NINE PARTITAS ON CANTICLES (NEUN LIEDPARTITEN) [M]
O CHRIST, OUR TRUE AND ONLY LIGHT (O JESU CHRISTE, WAHRES LICHT) [M]
Edition Dohr (Universal Edition) 15262 £14.95 and 15263 £6.95
Edition Dohr continues vital work supporting regional German composers and producing useful, playable music generally in a neo-classical style. These two publications are typical: Lothar Graap (b.1933) had a long and distinguished career as an organist, Kantor and trainer of other church musicians, and now lives near Berlin, composing well into his retirement. These two sets are for manuals only, written in a simple, conventional tonal style, and provide useful service music for organists from beginner upwards. Among the Nine Partitas resides a rather charming set based on S.S. Wesley’s tune Aurelia.
SIX VOLUNTARIES OR EASY SONATAS Op.11 [E/M]
François-Hippolyte Barthélémon ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £7.50
Barthélémon (1741–1808) spent much of his life in London after 1764, where he published these short Voluntaries in 1787. They are in two or three (nos. 2 and 6) movements, the opening one being slow, with keys up to three sharps or four flats and a variety of time signatures. The writing owes much to the galant style, with two Fugues, both in D and no.6 marked ‘A Capella’, providing more substantial material. The only ornament sign marked is tr, sometimes with opening or closing notes, the fluent execution of which poses a problem, particularly for small hands, in some places. The only dynamic signs shown are cresc. and f in the second movement of no.4. No registrations are indicated but the editor’s suggestions, although not historically based, are useful pointers. A few pieces have notes in the bass that will need to be taken an octave higher on the pedals with 16-foot tone. Not generally too difficult, these rather lightweight pieces can be used as approaches to the more complex sets by Dupuis or Hawdon.
WATER MUSIC AND MUSIC FOR THE ROYAL FIREWORKS [E/M]
arr. Francesco Geminiani and Siegbert Rampe
Bärenreiter BA9254 £29.00
Siegbert Rampe has brought together the keyboard adaptations made by Geminiani in 1743 of the three Suites in F, D and G of the Water Music, and has himself arranged the Suite in D that comprises the Music for the Royal Fireworks from an anonymous setting of these pieces from c.1749 for solo instrument or harpsichord. Instrumental parts are also included for solo, continuo and bass.
In addition to the tried and trusted favourites such as the Air in F, and the Hornpipe in D, here presented in a lighter, more true to the period arrangement than some of the heavy editions of the past century, there are many other pieces in the 22 included in the Water Music and the five of the Music for the Royal Fireworks which are well worth playing, such as the extended Overture to the Fireworks. There is a most informative preface about the events and the music, most of which is readily playable, but some movements may require additional arranging from the player with smaller hands. This edition is most highly recommended and should be part of every library.
24 SKETCHES Op.11, Book 1 [M]
24 SKETCHES Op.11, Book 2 and THREE SKETCHES Op.8 [M]
Edmund T. Chipp ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £11.00 each
Edmund Chipp (1823–86) was also a violinist and became a highly regarded organist at Ely; the subscribers to his 24 Sketches of 1855 contain many famous names. The pieces are generally short, rarely extending beyond three or four pages (the ‘Pastorale’ runs to nine), in a wide range of keys (up to six flats and four sharps with a section in six sharps in no.16), tempi and time signatures; most do not venture beyond quavers, although these include contrary motion in parts as well as runs in thirds or sixths, with only nos. 12 and 23 containing semiquavers. Nos. 2, 13 and 19 are in memoriam pieces, no.13 to Mendelssohn, whose style can be detected throughout, and the other two to Chipp’s daughter who died at the age of one.
The Three Sketches Op.8 comprise two longer, quiet Allegro movements in A major, mainly in quavers with many passages in thirds and more rarely sixths, enclosing a short Dirge in A minor with some abrupt dynamic shifts.
Several pieces offer further challenges including full chords and some stretches of a tenth, quickly shifting registrations, and at times a tricky pedal part; however, the time spent learning these attractive pieces will be rewarded. The composer’s own registrations and metronome markings are included, and the preface offers a brief biography and notes on the pieces. Each of the three publications from Fitzjohn is clearly printed in comb bindings, the Chipp volumes having a photo of an organ on the front card cover, although the red ink used for the title of the second volume is not easy to read.
FIVE TRUMPET TUNES [E/M]
This is a useful compilation of pieces previously published separately by Oecumuse or Fagus-Music.com and presented in order of composition from 1990 to 2013. Mr Henry Purcell’s Promenade begins with Purcell on home ground, and indeed the piece appears as if it will match so many arrangements of 17th-century trumpet tunes starting with an eight-bar trumpet tune repeated on the second manual. But Atkinson then takes Purcell on a promenade that would doubtless have surprised the earlier composer, before a joyful reprise. The second piece is unexpected – an arrangement of the Scottish folk tune The Trumpeter of Fyvie which (although with a forte solo line) allows the Trumpet to be relaxed and to sound as though it is being played with a smile. With the subsequent pieces we are on more familiar ground, although these are always skilfully written and hold the attention. A Trumpet Minuet (‘Homage to Alfred Hollins’) is followed by Trumpet Procession with a tune marked as suitable for a heavy reed as well as Trumpet. With a final Tribute to John Hope, Trumpeter (court trumpeter to James IV of Scotland) we find that our journey has taken us from Purcell at the start to the world of Walton’s ceremonial marches with a ‘tribute’ that will sound splendid on a large instrument.
GIGUE DE TROMPETTE from A LITTLE SUITE [M/D]
Banks Music Publications 14083 £3.50
Although marked in the music to be played on Tuba, in the absence of that this would work well on a Trumpet; indeed it would need a fast-speaking Tuba to articulate all the compound-time quavers at dotted q = 120. Either way, this is an enjoyable piece – neoclassical in feel, complete with added mordents for the Tuba on reprise of its tune – with an ending that invites applause in whatever context. Banks have also published separately two other movements from Baldwin’s Little Suite – a wistful ‘Cantilena’ and a ‘Sarabande’ with a character indicated by its tempo of ‘Stately and massive’.
TRUMPET VOLUNTARY [M]
Paraclete Press PPM01508 $7.50
The big Waltonian march tune is like many others, although presented with an interesting twist when at its grand final statement it appears in the pedals, supporting the chords above. More interesting perhaps is the fanfare section that precedes both appearances of the march and a central 33-bar canon between two different quiet manuals. The theme of the fugue from Beethoven’s great, late A flat major Piano Sonata provides the bass of the march and canon. Why? Presumably because that sonata is Beethoven’s Op.110 and this Trumpet Voluntary was written for the 110th anniversary of a church building! A detailed ‘Plan of Organ Registration’ is given, but those of us without Swell Trompette as well as Choir Festival Trumpet will find plenty of other ways to present this pleasingly varied, ceremonial piece.
INSTANTS Op.57 [D]
Schott ED 22143 £16.99
6 CHORAL-ETÜDEN [D]
Schott ED 21725 £18.99
A major new work by veteran French composer Jean Guillou is always noteworthy, and this substantial set does not disappoint. Bulging with trademark mercurial virtuosity, flashing scales, inventive registrations and detailed textures, each of the five movements forming this suite is of the highest quality and worthy of serious study. An important addition to the serious recitalist’s repertoire.
As with Guillou, a new collection by virtuoso French organist Thierry Escaich is an important event. These six studies on Lutheran chorales were commissioned by the ‘Ratinger Orgelwelt’ festival for their ongoing Ratinger Orgelbuch inspired by J.S. Bach’s Orgelbüchlein. Supple and muscular, they are complex, characterful and of a high level of difficulty, worthy of attention from the serious recitalist.
SIX CHORALE-TRIOS [M]
Doblinger (Universal Edition) 02-00504 £13.00
This elegant set by Austrian composer Gottfried Holzer was composed between 2008 and 2010, and takes a clear influence from chorale-trios by J.S. Bach, as well as, less obviously, by Homilius. Neo-classical, tonal, with fine clean lines and idiomatic figuration, they would be technically manageable for most organists and would make a good counterweight to similar repertoire from the late baroque, as well as useful music for liturgical use.
APOKALYPSE: THREE SKETCHES FOR ORGAN [M]
Edition Dohr (Universal Edition) 16309 £7.95
Gleissner’s work has appeared in these pages before: literate, idiomatic, utility music written very much with the (German) parish organist in mind. This set of three sketches is not quite as apocalyptic as one might hope, but the opening ‘Dies Irae’ at least is powerful and substantial. The other movements are depictions of heavenly visions and are ecstatic in nature. Registration instruction is minimal, leaving the imaginative performer with much scope for invention.
Schott ED 22476 £11.50
The life and career of German composer Enjott Schneider is as widely varied (musicologist, lecturer, organist, film-maker, collecting enthusiast and president of GEMA, the German equivalent of the PRS) as his musical output (rock music, serialism, and opera among others). This virtuoso piece is a conflation of an earlier organ duet: strong, planted harmonies underpin energetic figurations and the whole texture is shot through with quotations from Luther’s chorales.
NUN DANKET ALL: JAZZ-PARTITA [D]
Schott ED 21708 £12.50
This author has yet to be won over by efforts to translate jazz and funk to the organ, and remains unconvinced by this offering on Cruger’s fine and noble melody, particularly when simple instructions are emphasized with exclamation marks (‘nach und nach zum Plenum aufbauen!’). Nevertheless, personal prejudice aside, it’s hard to ignore the genuinely cheerful and positive mood of this work, and the energy levels rarely drop, making it quite a crowd-pleasing recital work.
PASSACAGLIA ON THE NAME JOHN McCABE [M]
University of York Music Press (Music Sales) M57036-642-2 £7.95
This work by Oxford-based composer Robert Saxton is a heartfelt tribute to the late John McCabe, commissioned for a concert to celebrate the life of one of Britain’s finest composers of the last generation. The passacaglia theme is a short five-note fragment H-C-A-B-E, short enough when coupled with the quite upbeat tempo marking to suggest more of a ciacona. Various figurations are introduced most idiomatically; the work explores a variety of moods before ending in triumph.
GÁRDONYI, FATHER AND SON
PARTITA: VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS
Zoltán Gárdonyi (1906–86)
ostinato-musikverlag 12.011 €5.00 and 12.009 €16.00
FIVE CHORALE PRELUDES FOR ORGAN [E/M]
Zsolt Gárdonyi (b. 1946)
ostinato-musikverlag 12.006 €7.00 and 12.012 €9.00
Zoltán Gárdonyi was born in Budapest, Hungary, where he was highly regarded as a composer for the church, teaching sacred music at the Franz Liszt Academy until 1948, after which he settled with his family in Germany. The language of his slight Postludium and substantial partita on the Veni Creator plainsong is romantic and tonal; the music is literate, pleasingly direct and enjoyable.
Zsolt Gárdonyi, Zoltán’s son, has done tireless work in promoting his father’s music, but is a noteworthy composer in his own right. The curiously-titled EGATOP is a warm and harmonically rich homage to Erroll Garner, Art Tatum, and Oscar Peterson; this romantic harmonic language is also present in the five small chorale preludes, among which resides a very sweet setting of ‘Be thou my vision’.
ORGAN AND PIANO
CANTI PER VALLIS GRATIAE [M]
Novello NOV165143 £14.95
Duo works for organ and piano pose all manner of problems in performance, not least questions of pitch and tuning, balance and communication. However, the combination can be richly rewarding and worth pursuing, with excellent repertoire by Karg-Elert, Flor Peeters, Dupré, Franck and (for the adventurous) Torsten Nilsson among others. To this corpus can be added this fine new work by distinguished Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen. Technically not fierce, it offers a window into an unusual sound-world: the dialogue between the instruments is sensitively handled and bare, expressive harmonies make the work most appealing. Recommended.