voices CD. By contrast, six of them are shown in relaxed pose for the Schola’s CD of Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Vesperae, separated by Ave verum corpus: performances which are nothing short of excellent. Whatever one might think of the colour and vigour of the treble voice, the choir’s performance along with Charivari Agréable’s accompaniment is exciting and vigorous, and superbly directed by Benjamin Nicholas. Laurence Kilsby (a BBC Young Chorister in 2009) gives poised solo performances, and although his mature tone may not necessarily be to the taste of everyone, it is clear that professionalism and musicality is still alive and well in the choristers of today.
THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS OF SIR HERBERT BREWER
Daniel Cook plays the organ of Salisbury Cathedral · Priory PRCD1057
Brewer’s organ music is sure to appeal to those who love a good tune, particularly if their cup of tea is music cast an ‘Edwardian’ vein. Brewer’s friendship with Elgar is detectable in his music, though this is very much organ music by an organist: despite the colourful approach to registration that the music invites, one never gets the impression that Brewer composed these pieces wishing he were actually composing for orchestra. Indeed, the music suits its medium perfectly and Daniel Cook exploits this with gusto on the organ of Salisbury Cathedral, an ideal instrument for Brewer. Highlights among the pieces include the wistful Eventide and the grandiose Marche Héroïque.
THE ENGLISH CATHEDRAL SERIES VOL. XVI
Peter Wright plays the organ of Southwark Cathedral · Regent REGCD335
‘The English Cathedral Series’ it may be, but this is a decidedly Continental disc, with music by Demessieux, Guillou, Peeters, Guy Weitz (he lived in London for over half a century, but was Belgian by birth and education), Lemmens and Jongen. The choices are appropriate since the T.C. Lewis organ of Southwark Cathedral is, in certain key respects, one of the least ‘English’ of 19th-century English cathedral organs.
Peter Wright’s programme cleverly combines pieces that listeners will find more and less challenging – Demessieux’s Te Deum and chorale prelude on Adeste Fideles being good examples. While neither of the Guillou works (Fantasie op.1and Saga no. 6) are ‘easy listening’, the three pieces by Flor Peeters that follow (Aria, Chorale Prelude on O Gott, du frommer Gott and Variations on Herr Jesus hat ein Gärtchen) are in complete contrast: much more tuneful and with immediate appeal. Weitz’s De profundis clamavi is sterner stuff, but Lemmens’s Fanfare lightens the mood immediately after. The two pieces of Jongen that complete the programme, Chant de mai and Sonata eroïca, also balance each other in terms of style. Peter Wright reveals himself a master of lighter and darker moods; and, in so doing, showcases a truly splendid organ.
JSW WORKS FOR ORGAN
John Scott Whiteley plays the organ of York Minster · Regent REGCD353
This disc demonstrates that John Scott Whiteley, who will be known to many readers as an exceptionally fine organist, is also a skilled composer for the instrument. JSW discusses the various influences on his music in the sleeve notes, but it is worth noting here that the listener will be sure to pick on strong echoes of 20th-century French organ music, particularly the voices of Duruflé, Dupré and Cochereau. Appropriately, this is best exemplified in the Scherzo In Memoriam Maurice Duruflé. A neo-Bachian voice is heard in Sebastiana from Trilogy on Stanzas for Shakespeare’s Sonnets; while a more experimental approach is found in Glints from Five Sisters Windows: Glass effect pieces for organ. The works on this disc explore the many colours of the York organ, from delicate flutes and strings in Aubade for Sylvestrinas to the tuba mirabilis that pierces through the tutti in the final Passacaglia. The sleeve notes seem to indicate that improvisation plays an important role in JSW’s compositional process, and this is the impression left by much of the music on this disc.
George McPhee plays the organ of Paisley Abbey · Regent REGCD371
The organ of Paisley Abbey began life in 1872 as a two-manual instrument by Cavaillé-Coll. It has undergone significant enlargement and alteration since then and now has four manuals. Nevertheless, the organ retains quite a lot of Cavaillé-Coll pipework and speaks with an accent that, while not entirely Gallic, makes it more suited to the French repertoire than the majority of British organs. George McPhee plays with exuberance and swagger, kicking off in heroic mode with Gigout’s Grand Chœur Dialogué. The clarity of the voicing of the organ gives Frank’s Choral no. 2 in B minor an emotional rawness, while the artist’s interpretation of Langlais’s Hymne d’action de grâces ‘Te Deum’ captures perfectly the improvisatory nature of this piece. In more reflective mood, Berceuse and Madrigal from Vierne’s 24 Pièces en style libre reveal a more intimate side to both instrument and player. Three movements from Dupré’s Le Tombeau de Titelouze follow, including a thrilling rendition of Placare Christe servulis. After pieces by Alain, Vierne and Duruflé, the programme concludes with Messiaen’s Dieu parmi nous. A really exciting disc.
Andrew Kirk plays the organ of St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol · Regent REGCD385
Restored in 2009–10, the majestic four-manual Harrison & Harrison organ of St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol is in fine voice on this enjoyable disc. The programme includes music by Mozart (the brilliant Fantasia in F minor K 608), Sibelius (Finlandia), Michael Festing, Georgi Mushel (the Toccata from the back of OUP’s Modern Organ Music, book 2), Guilmant, Whitlock, Elgar, and Reger (Introduction and Passacaglia in D minor). The sleeve notes tell us that in 1829 Samuel Wesley gave the opening recital in St Mary Redcliffe on the restored Harris and Byfield organ that had been erected in the church in 1726. His Air and Gavotte are played by Andrew Kirk in Walter Emery’s arrangement, which gives more opportunities to show off different registrations. Alfred Hollins, whose jolly Song of Sunshine is a welcome inclusion in the attractive programme, wrote, ‘Of all the organs I have played . . . that at St Mary Redcliffe is, I think, the finest.’ This mighty Edwardian instrument might not be to everyone’s tastes, but, as this disc proves, it is one of the greatest of its kind.
LEIGHTON: ORGAN MUSIC
Greg Morris plays the organ of Blackburn Cathedral · Naxos 8.572601
Leighton’s musical language, dissonant yet lyrical, learnedly contrapuntal yet passionate, is shown in its very best light in superb performances by Greg Morris. His realization of the rhythmic energy that drives so much of Leighton’s music is phenomenal. The choice of the organ of Blackburn Cathedral is perfect: a large English cathedral instrument complete with everything from celestes, to a big, honking solo reed, but voiced with a classical edge. (It is a pity that the key action can be heard at times in quieter passages, but this small negative is far outweighed by the positives.)
The programme consists of the three-movement Et Resurrexit, Six Fantasies on Hymn Tunes and the monumental Missa de Gloria (‘Dublin Festival Mass’). For those listeners who are not Leighton aficionados, I suggest starting with the hymn-tune Fantasies, then moving to the Missa de Gloria (the final Ite missa est is great fun to listen to, though fiendish to play) and embarking on Et Resurrexit only when ready. It is worth it – particularly with Greg Morris as your inspired and inspiring guide.
Anthony Hammond · University of Rochester Press 372 pp. H/B 978-1580464055 £55.00
Pierre Cochereau, organist of Notre-Dame in Paris from 1955 until his untimely death in 1984, is commonly described as one of the greatest 20th-century French organists. He was certainly notable as an international ambassador for the organ as an instrument and as a teacher of the art of improvisation – of which he was a legendary exponent. As a player and interpreter of standard organ repertoire he was perhaps less notable, judging by critical comments from his time. His undoubted genius was improvisation.
In this most welcome biography, Anthony Hammond, currently organist of Cirencester Parish Church, has drawn upon material provided by Cochereau’s family and friends along with the papers of Marcel Dupré, one of Cochereau’s teachers and examiners at the Paris Conservatoire. To have access to such detailed examination notes must rate as a first in the many musician biographies I have encountered.
As said in the introduction, this biography is not of the ‘what did he eat for breakfast’ variety, but a ‘musicological examination of his interpretations, compositions and improvisations’. Examination of the person reveals, as so often with musical geniuses, a rather flawed personality. His artistic legacy fortunately survives through his numerous recordings and improvisations, many of which are now available in printed editions. Cochereau preferred not to sit with pen and paper, which he found tedious; his artistic genius was to make music at the console and we will forever be grateful to the recording engineers for the preservation of this legacy. The book has a comprehensive list of his recordings and, of course, the usual appendices of organ specifications. The development of the organ in Notre-Dame was ongoing at Cochereau’s death and the author reviews this in some detail. This serious analysis of Cochereau’s work is highly recommended to students of improvisation and lovers of French organ music.
Gregorian Chant for Today’s Choirs · Anthony Ruff OSB · GIA Publications (Decani Music) 230 pp. P/B 978-1-57999-928-5 £12.15
Unlike most published collections of Gregorian chant that are either teaching editions or collections more suited to the Roman Catholic than the Anglican use, Father Ruff has assembled a practical collection of 100 Gregorian chant settings that can be used in a variety of seasons, for use in almost any part of the service (whether Eucharistic or not) and with psalm verses in English using translations from the Revised Grail Psalms. A demonstration recording of 20 chants from Canticum novum and other resources is also available, in the UK from www.decanimusic.co.uk
The chants are for singing in unison without accompaniment and are given in three notations – 4-line with neumes, 5-line in modern notation and, rather esoterically, in lineless neumes of the St Gall school. Inexperienced singers baffled by all of this should read on, for the brilliant layout of 4-line and 5-line versions on facing pages with Latin on the left page and English on the right page, makes this an ‘easy to read’ edition of great practical use to groups of singers of quite modest ability. There is a scriptural index and a liturgical/thematic index for choosing suitable settings. In Anglican liturgy these settings could be used at the beginning of a service, as psalms, as meditative anthems or sung during the administration of Communion. This is one of the most useful chant collections to have appeared for many years.
J.S. BACH: A Life in Music
Peter Williams · Cambridge Univerity Press 413pp. P/B · 9780521306836 £16.99
First published in 2007, this is not a new book, just a re-issue in paperback (and Kindle) format. It is, however, such a fresh, lateral look at Bach that it deserves a further mention.
The private lives, careers and anecdotes of Baroque composers have often been fashioned over the centuries by a process of written and oral ‘Chinese whispers’. It seems that the cult of spin-doctors may be nothing new. In Bach’s case the official so-called ‘Obituary’ published by his son C. P. E. Bach and J. F. Agricola four years after his death was the source of much subsequent writing and speculation. Anyone who has heard Professor Williams lecture will recognize his slightly offbeat scepticism of much traditional wisdom. He takes the Bach Obituary and analyses what it contains and what it does not contain. Is this writing a 17th-century exercise by two spin-doctors and did J. S. Bach himself even have a hand in writing it, so shaping how he wished to be remembered? The book may raise more questions than answers, but for those already interested in J. S. Bach and prepared to field a few blows against perceived wisdom, it is a first-class read.
PRAYING THRICE: Prayers from Hymns
Gordon Giles · Hymn Society of Great Britain & Ireland 30pp. P/B · 9781907018053 £3.50
In 2002/3, towards the end of his appointment as Succentor at St Paul’s Cathedral, the Revd Gordon Giles published two excellent books of meditations on music (The Music of Praise and The Harmony of Heaven). He was invited to continue with a series of meditations on popular hymns published in CMQ. Each meditation was followed by a collect written by the author and (over 100 of) these prayers have now been assembled into a short anthology by The Hymn Society. The title alludes to the well-known saying ‘He who sings, prays twice’, misattributed to St Augustine. These collects could equally well be used during worship, at choir practice or for private prayer. Quite a few prayers are based on Advent hymns and Christmas carols, so buy your copy as soon as you read this issue of CMQ!
‘GOODBYE ‘TIL NEXT TIME’
A Critical Biography of A.E. Floyd (1877–1974) · Ian Burk · Lyrebird Press 185pp. P/B 978-0-7340-3774-9 · $55.00 Australian dollars
Please check availability from lyrebirdpress-info(at)unimelb.edu.au
There will be many in the UK who do not recognise the name A.E. Floyd, but in Australia his name was a household one during the 1940’s, because of his regular radio broadcasts – indeed the book’s title is derived from his broadcasting sign-off. I became aware of him many years ago when Mayhew published some of his organ pieces, a collection still in print and worth exploring. Ian Burk, the author and former organist of Hobart Cathedral, gives a ‘warts and all’ account of a supremely gifted musician, slightly old-fashioned in his ways who was intolerant of human weakness and had an acid tongue (and wit).
Alfred Floyd was born in Birmingham and served at Winchester Cathedral and Llangollen and Oswestry parish churches before taking up the post of organist of St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia, serving for 34 years. From 1940 he presented a variety of musical programmes for children and adults and this media career continued until 1978. His influence on the musical life of Melbourne in particular, and Australia in general, was immense. This book has benefited from the large number of detailed resources available, from which the author has produced a first rate and highly recommendable read.
HANDEL (THE MASTER MUSICIANS) second edition
Donald Burrows · Oxford University Press 185pp. P/B 978-0-19-973736-9 £20.00
In 1994 Donald Burrows, now Professor of Music at the Open University, published what seemed at the time to be a definitive biography of Handel. With new discoveries, scholarship has moved on and a revision of the book is most welcome. Excluding the appendices, the main material has grown by around 30% and so readers who already have the first edition should note that this second edition really does represent a major upgrade. Unusually, the author does not keep the biographical elements and the creative elements of Handel’s life separate, but interleaves them both in a way which puts the music in context with the composer’s life and times. It is an important and modestly priced book from a (if not the) leading authority on one of our most beloved composers.
MUSIC AND THEOLOGY IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY BRITAIN
ed. Martin V. Clarke · Ashgate 280pp. H/B · 978-1-4094-0989-2
For this book, Dr Clarke has assembled an impressive list of contributors. The subject area is so large that the eleven essays in this symposium reflect the specialist interests of the scholar authors rather than providing a comprehensive textbook. It does, however, contain something of interest to almost anyone interested in 19C church music. The chapter headings are:
1 The Theology of the Victorian Hymn Tune Ian Bradley
2 'Meet and Right it is to Sing': Nineteenth-Century Hymnals and the Reasons for Singing Martin V. Clarke
3 Sacred Sound for a Holy Space: Dogma, Worship and Music at Solemn Mass during the Victorian Era, 1829–1903 T.E. Muir
4 'Thy Love . . . Hath Broken Every Barrier Down': The Rhetoric of Intimacy in Nineteenth-Century British and American Women’s Hymns C. Michael Hawn & June Hadden Hobbs
5 Christianity, Civilization and Music: Nineteenth-Century British Missionaries and the Control of Malagasy Hymnology Charles Edward McGuire
6 'Sing a Sankey': The Rise of Gospel Hymnody in Great Britain Mel R. Wilhoit
7 'Singin' in the Reign': Voice, Faith and the Welsh Revival of 1904–1905 James Deaville & Katherine Stopa
8 Beyond the Psalms: The Metamorphosis of the Anthem Text during the Nineteenth Century Peter Horton
9 From Elijah (1846) to The Kingdom (1906): Music and Scripture Interacting in the Nineteenth- Century English Oratorio David Brown
10 Confidence and Anxiety in Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius Jeremy S. Begbie
11 ‘Spiritual’ Selection: Joseph Goddard and the Music Theology of Evolution Bennett Zon
Chapter One is very intriguing with Dr Bradley arguing the case that various tunes reflect the theology of their composers. I think I personally will reserve judgement on this idea. Perhaps it is possible to say that composer X wrote in a certain way because of his/her beliefs, but I remain to be convinced that this works the other way round and that the composer’s beliefs can be surmised by playing a tune. Most of the essays are 15-20 pages in length with the exception of Peter Horton’s most interesting study of the development of anthem texts which runs to nearly 50 pages, though this does include many tables. From the 17C when most anthem texts were taken from the Psalms, he follows the gradual introduction of OT/NT/BCP and hymn texts into the toolkit of composers. Further chapters delve into specific areas of denominational history and the final chapter considers the views of music-philosopher Joseph Goddard whose writing through the 19C had to cope with many social and scientific changes, not least the then controversial theories of Charles Darwin.
Not light reading, but a very worthwhile book.
CLOUD OF WITNESSES [mostly M]
Motets for Saints Days & Festivals
ed. N.J. Hale & J.D. Riding
Phoenix Press 978-0-9563573-2-8 £13.95
This is a splendid anthology, compiled and edited to the highest standards, practical throughout, and potentially usable by most mixed-voice church choirs. All 33 pieces were written in the second half of the 16th century (or within a few years either side); all are for SATB with no divisions; all are presented in open score with keyboard reductions, preceded by complete text and translation (where not in English) and followed by notes on sources, liturgical use and performance suggestions. Just four composers – Victoria, Palestrina, Guerrero and Thomas Morley – account for 28 of the pieces, and how good it is to find seven anthems by Morley in this company. Then there are two motets by Morales and one each by Agazzari, Hassler and Tallis, whose Verily, verily I say unto you is probably the best-known piece here; most of them are not easily available other than in expensive, academic editions. The rationale given in Jeremy Summerly’s introduction is to provide music for the major festivals and saints’ days outside Advent to Epiphany and Ash Wednesday to Pentecost: to prove that ‘Ordinary Time does not have to be ordinary.’ It certainly does that, and were you to need a choice of three anthems for the feast of St Gregory the Great, for example, here they are. But for most of us, this book will provide a rich source of anthems for all sorts of occasions throughout the year. Check out the contents list at www.rscmshop.com/cloud-of-witnesses.html
James L. Montgomery
THE ANTHEM BOOK [E–D]
compiled by John Baird
Mixed voices with and without accompaniment
Published by John Baird; available from Shorter House £9.50
Accompaniment edition £9.50
This looks interesting: a collection of 60 ‘favourite anthems’ at a reasonable price intended for church choirs. The standard of difficulty is varied: included is Tallis’s Canon, a four-part harmonization of Howells’s hymn tune Michael, Bruckner’s Locus iste, and well-known short Tudor anthems. The definition of ‘anthem’ here is very broad as the book also contains some psalms and canticles set to Anglican chant (but written with the text within the staff, for those unfamiliar with Anglican chant). It is surprising that singers who need this level of help will manage a reasonable performance of Allegri’s Miserere in Latin (even in an abridged version), including the top Cs for the sopranos, but having the plainsong line written out note by note.
There are Kyries by Palestrina and Victoria and a number of adapted works including a truncated Benedictus (with optional English text) and Hosanna from Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, and an extremely shortened O God Thou art my God by Purcell where, before the well- known hymn tune Westminster Abbey, the beautiful first 100 bars of the anthem are truncated into 25. Haydn’s St Anthony Chorale is given the text of Kyrie eleison, and the three most popular settings of Ave verum corpus are included. There are curiosities too: Pachelbel’s Canon arranged for SATB and called 'an elaboration'. The Latin text used is part of Psalm 84. John Baird gives the accompaniment of Bach’s well-known advent chorale prelude Sleepers wake to a four-part choir – as well as the chorale! Neither of these pieces is straightforward – nor is his own Ascension anthem.
In Part One most pieces are unaccompanied or with straightforward accompaniment. However Bach’s Sheep may safely graze and the very elaborate Sleepers Wake have the vocal parts printed on the left hand page and the accompaniment on the right.
To perform pieces in Part Two of the choir book, an accompaniment edition needs to be purchased. Here are arrangements and adaptations of such pieces as Ave Maria by Bach/Gounod and also that by Schubert, a couple of movements from Vivaldi’s Gloria, the Sanctus from Fauré’s Requiem, the second part of Mendelssohn’s Hear my Prayer, Franck’s Panis Angelicus and some popular choruses from oratorios.
The appendix includes the vocal parts for Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C by Stanford, The Heavens are Telling by Haydn and Handel’s Zadok the Priest. No accompaniments are provided so organists will need to source them from elsewhere.
The rationale for this collection is found on the composer’s web page: 'The anthems all have practicality as a priority rather than forming a collection of urtext settings. Some are arrangements, some adaptations, and some longer anthems are abridged to bring them into the scope of a usable anthem.'
Saving money by not purchasing music and avoiding copyright costs must have also been priorities. If you think this collection would suit your needs, read the contents on the composer’s web site: a reasonable four-part parish choir would probably already have much of this material. Choir trainers and singers will have varied views about singing such wonderful music in abridged and edited versions.
KEITH AND KRISTYN GETTY
BEFORE YOU I KNEEL (A WORKER’S PRAYER) [E]
OH, HOW GOOD IT IS [E]
Downloadable from www.gettymusic.com
Keith Getty is an Irish composer and singer who often writes in collaboration with his wife, Kristyn, and veteran Christian songwriter Stuart Townend. If, like many of us, you have so far only come across the Getty/Townend collaboration ‘In Christ alone’, and possibly their Easter hymn ‘See what a morning, gloriously bright’, be assured that we will be discovering many more. The Methodist Church’s recent hymn book Singing the Faith, for example, has ten titles indexed under Getty. His musical style has Celtic roots cross-fertilized perhaps by Nashville – and the Gettys now live in the USA. Their latest CD, Hymns for the Christian Life, retains their emphasis on the saving power of the cross, but is enriched by consideration of such themes as work, family, money, community and social action: aspects of ‘the Christian Life’ of the album title. The two songs listed in the heading above are both from the album, which also includes a new recording of ‘In Christ alone’. It may be surprising to find the word ‘hymn’ rather than ‘song’ used in this context, but Keith Getty is not afraid of describing his songs as hymns. Many are arranged for SATB: visit www.gettymusic.com and click on Shop and Sheet Music and then under Category choose ‘Hymnal / 4 part Harmonization’ for the opportunity to browse and view the first page of over 50 such arrangements, including an extended Kyrie eleison.
EVENSONG FOR UPPER VOICES
OPEN THOU OUR LIPS [mostly E/M–M/D]
Evensong music for upper voices
ed. David Halls
RSCM B0363 £13.50 (affiliates £10.13)
THE NEW BOOK OF CANTICLES III [mostly M–M/D]
Settings of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for upper voices and a new set of responses
ed. Tom Shorter
Shorter House 979-0-9002201-4-1 £9.95
There have always been upper-voice settings of the evensong canticles and responses, but the advent of cathedral girls’ choirs has heightened the demand. Salisbury Cathedral started a full-time girls’ choir in 1991, and its current Director of Music, David Halls, knows the available repertoire from the inside. Many of the 21 canticle settings or Preces and Responses in his RSCM anthology have been tried out in Salisbury (and approved by his choir) or have come from other cathedrals, whilst others have been specially commissioned. He knows what works in evensong, and has produced a wide-ranging anthology that will offer variety and enjoyment to upper-voice choirs. There is the beautifully crafted austerity of Thomas Hewitt Jones’s unaccompanied Preces and Responses, Sarah MacDonald’s two adaptations of plainchant, the organ fireworks of Robert Quinney’s Magnificat, Donald Hunt’s delightful use of American folk melodies – something for everyone, and more!
Alongside my enthusiasm for David Halls’ anthology, I hope that directors of upper-voice choirs will also supplement their repertoire with the Shorter House collection. Just six canticle settings plus a set of Responses by Philip Moore, these are mostly longer and less easy (but never actually difficult). The only unaccompanied setting is by Paul Ayres, which needs sopranos or trebles divided into three parts, with top As for parts 1 and 2, and a top G for part 3. David Briggs contributes a distinctive organ part to his accompanied setting. Ben Parry has a sparkling Magnificat, mostly unison. Alexander Campkin (three parts), Daniel Burges (two parts) and Philip Moore (unison and two-part), all with organ, complete the canticle settings.
DESCANTS FOR HYMNS AND SONGS
THE OXFORD BOOK OF DESCANTS
ed. Julian Elloway
Oxford University Press
Full music edition 978-0-19-336598-8 £15.95
Melody edition 978-0-19-338680-8 £4.95
Descants should ‘enhance the meaning of the words and intensify the sung prayer of the worshipper.’ So writes the editor of this collection in his excellent preface to a significant new collection of 102 descants for hymns. The quality of printing is superb in both editions – and the melody edition is particularly clear with a helpful, good size of print for music and words.
Those who use descants regularly will certainly have their own collections, some unpublished on assorted pieces of paper, others taken from hymn books including Songs of Praise, Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised, and The Anglican Hymn Book. Past RSCM festival service books are a good source for descants (some of which are included here) and indeed, Sydney Nicholson, the founder of the RSCM, composed many. Until now, published collections of descants were usually all by one composer (including Alan Gray, David Willcocks, John Scott and Andrew Fletcher) or compilations by a publishing house featuring its house composers.
This volume contains some of the best descants bound together under one cover. It includes descants once published in hymn books but nowadays rarely included, well-known Christmas descants from the OUP Carols for Choirs series (how useful to have them all in the same place!) as well as some of the very best 20th- and 21st- century examples of the art form.
Those who teach young singers know how much they relish singing descants, which are also a great way to learn sight-reading and good vocal technique! Many of the descants here are printed both in the original key and at a lower pitch. This matches settings in different hymn books, provides a more comfortable range for some singers, and helps the organist who is reluctant to transpose. Some descants are enhanced by alternative accompaniments. All include the words of the descant verse written within the score, in some cases to more than one hymn, where the same tune is set.
There are representative descants here from some great early 20th-century church musicians, including Sydney Nicholson (who wrote a number as editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised), Alan Gray (whose pioneering book of descants published in 1920 is now out of print), Edward Bairstow, William Harris and Harold Darke. Contemporary composers who have contributed include David Willcocks, John Rutter, John Scott, Christopher Robinson, Christopher Gower, Simon Lole, Richard Lloyd and Adrian Lucas. These eminent church musicians also have practical experience of teaching descants, so they know what is both possible and effective! Here you will find Kenneth Naylor’s own descant to his superb Coe Fen and John Cooke’s wonderful Angel Voices. The book not only includes traditional hymns: there are some particularly appealing descants for worship songs with several by Ashley Grote, Director of Music at Norwich Cathedral, including In Christ alone, The Servant King and Beauty for brokenness.
This is an excellent collection which should find a significant place among those choirs which value and enjoy being part of the descant tradition in hymnody.
CHRISTMAS MUSIC FOR MIXED VOICES
THERE WAS NEITHER GRASS NOR CORN [M]
Chester Music CH77814
Setting words by Frances Cornford (1886–1960), this little piece was composed for a BBC broadcast on Christmas Eve, 1944. It would make an atmospheric addition to a carol service or Christmas concert programme. The singers must have good intonation to cope with the chromatic notes and tonal shifts, but the music is well worth taking trouble over.
ADAM LAY YBOUNDEN [E/M]
HARK WHAT A SOUND [E/M]
Thomas Hewitt Jones
Banks ECS 554; Encore Publications
Hewitt Jones’s Adam lay ybounden is a good alternative to Ord’s perfect setting. With few accidentals, the main challenges are the rhythms, dissonances and some of the leaps, the trickiest of which is probably the rising ninth in the bass in bar 21. The texture is homophonic throughout. Many choirs will be glad that the composer achieves his harmonic colour without dividing the vocal lines.
Hark what a sound is neatly wrought and immediately attractive: an arresting start to a carol service. The arpeggio of C major, sung by all voices in unison, is a recurrent motive. As with Hewitt Jones’s other work reviewed here, accidentals are few and, in this piece, they serve the conventional function of taking the tonality from the home key towards dominant and relative minor. There is a small amount of division in the bass part, but no more than a choir able to cope with the other demands of the piece could easily handle. Recommended.
IN SONGS AND IN MIRTH [E/M]
TOMORROW SHALL BE MY DANCING DAY [E/M]
This cycle of five carols was composed for Timothy Brown and the choir of Clare College Cambridge, with texts from the Oxford Book of Carols. An energetic opening, Up now, laggardly lasses, has well-crafted dialogue between upper and lower voices, and strong syncopations. Susanni (‘A little child there is yborn’) is also syncopated, but the mood is gentler. Much of the music is over a tonic pedal, perhaps evoking bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy, or some other folk instrument. Next comes All poor men and humble, a homophonic movement dominated by a crotchet-minim-crotchet rhythm. Appropriately, The cradle (‘He smiles within his cradle, A babe with face so bright’) is like a lullaby. Rejoice and be merry brings the cycle to a joyful conclusion. These attractive pieces could be dispersed throughout a carol service, or sung complete in concert.
Kelly sets just two verses in his version of Tomorrow shall be my dancing day. The music, taken from his A Cradle of Carols is suitably rhythmic, the texture homophonic and the tonality a bright D major.
SUMMER IN WINTER [E/M]
SATB and keyboard
Stainer & Bell W224
Composed as a ‘thank you’ and dedicated to James Lancelot and the choir of Durham Cathedral, this piece is worthy of performance by cathedral choirs, while within the scope of many choirs of more modest attainment. The music hovers between C minor and C major, the latter winning out at the end, but softly and gently. A lovely carol.
CAROL OF THE MAGI [E/M]
THE KING OF BLIS [M]
SATB, opt. Bar. solo, cello and organ
Oxford X517; X519
If you have a tame cellist at your disposal, this lyrical Carol of the Magi – pure Rutter – is sure to be appreciated. You will need strong tenor and bass lines since the spotlight is on the men. The music begins in E flat, moves up to F and then G, before dropping into radiant E major for the final verse. Apart from these modulations and some flattened leading-notes, there are few chromatic notes here: the essentially diatonic language helps the music be within the scope of many choirs.
The King of Blis was composed for Tim Brown and the choir of Clare College, Cambridge, where Rutter was himself once Director of Music, and sets words by the 15th-century poet and Franciscan, James Ryman. Rutter is in spikier mode than in Carol of the Magi. Indeed, in some respects, The King of Blis is akin to carols such as Walton’s Make we joy now in this fest, but more complex, having different music for some of the stanzas, and the music of the refrain is not always the same. The rhythms bounce along with frequent changes of time signature and the harmonies are spiced with added notes. There are fine compositional touches: neat imitation, motivic inversion and superimposition of 5/8 and 6/8 time. Those who find some of Rutter's output a little too sugary will find much to delight them in this piquant piece.
THREE CAROLS [M]
SATB and organ
These three carols are already quite well known and to have them in a single volume is very welcome. I wonder as I wander has a delicious quirkiness. O little town of Bethlehem is gentle and coloured with some effective harmony. My dancing day is an energetic piece with lots of syncopation. It is great fun to sing and to listen to (if performed well!). It calls for a skilled organist with a rock-steady sense of the pulse. This volume is warmly recommended.
A GOD, AND YET A MAN? [M/D]
SATB (with much divisi) and organ
Although not unduly difficult, this piece offers a number of challenges. The choir sometimes sings in unison, sometimes chordally. The unison writing is easy enough, but the slow-moving chords usually require division of the voices into six or more parts, and are quite often dissonant. There are also occasional tricky intervals in the melodic lines. The chords in the organ part, meanwhile, are also often full of ‘added notes’, suggesting improvisation à la française. This harmonic sound-word creates an intensely expressive mood that a competent choir and its audience would surely relish.
WINTER’S WAIT [M]
SATB (with much divisi) and organ
This setting of words by Robert Tear (the singer and conductor who died in 2011) was first performed in 2010 by the choir of King’s College, Cambridge. James Whitbourn’s music is tonal/modal and has an immediate appeal. The greatest difficulty is probably the high A for sopranos and tenors; but the writing is not especially challenging for singers or organist and could be performed by a range of choirs and choral societies that have the resources to divide into up to eight parts.
THE NINE GIFTS [E/M]
SATB and organ
This tuneful carol, with words by Kevin Crossley-Holland, is appealing and entertaining. The choir sings ‘Rrrrr!’ to represent the star, and ‘Eeyore!’ for the donkey. All good fun! The organ plays a supportive accompaniment that, for much of the time, has undulating compound-time quavers. The part is well written and will give the competent player little difficulty. This piece is sure to go down well with many a congregation and audience.
THE ROSE IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER [M]
Rather more serious in mood than the Chilcott carol reviewed above, The rose in the middle of winter was composed for David Hill and The Bach Choir in celebration of the 90th birthday of Sir David Willcocks. Chilcott exploits the close-harmony possibilities of his eight-part choir: the many dissonances are diatonic, creating chords that sound ‘lush’ rather than harsh. Although the piece is mostly restrained, the music builds to a powerful climax, then subsides and ends softly. There is much subtle use of 7/8 time to give the rhythm a sense of flexibility. This is music in a listener-friendly contemporary style.
THERE IS NO ROSE
THERE IS NO ROSE
Many composers have been drawn to this particular text, notably Britten, Berkeley, Joubert (and not forgetting Anon.), and now Allain and Cusworth have added to the number. I love Richard Allain’s writing: he is master of the chord cluster, and this seasonal anthem is no exception. His setting starts quietly but quickly gets louder as the texture becomes richer. He continues by alternating full SSAATTBB with fewer singers. This is an effective setting and experienced singers will quickly pick up most of the part writing. A more attractive proposition though for smaller ensembles and less experienced singers might be Andrew Cusworth’s version, scored for SAATB. Again, close harmonies are used, but Cusworth plays around with a narrower range of notes; the highest note for the sopranos is E (tenth above middle C), F for the tenors and D above middle C for the basses.
A SPOTLESS ROSE
Adding to this seasonal floral nosegay; here is the last of four madrigals on rose texts collectively called Now sleeps the Crimson Petal. (It was number two which was turned into Ubi caritas and performed at the Royal Wedding last year.) This is a beautifully smooth, close-harmony setting but only experienced choirs should contemplate it. As with Richard Allain’s work, much time will need to be spent on balance and internal tuning. On a practical note, the publisher has not provided a keyboard reduction for Richard Allain’s piece (unlike the other three ‘Rose’ anthems considered here), which is a pity given that it is scored for eight-part choir. Dear Novello, not all of us are brilliant score-readers!
LENT AND PASSIONTIDE
FORGIVE OUR SINS AS WE FORGIVE [E]
SATB and organ
Banks ECS 544
Rosamund Herklots’s hymn text, coupling God’s forgiveness with our own forgiveness of one another, has become deservedly popular since its original publication in 100 Hymns for Today. Antony Baldwin combines it with the tune originally called Detroit but now known in the UK as Forgive our sins. The straightforward and attractive arrangement presents it as unison, SATB and with descant.
DROP, DROP SLOW TEARS [D]
SATB with divisi
DROP, DROP SLOW TEARS [M]
Thomas Hewitt Jones
SATB with divisi
Composers considering this text must be aware of the 14-year-old Walton’s Litany and of Kenneth Leighton sublime setting, but both Davy and Hewitt Jones avoid overt references (despite Davy’s falling ‘Drop’ motif at the start). Davy’s music is harmonically richly charged, particularly effective for the drowning of the ‘deep floods’. Hewitt Jones writes phrases that most church choirs will find easier to pitch, but which nonetheless convey the urgency of the ‘cry for vengeance’. Both composers achieve an effective quiet resignation and resolution at the end.
AVE VERUM CORPUS [E/M]
SATB and keyboard
AVE VERUM CORPUS [M/D]
SATB with divisi
AVE VERUM CORPUS [D]
Here are three settings of the same text, all written within a few months of each other, yet as different in approach to the words as are the well-known settings by Byrd, Mozart and Elgar. Bullard, although at first following Elgar’s precedent of a (very attractive) theme sung by sopranos and repeated by full choir, takes a Mozartian approach to the text: his writing is warmly gentle, notwithstanding its climax on ‘mortis’. There is no final tail section of ‘O clemens, O pie, O dulcis’. Noon and Harrap both make more of the disturbing side of the text, linking the pain of Christ’s sacrifice with the Eucharist. Noon has a twisted chromatic motif at the start that reappears inverted in the basses in the central section. Harrap’s music is largely built from ornamented diatonic scales, easier to sing than it sounds or looks on the page. Both composers finish with a version of the ‘tail’, Noon piano on a sonorous, low E major chord, Harrap forte with ‘Amen’ on a bright, high D major. Bullard, true to the character of the rest of his setting, repeats the opening words and music, ending with a pianissimo ‘Ave’.
CRUX FIDELIS [M]
T solo, SATB
Chester Music CH7792
This is a miniature masterpiece, now published in an edition by Peter Dickinson. Written in 1955 for Imogen Holst and the Purcell Singers with Peter Pears for a concert performance, it would be no less effective performed in the context of the Good Friday liturgy. The opening, growing out of a choral unison, sounds like a piece written for the liturgy. The tenor only enters half way through, and increasingly dominates the texture until subsiding into a choral repeat of the opening words and music, after which he quietly has the last word.
James L. Montgomery
FLEXIBLE COMMUNION ANTHEMS
Unison or SATB with optional instruments
At the heart of this collection of four communion pieces are settings of words from David Adam’s ever-popular The Edge of Glory. The first, The Real Presence starts ‘Lord, be with me in the breaking of the bread. Lord, bless my heart, my hands, my head’ while Dedication is a paraphrase of ‘God be in my head’ framed by the words ‘I give myself to you, Lord’ which Rizza extends at the end into a contemplative fade-out. Her distinctive and attractive melodies, using few notes and much repeated, make an excellent match for the spirituality of Adam’s writing. These pieces can be unison songs or for an SATB choir and there are optional melody instrument and soprano descant lines.
Surrounding these are two ‘chants’, just as flexible in scoring but also in duration to suit the time needed for the distribution of communion. Blessed Bread takes just four two-word eucharistic phrases: ‘Blessed bread, everlasting life; sacred cup, eternal salvation’ and Lord, all truth is from you is a prayer from the Missal. Both are presented as a series of ten differently scored chants, clearly numbered so that performers can skip from one to another depending on forces available and time required. The repetitions are intended and indeed essential for the effect. Rizza explains that ‘through the repetitions, a chant starts in the head with all its thinking and begins the long journey into the heart. There one begins to be open to the beauty of prayer, and drawn into deeper levels of reflection and stillness.’ These are levels that many have experienced when working with Margaret Rizza and her music.
CHRISTMAS MUSIC FOR UPPER VOICES
CHRISTMAS FOR FEMALE VOICES [E–M]
ed. Graham Buckland
S or SS or SSA and piano
If you are looking for good – but not difficult – Christmas arrangements for upper-voice choir, this is the book for you! 141 Christmas carols and songs are arranged generally in two or three parts. Each is straightforward and presented in a simple although interesting arrangement. Keyboard accompaniment is provided which could, in most cases, be easily arranged for a small instrumental ensemble; some carols will be effective a cappella and all can be sung in unison with accompaniment. There are traditional carols, hymns, chorales, spirituals and popular Christmas songs.
All texts (except a few in Latin) can be sung in English or German. The book is helpfully arranged into sections such as Advent, Annunciation, Birth, Lullabies, Proclamation and Epiphany,which makes it useful when searching for music to match readings in a carol service. The last sections, called Winter and Christmas Cheer, have Christmas songs well-suited to a concert – or just singing for fun: arrangements of White Christmas, Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman and songs about Santa Claus all feature here. The book provides an excellent variety of Christmas music for years to come – and is thoroughly recommended.
FOUR AMERICAN CAROLS [E/M]
Richard Rodney Bennett
Unison high voices and piano
These pieces are gems. Perfect for concerts, they are also suitable for carol services, but note that the beautifully written accompaniments are conceived for piano rather than organ. String orchestra parts may be hired from the publisher. The first piece is a syncopated and bluesy setting of a spiritual, A child of God (‘If anybody asks me who I am’). I wonder as I wander is cast in 5/4 time: flattened leading-notes give the melody the air of a folk tune. A lilting setting of Away in a manger is refreshingly unsentimental. The spiritual Rise up, shepherd, and follow seems set to round off this cycle in lively fashion, but the music melts away gently at the end. Such a conclusion is entirely appropriate since all four of these songs are imbued with a wonderful tenderness. Very fine music, warmly commended to conductors of upper-voice choirs.
JESUS CHRIST THE APPLE TREE [E/M]
SS and keyboard
MATTHEW, MARK, LUKE AND JOHN [E]
S or SS and keyboard
Encore Publications (unison and two-part versions available)
LULLABY IN BLUE [M]
SA (with divisi), piano & opt. bass
Based on his original mixed voice setting, Philip Ledger has reset an eighteenth-century text, Jesus Christ the Apple Tree, in two parts for the choristers of Worcester Cathedral. Here is a lovely melody, varied for each verse, with a straightforward piano or organ accompaniment. It would make an attractive (and easier) alternative to the well-known setting by Elizabeth Poston.
‘A Child’s Prayer from Norfolk’ is the subtitle for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. This is another simple but effective melody: a lullaby that could well be used to evoke the sleeping baby Jesus. It is available in two versions: the unison setting has D as its highest note, whereas the two-part arrangement reaches top G.
For something more jazzy, choirs will enjoy Bob Chilcott’s Lullaby in Blue for two-part upper voices (with divisions). Its attractive melody has a jazz-inspired, bluesy piano accompaniment, with an optional double bass part. William Blake’s text, ‘Sweet dreams form a shade’, would certainly provide an interesting addition to a Christmas service or concert.
ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS MUSIC FOR MIXED VOICES
SLEEP, HOLY BABE: LULLABIES FOR CHRISTMAS [M]
Shorter House 979-0-9002201-0-3
Despite the subtitle, not all the settings here are lullabies. Although it is essentially an anthology of contemporary music, three little-known Renaissance pieces are included: two by de Manchicourt (c.1510–64) and oneby Pygott (1485–1549). The only other piece by a composer from the past is A Lullaby by Finzi, also published by Peters Edition.
The contemporary composers include established names and up-and-coming ones, ranging in style from a conventional arrangement by Andrew Earis (b.1976) of Why, impious Herod? to Sleep, my dreaming one by Hilary Campbell (b.1983): a piece that makes much use of both harmonic and melodic tones and semitones – something that most choirs find challenging. There are two ‘faux-bourdon-style’ Magnificats: in four parts by Trevor Ling and in eight by David Bevan (b.1951). One of the best works is a setting of Lullay, my liking by Francis Pott (also published by Novello), which contains a satisfying variety of textures and exploits dissonance effectively. However, a piece by the youngest composer, Alexander Campkin (b.1984), may prove the book’s greatest asset – and provides its title. Sleep, Holy Babe is in four parts throughout, sets lovely words and is within the grasp of most church choirs.
The majority of pieces in the collection are for SATB, often with divisions, and to be sung a cappella. A small number are accompanied, one by harp. All are within the capabilities of good chamber, parish and cathedral choirs.
ADVENT ANTIPHON: O ADONAI [M]
As so often with Tavener’s music, a musically simple structure gives a profound and aurally complex result. Here the Latin words of the ‘O’ Antiphon ‘O Adonai’ are sung to an ecstatically climbing melody that returns (by a slightly varied inversion of pitches) to its starting point on a G. The melody is repeated in canon between first and second sopranos, and then harmonized in first inversion chords – all underpinned by sustained a G on ‘Ah’. Dynamics start at poco f and rise to ff. The effect is of an ever-intensifying cry to ‘Adonai’ to come and redeem us: music that fulfils the composer’s opening mark of ‘joyful, expectant’. Both soprano parts need crystal-clear top As, approached and left by an interval of a minor sixth.
SATB (with divisions)
GOD MADE A GARDEN [E]
Canon Chris Chivers has a knack of composing original tunes that sound as though they might be folk tunes, in this case traditional carol tunes. Diptych sets words by Bishop John Taylor, with a snappy 6/4 melody, and initially harmonized with parallel fifths. But the Vaughan Williams-ish feeling soon dissolves, and especially when a soprano reminds us of the Magi’s offering of myrrh. The work looks forward to Easter and climaxes as ‘Angels again brought tidings: “Whom seekest thou?”’ and an A major triad piles on top of G major, en route to a triumphant B major ending.
God made a garden is a more straightforward, homophonic setting, telling the story of ‘paradise once lost: regained for us in Jesus’. Of the four verses, 1 and 3 have the same music (in 3 there is an option for soprano to sing the words and choir to hum), whilst 2 and 4 share a fauxbourdon setting with the tune in the tenors. It is simple and satisfying, allowing the words to make their point.
James L. Montgomery
GLORIA, GLORIA [M]
THE HOLLY AND THE IVY [M]
THE SHEPHERD’S CAROL [M/D]
Richard Rodney Bennett
SATB Novello NOV050292; NOV050314; NOV050303
Gloria, Gloria sets words by the poet M.R. Peacocke, the composer’s sister. The question is asked in each stanza, ‘When you went down to Bethlehem, What did you see on the road?’, to which the answer is ‘We saw nothing’ – though, of course, the characters actually saw plenty on the road to Bethlehem: children talking of voices in the sky, supposedly drunken shepherd lads, ‘three old madmen babbling about a star’: all things that the listener recognizes as pointing to the birth of Christ. The music is rather jazzy in style. The principal melody is given at the start of each stanza successively to each vocal line from soprano down to bass: Bennett’s technical skill is as evident as his melodic gift and harmonic resourcefulness. Most of the vocal writing is in four parts, but there are divisions here and there, with the choir dividing into eight parts at the climax. Although not without difficulties, this piece is within the grasp of any choir that has the resources to sing in eight parts unaccompanied. Singers and congregations/audiences will enjoy its catchy tunefulness.
The Holly and the Ivy offers an enjoyable alternative to the traditional melody. The modal inflexions of Bennett’s tune lend it a folksong-like quality. There is some nice metrical ambiguity between 3/4 and 6/8; sections in 5/4 and 4/4 time, plus occasional bars in 2/4, give further interest to the metre. All the voices divide at some point, though the writing is never in eight parts. In the second stanza the accompanying voices (moving in longer note values than the sopranos, who have the tune) sing ‘The holly bears a lily flower’ – an unfortunate mangling of the text. But that is a pernickety quibble with an attractive and melodious piece.
The words of The Shepherd’s Carol are those also set by Bob Chilcott: ‘We stood on the hills, Lady, Our day’s work done’, attributed to the prolific ‘Anon.’ – though it is sometimes attributed to Clive Sansom (1910–81). Bennett’s musical language in this piece, though still tonal/modal, is more challenging than his other pieces reviewed here. There are plenty of ‘footholds’, however: places where the singers can secure themselves because they come together and start off again on a unison, or simple chord. While Bennett’s unaccompanied choral music looks unpromising on the page and even if it seems little better when played through on the piano, it will nevertheless spring to life when sung as intended. All three of these pieces are worth performing and I am seriously considering doing at least one of them with my own choir this Christmas.
ANTHEMS FOR UPPER VOICES
AN IRISH BLESSING [E/M]
Joanna Forbes L’Estrange and Alexander L’Estrange
SSA, piano, opt. flute
Faber Music 978-0-571-53619-1
AVE VERUM CORPUS [M]
W.A.Mozart arr. Brian Trant
SSA and piano
Readers who know the RSCM Voice for Life Song Book, Volume Two will be familiar with the musical setting of the delightful Irish blessing, ‘May the road rise to meet you’. Published separately, this is a more elaborate version, up a tone, and in three parts with optional flute. The gentle music matches the text well and could be sung as a blessing at the end of a service or perhaps at a wedding.
The arrangement of Mozart’s well-known motet, transcribed for SSA and piano and transposed into the key of F major, is a useful addition to the repertoire for choirs without men. The music may look easy but, as with the SATB original version, choirs need to work to experience the beauty of the music and Mozart’s depth of simplicity.
COME TO ME ALL WHO LABOUR [E/M]
S or SA or SATB and keyboard
This piece won a Wells Diocesan Choral Association anthem competition, and has flexible scoring: it can be sung in unison, but is written in two parts with optional descant. Suitable for upper voices, some sections are marked either SA or TB, so that a small choir, perhaps not having resources to sing full SATB, could produce an effective interpretation. The words, based on the ‘Comfortable Words’ in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, are appropriate for many occasions.
THE BREAD OF THE HUNGRY [M/D]
Thomas Hewitt Jones
S and keyboard
Banks Music Publications ECS556
St Basil the Great’s haunting and disturbing words are set to music for unison upper voices above an accompaniment (either piano or organ) which makes much use of note clusters. Singers need to maintain pitch confidently and ensure excellent intonation, often without help from the keyboard. However, competent singers (especially youngsters) will relish the challenge of learning and performing this anthem, which might be particularly effective at a Christian Aid service.
AVE MARIA [D]
SATB (with divisi)
DROP, DROP, SLOW TEARS [D]
SATB (with divisi)
LOCUS ISTE [D]
SATB (with divisi)
O VOS OMNES [D]
SATB (with divisi)
UBI CARITAS [D]
SATB (with divisi)
YOUR GENTLENESS, O GOD OF GRACE [D]
SATB (with divisi)
O SANCTISSIMA MARIA [M/D]
SATB (with divisi) NOV292798
or TTBB (with divisi) NOV292809
SALVATOR MUNDI: GREATER LOVE [D]
SATB (with divisi), SATB solo
O SANCTISSIMA MARIA [M/D]
SATB (with divisi) NOV292798
or TTBB (with divisi) NOV292809
SALVATOR MUNDI: GREATER LOVE [D]
SATB (with divisi), SATB solo
Paul Mealor’s career has mushroomed ever since his anthem Ubi caritas received its first performance at the Royal Wedding last year to a packed abbey and 2.5 billion viewers beyond. A couple of months later he was signed by Decca Records, and by Novello in November who have now issued a dozen of his works, most of them settings of religious texts. Paul Mealor is a man of faith and many parts. In fact, musically speaking, he could be branded an expert consultant in inner parts; these pieces rely on close harmony from often-divided altos and tenors to produce a sensuous unhurried wash of sound-colours redolent of Whitacre and Lauridsen amongst others. The individual part-writing itself is cleverly worked out, but not easy. These are well worth considering by a competent choir of experienced singers. There are several performances on YouTube: Locus iste and Salvator mundi: Greater Love stick in my mind in particular. Towards the end of the latter there is the option of singing in Welsh: a reminder that he hails originally from Anglesey.
AT ALL TIMES AND IN ALL PLACES
Compiled by Peter Moger
'Henceforth all the whole Realm shall have but one use.’ So Thomas Cranmer wrote of the Book of Common Prayer, but this festival service to celebrate the 1662 BCP suggests an admirable mixture of uses. After 40 pages of liturgical material, including hymns, psalms, and versicles and responses, come 74 pages of ‘choral resources’ with anthems ranging from Byrd and Purcell to Grayston Ives (a splendid Come, Holy Ghost) and Thomas Hewitt Jones, and including two Magnificats (Peter Aston and Philip Moore), two Jubilate Deos (Britten and Ireland) and settings of Prevent us, O Lord by Parry and (for SA/Men) by Hewitt Jones.
The anthems may have been assembled with a view to providing at least two options at each appropriate moment in the suggested service, but they form in themselves an excellent, inexpensive SATB anthology suitable for a wide range of choirs. The three liturgical sections, which offer much food for thought, cover the daily office (‘Into his courts with praise’), the Eucharist (‘Take this holy Sacrament to your comfort’) and the self-explanatory ‘Make prayers and supplications’, framed by a ‘Gathering’ and ‘Sending Out’. The introduction invites users to substitute ‘other musical settings or texts appropriate to the context of the worship’. All in all, it is an extensive, flexible, varied and cost-effective resource.
THE SPLENDOUR OF THE HOUSE OF GOD [E]
John L. Bell
SATB and keyboard (with ad lib. instruments)
GIA Publications / Wild Goose Resource Group / Decani Music
Choral pack G-8099
We have probably all sung John Bell’s congregational songs, but rarely do we have opportunity to sing them as choir anthems. Here is a collection of choral arrangements in a good-value pack of 15 octavo leaflets (each also available separately and listed below).
One of the most rewarding is the song that gives its name to the collection, arranged here by Frikki Walker with SATB, congregation and three-stave organ accompaniment. Tenors and basses will enjoy their parallel fifths in verses 2 and 4. The Bell/Maule version of O taste and see for soprano solo, SATB and keyboard is a four-verse celebration, with minimal accompaniment. A Lux aeterna gives the Latin text for the deceased, complete in itself, followed by an optional prayer for the mourners. Here, as with several others, there is an ad lib melody instrument part, plus keyboard accompaniment.
Most of the texts are by John Bell, but also included are James Quinn’s paraphrase of John 15, This is my will, fellow Glaswegian Doug Gay’s Wisdom’s table, and a paraphrase of Oscar Romero, The Lord of the Earth. As well as four psalm settings or paraphrases, there is a piece for baptism, Conceiver of both heaven and earth, a setting of the widely-known We cannot measure how you heal and much more! The range of material makes it well worthwhile purchasing at least a single copy of the pack and then deciding which individual leaflets you want for your choir. A CD with the same title (CD-874) includes all 15 pieces.
THE SPLENDOUR OF THE HOUSE OF GOD (DOMUS DOMINI) [E]
John L. Bell arr. Frikki Walker
SATB and organ with optional congregation
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8010
O CHRIST, THE MASTER CARPENTER [E]
John L. Bell
SATB and keyboard with optional flute or cello
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8021
ALL PEOPLE LIVING ON THE EARTH (PSALM100) [E]
SATB and piano with optional guitar and melody instrument
Swee Hong Lim arr. John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8011
I WAS GLAD (PSALM122) [E]
SATB, cantor and piano with optional guitar and congregation
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8012
I LOVE THE LORD (PSALM116) [E]
SATB, cello and keyboard with optional congregation
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8013
IN COMPLETE DESPERATION ( DE JAREN) [E]
SATB, A solo and keyboard
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8014
CONCEIVER OF BOTH HEAVEN AND EARTH (CAMILA) [E]
SATB and keyboard with optional flute, cello and congregation
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8015
THIS IS MY WILL (SUANTRAI) [E]
SATB and a solo voice
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8023
WE CANNOT MEASURE HOW YOU HEAL (YE BANKS AND BRAES)
SATB and keyboard with optional flute and cello
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8016
WISDOM’S TABLE [E]
SATB and keyboard with optional guitar, flute, cello and congregation
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8019
THE LORD OF THE EARTH (ROMERO) [E]
SATB and piano with optional guitar and melody instrument
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8020
LUX AETERNA [E]
SATB and keyboard with optional melody instrument
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8017
O TASTE AND SEE [E]
SATB, S solo and keyboard
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8022
IN CHRIST WE LIVE (BEGIJNHOF) [E]
SATB and keyboard with optional melody instrument
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8018
O COME, LET US SING [E]
SATB and keyboard with optional guitar and congregation
John L. Bell
GIA Publications / Decani Music G-8024
ALL SAINTS AND ALL SOULS, REMEMBRANCE AND FUNERALS
REJOICE IN THE LORD [E/M]
O QUAM GLORIOSUM [M]
SS and organ
These upper-voice anthems for saints’ days are composed by experienced choir trainers who write sympathetically for the voice and know that it is important not to spend too long learning new repertoire. Rejoice in the Lord is a short and effective soprano anthem written by the Director of Music at Ripon Cathedral, Andrew Bryden. Scored for solo and unison soprano voices with organ, it ends with an Alleluia in two parts. Its versatility is enhanced by the opportunity to include the name of any particular saint within the text.
Written for the choristers of Wells Cathedral by Tim Noon (now at Auckland Cathedral, formerly of Liverpool Metropolitan), the Latin anthem O Quam Gloriosum is set for two-part soprano voices. It needs confident and accurate singers accompanied by a dexterous organist. Lively and rhythmic outer sections encase a gentle middle section built over a lovely chord progression. Experienced young singers in school, cathedrals and church choirs are sure to enjoy this.
TWO INSPIRING HYMNS [E]
arr. Stephen Cleobury and Philip Ledger
SATB, descant and organ
Both these hymns (printed together) are often sung at funerals and memorial services, and these straightforward arrangements can add interest if there is a four-part choir with a soprano line not afraid of descants. Eventide (‘Abide with me’)arranged by Stephen Cleobury includes a verse for ATB with melody in the tenor and an effective descant for the final bars of the last verse. It could be performed with choir and congregation throughout, but would perhaps be more effective sung by choir alone. This style of performance would also suit Philip Ledger’s arrangement of Amazing Grace, with an attractive descant for the last verse.
SIX SHORT MEMORIAL ANTHEMS [E/M]
Banks Music Publications ECS 542
Here are six very short anthems which should be extremely useful for funeral and memorial services and also – certainly three of the texts – for general use. Lawrence Binyon’s They shall not grow old, familiar from Remembrance Day, is the one non-biblical text, and is sensitively set to music. Other settings are The Souls of the Righteous (Wisdom 3), I heard a voice from heaven (Revelation 14), I will lift up mine eyes (Psalm 121), I will lay me down and sleep (Psalm 4) and Let not your heart be troubled (John 14).
Written for unaccompanied voices, the music is straightforward although judicious accompaniment could benefit some choirs. It is a pity that there is not an organ reduction for the two anthems written in open score. Nevertheless, this is a most useful collection – at an excellent price!
FOR THE FALLEN [M]
SATB (with divisi), narrator, organ and opt. trumpet
Boosey and Hawkes 19148
SSAATTBB, organ and opt. trumpet
Subito Music 91480445
If a trumpeter is available at a Remembrance Sunday service, here are two anthems that may involve the player, but can also be performed with choir and organ alone. Part of Binyon’s poem is set to music by Karl Jenkins with a trumpet part that places the familiar ‘Last Post’ within a texture that includes a verse spoken by a narrator. This clever arrangement would enhance a Remembrance service, ceremony or concert.
Dan Locklair sets the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) from the Authorized Version, interspersed with a solo voice singing the antiphon ‘Remember your servants, Lord’. Four-part upper voices contrast with four-part lower voices singing in chant-like harmony. All join in a dramatic, triple-forte climax towards the end, which dies to a soft unison ‘remember’. The scoring is flexible, and Locklair writes that it may even be performed in unison as the organ always doubles the voice parts. Vocal parts are not difficult, the solo can be sung by any voice or by a group of singers, and the trumpet part may be covered by the organ. This heartfelt anthem, which could be a useful piece for many choir libraries, is well worth perusal.
arr. David Hill for SATB choir, ST soli, organ, harp, violin and cello
Novello NOV292138 Full score and four parts
David Hill brings his considerable experience as choral director, organist and musician to this new version, which is pared down to a minimum accompaniment of organ, harp, violin and cello. It should balance beautifully in a church choir performance and bring a sense of intimacy, of which, I am sure, Fauré would approve. Organists who have had to ‘cobble together’ (in the words of the editor) from the vocal score an organ accompaniment to this popular work, will particularly delight in the organ part, written clearly on three staves.
This edition is compatible with other vocal scores, and will be of great use to church and chamber choirs with neither budget nor space to perform such a masterpiece with larger orchestra. It deserves to be well used by choirs who can afford four excellent players to accompany the performance.
EVENSONG CANTICLES AND RESPONSES
ENGLISH CHURCH MUSIC [E/M–D]
Volume 2: Canticles and Responses
ed. Robert King
THE BOOK OF NEW CANTICLES [M/D–D]
Volume 1: for mixed voices with organ accompaniment
SATB with divisi and organ
Shorter House 979-0-9002201-2-7
English Church Music Vol. 2, in the Oxford Choral Classics series, contains 55 pieces (counting a Magnificat and a Nunc dimittis separately), followed by a plainchant order for compline (with five-line stave and quavers and crotchets) and a commentary on each piece. The Mags and Nuncs range alphabetically from Byrd (Second Service) to Wood (Second setting in E flat) and chronologically from Byrd (Second Service) to Tippett. Then there are Te Deums and/or Jubilate Deos by Stanford, Vaughan Williams and Walton, Preces and Responses by Ayleward, Byrd, Ebdon, Gabriel Jackson, Philip Radcliffe, Smith and Tomkins, Lord’s Prayers by Farmer and Stone, seven previously unpublished psalm chants by Howells, and John Sanders’ setting of the Reproaches.
Anyone who regular sings or directs Anglican BCP evensong will be familiar with most of the first 270 pages of canticles, not least Stanford in A, B flat, C and G, and many choirs with opportunity to sing this range of music will already own most of the contents. But those who do buy it will greatly benefit, as there are insights throughout, from the beginning (Blair’s B minor service in its original form rather than Atkins’ rewriting as normally sung) to the final Preces and Responses (Stone and Tomkins, both with new reconstructions of their missing parts).
Robert King, in his Preface, justifies the lack of later 20th-century settings by ‘copyright considerations’. As it happens, simultaneously there appears a brave collection from Shorter House of five new Magnificat and Nunc dimittis settings all written within the last 14 years. Further volumes for unaccompanied mixed voices and for upper and lower voices are planned.
The most immediately attractive settings are by the oldest and most established of the composers: Peter Klatzow with a joyful Magnificat and a more contemplative Nunc dimittis that look and sound like a part of the Anglican cathedral tradition into which they will surely be welcomed, and Philip Moore with a thoughtful and warm Huntsville Service based on plainchant tones. Simon Biazeck opens the volume with a setting with an independent organ part but which may be omitted, although the piece would lose some colour without it. Jeremy Filsell (Windsor Service) and James Lark both write energetic organ parts, with more straightforward choral lines. All five pieces are also available separately: details are as follows.
THE SHORT EVENING SERVICE [D]
SATB (with divisions) and optional organ
Shorter House 979-0-900220-18-9
THE WINDSOR SERVICE [M/D]
SATB and organ
Shorter House 979-0-708109-07-5
MAGNIFICAT AND NUNC DIMITTIS [M/D]
SATB and organ
Shorter House 979-0-900220-19-6
MAGNIFICAT AND NUNC DIMITTIS [D]
SATB (with divisions) and organ
Shorter House 979-0-708109-12-9
THE HUNTSVILLE SERVICE [M]
SATB and organ
Shorter House 979-0-708109-16-7
MAGNIFICAT AND NUNC DIMITTIS IN A [M/D]
William Turner ed. Geoffrey Webber
SSAATB and organ
Church Music Society CMSR 109
William Turner was a chorister at the Chapel Royal contemporary with Purcell and Blow, and had a long career as counter-tenor in the Chapel Royal, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey choirs. As a composer he was somewhat eclipsed by his illustrious contemporaries, but his output before 1700 includes dramatic works, some 40 anthems (including one for the coronation of Queen Anne) and a Service in A. Geoffrey Webber, who has recorded a CD of Turner’s works, has edited the evening canticles, transposed to B flat, with alternate full and verse sections. They are worthy of resurrection, even if Turner did not have the fertile imagination of his colleagues. Much of the work is homophonic and even when he thinks of a good, virile phrase, such as for ‘scattering the proud’, he makes little of it. The editorial organ-part is derived from the vocal parts. This will be an enjoyable sing for reasonable sight-readers who will enjoy some false relations, and also a good setting for small professional choirs.
CANTATE DOMINO AND DEUS MISEREATUR [M/D]
SATB and organ
When Jesus College, Cambridge commissioned a new set of evening canticles from Philip Moore, he suggested setting these alternative canticles. Composed in 2006, the Cantate Domino is high spirited and exuberant with a significant organ part. The Deus misereatur is more restrained with a background accompaniment, apart from the lively middle section ‘Let the people praise thee’. They are well written for the singers but also have duple/triple rhythmical challenges. There are a few divisi, but not enough to deter small choirs.
ST PATRICK’S MAGNIFICAT [D]
Boosey & Hawkes 979-0-060-12432-7
James Macmillan’s unaccompanied SATB setting of the Magnificat uses the Latin text. Firmly centred in the region of C/A minor and with only a half dozen accidentals to be seen in the whole piece, the style is reminiscent of the composer’s Strathclyde Motets. There are MacMillan’s trademark vocal ornaments and much rhythmical complexity. Perhaps this beautiful, reverential music will some day be matched with a setting of the Nunc dimittis, so that Anglican cathedrals may have a partner for it at evensong.
MISSA BREVIS SANCTI PAULI [M]
SATB and organ
Church Music Society CMSO43
This setting of the Latin text (the Kyrie in Greek, of course) is ideal for choirs of ‘good parish’ standard. Much of the music evokes plainsong – and very effective it is, too. There are a few divisions of the four-part choral texture, and the ‘Christe’ section of the Kyrie is for divided tenors and basses, unaccompanied. The music is, however, easy enough not to pose too many problems. If your choir can cope with this setting as a whole, your tenors and basses are probably going to be able to manage the ‘Christe’. The Gloria switches between free and strict time and deals with the text as efficiently as a good Missa brevis should. A composition of high quality.
LITTLE MASS OF ALL SAINTS [M]
Upper voices and organ
Full of piquant dissonance but delightfully logical, this setting was composed for the boys of All Saints, Northampton and is ideally suited to young voices. Melodies are fresh and the two-part choral harmony none too difficult. The canonic Benedictus is especially effective. Organ pedals are used sparingly, but this does not make the accompaniment easy: a competent player with an excellent sense of rhythm is essential. This is just the sort of setting that a children’s choir could learn to sing from memory and it would be equally effective sung liturgically or in concert.
MISSA SANCTAE MARGARETAE [M/D]
SATB and organ
Though the most challenging of the Mass settings reviewed here, there are remarkably few accidentals in this piece. Its modality will appeal to singers and listeners, as will the free, almost folk-like melodies, such as in the Kyrie (and recycled in the Agnus Dei). In the Gloria, Jackson’s love of bristling rhythms shines through, though it is by no means all fast: it is a surprisingly contemplative setting. The organ part is well written, with plenty of guidance on registration and textures that work well on the instrument. All in all, a very professional composition and worthy of the attention of choirs seeking a challenge.
CHOIRBOOK FOR THE QUEEN
Mixed voices, with and without organ
Canterbury Press 978-1-84825-115-1
It is impossible to give justice to this publication in a short review. With Peter Maxwell Davies as Artistic Advisor, a distinguished and well-informed Advisory Group, the support of the Foyle Foundation and several distinguished trusts and a host of ‘Diamond Subscribers’, it ought to be magnificent, and it is. Just as a little over 500 years ago the Eton Choirbook recorded the finest early-Tudor church music, the same has now been done for our late-Elizabethan time.
There are 45 anthems by 44 composers, 11 of them new commissions. The names one would expect are all there: James MacMillan, John Tavener, John Rutter, Michael Finnissy, Judith Weir, Howard Skempton, Roxanna Panufnik, Judith Bingham, Richard Rodney Bennett, Peter Maxwell Davies among many others. There are delightful surprises among the other inclusions, such as Alexander Goehr’s ‘choral song with keyboard’ Cities and Thrones and Powers, a Kipling setting and the only piece specifying piano accompaniment.
Difficulty and size of forces required varies considerably. Examine the contents at www.choirbookforthequeen.org.uk and if you can possibly afford a copy, buy one. The two volumes will provide inspiration for this generation and the future. The collection is being launched by 80 cathedrals, colleges and major musical foundations, but if you select the most appropriate pieces for your choir there is no reason why many more should not join in the celebration.
MOSTLY MANUALS ONLY
SIX SONATAS [M]
Johann Ludwig Krebs
ed. Felix Friedrich
Butz Musikverlag 2424 €14.00
These six sonatas for manuals only by one of Bach’s best pupils are in three movements (two faster movements in binary form enclose a through-composed slower movement); they exhibit the galant style of writing, the slow movements being particularly expressive. Carefully marked ornamentation and phasing/articulation signs will require practice for a clean performance, as will some of the extended arpeggios in each hand and LH passages in octaves. Marked ‘für Orgel, Klavier oder Cembalo’, they have indications of f and p which make a performance on the organ with carefully chosen choruses a delightful possibility. The volume contains an introduction and critical commentary, unfortunately in German only. These charming pieces will be highly appreciated when included in recitals, especially during 2013, the 300th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
EASY ORGAN WORKS [E/M]
ed. Hans Peter Reiners
Butz Musikverlag 2425 €13.00
Organist at St Peter le Poer, London, Long died in 1764, and his four Lessons and two Voluntaries for harpsichord or organ were published by his widow in 1770. Each of the voluntaries is in the form of a prelude and fugue marked full organ. The four Lessons (more suited to stringed keyboard instruments, although a few movements appear in The Organist’s Journal c.1802) are in three movements each, a slower first movement followed by a fast movement and either a minuet, an air and variations, or a siciliano-like allegro. Clearly printed, these attractive pieces are relatively easy and can be used in services or as teaching material.
TEN CHURCH PIECES [M]
William Jones of Nayland
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £11.00
Writer on music and science, William Jones was curate at Nayland, Suffolk. The extensive original preface to these ten pieces of 1789 is well worth reading, offering a personal view on composition and registration. Four pieces (nos. 1, 3, 4 and 6) are in only one movement, predominantly for the Diapasons, nos. 2, 5, 7–9 are in two movements, and the final piece, in three movements, ends with one described as for organ or pianoforte. The movements for Swell contain detailed dynamic markings, including rare uses of hairpins. The written-out cadenzas can act as models for cadenzas in the voluntaries of other contemporary composers. The printing and editing is of high standard, and the introduction contains a critical commentary. These pieces make a further welcome addition to our knowledge of the English repertoire of the late 18th century.
SMALLER WORKS FOR ORGAN (Collected Organ Works II) [M/D]
Wiener Urtext Edition UT50149 £21.25
Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach (1714–88) is the best known of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sons, through his hugely important theoretical writings as well as his compositions. His extant organ works comprise a fraction of his output: just six sonatas for manuals (published in volume I of this edition) and the small number of miscellaneous pieces in this second volume. These are a Preludio for manuals and pedal in D in which thick chords marked ‘Grave’ alternate with a Presto with echo effects, six conservative, scholarly Fugues in two, three or four voices (No.5 in C minor is preceded by a short but imposing Fantasia full of thick chords), a trio in D minor with crossed-hands writing, a chorale prelude on Ich ruf zu dir which is an arrangement of the piece in the Orgelbüchlein, and an arrangement of Aus der Tiefe rufe ich (with an alternative manuals-only arrangement of the second section), both once attributed to J.S. Bach, and five harmonized chorales. The appendix contains a further fugue in D minor, and some 30 pieces for musical clock or barrel organs, of varying length and difficulty.
The most useful pieces will clearly be those in the body of the book, all of which offer scope for recitals and voluntaries; they are difficult to bring off successfully but well worth the effort required. The pieces for musical clock compare well with those by Haydn and have much novelty value. The edition contains an excellent preface and notes on interpretation, especially ornaments and tonal execution, and there is an extensive set of critical notes for those who read such commentaries. Highly recommended.
THREE PARTITAS [E]
Edition Dohr/UE 11447 €8.95
Each Partita consists of a set of short, simple variations on each of the melodies; each variation is usually no longer than the original tune. The first, composed in 2010, is based on an 18th-century melody, the second and third from a century earlier. Written in traditional harmonic language, the Partitas are attractive pieces, all eminently sight-readable and adaptable for many different occasions, from voluntaries to emergency gap fillers. A small, single manual instrument would be quite adequate.
TWO EASY ORGAN CYCLES [M]
Butz Musikverlag 2297 €13.00
Camillo Schumann (1872–1946) was a pupil of Reinecke. John Henderson observes in his Directory that Camillo was not related to Robert Schumann and that ‘he composed in a romantic style but not as thick or chromatic as Reger.’ This book contains six fugues and the four pieces Op.83, all for organ or harmonium. Despite the title, they are not particularly easy; the numerous left hand octaves are better played with pedals on the lower notes without a 16-foot stop. The fugues tend towards an academic earnestness, though No.6, based on a busy semiquaver subject, is less reserved. Op.83 opens with a pleasant Larghetto, (left hand octaves again), followed by two contrasting Andante pieces, and finally Un poco Adagio. These pleasant pieces have no directions for registration, so there is ample scope for imaginative interpretation; a discreet use of pedals would enhance the result.
SIX BAGATELLES [M/D]
Chester Music CH80366 £10.95
This engaging set was originally written for solo piano and transcribed for organ for Margaret Phillips, who first performed them in 2011. The transcriptions are most successful: idiomatic and allowing plenty of scope for colourful registrations. Harmonically the music is dissonant, yet accessible; themes are engaging and well developed. The fifth is the most extended – an inventive, dancing scherzo coupling sliding chromaticism with a fierce inner rhythmic drive. This would make an excellent set for the adventurous recitalist but could equally be played individually in a liturgical setting.
CHORALE-BASED ORGAN WORKS [M/D–D]
Sigfrid Karg-Elert Butz Musikverlag 2312 €15.00
There are thirteen pieces in this book, which do not appear in the well-known volumes. For the lover of Karg-Elert’s music these will be a welcome addition. There is plenty to challenge the player, with the usual questions of finding the right registration and meeting the technical difficulties. Especially worthy of attention is No.11, a magnificent ‘Choral improvisation on In dulci jubilo’. The first six pieces are good examples of the composer in more peaceful mode and should not take as much practice as the final group of choral improvisations. This is an impressive collection, with much interesting music to explore.
GOSPEL COLOURS 2 [M]
Martin How RSCM MH0541 £6.95 (affiliates £5.91)
The fourteen pieces in Gospel Colours 2 follow the same pattern as those in volume 1. Some are quite short, but Solemn Occasion is an extended piece which would be handy as aconcluding voluntary. I was not so sure about Judgement/Disaster, which echoes Apocalypse in volume 1: it could be just a touch too strong for the congregation. I was pleased to see that the music size is now larger, which makes the music easier to read than in the first book. As with the previous volume, colourful harmonies underpin elegant melodies. All are useful voluntaries, covering a variety of situations.
FESTIVAL PRELUDES AND POSTLUDES OF THE GERMAN ROMANTIC [M–M/D]
Butz Musikverlag 2335 €14.00
The eleven pieces are by various composers from Michael Fischer (1773–1829) to Carl Sattler (1871–1938), many of whom will be unfamiliar to most readers. Notable are a rousing Postlude by Merkel and Fischer’s Präludium which is a lively arpeggio-based piece. Sattler’s Festivo is set out for manuals but marked ‘Pedal ad lib’. With numerous left hand octaves, pedals much improve the ease of playing. Willy Herrmann’s Postludiumi is a dramatic piece, well worth a place in a recital. Brush up your octave pedalling first!
AMERICAN ORGAN MUSIC Vol. 2 [M–M/D]
Butz Musikverlag 2492 €18.00
There are eleven pieces by different composers, covering the period from the latter part of the 19th century to the 1930s. Most are little known today, the possible exception being Horatio Parker. The quality is, however, good throughout and the book should be very useful in services and recitals. There is an interesting piece by Thayer, a majestic fugue, America, better known here as ‘God save the Queen’. The piece by Parker is Marcia religiosa:another stirring item well worth working on. Similarly attractive is John Hyatt Brewer’s Triumphal March.
TRANSCRIPTIONS FOR ORGAN [M–D]
Butz Musikverlag 2304 €10.00
These eight unusual pieces will help widen one’s experience of Widor, so often limited to the over-played Toccata. The Marche Américaine, which began life as a piano piece, has been arranged many times. All eight will serve well as recital pieces or extended voluntaries. The final Salvum fac populum tuum, written in 1916 forbrass, percussion and organ, is particularly impressive. There is a wide range of difficulty in this book. Ave Maria is almost sight-readable, and Allegro Vivace, Scherzo, Romance and Air en style ancient should not cause too many problems. As always, the more comprehensive the organ the better, but all the pieces are possible with two manuals.
SONGS WITHOUT WORDS Book 2 [M–M/D]
Felix Mendelssohn arr. Rainer Goede
Edition Dohr/UE 28881 €12.95
Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words have always been favourites of mine. This book, the first of eight, contains Nos.1 to 6, Op.19. The arrangements come off well on the organ and are faithful to the originals, apart from a truncation of the opening of No.4, and the solutions to the problem of translating piano idioms to the organ are very acceptable. If the remaining seven volumes are as good they will be an interesting addition to the library.
ORGAN AND TRUMPET
FESTIVAL ALBUM FOR TRUMPET AND ORGAN [M]
arr. Christopher Tambling
Butz Musikverlag 2332 €22.00
These arrangements are for B flat trumpet. There is a good mixture of familiar and not so well known pieces; by coincidence the first in the book is from Mendelssohn. The well-known Sicilienne by Maria von Paradis, Mozart’s Laudate Dominum, Elgar’s Salut d’Amour and Stanley’s Trumpet Tune (Voluntary Op.6, No.5)all figure. There are also a Trumpet Voluntary by John Travers, some Guilmant, J.S. Bach, Karg-Elert, and a set of variations by Christopher Tambling. This is an enterprising collection, which will enliven many a service.
THUNDERSTORM IN ORGAN MUSIC [M–M/D]
Butz Musikverlag 2350 €24.00
Seven chances of getting drenched or struck by lightning, by composers of whom the best- (perhaps only-) known is Lefébure-Wely. The pattern is fairly predictable, a quiet beginning and then the storm, followed by a quiet section and perhaps a thanksgiving hymn. Their use as voluntaries is unlikely unless an isolated section is used, such as the dance from Lefébure-Wely’s The Harvest. The addition of an appropriate slide show would undoubtedly add to the fun, especially in the almost over-dramatic An Ocean Tempest by Gatty Sellars (1887–1938) which calls for a ship’s siren and includes ‘Nearer my God to Thee’and ‘O God our help in ages past’. Sellars is sadly a forgotten organist. He was at both Crystal Palace and Kingsway Hall after beginning his career at Spalding Parish Church. A large instrument is essential, and one which will withstand the heavy demands of wind occasioned by the use of the equivalent of the French ‘orage’ pedal; for most of us this means pressing down several pedal keys together. This is an interesting book to have, even if its uses for church musicians are limited.
COLLECTED ORGAN WORKS [M]
Butz Musikverlag 2435 €14.00
Dupont (1870–1914) was a private pupil of Vierne and was taught composition by Massenet; in 1895 he became a pupil of Widor. He composed four successful operas and music for piano. The pieces in this edition of his complete works show both his originality and his indebtedness to his teachers; the influence of Vierne and Massenet is very obvious. These are harmonically adventurous compositions, with unexpected twists. At the same time they are full of melodic interest. Offertoire is for manuals only, except for the final nine bars, and Grand Choeur and Elevation have similar treatment; pedal parts in the remaining pieces are straightforward. There are eleven pieces in the book, all well worth trying.
THIRD BRANDENBURG CONCERTO [D]
J.S. Bach arr. Heinrich E. Grimm
Butz Musikverlag 2403 €12.00
There are impeccable precedents for this kind of transcription, and this version of Brandenburg 3 is a worthy member of the tradition. Heinrich Grimm has made a faithful and playable transcription. To quote his Foreword: ‘Consideration has been given to the special characteristics of the organ and to playability, whilst retaining as much as possible of the musical substance.’ His statement that ‘the result is an enrichment of the concert repertoire: “an organ concerto” which is a joy to play and to hear’ is amply justified. A suggested cadenza is given for the problematic second movement, though, as Grimm says, ‘any other improvisational performance is also possible.’ None of this is easy; the last movement is the most straightforward.
RENAISSANCE SUITES [M/D]
Tilman Susato arr David A. de Silva
Butz Musikverlag 2323 €13.00
These ten arrangements of dances from the Susato collection of 1551 are given here as two Suites. The Fanfare (Suite 1) and Gavotte (Suite 2) were once to be heard often on early music programmes; the other dances will be less familiar. The arrangements work happily for the most part, though there are a few tricky pedal passages to negotiate. The ornamented repeats are often quite difficult, but de Silva does say that ‘performers should follow these ornamentations only to the degree that their own taste and sensibilities support, and otherwise work out their own embellishments.’ A pleasure to play.
ORGAN WORKS FOR THE CHURCH YEAR [MOSTLY M]
Paraclete Press PPMO1149
This American ‘Little Organ Book’ contains 27 pieces covering the church year from Advent to Pentecost, plus four for ‘Special Days’ and two ‘General’. This is an American publication with plenty for the British player: Helmsley, Merton, Stuttgart, Dix, and many others. Don’t be caught out by Lauda anima which is Praise my soul under a different name.
Players already familiar with Robert Lind’s work will not be disappointed with this useful collection. The music presents no particular problems for the average player, is interesting, very playable, and a good addition to the library of service music.
LA CANONNADE [E/M]
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
Balbastre (1724–99) moved to Paris from Dijon in 1750 and produced elegant harpsichord pieces in the older style and in the newer galant, and kept his head by writing organ pieces on Revolutionary songs amongst others. Dated 1777, this short Rondeau in D with two couplets (the main theme repeated after each one) is in 6/8 and has echoes of popular hunting movements. The main feature of the rondeau is the use of climactic chord clusters played on the pedals (editorially suggested) and in the left hand to simulate cannon fire. It is not too difficult, and great fun if not great music – a far cry from the French masterpieces of the previous 100 years. His Suites of Noëls offer more interesting fare for performers!
FIVE PIECES [M/D]
Fitzjohn Music Publications
David Patrick continues his successful mining of French organ music with familiar and unfamiliar pieces by Salomé. The first is the well-known Grand Choeur in G, followed by an attractive Cantilène. The Grand Choeur in A, Mélodie and Grand Choeur in A flat are perhaps not so well known but are worth becoming acquainted with. There is never a dull moment in this book: plenty of good tunes and just enough problems to make practice interesting without it becoming tedious.
THREE PIECES [M/D]
Fitzjohn Music Publications
The mine has yielded music by a composer who is surely long forgotten. Lemaigre, as David Patrick explains, ‘was a pupil of Edouard Batiste and in 1877 was appointed organist of the Cathedral in Clermont-Ferrand, a post he held until two years before his death in 1890.’ The pieces published here appeared first in 1883, and were popular in their day. The first is Marche Solonelle, a grand piece with particularly tuneful trio sections. Capriccio is a pretty piece of semiquaver froth, a neat encore perhaps in a recital, whilst the last item, Scherzo is more substantial. Some octave pedalling is required.
REGER COMPLETE EDITION
REGER-WERKAUSGABE Vol. 1/3 [D]
Fantasias and fugues, variations, sonatas and suites for organ
Carus Verlag 52.803 Score and DVD 9783899481709
In 2008 the Max-Reger-Institut in Karlsruhe, Germany, began the first critical edition of works by Max Reger and the first volume of organ music appeared in 2010. It breaks new ground in editorial techniques: the software on DVD which accompanies the printed edition is an amazing use of modern technology and like nothing I have seen before. Reger’s initial sketches, drafts, the first printed edition and the current new scholarly edition are all comparable on screen. Hover the mouse over the various markers and you can see and compare all the variants. There is also historical information about the music, its dedicatees and the usual critical comments. For the musicologist and Reger scholar this is wondrous stuff; it clearly cost a great deal to produce for, despite a heavy subsidy by the Max-Reger-Institut, the purchase price is significant.
What of the printed edition? Compared to existing printings it is certainly a class act, beautifully printed on good paper and hard bound. This third volume contains the Sonata in D minor Op.60, Variations and Fugue on an original theme Op.73, Suite in G minor Op.92, Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue in E minor Op.127 and Fantasia and Fugue in D minor Op.135b (works composed from 1901 to 1906 and in 1913). Organists either love or hate Reger’s music. Much is not easy to play and so is rarely heard in the UK except in concert. For the committed, this new edition will be heaven-sent but for others it may be like a Michelin 3-star restaurant, i.e. not for my budget and acceptable alternatives are available.
ORGAN TRANSCRIPTIONS [M]
ed Andrzej Kupiec
PWM/Universal Edition 979-0-2740-0692-1
The fifteen well-crafted transcriptions begin with five Chopin Preludes which Andrzej Kupiec makes feel and sound like original organ pieces. The A major Prelude is repeated three times, with the first and last having the melody given to a violin. Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata (first movement) and the slow movement from the ‘Pathétique’ Sonata work well. In both the Bach/Gounod ‘Ave Maria’ and the Saint-Saëns ‘Swan’, the melody is given to the pedals. There are settings of ‘Ave Maria’ by Schubert, Donizetti and Adolf Doss.
The two Bach pieces are the well-worn ‘Air’ from Suite no. 3 and a Prelude in D BWV 936 no. 4. The collection ends with a curiosity, a Polonaise in A minor, Farewell to the Fatherland by M. K. Oginsky who, my 1900 edition of Grove tells me, was a member of ‘a noble and distinguished Polish family’. Of the three musician members mentioned, Michael (1765-1833) was the Grand Treasurer of Lithuania. It is a jolly if inconsequential piece.
VOLUNTARIES WITH PEDALS
WEDDING MARCH [M]
Banks Music Publications 14066
This is a mélange of Mendelssohn, Widor and Purcell interspersed with bits of the Canon by Pachelbel (I wonder why brides want to come in to that unsuitable piece?). The various excerpts are transposed to D major, with a brief exception for the Widor which stays in F but is given the Pachelbel bass in minims. The same bass is used for the Purcell ‘Air’ which forms the conclusion of the work. Beware of the two-octave D major scale in the pedals at bars138 and 139 and again later. It’s all good innocent fun!
FANFARE AND TOCCATAS ON ENGLEBERG [M]
Paraclete Press PPMO1240
Stanford’s splendid tune for ‘For all the Saints’ has been superseded by Vaughan Williams’s Sine Nomine; perhaps this might persuade a few organists to resurrect it. Despite the title this is only one piece. Nineteen bars of introductory fanfare lead to a toccata-style treatment of the tune, and then back to more fanfares. There are no technical difficulties that could not be unravelled with a decent practice session and the final result is worth the effort.
HARVEST FESTIVAL [M]
Robert J. Powell
Paraclete Press PPMO1239
The four preludes are on ‘Come, ye thankful people, come, ‘We gather together’ (Kremser), ‘God, who stretched the spangled heavens’ (Holy Manna) and ‘Now thank we all our God’. Kremser is a traditional Dutch melody, simple and melodious, here given an appropriate treatment. ‘Now Thank We All Our God’ is a rousing postlude. This version will never replace Karg-Elert’s, but at least it is easier.
THREE CHORALE FANTASIAS [M]
Doblinger/Universal Edition 02 479
The Viennese organist Manfred Perger’s three pieces date from 2007. The first is a set of variations on the tune Ein Danklied sei dem Herrn and the second a reworking of the melody Schönster Herr Jesu. The last item is Glorwürd’ge Königin, following the same pattern of variations on the tune. All three are interesting and worth a look for something different. Thoroughly diatonic in style, there are no nasty surprises harmonically, and the pieces well written for the organ.
FANTASIA AND FUGUE (2010) [M]
Paraclete Press PPM01230
This little Fantasia and Fugue, written in 2010, is an intriguing work, sympathetically written for the constraints of a small chamber organ: one could imagine it making a good counterpoint to an evensong of Restoration music. The Fantasia alternates between free gesture and textures based on patterns; the Fugue is contrapuntal without being a strict working of the theme. Both movements are harmonically rich, quite chromatic and dissonant though not gratuitously so, and surprisingly tender in some passages. This would be a useful piece to have up your sleeve for a more intimate service.
Encore Publications 979-0-9002162-9-8
Composed in 1998, publication of this important work by one of our most cherished organists was overdue, and now has been achieved with handsome results. Preston describes in his introduction how the inspiration is Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor: he has ‘tried to retain the dramatic and virtuosic elements . . . while seeking to free it from the restrains of D minor.’ He has done so admirably: the Toccata is rhythmically vital, energetic and thrilling, whilst keeping a ghost of Bach’s original in the background – challenging and highly rewarding.
SCHERZO & FUGUE [D]
John Scott Whiteley
Banks Music Publications 14068
This is a substantial work by the redoubtable John Scott Whiteley, and one that reaffirms the view that his compositions are as fine as his playing. Subtitled ‘in Memoriam Maurice Duruflé’, the work clearly alludes to Duruflé’s works: the Scherzo blends rapid triplet figures with melodic fragments, including a musical representation of Duruflé’s name; the 6/8 fugue breaks into semiquaver figuration echoing the same moment in Duruflé’s Fugue sur le nom d’Alain, and builds to a brilliant climax. Very satisfying.
TOCCATA SUPER ‘VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS’ [M]
Rupert Gottfried Frieberger
Frieberger (b. 1951) is an Austrian organist, composer, musicologist and theologian based in the monastery at Schlägl, upper Austria. This is a fine work of around six minutes’ duration, based on the plainsong of Veni Creator Spiritus. Freiberger is interested in numbers and proportions: in this work, the number 5 is particularly important to him, expressed through metre, interval, and a liberal use of quintuplets. The harmony is a mixture of the hypomixolydian mode and bitonality. This may make the work sound unapproachable: far from it, this is exciting, expressive and engaging music that allows the performer scope to explore a wide range of colours.
ORGAN PLUS BRASS 1 [M - M/D]
ed. Carsten Klomp & Heiko Peterson
The Preface to this first book of what promises to be an important series describes it as an attempt to meet the growing demand for music for organ and brass choir in combination, by publishing unfamiliar original works alongside arrangements. The editors stress that in the arrangements ‘care has been taken to ensure that the number of parts as well as their ranges are manageable for non-professional brass players.’
This first issue is an arrangement of the Marche Triomphal by Dubois (Douze Pieces Nouvelles), and the result is a happy combination of brass and organ.
The publication contains a full score and a playing score in C with individual parts two trumpets in B flat, horn in F and and trombones 1 and 2 (tuba). There is also an ad libitum part for timpani.
ORGAN PLUS ONE – COMMUNION [M/MD]
ed. Carlsten Klomp
The latest addition to this versatile series contains twenty-five arrangements from works by various composers, from Bach to the present day. French composers are well represented by Guilmant, Dubois and Gigout. Sixteen pieces are chorale-based, and the chorales are printed along with the chorale preludes. Although geared towards the German church and its Evangelisches Gesangbuch, the volume has much to offer all places of worship. Instrumental parts in C, F, B flat and E flat are included. This book, as with the others in the series, can be confidently recommended.
ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS FOR ORGAN
O ANTIPHON PRELUDES [M]
St Rose Music Publishing SRO100039
Born in 1981 and raised on the east coast of America and with a background as a chorister, it is perhaps surprising that this is the first piece by Muhly for organ amongst an already lengthy and varied list of works. The set is dedicated to James McVinnie and was first performed by him at Westminster Abbey in Advent 2010; there are seven movements, one for each of the great Advent Antiphons. Mulhy is sometimes described as ‘post-minimalist’ and this is borne out to a certain degree by the unity of motivic material and repetitive rhythmic patterns. There are some nice textures, particularly the bright arpeggios of O Clavis David and the static serenity of O Emmanuel, perhaps the most affecting movement setting a handful of repeating chords against a simple drone. Short, approachable and characterful with plenty of scope for imaginative registration, these movements would work well played liturgically or in recital.
CHRISTMAS MUSIC: THREE NATIVITY SCENES [M/D]
Encore Publications 979-0-9002162-7-4
Kelly, born in 1934 and now living in retirement in France, is still probably best known to church musicians for his evening canticles, and especially the set in C with Latin American rhythms. The three Nativity Scenes for organ were published by Stainer and Bell in 1966 and have now been reissued by Encore Publications (with a revised second movement) under the title Christmas Music. But ‘nativity scenes’ is what these three pieces are: the first clearly depicts ‘the shepard upon a hill he satt . . . for in his pipe he made so much joy’, the second has the shepherds running to Bethlehem, and the third is prefaced by the words of the Virgin’s Cradle Song. Evocative, beautifully constructed, and a complete three-movement work which concludes with a reprise of the opening shepherd’s pipe as if heard by the sleeping baby: If you haven’t come across these pieces already, do try them this Christmas.
THREE PIECES: Toccata in E minor, Pastorale, Fantasie on an old Noël [M – M/D]
Fernand de la Tombelle
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
These three pieces by de la Tombelle (1854–1928) are a pleasure to hear and play. The Toccata is from the Sonata in E minor Op. 23; it would be interesting to see the other movements. This is not in the conventional ‘big tune in the pedals over semiquaver manuals’: the semiquavers are still there in one manual or the other but the melodic interest is shared. This would be an exhilarating final voluntary. The ‘Pastorale’ is typical of its kind, with a pleasant tune and nice to play. The ‘Fantasie’ shows the hallmarks of his teacher, Guilmant, including double, and in one instance, treble pedalling.
SELECTED WORKS FROM ‘SELVA DI VARIE COMPOSITIONI’ [M]
ed. Jolando Scarpa
Doblinger Verlag DM1391
This anthology contains nine pieces selected from a print of 1664 by a composer of whom all that we know is contained in its preface (he was vice maestro di capella in Messina, Sicily). We have here two Toccatas, each followed by a Canzona, an archaic but majestic Ricercar on three subjects including the chromatic tetrachord, a splendidly rhythmic Ciaccona in four parts, a Ballo della battaglia, a lengthy Pastorale in four parts based entirely on a pedal point (ideal for Christmas), two Corrente and a Balletto in six parts, the last three better suited to harpsichord. All can be played on manuals only, but pedals can be used for cadences.
The introduction includes brief information on the forms used by the composer and on the Sicilian organ (the specification given is for a 16ft organ: pitches should be transposed up a pitch for English instruments), but there is no comment on how to play the ornaments; the player also will need to consider carefully adding accidentals in several places. Original notation and note groupings have been retained. If played with 17th-century Italian performance practice these pieces sound exciting and fresh, are worthy of inclusion in services and concerts and might then motivate exploration of the complete collection of some 29 pieces.
ORGAN WORKS Vol. VI: TOCCATAS FROM COPIED SOURCES [M/D]
ed. Siegbert Rampa
Although considered one of the leading composers for keyboard in the 17th century, Froberger’s works are still not heard regularly. This volume offers nine Toccatas from copied sources (as opposed to the magnificent autographs) that are considered authentic, a Praeludium and six further Toccatas that are of uncertain or dubious authenticity. Most show the influence of Froberger’s teacher Frescobaldi in the free-form openings, and of Michelangelo Rossi in the fugal sections. Variant versions and readings from several sources are included. One Toccata is based on a pedal point, but the pedals can also be employed at cadences and on long held notes in accordance with Italian practice.
This volume contains some music of the highest standard that illustrates the mercurial nature of the mid 17th-century Toccata – its influence on Buxtehude and the young Bach is obvious. Difficult to play well, they more than justify the time spent learning them.
SIXTEEN VOLUNTARIES BOOK 2 (Nos. 9–16) [M – M/D]
ed. David Patrick and John Collins
Fitzjohn Music Publications
Much of what I said about Book 1 in September 2011 (Issue 58) applies to Book 2. John Collins gives a full description of each voluntary and discusses problems of registration and ornamentation. Performance on a two-manual organ is not easy if Guest’s instructions are followed; even with an instrument with a full complement of pistons and sequencers it would still be difficult. However, compromises can be made, and are worth the trouble.
The voluntaries are all in two movements. All except the last were specified to be played after the psalms. No.16, a fine Andante and Fugue, is intended for the end of the service. These voluntaries are a pleasure to play and have sufficient challenges to make practising them a rewarding task.
WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS [M]
This pleasant version of an increasingly popular tune is a useful addition to the repertoire. The arrangement is full of luxurious harmonies, the tune pleasingly decorated, and the overall style should please most listeners. It divides conveniently into five sections, and can thus be adapted easily for service use when curtailment is so often the order of the day. If you are familiar with other publications from Jazzmuze,you will not be disappointed.
THE SECOND FAGUS BOOK OF TRUMPET AND TUBA TUNES FOR ORGAN [mostly M]
Following the success of the first Book, this contains twenty pieces in a variety of styles and various degrees of difficulty. The composers represented are Geoffrey Atkinson himself and a goodly collection of Fagus regulars, from Gwilym Beechey to Peter Naylor. The odd man out is Purcell, with the ubiquitous Rondeau from Abdelazer in a full arrangement by Geoffrey Atkinson. Don’t expect pieces in the style of C.S.Lang or Eric Thiman. What you can expect is adventurous harmony, lively rhythms and melody ranging from the stately to the comparatively irreverent. Have a look at Peter Naylor’s Last Post and Evening Hymn and the same composer’s Trumpet in 4 and 3, Nigel Gaze’s Trombetta Antica, or Beechey’s various Fanfares for something different. This collection is warmly recommended.
SUITE: PLACES [M – M/D]
There are four movements/places: ‘Gracious Street’ (Knaresborough), ‘Aedicula’ (Walsingham), ‘Pirouettes’ (Innsbruck) and ‘Tunél de Sobral’ (the Algarve). These are pieces of great character. The first includes a Prokofiev-like gavotte; the contemplative ‘Aedicula’ concludes with a setting of Conditor alme siderum. ‘Pirouettes’ is a spritely scherzo for flutes. The composer describes the final movement as ‘an evocative feature of the N22 motorway in the western Algarve’.
A SUITE FOR JOSEP [M – M/D]
The five movements are ‘In Memoriam’, ‘Cavatina’, ‘Scherzo’, ‘Meditation’, and ‘Toccata’. The first four are quite straightforward to play, enjoyable and interesting, and will stand as individual voluntaries. The Toccata is different: adapted from an earlier piano piece it is far from easy. Hands and feet have plenty to do, with manual parts that show their piano origin. A fine piece to end a service or recital, but it will need plenty of work.
This piece, based on the Gloria from Missa XV (Dominator Deus), was the prize-winning entry in The Dr William Baird Ross Trust competition promoting the work of Scottish church musicians. It has the merit of being easy to play but with considerable dramatic effect: it could do much for the soul of the less confident player.
THREE INTERLUDES ON PLAINSONG TUNES [M]
Continuing the plainsong treatments, the interludes are on Beata Jerusalem, ‘Royal Banners’ and ‘Stars and Light’ (or Conditor alme). The most difficult technical demands are in ‘Royal Banners’ where the pedal part is based on a rising scale of dotted quavers plus semiquavers, and the consecutive fourths on the trumpet in the manuals produce an appropriately harsh effect. There is no mistaking what this hymn is about. The final movement is a bright, quietly registered toccata, with light semiquaver figuration.
FOR THE IRON VOICE [M/D]
The composer describes these three short pieces as taking as their springboard ‘the much-quoted description of the huge organ of Winchester Cathedral by the 10th-century monk, Wulstan’. ‘Gothic’ is ‘a turbulent movement which counterpoints towering climaxes with mechanical textures and coloristic effects’. ‘Pensiero’ meets the composer’s description as ‘thoughtful and introspective’, the manuals accompanying a 4-foot pedal solo. The finale, ‘Moto Perpetuo’, he describes as ‘as enjoyable to hear as it is difficult to play’, and as ‘catching something of Wulstan’s original statement, Like thunder, driving out every other sound’. There can be no better comment, with the possible addition that it looks, on paper, deceptively easy; in practice it is something quite different. Exciting, worth the trouble; what will audiences make of it, I wonder?
HYMN MINIATURES 2 [E – D]
Rebecca Groom te Velde
Everything that I wrote about Book 1 (Issue 50) can well be repeated for this excellent second volume. The settings range from Austrian Hymn to Neander’s Unser Herrscher by way of 26 other well-known tunes. As before, the composer makes handy suggestions for their use, from voluntaries to introductions, interludes, and a wide variety of teaching uses. Many useful techniques are covered, such as trios, various difficulties of manuals plus pedals, manuals alone, and some double pedalling. They can also be used as models for improvisation.
A GLADSOME EXCURSION TO ROCHDALE
Banks Music Publications [D]
This toccata-style piece was written for the restored organ in Rochdale Parish Church and first performed there by Francis Jackson in June 2012. This is a strong and emphatic composition demanding a sound technique allied to confident playing and a versatile instrument. It is not for the faint-hearted player or listener.
FANTASIA BASILIENSIS (1987) [D]
HEXACHORD-FANTASIE (1990) [D]
Ernest Ludwig Leitner
Doblinger 02423 and 02424
These are two belated publications of works by the fine and prolific Austrian, Leitner, who celebrates his 70th birthday next year. Both are substantial pieces extrapolated from small pitch sets: Fantasia Basiliensis takes as its source material a combination of a Basel folksong and the five note cell B–A–eS–E–La; while the Hexachord-Fantasie is inspired by Froberger’s Fantasia sopra UT, RE, MI, FA, SO, LA. Leitner explores these motifs thoroughly and creates large-scale and coherent structures including an impressive passacagliathat forms the second part of the Fantasia Basiliensis. Dense, dissonant and complex, these works are not easy but will reward those prepared to approach the music with attention and respect.
KLOKKERNE I VESTERVIG [M]
Edition Wilhelm HansenWH31496
This set, in English The Bells of Vestervig, was commissioned for carillon and organ to celebrate the re-inauguration of the organ in the historic Vestervig Church in Denmark. The published version for organ alone is in three movements that may be played separately or as a set. The first is a set of variations in G minor on a strong, dotted French overture-style theme, the second a lyrical aria with much scope for tonal colour (and a zimbelsternif you are lucky enough to have one!), and finally a jolly toccata with a jazz-flavoured central section. The set is tonal and accessible, undemanding, utterly charming and great fun.
ORGAN PLUS ONE
ORGAN MUSIC FOR COMMUNION [M – M/D]
for organ and solo instruments
ed. Martin Weyer
score and parts in C, B flat, E flat and F
There is a wealth of music here, with uses beyond just the Eucharist. The book opens with eleven pieces by Bach, some of them transcriptions; twelve chorales follow. The final section has ten pieces from the early classic to the late romantic era, with works by Marpurg, Rheinberger, Merkel and others.
The Preface is essential reading, with a well-argued defence of arranging. There is an interesting paragraph on the inclusion of the chorale settings and their performance, and detailed comments on the final section. Instrumental parts are included for the Sicilienne BWV 1031, Jesu, meine Freude BWV 227, Nun Danket BWV 79 and the Air BWV 1068 from the Suite in D.
DEEP RIVER [M]
for flute and organ
This is a pleasantly gentle piece, based on the well-known spiritual, with rich, colourful harmonies. The instrumental part seems to make reasonably modest demands and is described as suitable for recorder, flute, violin or oboe.
ORGAN PLUS ONE – DIVINE SERVICE (GOTTESDIENST) [M – M/D]
A welcome addition to this useful series, this book follows the pattern of its predecessors containing arrangements of works by a variety of composers. There are pieces by Bach, Krebs, Gade, Karg-Elert, Rheinberger and several original items by the editor. Parts are provided for instruments in B flat, C, E flat and F. As with the other books in the series, the bias is towards the Evangelisches Gesangbuch, both in the choice of music and in the keys used for the arrangements. The editor suggests that performers should feel at liberty to make their own adjustments if needed.
GOSPEL COLOURS, VOLUME 1 [M–M/D]
This volume has fourteen pieces ‘written to reflect the various moods and occasions of the gospel readings’. All except the last are short, just a single page of music, and can be used for occasions other than the journey to pulpit after the Gospel reading.
The style is characteristically Martin How with, as the title implies, much colourful harmony coupled with the composer’s customary melodic elegance. Technical demands vary, from the comparative simplicity of Longing and Confidence to the greater complexities of Apocalypse and Light shines through. Apocalypse, though only nine bars long, is appropriately alarming, and it will be a bold organist who plays this after the Gospel reading. Good Shepherd is an arrangement of part of the Pastoral Symphony, and Wedding in Cana of Galilee opens with Mendelssohn’s Wedding March, which slides from C major in bar 1 to E flat in bar 2. Too much of the best wine, perhaps? – I could not but notice the wine glass in the photograph of Martin How’s console.
All can be played on a two-manual instrument, but the frequent changes of tone colour and manuals will be easier to manage on three manuals, preferably well equipped with pistons. Whilst mostly of only moderate difficulty these pieces need proper preparation as befits their place in the Eucharist. My only adverse criticism of this enjoyable collection is that the music print is small, and not easy to read despite there being a lot of white space. Nonetheless, here is a book of many uses, much interest, and well worth having in one’s library.
SIX PIECES FOR THE ORGAN BOOK 2 [M–D]
Fitzjohn Music Publications
It is good to see the second collection of Stainer’s pieces back in daylight. First published in 1900, this new edition has been edited by David Patrick, providing more consistent phrasing; notation errors have also been corrected. The suggestions for registration, tempo and metronome markings have been retained from the original. The pieces span a good variety of styles. Worth a closer look are A Church Prelude, Fantasia and Finale alla Marcia, all substantial pieces. Like the rest of the contents, these are not things to be put together in a hurry, but are well worth the work needed and represent an ideal opportunity to go beyond the pieces in Stainer’s still popular tutor.
ORGAN MUSIC FOR THE END OF THE CHURCH YEAR [E–M]
As with previous volumes in this series, the pieces are by little-known composers. Many are chorale-based, and some have been transposed to match the keys in German hymn books. The Preface explains that the composers are from the early and late Romantic period, ‘organists, cantors, seminary music teachers, or conductors’.
The thirty pieces are divided into sections for ‘End of the Church Year’, ‘Fear and Trust’, and ‘Death and Eternal Life’. Some of the chorale-based items will be reasonably familiar, and there are transcriptions of ‘Blessed are they that mourn’ from Brahms’s Requiem and of Chopin’s Funeral March. There are two interesting settings of Wachet Auf: Johannes Weymann puts the tune in the pedals and Rudolph Siebenbrodt treats it as a fugue. Ratisbon turns up heavily disguised in a setting by Otto Dienal and Valet will ich dir geben is set by Philipp Wolfrum. The Passion Chorale is set by Max Gulbins.
This is a useful and versatile collection, providing a varied selection of pieces for service or recital use. Some are naturally harder than others, and all are manageable on the average two-manual organ. Beautifully produced as always by Bärenreiter, on opaque cream paper and nicely bound, the book is strongly recommended.
A CENTENARY ALBUM 2009 [M – M/D]
Oldham, Rochdale & Tameside Organists Association 978-1-904846-87-1
This enterprising collection was made to mark the centenary of the Association, founded in November 1908. Eight British and one French composers contribute fourteen pieces in a wide variety of styles. The British contingent consists of well-known writers, beginning with Stephen Burtonwood’s attractive Reverie (Psalm 23.1&2). Three Miniatures by Norman Cocker, dating from the mid-1920s when he was assistant at Manchester Cathedral, will expand organists’ knowledge of this composer beyond the celebrated Tuba Tune. There are pieces by John Ellis, Ronald Frost, Francis Jackson, Philip Low, Graham Marshall and Philip Tordoff, all of a consistently high quality. Jean Galard, of Beauvais Cathedral and Saint-Médard, Paris, contributed Festive, a piece which well lives up to its title.
This beautifully produced album, edited by Philip Lowe, has notes on the composers and their music and the history of the Association, as well as photographs of some of the instruments of the area. It is good value for money and provides plenty of useful and approachable music.
TEN VOLUNTARIES OP. 146 [M – M/D]
Fitzjohn Music Publications
This is another good collection, with some ear-catching music. Some pieces are of a more routine kind, characteristic of the average 18th or early 19th-century voluntary, such as the second Cornet Piece, but nonetheless worth playing. For me the two that stand out are the Moderato from Voluntary V and the Allegretto from Voluntary VIII. These are two magnificent movements, more in the style of the 19th century. I confess to iconoclastic thoughts of using pedals in some of the sonorous chordal passages. As with all music of this period, these voluntaries look easier than they are, as if to be cobbled together as a passably acceptable piece of sight reading, but they deserve proper preparation. For something refreshing this book is ideal.
TOCCATA MILITAIRE [M/D]
Henry Marcellus Higgs
Fitzjohn Music Publications
Once again David Patrick has found something unusual. Higgs (1854–1929) was organist at St Paul, Great Portland Street, London, and chief music editor for Chappell and Co. This is certainly a fun piece, ideal for a wedding or a cheerful exit to post-service coffee. Nimble fingers are needed, but relatively peaceful feet. The metronome mark of crotchet = 116 is, I feel after much practice, wildly optimistic: 100 is a more acceptable and possible speed. The Lento section, played at the marked crotchet = 76, also seems anything but Lento. This is a piece that will cheer the soul and clear the aural palate.
MR THEO SAUNDERS – HIS TRUMPET TUNE [M/D]
Banks Music Publications 14064
Yet more to brighten up the day. This is a delightful pastiche, full of cheer, excellent for a wedding in place of the usual things. It begins with three As, after the well-known Purcell Trumpet Tune, but soon goes its own lively way. Don’t be put off by the active pedal part, which lies comfortably under the feet and is helped by the D major key signature. The manual parts too have plenty going on, with a strong main theme. Theo Saunders is Organist and Master of the Choristers, Armagh Cathedral, and one hopes his choir and congregation have been dancing down the aisle to this jolly piece. Do buy it: you can’t go wrong at £2.95!
SPIEGEL IM SPIEGEL [E]
arr. Giovanni Battista Mazza
Universal Edition UE 35 016
Spiegel im Spiegel (literally ‘mirrors in the mirror’) was originally composed for violin and piano. It dates from 1978, Pärt’s final year in his native Estonia, where his creativity blossomed after his self-imposed internal exile and where he first explored his minimalist, tintinnabulation style. The work is particularly haunting: repeated rising triads in the right hand are set against slow scales in the pedal and a fractured melody spread across two manuals in the left hand. Mazzo’s arrangement retains the tender fragility of the original: though scored for three manuals, it could work on two with accurate changes of registration. This is a welcome addition to the organ literature of Pärt, a piece that would work well before an evening service or in recital.
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