Organ Music, March 2016


Rebecca Groom te Velde and David Blackwell
Oxford 978-0-19-340069-6 £19.50

Many readers will by now know what to expect, and will not be disappointed by this fifth volume of hymn settings. There are 35 original pieces written by composers from the UK and the USA with the intention ‘to provide quality music based on well-known hymn tunes for church organists’. Some of the pieces present the tune in an easily recognizable and comparatively conventional form (David Thorne’s Prelude on Halton Holgate, Alan Bullard’s Prelude or Interlude on Hereford, Malcolm Archer’s Postlude on Veni, Sancte Spiritus, for example). Others display considerable imagination. Rebecca Groom Te Velde’s version of St Patrick’s Breastplate, appropriately described as a paraphrase, manages in its central section to combine phrases from the two ‘Christ be with me’ tunes, Deirdre and Gartan. David Blackwell’s ‘Homage to RVW’ treatment of Down Ampney begins as if it is going to be RVW’s own version of Rhosymedre. Paul Leddington Wright explores how far one can go using Shipston as a contrapuntal subject (it is subtitled ‘Fugatives on the run’).
Christopher Tambling, whose death we reported in December 2015 CMQ, contributed a Fanfare and Trumpet Tune on Nicaea whose conventional opening makes its subsequent lively 12/8 elaboration all the more gripping. The volume concludes with David Blackwell’s Toccata giocoso on Walk in the light, appropriately dedicated ‘in memory of Christopher Tambling, who contributed so much to this series’.
Many hymns associated with Trinity Sunday are used throughout the year; several tunes associated with Pentecost words are also sung to other hymn texts at other times. As this series develops, the volumes become more and more useful not only at the seasons specified in their titles. There is now an index of all the tunes in all the volumes on the publisher’s website. It is difficult to remember how we all survived before these publications came along: they are a good idea, excellently realized by the editors.

Griffith Bratt
Paraclete PPM01546 $7.50

Griffith Bratt’s Down Ampney Meditation, from his Opus 87 set, contrasts with David Blackwell’s Prelude mentioned above. Where Blackwell is expansive, especially at the music that accompanies the words ‘and let thy glorious light’ in verse 2, Bratt treats the theme in less than half the number of bars and with a unifying 12/8 quaver motif (derived from the hymn tune) in the accompaniment. In fact it is more a conventional Prelude, comparatively tightly constructed, that allows the tune to relax into its compound-time metre. Less ‘glorious light’ and more ‘Comforter, draw near’ perhaps – and there is room for both approaches in our Pentecost music.
Duncan Watkins


GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL: Select Airs and Choruses taken from his Oratorios [M–M/D]
adapted by John Marsh
David Patrick and John Collins
Fitzjohn Music Publications £12.00

What a pity the editors did not add an index or a contents list! From the opening of the Dettingen Te Deum to the 20th and final piece, a Coronation Anthem ‘God save the King’ which proves to be Zadok the Priest, here is a treasure trove of useful voluntaries for the manuals-only organist. As Marsh pointed out in his original preface, there are airs and pieces more suitable for softer stops as well as choruses intended to be used as concluding voluntaries. There are nine pieces from Messiah, four from Saul, and a wide variety of others. David Patrick provides a brief general introduction, and John Collins discusses early 18th-century keyboard arrangements, registration and ornamentation.

DIVERSIONS ON A CHORALE: Vater unser im Himmelreich [E/M]
Alan Spedding
Stephen Binnington
Banks Music Publications 14077 £4.95

Alan Spedding’s final organ composition, written in 2013, was this set of variations on the melody associated with Luther’s version of the Lord’s Prayer. Nine short, contrasting variations, all suitable for a small two-manual instrument without pedals, show a wide variety of approaches to the melody. Simple on the surface, but richly inspired and distilling a lifetime’s musical experience.
Duncan Watkins


ORGAN WORKS VOLUME 4: Third Part of the Clavier Übung [M–D
J.S. Bach
Updated edition by Christoph Wolff
Bärenreiter BA 5264 paperback £18.50

Bärenreiter are reissuing the organ volumes of Neue Bach Ausgabe (NBA) taking into account the latest discoveries or revised identification of sources, and doubtless bearing in mind the publication of the new Breitkopf edition. In the case of the third part of the Clavier Übung – i.e. the ‘St Anne’ Prelude and Fugue and the 21 chorale settings, mass settings and duets that lie between the mighty St Anne movements – there have been few corrections to the musical text. The most striking change is to Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr in its three-part ‘Canto fermo in Alto’ BWV 675 version: formerly printed on two staves, it now has the alto part extracted onto a separate pedal stave marked ‘4 foot’. Those isolated pedal notes in the St Anne Praeludium pro Organo pleno that first appear in bar 34 are now manualiter. In Christe, aller Welt Trost BWV 670, bar 22, the alto is now chromatic B flat on the third beat, B natural on the fourth. Page turns are more manageable, the revised layout partly achieved by allowing empty pedal staves to vanish in otherwise three-stave movements. There is an excellent introduction by Christoph Wolff, with an idiomatic English translation. Organists do not need to throw away their previous NBA editions, but this is a welcome revision for new purchasers. Breitkopf is an alternative if you want an abundance of extra material on the CD-ROM included with the printed music.
Julian Elloway

COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS VOLUME 5: Opus 65, 80 and 81 [M–D]
COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS VOLUME 6: Works without opus number [mostly M
Gerard Bunk
Jan Boecker
Bärenreiter BA 9285 & 11219 paperback £34.00 & £31.00

Sunday by Sunday last reviewed a volume of Bärenreiter’s complete Bunk edition five years ago, with what Huw Morgan described as ‘three massive works’. Bunk’s compositions tend to be substantial, but these final volumes include shorter and, for most of us, more manageable pieces. Much of the fifth volume comprises the ‘Six Organ Pieces’ Op. 65 written between 1916 and 1936 and including a particularly attractive F minor Stimmungsbild (‘tone poem’), an Idyll with a memorable folksong-like melody and a Trauungszug (‘wedding procession’) that emerges, passes by and retreats – simple but atmospheric. The volume also includes a Variationen und Fuge for harpsichord and a 15-minute single-movement sonata-form Musik für Orgel.   Volume 6 is mostly devoted to the ‘50 Short Chorale Improvisations for Use in the Church’ of which the composer finished 37 before he died in 1958. Although the most useful of his compositions for church musicians, including a sprightly manuals-only Nun danket alle Gott, these 37 pieces have long been available less expensively from Butz-Verlag (37 Choralimprovisationen BU 1559 €19.00), which means that the interest in this new volume is in the other material, namely an early (1907) piece combining the Dutch national anthem with Nun danket, a Reger-ish Little Fantasia for organ or piano, and an attractive and inventive three-manual chorale prelude on Wachet auf that can certainly be recommended. Enthusiasts for all things Bunk-related will welcome the inclusion of a CD-ROM at the end of the volume with a reproduction of Bunk’s 1958 book on the art of organ building and organ playing in Germany in the first half of the 20th century, Liebe zur Orgel, a book that was highly regarded by Albert Schweitzer.
Judith Markwith


ORGAN MAGAZINE VOLUMES 1–6: Preludes and Postludes [E]
Carl August Kern
Revised edition by Ekkehard Koch
Edition Dohr (Universal Edition) 15221–6 £11.95 each or £59.95 for the set

Kern was organist at Laubach, near Frankfurt, from 1879 until his death in 1897. His over 400 opus numbers include 28 sets of preludes and postludes, of which he published six sets under the title of ‘Organ Magazine’. Each collection follows the same pattern with between 11 and 15 preludes followed by one or two postludes. They vary between half a page and three pages in length. Kern was an organ teacher, and these pieces provide excellent practice material for beginner organists, or indeed sight-reading practice. All are written on two staves, with manual and pedal indications, although several would work effectively with manuals only.
Duncan Watkins