MANUALS ONLY OR WITH EASY PEDALS
FULL ORGAN PIECES: First Set (manuals only) [M]
David Baker and Christopher Bagot
Fitzjohn Music Publications
Herschel is well known today as an 18th-century astronomer, but it was his position as organist at the Octagon Chapel in Bath that gave him the means to devote himself to astronomy. He was a prolific composer but little of his music has been published. This set of 12 pieces was left incomplete by Herschel, with two missing. The full organ of the title is of course the full organ in England at that period – the editors give the registration that Herschel included in the score for a two-manual instrument, and also of the Snetzler three-manual organ at Halifax Parish Church where Hershel had been organist. These are mostly quick pieces requiring nimble fingers, all but two in major keys, and with a happy, sparkling texture.
SIX EASY VICTORIAN VOLUNTARIES [E]
Fitzjohn Music Publications
These are taken from Novello’s The Village Organist, a series of short and easy voluntaries published around 1871. The composers are representative of the English organ world at the time: Sterndale Bennett, Smart, Ouseley, Stainer (who contributes two pieces) and S.S. Wesley. Stainer’s A Song of Praise is an exception, being the only one with a title, the only one with a tempo faster than Andante (it is marked Allegretto), and the only one with predominantly loud dynamics. The others have no titles and are mostly Andante, with easy pedal parts and a gentle, peaceful character.
PEDAL POWER: 29 pieces for organ pedal solo [D]
Dr J. Butz BU2772
This is a wide-ranging collection of pedal solos, not dry exercises but pieces that could be included in concerts and appreciated on musical grounds as well as producing admiration for the skill of the performer. The 29 pieces range from a completion of the Pedal-Exercitium BWV 598 (that may be by J.S. or perhaps by C.P.E. Bach) to John Scott Whiteley’s astonishing moto perpetuo Shapeshifts. Along the way it takes in a previously unpublished Study by Marcel Dupré, Pedal Blues for Bach by Edward Tambling, pieces by Andriessen, Planyavsky, Bédard, Willscher and many others, and a Ragtime by Johannes Matthias Michel. Everything is playable, just!
MUSIC FOR FUNERALS AND OTHER SOLEMN EVENTS [M]
arranged, compiled and composed by Alan Smith
In this collection of music for funerals and solemn occasions, Alan Smith has attempted to provide a volume of workable arrangements of suitable length and without excessive technical demands. He has certainly succeeded. These are unashamedly arrangements of popular pieces, written so that the reasonably competent organist does not have to spend hours practising them. This is music which will appeal to the ‘person in the pew’ at funerals. Arrangements include the popular Ave Maria by Caccini, four pieces by Handel including an aria ‘Lascia ch’io pianga’ from Rinaldo, the well-known ‘Largo’ from Xerxes and the ‘Dead March’ from Saul. Schubert’s Serenade from his song cycle Schwanengesang works well on the organ as does Fauré’s Pavane and Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1. The Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni will be a familiar piece to some of the congregation as will ‘Nimrod’ from Elgar’s Enigma Variations. Walford Davies’s Solemn Melody finds a place here and the book concludes with two pieces by Alan Smith: a heartfelt In Memoriam and an attractive Sarabande. Both those pieces are also published in a separate volume (Two Pieces for Funerals and Other Solemn Events).
Organ music purists may object, but I am glad to have this variety of well-arranged and accessible pieces for funerals in my collection. It is clearly printed and spirally bound.
SCHERZO IN F [M/D]
Fitzjohn Music Publications
This slight but charming piece (more Grieg than Elgar) will need careful preparation, not least the opening few notes that require a different fingering each time they come back starting on a different pitch. I wonder if the editor’s suggested metronome mark is a little fast: a steadier interpretation of Wolstenholme’s ‘Allegro’ indication makes that phrase more playable, and might let the music smile more and charm its audience – which it certainly has the potential to do.
FANFARES FOR ORGAN [mostly M]
Andreas Willscher and Hans-Peter Bähr
Dr J. Butz BU2780
The editors state that their aim was to broaden the repertoire by including lesser-known pieces in need of rediscovery. Many of the pieces simply have a ‘fanfare character’ without a specific registration, although there are also plenty of opportunities to showcase solo reeds. Six pieces are notated on two staves and do not need pedals. The 19 composers represented include Lefébure-Wély (Fanfare Sortie), Noel Rawsthorne (Processional Fanfare), Paul Dukas (Fanfare to precede ‘La Péri’), Paul Spicer (Fanfare for a bride), C.S. Lang (Fanfare Op. 85), Norman Warren (Fanfare for a Princess) and William Faulkes (Fanfare in D). Anyone with this volume will be spoilt for choice of music for processions and ceremonial occasions.
VARIATIONS ON ‘KELVINGROVE’ [M]
Banks Music Publications 14088
Church musicians may know Kelvingrove as the tune to which ‘Will you come and follow me’ is sung. Antony Baldwin inventively reimagines the tune to form variations whose titles sum up their character: Intrada, Musette, Aria, Jig, Footfest (a pedal solo), Trumpet Tune, Bicinium, Coronach (a mourning song) and Toccatina. All except the last are a single page; three are for manuals only; none is difficult. When ‘Will you come and follow me’ is sung as a final hymn I will be tempted to use some of these variations as a final voluntary.