Organ Music, March 2015


Louis Vierne
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £7.00
Vierne’s Messe Basse of 1912 is a six-movement organ piece designed to accompany a said Mass. The Sortie is its finest movement and, in the words of Vierne’s pupil and biographer, Bernard Gavoty, ‘gives those, who never heard Vierne improvise, a very good idea of an improvisation at the end of Mass at Notre-Dame de Paris’. Written on two staves for organ or harmonium, David Patrick has separated the pedal part onto a third stave and transposed it down an octave in a couple of places. The toccata-like semiquavers are not as difficult as they sound in what would be an excellent, sparkling final voluntary.

Louis Vierne
ed. Helga Schauerte-Maubouet
Bärenreiter BA9225 £26.50
Louis Vierne’s six organ symphonies follow a rising sequence of minor keys from no.1 in D minor up to no.6 in B minor (and the few sketches that have survived for no.7 are in C minor). Bärenreiter’s complete edition has so far included nos. 1, 2, 3 and 6, and now comes no.5 in A minor, the largest of them, and one that was notorious for the number of misprints in its original 1925 Durand edition. In this handsome volume the original edition, the composer’s autograph and an anonymous list of corrections preserved with the autograph have all be consulted. Details are given in the critical report (in English, French and German), and in an introduction which is able to explore the work’s genesis partly with reference to previously unpublished letters written by the composer. This new edition can now safely be regarded as the definitive one for all six symphonies.
Duncan Watkins


Johann Sebastian Bach
ed. David Schulenberg
Breitkopf EB8801 and 8802 €24.80 each
These two volumes in Breitkopf’s complete Bach organ works in 10 volumes promise exceptionally well for the rest of the series. The most immediately obvious difference between these volumes and the Neue Bach Ausgabe is the inclusion of a CD-ROM with each volume, from which the user can view or print works of dubious authenticity and also secondary versions that can be compared with the principal versions including in the printed score. No longer is it necessary to have separately published critical reports, or more pages of detailed notes at the end of the score than there are of actual music. David Schulenberg, renowned as a performer as well as a Bach scholar (although on harpsichord, clavichord and fortepiano rather than organ), follows most modern scholarship in choosing where possible to follow a single source that can be traced back to the composer or his immediate circle, and listing divergences from that.
Volumes I and II include between them the complete Preludes and Fugues. In the first volume, the C major Prelude and Fugue BWV 545 illustrates the approach of the edition. Schulenberg describes how it survives in at least five distinct versions. The printed score give the ‘normal’ two-movement version, plus an additional trio movement inserted to form a three-movement work, plus a shorter early version of the prelude. In addition, on the CD-ROM appears the fugue of the same early version, since that fugue is only preserved in a source of uncertain authority, and a five-movement version of the work in B flat with extra second and fourth movements, the responsibility for which is even less certain. Organists will not need to throw away their NBA editions, but will certainly find enlightenment in having these new volumes as well.
Duncan Watkins


Maurice Duruflé
Hal Leonard DF 16175 £13.90
Here is great news for organists: all the Duruflé organ works originally published separately by Éditions Durand in a single volume at a sensible price (three of the pieces included here each used to cost more than this entire volume). It is almost the complete Duruflé: his only organ music not published by Durand was a late Fugue sur le thème du Carillon des Heures (described in John Henderson’s Directory as ‘not in the same class as the earlier pieces’) and the Prelude sur l’introit de l’Epiphanie – a pity that couldn’t be included as it is shorter and much easier than his other organ music. What you do have, in reprints of the original editions, are the Scherzo Op.2, Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le thème du Veni creator Op 4, Suite Op.5, Prelude et Fugue sur le nom d’Alain and the Méditation of 1964. Once upon a time these wonderful if very difficult pieces would have set you back £75: grab this collection and be grateful!
Duncan Watkins


Nigel Gaze £10.00
Subtitled ‘Five Peaceful Preludes and a Postlude’, this little Suite explores different hymn tunes associated with the feast of Pentecost. Samuel Webbe’s Veni, Sancte Spiritus will probably be the best known. There is a preponderance of tunes that may once have been popular, but no longer. At the end comes a setting of J.B. Dykes’s Veni Creator Spiritus along with the instruction that ‘the choir might be encouraged to sing the first verse of AMR 152 in unison here.’ A splendid idea – but Hymns Ancient & Modern Revised (1950) seems to have been the last mainstream hymn book in which the tune appeared. Nevertheless, we regularly play chorale preludes based on tunes that are no longer (if ever) found in our hymn books, and there is much to enjoy in all six short pieces: well worth exploring for an organist’s peaceful Pentecost.

Samuel Rousseau
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £8.00
Rousseau (1853–1904) studied with César Franck and subsequently worked with him for 15 years at Sainte-Clotilde. Acclaimed in his day, his music does not deserve the neglect into which it has fallen. John Henderson describes it as ‘of uniformly high quality’, and so it appears from these two pieces that David Patrick has combined in one volume. Memorable tunes set in an unrestrained way that displays its emotional heart on its sleeve may suggest the opera house rather than the organ loft, and indeed Rousseau was also noted as a composer of operas. I’m sure that any congregation would enjoy hearing either of these pieces after a service.

Camille Saint-Saëns
arr. Alexandre Guilmant
ed. David Patrick
Fitzjohn Music Publications £4.00
One might hear shades of Fauré’s Dolly Suite Berceuse in this music, even without knowing that the original Saint-Saëns piece was a piano duet. Guilmant’s transcription makes it sound, however, as if originally conceived for organ. Registration is given for a three-manual instrument, but it would work fine on two or even a single manual. Three minutes of relaxed Gallic charm.
Duncan Watkins


Charles Villiers Stanford
arr. Carsten Klomp and Heiko Petersen
Brass ensemble and organ
Bärenreiter BA11204 score and wind score £11.50
Bärenreiter’s enterprising ‘Organ Plus Brass’ series reaches its fourth volume with the surprising choice of five of Stanford’s choir and organ anthems, but Stanford’s choral writing transcribes well for brass and these are effective arrangements. Three of the anthems are the ‘hymns’ that Stanford arranged for choir and organ to follow his Op.113 ‘Bible Songs’: In thee is gladness, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty and O for a closer walk with God. The other two are How beauteous are their feet and Arise, shine. The main publication comprises a score for organ and brass with an inserted brass score (in C). The brass score is also available separately, as are parts for trumpets (in C), horn (in F) and trombones (in C).
Duncan Watkins