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 CHURCH MUSIC OF JOHN SHEPPARD
The Collected Vernacular Works– Volume I • Academia Musica Choir / Aryan O. Arji • Priory PRCD 1081
This is an enjoyable disc, well sung by a choir that is composed of musicians in residence and choral scholars at Hereford Sixth Form College, where Aryan Arji is director of music. Even if, as the sleeve notes acknowledge, Sheppard’s Latin works are superior to his English church music, the vernacular works are fine nonetheless and well worth getting to know.
The recording includes the complete keyboard works of Sheppard (such as they are!), but no mention is made of them in the sleeve notes, other than their listing in the programme on the back of the CD box. It is a pity that the identity of the organist is not revealed, nor the author of the sleeve notes (and the picture on the front cover of the sleeve notes booklet is misidentified); but none of these niggles detracts from the enjoyment of the music.
Choral Music by E.W. Naylor • The Choir of Emmanuel College, Cambridge / George Lacey and Adam Mathias (organ) / Richard Latham • Regent REGCD426
Best known for the arresting eightpart motet that opens this disc (Vox dicentis: Clama), Naylor was organist of Emmanuel College, Cambridge from 1898 until his death in 1934. Today’s Emmanuel musicians present his works most persuasively, singing with great vigour when the mood calls for it. Naylor’s music might not be of the first rank, but it is attractive, worthy of performance and stands up well on a disc dedicated to it exclusively – which is certainly not always the case with minor composers. The excellent sleeve notes by Raymond Hockley make absorbing reading and contribute to the high quality of this release.
GREAT HYMNS FROM LINCOLN
Lincoln Minster School Chamber Choir / Charles Harrison (organ) / Aric Prentice • Priory PRCD 1104
The standard of singing is very high on this disc and it should be noted that it is the Lincoln Minster School Chamber Choir – not the cathedral choir. Diction is crystal clear and intonation precise. The range of the styles of the hymns is broad as the complete list reveals: Praise, my soul, the King of heaven, How great thou art, Christ triumphant, ever reigning, Father, hear the prayer we offer, When I survey the wondrous cross, Come, let join our cheerful songs, Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire (plainsong), Be still, for the presence of the Lord, Lo! he comes with clouds descending, O come, O come, Emmanuel, O Jesus, I have promised (Wolvercote), In Christ alone, The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended, O blest Creator of the light (plainsong), Guide me, O thou great Redeemer, At the name of Jesus (Camberwell), O holy city, seen of John, O thou who camest from above, King of glory, King of peace, Dear Lord and Father of mankind, All my hope on God is founded, and Shine, Jesus, shine. The excellent organ accompaniments put the singing first, and several tracks have the added boost of a brass quintet. Variety is further enhanced by some verses being sung as solos, and there are numerous occurrences of fine colourful alternative harmonies.
Convivium Singers / Neil Ferris • Convivium Records CR016
This recording presents Fauré’s much-loved Requiem in an arrangement for string quintet and organ by Michael Higgins. The vocal score associated with this arrangement, published by the RSCM, is reviewed in the current edition of Sunday by Sunday (no. 70). Choirs that want to give a performance with the accompaniment played on more than organ alone, but can muster only a small number of string players, will surely welcome this arrangement.
Following the Requiem, the remainder of the CD features more French choral music: a charming a cappella Ave verum corpus by Saint-Saëns (sung with fine control by the Convivium Singers), de Séverac’s exquisite little Tantum ergo, a setting of the same text by Fauré (arr. Higgins), Ave verum corpus by Fauré (arr. Higgins), and the Cantique de Jean Racine. This accompaniment of the last piece is also arranged by Michael Higgins for string quintet.
The Convivium Singers give good accounts of the pieces, and worthy of special mention are Johnny Herford’s baritone solos in the Requiem.
ORGAN PARTY VOLUMES ONE AND TWO
Kevin Bowyer plays the organs of Glasgow Cathedral and Lancaster Priory • Priory PRCD 1085 (Glasgow) and PRCD 1094 (Lancaster)
Hey, let’s party! The concept of a bench (the collective noun, surely?) of organists in party mood may be a little hard for some to grasp – but Kevin Bowyer makes a splendid attempt. Kevin’s Wikipedia entry rightly describes him as being known for ‘a prolific recording and recital career and his performances of modern and extremely difficult compositions’. His discography is impressive, but the title of these volumes, 'Organ Party’, belies the content; a collection of organ lollipops this is not. Right from track one of the Glasgow CD, we are grooving along with an excellent performance Guzzini’s Jazz Man Swing, followed in sharp contrast by Ad Wammes’s hypnotic Miroir. Some key suspects appear – Leroy Anderson and Iain Farrington share space on the Glasgow CD along with Giles Swayne’s Mr Bach’s Bottle-Bank: a witty working of the ‘ten green bottles’ tune which had me laughing out loud. Limited space precludes mentioning every piece, but on the Glasgow recording I must specially mention an uncredited transcription of Maxwell Davies’s Farewell to Stromness; originally for solo piano, this is a beautiful performance of this poignant piece.
Arthur Wills’s Fanfare opens the Lancaster CD, followed by a charming arrangement by Cyril S. Christopher of Grieg’s Wedding Day at Troldhaugen. Lefébure-Wély, John Ireland and Garth Edmondson are also represented. Such is the contrast of tracks that the subtitle of both CDs could be ‘The Ultimate Organ Party Mix’; there is plenty for organists and organ aficionados to get their teeth into. Talking of weddings, if any organist is asked – as a colleague of mine was recently – to provide ‘funky modern’ organ music, these CDs provide an excellent starting point. The Mission Impossible theme is given a joyful romp on the Glasgow organ and the Star Wars theme on the Lancaster CD brings this party to a close.
HANDEL AND HIS ENGLISH CONTEMPORARIES
Robert Woolley plays the 1766 Thomas Parker Organ at St Mary and St Nicholas, Leatherhead • Regent REGCD382
Although reputed to be a very fine player, Handel wrote relatively little keyboard music, and not all of that is suitable for the organ. Thus, Handel’s music accounts for only about the first third of this disc – and includes arrangements of orchestral music. Nevertheless, every note speaks of both his genius and his urbanity. How very unfair of Robert Woolley to ask poor William Walond, John James, William Goodwin, Boyce, Starling Goodwin, Thomas Roseingrave, Stanley, Greene and James Nares to follow in Handel’s giant footsteps! But follow they do; and, if one accepts that their music belongs to an English aesthetic to which Handel’s music belongs only in part, they do not form a collective dust-cart following the Lord Mayor’s Show. Rather, they serve to remind us that English composition did not die with Purcell. Their music is melodious, graceful, elegant, and possesses a value all of its own.
Robert Woolley’s playing exhibits perfect taste and a real affinity with the music. His choice of the 1766 Thomas Parker Organ at St Mary and St Nicholas, Leatherhead, restored by Goetze and Gwynn in 2007, could surely not be bettered.
SIR CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD: THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS - 1
Daniel Cook plays the organ of Salisbury Cathedral • Priory PRCD 1095
Lovers of Stanford’s music will welcome with open arms Daniel Cook’s exciting playing on the glorious organ of Salisbury Cathedral, an instrument so appropriate to Stanford’s language. The generous acoustic supports, but does not cloud, the lines: indeed, the clarity of counterpoint is a feature of this recording and a tribute to the player, the sound engineers and old Father Willis himself. Those who are not so enthusiastic about Stanford will probably be of the view that some of the pieces on this disc are more inspired than others. Nevertheless, there is no denying the commitment and quality of Daniel Cook’s colourful and animated interpretations. This, the first volume in the series, features the Fantasia and Toccata Op.57; Sonata No.1 in F Op.149, Six Preludes Op. 88 and Sonata No.2 in G minor Op.151. Dedicated to Widor ‘and the great Country to which he belongs’, a Gallic influence pervades the second sonata (‘Eroica’); and this influence, together with the composer’s intention that the work should be a tribute to the sacrifices made by people of France in the Great War, inspired an imaginative and noble piece.
THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS OF HERBERT SUMSION, VOL 2 (final volume)
Daniel Cook plays the organ of St Davids Cathedral • Priory PRCD 1093
Unfortunately, Sumsion did not compose enough organ music to fill two CDs; so the programme on this disc is padded out with arrangements by Sumsion of music by other composers, and also with music by Elgar arranged by Herbert Brewer. The justification for the latter is that ‘the figures of Brewer and Elgar loomed large in Sumsion’s personal life and career’! Putting paucity of material to one side, the genuine Sumsion is worth hearing, though it does not really have the magic of his choral music. Nevertheless, Daniel Cook’s playing is superb. He handles stop changes effortlessly and shapes every phrase musically. Volume 1 was made on the Willis organ of Salisbury Cathedral. The St David’s organ, also originally built by Willis, proves itself to be a fine vehicle for Sumsion’s music, the composer’s Willis at Gloucester having given way to a very different Hill, Norman & Beard instrument in 1971.
FRENCH ORGAN SUITES
Works by Duruflé, Mihaud, Widor, Pâque • John Scott Whiteley plays the organ of York Minster • Boreas BMCD1301
While some listeners will prefer their French music on a Gallic organ, those happy with it served à l’anglaise will be well pleased with the virtuosity of John Scott Whiteley on the organ of York Minster. Dupré’s dazzling Prelude and Fugue in A flat opens the disc, followed by Trois nouvelles pièces by Widor, late works dating from 1934. Six petits préludes by M.J.L. Désiré Pâque (1912) are interesting pieces by an obscure composer. Milhaud’s Petite suite of 1955 is a welcome discovery. Finally, Duruflé’s Suite blows all that precedes it out of the water with its brooding Prélude, exquisite Sicilienne and dazzling Toccata, each of which John Scott Whiteley performs with mastery.
Unfortunately, the track numbers are wrong because the Dupré Prelude and its Fugue are tracked separately on the disc, but not in the sleeve notes.
THE INFLUENCE OF PLAINSONG
William Dore plays the organ of Ampleforth Abbey • Priory PRCD
The organ of Ampleforth Abbey is quite a beast! It has two main sections: the Transept organ (Pedal-Positive-Choir-Great-Swell-Solo) and the Antiphonal Organ (Pedal-Great- Swell, built on the extension principle). Both instruments are playable from a four-manual console that boasts no fewer than 122 drawstops. This organ can roar, but it can sing sweetly too, as William Dore amply demonstrates on this exciting disc. Jeanne Demessieux’s Te Deum opens the programme, followed by the same composer’s Twelve Choral Preludes on Gregorian Themes. The classically-inspired voicing of the Walker organ suits Demessieux’s rather sharp-elbowed music well. Tournemire’s Suite XXV from L’Orgue Mystique (In Festo Pentecostes) follows, and the disc ends with Philip Moore’s Five Sketches on Helmsley. Although the Moore Sketches are the only pieces on the disc not by a French composer, and neither are they based on plainsong, they sit well with that which has gone before on account of their pungent harmonies. William Dore’s connections with Ampleforth go back to his childhood. He clearly knows the instrument intimately and loves it. He gives us a disc that is well planned and masterfully played.
BILLY (Billy Neely)
A film by Paul O’Dell and Myriam Martin • Films des fontaines: DVD • email@example.com
In recent years, CMQ has reviewed CDs and books about the great boy trebles of the past, notably The Better Land series produced by Stephen Beet. One of those trebles was Billy Neely, ‘Belfast’s boy soprano’, whose real name was William Corkhill-Callin and who, for many years, did not reveal his early career to those he worked with or to his friends. This film, a taster extract of which can be found on YouTube, is a documentary interview with Billy shortly before his death in 2012. Retired to rural France, he gives a touching account of his singing career and proves to be an engaging raconteur, despite having to wear an oxygen supply through the interviews. There are many extracts from his recordings used as background music and, although this may be a DVD that you will not return to many times, it is a valuable record of a forgotten era.
THOMAS TROTTER: A SHROPSHIRE IDYLL
The organ of St Laurence, Ludlow • Regent Records REGDVD002 (DVD + CD)
A recording of English music recorded to mark the 250th anniversary of the fine Snetzler/ Nicholson organ in Ludlow Parish Church by such a world-class master as Thomas Trotter is a treat indeed. The usual DVD extras are here, a description of the repertoire by the recitalist and a demonstration of the organ by Ludlow’s own organist Shaun Ward. The expertise of Gary Cole’s recordings hardly need mention and the camera action is well done and very clear indeed.
The playing is quite superb and effortless, so effortless as to make the performer seem completely impassive. We organists are all taught to be economical with body movement and, as we are often hidden away in organ lofts, our body language is really irrelevant: we speak through the music. Thomas Trotter does this to such an extreme that his is more an aural performance than a visual one. Having recently finished watching BBC’s Young Musician of the Year where communicating with the audience is a key element, I wonder if organ recitalists are not really video animals? The accompanying CD of the same programme, ranging from 16th-century dances through Handel, Boyce, S.S. Wesley, Elgar and Walton to Michael Nyman, is worthy of many repeated playings.
THE COMPLETE PSALMS OF DAVID VOLUME 5
The Choir of Lincoln Cathedral / Colin Walsh (organ)/ Aric Prentice • Priory PRCD 1100
GREAT HYMNS FROM SALISBURY
The Choir of Salisbury Cathedral / John Challenger (organ) / David Halls • Priory PRCD 1098
The popularity of CDs devoted entirely to psalms or hymns remains high, and these two excellent CDs demonstrate good reasons why. Colin Walsh, organist laureate at Lincoln, brings a lifetime's experience to the organ accompaniments of the psalms and of course a detailed knowledge of the Lincoln organ - his accompaniments are imaginative but always at the service of the words. Aric Prentice and his choir are expressive and varied in their approach to each verse. This fifth volume in a new series from Priory covers Psalms 68 to 77. The chants chosen are mostly ones which one can imagine the choir might have been singing a century ago, which makes the two chants chosen for Psalm 74 stand out, being splendid, comparatively recent examples by Lindsay Gray (minor key) and Philip Marshall (major key).
Salisbury's new recording of 'great hymns' has something for everyone, ranging from Jerusalem and 'When a knight won his spurs' to 'At the name of Jesus' (warning - sung to Camberwell) and a joyous final 'Christ triumphant' including John Barnard's descant. Christopher Robinson contributes three excellent descants, and Christopher Gower a particularly effective one for Lasst uns erfreuen. Salisbury's acoustic, well captured by Priory, adds its own distinctive resonance.
ANTHEMS AND MOTETS OF THE ENGLISH ROMANTIC TRADITION
The Chapel Choir of St Peter's College, Oxford / Mary Ann Wootton (organ) / David Quinn and Roger Allen • OxRecs OXCD121
St Peter's College Chapel boasts a Father Willis organ of 1875 (enlarged in 1889 and rebuilt and restored in 2003); this recording sensibly concentrates on music written in the mid to late 19th and early 20th centuries. The disc opens with a fine performance of S.S. Wesley's Ascribe unto the Lord followed by Stanford's three Latin motets ]ustorum animae, Coelos ascendit hodie and Beati quorum via. At the centre of the disc are three big pieces: Stanford's For lo, I raise up (written in 1914 and as if prescient of the horrors about to come), Naylor's Vox dicentis: Clama and Bairstow's Blessed city, heavenly Salem with its colourful organ accompaniment written in the year that Bairstow went to York Minster. The young, mixed voices of the student choir blend well and have an enjoyment of the music that communicates strongly. The music has an easy flow - expressive but never over-weighty. This is a refreshing recording, worth considering as an alternative to the many cathedral performances of this repertoire.
JOHN SHEPPARD: SACRED CHORAL MUSIC
The Choir of St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh / Duncan Ferguson • Delphian DCD34123
Sheppard's music is not so commonly found in service lists, and this disc is particularly welcome. It comprises the Missa cantate, plus hymns, responds and antiphons, including Gaude virgo Christiphera, Sheppard's only surviving votive antiphon, and the first recording of Adesto sancta Trinitas II. Sheppard, Informator Choristarum at Magdalen College, Oxford, was a near contemporary of Taverner, and his music has a similar level of complexity - and of musical rewards for overcoming its difficulties! The choir here sings magnificently, and especially the bright treble line of boys and girls who sound effortless in some difficult (and high-pitched) lines. The whole choir blends well but also allows the counterpoint to speak clearly. This disc is a notable achievement.
TUDOR CHURCH MUSIC
The Choir of Peterborough Cathedral / Richard Latham (organ) / Stanley Vann • Priory PRCD 938
If you were choosing just two composers for a disc headed 'Tudor Church Music' you would perhaps choose Byrd and Tallis, and probably not Batten and Dering as found on this disc. But the contrast between the music of Adrian Batten (Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral) and the continental influences on Richard Dering (study in Italy and employment in Brussels before returning to England) is fascinating. However it is not so much for the choice of repertoire as for the performances that this CD is so special, for it is a remastered version of an Argo 1962 recording of what was widely regarded at the time as the best cathedral choir in the UK. Stanley Vann was master of the music of Peterborough Cathedral from 1953 until his retirement in 1977. This disc is a splendid testament to the results of his choir training (and the choir sounds remarkably fresh and modern) along with some excellent solo voices and organ accompaniment by Richard Latham. There is also much to enjoy in the expressive and unexpected modulations in Dering's music such as Factum est silentium and Contristatus est rex David.
MUSIC FOR MEN'S VOICES
The Gentlemen of Liverpool Cathedral / Martyn Noble (organ) / David Poulter • Priory PRCD 1110
We regularly review CDs of upper voices, whether adults, boys or girls, but rarely men's voices alone, so it is a pleasure to welcome this recording. The main works come at the beginning and end, with Tallis's two sets of Lamentations to start and Duruflé's Messe cum jubilo to conclude. The 'con jubilo' Mass setting sounds particularly fine in Liverpool's huge space, with unison baritones singing plainsong melodies, which the organ surrounds with Duruflé's unmistakable harmonies that seem to glow in this warm acoustic. In between are ten short pieces (the Biebl Ave Maria rather longer than the others), ranging from John Dunstable to Francis Grier. Tallis reappears with If ye love me and Duruflé's with Ubi caritas. The choir knows how to use the acoustic to add colour, but also sings with precision and attack where needed to cut through it. A most enjoyable disc.
A PARRY COLLECTION
Organ works by Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, 1848-1918 • David Goode plays the Hill organ of Eton College Chapel • Regent REGCD365
Hubert Parry was educated at Eton, and this recital of his music is given by the current organist there on the 19th-century William Hill organ in the college chapel. The organ has recently been restored to its original tonal specification, although, dating from 1885, would not have been known by Parry when he studied the organ as a schoolboy. Parry wrote lots of organ music, far more than we normally hear after service or in recital today. This disc includes all of his large-scale works for the organ and a selection of smaller chorale preludes. The largest is a nearly 15 minute Toccata and Fugue in G ('The Wanderer'). Named after Parry's yacht, the Toccata certainly does wander, extended Fugue receives an expansive performance, building to a glorious climax in Goode's performance. Parry's organ music was written late in his life, and even the shortest chorale preludes are worth the care and attention to detail that Goode gives them. Not quite the complete organ music (the disc has seven of the 14 chorale preludes that Parry composed in two sets), but with 70 minutes of music it is a generous selection and, for enthusiasts of Parry's music, essential listening.
THE MERTON ORGAN
Benjamin Nicholas plays the new Dobson organ of Merton College, Oxford • Delphian DCD34142
Merton's decision to commission a new organ from Dobson Pipe Organ Builders was a bold choice: the company is less than 40 years old and the Merton instrument is only its 'Op. 91 '. Furthermore, there is little precedent for UK commissioning of organs from American builders. But the result justifies the decision, with an instrument that fulfils Merton's requirements to accompany sympathetically the daily choral services, to have sufficient flexibility to accommodate the works of many eras and to honour the Chapel's ancient architecture. Nicholas's programme is strong on texture and colour, especially French with Messiaen, Vierne, Dupré and Franck. Even two of the three J.S. Bach titles are arrangements by Dupré and Duruflé. The third is the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, unexpectedly appearing midway through the programme and separating sensitive performances of Messiaen's Prière après la communion and Mendelssohn's Andante with Variations in D. Although Nicholas remains more associated with choir directing than playing (this is his first recording as a solo organist), his performance of Vierne's Carillon de Westminster to conclude the disc demonstrates just how technically assured a player he is.
Huw Morgan plays the organ of St Laurence, Catford • sfz music SFZM0513
Huw will be known to many readers as a composer, journalist and tutor for the RSCM's Foundation Degree in Church Music, as well as a reviewer of organ publications for CMQ. On this disc he plays the J.W. Walker & Sons extension organ at St Laurence, Catford, where he is director of music. The organ was built in 1969 to a specification devised by the late David Sanger, with bright, clear sounds particularly suitable for works of the north European baroque - and there are sparkling performances here of music by Buxtehude, J.S. Bach and Sweelinck. The rest of the disc is devoted to the 20th and 21st centuries, with Hugo Distler's charming Sonatina and the first recording of Einbrechendes Licht, a work by the Austrian composer Kurt Estermann which gives the album its title. Also included are two of Morgan's own compositions: Dialogues (2013), and the wonderfully atmospheric Adam's Fall (2010), a work including fixed electronics as well as live organ.
GREAT EUROPEAN ORGANS No.88
Michal Novenko plays the organ of the Mosteiro de Arouca, Portugal • Priory PRCD 1092
GREAT EUROPEAN ORGANS No.90
Gerard Brooks plays the restored organ in Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London • Priory PRCD 1099
Compare and contrast: early Portuguese organ music played on a Portuguese instrument, and late 19th and early 20th-century music by British organists played on a four-manual Rushworth and Dreaper-restored instrument. The Portuguese pieces are mostly by Carlos Seixas (1704-42) and Manuel Rodrigues Coelho (d. 1647). Toccatas and Batalhas abound with exciting figurations and strident colours. One has the impression that Iberian composers at the time tended to be more conservative in their sacred choral music and let their imaginations off the leash in their keyboard compositions. Seixas, who was admired as a composer by Domenico Scarlatti, might be better known to us and regarded as a more significant composer if most of his music had not been destroyed in the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
In contrast, the composers on the British disc are decidedly conservative. Gerard Brooks features the music of two previous Central Hall organists, William Lloyd Webber (1914-82) and J Arthur Meale (1880-1932), plus music by composers who taught at the Royal College of Music - Stanford, Coleridge Taylor, Ireland and Parry. But the opening piece is Alfred Hollins's Concert Overture: entertaining and colourful. Gerard Brooks, the current Central Hall organist, plays with intelligence and taste - he is an ideal exponent of this repertoire where understatement is often more effective than flamboyance.
Jazz and blues inspired works for organ • Philip Scriven plays the organ of Lichfield Cathedral • Regent REGCD304
Iain Farrington's seven-movement Fiesta! is the big piece here, Bernstein's Candide Overture probably the best-known - both are full of colour, rhythm and verve. But I am haunted by the gentler Blues Chorale Preludes (three very different chorale or spiritual tunes arranged by three different composers) and by Zsolt Gárdonyi's version of Slane in Be thou my vision. Gárdonyi also contributes Mozart Changes, taking as its starting point the theme of the last movement of Mozart's final piano sonata (in D, K576). Reviewers in Sunday by Sunday emphasize from time to time how suitable is the organ for music in jazz-influenced idioms. This entertaining CD provides welcome proof.
THE MERTON COLLECTION
Choir of Merton College, Oxford / Anna Steppler (organ) / Peter Phillips and Benjamin Nicholas · Delphian DCD34134
This disc celebrates the 750th anniversary of the foundation of Merton College in 1264. The superb performances are characterised by a phenomenal sense of control and restraint, with every note carefully crafted and bathed in the radiant acoustic of the college chapel. The programme includes such gems as Parry’s There is an old belief, Gibbons’s This is the record of John, Purcell’s Hear my prayer and Remember not, Lord, our offences, Stanford’s Justorum animae and Beati quorum via, and Greene’s Lord, let me know mine end. There are also wonderful ‘early’ pieces by Dunstaple, Sheppard, Byrd and Mundy on the one hand, and excellent contemporary compositions by Ešenvalds, Arvo Pärt, James Lavino and Ola Gjeilo on the other. Very highly recommended.
THE WELSH CONNECTION
Mousai Singers / Joseph Wicks (organ) / Daniel Cook · www.mousaisingers.com MSCD001
The Welsh connections of the title are stronger for some works than others on this interesting disc; but there is no doubting the pedigree of the first track, An Admonition to Rulers by Mathias. In this piece we find the composer at his most acerbic. It is a substantial piece and its performance leaves the listener in no doubt that the Mousai Singers are of a very high calibre. They are just twelve in number and in their late teens/early twenties. Two pieces by Llanelli-born Neil Cox (b. 1955) are featured in their programme and are well worth hearing. Howells’s setting of Antiphon (‘Let all the world in every corner sing’) by the Welsh poet George Herbert is a late work of great richness. Rubbra’s lovely hymn setting St Non’s (‘That virgin’s child’) precedes Leighton’s excellent Awake my glory: a challenging anthem that the Mousai Singers are more than equal to, as is their superb accompanist, Joseph Wicks. There are also pieces by Bax, Parry and W.H. Harris whose Strengthen ye the weak hands is given admirable shape in the musically strong hands of Daniel Cook.
NEW SONGS OF CELEBRATION
The choirs of St Chad’s Shrewsbury / Richard Walker (organ) / Kathryn Burningham (Director of the Girls’ Choir) / David Leeke · www.stchadschurchshrewsbury.com SCSCD002
The people of St Chad, Shrewsbury are lucky indeed to have husband and wife team David Leeke and Kathryn Burningham leading such excellent music-making, ably assisted by Richard Walker. If week, by week, the choirs of St Chad’s sound as good as they do here, the liturgy must be deeply enriched by the music.
A large proportion of the pieces on this disc have connections with St Chad’s or its musicians. Composers include Malcolm Boyle, Richard Lloyd, Michael Fleming, Martin How, Simon Lole and David Leeke. The repertoire is tuneful and, though far from simple at times, does not stretch the choir beyond what it can sing really well. The final piece is perhaps the most impressive and is the work from which the disc takes its title. Composed by Timothy Noon for an RSCM Festival, it was first sung by a choir of over 300 in Canterbury Cathedral in 2000. The smaller forces of St Chad’s do it proud.
DURUFLÉ: COMPLETE MUSIC FOR CHOIR AND ORGAN
Adriano Falcioni (organ) / Choir of Leeds Cathedral / Skipton Building Society Camerata / Daniel Justin (organ) / Thomas Leech / Benjamin Saunders · Brilliant Classics 9264 (2CDs)
The gorgeous music of Duruflé needs no introduction and it is handy, though regrettable because there is not that much of it, that all the choral music fits on one CD, and all the organ music on another. There is much to recommend in these choral performances by the choirs of Leeds Cathedral: their sincerity, well judged tempi, clarity of words in a resonant acoustic; and many listeners will relish hearing the boys and girls on the top line. However, in the world of Duruflé recordings, where standards are exceedingly high, I cannot recommend this one as the very best, fine as it is. Adriano Falcioni, principal organist of the Metropolitan Cathedral of St Lawrence in Perugia, is an impressive virtuoso who plays fearlessly. A minor point: the track names came up on my player incorrectly, but they are listed in the correct order on the back of the box and in the sleeve notes.
THE ORGAN OF ST CHAD’S SHREWSBURY
Richard Walker · www.stchadschurchshrewsbury.com SCSCD001
Restored and rebuilt by Harrisons in 2011, the organ of St Chad, Shrewsbury was originally built in 1904 by Norman & Beard and was rebuilt by Nicholson in 1963. An impressive stop-list is spread over three manuals and pedals and its many colours are very effectively showcased on this recording. The listener will not be surprised to learn that the Tuba was new in 2011. Organist Richard Walker FRCO is Assistant Director of Music at St Chad. He presents a programme that is easy on the ear, but also refreshingly off the beaten track, with music by Stainer; Richard White (a Shropshire musician); Karg- Elert (The Mirrored Moon from Seven Pastels from the Lake of Constance, Op. 96; and Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott, Op. 65, no. 47); Brahms (Academic Festival Overture, arr. Lemare); Joplin (The Cascades, arr. E. Power Biggs) and Jeffrey Fraser (an Australian-born musician who has lived in England since 1953). Richard Walker is joined by Gay Walker for the final segment of the disc, narrating Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf (arr. Heinrich Grimm).
HOWELLS FROM SALISBURY
David Newsholme plays the organ of Salisbury Cathedral · Regent REGCD407
Since Howells was, for a time, assistant organist of Salisbury Cathedral, it is particularly fitting for his music to be recorded on that organ. But even if Howells had never stepped foot in Salisbury Cathedral, its gorgeous acoustic and fabulous Willis organ seem to fit his music like a glove. This is David Newsholme’s debut solo organ disc – and promises much. Flourish for a Bidding opens the programme with energy and drive. St Louis comes to Clifton provides an effective contrast. Intrata no. 2 follows, then come the three Rhapsodies op. 17, and the fourth Rhapsody. The disc is rounded off with the second Sonata. David Newsholme captures the wistfulness that is found in so much of Howells’s music, but does not over-egg it. Consequently there is such freshness in the performances that a whole disc of Howells is not ‘too much of a good thing’!
THE GRAND ORGAN OF NORWICH CATHEDRAL
David Dunnett · Priory PRDVD 11 (DVD, Blu-ray Disc and CD)
David Dunnett knows well the organ of Norwich Cathedral having been organist there since 1996. The video discs (Blu-ray and DVD offering 5.1 surround sound and 2-channel stereo) include a tour of the organ with views of the pipework you would not normally be able to see, plus discussion of the programme choosing the registration. An extra CD contains the soundtrack of the recital only.
The repertoire ranges from Bach and Handel through Saint-Saëns (Fantaisie in E flat) and Guilmant (March on a theme of Handel) to local composers Heathcote Statham (former organist at Norwich) and Ronald Watson, finishing with Iain Farrington’s exhilarating Live Wire. Performances are technically assured, musically detailed and with wideranging choices of registrations – listen out for the Cymbalstern!
THE CANTERBURY DICTIONARY OF HYMNOLOGY
ed. J.R. Watson and Emma Hornby · Canterbury Press, online at www.hymnology.co.uk · Introductory individual subscription: £19 (1 month), £49 (3 months), £59 (12 months)
Unusual as it is for someone who has been involved in a publication to review it, that in itself signifies the achievement of The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology (my contribution to which was miniscule). This vast and ambitious project has been overseen and edited by Professor Dick Watson and Dr Emma Hornby, assisted by Professor Jeremy Dibble, Dr Carlton R. Young, Professor Colin Gibson, Dr Margaret Leask and numerous article contributors, along with IT expertise from Dr James Jirtle. More than two million words are contained in over 4,000 entries, including biographies of over 1,200 hymn writers and items on individual hymns, movements, publications and other relevant topics.
The inspiration came from John Julian’s seminal Dictionary of Hymnology of 1892 and last revised in 1907. It has now come to birth, despite the deaths of those who previously attempted a task which the Hymn Society declared in 1992 to be ‘beyond contemplation, let alone completion’. The standard of scholarship is breathtaking. This new Dictionary, ever in the flux of correction, expansion, updating and correction, will become the definitive, standard work, and, with specific editors in charge of regional articles and topics, global in reference and reach.
The best recommendation is that readers try it out and venture on a new hymnological journey with each link followed. Extensive cross-referencing produces the delight (and frustration!) of enquiries interrupted and led wonderfully astray by the ease with which a new path of history, musicology, sociology or theology may be followed. It is an irrepressible source for inquiry, information and inspiration.
THE BRIGHTNESS OF THIS DAY
Winchester Cathedral Girls’ Choir and Lay Clerks / Simon Bell (organ) / Andrew Lumsden · Regent REGCD395
Featuring the glorious music of Finzi and Holst, this disc is a feast. The Finzi pieces are: God is gone up, My lovely one, Let us now praise famous men, Welcome, sweet and sacred feast, Magnificat, The brightness of this day, All this night, and (such a disc would be incomplete without it) Lo, the full, final Sacrifice. Holst is represented by his Nunc Dimittis (often partnered with Finzi’s Magnificat at evensong), This have I done for my true love, The Evening-watch and Sing me the men. The girls and lay clerks are in fine voice and perfectly balanced against Simon Bell’s first-rate organ accompaniments. Especially atmospheric is Holst’s spine-tingling The Evening-watch, much of which is to be sung quietly, despite the altitude of the soprano parts. The acoustic of Winchester Cathedral is heard to splendid effect as the final fortissimo chord dies away.
THE FEAST OF ST DAVID
The Choir of St Davids Cathedral / Simon Pearce (organ) / Daniel Cook · Priory PRCD 1101
This sampling of a patronal festival at St Davids evidences a vibrant musical life, in singing and organ playing and also in the works composed for the cathedral choir: the Jubilate from The St Davids Service by David Briggs, A Prayer of St David by Alexander Mason (b. 1974), O Ddewi Sanctaidd by Meirion Wynn Jones (b. 1972), the St Davids Service (evening canticles) by Neil Cox (b. 1955) and I saw the Lord by Matthew Martin (b. 1976). St Davids’ greatest musical son, Thomas Tomkins, is represented by his Preces and Responses, and Wales’s most celebrated 20-century composer, William Mathias, by his Festival Te Deum. Sir William Harris’s King of Glory, King of Peace reminds us that Harris was appointed Assistant Organist of St Davids at the age of 14. The choristers (all girls) sing especially well in the Harris and the Britten Missa Brevis. Daniel Cook has now left St Davids to be Sub-Organist of Westminster Abbey; he leaves to his successor a choir in excellent health.
MALCOLM ARCHER: AT THE ROUND EARTH’S IMAGINED CORNERS
Convivium Singers / David Price (organ) / Malcolm Archer · Convivium Records CR014
Malcolm Archer achieves what many church music composers strive for, but few attain: pieces that are tuneful, expressive and polished. He possesses, like John Rutter, a professional level of technical proficiency invigorated by a fertile musical imagination. Also Rutter-like is the way that Archer composes successfully in different styles. Some listeners will love his gentle lyricism (An Irish Blessing), others will particularly enjoy his up-tempo mood (Good Christians all), while others will appreciate his more ‘serious’ style (Missa Montis Regalis).
Convivium Singers are a (young) adult choir, with a warmth of tone that suits Archer’s music. They are joined by the Choirs of Portsmouth Cathedral in Anthem for Seafarers, a dramatic setting of the words ‘Eternal Father, strong to save’. This disc is a ‘shop window’ for Malcolm Archer’s choral music published by the RSCM and, as such, is sure to tempt potential customers.
MASTER OF THE MONARCHS’ MUSIC
Tom Bell plays the organ of Durham Cathedral · Regent REGCD409
The composers on this impressive disc are Bliss, Elgar and Malcolm Williamson. Most of the transcriptions for organ are by Robert Gower. A high proportion of the tracks are dedicated to the music of Arthur Bliss (1891–1975) and there is much to enjoy. The high-speed fanfare figures in the Overture to Caesar and Cleopatra are breathtaking, while the March from Things to Come is real edge-of-your-seat stuff, showing Tom Bell’s formidable command of his instrument. Elgar is represented by three of his lyrical Vesper Voluntaries and ‘The Tame Bear’ from the second Wand of Youth suite, colourfully registered by the performer. Williamson’s Symphony for Organ is the most substantial work here; its uncompromising language is a contrast to the Elgar and Bliss and shows Tom Bell to be a musician of substance.
THE ORGAN MUSIC OF NOEL RAWSTHORNE
Gordon Stewart plays the organ of Huddersfield Town Hall · Dolcan 09
Many listeners will enjoy this compilation of the organ music of Noel Rawsthorne: tonal and tuneful – essentially ‘easy listening’. The opening Fanfare for Francis is a tribute to Francis Jackson and reminiscent of that great man’s style. Fantasia on Wachet Auf is a set of nicely crafted variations; Gordon Stewart makes light work of its technical challenges. Petrus, der nicht denkt zurück is a deft chorale prelude worthy of Bach himself! The Prelude on the Londonderry Air will need no introduction to many organists; the popular Hornpipe Humoresque is also included. In his performance of Three Preludes on Christmas Carols (drawn from 48 published in 1997) Gordon Stewart captures different moods from the grand to the intimate. Simon Lindley, author of the sleeve notes, rightly describes the Aria that follows as ‘a real gem’. Dance Suite is suggestive of the Tower Ballroom and demonstrates further the versatility of composer and performer.
We are not told which organ was used, so your reviewer contacted the recording engineer who explained that ‘we recorded the organ of Huddersfield town hall and then added extra acoustic from ‘real’ spaces using a convolution reverb. Noel wrote with Liverpool Cathedral in mind, so we wanted to create a bigger, more acoustically exciting space.’ The result is an altogether enjoyable disc.
ADVENT, CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY CDs
ADVENT AT MERTON
Choir of Merton College, Oxford / Anna Stepler (organ) / Peter Phillips & Benjamin Nicholas · Delphian DCD34122
This is an excellent recording from a student chapel choir of 33 singers. The mostly contemporary works reflect the repertoire heard in the chapel where two carol services are held each Advent, such is the demand for seats. The centrepiece is a set of Seven Advent Antiphons commissioned by the College chaplain from composers including John Tavener, Cecilia McDowell and Matthew Martin. There are exciting and rich sonorities here including James MacMillan’s Advent Antiphon and Jan Sandström’s lush double-choir setting of Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen. Peter Phillips conducts works by Byrd and Victoria. With co-director Benjamin Nicholas, the superb singing and excellent choice of music capture the Advent mood of longing and expectation.
Christmas music from Wells Cathedral · Wells Cathedral Choir / Matthew Owens · Regent REGCD399
‘Jingle, jingle all the way’ sets a jovial mood at the start with Ralph Allwood’s arrangement of Jingle Bells. There is much here that is familiar: Ledger’s On Christmas Night and Warlock’s Bethlehem Down along with much-loved carols from Poston, Leighton, Willcocks and Rutter. There is quality local produce too – Matthew Owens’ own catchily syncopated setting of The holly and the ivy is delightful, as is the gentler and beautiful Cradle Lullaby by Owain Park, the cathedral’s organ scholar. Eric Whitacre’s lush Lux Aurumque has an atmospheric airing. There are styles and contrasts a plenty throughout this superbly sung CD.
The Choristers of St George’s Chapel, Windsor · Richard Pinel (organ) / Timothy Byram-Wigfield · Regent REGCD374
The Windsor choristers are singing upstream in the chapel of Exeter College, Oxford rather than in their own (sorry – the Queen’s) chapel. A solo verse of Once in royal David’s city heralds a mix of old and new including a delightful arrangement by Howard Goodall of In dulci jubilo. Familiar numbers from Hadley, Willcocks and Rutter are interspersed with organ solos by Daquin, Lemare and Dubois. It would have been nice to have piano or harp accompaniment rather than organ for the two Britten pieces There is no rose and A New Year Carol. There are also hidden gems including Bairstow’s Blessed Virgin’s Cradle Song. This is a delightful CD with lovely single-line and part singing, always charmingly controlled and phrased.
AN EBOR EPIPHANY
Epiphany Sunday at York Minster · Choir of York Minster / David Pipe and Ben Horden (organ) Robert Sharpe · Regent REGCD391
Ebor is derived from the Latin name for York. From the start there is an atmospheric sense of place with the chime of a bell followed by a sung aisle prayer. Much of the Minster’s musical (both past and present) heritage follows with works from Philip Moore, Edwin Monk, and Richard Shephard. In addition to singing on this recording, we hear Shephard’s finely wrought setting of the Te Deum, and his arrangement of Richard Strauss’s song Die heiligen drei Könige, which translates well from the solo and orchestral original to organ and choir. This is an excellent audio portrait of the current choir under Robert Sharpe.
French organ music for Christmas · Dianne Halliday plays the organ of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Wellington, New Zealand
If, like me, you associate French noëls with the 18th century and Daquin, Corrette and Dandrieu, you will be surprised and delighted by this CD which, whilst including those names, also explores the substantial 19th-century repertoire. Guilmant wrote four books of Noëls; there are also on this CD examples by the lesser-known Clément Loret (1833–1909) and Charles Quef (1873–1931). Performances are stylish, the registration sparkles, and the liner notes include an introduction to the repertoire and notes about each composer.
THE GENIUS OF CAVAILLÉ-COLL
3 DVDs and 2 CDs · Fugue State Films FSF-DVD-0007 £68.50
If you quake at seeing the price of this set, then don’t. This five-star / five-disc / ten-hour production is one of the finest recordings to pass my way this century.
The improvisations are spectacular and a wide range of repertoire is featured. The performers and narrators are top professionals, articulate both in speech and on their keyboards. The discussions of the French romantic repertoire with demonstrations of how this is registered on these organs are thoughtful and informative, with Gerard Brooks proving an eloquent advocate. The three DVDs describe the rise of Cavaillé-Coll and his various ideas, showcase 16 specific organs (large and small) and show how these instruments influenced the composers that followed the Cavaillé-Coll era.
I shall not forget Pierre Pincemaille’s comment at the close of his final improvisation, effectively saying, ‘I don’t need to go to the gym: grappling with this mechanical monster each Sunday keeps me fit!’, nor the range of footwear on display, nor the visible breath of an organist speaking and playing in a freezing church. Mostly I shall remember the love these organists have for their instruments and the inspiration they derive from them.
THE COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS OF HERBERT SUMSION: Vol. 1
Daniel Cook plays the organ of Salisbury Cathedral · Priory PRCD 1075
Sumsion was born in 1899, so it comes as no surprise to detect in his music occasional chromaticism evocative of the worlds of Elgar or Karg-Elert. More typical, however, is the modal pastoralism of Vaughan Williams that pervades several pieces on this disc (think of Sumsion’s Evening Service in A and you will get the idea). The pleasing and unpretentious Prelude on ‘The Holly and Ivy’ is one such piece. It belongs to a group of four, comprising ‘Adeste Fidelis’, ‘The Coventry Carol’ and ‘Unto us in born a Son’.
The other pieces in this first volume of Sumsion’s organ works are Toccata on ‘University’ (published 1987), Variations on a Folk Tune (published 1989, but dating back in another form to 1920), Quiet Postlude (1957), Canzona for Organ (1957), Elegy (1955), Ceremonial March (published posthumously in 1998 in The Oxford Book of Ceremonial Music for Organ – not ‘great’ music, but great fun), Prelude (1977), Chorale Prelude on ‘Dundee’ (composed 1977, unpublished), Pastoral (1949), Chorale Prelude on ‘Liebster Immanuel’ (composed 1977, unpublished), Chorale Prelude on ‘Down Ampney’ (2000), and the most substantial and finest piece on the disc, Introduction and Theme (1936).
Daniel Cook plays with sincerity in the more intimate pieces and exuberant flair in the more extrovert. Since the Gloucester Willis that Sumsion knew was swept away by the transformation of 1971, there could hardly be a better choice than the Salisbury Willis and the gorgeous acoustic in which it resonates.
THE JOHN READING MANUSCRIPTS OF DULWICH COLLEGE
Riccardo Bonci plays the 1760 George England organ in Christ’s Chapel of God’s Gift, Dulwich, London · Brilliant Classics 94454
The 1760 organ in Christ’s College, Dulwich was restored in 2009 by William Drake and proves near perfect for brightly articulated performances of pieces by Blow, Croft, Greene, James, Reading, Stanley, Barrett and ‘Mr Seedo’. The discovery during restoration that all the reed stops had French shallots leads Riccardo Bonci to apply a French style to John Blow and to make one of the voluntaries by ‘Mr Seedo’ (actually a German, Herr Sydow) thoroughly Italianate – this application of continental influences to performance as well as to the building of organs may be speculative, but is most enjoyable and convincing when performed with such flair.
FERNANDO GERMANI AT SELBY ABBEY
Selby Abbey Organ Appeal SAOA001
I can just remember how Germani’s three LPs recorded in Selby Abbey in 1961–4 caused a huge stir at that time. As part of the restoration appeal for the 1909 William Hill organ (rebuilt in 1950 by Hill, Norman & Beard), highlights from all three have been reissued on a single CD with Frescobaldi, Franck (Chorals 1 and 3), Liszt (Prelude and Fugue on BACH), Reger (Fantasia on ‘Halleluja! Gott zu Loben’) and a performance of the Widor 5th Symphony Toccata that enthusiasts consider has never been surpassed – and made at a time when the piece had none of its current familiarity. Copious notes on the music from David Gammie, on Germani from Nicolas Kynaston and on the organ from Paul Hale accompany this CD of brilliant playing on a great organ that was then in prime condition.
Sacred choral music by Alan Bullard · Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge / Oliver Hancock and Timothy Parsons (organ) / Sarah MacDonald · Regent REGCD404
Although a survey of Bullard’s church choir music, the principal piece here is Wondrous Cross itself, a 16-movement cantata along the lines of Stainer’s Crucifixion including well-known congregational hymns, and indeed a ‘God so loved the world’, although wisely Bullard chose to set this not for choir but as a mezzo-soprano or baritone solo (or for unison semi-chorus). That choice of possible singers is typical of the practicality of the piece, which was first performed by his own church choir – it really would be performable by many church choirs. The other pieces include a Mag and Nunc (the Selwyn Service), a ‘Dover’ Te Deum, and six of anthems of which The Feast of Palms is probably the best known: a jolly, syncopated depiction of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The student performers, who have an admirable track record of premiering new works, give accomplished performances.
THE CRANMER LEGACY
A celebration of the 350th Anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer · Choir of St Michael at the North Gate, Oxford / Benjamin Bloor (organ) / Tom Hammond-Davies
You do not need to be a signed-up member of the Prayer Book Society to enjoy this disc. Vaughan Williams’s ‘Christ’s Hospital’ Service in D minor receives its first recording. Morning and Evening Canticles and BCP Communion Service (including Responses and Ten Commandments, and with Gloria at the end) are set for school chapel, intended for massed unison voices along with a chapel choir. It needs some imagination to add the effect of the unison boys’ voices, but the 20 singers of this Oxford church choir are particularly impressive in the more subtle music, notably the compound-time Sanctus. The other works are John Sanders’ The Firmament (setting verses from Addison’s ode as well as from several psalms and the Benedicite), Paul Spicer’s Let not your hearts be troubled, and H. Walford Davies’s Short Requiem written in 1915 ‘in sacred memory of all those who have fallen in the war’ and which is said to have inspired Howells’s Requiem.
Ave verum corpus, Messe basse, Tantum ergo, Cantique de Jean Racine · Saint Thomas Choir of men and boys / Orchestra of St Luke’s / David Pittsinger (bass-baritone) / Richard Pittsinger (treble) / John Scott · Saint Thomas Recordings
John Rutter’s original recording of his edition of the 1893 chamber-ensemble version of Fauré’s Requiem featured John Scott as organist; it is Rutter’s edition that Scott has now chosen to record with his New York St Thomas Choir. That choir last recorded the Fauré Requiem in 2005, directed by Gerre Hancock, coupled with the Poulenc Gloria. John Scott’s choice of accompanying pieces is a selection of Fauré’s small number of sacred choral works. The characterization of the music of the Requiem is outstanding: not just the lyricism that characterizes the piece, but also the explosive moments of drama. The 35 trebles sing with tremendous discipline and make a big, warm sound. This is certainly the Requiem version to have if you want the Rutter edition and sung by boys and men.
MISSA DUNELMI AND OTHER EUROPEAN CHORAL WORKS
The Choir of Durham Cathedral / Francesca Massey (organ) / James Lancelot · Priory PRCD 1078
There is much to enjoy on this disc with fine performances of some well-loved classics, including Wood’s Hail, gladdening light, Franck’s Panis angelicus and Parry’s My soul, there is a country. The programme opens with a well-enunciated performance of Stanford’s For lo, I raise up. James Macmillan’s Missa Dunelmi receives its world premiere recording. The sleeve notes comment that it is a significant work ‘which had yielded more fruit with each successive performance’: the listener is similarly likely to find this piece is worth returning to.
This is an excellent debut recording for the Girls’ Choir of Durham Cathedral, which, together with the inclusion of a gripping rendition by Francesca Massey of Jeanne Demessiux’s Te Deum for organ, and a setting of Lulla, lulla, lullaby by Margaret Simper (a Durham music graduate and ‘choir mum’), exhibits the richness of talent that women and girls bring to the musical life of Durham Cathedral.
I WAS GLAD: SACRED MUSIC OF STANFORD AND PARRY
Choir of the King’s Consort / The King’s Consort / Robert King · VIVAT 101
A quick Blest pair of sirens, I was glad in its 1911 version and Jerusalem are familiar. Parry’s Te Deum for the 1911 Coronation is undeservedly retrieved from oblivion. The highlight of the disc is Stanford’s A major service, particularly the trumpets at the climax of the Nunc dimittis. All the orchestrations are masterful. Occasionally the organ alone accompanies, in this case Hereford Cathedral digitally transported to London. This, like the gut strings and narrow-bored brass, provides an ‘authentic’ organ for the performance, but one misses a cathedral acoustic.
The G major Magnificat raises a more important question of ‘authenticity’. The treble solo is sung superbly, but very much with a woman’s technique, tone and (it must be said) vibrato. It is this performance that will disappoint some. Stanford wrote at a time when women’s singing in churches was barely tolerated, and he would have expected a boy’s timbre and technique. Given the desire for period instruments, should the same have applied to the vocal quality in this solo? I suspect that is a question that can debated ad infinitum.
WE RECOMMEND ...
THE HEART’S VOICE
RSCM Millennium Youth Choir / Daniel Moult (organ) / Fiona Bonds (viola) / Ilid Llwyd Jones (oboe and cor anglais) / David Ogden · RSCM B0367
Here are 50 years of compositions associated with the RSCM from Sidney Cambell’s 1962 Sing we merrily to several very recent works of which Philip Wilby’s Vox Christi is a particularly powerful setting of powerful words (the Great Commission from Matthew’s gospel). David Ogden explains that it is composers’ responses to ‘words that come from the individual, from the heart’ that distinguishes the pieces – with music that illuminates the words and which the fresh voices of the RSCM Millennium Youth Choir communicate ‘not only with understanding but with a fervour of spirit and enthusiasm’. How appropriate that this CD should be produced by the RSCM!
Of the 14 pieces, 10 are first recordings. The CD has a satisfying structure, beginning and ending with settings of Sing we merrily (Campbell and Archer); at the centre are the two biggest works (Whitbourn’s Canticles of Mary and Simeon followed by Rutter’s O Lord, thou hast searched me out). Where a symphonic structure might place a Scherzo there is an unexpected and delightful solo organ Live Wire by Ian Farrington. Excellent performances throughout.
WE PRAISE THEE O GOD
The choral scholars of Lancing College / Simon Hogan (organ) / Neil Cox · Vif Records VRCD075
The standard of singing on this disc quite remarkable – particularly in view of the fact that the choral scholars of Lancing College are all aged between 13 and 18. These young musicians give performances as accomplished as many a university chapel or adult chamber choir.
The disc is divided into ‘Music at the Eucharist’ and ‘Music for Evensong’. The Eucharist music features works by Stanford (Beati quorum via), Palestrina (Sicut Cervus), Hassler (Missa Secunda) and Byrd (Ave verum corpus). It is rounded off by a polished improvisation by Joseph Wicks, organ scholar at Lancing and an ARCO at 17. The evensong music includes responses and canticles by the Director, Neil Cox, a Magnificat fragment by Certon, NuncDimittis tertii toni (Victoria), Brahms’s Geistliches Lied and Howells’s Te Deum Collegium Regale at the end.
LLANDAFF CATHEDRAL: MAJESTAS
Llandaff Cathedral Choir / James Norrey (organ) / Richard Moorhouse · Llandaff Music LM408
‘Majestas is a gift to celebrate the love in creation of the new organ in Llandaff Cathedral.’ So says the blurb. It’s at this cathedral near Cardiff that you now find Epstein’s unmissable ‘Christ in majesty’ sculpture dominating the cathedral nave, and also a brand new £1m Nicholson organ. This is the first recording of the choir with the new instrument, and very good both sound too. The clarity and cleanliness of the boys’ line is worth mentioning, in particular in Percy Buck’s O Lord God and an SSA version of Simon Lindley’s Ave Maria. Stanford is represented with his Te Deum in B flat and Ye choirs of new Jerusalem; the former is steady, the second has more flexibility, as does an exciting performance of RVW’s O clap your hands. This is a good CD – the musical tradition at Llandaff has been a secret for far too long.
600 YEARS: CELEBRATORY HYMNS AND ANTHEMS
St Salvator’s Chapel Choir / Nicholas Wearne (organ) / Thomas Wilkinson · The University of St Andrews (no code)
A polite performance of the student song Gaudeamus igitur (the tune used by Brahms in the finale to his Academic Festival Overture) opens this neatly sung disc that celebrates the 600th anniversary of the University of St Andrews. Listeners will find much to enjoy in the glorious music by Gibbons, Batten, Byrd, Parry, Wood and Stanford that this CD presents. The programme ends with pieces by Paul Mealor, Reader in Composition at the University of Aberdeen. His Ubi caritas (the last track), commissioned for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, is based on the first of his For Madrigals on Rose Texts which are also included on this disc, allowing a direct comparison. The fresh, clear voices of the students suit this music very well and they sing it with expression and delicacy.
MUSIC FOR SEAFARERS
Choir of Portsmouth Cathedral and Convivium Singers / Alexander Norman / David Price / Malcolm Archer · Convivium Records CR010
They that go down to the sea in ships begins this CD, not the Sumsion setting but Grayston Ives. So begins a sequence of marine anthems and songs – familiar and less so. At first sight there is a curious mix: hymns and folk-songs such as I the Lord of sea and sky, I am sailing home again across the sea and Blow the wind southerly mingle with anthems with a marine theme such as Jonathan Dove’s Vast Ocean of Light which has an electrifying performance. Malcolm Archer has provided an effective setting of Eternal Father, strong to save.
This is a spacious recording in Portsmouth Cathedral’s resonant and rather difficult acoustic; occasionally diction suffers but, that said, the choral sound here is young, vibrant and energetic. Released as a fundraiser for seafaring charities, I daresay it’ll find its way onto iPods of those sailors manning the night watch far from home.
FULL OF GRACE: SONGS TO THE VIRGIN MARY
Fairhaven Singers / Ralph Woodward · Guild GMCD 7380
The Fairhaven Singers are an East Anglia-based chamber choir who have performed on BBC Radios 2, 3 and 4, and Classic FM, and who sing to a high standard. This disc is a wide-ranging survey of some of the extensive repertoire of music composed in honour of the BVM, including pieces by Rachmaninov, Bob Chilcott, Victoria, Lukaszewski, Stravinsky, Bruckner, Villa-Lobos, Robert Franz, Brahms, Praetorius, Jan Sandström and Einojuhani Rautavaara. For me, the highlights of the programme are Sandström’s Der är en ros utsprungen, an atmospheric arrangement of ‘Es ist ein’ Ros’ entsprungen’ with lots of blurring of chords, and Rautavaara’s Canticum Mariae Virginis: a setting of ‘Ave maris stella’, ‘Gaude Maria virgo’ and the Magnificat verse ‘Beatam me dicent omnes generationes’. This choir would be well worth hearing live if you live in or near the area in which they perform. More details can be found on their website: www.fairhavensingers.org.uk.
J.S. BACH ORGAN SONATAS
Christopher Wrench plays the organ of the Garnisons Kirke, Copenhagen · Melba MR301125
According to J.N. Forkel, his biographer, J.S. Bach composed the Trio Sonatas and other important keyboard works for the instruction of his eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann. If true, while J.S. would doubtless have had the best of intentions, the technical difficulties of these pieces are such that, should a contemporary composer do similarly, they might expect a call from social services!
Adults performing the Sonatas for Two Keyboards and Pedal (as they might more properly be called) do so at their own risk. Christopher Wrench is among those who play them with a mastery that would surely impress even ‘Old Bach’ himself. On this close recording of the 1995 Carsten Lund organ of the Garrison Church in Copenhagen, every note is heard with utmost clarity, revealing a perfection of execution that is jaw-dropping. And then, the technical challenges dispatched, the musical beauty of these gems shines through and Christopher Wrench achieves the Holy Grail of trio performance: the three ‘voices’ (right hand, left hand, pedal) sound as if they are played by three different musicians in perfect ensemble, rather than one musician playing all three. Brilliant music, brilliantly performed.
J.S. BACH ORGAN WORKS VOL. VIII
Margaret Phillips plays the 1727 Christian Müller organ of the Grote Kerk (Jacobijnerkerk), Leeuwarden · Regent REGCD328 [2 CD set]
This latest volume in Margaret Phillips’ superb survey of the complete Bach organ works presents the ‘Neumeister’ chorales (which came to light at Yale University in 1984), along with free works: the great Preludes & Fugues in D major BWV 532 and A minor BWV 543, plus the Prelude and ‘Fiddle’ Fugue in D minor, trios, three fantasias and two single-movement works. Margaret Phillips’ performances are characterized by the most subtle and tasteful rubato, plus clear, yet unmannered, articulation.
The organ of Grote Kerk (Jacobijnerkerk), Leeuwarden was built between 1724 and 1727 by Christian Müller, who also built the famous instrument in St Bavo, Haarlem. It has glorious sound that suits the music perfectly. Action noise only adds to the enjoyment of these fabulous discs.
LISZT: THE ESSENTIAL ORGAN WORKS
Peter King plays the Klais organ of Bath Abbey · Regent REGCD278 [3 CD set]
My first reaction upon seeing that this release contains three CDs was, ‘I didn’t know that Liszt wrote that much for the organ!’. Well, he didn’t, of course: most of the music is arrangements by Nicolas Kynaston, Saint-Saëns, Reger, Edwin Lemare, and Peter King himself. Indeed, of the works not arranged by A.N. Other, several of the Liszt originals did not begin their existence as organ music.
So does all this music ‘work’ for the organ? Yes, brilliantly, though it is organ music of a particular kind: usually dramatic, occasionally serene, sometimes pianistic, frequently orchestral, and always colourful. Peter King revels in every note and the Klais organ of Bath Abbey is a stupendous vehicle for this repertoire. The performances are compelling, with the musical maturity – not to mention virtuosity – that Liszt’s music demands.
SCHUMANN: WORDS FOR ORGAN OR PEDAL PIANO
Thomas Trotter plays the organ of Merseburg Cathedral · Regent REGCD347
The curious Sketches for Pedal Piano Op.58, the ingenious, canonic Studies for Pedal Piano Op.56 and the masterly Six Fugues on the Name BACH Op.60 make up the programme on this outstanding disc. Thomas Trotter’s sense of musical line and architecture is unswerving. When first built, the four manual Ladegast organ of Merseburg Cathedral was the largest in Germany. It is the instrument for which Reubke composed his Sonata on the 94th Psalm, Liszt his Prelude & Fugue on BACH and Reger his second Sonata. Restored in 2002–4 to its 1866 specification, it offers a wealth of timbres that seem to fit Schumann’s musical language like a glove. The booklet does not tell us what stops are used for each piece, which is a pity because I’d love to know what is used for the melody in the central section of the final Sketch – it sounds like an accordion! This latest disc from Thomas Trotter provides further evidence that he is one of the world’s greatest living organists.
ST EDMUNDSBURY CATHEDRAL
The English Cathedral Series Volume XVII · James Thomas and David Humphreys ·
Regent Records REGCD383
On the first recording of the new Harrison organ installed in St Edmundsbury Cathedral in 2010, the Director of Music, James Thomas and the former Assistant, David Humphreys play a varied programme ranging from Stanford (Fantasia and Toccata in D Minor) and Howells Rhapsody No.3,to Widor and Joie et Clarté by Messiaen. If you’ve been to St Edmundsbury, you’ll know that the instrument is housed in two spectacular new cases gilded in red, green and gold. This CD is an excellent reflection of the instrument’s grandeur and its tenderness of voicing; the Roger-Ducasse Pastorale demonstrates both. The recording itself captures some of the cathedral ambience, especially in Messiaen’s Le Banquet Céleste. Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance lands us firmly back in good old Blighty! There is fine playing by both organists in a landmark recording of a new cathedral instrument.
Paul Carr plays the organ of St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham · Regent REGCD384
There’s an arresting opening to this CD with the Ouverture Libanaise by the Lebanese-born but now Paris-based Naji Hakim. It adds a middle-eastern flavour to this collection of astonishing virtuosic playing. The French flavours aren’t wholly Gallic: for instance Hendrie’s Toccata and Fugue in F sharp minor, and an evocative transcription of Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé by David Briggs. There is some skittish playing of the Esquisses 1 and 2 by Marcel Dupré and even Prokofiev’s March of the Three Oranges. Throughout, the excellent tone of the three-manual Walker organ is shown off in all its glory: an instrument which Paul Carr has known since student days. There is plenty to transport you across La Manche, culminating in an astonishing run of Eugène Reuschel’s toccata-like Nuages which is as thrilling a conclusion to this recital as is its start.
THE ORGAN OF CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL
Sarah Baldock · Herald HAVPCD 364
With the ornate ornamentation of Purcell’s Voluntary for Double Organ, this CD may not have so striking an opening, but it leads into an interesting programme of Rheinberger, Bach, Whitlock and others. Sarah Baldock succeeded Alan Thurlow as Organist and Master (sic) of the Choristers in 1998. She unleashes the full power of this historic instrument and also its intimacy; I found myself reaching for the replay button for touching performances of three of Bach’s meditative chorale preludes, the Howells Psalm Prelude Set 1 No. 3 and RVW’s Rhosymedre in particular. This CD (produced by Mark Wardell, a previous assistant at Chichester), is a landmark recording of an historic instrument which lay silent for so many years until the mid-eighties when vintage pipework was restored and a new solo-section and nave organ added. The musical legacy nurtured by predecessors John Birch and Alan Thurlow is in good hands and feet.
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.
SIR GEORGE DYSON: HIS LIFE AND MUSIC
Paul Spicer · The Boydell Press 450 pp. H/B 978-1-84383-903-3 £45.00
Every now and then one comes across an unexpected and pleasant surprise in book form. At first glance this is yet another musical biography, but within lies a compelling read. Paul Spicer’s fluent narrative style almost makes Dyson’s life story into a novel, where you cannot put it down because you want to read what happens next.
Conceived over many years and with invaluable help from Dyson’s family, he transports the reader back to the early 20th century and holds you in that era by using contemporary letters and reports. Especially poignant are the WWI letters; I guess that few CMQ readers will know that George Dyson wrote the definitive WWI guide to using hand grenades. Don’t let the musical examples make you think that these early chapters are full of academic musical analysis. They are extracted from concert programmes, because most of Dyson’s early music was lost and these themes are some of the only clues about his early compositions. Later chapters do contain some musical analysis and the book contains all that one would expect in a composer biography, such as work lists, discography and photographs.
Dyson was an extraordinarily intelligent and perceptive man with an analytical mind and financial acumen which made him a brilliant administrator, especially in his years as Director of the Royal College of Music. Thought by some to be a cold fish, Paul Spicer reveals that there was a great deal more to this man and also that his music is worth exploring. The story of Dyson allowing guitarist Julian Bream into the RCM (where there was no guitar tuition) without fee or exam is one of many stories which show his compassion for talented students.
A name known to few now, except perhaps church musicians, the flyleaf claims that ‘Dyson touched almost every sphere of musical life in Britain and helped to change the face of music performance education in this country.’ In terms of the latter, surely we need another Dyson now. Do read this marvellous book.
MUSIC, MODERNITY AND GOD: ESSAYS IN LISTENING
Jeremy Begbie · Oxford 261pp. H/B 978-0-19-929244-8 £35.00
‘Modernity’ here refers not to what music historians call ‘modernism’ at the start of the 20th century, but rather to the changes in attitude from ‘pre-modern’ to ‘modern’ occasioned by the Renaissance and Reformation. The book is written primarily for people interested in theology, to ask them to take music into account when considering theological ideas. But it also works the other way round and invites church musicians to think about the ways in which music and theology intertwine.
After an opening introduction, ‘Listening to Music’, come chapters on ‘Calvin and Music’ (including a comparison of the attitudes towards music of Calvin and Luther), ‘Bach, modernity and God’ (including an examination of John Butt’s Dialogue with Modernity discussing Bach’s Matthew and John Passions), ‘Rameau, Rousseau, and Natural Theology’ exploring the dispute between composer Rameau and philosopher Rousseau, and ‘Early German Romanticism’, taking as its starting point E.T.A. Hoffmann’s glorification of Beethoven’s instrumental music. The views of writers such as Nicholas Cook, Daniel Chua and Andrew Bowie are presented and studied in some detail.
Begbie quotes Daniel Barenboim writing of Edward Said, ‘Edward … understood the fact that every musical masterpiece is, as it were, a conception of the world. And the difficulty lies in the fact that this conception of the world cannot be described in words – because were it possible to describe it in words, the music would be unnecessary. But he recognizes that the fact that it is indescribable doesn’t mean it has no meaning.’ This welcome book helps us to understand how a piece of music can have a power and a meaning of its own that transcends any accompanying text or programme and that engages not just with the world but with God.
THE VOICE FOR LIFE GUIDE TO MUSICIANSHIP
Anthony Marks and Chris Fay · RSCM Press 200 pp. P/B F0120 £25.00 (affiliates £18.75)
It is difficult to overestimate the importance and usefulness of this new publication for choir trainers and conductors - and also for their singers, since, in addition to the printed 200-page book, there are no less than 163 pages of downloadable sight-reading tests and some aural tests arranged for each level and in treble and bass clefs, to print out and give to singers.
Andrew Reid's introduction explains that 'at the heart of Voice for Life is a requirement to sing both by ear and from notation, and a requirement to understand what is being sung. The activities in the workbooks ask students to sing, to listen, to read, to identify, to reproduce music; in short they emphasize good musicianship. At each level, the acquisition of musicianship and related skills is systematically assessed by means of targets.' But many choir trainers must have been thwarted by the range of work covered by each level of the Voice for Life workbooks. In this new publication, aural tests and sight-reading tests are treated in parallel, with at each level a description of the technical requirements, specimen tests, hints on how to prepare the singers, details of how to deliver and assess the tests, and actual test materials. Now, at last, choir trainers have specific exam materials that they can use with each singer, and the possibility of some consistency so that the achievement at a particular level by a singer in one church should be comparable with that at the same level in a different church.
The motivation and sense of achievement for the singers must be increased if professionally produced tests are given to them, for which they have been systematically prepared, and marked according to specified criteria.And that is just for the White, Light Blue, Dark Blue, Red and Yellow levels, assessed by each choir trainer. A similar process is applied to the three RSCM Awards (Bronze, Silver and Gold) showing how the requirements for these dovetail into progress through the five levels. For the Awards, material is given for mock exams, including the exact wording spoken by the examiners, that will enable candidates to be fully prepared and confident.
Choir trainers who work through and tick off the targets in the Voice for Life workbooks will now find their task much easier: they are given the materials they need to work at a higher and more consistent level, and will surely find higher standards achieved overall by their singers. But for choir directors who do not use such a methodical assessment process, but prefer an informal scheme or have singers who are intimidated by formal testing, there is still a wealth of advice and teaching materials to apply to singers singly and in groups.
There is inevitably repetition between the different levels. Some of the teaching advice may seem obvious, but for every occasion that I said to myself 'but of course, I don't need to be told that', there was at least one other to which I reacted, 'what a good idea!'. And different choir trainers will appreciate different things. For more experienced people it may be a box of resources to be dipped into and adapted as they see fit - but with the added advantage that the specific tests give a much better idea than ever before of what should be achieved.
Andrew Reid notes how sightreading skills are often neglected because of a perceived lack of time in rehearsal. Yet a combination of aural work (to develop musical memory) and sight-reading will save rehearsal time 'which can then be used to improve the choral blend, intonation, ensemble, phrasing and delivery of text and meaning.' It's a big claim if applied to this book, but well justified.
MUSIC FOR A LONG WHILE: The Autobiography of Francis Jackson
Francis Jackson · York Publishing Services Ltd 427pp. H/B 978-0-9576722-0-8 £17.95
Following his final retirement as an organ recitalist at the age of 95, Francis Jackson has directed his everlasting fount of energy into the completion of an autobiography, a project started some 40 years ago. Based on his diaries, records of special events and press cuttings, we are presented with some 85 years’ worth of music making, happily embellished with a few anecdotes about well-known musical personalities of the 20th century. It is extraordinary to recall that Dr Jackson (actually ‘double Dr’ for he has both Durham and Lambeth Doctorates) has been retired for almost as long as he was in post at York Minster.
His recollections of serving at the Minster, and especially those of Dean Milner-White, will be of interest to many and I was struck by the restrictions placed upon him in terms of permissible repertoire by the various Deans. He several times makes the interesting observation that, whilst the choir is offering of their best to God on behalf of the congregation in most aspects of the service, the Creed is not sung with the utmost glory but mumbled by the congregation.
The majority of the book describes, year by year, the many recital tours, the places, the organs, the repertoire and the people met. There is, of course, a comprehensive list of Dr Jackson’s compositions, and a discography and photographs. I can’t help feeling that a little rigorous editing would have shortened the book, but I guess ‘Music for a long while’ takes a long time to recount and we are indebted to the author for sharing his life with us.
A MIRROR TO THE SOUL: 30 contemporary hymns based on psalms
Timothy Dudley-Smith, with music editor William Llewellyn · RSCM P/B 978-0-85402-234-2 £6.95 (affiliates £5.21)
Many CMQ readers will know some of the six previous collections of Timothy Dudley-Smith’s hymns with music selected initially by Lionel Dakers and subsequently by William Llewellyn. They were published by Canterbury Press, but now this admirable project has been taken over by RSCM Press. And how appropriate it is that this first collection under the RSCM’s imprint should be of hymns based on psalms, the original songs of the church, and appear just in time for this psalm-themed issue of CMQ!
Of the 30 hymns selected, readers may already know a small number. As the author says in this issue of CMQ (page 32), he originally contributed a number of metrical psalms to Psalm Praise (1973). Among those found in this latest collection are the comparatively well-established ‘Safe in the shadow of the Lord’, ‘I lift my eyes to the quiet hills’, ‘Not to us be glory given’, ‘Praise the Lord of heaven’ and ‘Timeless Love! We sing the story’ – but also ‘The stars declare his glory’ which, in A House of Praise, Timothy Dudley-Smith describes as one of the favourites of all his texts although ‘I seldom hear it sung’. Mission Praise includes ‘Lord, when the storms of life arise’ and ‘Open my eyes, O Lord, we pray’; ‘God is my great desire’ and ‘Tell his praise in song and story’ have also appeared in several hymn books. But the remaining hymns (almost two-thirds of the book) are unlikely to be known to readers – indeed several have not been published before.
The breadth of the psalter, as discussed throughout this issue of CMQ, is well reflected in the range of psalms in this book, with themes helpfully added to each title. The principle of singing metrical psalms is of course embedded in so many Christian traditions (think ‘The Lord’s my shepherd’ if no further); this collection significantly enriches the repertoire. The music is sensitively and imaginatively chosen – and in the case of the 12 for which two tunes are offered, the opportunity is taken to provide notably different treatments. I was struck by South Barrrule for ‘I lift my eyes to the quiet hills’, the alternative to Michael Baughen’s Davos (that is also included). John Rutter’s fine tune Toronto appears with the words ‘Our God be praised, and on his Name be blessing’, written for its unusual 11 12 13 10 metre. This collection is a treasure chest into which the more one delves the more riches one finds.
SULLIVAN AND MESSIAEN
LOST CHORDS AND CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: The Sacred Music of Arthur Sullivan
Ian Bradley · SCM Press 256 pp. H/B 978-0-334-04421-5 £25.00
For a 20% discount to RSCM members, see our news page
Some writers have depicted Sullivan as a fun-loving, gambling, philandering hedonist, but in his new book, hymnologist and theologian Ian Bradley (a Vice-President of the Sullivan Society) looks at Sir Arthur’s sacred music and weighs up evidence in the composer’s life and letters of a more spiritual side to his personality.
The ‘fun’ element certainly extended into Sullivan’s church work. He was an organist and choirmaster in London from 1861 to 72 and laughter was commonplace in his rehearsals. His first published anthem dates from when he was a 13-year-old chorister at the Chapel Royal. His long-standing friends included eminent church musicians: Helmore, Goss, Barnby, Smart and Stainer. Unfortunately Sullivan equated church music with solemnity and, although a few will survive, most of his 61 hymn tunes seem pedestrian today. Even the Festival Te Deum is so ponderous that it is hard not to laugh in places. Sullivan was asked by Stainer to compose a set of evening canticles but declared he had tried to set the Magnificat and just could not do it.
This first-rate book shows Sullivan separate from the world of W.S. Gilbert operetta, and Bradley’s eloquent writing conjures up the Victorian music scene – a fascinating read for church musicians today.
MESSIAEN’S MUSICAL TECHNIQUES: The composer’s view and beyond
Gareth Healey · Ashgate Publishing 224 pp. H/B 978-1-4094-4825-9 £55.00
One of the most significant of 20th-century composers and composition teachers, Olivier Messiaen and his musical language have been the subject of books and articles, not least by the composer himself. In this new treatise, Gareth Healey has taken the analysis of Messiaen’s music to a new level. On his website garethhealey.com there is a free download of software available for identifying ‘Messiaen’ chords. I fear that this remarkable book will only be comprehensible to a small number of readers, but it is a notable step in understanding the compositional process of an important composer and church musician.
ANCIENT AND MODERN
HYMNS ANCIENT & MODERN AND HENRY WILLIAMS BAKER
Leominster History Study Group · Leominster Historical Society 175pp. P/B 978-0-9536314-5-2 £15.00
The recent 150th anniversary of Hymns A&M generated much interest in the history and evolution of this seminal hymn book. Sir Henry Williams Baker (1821–77), the mastermind behind A&M, was vicar of Monkland near Leominster, hence the involvement of the local history society. Three professorial scholars (Harper, Watson and Dibble) head the role of contributors for this volume which originated in a conference in Leominster in 2011, plus additional material written since. The first part is devoted to the origins and content of the 1861 first edition of A&M; the second considers Baker and his role in developing the parish of Monkland. Part three concerns the church buildings of Herefordshire and also the Herefordshire Choral Union. There is enough good material about Sir Henry and his hymn book to make this a volume with wide appeal.
SYDNEY NICHOLSON AND HIS ‘MUSINGS OF A MUSICIAN’
John Henderson and Trevor Jarvis · RSCM 310 pp. P/B G0138 £18.95
This sequel to Sydney Nicholson and the College of St Nicolas: the Chislehurst Years is a ‘must’ for anyone interested in not just church music but church history and indeed social history of the period. When you read the footnotes with unique information about the different personalities, you realize what a brilliant piece of work it is, backed up by supporting photos, not to mention reproductions of Sir Sydney’s amazing sketches.
S.H.N. comes across not just as some obsessed eccentric – far from it! He was a remarkable innovator and organizer, inspiring and driving future generations, even us today. He gave a sense of ‘belonging’ to those in remote outposts of church music and church worship – of belonging to a worldwide organization, a worldwide family. He knew how to channel his creative energies. Read chapter 7 with his comments on the state of church music and future needs and see how relevant it is today.
The book introduces great musical personalities of the time, including Stainer, Ouseley, Harwood, Parratt and Frere. We are made to feel part of the scene at Carlisle and Manchester Cathedrals, and to travel to New Zealand and far-off parts of the world. How did S.H.N. do it all with constant travelling, conducting massive Crystal Palace festivals and choirboys’ festivals at Westminster Abbey with 600 boys during WWII, as well as visiting choirs, running local courses, directing summer schools and cathedral courses and founding a college? We should remember perhaps the invaluable support of the RSCM Secretary, Leslie Green.
What a blessing is this great tradition, which set up a family to which we may all belong!
MUSIC: The Definitive Visual History
Dorling Kindersley 400 pp. H/B 978-1-4093-2079-1 £25.00
184 topics are given large double-page spreads, each packed with text and illustrations. The range is immense from before plainchant to club culture and beyond, including non-Western musics of a bewildering variety, and imaginative coverage of the Western classical canon. An excellent Christmas present for a singer or instrumentalist.
ANCIENT & MODERN: Hymns and Songs for Refreshing Worship
Canterbury Press · Full Music Edition H/B 978-1-84825-242-4 £30.00 (grant scheme available) · melody, words and large print editions are also published
Some 150 years after the first appearance of Hymns Ancient & Modern in 1861, here is the latest, ninth edition. This attractive, bright red volume contains 847 items, embracing traditional hymns and a comprehensive selection of contemporary writing in both the hymn and the worship song idiom. There are also settings of psalms and canticles and several short liturgical chants. The title of the book is instructive (and perhaps in this case we really can judge a book by its cover!), for the compilers have deliberately reverted to Ancient & Modern, a designation which was dropped when Common Praise appeared in 2000. This new book is, then, unashamedly both traditional and contemporary, and is a collection of hymns and songs designed to reflect the needs of today’s worshipping communities. Essentially, the volume consists of the best of Common Praise, plus nearly 400 other items, including almost all of Sing Praise (2010).
As with all A&M publications, this is a volume which exhibits the highest standards of production. The binding is designed to last, the copy stays open on the music desk, and the typeface is legible and unfussy. The contents follow a thematic framework, starting with ‘Morning’ and ‘Evening’ and going through to sections on ‘Creation and the Environment’, ‘Justice and Peace’ and ‘National and Remembrance’. This ordering of material makes the book easy to use, whether in formal or informal contexts. The indexes will be of great help to those planning worship. A small sample taken from the Thematic Index illustrates the breadth of material: ‘Music and song’, ‘Nation and society’, ‘Neighbour’, ‘New Year’ and ‘Nurture’. Equally valuable is the Biblical Index and the ‘List of items suitable for children and all-age worship’.
What, then, of the actual contents of the book? A first reaction is inevitably to see if the book contains one’s personal favourites. Most of mine are there, although I was disappointed not to find ‘Let us break bread together on our knees’ or ‘Nada te turbe’, so I’ll have to look elsewhere for those. But as this book sets out to ‘refresh’ worship, I should expect to encounter some texts and tunes which are new to me and, perhaps, to others. There is certainly much to choose from. For instance, there are 61 hymns in the Communion Hymns section, starting with four versions of the Gloria: Timothy Dudley-Smith’s ‘All glory be to God on high’, followed by a Hebridean folk melody arranged by Barbara Rusbridge, Christopher Idle’s ‘Glory in the highest’, and then all three verses of the Peruvian Gloria. Metrical versions of psalms abound, and, as would be expected, there are 15 hymns which refer to all or part of Psalm 23, including the haunting setting by Stuart Townend. For ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’ there is a choice of either Crimond (with descant) or Brother James’s Air.
The book provides many opportunities for expressions of liturgical acts. Here is a small selection: Mark Earey’s ‘Advent candles tell their story’; Elizabeth Cosnett’s ‘When candles are lighted on Candlemas Day’, which works well in procession to the tune Lourdes; and, for Mothering Sunday, Fred Kahn’s ‘God of Eve and God of Mary’ with the sensitive verse, ‘Thank you for belonging, shelter, / bonds of friendship, ties of blood, / and for those who have no children, / yet are parents under God.’ Shirley Erena Murray’s ‘Come to a wedding, come to a blessing’, set to Bunessan, will be seen as a timely addition to the wedding repertoire.
The contemporary worship song is well represented, although this section, it must be admitted, is more subject to passing fashions than other types of song. ‘Beauty for brokenness’, ‘Give thanks with a grateful heart’, ‘In Christ alone’, ‘Purify my heart’, ‘Such love, pure as the whitest snow’: all these, and many others, are found within the pages of the book. There are several of Bernadette Farrell’s song-like hymns, e.g. Christ Be Our Light which can be sung to either ‘Longing for light’ (Advent) or ‘This is the night of new beginnings’ (Easter Vigil).
In general, the editors have not chosen to make unnecessary alterations to well-known texts. So, in ‘Angel-voices’ we still sing of ‘sinful man’. (And, incidentally, in this hymn ‘music’s measure’ is amply depicted by John Barnard’s fine descant for the last verse.) There are some changes in the translations which are used. Instead of Thomas Carlyle’s ‘A safe stronghold our God is still’ (in Common Praise) we now find Stephen Orchard’s ‘Our God stands like a fortress rock.’ The musical setting is still Ein’ feste Burg, but now in C major in a straightforward harmonization attributed to E.J. Hopkins, and not in Bach’s D major setting. This makes for a hymn which is more likely to be taken up by a congregation.
From the musical point of view, the pitch of the tunes is realistic, neither too high nor too low. The musical arrangements are invariably of a high standard, and will be greatly appreciated by all who use the book. Keyboard players will welcome two versions of Jerusalem, one for organ and the other for piano, which is set to Michael Perry’s ‘Bring to the Lord a glad new song’. Some tunes are provided with guitar chords, and choirs will be delighted to find several descants, which can, of course, also be adapted for instrumental use. There are items which would make short choral motets, e.g. Margaret Rizza’s ‘Silent, surrendered, calm and still’ and John Bell’s setting of words by Desmond Tutu, ‘Goodness is stronger than evil’. Many of the chants can first be introduced to a congregation by a choir or music group.
Nowadays we are encouraged to assess everything, so if Common Praise was graded as ‘Good’ in 2000, this 2013 edition of A & M will certainly be a grade higher. It is a volume which deserves to be in regular use by all church musicians and worship leaders. And if churches are finding that their existing book needs replacing, now is ‘the time that shall surely be’ for a serious review of the options! Readers of this review will not need to be reminded of the value of people holding actual books in their hands, for a hymn book serves many different functions, both practical and spiritual. Reading and scanning a full text, in one’s own time, is undoubtedly an aid to personal devotion.
Finally, if I had to choose just one text to encapsulate the aim of the book it would probably be Martin Leckebusch’s ‘Come with newly written anthems, craft your finest psalm or song’, which is based on Psalm 98. Here is its second verse:
Bring your hymns of celebration:
be creative, and rejoice;
blend as one your skilful playing,
thankful heart and cheerful voice.
Let the wonders of God’s greatness
be your focus as you sing;
weaving reverence and excitement,
raise the shout: the Lord is King!
This is a text which combines old and new, and which, in the spirit of everything that Ancient & Modern stands for, seeks to enable today’s congregations to sing their praises and prayer to the Lord.
Sing to greet the God of justice,
righteous Judge and gracious Lord.
No book reviews appear in this edition.
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.
MUSIC FOR REMEMBRANCE
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM [E–M]: Festival service for young voices
Upper voices with keyboard
Score with CD and CD-ROM
RSCM S0152 £25.00 (affiliates £18.75)
The RSCM’s festival services for young voices are an inspiration for worship in school or church. We will remember them offers ways to remember the realities of war, to pray for those affected by war and those who have died, and to give thanks for freedom and for God’s peace and love. The music ranges from an opening ‘gathering song’ (formed from a cleverly-combined medley of First World War songs) to ‘I vow to thee my country’ (Thaxted), from the spiritual ‘Joshua fit the battle of Jericho’ to two settings of the Binyon poem which gives the service its title, one of them easy but effective by John Madden and one slightly more complicated by Mark Blatchley. ‘Silent night’ has an arrangement combining English and German text. Many choirs will find John Barnard’s anthem treatment of ‘The Servant Song’ useful on occasions beyond the context of remembrance.
The CD includes demonstration and backing tracks and the CDROM has also the readings, a photocopiable music booklet for singers, an order of service for congregation and notes on the anthems for choir trainers. Separate copies of the book will be needed for director and accompanist, but all singers’ material is included along with permission to copy.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM [E/M–D]
Anthology of anthems for remembrance
Mixed voices with and without keyboard
Novello NOV294811 £12.95
This is a useful compilation from the back catalogues of Novello and its associated companies. Some of the 14 pieces, such as Barber’s Agnus Dei, Bainton’s And I saw a new heaven, Tavener’s Funeral Ikos and Harris’s Holy is the true light, may be already in the libraries of choirs at whom it is targeted, but there are other gems, some dating back a good many years, for which this book is well worth acquiring, such as Jeremy Dale Roberts’ I heard a voice, from the 1954 Requiem by the then 20-year-old composer, and Ernest Bullock’s unison setting of Holy is the true light.
Among comparatively recent pieces are Graham Fitkin’s The Christmas Truce, John Tavener’s Exhortation and Kohima, Richard Rodney Bennett’s exquisite A Good-Night, Eric Whitacre’s Nox aurumque, Tarik O’Regan’s We remember them and Paul Mealor’s In my dreams for the Military Wives Choir (but SATB), an easier piece in a collection that is mostly far
more demanding. Elgar appears three times, with the anthem They are at rest, Ian Tracey’s arrangement of ‘We will remember them’ from Elgar’s little-known With proud thanksgiving and David Hill’s ‘Requiem aeternam’ arrangement
of Nimrod from the ‘Enigma Variations’.
Gabriel Fauré, ed. Michael Higgins
S, Bar soli, SATB, organ
Vocal score RSCM E0291 £5.99 (affiliates £4.49)
This vocal score is intended for use with Michael Higgins’s arrangement of Fauré’s Requiem for string quintet and organ. The full score and instrumental parts are available to purchase from RSCM Music Direct (order no. E0292). A recording of this edition, performed by the Convivium Singers under Neil Ferris, is reviewed in the September 2014 edition of CMQ.
The most important point about this score is that the accompaniment is not arranged for piano, but for organ. The organ part in the vocal score is not, however, the same as the organ part in Higgins’s arrangement for strings and organ. Thus, the accompaniment in the vocal score is designed for performance by organ alone – and this is where the
edition will prove particularly useful. Adapting the accompaniment for the organ is not without challenges, and different organists come up with different solutions when playing from the piano arrangements found in most vocal scores. This edition does the problem-solving for the player, making it plain which notes should be played on the pedals, for example – and at what octave. Nothing is especially difficult, though some organists may blanch at the double-pedalling called for in the first 30 bars of the Sanctus. Next time you are asked to accompany Fauré’s Requiem, do
bear this arrangement in mind.
CREATOR OF THE STARS OF NIGHT [M/D]
S solo, SATB and opt. organ
Oxford 978-0-19-340204-1 £1.85
CHRIST IS THE MORNING STAR [M]
SATB and organ
Oxford 978-0-19-340302-4 £2.20
Partly based on a plainsong Advent hymn, Creator of the stars of night by Alan Bullard was written in honour of a soprano soloist and her Minneapolis choir. Naturally, the solo is an integral and important part of the anthem and needs an experienced and sensitive singer. The choir (unaccompanied or optionally doubled by organ) accompanies the soloist; all singers need a sure sense of intonation to do the anthem justice. Performed well, this will be most effective.
John Rutter’s new Advent carol, Christ is the morning star, was written for the choir of Clare College, Cambridge. The composer wrote the text inspired by words of the Venerable Bede. This effective and accessible anthem for four-part choir is accompanied by organ. It enhances the available Advent repertoire for choirs.
THIS ENDRIS NIGHT [E/M]
SATB and organ
Oxford 978-0-19-340164-8 £1.85
THE BETHLEHEM STAR [M/D]
SATB with divisions
Oxford 978-0-19-339867-2 £1.60
GIFTS FOR THE CHILD OF WINTER [M/D]
T Solo, SATB with divisions
Oxford 978-0-19-339471-1 £2.20
SONG OF THE CRIB [M/D]
SATB with divisions
Oxford 978-0-19-339447-6 £2.20
Malcolm Archer’s setting of This Endris Night is certainly carol-like: a jovial melody in 7/8 time gives the 15th-century words a lift. The composer’s great gift for melody and accessible writing for ‘ordinary’ choirs is everywhere apparent in this jolly carol, which is an enjoyable romp for singers and good fun for the organist.
Bob Chilcott’s three carols are all unaccompanied. The shortest, The Bethlehem Star, sets words by Gerald Manley Hopkins and employs divisi soprano and bass. Gentle, sustained and meditative, it was written in memory of Alan Greaves, the Sheffield organist murdered on his way to midnight Mass.
The contemporary poet, Charles Bennett, has supplied interesting texts for Gifts for the Child of Winter and Song of the Crib. Both are unaccompanied and employ divisi in all parts, so would challenge most parish church choirs, but will be relished by the experienced choral societies to which they are dedicated.
EASY ANTHEM ANTHOLOGIES
THE BRONZE COLLECTION BOOK 2
Unison, 2-part and SATB with and without keyboard
RSCM B0392 £9.95 (affiliates £7.46)
Choir trainers with candidates preparing for Bronze Awards will already know this book, or will very soon. But it is much more that just repertoire for the Award. I’ve used the initial Bronze Collection (now Book 1) for many years as a useful source of repertoire for the whole choir. This applies all the more to the new Bronze Collection Book 2 as, although it has just 20 pieces, they are exceptionally well chosen. The net has been cast more widely than for Book 1 by allowing in on-RSCM copyrights. So Britten’s New Year Carol, Hurford’s Litany to the Holy Spirit and Ralph Vaughan Williams’s The truth from above are among the well-loved pieces joining compositions or arrangements by David Iliff, Simon Lole, Peter Nardone, David Ogden and especially John Barnard, whose contributions include an imaginative and sensitive arrangement of the spiritual Lord, I want to be a Christian.
Martin How’s Easter Greeting has the spirit of his popular Praise, O praise rather than the gentler feeling of his pieces in Book 1. Arrangements by Martin Sirvatka of I’m a goin’ up a yonder and by Harrison Oxley of Wood’s Mater ora filium are particularly welcome. Add Bach and Mozart, Purcell and Attwood, Wood and Woodward, David Sanger and Peter Skellern – this is a richly conceived collection, enhanced by a seasonal/thematic index, training notes by John Wardle and the complete Bronze Award syllabus.
THE NEW NOVELLO BOOK OF SHORT AND EASY ANTHEMS [E–E/M]
selected and edited by David Hill
SATB with and without organ
Novello NOV294393 £9.95
This is an inspired resource, with 37 pieces suitable as introits or short anthems. Some are unaccompanied, others have fairly straightforward accompaniment; most are in four parts but many have flexible voicing. They have been selected with a view to quick learning as well as musical and liturgical worth, and include interesting contemporary pieces and some less well-known 16th-century compositions. Composers born in the 1960s, 70s and 80s feature alongside pieces already published by Novello such as Richard Lloyd’s View me, Lord, Lennox Berkeley’s beautiful I sing of a maiden and Herbert Howells’s not so well-known God be in my head. John Tavener’s Mother of God, here I stand and Benjamin Britten’s Corpus Christi Carol also appear. There are pieces by cathedral and parish musicians experienced in producing effective and accessible music on limited rehearsal: Matthew Owens, Rupert Jeffcoat, Ashley Grote, James Davy, David Briggs, Martin Baker, Peter Miller and Jonathan Wikeley make significant contributions that stand alongside composers such as Tallis, Gibbons, Purcell, Bull, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner and Charles Wood.
Texts are appropriate for general use and for different church seasons and occasions. Above all, there is great variety. Through these short pieces, choirs can be introduced to a range of effective and varied styles. What a joy to find an anthem book by many composers with something new to say musically, rather than a collection of works by ‘house composers’ that often share the same style! David Hill has made an interesting and practical selection that deserves to be well used as a resource by cathedral as well as school and parish choirs.
SATB THEMES WITH VARIATIONS
BROTHER JAMES'S AIR [E]
SATB and keyboard
Oxford 978-0-19-337224-5 £2.15
CHILDREN OF THE HEAVENLY FATHER [E]
SATB and piano
Oxford 978-0-19-974728-3 £2.15
FAIREST LORD JESU [E]
German folk song, arr. Antony Baldwin
SATB and organ
Banks Music Publications ECS538 £1.50
CHRIST, WHO KNOWS ALL HIS SHEEP [E]
SATB and organ
Banks Music Publications ECS551 £1.50
COME HOLY GHOST, OUR SOULS INSPIRE [E]
Sarum plainsong, arr. Antony Baldwin
SATB and organ
Banks Music ECS567 £1.60
THE GIFT OF CHARITY [E/M]
SATB and organ
Oxford X526 £2.20
These six anthems all follow a simple formula in which the same tune is treated in different ways for each verse, usually with organ interludes. The very easy hymn arrangements of Wilberg, written for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, I find rather sentimental. Much of Brother James's Air is written in two parts and there is not a soprano note higher than the C above middle C! This tune is found in many hymn books and there are more interesting arrangements available such as those by Gordon Jacob or Malcolm Archer. Children of the Heavenly Father uses a simple Swedish melody for its theme. This hymn, apparently more familiar in America than the UK, is freely available on the internet.
Antony Baldwin's three arrangements are all easy. Fairest Lord Jesu is quite attractive, with a descant of alleluias in the last verse. His composed hymn tune to Christ, who knows all his sheep is straightforward, with two verses in unison and one in harmony. Choirs interested in performing this text should also consider a rather good setting of these words by Charles Wood included in Hymns Ancient and Modern New Standard and elsewhere, which works beautifully as an anthem. Come Holy Ghost is an effective, strophic setting of the plainsong Veni Creator Spiritus arranged in triple time, and with one verse harmonized for SATB - it is very straightforward with a descant of alleluias to enliven the last verse.
In a different league from any of the above is John Rutter's The Gift of Charity, a paraphrase of I Corinthians 13. Rutter's melodic gift and flair for attractive arrangement is apparent in this anthem, and although a little more difficult than the preceding pieces, this is something that will appeal to parish and school choirs. It is the star of this batch. Gordon Appleton
SATB ANTHEMS SERVING THE TEXT
HYMN TO THE TRINITY [E/M]
SATB and organ
Banks Music Publications ECS559 £1.50
CAEDMON OF WHITBY'S FIRST HYMN [M/D]
Encore Publications £2.25
LATE HAVE I LOVED THEE [M/D]
SATB and organ
Church Music Society CMS 044 £1.85
These three pieces illustrate sensitive setting of texts by contemporary composers. In only 34 bars, Christopher Rathbone sets with great awareness the traditional office hymn 'All hail, adored Trinity'. This is most effective and succinctly written for SATB and organ (a two-part version is also available). It would be an attractive introit or anthem for Trinity Sunday or for those churches dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
Tradition maintains that Caedmon of Whitby was the first English poet whose name is known. Dating from the seventh century, these words apparently came to him in a dream when he was looking after animals in Whitby Abbey at the time of St Hilda. Philip Moore has set them sensitively for unaccompanied choir. The singers need confidence and experience; the long lines in voice parts are attractive and the piece ends in a wonderful climax. I included this anthem some years ago in the repertoire of RSCM Voices North and can vouch for its effectiveness.
The well-known prayer by St Augustine of Hippo from his Confessions is set with great sensitivity for choir and organ by Harry Bramma, a past RSCM Director. The composer exploits the contrast between upper voices in four parts and men's voices; the straightforward organ part is integral to the anthem and registration instructions are detailed. Although the notes are not difficult to sing, this sensitive, gentle music requires excellent tuning from the singers. It would be effective in any church service, especially one with a theme of vocation, such as confirmation or ordination.
MUSIC FOR UPPER VOICES
THE LORD'S PRAYER [E/M]
Trinidadian Folk Song, arr. Gwyn Arch
SSA and piano
Banks Music Publications FM007 £1.90
AVE MARIA [E/M]
Giulio Caccini arr. Gwyn Arch
SSA and piano
Banks Music Publications FMOOl £1.60
HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING? [E/M]
American hymn, arr. Gwyn Arch
SSA and piano
Banks Music Publications FM006 £1.60
COME, ALL WHO THIRST [E/M]
Luigi Cherubini arr. Gwyn Arch
SSA and piano
Banks Music Publications FM002 £1.60
Gwyn Arch's arrangements demonstrate his practical musicianship and experience in directing choirs. These four pieces from Banks 'Music for Female Choirs' series will be useful to directors of three-part SSA choirs. The well-known Trinidadian Lord's Prayer sets the words over a gentle Caribbean folk-style piano accompaniment. Ave Maria, attributed to Caccini, has only these two words, and has become known through recordings by popular singers. The informative notes tell us that it was probably composed by a twentieth-century Russian composer and is a pastiche. How can I keep from singing? is an arrangement of a popular American hymn; Come all who thirst, for three equal voices, is attributed to Cherubini. None of these pieces is difficult, but they are worth exploring if you are looking for 'light classics' for upper voice choirs.
QUANTA QUALIA [M]
SSAA, S solo and keyboard
Novello NOV293403 £2.25
I AM THE GENTLE NIGHT [E]
2-part voices, keyboard, opt. guitar
Novello NOV293513 £2.25
A CELTIC BLESSING [M]
SSA and piano
Novello NOV293623 £1.99
SALVATOR MUNDI [M]
SS and organ
Faber Music 978-0-571-53739-6 £2.50
Arranged for SSAA and organ or piano, Quanta Qualia needs a soprano soloist who can reach top D above the treble stave (the song was recorded by Hayley Westenra). Unfortunately no translation is given, but the text seems to mean 'My soul, wait! How great and wonderful will be the joys of the meeting'. This could be just the music to use before a church committee gathers!
Paul Mealor has written both words and music for I am the gentle night, a two-part song dedicated to the National Boys' Choir of Scotland, accompanied optionally by classical guitar with organ or piano. It is not difficult and I am sure that singers will enjoy it. Does the 'I' in the text refer to a supreme being or a lover? You can watch a performance on YouTube.
Craig McLeish has set in his Celtic Blessing the words 'May the road rise to meet you' for SSA. His attractive melody is first sung in unison, then harmonized, as the composer says 'to help the choir singing contrapuntal lines'. He has created a song that is both accessible and challenging.
Salvator Mundi, for SS choir and organ by David Bednall, has an idiomatic organ accompaniment, and melodies which the singers will enjoy. The composer exploits Baroque conventions such as the interval of a second resolving to a third. It would be an effective anthem during Passiontide.
THE GIBBONS HYMNAL: HYMNS AND ANTHEMS [E-M]
ed. David Skinner
Novello NOV294360 £8.95
This excellent volume collects the ten surviving full anthems by Gibbons, along with the 17 songs that the composer composed for George Wither's The Hymnes and Songs of the Church. Although some of the latter tunes are known today as hymns (Song 1 and Song 22, and also Song 9 which reappears as Song 34 or Angels' Song), this is the first modern publication to give Wither's texts beyond the first verse. The editor suggests sensibly that these might be useful as introits or elsewhere in the liturgy.
Of the full anthems, choirs that enjoy the few well-known ones (Hosanna to the Son of David, Almighty and everlasting God and 0 clap your hands) will certainly find many more to add to their repertoire, not least the very short, penitential 0 Lord, how do my woes increase and 0 Lord, I lift my heart to thee, with just 18 and 21 bars each. This is a useful, scholarly, practical and well-priced publication.
WONDROUS CROSS [M]
SATB, organ or piano with opt. solos, congregation and strings
Oxford 978-0-19-337989-3 £7.95
Bullard's Wondrous Cross is designed for liturgical use or concert performance. Its flexibility is a great merit: the piece can form the basis of a liturgical meditation with opportunities for additional readings, prayer and music, or it can stand alone. A number of performance options enhance its usefulness. The text, largely from the Authorized Version of the Bible (KJV), is the seven last words of Jesus from the cross. Additional participation from the congregation is included in hymns 'There is a green hill far away' (Horsley), 'When I survey the wondrous cross' (Rockingham), 'When my love to God grows weak' (Song 13) and the spiritual 'Were you there?'. The choir provides additional commentary in short anthems or arias composed by Bullard (which could stand alone), including effective new settings of Drop, drop slow tears and Ave Verum Corpus. At about the same level of difficulty for singers and organist as Stainer's Crudfixion, this musically sensitive and attractive work deserves serious consideration by parish choirs for use at Passiontide.
ST MATTHEW PASSION [DJ
Soloists, SATB and organ
Oxford X563 £2.90
Written for the choir of Wells Cathedral by its director, this setting is suitable primarily for liturgical performance and is modelled on the familiar Passion set by Victoria, using the text of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible. It is an extended recitative with parts for the evangelist, Judas, Pilate, Jesus and Pilate's wife, with four-part choir taking the part of the crowd. The short choruses are evocative and harmonically interesting and ideally should be sung unaccompanied. Although not too difficult, they require an assured sense of pitch and taut rhythm. Verses of the hymn 'When I survey the wondrous cross' (Rockingham) inserted into this Passion provide an opportunity for congregational participation. This would be a most effective setting to enhance the gospel during a Passion tide service.
Antonio Lotti ed. H. Diack Johnstone
SSATB and organ
Stainer & Bell W230 £2.15
We all know the eight-part Lotti Crucifixus. We may also have looked at Lotti's six- and ten-part settings, although one rarely sees them on church music lists. But here is what appears to be a genuine Lotti five-part setting, and with organ accompaniment. The manuscript, in Lotti's own handwriting, once belonged to the Academy of Vocal (later Ancient) Music and is now in the library of Westminster Abbey. The vocal writing follows the 'eightpart' mixture of gradually building slow music with lots of suspensions, contrasting with gently moving quaver patterns. The realized organ part will hugely aid the learning and performance of the piece for the average church choir - I cannot recommend it too highly.
James L. Montgomery
MOST GLORIOUS LORD OF LYFE [M]
SATB and organ
Banks Music Publications ECS546
MOST GLORIOUS LORD OF LIFE [E/M]
SATB and organ
OUP BC142 £2.20
The sixteenth-century poem by Edmund Spenser, 'Most glorious Lord of life' is set musically in two contrasting ways: Mold's begins and ends Marziale con forza with a lovely, gentle middle section, first in unison and then in canon. Choir and organist need an accurate sense of rhythm, although this anthem is within the grasp of good four-part parish choirs. Bob Chilcott's setting is easier, longer and marked 'Broad and expansive'. Here a gentle melodic mood prevails at the beginning and the end with a more dramatic middle section. Chilcott's craftsmanship and melodic inventiveness is apparent in an attractive anthem that will enhance any choir's Easter programme.
ON EASTER DAY OUR LORD AROSE [E/M]
arr. John Bertalot
SATB and organ
Encore Publications £2.35
HAIL, EASTER BRIGHT [M]
arr. Timothy Rogers
SATB and organ
Encore Publications £2.35
Each of these carols has two sets of words suitable for either Christmas or Easter. The Bertalot arrangement is published separately with its Christmas words, but Rogers includes both sets of words in the score - two for the price of one! Both carols are arrangements of traditional English melodies: tuneful, lively and in compound time. Both have effective organ accompaniments (with some unusual harmonies in the Rogers), and SATB choirs will enjoy singing them.
0 FILll ET FILIAE [M]
SATB and organ
Encore Publications £3.95
Inspired by the well-known French melody, Philip Moore has written a set of choral variations for each verse of the hymn 'Ye sons and daughters of the King' which encapsulates beautifully the meaning of the text. With a straightforward organ accompaniment and idiomatic writing for the choir, the overall effect of this anthem is magnificent - highly recommended.
THE RISEN CHRIST [M]
Easter Cantata for STB soli, mixed choir and chamber ensemble
Encore Publications 979-0-9002162-4-3 £10.95
Although written for Canterbury Cathedral and performed also at the National Cathedral, Washington DC, Philip Ledger's Easter cantata will be welcomed by parish choirs. This 25-minute work, in ten short sections, is scored for SATB chorus with soprano, tenor and baritone soloists accompanied by organ, but an alternative accompaniment for chamber ensemble is available. The music is appealing and displays the composer's gift for writing in a simple yet effective way. The text is a meditation on the Easter story and is printed separately in this score. Although it can be performed in concert, an interesting form of service (including texts by Lancelot Andrewes, Gregory the Great and Clement of Rome) based around this cantata is also included. This is warmly recommended as a liturgical and musical resource.
Chester Music CH79057 £2.99
FESTIVAL ALLELUIA [M/D]
SSA and piano
Chester Music CH78056 £2.75
G. Schirmer, Inc. ED 4389 £1.25
The first two are substantial pieces. Whitacre has transcribed his tenminute wind orchestra work, October for eight-part choir using the single word 'Alleluia'. The inspiration was a term spent at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and singing in David Skinner's choir there. Good (very good!) singers will enjoy a range of choral effects, including aleatoric repetitions, as well as solos for soprano and bass.
James Whitbourn wrote his four-minute upper-voice Festival Alleluia for Farnham Youth Choir, and tremendous fun it must be to sing. An incisive piano part helps hold it all together. The singers throw around Alleluia phrases as if excitedly tossing them into the air. A slow opening returns near the end to provide an opportunity for reflection.
Paul McKibbins's Alleluia! lasts just a minute, but conveys all the excitement of the repeated word. An opening rising ninth, 'bright and rhythmic', in the sopranos sets the scene and (in different voices) underpins the texture, which becomes progressively more exuberant.
GOD IS GONE UP WITH A MERRY NOISE [E]
SATB and organ
If your organ has a trumpet stop with which to make 'a merry noise', and if you want an easy anthem that is harmonically and rhythmically conventional to an extreme, this could be the Ascension anthem for you. Singers certainly won't be caught out by anything unexpected, and there are some nice alternations between choir and organ.
James L. Montgomery
VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS [D]
Thomas Hewitt Jones
SATB and organ
Encore Publications £3.15
THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT [D]
Thomas Hewitt Jones
SATB and organ
Edition Peters EP72246 £2.95
Both these pieces share a similar approach, with a whirling organ part depicting the rushing wind or tongues of flame depending on your imagination, and energetic, mostly homophonic writing for the choir, which might evoke the fearful excitement of the disciples on the day of Pentecost. Both have a moment of repose ('Sacrum septenarium' in the one, 'The fruit of the spirit is faithfulness, gentleness and self-control ... he will guide you into all truth' in the other) before the organ brings back the wind/flames to bring the pieces to exhilarating conclusions. They are not excessively difficult, and organists who play with panache and choirs singing with confidence and precision would find them evocative and rewarding.
BEFRIEND ME [E]
SATB and organ or piano
Banks Music Publications ECS 561 £1.60
VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS [MD]
Oxford NH75 £2.20
Here are two invocations to the Holy Spirit. Jepson's is the easier, with simple four-part choral writing (just a couple of bars of divisi for sopranos and basses) and keyboard accompaniment. Its alternation and then canon between SA and TB is simple and effective, blossoming into a beautiful extended final phrase.
Harrap's approach is more innovative musically and in his treatment of the text, where the Veni Creator Spiritus hymn is sung by tenors to the familiar plainchant (although starting at a different pitch for each verse), whilst SSABB sing a passage as if in commentary from John Donne's A Litany. The dramatic setting of the Donne contrasts with the plainchant, although all come together for a final Amen in a radiant F sharp major.
James L. Montgomery
UPPER VOICE CAROLS
WATT’S CRADLE SONG [E/M]
C.V. Stanford arr. Philip Moore
SS and organ
O MARY, WHERE IS YOUR BABY? [E/M]
arr. Gwyn Arch
SSA and piano
Banks Music Publications FM009
A NEW YEAR CAROL [E/M]
Two-part chorus & piano
Boosey and Hawkes BH12353
Stanford’s setting of ‘Golden Slumbers’ has been arranged for two-part soprano voices and organ (or piano) by Philip Moore, using Isaac Watts’ Cradle Song which is also a wonderful text to sing at a baptism of a child. This delightful melody, sensitively arranged to the familiar text, deserves to be widely used.
O Mary, where is your baby? is an easy three-part (SSA) arrangement of a Christmas spiritual from Louisiana with piano accompaniment. Effective, and yet not difficult, it will be an enjoyable and lively addition to the Christmas repertoire.
Howells’s New Year Carol was a surprise to me. Using the traditional text also set by Benjamin Britten, this early composition is a rollicking good tune with a very lively piano accompaniment. Set for two-part equal voices, it is easy, rhythmic, and fun – and makes a fascinating contrast to the more familiar harmonic language of Howells.
BELL CAROLS (SATB)
ALL BELLS IN PARADISE [E/M]
SATB and organ
THE BELL CAROL [E]
SATB and organ
AS THE BELLS RING [E/M]
SATB and piano
DING DONG! MERRILY ON HIGH [M]
SATB (with divisions) and organ
These arrangements can be used individually, or perhaps imaginatively performed as a suite on the theme of bells in a Christmas concert.
Commissioned for the 2012 Nine Lessons and Carols service at King’s College, Cambridge, John Rutter provides a lovely melody, beautifully arranged for choir and organ to his own text All bells in paradise. This carol is set to become a firm favourite, for although written for King’s, good SATB choirs will relish singing it. Rather easier, but still effective is Philip Ledger’s four-part Bell Carol, setting a poem by Longfellow (reprinted from Carols for Choirs 5).
As the bells ring by Bob Chilcott is a lively, straightforward SATB setting, alternating 7/8 and 4/4 time, with an original text by Charles Bennett. The text may limit its use to places where it snows at Christmas and where church bells can be heard! Chilcott’s music is lively and engaging, but choir and organist need an accurate sense of rhythm.
Finally, there is an exciting arrangement of Ding dong! Merrily on high by Stuart Nicholson in which the well-known melody is cleverly set to a Caribbean rhythmic pattern. With a good organist and a competent SAATTB choir this will bring a smile to the performers and probably applause from the audience.
THE SWALLOW AND THE BELLS [E]
The well-known Ukrainian Carol of the Bells is here set to a new translation of a legend associating the swallow with Christmas. The text will not be helpful in countries where snow is not expected at Christmas. The music is also available with a more general text, copyright-free, from the CPDL website. Best sung unaccompanied, and quite fast (there is no tempo indication): choirs will enjoy this.
A CHRISTMAS SEQUENCE [E/M]
Martin Neary has set two very short extracts for equal voices from Betjeman’s well-known poem Christmas which can be performed separately or in succession. The second was written for the unveiling of the memorial to Sir John Betjeman in Westminster Abbey in 1996. The instructions for the organist read ‘if the organ is used, the pedal notes should be played an octave higher at sixteen foot pitch.’ It may be easier for the organist to play the notes as written using only an eight-foot stop.
MARY’S LAMENT [E/M]
SSA, solo and piano
Banks Music Publications ECS553
With music written in a popular style, accompaniment conceived for piano, and text by the composer, this is an imagined meditation by the Virgin Mary as she looks on her baby. Written for soloist with three-part choir, this song could provide something different in the Christmas repertoire.
LULLAY MY LIKING [D]
Two-part with keyboard or harp
From the Novello New Choral Music series, this setting will tax will tax the most competent singers who need to have an unerring sense of pitch and rhythm. The accompaniment is for piano, harp or organ, and, in contrast with the vocal parts, is easy.
MARGARET RIZZA AND BERNADETTE FARRELL
OFFICIUM DIVINUM [E]
SATB, organ and other instruments
Sometimes a subtitle is more revealing than the official title: here it is ‘A musical journey through the Morning, Midday, Evening and Night Prayers from the Daily Office’. Do not expect a setting of the Office starting with ‘O Lord, open our lips’ and ending with the conclusion of Night Prayer; the key word here is ‘journey’, not just a musical journey but a spiritual one too.
On this journey, one travels and pauses at different points. This is a book to be dipped into and used at different times and in different circumstances. There are two unaccompanied choral pieces, four accompanied by organ and ten with organ and instruments (sometimes optional and sometimes not). The Magnificat and Nunc dimittis are given with Mary Holtby’s English text; a Gloria in excelsis setting is from Rizza’s Mass of St Benedict; there are three poems from David Adams’s The Edge of Glory, one poem each by Herbert and Blake, as well as settings of texts taken from the Church of England’s Common Worship: Daily Prayer. The section headed Midday Prayer provides opportunity for adoration, with Rizza’s own text Blessed bread and David Adams’s The Real Presence.
These are not anthems or ‘performance pieces’: they are prayers, and if the music is often very simple, gentle and unhurried, that is simply to allow the prayers to speak and the Spirit to act. Taizé-like, perhaps – but the harmonies and melodic sequences are the composer’s own, and there are not the awkward moments that one sometimes finds trying to fit Taizé chants to the verses. It all feels natural.
There is a CD of all the music also available from the RSCM shop – Convivium Records CR022.
LOVE GOES ON
SATB and keyboard or voice and guitar
OCP (Decani Music) 30108001
It is 13 years since the last Bernadette Farrell collection. In that time she has developed a tireless advocacy for social justice, including health services and housing. It hardly comes as a surprise then that the first words of the first song are ‘Act justly’, with a refrain based on Micah 6.8: ‘Act justly, love tenderly, walk humbly with your God’. Other biblical sources of inspiration are Psalms 40, 86, 104 and 130 and Revelation 7 and 21 (with refrain, ‘In God alone my hope, in God alone my strength, in God alone my shelter be, my home, my heart, my liberty.’).
These are songs that are inspired by scripture and unsentimentally applied to everyday life – love in action. They also cover the church year from Advent to Pentecost. There are African rhythms and optional melody instruments, forceful, punchy melodies as well as gentle triple-time tunes that caress the ear. But one of the most memorable pieces takes for its music Goss’s tune for ‘See amid the winter’s snow’, with words designed for a Christmas service of healing, and the refrain ending ‘In our joy and in our pain, Christ is born in us again.’ A CD is available from Decani Music, 30108002.
James L. Montgomery
LENT AND EASTER
THE NOVELLO BOOK OF MUSIC FOR LENT AND EASTER [E–D]
Edited by David Hill
Mixed-voice choir with and without organ
For 15 years OUP’s Lionel Dakers and John Scott volume, Ash Wednesday to Easter for Choirs, has had the market effectively to itself. Now there is not so much a competitor as an essential additional volume for every choir that sings during this period. The range of music in this new anthology (and there are hardly any overlaps between OUP and Novello) reminds us just how much superb church choir music has been written for this period, and especially for Holy Week.
Apart from one little quibble, I find it difficult to imagine how David Hill could have compiled a better volume, especially after Novello have generously allowed him to include 64 pieces. To dispose of the quibble, it is a pity that there are not singing English translations for some of the texts that are not in English. Only in George Malcolm’s Ingredente Domino (also in OUP’s volume) are English and Latin included. The one other piece in both volumes is the Victoria Reproaches. Although both Novello and Oxford give alternative English-text settings (Mawby for Novello and Sanders for Oxford), many choirs sing ‘O my people’ to Victoria’s sublime music, but Novello only offers it in Latin. There are also two German-text pieces that many RSCM-affiliated choirs will surely be deterred from singing in worship when that is the only language offered for performance.
Singing translations aside, time and again one realizes how much one needs this new Novello volume to round out what one is already singing. Where Oxford provided the Lent Prose and Litany settings with old and new texts, Novello has Andrew Gant’s Penitential Responsory for Ash Wednesday, setting Psalm 51 and including ‘Remember, O man, that thou art dust’ as the response. For Palm Sunday, Oxford gave Hosanna to the Son of David versions by Gesius and Hutchings, where Novello provides the classic Weelkes setting. For Maundy Thursday, Oxford offered Buckner’s Pange lingua setting (with Latin and English text) where Novello provides plainchant, twice, once starting ‘Of the glorious body telling’ and once ‘Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle’. For Good Friday, Novello gives a setting of Were you there when they crucified my Lord? by Stephen Jackson instead of Oxford’s Chilcott setting.
Beyond such comparisons, there is one splendid and unique feature of this new volume, in that David Hill has called on the repertoire of anthems and other music published by Novello and its sister companies in a most imaginative way. John Tavener (Song for Athene), Paul Mealor (Ubi caritas), Richard Allain, Knut Nystedt, Kenneth Leighton (Drop, drop, slow tears), Benjamin Britten – there is so much wonderful music included. There is also a useful selection of hymn arrangements. Music for ‘refreshing worship’ seems to be the ‘in’ phrase at present: this volume will certainly do that for Lent and Easter.
NOËL 3 [E–D]
Carols and Anthems for Advent, Christmas & Epiphany
SATB with divisions and solos, with and without accompaniment
ed. David Hill
Novello NOV310838 £12.95
There are some big pieces here; church choirs with the resources to tackle Jan Sandström’s twelve-part arrangement of Lo, how a rose e’er blooming or Dan Locklair’s exhilarating dash through Hodie Christus natus est or John Tavener’s multi-divisi Annunciation may wonder why they also have R.R. Terry’s 1912 Joseph and the Angel or indeed Barnby’s hymn ’Twas in the winter cold. Among the 45 pieces there is certainly something for everyone, from Howard Blake’s Walking in the Air to James MacMillan’s O Radiant Dawn via Howells and Vaughan Williams (This is the truth sent from above) arrangements. The subtitle says ‘carols and anthems’ so one cannot object to some of the more elaborate anthems, although those pieces that may appeal most to smaller church choirs are those that retain some of the spirit of a carol such as Richard Allain’s Balulalow, Adam Harvey’s My Jesu, sleep (written specially for the volume) and Richard Rodney Bennett’s I saw three ships. There are also plenty of arrangements of traditional carols, all by different arrangers so no one style or approach dominates. All in all it is one of the most wide-ranging carol collections on the market.
AN AMERICAN CHRISTMAS [mostly E]
Carols and carol arrangements from North America
SATB with occasional divisions, with and without accompaniment
ed. Jerry Rubino
Oxford 978-0-19-337978-7 £12.50
Three of these 16 pieces are by American composers, the remainder arrangements – and even when of well-known European repertoire (Silent night, O holy night, Sussex Carol or indeed Hark! the herald-angels sing) there is a pronounced American flavour in the harmonies: jazz, gospel and Broadway are not far away. Obviously appropriate when applied to North American folk carols and spirituals, the arrangements are skilfully enough done to feel right when applied to the whole repertoire – and it is good to be reminded that Away in a manger is indeed an American carol. Canadian readers will be pleased by Sarah Quartel’s atmospheric setting of the Huron Carol. Of the new pieces, Libby Larsen’s A simple Gloria is most striking – quiet and serene, as appropriate for the Christmas message of the angels: peace on earth.
CAROLS WITH INSTRUMENTS
INSTRUMENTAL PRAISE: Hymns and Songs for flexible ensemble – Vol. 1 Christmas Hymns and Songs [M]
RSCM D0263 £25.00 (affiliates £18.75)
For organists and choir directors seeking to involve other instrumentalists in music for worship, or for music groups wishing to encourage participation of those who prefer ‘reading the dots’ to improvising, the RSCM publication ‘Instrumental Praise – Vol.1’ could be a useful starting point. A collection of 20 photocopiable ‘Christmas hymns and songs’, arranged for a very comprehensive range of instruments, the collection comes with a CD ROM with printable full score and parts for each carol.
A useful introduction gives advice about setting up an instrumental group, with indications as to how to use the musical arrangements to best effect. (For more detailed guidance on writing instrumental arrangements, see Noël Tredinnick’s article, ‘Instrumental Praise’ in Sunday by Sunday 65, June 2013.)
The score and parts are easily navigable. Each bar is numbered, repeats are clearly marked and, particularly helpful, introductions and occasional links are written out in full. Suggestions are offered for dynamic variations between verses. Instrumental parts are generally not too technically demanding, though simpler parts are provided for less advanced players. Occasional catchy off-beat inner parts may challenge some! A major benefit of the collection is, obviously, the amount of time saved in preparing musical arrangements, especially during the busy season of Christmas. It will be interesting to see the direction future volumes take, given the vast wealth and range of traditional hymns and songs from which to choose. In the meantime, this first volume of mostly well-known Christmas carols may encourage more instrumentalists to join in making a joyful noise to the Lord.
MUSIC FOR ADVENT
THE VOICE OF THE ANGEL GABRIEL [E]
SATB and organ
ANGELUS AD VIRGINEM (Gabriel to Mary came) [M]
arr. Carol Barnett
SATB (with divisions) and optional tambourine
The voice of the angel Gabriel, one of Philip Ledger’s final compositions, sets a Cornish text (‘When gentle Joseph wedded was’) that tells the story of the Annunciation from the point of view of Mary’s husband. The singable and tuneful music takes its cue from that word ‘gentle’. The composer’s own indication is ‘flowing but unhurried’; his melody could almost have been an old carol tune.
Carol Barnett uses the original tune for Angelus ad virginem in an inventive setting, where the tune is passed from voice to voice accompanied by ostinatos or parallel fourths and fifths, creating the effect of a wild medieval dance.
DROP DOWN, YE HEAVENS, FROM ABOVE [M]
SATB (with divisions)
COME, THOU REDEEMER OF THE EARTH [E]
arr. Ashley Grote
SSAATB and organ
THOU SHALT KNOW HIM [E]
Church Music Society CMS O45
Louis Halsey sets just two verses, but within 50 bars covers a huge range. Every phrase is vividly painted. The climax at ‘let the earth open’ (and it does, musically) finally leads as if in exhaustion to a slowing and softening plea, ‘Come, O Lord, and tarry not’. Although it ends on a C major chord (the key of the opening melody but largely avoided during the piece), it is a second inversion, as though only a temporary resting – the story is just beginning.
Ashley Grote has given Come, thou Redeemer of the earth a treatment suitable for use in an opening procession, with solo soprano, then four-part upper voices, an unaccompanied choir verse, two congregational verses, another upper-voice verse (‘Thy cradle here shall glitter bright’) and finally unison with descant. Simple but effective.
Written ten years ago, Canadian Mark Sirett’s setting of an evocative anonymous poem is already popular in North America. Church Music Society has now made it available in the UK. Look for one of the several performances on YouTube and decide whether its simple charms will appeal to your choir and congregation. James L. Montgomery
THE HOLLY AND THE IVY [E]
Unison voices and piano
THE HOLLY AND THE IVY [M]
arr. Ola Gjeilo
SATB (with divisions)
Walton Music HL08501836
THE HOLLY AND THE IVY [E]
SATB and piano or organ
Lutoslawski’s unexpected arrangement of the traditional English carol was originally made for solo voice and piano, but very effective it is with unison young voices. All verses are the same musically, but with a distinctive piano accompaniment that keeps everything harmonically and rhythmically alert.
Ola Gjeilo’s setting is more conventional (bar an unexpected coda), with the tune passed from voice to voice for different verses whilst the other voices highlight different phrases in music and words. The coda is based on what was a counter-melody earlier in the setting – all rather more artful than is found in other treatments of this traditional carol.
Matthew Owens has written his own jaunty tune, changing between 3/4 and 6/8 in an unpredictable and engaging manner. But the jollity stops for three bars at the end of each verse for an a cappella ‘Sweet singing in the choir’. This carol, with its unison verses and four-part chorus, is a masterly example of how to write simply with the utmost impact.
WAS IT WINTER? [M]
University of York Music Press M-57036-326-1
BEFORE THE PALING OF THE STARS [M]
SATB and organ
NOW MAY WE SINGEN [M]
CHILD OF THE MANGER [E/M]
Peter Maxwell Davies
Schott ED 13495
A simple musical idea, climbing up a fifth, provides the material for Saxton’s Was it winter?, inverted and augmented but always clearly present. The composer wrote his own text, moving from the winter of Jesus’ birth and the arrival of the Magi through spring and summer (‘Summer dawns, the Dancing air resounds Under a new Son, for all mankind, Now and evermore’). The music gradually warms too and starts to dance, and E minor turns to E major for the final chord. It is a piece that would be rewarding to learn and pleasing to a congregation.
McDowall’s lyrical gifts make her a natural carol writer. In her Christina Rossetti setting, Before the paling of the stars, the haunting melody, first emerging out of a mysterious organ texture, is given a variety of expressive treatment, ever growing in confidence as we ‘hail the King of glory’. Now may we singen is more straightforward: a joyful dance with a medieval flavour thanks to punchy rhythms, vocal drones and parallel fourths and fifths.
The musical inventiveness of 78-year-old Peter Maxwell Davies shows no sign of diminishing. The Master of the Queen’s Music wrote his carol Child of the manger for the
Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at Christmas 2011 and it was first performed at the Chapel Royal, St James’s Place at Epiphany 2012 (not 2011 as printed in the score). Sopranos sing the three verses of ‘Child of the manger’ accompanied by altos, tenors and basses singing ‘Hodie Christus natus est’, and the three verses are separated and framed by a unison chant-like setting of ‘Verbum caro factum est’. That chant provides the musical ideas for the three verses, in which tenors and basses sing throughout in parallel thirds until the final cadences. This is tuneful, flowing music, with a rich texture provided by the lower parts. It is also rewarding to sing – all four parts are melodies in themselves. And it is quite easy, with modest vocal ranges and the music repeating for each verse. There are no dynamics or tempo mark – so each choir can create its own way of singing it.
WHAT SWEETER MUSIC [M/D]
THE SHEPHERDS SING [E-M]
S Solo, SATB, trumpet, piano or harp
AWAY IN A MANGER [E]
SATB and organ
Oxford BC 147
Bob Chilcott writes superbly well for voices – as demonstrated in these three such different settings. What sweeter music, written to be sung by the choir of Westminster Abbey, is a complex piece on paper although comparatively simple in its effect. Tight contrapuntal imitation, gradually expanding from a unison, creates a pulsating background to a soaring soprano melody. All parts blossom in texture and dynamics for the final line of each verse.
The shepherds sing (words by George Herbert) has a gorgeous richness, reminiscent of a song from a Broadway musical, as keyboard (or ideally harp) arpeggiate an accompaniment to trumpet (or saxophone or clarinet), solo soprano (with a major role here) and choir. Away in a manger is an arrangement of what is now the standard American tune by James R. Murray, commendably straightforward with verses for unison upper voices (or solo), SATB unaccompanied, and then unison with descant. The organ supports discreetly in verse 1 and firmly but unostentatiously in verse 3.
James L. Montgomery
THE TRUTH THAT SETS US FREE [E]
Biblical songs for worship
John L. Bell & Graham Maule
Wild Goose Publications 978-1-84952-230-4
The words that we sing help to shape what we believe – that is hardly controversial. But John Bell and Graham Maule passionately argue that much traditional hymnody, and praise and worship material, addresses too limited a range of subjects and needs supplementing if it is to represent ‘the full panoply of the magnificence of God and the experience of God’s people’. So here they offer 21 songs, mostly in four-part arrangements, roughly half from John Bell and half from around the world (and especially from the southern hemisphere). The only songs beginning with the word ‘I’ are psalm paraphrases. For the rest, Bell and Maule have chosen songs that express corporate worship rather than personal piety. The musical arrangements are varied but always simple. A CD is also available from Wild Goose Publications – see www.wgrg.co.uk for CD details and for a list of all the songs in book and CD.
THE TALLIS PSALTER [mostly E]
Psalms and Anthems, Canticles, Preces and Responses
ed. David Skinner
Tudor composers coped in various ways with the Reformation, the change from Latin to English and the required changes in musical style. Thomas Tallis embraced the new style assiduously and with lasting success – hence the number of his English-texted anthems still in the repertoire of church choirs of all sizes and abilities.
This anthology has a number of uses. For the first time, Tallis’s eight psalm tunes plus ‘Ordinal’ are published with the complete texts of Parker’s metrical versions of the psalms. Spellings are modernized. The music is simple and delightful, and often familiar from current hymn tunes and in Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. These psalm tunes are followed by the five-part Preces and Responses (the only pieces here not in four parts) and the Dorian Service (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis). Throughout, the music is transposed for SATB, but the publisher’s website includes printable versions of all 22 pieces at their original notated pitch and scoring – an excellent extra resource.
For many, the biggest attraction will be the final section with new editions of Tallis’s ten surviving English anthems. From the best-known If ye love me to the lesser-known A new commandment, they are all miniature masterpieces.
THE PSALMS OF DAVID
Pointed and edited for chanting by George H. Guest
Paraclete Press / RSCM D0258
Just three years after John Scott’s splendid New St Paul’s Cathedral Psalter was reissued as The Anglican Psalter, here is another distinguished psalter, and one in many ways from the same tradition. David Hill, in a foreword to the new book, describes how there was one recording of which George Guest was particularly proud and that was ‘Psalms of Consolation and Hope’ on which the organist was John Scott. As one would expect, the choice of chants is very different (and Scott included many more recently composed examples), as is the pointing. But the most important difference is that where The Anglican Psalter was issued in paperback and in a format suitable for choir use, Guest’s The Psalms of David is a handsome, large-format hardback and priced to match. It will of course be bought by those who played or sang the psalms under Guest’s direction over 40 years. But it deserves to be consulted by everyone who uses Anglican chant in worship: whatever psalter they use with their choir, anyone looking at this new psalter to see how a remarkable church musician approached each verse will gain insight in their own psalm direction.
ANTHEMS FOR FUNERALS, REQUIEMS and REMEMBRANCE
REQUIEM AETERNAM [M/D]
SATB (with divisions) and organ
GOD SHALL WIPE AWAY ALL TEARS
Boosey & Hawkes BH12524
Requiem Aeternam by Elgar is the title that appears on the front cover, with no indication that there is an arranger (David Hill) involved, nor that this is a choral version of ‘Nimrod’ from the Enigma Variations. The ‘Requiem aeternam’ text fits the music quite well, but the melody itself is difficult to sing with all those descending sevenths. Soprano top Cs are optional (the organ can play them instead), but a top B flat is obligatory.
Since its premiere in 2000, individual movements from Jenkins’ The Armed Man have often found a place in worship. Now available separately are the final three pages of the last movement, a moving, unaccompanied setting of Revelation 21.4, ‘God shall wipe away all tears’. Below a simple chorale-like melody, altos and tenors become increasingly elaborate, while basses remind us of the rising fourth that starts the L’homme armé theme.
THE KOHIMA EPITAPH [E]
DO NOT STAND AT MY GRAVE AND WEEP [M]
Boosey & Hawkes 979-0-060-12523-2
THEY ARE ALL GONE INTO THE WORLD OF LIGHT [E/M]
Chester Music CH79035
These are all settings of words often heard spoken at funerals. The Kohima epitaph (‘When you go home, tell them of us, and say . . .’) is given a compressed, Vaughan Williams-style setting by Christopher Chivers in which every note tells. Just nine bars long, there is plenty of space for a note on the text and its music, including an interesting history of the epitaph, and its misattributions.
Ed Rex’s setting of Do not stand at my grave and weep (poem attributed to Mary Frye) is homophonic throughout. After a simple start, the chords gradually thicken and become richer – well worth learning for choirs who can happily divide in all parts and hold notes a major or minor second apart.
Tavener set Henry Vaughan’s They are all gone into the world of light in the late 1960s within his Celtic Reqiem, but now has returned to it as text for a stand-alone anthem. The tempo mark is ‘With the air of Paradise’ (followed by a metronome mark), making the intention clear to invoke that ‘world of light’. A haunting six-bar phrase (three bars plus an answering three bars) is sung seven times, with varied harmonic and contrapuntal treatments appropriate to the poem. Simple, but with exquisite craftsmanship.
EASY SATB ANTHEMS
I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE [E]
SATB and organ
Banks Music Publications ECS 514
CHRIST WAS THE WORD [E]
SATB and organ
Here are masterly examples of composers making more out of less, allowing words to speak for themselves, highlighted by occasional repetition. Both anthems are highly suited for singing during communion, Carter setting John 6.35 (starting ‘I am the bread of life’) and Halsey the words attributed to Queen Elizabeth 1 starting ‘Christ was the word who spake it, He took the bread and brake it’. Gently reflective, each comes to rest on the same E flat major chord; with both in triple time and marked ‘flowing’, one could almost allow one to flow into the other.
KING OF GLORY, KING OF PEACE [E/M]
SATB and organ and congregation or semichorus
This is a clever and effective anthem. A lively setting of George Herbert’s words, alternating 6/8 and 3/4 in effect (although notated throughout in 3/4) gradually introduces into the choral texture the hymn tune Gwalchmai to which those words are often sung. For the final verse, the congregation or a small group of singers sings the hymn tune in unison whilst the rest of the choir and organ enjoy pitting themselves against it. And we realize that the music of the first verse was the countermelody to the hymn tune in the final verse: very satisfying!
O GRACIOUS LIGHT [E]
LOOK DOWN, O LORD [E]
SATB and organ
THE WILDERNESS [E]
SATB and organ
These three reflective anthems show how wide a range of styles and techniques can be applied to music which remains approachable and easily singable by choirs with limited resources and rehearsal time. In Henry Helvey’s O Gracious Light all the voices lie comfortably in the middle of their ranges and will never sound strained in this unaccompanied piece. The words are yet another translation of the Phos Hilaron hymn (see the new Ancient & Modern nos. 17, 18 and 20 for other versions). The harmonies are characterized by gentle, added-note chords above a firm tonal bass.
Many of the harmonic scrunches in Geoffrey Atkinson’s Look down, O Lord are in the organ part, enabling the voice parts to remain very easy. The piece looks old-fashioned, with a minim pulse (and 4/2 time signature) and setting words from Book of Common Prayer compline, but the harmonies are distinctive and built to a splendid climax on ‘thy celestial brighness’ before the mood of the opening resumes.
Peter Aston’s The Wilderness (verses from Isaiah 35) is more extended and characterized by a lilting triple-time rhythm, with a soft reed solo on the organ to start and gentle alleluias at the end of each verse. There are climaxes on ‘the splendour of our God’ and ‘joy and gladness’ but the overall effect is of a profound, reflective peace – it is an exceptionally well-crafted anthem.
James L. Montgomery
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.
OXFORD HYMN SETTINGS FOR ORGANISTS: ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS [M–M/D]
ed. Rebecca Groom te Velde and David Blackwell
Oxford 978-0-19-339233-5 £18.95
There are 38 original pieces. The stated aim of this new series is ‘to provide quality music based on well-known hymn tunes for church organists’. There are pieces specially written by composers from Great Britain and the United States, and for all parts of the liturgy. The book is essentially practical, and covers a wide selection of familiar tunes for the Advent and Christmas period. Being specially composed, there is plenty of exciting material to work through.
It is difficult to restrict oneself to a few items for special mention; ones that struck me, because of their diversity of style, were Alan Bullard’s Stille Nacht, James Vivian’s In dulci jubilo and David Bednall’s Forest Green – but this is where it is difficult to stop. What pleased me most was the great variety of styles: some approaches are more conventional, such as David Thorne’s trio on Noël; others are unexpected takes on familiar tunes, such as Rebecca Groom te Velde’s God rest you merry – Dance. Somehow the whole book felt quite different from what I expected: it is definitely a volume to have on the console this Christmas season.
18TH-CENTURY ENGLISH ORGAN MUSIC: A GRADED ANTHOLOGY [E–M/D]
compiled and edited by David Patrick
Oxford University Press Vol. 1: 978-0-19-338919-9, Vol. 2: 978-0-19-338916-8, Vol. 3: 978-0-19-338917-5, Vol. 4: 978-0-19-338918-2 £9.95 each
For a long time, David Patrick’s complete editions of the music of 18th-century organists have given us scholarly collections from the works of a wide variety of composers, some more obscure than others. Quite a few of the 65 pieces in these four volumes will, I am sure, lead players to those complete editions.
The books are graded. One problem with music of this genre is that often it looks easy to sightread, but, for an authentic and accurate performance, even the simplest pieces need proper preparation; those here are no exception. The introduction to each volume is of great help. The pieces cover a wide range of composers, with some familiar
names – Handel, Boyce, Hook, Dupuis for example – and others less familiar: Broderip, Garth, Burney, Linley, to name a few. Wherever you look, there is plenty that will please as voluntaries and in concert, and also that is ideal for filling up those uncertain gaps whilst waiting for a tardy bride.
Beautifully produced as usual, this collection is a worthy addition to the many collections of 18th century English organ music published since C.H. Trevor’s pioneering books.
SIX VOLUNTARIES [E]
Edward Kendall (attrib.) ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £8.00
Not be found in the OUP volumes, these voluntaries were published by Kendall while he was organist at Falmouth, and date from about 1775. The editorial notes provide useful information, which will help in performance. The music is attractive, pleasant if predictable, and a pleasure to play.
ANTHOLOGIES WITH PEDALS
ENGLISH ORGAN MUSIC OF THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURIES [M–M/D]
Edition Peters EP72533 £7.95
The book contains 17 pieces drawn from the Peters organ catalogue, including some material from the ‘Tallis to Wesley’ series; I could find no duplication with David Patrick’s books. The composers are Alcock, Burney, Boyce, Greene, Stanley, Wesley and Walmisley.
Alcock’s Voluntary No.10 is in C.H. Trevor and the second item by Greene is the well-known piece in C minor. The four Stanley voluntaries are selected from Opp.5, 6 and 7. The three Wesley pieces include the familiar Air usually paired with the Gavotte. The two pieces by Walmisley are Prelude in E minor and Prelude and Fugue in E minor. Both require pedals, the fugue in particular demanding a good pedal technique.
GERMAN CHORALE PRELUDES OF THE 17TH AND 18TH CENTURIES [M]
Edition Peters EP72532 £7.95
This useful book has 32 preludes by many different composers of the period. Ten require pedals, the part usually being straightforward and not always printed on a separate stave. The majority cover only one or two pages, making them handy for filling up liturgical gaps. All of the names will be familiar: Pachelbel, Walther, Telemann and Buxtehude to mention a few, thought the preludes are likely to be less known.
Isaac van Vleck Flagler, ed. Jens-Michael Thies
Butz Musikverlag 2580 s15.00
Flagler (1844–1909) was an American organist who studied with Batiste and Merkel in Paris and Dresden. One of the founders of the American Guild of Organists, he had a distinguished career; his organ music was popular in services and concerts in America and England. The style is of salon music, being in the Romantic tradition with good melodies and what the editor describes as ‘a sound structural technique’.
The 12 pieces provide good material for services and for lighter recital moments. There are few technical difficulties and a modest two-manual instrument will do them justice. I agree with the editor when he hopes that this music, ‘so agreeable for listeners and performers alike, will again be heard in services and concerts’.
ENJOY THE ORGAN 2 [E/M]
ed. Karl-Peter Chilla
Bärenreiter BA11208 £11.50
The second book in this enjoyable series is much the mixture as before. The only piece I recognized was the Gossec Tambourin; the remaining ten range from Walther to Stanford. The latter, Prelude Op.101, No.1 is the hardest, with a much trickier pedal part than the rest. There is a good variety of styles, from the decidedly lighthearted Communion sur Bellini by de Vilbac to a more solid Praeludium und Fuge by Walther.
LES CHAUSSETTES ROUGES [D]
Cantate Domino 3100 £5.95
Cantate Domino 3101 £6.80
PASSACAILLE IN G MINOR [D]
Cantate Domino 3102 £7.55
FANTAISIE ET FUGUE SUR LE NOM B.A.C.H. [D]
Cantate Domino 3103 £12.10
YOROKOBI (PIÈCE JOYEUSE) [D]
Cantate Domino 3105 £5.95
Lionel Rogg’s self-reinvention continues apace, with an energy he has shown throughout his long career: as well as being a peerless recitalist and perceptive teacher, he has in later years produced a corpus of excellent compositions, of which these five works for organ are the latest examples. As with his students, Rogg demands a secure technique from those who wish to play his music: all these pieces are challenging to play, but are largely tonal and will be good material for recitals. Moments of repose are few and far between, but excitement abounds, from the mighty climaxes of the Passacaglia and B.A.C.H. settings to the rumba rhythms of the quirky ‘Red Shoes’ and other dance rhythms in Boléro. My personal favourite is Yorokobi (Japanese for ‘joy’), a work of irregular rhythms, additive melodies, grace and charm.
VOLUNTARIES WITH PEDALS
TRISTRAM REMEMBERED [E]
PER ORGANO MOLTO PICCOLO [E]
animus £5.50 and £4.00
Tristram refers to a statue in Halifax Minster of a beggar with an alms box. Of the four pieces, Herschel’s Romp is an allegro, mostly in two parts, for manuals only. Aeolian Chorale is also for manuals only whilst Meditation introduces a few pedal notes towards the end. The pedal part for A Tune for Tristram is more ambitious, though the ‘Nobilmente’ tempo makes it easy enough for the novice organist.
The little three-movement suite Per organo molto piccolo was written for a two-rank single-manual organ and derived from early Italian instruments with just an 8ft principal and a 4ft stopped flute. The three very pleasing movements are Cantique, Il flauto mobile (so called because it can be played an octave lower on the flute) and Dance of the tritone.
FOUR NOVELTIES FOR ORGAN [M]
The four are Danse des clochettes by Rebikov, Marsch der Aethiopier (Arthur Bird), Water Nymph (Ethelbert Nevin) and Gavotte de la Dauphine (Scotson Clark). Ideal for a wedding if congregational chatter makes the practice worth while, these little pieces will at least cheer up the choir and organist. Marsche der Aethiopier is an oddity by reason of its registration, opening with Swell 16ft and 2ft accompanying a right-hand 4ft flute. Water Nymph is from the same set as Narcissus (also available from animus).
VARIATIONS OP.36 [D]
Elgar arr. Adrian Self
Op.36 is, of course, better known as the ‘Enigma Variations’. Adrian Self has made a notably successful transcription, and lovers of Elgar should find much enjoyment here. Some variations are harder than others; those who are asked to play ‘Nimrod’ regularly might like to try this transcription for a change. Performance of the whole is a recital task, but individual variations can be effective voluntaries.
SEASONAL COLOURS [M]
Organists need an endless supply of seasonal music, and these eight pieces take us from the purple of Advent to the red of Pentecost. The composer’s comments are important, because the preludes were written to help good pianists ‘come to terms with playing the pedals and controlling the resources of even a modest organ’. His aim of isolating each problem is well met, so the player can concentrate on one thing at a time, for example a moving manual part over relatively static pedals and vice versa. The largely tonal or modal style results in attractive and approachable music, which will be of considerable use to the pianist turned organist.
THREE PIECES FROM
PARTITA OP.37 [M]
Sigfrid Karg-Elert arr. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £5.50
For most of us, acquaintance with Karg-Elert’s music is probably confined to the Chorale Preludes, so these three pieces come as a welcome alternative. The Partita was written for harmonium and translates well to the organ. The first is Sarabande, then Gavotte and finally in this set Loure. Effective on the smallest of instruments – a single manual will do – all three will be good voluntaries.
PRELUDE AND FUGUE IN A FLAT [D]
Charles Macpherson, ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £7.00
Charles Macpherson (1870–1927) is not to be confused with (Charles) Stewart Macpherson, who was a contemporary whose theoretical works were the mainstay of the basic training of many a musician. Little of his slender output for the organ is known today, apart from the Andante in A Little Organ Book in memory of Hubert Parry. The fine prelude leads to an equally splendid fugue, both needing a large instrument and a lot of concentrated work, but well worth it.
Chester Music CH82302 £12.95
This is a welcome reissue of a significant early work for organ by the late Sir John Tavener. Mandēlion is a substantial piece lasting 25 minutes, composed for the 1982 Dublin International Organ Festival: its name translates literally from Greek as ‘handkerchief’ but, as Tavener writes, also has significance in iconography as a ‘shroud’ and, as such, is a meditation ‘upon the changing and distorting images of the face of Christ’.
Alongside the strong influence of Greek Orthodoxy and Ikons, Mandēlion features many other familiar Tavener tropes: chant-like melodic figures, deep drones and contrasting textures and dynamics in close juxtaposition. This is music from Tavener’s early period, however: virtuosic, often harshly dissonant, uncompromising and sometimes brutal as well as ecstatic – genuinely moving music of great strength and power, and essential material for any serious fan of contemporary organ music.
Antony le Fleming
Encore Publications £6.95
My first encounter with Antony le Fleming came nearly two decades ago when I was assistant engineer on a recording of his choral works. His music struck me then as eloquent, literate and satisfying for listener and performer, and I’m glad that this new work shows that he has retained this subtlety and refinement well into his seventies. The stylistic influences of his teachers, Herbert Howells and Malcolm Arnold, are strong and Paean is infused with a grandeur and liveliness that makes it a fine choice for a festal voluntary or recital work.
ST ANDREWS’ SUITE [M/D]
Boosey & Hawkes 979-0-060-12869-1 £8.99
This new work was composed for the 600th anniversary of the University of St Andrews in 2013. It is in three short movements following a fast-slow-fast pattern: the first is a grand quasi-toccata featuring oscillating triads in the manuals and bell-like figures in the pedals; the second, a lyrical, folksy two-voice meditation for manuals that features MacMillan’s trademark grace-notes; the final movement starts off as a fugue but develops, via a strong melodic pedal line, into a return of the ideas of the opening movement. A very welcome new work that, through its idiomatic writing and gracious melodies and harmonies, would reward organists and audiences alike.
DREI PRÄLUDIEN UND FUGEN [M/D]
Margaretha Christina de Jong
Butz Musikverlag BU2593 s15.00
Margaretha Christina de Jong is a much-garlanded Dutch composer, recitalist and organist of the Niewe Kerk in Middelburg. This set of three pairs of preludes and fugues ‘on songs of praise and thanks’ is strongly inspired by Baroque styles, as well as the neo-baroque compositions of Mendelssohn. All three pairs are conventionally tonal, in the praise key of F major and are suitably triumphal, satisfying pieces that would make a useful addition to an organist’s library of voluntaries.
SONATA No.4 in C major [D]
Alan Gray ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £9.00
This is the last of Gray’s Sonatas, and as fine as the other three already re-issued by David Patrick. It begins with an Allegro, which is not too demanding until the octave pedalling in the last 20 or so bars; a grand movement. Next is Andante maestoso ma non troppo lento. This is harder with plenty of pedal work. The tempo increases from bar 36. The Finale is everything a Finale should be: lots of fireworks and excitement. If you have only time enough to learn one movement this should be it.
INTRODUCTION AND PASSACAGLIA [M/D]
Alan Gray ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £6.00
Alan Gray (1855–1935) was director of music at Wellington College and, for 37 years, organist of Trinity College, Cambridge. This piece is only one of the many compositions he wrote for the organ and for choirs. In D minor, it begins with a short introduction; the Passacaglia which follows is text-book in its treatment of its Andante theme. There is the traditional increase in pace, density of texture and complexity of part-writing, and a pleasing contrast of all three between bars 98 and 129. The best introduction to Gray’s music for organ is, I think, the 24 Short Preludes, if you can find a copy. After them, this Passacaglia would be a good place to start. As John Henderson says in his Directory of Composers for Organ, ‘none of these pieces could be described as truly great but several make useful voluntaries.’
DREI HEITERE ORGELZYKLEN (Orgelwerke Band 2) [M/D]
Butz Musikverlag BU2553
Which, being interpreted, means you will have bought Variations on a theme of Paganini, Seven Improvisations on Yankee Doodle and Sherlock Holmes Suite. Andreas Willscher (b. 1955) makes his intentions plain in his introduction, describing these pieces as ‘cheerful and amusing organ music’, and in this he is certainly successful.
The Paganini Variations take the well-known theme. There are ten variations and a concluding toccata; most are quite short, very sight-readable and with only a few requiring simple pedals, though Variation 9 is for pedal solo. In this case the solo is very easy, calling for alternate toes plus a three note chord at the end.
The improvisations on ‘Yankee Doodle’ are great fun. Described as ‘played by several organists’, the grandiose Marche Pontificale would make a good concluding voluntary if you think you could get away with it. Valse musette is the ‘Organiste titulaire on the evening of 14th of July in Périgueux’; next is a homage to Fats Waller, the best of the set. There is Very simple, for an ‘Old lady who had some piano lessons in her youth’, a moderately difficult pedal solo for a cathedral organist with two broken arms, a Communion in the spirit of Messiaen, and the variations end with Thema fugatum quasi Toccata. This would be happy end to a concert, and individual movements could be used as voluntaries if you have the nerve.
The Sherlock Holmes suite takes four stories, beginning with a depiction of a dull, foggy day in The hound of the Baskervilles. The best movement is next, John Hamish Watson’s Rag, well worth working up for a concert. Reverie, Holmes’s violin, is pleasantly attractive, and the suite ends with a fugue based on the letters SHE, which is not as hard as it looks.
TOWN HALL ORGANIST Book 1 [M/D] and Book 2 [D]
animus £6.50 and £5.00 respectively
These pieces are by a former organist of Bolton Town Hall, Arthur Jones (1869–1961), who gave more than 1,080 recitals during his career, most of them on the four-manual organ originally built by Gray & Davison and designed by W.T. Best. In the first book, Nautch Dance is followed by Nocturne, Chansonette and Fantasia on Irish Airs. The four could be a concert programme in themselves. Of the four, Nocturne has a long passage requiring thumbing of a counter melody, which can be awkward if the distance between Swell and Great is big; the last item, the ‘Fantasia’ will take some learning.
The second book is given over to one work, an arrangement of Rossini’s overture L’Italiana in Algeri. Given the current fashion for performing arrangements of large-scale orchestral works, this could well be the centre piece of a recital, but a comprehensive organ is needed. It is mostly only moderately difficult as far as the actual notes are concerned; the difficulties arise in the mechanics of registration. Short of a nimble assistant or better, a sequencer, this will be hard to pull off, though no doubt a great success with the audience.
ORGAN MUSIC FOR MICHAELMAS
VOX ANGELORUM: ANGELS IN ORGAN MUSIC [E/M]
ed. Andreas Willscher and Hans-Peter Bahr
Butz Musikverlag 2466 €24.00
This is an entertaining and varied volume of liturgically useful music, themed around angels, from the prolific publishing house of Dr Josef Butz. The collection contains music from the nineteenth century to the present day, though nothing is stylistically challenging: there are interesting contributions from Tournemire, Mulet and Langlais alongside a good arrangement of Franck's evergreen Panis Angelicus; some sentimental works by Edwardian British and American composers; some Wesley and Mendelssohn; and a charming Angel's Song by Christopher Tambling. There are works for manuals-only, gentle music appropriate for communion, and some energetic festal works too.
Banks Music Publications 14069 £5.00
This suite by Frederick Stacken, first performed by the composer in 2011, takes its inspiration from the three biblical archangels, with one movement devoted to each. 'St Gabriel' begins quietly, reflecting the mystery of the annunciation, before gaining momentum as a cross between a toccata and a chaconne; 'St Raphael' is serene and gentle throughout; and 'St Michael' is a vigorous toccata-battaglia. Each movement stands alone, or the set may be played in recital as a whole. The outer movements require a sound technique, but the musical interest is strong and offers much scope for colour and excitement.
PARTITA ÜBER 'UNÜBERWINDLICH STARKER HELD, ST MICHAEL' [M]
Edition Dohr (Universal Edition) 13767 £4.95
The story of St Michael continues to be a rich source of inspiration for composers of organ music, such as Frederick Stacken (see above) or Nicholas O'Neill, whose toccata Dum Committeret Bellum is well worth seeking out. This partita, composed in 2012 by the German organist Walter Gleissner, (born 1931) is based on a melody from a Dutch collection printed in 1614. The musical language is muscular (reflecting the steadfast saint of the title), reminiscent of Hindemith; each short movement is full of character, and would suit a strong Baroque instrument. An excellent recital work.
VERY BRITISH [M-M/D]
Butz Musikverlag BU2550 €14.00
This book follows on from the collection of ten pieces by Christopher Tambling from the same publisher, (British Album), and contains eight items which will be suitable for a range of different occasions. The music is all approachable. Some pieces are quite sight-readable; some will need work, especially the Toccata from the final item in the book, an interesting Prelude, Interludium and Toccata on a theme by Edward Elgar. The theme eventually proves to be the tune best known as Land of Hope and Glory, appearing in various guises before its last airing as the pedal part in the Toccata. Of the other pieces A Prelude for Evensong is a pleasure to play, as is Romance. I particularly enjoyed the 7/8 Trumpeting Tune (an intriguing take on a well-used form), March and the 5/8 Scherzo. This is a book well worth having in the library.
VICTORIAN ORGAN ALBUM [M-M/D]
ed. John Scott Whiteley
Butz Musikverlag BU2595 €16.00
I am ashamed to admit I was a great decrier of Victorian organ music in my youth, perhaps the result of having been brought up on Stainer's tutor. Advancing years have helped me discover what delights there are hidden amongst the music of that time. This collection of ten pieces has music by composers ranging from S.S. Wesley to Elvey, Smart, Hopkins and Hollins, to name but a few. There is much interesting music here. If you have tried Tambling's patriotic variations on Land of Hope and Glory turn to Barnby's Commemoration March, which is founded on themes from his Victoria - Our Queen. There is a splendid Con Spirito in D by Smart, a worthy addition to the many postludes he wrote. There is a long and very pleasant Andante Pastorale by Charles Edward Stephens, and an elegant Allegretto grazioso by Berthold Tours. With its well-written music and familiar style, the collection should give considerable pleasure.
PARTITA ON A SOMERSET CAROL [D]
Banks Music Publications 14073 £5.95
This is a fairly early work, composed in 1975 for a carol concert in York Minster's Chapter House, for an organ having only six stops. I have not yet identified the tune, which opens the work in a setting for manuals only. There are nine variations in all, of varying complexity and making considerable demands on technique. The Finale is particularly difficult. As is usual with Jackson, the musical language is also demanding. If you like a technical and intellectual challenge then this is the piece for you.
FIVE SKETCHES ON HELMSLEY [M/D-D]
Banks Music Publications 14072 £5.50
Decidedly dissonant, this is strong meat which, to my ears, owes much to the stylistic influence of Francis Jackson. There are five pieces which look easy enough but in fact make considerable demands on the player; for example, the complex chords in the last section of the first piece are hard to read and will cause a few headaches. Probably the easiest is the fourth, largely because it is an Andante and because the overall style is more conventional. Overall, it is an interesting work, which will give player and listener plenty to think about.
TWO ORGAN SUITES [E]
Trumph www.trumph.se T048008 122kr
These suites are based on traditional Swedish folk dances. The composer explains that they can played on a one-manual organ, and gives suggestions for the performance; there is a great deal of flexibility. The melodies are simple, marked 'Polska, in the style of a minuet', and the biographical notes explain their nature in detail. Suggestions are made for suitable registration.
'RARE AND UNKNOWN'
FOUR CENTURIES OF RARE AND UNKNOWN ORGAN MUSIC VOLS 1 AND 2 [E/M]
ed. Wolfgang Lindner
www.schola-editions.com SC8750 & 8753 €26.95 each or €4 7.00 for the two
Among a number of volumes of organ music sent for review by Schola Cantorum are these two and, unusually for this publisher, they have a preface in English. Unusual also are the very high production standards with supremely clear music on quality paper.
The musical content is variable in quality as one might expect - rare and unknown organ music is usually unknown for a reason! Most of the music is playable without pedals, most is of Grade 5-7 level difficulty and some is sight-readable.
Many of the composers represented (mainly eighteenth century) will be names known to organists, such as Telemann, Kellner, Kuhnau, Kirn berger, C.P.E. Bach, Arne, Alkan and Beethoven. Some will be less well-known, such as Hurlebusch, Hiller, Gattermann, Doles, Matheson and Witte. A particular surprise is to find a Fugue in A minor B.144 by Chopin. This (and the Beethoven Prelude in F minor Wo055) are not transcriptions of popular pieces but, like everything in these volumes, original keyboard works. In the case of Chopin's two-part fugue, not an early student work but music dating from 1841, it is a curiosity that would probably never be played except that it has Chopin's name attached to it. For some undisclosed reason the editor has added a pedal part that occasionally obscures the LH part. The only twentieth-century music is a communion piece by Jean Giraud and several short pieces by the editor Wolfgang Lindner, a retired organist and musicologist in Münster.
Lovers of obscure music will delight in these volumes. There is music here for both church and concert that will please the ear of an audience, and some which will perhaps only appeal to the curiosity of the performer.
Edward Elgar ed. Edward Tambling
Butz Musikverlag BU2566 €14.00
This book has ten pieces, a mixture of the well-known and less familiar. Some, such as Nimrod, Salut d'Amour and several others, will be familiar from other publications, though naturally having changes in approach. Less familiar are 0 salutaris hostia, Ave verum corpus, Sonatina, Sospiri and Contrasts, The Gavotte A.D.1700-1900. This is a useful addition to the available range of Elgar transcriptions. All are carefully and faithfully done, and suit their new medium.
THREE NOCTURNES [M]
Frederic Chopin arr. Serge Ollive
Trumph www.trumph.se T072004 164kr
I have always shied away from requests to play Chopin on the organ: there is so little that transfers with any degree of authenticity. Serge Ollive has adapted No.2 from Op.9 and Nos.1 and 3 from Op.15. The first and last work quite well, and sound quite convincing; both are technically straightforward and, given a sympathetic acoustic, will be happy on the smallest of two manual instruments. I was not quite so convinced by the repeated note figure and the semiquaver agitato section in No.1 of Op.15, but this may be a personal reaction because I found them awkward to deal with. The arrangements are certainly skilfully done and well worth a try.
THREE DEBUSSY TRANSCRIPTIONS [M-M/D]
Claude Debussy arr. Serge Ollive
Trumph www.trumph.se T072003 164kr
The three pieces are Clair de Lune, Nuages (No.1 from Nocturnes) and Prélude à l'Après-Midi d'un Faune. As with the Chopin transcriptions, this is music which does not lend itself readily to performance on the organ, but these pieces come off well. A well-equipped organ is highly desirable, as is a resonant acoustic.
VARIATIONS SYMPHONIQUES [D]
César Franck arr. Serge Ollive
Trumph www.trumph.se T072006 164kr
Playing major orchestral works on the organ has become fashionable, harking back to the days when access to orchestral concerts was difficult, the organ providing the most convenient way of hearing such music. This transcription of Franck's composition is not for the faint-hearted. Much of it looks quite reasonable, but to carry off the colours and grandeur of style will take some doing. Dare I say that for most of us it would be best enjoyed on one's own in a suitably darkened building.
PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION [M/D]
Modest Mussorgsky arr. Serge Ollive
Trumphwww.trumph.se T072005 323kr
This is not the first transcription for the organ of Mussorgsky's work and whether it is easier or more difficult than others I cannot say. It is already quite well known as a recital item, and this transcription is, for the most part, eminently playable. The double pedalling in 'The Ox Cart' will need work, but is helped by the slow tempo, and the unhatched chicks and Samuel Goldenberg may provoke a few unorganist-like asides. It is all worth trying and there is no reason why individual movements cannot be used in a recital or as voluntaries. In the present international climate one might perhaps try 'The Great Gate of Kiev'.
All these editions from Trumph are excellently produced as usual, with strong spiral binding and a thick cardboard back cover which helps the copy to sit well on the music desk. The Mussorgsky volume has six colour reproductions of some of the pictures.
EINE KLEINE NACHTMUSIK [M/D]
Mozart arr. Heinrich E Grimm
Butz Musikverlag BU2556 €14.00
Whilst the Romanze has appeared in some collections of wedding music, this is, I believe, the first transcription of the whole work. It makes an excellent piece of organ music, being comfortable to play and feeling very idiomatic. There are naturally plenty of problems to overcome, but nothing that practice will not solve. The Romanze is the movement to learn first, the outer movements presenting the greatest challenges. With the advantage of being something which most listeners will already know, it would make a good recital piece; the individual movements could also be used as voluntaries.
HOLY WEEK AND EASTER
THE PASSION CHORALE: MEDITATION AND TWO PRELUDES [M]
The lengthy eight-minute Meditation achieves well the composer's aim of serving 'to aid in the creation of an atmosphere which is conducive to worship in service'. The two Preludes are much shorter, each having a discretely decorated version of the melody in the right hand. All three are warmly recommended as an excellent addition to the music available for use at this season of the church year.
TWO FESTIVE PIECES: OFFERTOIRE FOR EASTER DAY AND ALLEGRO-FANFARE [M/D]
Charles-René Collin ed. David Patrick
FitzjohnMusic Publications £8.00
Once again David Patrick has unearthed something hitherto unknown except perhaps to a few. Collin (1827-1911) studied with Lefébure-Wély and was organist at Saint-Brieuc Cathedral.
These are two splendid pieces to conclude Easter Day services. Of the two I preferred the more flamboyant Allegro-Fanfare, especially at crotchet = 96 which is a happier speed than the original's crotchet = 108. Its bustling semi quaver figures are reminiscent of the work of Collin's teacher. It is also a little easier on the feet than the Offertoire. Both must surely give pleasure to player and listener alike; no doubt I shall find out in due course.
MANUALS ONLY OR WITH VERY EASY PEDAL PARTS
SIX FUGUES WITH INTRODUCTIONS [M]
John Jeremiah Jones ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £9.00
Jones (1789-1856), a pupil of William Crotch and organist of several London churches, published this collection in c.1811. A short slow introduction, marked for two manuals, precedes each comparatively lengthy fugue. Only no. 3 is in the minor, its subject having some neat chromatic turns. Nos. 1 and 4 are marked Andante, the others headed Allegro. No. 4 has two subjects, the first proceeding in minims and crotchets, while the second is a lively exploration of repeated notes and reminiscent of some 150 years earlier. No. 5 is also a double fugue in which the second subject appears as an answer to the first, with subjects indicated by symbols that follow the tradition of Wesley and Horn.
ln several places the music requires stretches of a tenth, which, together with some tricky hand shifts and care to ensure smooth passing of lines between hands, increases the level of difficulty somewhat disproportionately to the standard of the writing. Pedals are needed for several held bass notes and may be used elsewhere to advantage.
David Patrick has done his usual excellent job in editing and typesetting these pieces, which, far removed from the fugal movements in earlier sets of voluntaries, form interesting if lesser companions to similar pieces by Crotch and George Drummond (both published by Fitzjohn).
THE ADLINGTON SUITE: VARIATIONS ON A THEME OF G.F. HANDEL [M-M/D]
This was written for the composer's annual visit to play the 1693 organ in Adlington Hall, Cheshire. A website address is given which has an account of the organ: a fairly large instrument with eleven stops on the Great and three on the Choir.
The Suite begins with a Handelian Overture of two sections, the customary dotted opening elaborately decorated with demisemiquaver scales, and then a lively 3/8 section, ending with a shortened recapitulation of the beginning. This movement, which would happily stand alone for recital or service, is available separately, price £4.00.
The Handel theme comes next, an Aria based on The Hunting Song, which has words written by Charles Legh who was then owner of the Hall. A Siciliano follows, then a Minuet, an Allemande, and finally a Corrente.
Playable on any keyboard instrument, though no doubt sounding best on an organ reasonably close to the stop list of Adlington, individual movements could well be played as voluntaries.
MOVEMENTS FOR CHAMBER ORGAN [M]
The composer says that these four pieces 'were inspired by the chamber organ by Gray and Davison (c.1860) which graces the Lady Chapel ... of St Wilfrid in Harrogate.' A photograph of the organ and its stop list are given.
The first movement is a 6/8 Allegro moderato, really a gentle Gigue with occasional cross rhythms. The second begins and ends as an Andante with a denser-textured piu mosso calling for neat finger work. The movements end with an Allegretto.
This is an ideal collection for a pianist pressed into service as an organist.
VOLUNTARIES THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
PRAISE AND THANKS FOR ORGAN BK.2 [M/D]
ed. Andreas Rockstroh
Bärenreiter BA8497 £22.50
This is another of Bärenreiter's highly useful collections of hitherto unfamiliar liturgical organ music. Twenty pieces are given, of which only the last, Festival Postlude by Christian Fink, is not chorale-based. Although this has some limitations for the British organist, it is no hindrance to enjoyment of discovering new music; there are two pieces on Lobe den Herren ('Praise to the Lord, the Almighty') and two on Nun danket. The second of these is happily entitled 'Thanksgiving and Cheering Prelude' and lives up to this description. The editor is perhaps a little optimistic in describing the pieces as 'easy to moderately difficult', but the comment that they are intended to 'provide practical and diversified material' for a wide range of players is fully justified.
KÖLNER FANFAREN: 17 FESTLICHE ORGELSTÜCKE [M]
ed. Winfried Bönig and Hans-Peter Bähr
Dr J. Butz 2500 €32.00
In 2006, a new west-end Bombarde section was installed in Cologne Cathedral, containing two tuba stops (Episcopalis and Capitularis) of unusually high (680mm) wind pressure. This volume is a collection of works all composed to take advantage of the Cathedral’s excellent acoustic and organs, particularly the new Bombarde, though all could be played on any instrument that had a large solo reed. There are contributions from local composers such as Michael Hoppe and the cathedral’s own organist Winfried Bönig as well as composers from seven different countries, including Colin Mawby, Peter Planyavsky and Daniel Roth. Many of the pieces are technically challenging, and all are fresh and modern whilst remaining stylistically approachable. I particularly enjoyed Robert Jones’s Trumpeting Tune and was thrilled by fiery and raucous Battalias by Bönig and Hans Dieter Möller. The volume is handsomely produced in large format with a silvered cover featuring the famous west elevation of the Cathedral.
AN ALBUM OF MARCHES OF THE ROMANTIC AND EDWARDIAN ERAS [M-M/D]
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £12.00
There are 14 marches, a mixture of arrangements and pieces originally written for the organ, with plenty of unfamiliar music to discover. Try, for example, Mendelssohn's March in D Major, arranged by John E. West, written for a festival in Dresden in 1841, or Schumann's March from Pictures from the East, written for piano duet in 1848. Better still, just play through the whole book, as you should surely find something to please. The list of composers runs from the familiar (Hollins, Gounod, Smart, Salome, etc.) to the unknown (Oliver King, Ernest Grosjean, etc.).
ANTHOLOGIES (WITH PEDALS)
THREE ADAGIOS FOR ORGAN [E/M]
Novello 13767 £7.95
Novello have been championing the music of prolific Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) recently: the quality of this new offering justifies their enthusiasm. The three works were first performed at St Sulpice in Paris by Kalevi Kiviniemi in 2013 and are a post-modern take on the great French Romantic composers, particularly Franck. They are heavily chromatic and expressive without being sentimental and would make excellent liturgical music or recital pieces, though I would caution against performing them consecutively.
TRINITY FANFARE [E]
Church Organ World COW-2103-001 £5.00
Just 12 bars of grand ceremonial music, ideal for the Gospel procession at a major festival, or a welcome for the local mayor. The music is typical fanfare material, and is easy and effective. Sumptuously produced and published by Makin Organs, the only problem is the price. At 41.66p a bar, it is an expensive 30 seconds or so.
TRUMPET TUNE IN D MAJOR [M]
Church Organ World COW-2103-002 £5.00
This jolly traditional trumpet tune from the associate organist at Liverpool Cathedral is just the thing to liven up a gloomy Sunday morning. It is well written for the organ, as one would anticipate, and does all the things one expects an English trumpet tune to do. There are no technical problems to overcome, and whilst it would work on almost any organ it will sound even better on the biggest machine you can find. If you buy only one item from these reviews make it this one, a number one winner.
FOUR PIECES [M]
Ernest Farrar ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £9.00
Farrar (1885-1918) was a pupil of Stanford and a friend of Frank Bridge; one of his own pupils was Gerald Finzi. He was tragically killed at the battle of the Somme.
I suspect that for many organists the best known composition by Farrar is A Wedding Piece. David Patrick includes this and has also unearthed three other pieces: a fine Fantasy-Prelude, a not-so-fine and rather dull Prelude and Variations (on a Ground Bass), and an also excellent Elegy. For lovers of the organ music of this period the book is a welcome addition to the library.
A simple tuneful melody is the basis of this attractive piece, which is not quite as easy as it may first appear. It divides into sections, beginning in A minor and then passing through the key signatures of B flat major, B major, C flat, back to B and finally A minor. The actual tonal centre of each section is hard to pin down. Even more than with most pieces, it would be advisable not to play this without looking through it carefully first.
RECESSIONAL ON A WESLEYAN HYMN [M/D]
The fun here is to track down where the tune (Sagina) has got to. It happens be one I always enjoy accompanying, but its disguise kept me guessing apart from the brief appearance at bar 57. This is more of a recital piece than a voluntary, and will demand painstaking preparation for it to make its full effect.
THE GOOD DOCTOR'S BLAST: A TUBA TUNE FOR ORGAN [E/M]
Tim Knight Music / Spartan Press TKM715 5.95
Get past the odd title – who is the Doctor? – and you find a pleasantly tuneful piece in a conventional pattern. There are a few peculiarities with progressions that feel uncomfortable. For example, bar 14 and corresponding places just does not feel right, and the conclusion from bar 90 sounds as though it has strayed in from something else. Otherwise this will provide an undemanding outgoing voluntary, as long as you have a decent solo reed available.
DANCE OF CELEBRATION: A MAMBO [D]
www.jazzmuze.com 2013-383 $10.00
For followers of Joe Utterback’s unorthodox organ music this is a must, but the classification here of ‘D’ really should have at least one more D after it, if not two. It is not so much the notes as the rhythms which make it difficult, especially for those of us who are what was once described as ‘square’ in our inclinations. (I’m still struggling with his great version of Joshua.) Like all Utterback, it promises great pleasure, and some pain in this case in the learning, but I have no doubt the final result will be worth the mental fatigue, and one which listeners will enjoy immensely.
A WEDDING PROCESSIONAL [M]
Fitzjohn Music Publications £5.00
A Wedding Processional was written for David Patrick's wedding and played then by the composer, Mr Patrick having been a pupil of and then assistant to Harold Darke. (By one of those coincidences which abound in the organist's world he and I were pupils of Darke at about the same time.) The style has all the hallmarks of Darke's work.
Originally published by Ascherberg, it has been edited from the original manuscript in the editor's possession. It is to be hoped that this new edition will enable it to be heard more often.
THREE SHORT PIECES BASED ON TUNES BY ORLANDO GIBBONS [E/M]
The first is based on Song 46, the next on Song 29 and the last on Song 34. In the first, the tune (no problems spotting it here) is in the pedals at 4 foot pitch, with a calm quaver accompaniment. Song 29 is in the left hand, with a nimble right hand accompaniment, but take care to observe the instruction ‘not too fast’ as there is great temptation to speed it along at much more than the crotchet = 85 asked for.
Song 34, set as a grand postlude, brings the group to a stately conclusion befitting the words commonly used to this tune, ‘Forth in thy name’. The time signatures vary throughout.
SIXTH FANTASIA IN F MINOR, CHORALE VARIATIONS ON 'OUR FATHER' AND TWO PRELUDES Op. 57 [M]
Adolph Friedrich Hesse
Verlag Dohr (Universal Edition) ED11423 £12.95
The Fantasie is a long and frankly rather dull piece, 326 bars of heavy-going, worthy but generally not very interesting music. The Variations on the well-known Vater unser are more interesting. There are only two and the music is much more approachable, more rewarding to play, and no doubt easier to listen to.
Of the two preludes, the first is built on a simple figure, E flat, F and D, and is also rather heavy going, but the second, marked Allegretto, is more tuneful and is the best of the bunch.
ADVENT, CHRISTMAS AND EPIPHANY
ADESTE FIDELES: 14 Choral Preludes for Advent and Christmas [M–M/D]
Dr J. Butz Musikverlag 2450
Robert Jones’s aim was ‘to take a fresh look at some of the (mostly) well-known Christmas hymns and carols and to write a set of pieces in a variety of styles … which will appeal to both player and listener alike.’ In this he has succeeded. The book begins with a Tambourin on the tune we know as Maccabaeus; another unfamiliar one, Macht hoch die Thur, follows. We are soon on more familiar territory, with a pseudo-Bach take on Wachet auf; amongst the rest there are pieces on Quem Pastores, ‘Angels from the realms of glory’, Silent night’, and, of course, ‘O come, all ye faithful’. This is an enjoyable and very useful collection.
FANTASY ON ‘VENI EMMANUEL’ [M]
Paraclete Press PPMO1355
This is an interesting re-working of this melody. The music is contemplative, in an accessible idiom as is usual with this composer’s writing. It will be useful as an introductory voluntary. Technical demands are relatively few, and a modest two-manual organ would suffice.
CHORALE VOLUNTARIES FOR THE CHURCH YEAR: CHRISTMAS [M]
C. Griffith Bratt
Paraclete Press PPMO1332
The seven items comprise five on familiar Christmas tunes and two on the Epiphany hymns ‘As with gladness’ and ‘Songs of thankfulness and praise’ (Dix and St Edmund). These are well-crafted pieces, perhaps a little too overcrowded with notes, but interesting. ‘Silent night’ is quite tricky, with a pedal part (8 ft only) proceeding in parallel tenths for the first 17 bars. The manual parts combine ‘The first Nowell’ with ‘Silent Night’, which works surprisingly well. There is a pleasing setting of Est ein Ros entsprungen as well as pieces on ‘O come, all ye faithful’ and ‘A Child is born’. An enjoyable book, well worth a try.
PRÉLUDE, CHORAL VARIÉ ET FUGUE sur Veni Redemptor Gentium (Nun, komm, der Heiden Heiland) [M/D]
Margaretha Christina de Jong
Margaretha Christina de Jong (b. 1961) is a Dutch organist and composer based at the Nieuwe Kerk in Middelburg; her heritage though, is more of the French school, having been taught by Guy Bovet and Jean Langlais, amongst others. This is evident in the titles of many of her organ works, including this recent offering from 2010 which is strongly influenced by Duruflé’s Prélude, Adagio et Chorale varié sur le theme du ‘Veni Creator’. The writing is assured and idiomatic, with a satisfying final-variation toccata: registration instruction is minimal but dynamics are plentiful. This would be a useful piece for organists interested in contemporary French styles and looking for something slightly different for Advent.
MANUALS ONLY – two players on one organ
THE GRAND HALLELUJAH IN ‘THE MESSIAH’ & GRAND CORONATION ANTHEM ‘ZADOK THE PRIEST’ [M]
G.F. Handel arranged by John Marsh
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
These pieces were originally published along with two fugues (also available from the same publisher) in 1783, reprinted in 1795. The Hallelujah setting follows the original closely, but the Grand Coronation Anthem is in two parts, a Preludio being followed by the section based on ‘God save the King’. The writing in these pieces, clearly aimed at the increasing amateur market at the time, shows a good economy of means.
The introduction includes Marsh’s own comments from his journal on when, where and with whom he played these pieces. The music is clearly printed, although page turns may prove difficult in a few places. These generally not over-demanding pieces are great fun to play and should prove excellent experience for the two players in co-ordinating articulation and ornamentation as well as some fast semiquaver runs. They would make attractive additions to the recital repertoire and offer excellent teaching material for either two students or for teacher and student.
MANUALS ONLY OR WITH EASY PEDALS
FOUR FUGUES Op. 13
ed. David Patrick and John Collins
Fitzjohn Music Publications
Guest (1771–1831) was organist of Wisbech and had previously been a chorister at the Chapel Royal in London under James Nares and Edmund Ayrton. As John Collins says, these fugues show ‘a far less highly idiosyncratic approach to ornamentation and registration than that indicated in his Sixteen Voluntaries’. These voluntaries, also published by Fitzjohn, are, I think, more interesting, but the fugues have their own merits. There is the occasional oddity in the way that each of the fugue subject begins with grace notes, which it is suggested are played as semiquavers. The first fugue has several extended passages of left hand octaves, which would be helped by a judicious use of pedals, without a 16-ft stop. If you are as much of an addict of 18th-century music as I am, then these are a necessary part of your collection – though I still prefer the Sixteen Voluntaries.
AN EASY BACH ORGAN ALBUM [E/M]
ed. Daniel Moult
The days when the novice organist’s introduction to Bach’s organ music was via the Eight Short Preludes and Fugues are long gone. In this excellent publication Daniel Moult has presented a collection of original pieces and arrangements, preceded by a handy introduction covering levels of technical difficulty, liturgical use, translations of German texts, a table of ornaments, notes on the pieces, comments on the contentious matters of fingering, pedalling, articulation, tempi, registration, and practice technique. These comments are a valuable part of the book.
The music covers much that will be familiar: the Preludes in F, G minor and E minor from the Eight Short, ten chorale preludes from the Orgelbüchlein, Neumeister and miscellaneous collections, plus nine other miscellaneous pieces and arrangements.
This is an invaluable teaching book which will prove a vital resource.
SONATA NO. 2 [M/D]
Paraclete Press PPMO1301
This is an enjoyable work, beginning with a short Prelude, then an Elegy, a stately March, and ending with a Finale marked ‘contemplatively’. The movements are short and could well be played separately.
KERSTIN’S TUNE [M]
Kerstin’s Tune is three and a half minutes of a pleasant, rather rambling melody that suggests someone quietly humming to themselves when no-one is listening. It needs an almost casual kind of playing to bring out its simplicity. It is the sort of piece that grows on one, needing several playings, but worth having in the repertoire.
PSALM PRELUDE NO. 3 [M/D]
The inspiration is from Psalm 103.11–19, which ought to be read before work begins on learning the music. There is almost inevitably a Howellsian feel to the music, which well reflects the text. The piece as a whole meets the composer’s hope that it ‘may give pleasure and serve to aid in the creation of an atmosphere which is conducive to worship in service’, and the quiet ending comes as a surprise when associating it with verse 19 of the psalm. It is a piece well worth performing.
PAEAN ON ‘GOLDEN SHEAVES’ [M/D]
Ignore the fact that Harvest Festival will be but a distant memory by the time this is read. Here is an exuberant toccata with a Vierne-like manual part over the hymn tune in the pedals (but nowhere near as hard as Vierne). Everyone should enjoy all of its three minutes, though it will take more than that to learn.
TWO HYMN SETTINGS IN JAZZ STYLE [M]
Kiyo Watanabe Trumph www.trumph.se TO74004
Welcome back to Trumph, who have been absent from these pages for too long. Kiyo Watanabe (b. 1966) is a native of Tokyo and now a renowned performer in America. The first setting is of the tune Aurelia, which, after a comparatively demure opening, is given a glorious jazz transformation, before returning to its original sedate version, though then over splendidly crunchy jazz chords.
The second piece is derived from a folk tune published in a collection in 1813. Even if unfamiliar, it is a good tune, which receives similar treatment to Aurelia; after a quiet andante beginning it is transformed into a vivace.
The use of jazz idioms in organ music is becoming more common, and these pieces are a happy addition to the practice.
CHRISTOS PATTERAKIS [E]
Roy Perry ed. Kiyo Watanabe
Kiyo Watanabe Trumph www.trumph.se TO74004
Don’t be caught out by the title; the piece has no Christian connection but comes from an election poster for the local sheriff. Perry (1906–78) was a self-taught musician from Louisiana, who became a well-known designer and tonal finisher of new organs – his last work was to supervise the new organ in Washington National Cathedral.
Patterakis’s name provides the rhythm for the theme of this, one of the only two extant pieces by Roy Perry. It is a pleasant piece – an undemanding item for a voluntary or recital. This, and the pieces by Watanabe reviewed above, have been edited by Dr John Henderson and are well produced in spiral binding.
SONATA NO. 3 IN F MAJOR [M/D]
Alan Gray ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
The third of Alan Gray’s sonatas is dedicated to Walter Parratt and maintains the excellence of the previous two, reviewed in June 2011 and September 2013. No. 3 begins with a tuneful Allegro Moderato Prelude. The second movement is ‘Air with Variations’ of which there are four, the last involving some double pedalling, but at a lento marking this presents fewproblems.
The Finale is the most difficult of the movements, beginning an eight-bar pedal solo taking one across the board from top F down. The composer does say that ‘this passage … may, if preferred, be played with the left hand’, However, parts of it reappear later when there is no choice. It is an invigorating movement which would make a good concluding voluntary.
WEDDING MARCH [M/D]
Banks Music Publications 14071
One of the pleasures of reviewing is discovering pieces which one has not met before, whether new or old, such as this reprint of a wedding march. It is characteristic of Hollins, including not being quite as straightforward as it appears at first glance. Beware especially of the pedal part from bar 61 on: there is plenty of activity, and considerable agility is necessary. This is one of those pieces which should not be confined to weddings – it is too good to be lost on the average rowdy wedding congregation.
It is always a pleasure to receive music by Bédard, full of interest and couched in a musical language which sounds colourful and contemporary. There is a wide range of difficulty, with something for every player, amateur or professional, and the composer does not forget the listener. As the biographical note says: ‘His music, essentially tonal and melodic, is characterized by a concern for formal clarity and immediate communication with as vast a public as possible.’ To which should be added that it provides music for all occasions, from simple gap-filling to recitals.
TROIS PIÈCES GALANTES [M]
Not exactly a pastiche but rather a typical Bédard take on classical style. The opening Maestoso is essentially melodic, as is the following Espressivo, both accompanied by rich chords taking the music through colourful, unexpected modulations. The final Allegro is a jolly, diverting piece which has become something of an ear-worm, though I was slightly disconcerted by its coda. Like all the composer’s publications, the likely duration is given: a helpful practice, especially for pre-service use.
IN MEMORIAM [M]
This is a bold triumphant piece, not, as one might expect, quiet and contemplative. A regular feature of the composer’s style is the use, either directly or by allusion, of plainsong, which is evident in the fortissimoopening. The steady progression of mostly crotchet chords develops a simple, descending melodic pattern, with some rhythmic additions, leading to a triple-forte conclusion.
HUIT INVOCATIONS [M–M/D]
These pieces were written for the blessing of the organ in Monaco Cathedral in 2011. A photograph of its striking case forms the front cover. Each piece is under two minutes long, and prefaced by a short sentence referring to the function of the instrument; for example, No.1 has the words ‘Awake, Organ, sacred instrument, sing the praise of God our Creator and Father.’
These short pieces would be useful covers for short processions or for quiet moments when music is needed in a service. There are different styles reflecting different moods.
VARIATIONS SUR UBI CARITAS [M]
Ideal as a pre-service voluntary as well as a quiet item in a recital, the simple plainsong melody is given an uncluttered yet elegant treatment, resulting in a piece which is rewarding to play and to hear, directing the listener to the text on which it is based. The cover is a photograph of the composer’s instrument in the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver.
FANTASIA FOR ORGAN [M/D]
Of this group of new pieces by Denis Bédard, this is by far the longest, lasting about six minutes. Bédard has a knack of writing in a tongue-in-cheek march style which reminds me of Prokofiev, and it is this style which frames the two quieter central sections. The Fantasia begins with a jaunty Allegro, moving to a very French Moderato for the Cornet stop. The concluding Allegro vivo is a new march-style section, full of the composer’s trademark of surprise harmony allied to strong rhythms.
All of these new compositions by Denis Bédard can be confidently recommended. As Paul Isom wrote in CMQ in September 2010: ‘his music deserves to be better known in this country’. These publications have been beautifully produced by the RSCM, on good thick paper, with attractive, colourful covers.
ORGAN WORKS VOLUMES 1 AND 2 [E–D]
RSCM NO970, NO 971 £25.00 each (affiliates £18.75)
These two volumes contain earlier compositions reprinted from Éditions Cheldar, all with the composer’s customary range of difficulty and variety of applications. All the trademarks of melody, tonality, clear structure and approachability are here, and each volume truly has something for everyone.
It is not easy to pick out individual items for comment because of the immense variety, and I enjoyed all of it. Of the 14 pieces in Volume 1, I was particularly taken with the Andantino, so clearly derived from Vierne’s Berceuse, the four movements of the Suite du premier ton, described by the composer as ‘an evocation of French Baroque organ music’, and the Suite of 1991 which opens the volume.
Volume 2 has 20 pieces, beginning with Festive Toccata, a traditional French style which is well represented in Bédard’s work in many disguises. Deux Noëls, from 1997, provide contrasting Christmas pieces, the first a simple piece on a Huron carol, the second a lengthy and reasonably difficult toccata on Il est né, le divin Enfant. The 1998 Variations sur Sine Nomine has long been a useful piece to have around. Amongst the longer pieces, such as the Suite Liturgique and the nine-movement work on the Pater Noster, it is easy to select individual movements.
Both volumes have useful programme notes, which are helpful to the performer as well as to the listener. Both are excellently produced on heavy paper – I found myself on several occasions thinking I had turned over two pages. I strongly recommend these publications; I have enjoyed playing Bédard’s music for many years and hope others will find the same pleasure.
SOUNDING HEAVEN AND EARTH [D]
SACRED AND HALLOWED FIRE [D]
CHURCH BELLS BEYOND THE STARS [D]
Oxford University Press ORC364; ORC434; ORC440
Cecilia McDowall is a contemporary composer treasured by church musicians and choir directors. To date her only published organ work has been her single contribution to the Orgelbüchlein Project, so these works are an extremely welcome issue.
Composed between 2010 and 2013, these three pieces, though each written for a different occasion, are all inspired by the poetry of George Herbert. Church bells beyond thestars is a bright, rhythmic toccata that lies nicely under the fingers and creates a convincing carillon effect with a delightful rhapsodic central section. Sounding Heaven and Earth is a fiercer and more overtly virtuosic toccata for the manuals at least, with exciting irregular time changes. Sacred and Hallowed Fire was commissioned by Harrison & Harrison and first performed at Westminster Abbey: it is the most complete and varied work, contrasting rapid fingerwork with sonorous fanfares and beautiful quiet writing.
Each work would make an excellent voluntary or recital item: perhaps playing all three consecutively might detract from their individual charms, but interspersed with other works they would form an excellent backbone to any recital.
O FESTIVE DAY [D]
Subito Music Publishing 91460060
The tempo marking of O Festive Day, ‘very fast and energetic’, sets the tone for another riot of fun from the ever-consistent Dan Locklair. The piece, from 2012, was a birthday gift to Mary Alice Lodico, a collector of traditional French children’s songs, though Locklair’s customary heavy use of perfect intervals lends the work an American folksy feel. It is registered for a large four-manual instrument, but could easily be played as a voluntary or recital work on a smaller organ. Figurations are fast but idiomatic and would reward a well-prepared performer.
FALLEN WORDS [M]
Tarik O’Regan has been steadily producing a body of organ compositions of a consistently high standard for a number of years, and this latest from 2013 is one of the best. Inspired by the traditional form of Japanese entertainment Rakugo (‘fallen words’), a minimalist form of story-telling, this is an intimate, understated work of tightly controlled structure. O’Regan’s harmonic language and melodic gesture are more adventurous than perhaps we might expect, and there is plenty of scope for colour in performance, making this excellent fare for a recital. Recommended.
SUMER IS ICUMEN IN – Theme with Six Variations [M/D]
Edition Egtved MF504
Leif Thybo (1922–2001) was a pillar of the Danish music community: as well as being a distinguished organist and composer, he held the post of Professor of Music Theory at the Royal Danish Academy of Music for 25 years until his retirement in 1990. This set of variations dates from 1989 and takes the form and language of a French classical suite, with duos for flutes or trumpets, and overtures. Thybo’s compositional style is clear and controlled, particularly in his management of modal writing. A charming set for a themed recital.
PRELUDES AND FUGUES[M/D]
The title given by the Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) is somewhat misleading: this is in fact one through-composed work, structured around an alternation between free passages and more tightly-ordered imitative sections, rather than a collection of short works. Sallinen has maintained throughout his prolific career (including several operas and eight symphonies) an essentially tonal harmonic style that makes his work very approachable. This piece was originally composed for solo accordion, which one can hear in some of the unison passages and chord oscillations. There is an excellent performance on accordion on YouTube; here we have Sallinen’s own, highly literate transcription, performed for the first time at the St Albans International Organ festival in 2013.
CHACONNE FOR JONATHAN HARVEY [D]
University of York Music Press M-57036-452-7
Jonathan Harvey will remain for some time one of the most fondly-remembered contemporary British composers: it is fitting that this memorial, commissioned for the 2013 London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, should come from Ed Hughes (b. 1968) who was Harvey’s amanuensis for his final choral composition Plainsongs for Peace and Light (2012). Hughes quotes from this piece, and from The Angels (1995), something to which you might like to draw your listeners’ attention in performance. The work is complex without being cluttered, full of busy figuration and contrasts in colour – an excellent tribute.
PILNING PICTURES [M]
(Manuals only or with pedals)
These pieces (for manuals only, or with pedals) were composed for the one-manual 18th-century chamber organ with pedals by William Allen in the parish church of Pilning. There are four pieces, ‘Introduction’, ‘A short gigue’, ‘Meditation’ and ‘Scherzetto’. Of these the last is the best, which lies happily under the fingers. The others are pleasant without making great demands. Pedals are suggested in ‘Meditation’
FUGHETTA ON A SOGGETTO CAVATO (the name W-Y-T-K-O) in four voices [M]
Paraclete Press PPMO1309
For those of us unashamed to admit that the term soggetto cavato is a new experience, it refers to an ‘extracted subject’, in this case arrived at from ‘the numerical location of the appropriate letter of the alphabet’, (composer’s notes). Well-known examples are the several fugues on the name B-A-C-H.
Dr Wytko is Professor of Saxophone at Arizona State University, but it cannot be said that the soggetto cavato has yielded a particularly attractive fugue subject. The result is somewhat angular and rather like an academic textbook question. However, a quite interesting composition is derived from it, and since fugues are an organist’s meat and drink this will provide a certain amount of quiet pleasure even if not being very appealing to the person in the pew. Trevor Webb
NEUN PRÄLUDIEN [M/D]
NEUN INVENTIONEN [M/D]
Universal Edition UE35924; UE35925
Friedrich Cerha (b. 1926) is an Austrian composer and conductor of considerable renown, bound up with the musical life and history of Vienna, particularly through his interpretation of the works of Schönberg, Webern and Berg and his completion of the latter’s opera Lulu. These works, written in 2011 when Cerha was 85, are in a relatively strict serialist style (though Cerha is well known for exploring all techniques of 20th-century composition), with which both performer and audience need to be in sympathy to appreciate the extremely high quality of craftsmanship. Registration instructions are absent, though there are some dynamic guidelines, allowing the performer total freedom of choice of colour. An excellent addition to the connoisseur’s library. Huw Morgan
ALSDORFER ORGELSTÜCKE [E/M]
FREIE STÜCKE (VOLUME 2) [E/M]
Edition Dohr 27423; 21853
Johann Lütter (1913–92) was a notable conductor and prolific composer of liturgical music for the church. He studied in Cologne and, following the Second World War, lived and worked for his whole career in Alsdorf. These handsome volumes are published by Edition Dohr who specialize in promoting the music of composers of the Rhinelands. The music is fascinating: a succession of miniature works that must have been used liturgically, but which contain hardly any tempo or dynamic markings at, leaving the music a somewhat enigmatic blank canvas. The writing is generally tonal, idiomatic and straightforward, but clearly Lütter had an ear for surprising colour, using plentiful deep chords, silence, and in one work, five-note pedal clusters that suggest he also had quite wide feet! Despite the hefty price tag, lack of English biographical note or any critical commentary, these works should appeal to the serious enthusiast of 20th-century German music.
ORGAN PLUS BRASS
Vol. 2 Five chorale preludes from the romantic era [E/M]
Vol. 3 Klomp: Toccata festiva for brass choir and organ [M/D]
ed. Carsten Klomp and Heiko Petersen
Bärenreiter BA 11202 and BA 11203
Organ score including brass score (separate parts are also available)
These two additions to the ‘Organ plus Brass’ series will prove most useful. As before, the intention is to provide ‘relatively unknown original works … and arrangements of original works for the formation of brass with organ’. The instrumental parts in the arrangements have been carefully written to be performable by amateur players. The organ parts also have been have been simplified. The score is given in C, with instrumental parts available for trumpets in B flat, horn in F, and trombones and tuba in C.
Of the five chorales, the most useful to British players will be those on ‘How brightly shines the morning star’ and ‘Now thank we all our God’. Each Prelude is followed by a setting of the chorale proper, and in these the brass parts can be played without the organ.
The settings are interesting for players and listeners alike, and will work admirably as voluntaries or as accompaniments for choir and/or congregation. Strongly recommended if you have the resources to use them.
Toccata Festiva is an extended piece, suitable for a concert or as a final voluntary.
Although not chorale-based, the brass parts are very much four-part orientated, and it is the organist who has the greater fun. It should go down well with players and listeners.
ORGAN PLUS ONE Low instruments Vol. 1 [M–D]
ORGAN PLUS ONE Death and Eternity / Funerals [M–D]
ed. Carsten Klomp
Bärenreiter BA 11214 and BA 8504
Organ score including parts in C, B flat, E flat and F
Because these pieces are for low instruments, the chorale settings given in the books for high instruments have not been included. The editor says that ‘This decision was not an easy one to make, but the original idea of assigning the cantus firmus to the organ and placing an optional upper voice above it could not be realised for low instruments in a tonally satisfying manner: whereas the upper voice can be heard by the congregation even when it is played relatively softly.’
In Vol.1 there are three ‘Free organ works’, by Guilmant, Dubois and Gerard Bunk. The Guilmant is the delightful if wrist-breaking B flat Caprice, whose manual changes every beat have tormented many an organist. It looks as though it will work quite well, and will be harder for the organist than for the instrumental group. The Dubois is taken from the Canon in G and makes a pleasant piece, as does the Melodie by Bunk (1888–1958). In both of these the organ part is not so demanding.
There are 17 chorale settings, taken from a wide variety of composers: Bach, Buxtehude, Karg-Elert and Scheidt are the most familiar names. As before, the organist usually has the most to do and the part demands a higher standard of ability. However, everyone has something interesting to play and the collection will give many hours of enjoyment as well as being handy for many different occasions.
Volume 2 follows a similar pattern. With 32 pieces in all it is excellent value. Items suggested for the end of the church year include an interesting arrangement of the G minor from Bach’s 8 Short Preludes and Fugues, with some happy embellishments to the Prelude. ‘Lament and Consolation’ includes and arrangement of Satie’s first Gymnopédie, together with arrangements of Krebs, Kauffmann and Karg-Elert. The final section, ‘Death and Eternal Life’, has transcriptions including from Franck, Buxtehude and Walther.
As with the others in this series, these are enterprising and highly useful books for any group that has the necessary resources, and will provide a good alternative to the organ alone: far and away better than the omnipresent CDs and computer downloads, which can ruin the gravity and solemnity of a funeral.
SIX PIECES for flute (oboe) and organ (piano, harpsichord) [M–M/D]
J. Butz Musikverlag Score and part
I had one regret when I played these pieces through: why are they not available for organ alone? Thoroughly delightful, skilfully written, and sure to please, these pieces can, at the composer’s suggestion, be played as individual movements, or suites of three or six pieces, for concerts or voluntaries. Whatever you choose, work them in to the music schedule somehow or other.
The accompaniment is laid out for manuals only, but pedals can easily be added where desired.
Of the six, the opening Adagio molto has a pleasant melody; the piece can, with a little ingenuity, be played as an organ item only. An entertaining Marsch comes next. Of the rest, Aria is perhaps the easiest for both players. Präludium can work as an organ trio; Invocation has interesting harmonies, and the last item, Walzer, brings the collection to a cheerful end.
The book also has a full-page list of the publisher’s music for organ and instruments, which is worth examination.
TRIPTYQUE: three pieces for solo instrument (C or B flat) and organ [M–M/D]
J. Butz Musikverlag 2536 Score and parts
‘Triptyque’ is another publication to have in your library. The solo parts were originally written for soprano saxophone, but are suitable for other high solo instruments. Marcietta is a piece I could not stop playing: tuneful and lively, with the accompaniment lying comfortably under fingers and feet. Once again, I wished it was available for organ alone. Élégie has a simple slow melody over repeated chords. Both pieces are described by the composer as ‘written in a broadly romantic harmonic style’.
The third piece, Galop galant, he describes as ‘more in the spirit of the 18th Century’, and is a reworking of Trompette galante from the composer’s collection for solo organ, Contrasts (BU2187). The three would be happy as a suite or as individual items.
COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS
Volume I: Symphony No.1 Op.14 BA 9221
Volume II: Symphony No.2 Op.20 BA 9222
Volume III: Symphony No.3 Op.28 BA 9223
Volume VI: Symphony No.6 Op.59 BA 9226
Volumes VII.1–4: Pièces de Fantasie en quatre suites Op.51, 53, 54, 55
BA 9226 £16.50; BA 9227, 8, 9
Volumes VIII.1–2: Pièces en style libre pour orgue ou harmonium Op.31
BA 9235 £19.00; BA 9236
Volume IX: Masses and individual liturgical works BA 9237
Bärenreiter ed. Helga Schauerte-Maubouet
Over the past few years Bärenreiter have been issuing these handsome volumes of Vierne’s organ music, starting with the 24 Pièces de Fantasie (in four volumes) and the 24 Pieces in free style, and now continuing with the Organ Symphonies. The two volumes of Pieces in free style will be found on the greatest number of parish church organ benches: 24 pieces in each major and minor key, organized in the same way as Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier and dedicated to Vierne’s pupils and friends. Vierne himself used them as teaching pieces. Although described as ‘for organ or harmonium’, pedal indications are given throughout, and several of them, not least the well-known Carillon, seem almost inconceivable only on manuals once they have been heard with pedals.
For all the volumes the editor, Helga Schauerte-Maubouet, has provided notes on the pieces including their genesis, notation and interpretation, and there are generous illustrations and facsimiles – particularly generous in some cases, for instance volume VII.1, with 36 pages of music and 55 pages of introduction, illustrations and notes (all in English, French and German). But it is the fascinating introductory material that above all distinguishes this edition from the rival one from Carus. There are no major changes to the established texts of any of these pieces (despite the publisher’s attempt to put a bass-clef pedal line into the treble clef near the start of the well-known ‘Final’ of Symphony No.1), but for anyone buying Vierne for the first time, or replacing older copies, the volumes in this edition are without doubt the ones to choose.
THE FAGUS COLLECTION OF VOLUNTARIES FOR MANUALS [M]
There are 25 pieces from a variety of periods and composers, from Aylward and Atkinson via T. Craddock (1837–1903), Reinagle, and Fred Peace (1906) to Brian Daniels and Evelyn Stell and more – truly a collection of ancient and modern. Styles, moods and technical difficulties inevitably vary so the collection is versatile and always interesting. A small instrument will suffice. It is a useful book to have around.
WITH EASY PEDAL PARTS
VOR- UND NACHSPIELE FÜR DIE ORGEL Op.143 Vols.1–8 [E–M/D]
Johann Christian Rinck ed. Rainer Goede
Edition Dohr 28891–98
Very few of Rinck’s more than a thousand organ compositions are available today, all taken from his shorter (and usually less interesting) pieces. Only one major work is currently available: the magnificent Flute Concerto from his ‘Practical Organ School’ that Rinck published in1819/21. It was not until many years later that Carl August Kern collected together 196 pieces, publishing them in the eight volumes here edited by Rainer Goede.
The first four volumes contain 141 pieces, mostly under a page long and in simple keys. The editor says, ‘The pieces can be rehearsed with little effort but still offer the opportunity to explore the colours of the organ’. Many are chorale-based. From Volume 5 the pieces become longer and the technical demands greater. The keys range from C major to C minor, but never more than two sharps or three flats. Volume 6 increases the difficulty, with keys from C major to F sharp minor; use is made of parallel sixths and polyphony. The final volumes contain much longer compositions though, in the words of the editor, ‘there are no advanced demands on the player’.
Since the books are expensive, it could be difficult to choose which to buy. The earlier ones offer a wealth of straightforward pieces ideal for gap filling, especially for those of us who are not gifted improvisers. The last four in particular have some splendid pieces for recitals or concluding voluntaries. Pedals are required from the beginning; all the pieces are printed on two staves. Musical interest varies, the later pieces being generally the most interesting. If you can find the right volume you will have the pleasure of discovering music that has been much neglected.
SONNTAGSORGEL: Easy organ music for church services and teaching:
Vol.2 Meditations and Pastorales; Vol.3 Hymn arrangements [E/M]
ed. Armin Kircher and Marius Schwemmer
Bärenreiter BA 9288 and 11206
The two volumes make welcome successors to the first, reviewed in Sunday by Sunday 65, June 2013. Volume 2 has 27 meditations by composers covering a wide period from Binder (1723–89) to Bedrich Smetana (died 1884). Oddly enough, Vierne’s arrangement of the first of the two Versets in David Patrick’s book (reviewed below) is printed here. There are five Pastorales.
Volume 3 is a large selection of chorale-based pieces, 49 items covering the church seasons from Advent to Pentecost, plus others covering such things as Praise and Thanksgiving, Confidence and Supplication, Communion, and Hymns for Morning and Evening, among others. The hymns used are listed separately, and are naturally German, though some are familiar to English-speaking congregations. The three volumes make up an outstanding collection, beautifully produced to the publisher’s usual high standard, and offer excellent value for money.
Banks Music Publications 14070
Quite by chance I had just dug out my copy of Christopher Maxim’s splendid pastiche on ‘Daisy, Daisy’ (‘a bicycle made for two’) and I had been wondering if there would be any more to come when this Processional arrived. If you haven’t tried his Toccata Nuptiale you must. What we have here is a fairly short, tuneful and not too serious wedding processional, which will be welcome listening on many other occasions. A lively, well-articulated manual touch is needed, and confident, well-marked pedal playing – nothing too difficult, though. Well worth the modest price.
RAPSODIE BÉARNAISE Op.34 No.1 [M–M/D]
Fernand de la Tombelle
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
La Tombelle was a pupil of Guilmant, and this piece was first published in about 1900. It is dramatic, full of contrasts, profiting from flamboyant treatment on the larger an organ the better. Dedicated to Charles Tournemire, then organist of Ste-Clotilde in Paris, its style is characteristic of the place and period. It is not technically difficult, but when learning it one should first become familiar with the melody on which the piece is based; it appears at bar 49. This is a major recital piece.
CINQ PIÈCES FWV26 [M]
César Franck transcribed Louis Vierne
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £8.00
These pieces were transcribed from Franck’s pieces for harmonium of 1858 to which Vierne added a pedal part. The Petit Offertoire together with Communion are the most substantial; if you choose it for introductory voluntaries, you will need to begin in good time. The two Versets are single-page pieces. All five are well worth including in the repertoire.
FANTASIA ON ‘KINGSFOLD’ [M]
This Fantasia divides into four sections, the strong opening soon leading to a quiet section with the melody in the left hand beneath gentle chords. The mood gradually changes, moving to the last section, which is a sonorous toccata with the tune in the pedals in minims with detached quaver chords above. The Fantasia successfully captures not only the bold traditional melody but also the spirit of the words to which it usually sung: ‘I heard the voice of Jesus say’. It will make a good recital item as well as a postlude.
CHORALE MEDITATION ON ‘KILMARNOCK’ [M]
This prelude is based on the tune by Neil Dougall (1776–1862) that appears in many hymnals. The treatment throughout the three minutes of the piece is quiet. It will provide an easily learned voluntary. It is printed on five card sheets.
SONATA IN F MAJOR Op.82 [M/D]
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
David Patrick has a knack of discovering unusual and often unjustly neglected pieces. Silas (1827–1909) was a friend of Berlioz and famous as a concert pianist. His output as a composer of music for organ, piano, orchestra and stage was considerable and very popular; John Henderson writes that two of his pieces were played at Queen Victoria’s Jubilee service. Silas came to London in 1850, becoming organist at Kingston-on-Thames Roman Catholic church as well as teaching at the Guildhall School of Music and the London College of Music.
The Sonata in F was the only one of the twelve he wrote to be published. There are three tuneful and generally interesting movements following the usual pattern. The second (andante con moto) and the Finale could well stand alone as voluntaries. In places there are considerable demands on pedal technique and a well-equipped, large organ is desirable.
Whether you feel the missing eleven sonatas are a loss to the organ repertoire or not is a personal matter. As John Henderson says of the Six Pièces of Op.95: ‘Op.95 makes a good dégustation – if these are not to your taste then look no further.’
NINE MARCHES [M–M/D]
ed. Jochen Riehm
Butz Musikverlag 2486
The organ march is one of those largely British genres, ranging from the tuneful banalities of Scotson Clark (1840–1883; look up Percy Scholes’s comments in his original Oxford Companion) to the majestic offerings of Stanford, Brewer and their successors. Jochen Riehm points out that these nine works were published in England, ‘where the composer had good contacts and where a much broader and more “worldly” repertoire was performed than on the continent in the 19th century (especially in the “town hall” concerts).’
The editor explains that this new edition is the first since the original, with all nine appearing together. The marches are six of Op.145, two of Op.163 and one of Op.176. They are conventional in structure: the main march followed by a tuneful contrasting trio, and then the main march again. They are fun to play, good to listen to, and have a certain Germanic gravitas which makes one feel that perhaps one is enjoying one’s self too much. Do try them.
ORGAN WORKS [M–M/D]
ed. Richard Brasier
Butz Musikverlag 2539
Like a lot of budding young organists I began with our village organist, for whom Wolstenholme was clearly a hero. I eventually graduated to his Lied, which I have been playing ever since, so I was delighted to see it included in this collection of nine pieces. In the tradition of Hollins and Bernard Johnson, these are finely crafted pieces, demanding care in preparation and attentive performance and listening. The collection covers a good spectrum of the composer’s style, from the tuneful simplicity of Lied to the complexities of the grand Concert Overture No.2 and the Finale in B flat. This is a book worth owning.
TWO PIECES: Processional March and Trumpet Tune [M/D]
The Processional March is neatly unconventional. Strongly rhythmical and harmonically adventurous, it will give players and listeners pause for thought, and demand their full attention. Gilbert Rowland delights in the unexpected, so be prepared.
The Trumpet Tune is similarly full of unexpected twists and turns. The composer says, ‘the preference is for the faster of the metronome indications, if possible.’ This is marked crotchet = 92–104, and the result is a perky tune full of surprises. It is not easy to play at the required mm. marks, but worth the effort.
THEME AND VARIATIONS [M/D]
The theme is one of those tantalizing tunes that sound familiar but elude identification. It is an eight-bar melody, vaguely modal and reminiscent of a carol. The variations are a trio, a French-style toccata, one entitled The Giant and the Dwarf – this a dialogue between pedals and manuals, another toccata-like section for manuals only, another trio, a movement for Mounted Cornet and a final fast movement with the tune in the pedals. There is a decidedly French feeling throughout; is Ronald Watson playing games with us? Buy it and come to your own conclusions.
PASSAGLIA IN B MINOR [M]
John E. West
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
There was a time when John E. West and Novello’s The Village Organist (from which this piece is taken) were names to conjure with. The books ran into several volumes and, if you find one, can yield many interesting pieces.
The Passacaglia was written in memory of Josef Rheinberger. Though nowhere near the gigantic scale of the latter’s Passacaglia from his Eighth Sonata, this is still worth a try: a sort of village organist’s moment of wishful thinking – if only I could play the Rheinberger or even the Bach example. There are some grand variations in this, and none of it is very difficult: the result, even on a small organ, can be impressive.
SONATA No. 2 in A flat [M/D]
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
Alan Gray (1855–1935) is another neglected composer. He was Director of Music at Wellington College and then succeeded Stanford as organist of Trinity College, Cambridge. There are four organ sonatas. This is a magnificent example of Victorian organ music, published in 1890. The solid Introduzione is followed by a fugue and a Romanza. The Finale is markedAlla Marcia. Any of these movements will stand on their own as voluntaries or recital pieces. Strongly recommended.
KEYBOARD HARMONY TUTOR
THE LOST CHORD (English Version): Harmonisation on keyboard instruments
Boeijenga Music Publications 978-9-49155-901-3 €65.00
This excellent keyboard harmony tutor was first published in Dutch in three separate parts. It has been brought together under one cover in an English version by its English-born author, Stephen Taylor, who studied the organ in the Netherlands and remained there. He served as cantor and then organist of the Nicolaïkerk, Utrecht from 1989 until 2010.
The hymn tunes used for examples are from the Dutch Protestant Hymn Book and so there are unfamiliar chorales, but this is not a major problem. A particular strength is that the many exercises give a feel for using certain chords in different ways; it is not teaching by theory alone but by musical practice. Although the first part is aimed at keyboard players with little experience in harmonization, both this and the following two progressively more advanced parts require that the player has skills to play a four-part hymn tune fluently, as well as chord sequences in different keys. The purpose of this course is gradual progress towards the skills necessary for improvisation. Although the volume, magnificently produced in a hardback ring-binder, is quite expensive, it is a highly recommended tutor.
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
Joseph Gibbs (1698–1788), organist in Dedham and Ipswich, has a variety of compositions to his name including these five voluntaries. Voluntary 1 begins with a fine Adagio, a beautiful, heavily ornamented melody, followed by a spirited Allegro. Voluntary 2 is more adventurous, with a 24-bar Allegro, a fugue, a moderato movement, and ending with another fugue. There is an interesting ‘Double Voluntary’ in the conventional two-movement form, the second a lively trumpet piece, and then two single-movement voluntaries. This is a welcome addition to the increasing amount of music available from this period.
SIX DOUBLE FUGUES [M]
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
Originally published in 1750 when the composer was 60, this collection of double fugues clearly owes much to Handel’s set of six voluntaries or fugues of 1735; the subjects are announced within a few beats of each other. These six pieces are less torturously chromatic than Roseingrave’s own set of Voluntarys and Fugues of 1728 and more rigorously contrapuntal, although parts do still appear and disappear at will. None exceeds three pages, and while a few awkward hand shifts are tricky, they are not over difficult when taken at a sensible tempo to bring out the figuration; they will make useful concluding voluntaries. The printing and editing is of the usual high standard expected from David Patrick, with editorial interventions and changes being in a smaller font.
EASY (WITH PEDALS)
ENJOY THE ORGAN 1 [E/M]
ed. Karl-Peter Chilla
Bärenreiter BA 11207
The book’s aims include providing ‘easy concert pieces mainly for amateur organists, manageable on small instruments’, in the form of an attractive collection of eight pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The opening Spanish Variations on ‘The Bagpipes’ are tuneful and very easy (the pedal part requires only an A). An elegant Sonatina by Cherubini, which has appeared elsewhere, is followed by an Elevazione attributed to Palafuti (18th-century Italian) with a more active pedal part, as has the Allegretto by Pescetti. The Orgelsinfonie by Christian Gotthilf Tag (1735–1811) is a fairly ordinary dose of note-spinning and can played without pedals, whilst Knecht’s Toccata is dramatic and fun to play. Note the instruction moderato e patetico. Czerny’s Praeludium is a rare foray into the organ world, pleasant and making more demands on pedal technique than the other pieces in the book. Daquin’s Rondo: Le coucou goes well on the organ; no pedal part has been added. This useful collection lives up to its title: easy to play and enjoyable.
SONNTAGSORGEL: Easy organ music for church services and teaching Vol.1 [E]
ed. Armin Kircher and Marius Schemmer
This book is good value for such a low price. It is divided into three sections, 28 pieces marked ‘Festive’, 8 Fugues and 6 Trios. Some are quite short, half a page or less; others are more substantial—the Dubois Marcietta runs to 74 bars, for example. Composers are drawn from a wide period, the earliest being Lebègue (c.1631–1702) and the latest Forchhammer (1847–1923). There is a wealth of interesting music, some for manuals only, and the book makes an excellent companion to Bärenreiter’s Enjoy the Organ.
LYRIC PIECE [E/M]
An elegant melody is underpinned by slow-moving chords with a Bachian walking bass, the latter relying on sure placing of pedal crotchet octaves. Four bars make greater demands, with a rising quaver pattern which takes the player up the pedal board from bottom C to top D, but an alternative is provided which gives the pedal part to the left hand.
PASTORAL PRELUDES [E]
There are three Preludes: ‘Eclogue’, ‘Idyll’ and ‘Canticle’, needing a good solo flute, clarinet and oboe. The harmonic and melodic style has a pleasing angularity. Technical demands are modest, learning should be a pleasure and the group will be handy as quiet voluntaries.
THE OXFORD BOOK OF LENT AND EASTER ORGAN MUSIC [M–D]
ed. Robert Gower
This is an essential book, a splendid collection of 34 pieces covering Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost. Well-known hymn tunes provide the basis of 29 of them. There are items written especially for this collection, as well as several earlier pieces that I have not seen elsewhere. Inevitably some titles are found in other publications, such as ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth’ (here in a new arrangement by Robert Gower), two Preludes (on Rockingham and Martyrdom) by Parry, and Willan’s Prelude on a melody by Melchior Vulpius.
The earlier pieces include an interesting prelude on Aus der Tiefe by C.P.E. Bach worth contrasting with Kenneth Leighton’s 1980 essay on the same tune. Contemporary items include Francis Jackson’s Meditation: Love Unknown, Philip Moore’s Variations: Noel nouvelet, and David Briggs’s Ricercare: Llanfair. I particularly enjoyed Naji Hakim’s Variations: O filii et filiae, well stocked with the hallmarks of his style and a welcome reappearance of the composer after an absence from new music lists. The eye-opener for me was Fanfare: Shine, Jesus, Shine by Christopher Tambling. This is a winner, a splendid working over of a good tune and an exhilarating piece of organ music. The collection has many uses beyond the period in the title, and every organ loft should have a copy.
MUSIC FOR ORGAN
This is a most welcome set, with not only the excellent arrangement of the famous Adagio, but a treasury of original works for organ and other arrangements, many published for the first time. Barber is well known for a handful of works, but he achieved a high level of artistic consistency across so many genres. The lush harmonies of his solo songs are evident throughout the collection; his perceptive and inventive ear for orchestration is also apparent, particularly in the miniature tone poem To Longwood Gardens (beautifully edited here by Iain Quinn). There is a forthright Prelude and Fugue; a beautiful suite originally for carillon; a thundering Chorale that would make an excellent ceremonial introit; and preludes on Wondrous Love (a shape note melody) and Silent Night (transcribed by the composer from his orchestral work Die Natalis).
BASED ON HYMN TUNES
LIFT HIGH THE CROSS [M]
Sydney Nicholson arr. Lindsay Lafford
Paraclete Press PPMO1327
PRELUDE ON ‘AMAZING GRACE’ [M]
Paraclete Press PPMO1327 and 1323
A pleasure of reviewing is discovering a composer not met before. The introductions provide interesting information about Lindsay Lafford, born in Gloucester in 1912. Highly qualified, he has had an extensive and distinguished career as organist and conductor. Lift high the cross is not so much an arrangement as an uncomplicated but very grand chorale prelude. It is a pleasure to play and would work well as a postlude.
Our amazing friend, Grace, turns up regularly at funerals, at which this piece will be a welcome addition to the repertoire. Of the three sections, the first is a simple presentation of the tune over an undulating accompaniment. The second modulates from F to A flat, a full harmonization of the tune which could well be used as an alternative accompaniment. Finally the key returns to F in an extended coda.
FANFARE ON ‘YORK’ [M]
Colne Edition CE50
The hymn tune is never far away in this magnificent piece, which is far from being a conventional fanfare. It was commissioned by Leeds Organists’ Association for the celebration of the Queen’s 60th Jubilee, and premiered by Graham Barber on the famous Schulze organ at St Bartholomew, Armley. Although marked ‘Lively and bright’, the mood is quietly restrained for the first 84 bars; from then on things become more insistent, culminating in a Meno mosso e grandioso, with a faster ending. This is very ‘open’ music, with clarity of texture. Players will be glad that the pedal part is remarkably easy for so grand a piece.
TOCCATA CHROMATICA [D]
Boosey & Hawkes 979-0-060-12540-9
Ad Wammes sprang to the attention of the organ world with his haunting, minimalist Miroir (see the review in CMQ December 2007). He has written six works for solo instrument and more for organ plus ensemble: many of these are similarly technical and minimalist (I particularly like Ride in a high-speed train composed for the Busy Drone mechanical dance organ now in the Orgelpark in Amsterdam). Toccata Chromatica,written in 2008, is part of this family, but represents a more serious, considered side of Wammes’s character. There is greater thematic development and variety of harmonic language. The work is very loosely based on Sweelinck’s Fantasia Chromatica and echoes some of the figuration and twists of that early masterpiece: the two would make an excellent pairing in a recital. The technical demands are more moderate than in his other works, though serious preparation is needed to give a convincing performance.
JAZZ AND THE BEATLES
JOSHUA FIT THE BATTLE OF JERICHO [M/D]
This ought to have listeners dancing in the aisles: wait till you get to the pedal solo marked ‘Strong, brilliant registration. As fast as you like’. Don’t forget that the composer appreciates receiving ‘two copies of the bulletin or program’ listing performance details. Put this with Christopher Tambling’s Fanfare: Shine, Jesus, Shine (The Oxford Book of Lent and Easter Organ Music, reviewed earlier) and see what happens.
TOCCATA ON ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE [D]
Or ‘Toccata on Amor satis est’ if you want to keep the audience guessing. Vierne and Duruflé have a riotous meeting with Lennon and McCartney. There is a slightly more serious central section, but for the most part it is tremendous fun. Only an excellent technique, hands and feet, could perform it with the verve and panache it needs. But for those who can bring it off, it should delight the audience (or perhaps wedding congregation).
LE TOMBEAU DE COUPERIN [M/D–D]
Maurice Ravel arr. Jörg Abbing
Butz Musikverlag BU2164
This is a major work, and an organ transcription of it a major undertaking. Abbing has mostly used Ravel’s first version, for piano and with six movements. The opening Prélude and the Fugue are fairly difficult, but the Forlane, Rigaudon and Minuet are more within grasp, the last being the most approachable of all. The concluding Toccata could be an original organ composition, with all the expected semiquaver activity. The suggested registrations are for a French three-manual romantic instrument, although it is possible on two manuals.
PRELUDE AND CLOSING SECTION FROM ‘LA DEMOISELLE ELUE’ [M]
Debussy arr. Geoffrey Atkinson
Making Debussy’s music work on the organ is not easy, especially a piece originally for orchestra with soprano and alto soloists and female voice choir, but Geoffrey Atkinson pulls it off. As he says, ‘this arrangement should be seen as a reworking in terms of the organ rather than an orchestral transcription.’ It is a delicate piece of organ music, evoking Rossetti’s poem The Blessed Damozel but effective as a purely abstract composition. The music is printed on one side only of each of four sides of A4 card, thus eliminating turns.
ELEGY FOR STRINGS [M]
Edward Elgar arr. Geoffrey Atkinson
Geoffrey Atkinson writes that the original is ‘a relatively unfamiliar short work which transcribes readily into organ music. The piece will be found extremely suitable for a solemn occasion such as a funeral.’ It will indeed be a useful alternative to the ubiquitous ‘Nimrod’, although, not being well known, it will be up to organists to choose it. The piece comes off well on the organ.
TWO PIECES: Processional March and Trumpet [M/D]
The Processional March is neatly unconventional. Strongly rhythmical and harmonically adventurous, it will give players and listeners pause for thought, and demand their full attention. Gilbert Rowland delights in the unexpected, so be prepared.
The Trumpet Tune is similarly full of unexpected twists and turns. The composer says, ‘the preference is for the faster of the metronome indications, if possible.’ This is marked at crotchet = 92–104, and the result is a perky tune full of interesting surprises. It is not easy to play at the required tempo, but worth the effort.
THEME AND VARIATIONS [M/D]
The theme is one of those tantalizing tunes that sound familiar but elude identification. It is an eight-bar melody, vaguely modal and reminiscent of a carol. The variations are a trio, a French-style toccata, one entitled The Giant and the Dwarf – this a dialogue between pedals and manuals, another toccata-like section for manuals only, another trio, a movement for Mounted Cornet and a final fast movement with the tune in the pedals. There is a decidedly French feeling throughout; is Ronald Watson playing games with us? Buy it and come to your own conclusions.
PASSAGLIA IN B MINOR [M]
John E. West ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
There was a time when John E. West and Novello’s ‘The Village Organist’ (from which this piece is taken) were names to conjure with. The books ran into several volumes and, if you find one, can yield many interesting pieces.
The Passacaglia was written in memory of Josef Rheinberger. Though nowhere near the gigantic scale of the latter’s Passacaglia from his 8th Sonata, this is still worth a try: a sort of village organist’s moment of wishful thinking – if only I could play the Rheinberger and even the Bach example. There are some grand variations in this, and none of it is very difficult: the result, even on a small organ, can be impressive.
SONATA No. 2 in A flat [M/D]
Alan Gray ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications Alan Gray (1855–1935) is another neglected composer. He was Director of Music at Wellington College and then succeeded Stanford as organist of Trinity College, Cambridge. There are four organ sonatas. This is a magnificent example of Victorian organ music, published in 1890. The solid Introduzione is followed by a fugue, and this by a Romanza. The Finale is marked Alla Marcia. Any of these movements will stand on their own as voluntaries or recital pieces. Strongly recommended.
THREE PALM SUNDAY PRELUDES ON GREGORIAN MELODIES [M]
Robert J Powell
Paraclete Press PPMO1330
Robert Powell is a distinguished American musician whose compositions are always worth attention. The first Prelude is on ‘The Royal Banners’, the second ‘Hebrew Children bring Olive Branches’, and the last on ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’. All three are interesting, with no technical problems to worry about; the average organ should suffice. They will fill a gap in next year’s Palm Sunday music.
TWO PRELUDES AND FUGUES IN E MINOR [M–M/D]
Felix Mendelssohn arr. Reitze Smits
Boeijenga Music Publications BE1073
These handsomely produced items are taken from keyboard works. The first Prelude, Op.7 no.6, feels the more suited to the organ, indeed as if it could have started life written for the instrument. Beware the very active pedal part. The fugue is less happy, quite demanding, long and strongly influenced by Bach.
The second Prelude, Op.35 no.1 is an Allegro con fuoco, with demisemiquaver figuration and an internal quaver melody. Not easy to play, it would be an exciting recital piece or a rousing final voluntary. The fugue is a fine andante espressivo.
Both pieces are an interesting alternative to the organ works proper, and certainly deserving of acquaintance.
TOCCATA Op. 7 [M]
Augustin Barié ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications
This has the feeling of that awful ‘cream’ that comes in an aerosol can: lots of froth and bubbles with little substance. There is lot of conventional semiquaver bustle, though the tune is in the left hand rather than the pedals until the concluding Maestoso, and not quite as much noise as one would expect. It is certainly good for a fun piece that will send a noisy congregation on its way rejoicing, and there should be little trouble getting it under the fingers.
SIX VOLUNTARIES [M]
ed. David Patrick and John Collins
Fitzjohn Music Publications
Nothing is known of the composer other than these Voluntaries published in about 1775 by one Thomas Bennett. All six are in a standard two-movement form, beginning with slow movements which benefit from more ornamentation than just the trills that are given. The second movements are standard cornet pieces in the first four, a trumpet voluntary in the fifth, and a long fugue in the last. All begin promisingly but do not sustain the level of invention. No.1, for example, has the subdominant as its first modulation, the expected dominant delayed until twelve bars before the end. There are frequent perfect cadences which add to unsteady atmosphere. The editors have corrected an inordinate number of mistakes in the original edition.
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 SUITEFiS [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.