THÉODORE DUBOIS: COMPLETE ORGAN WORKS VOL. 6 [E–M]
Bärenreiter BA9209 £36.00
The organ works of Dubois, best known for his Toccata in G and perhaps the March of the Magi Kings, are wide-ranging, as seen in the six volumes in Bärenreiter’s complete edition that concludes with this volume of 42 pieces for manuals only. They were published after Dubois’s death as a single anthology: 42 Pièces pour Orgue sans pédales ou Harmonium. There are many quiet Préludes, Interludes, Versets and Offertoires, but also some forceful pieces such as a Petite Marche solennelle and a toccata-like Sortie. The volume is complete with introductory essays, illustrations and critical report. Bärenreiter are now offering the complete six volumes at a special price of £176. Those who only need this manuals-only anthology and do not want the high level of scholarly-critical apparatus provided here may like to consider the more utilitarian but perfectly usable edition from Butz Musikverlag for €24.00.
OXFORD HYMN SETTINGS FOR ORGANISTS [mostly M and M/D]
Volume 6: Autumn Festivals
Rebecca Groom te Velde and David Blackwell
Having covered from Advent to Trinity in the first five volumes, this latest volume brings the church year full circle with an ‘autumn’ volume that shows its geographical and denominational spread by including as ‘festivals’ World Communion, Reformation/The Church, Harvest, All Saints, All Souls, Remembrance, Christ the King and Thanksgiving. This is a big anthology of 37 pieces, 140 pages and a slightly higher price than other volumes to match; also, with such a range of subjects, it has many hymn tunes that will be used throughout the year: Aurelia, Engelberg, England’s Lane, Lobe den Herren, Monkland, Nun danket and St Helen among others. Finding the tune one wants among the various volumes becomes more difficult, but the publishers have kindly provided an online index of all the tunes across the six volumes.
There are some gloriously over-the-top pieces, such as Thomas Hewitt Jones’s take on All things bright and beautiful (a contrast with Mary Beth Bennett’s flute-y triple-time reworking of the alternative Royal Oak tune). There are also delightful homages to other composers, and many other treatments are delightful surprises, such as Rebecca Groom te Velde’s Solemn Processional on ‘When the Saints go marching in’, Adagio espressivo, no less! At the other extreme, for exuberant fun it is hard to beat Ashley Grote’s Carillon Westminster Abbey where the Purcell tune is combined with the Westminster Chimes with some deliciously ripe harmonies. It is easy to overuse the word ‘essential’ about a new publication, but those of us with this series of imaginatively filled anthologies will soon wonder how we ever existed without them.
TWELVE SHORT PIECES SET 1 [E]
TWELVE SHORT PIECES SET 2 [E]
Fitzjohn Music Publications £10.00 each
Trevor Webb wrote in Sunday by Sunday Issue 70, reviewing another David Patrick edition of Alan Gray, ‘the best introduction to Gray’s music for organ is, I think, the 24 Short Preludes, if you can find a copy’. David Patrick has obliged, and here are the 24 Preludes issued in two volumes as they originally were in 1922, but (unlike previously) with the music on three staves so that the use of pedals is clarified. John Henderson is fair when he writes in his Directory that ‘none of these pieces could be described as truly great but several make useful voluntaries.’ The composer claimed that he intended them primarily for organists who find extemporizing difficult or irksome – and indeed, at between 2 and 2½ minutes each, they would fulfil a ‘filling in’ function admirably.
FIVE SHORT CHORALE PRELUDES [M]
Fitzjohn Music Publications £9.00
Ethel Smyth studied at the Leipzig Conservatoire alongside Tchaikovsky, Grieg and Dvořák, but today is better remembered for campaigning for women’s suffrage. There is a strong, confident musical voice in these pieces (four Preludes plus a Prelude and Fugue) that are well conceived for the organ. In this new edition, original passages in alto and tenor clef are shown in treble and bass clef. The fourth Prelude, on the Easter melody Erschienen ist der herrlich’ Tag, presents two problems in the pedal part. David Patrick solves the inclusion of a top F sharp by providing an alternative version with the whole piece transposed down a tone. Then there is the composer’s ‘4ft (Trumpet)’ registration, which for most of us will mean a 4ft reed coupled from a spare manual (if we are lucky enough to have that).
WISTFUL TARTANRY: Seven short interludes based on Scottish folk tunes [E]
arr. Geoffrey Atkinson
Auld Lang Syne (an ‘alternative tune’), The Bonny Briar Bush, Dream Angus and four others are given a treatment that deserves the epithet ‘wistful’. The composer rightly advises against them being treated as a suite, given the similarity of mood. But each has its own character derived from the different feel of each tune. The title comes from a review of a recording of Atkinson’s music, where it may not have been intended as a compliment. But it admirably and positively sums up these sensitive arrangements that, used selectively, will give great pleasure.
VARIATIONS ON ‘WEINEN, KLAGEN, SORGEN, ZAGEN’ [D]
Franz Liszt, arr. Marcel Dupré
Dr. J. Butz Musikverlag 2771 €15.00
Here are Liszt’s variations on J.S. Bach reworked by Marcel Dupré; in fact not so much ‘reworked’ as ‘re-vitalized’ according to Jeremy Filsell in his Preface that explains the background to the edition. Filsell makes much of the difference between Liszt’s organ and piano compositions. He claims that it was not just because of his technique as a performer that Liszt preferred the piano, but that, while he was enamoured by the 19th-century development of the piano, ‘he seems to have regarded the contemporaneous organ as a more limited means of expression’. Enter Marcel Dupré who prepared a complete edition of Liszt’s organ music, and in this work freely rewrote some of the variants, at times with reference to the more elaborate figuration in Liszt’s original piano version of the work, and sometimes by analogy with what Liszt did in his piano versions of other major organ works. This edition is offered as ‘an effective performance alternative’ to Liszt’s original.
ORGAN WORKS VOLUME 6: Preludes, Toccatas, Fantasias and Fugues II [D]
Updated edition by Peter Wollny
Bärenreiter BA5266 £21.00
Reviewing the updated Bärenreiter Bach Organ Works Volume 4 in Sunday by Sunday Issue 76, we felt that the small number of changes barely warranted disposing of the previous NBA (Neue Bach- Ausgaben) volumes. This is not true of Volume 6 where the replacement has significantly different contents. It is over 50 years since the original NBA volume excluded the ‘Jig’ Fugue, and although it was reinstated in the canon in 2003 it now resumes its place in the correct volume. The peculiarities of the piece, which were once used to cast doubts on its authenticity, are now explained by the influence of the dance. Also appearing here but not in the previous edition are the Fantasias in G major BWV 571 and C minor BWV 1121 and the C major version of the Toccata and Fugue in E major BWV 566. Now excluded, however, is the Prelude in G major BWV 568 and two variant versions ‘discarded as allegedly spurious or unauthorized’.
Peter Wollny has been central to the recent study and evaluation of Bach sources and he has provided a substantial list and description of relevant sources rediscovered since the previous edition. The pieces that we expect and still find in this volume benefit from improved layout and more manageable page turns, the flexibility for which is partly created by allowing empty pedal staves to be hidden in what are otherwise three-stave movements. Finally, as a new development, there are links for each piece to digital images of the relevant manuscripts in the Bach Digital online collection of Bach’s autograph scores. It will be interesting to see whether links to up-to-date web pages and images or the Breitkopf method of including a CD-ROM with each new volume proves to be the way forward for such editions.
CARLO CURLEY COLLECTION: Three Improvisations [M]
realized by Ian Tracey
Church Organ World COW-2016-004 £15
Ian Tracey has transcribed from recordings three of the improvisations with which Carlo Curley used to start his recitals. Do not try the first piece, entitled Largo ‘New World Symphony’, as a quiet piece at a funeral: Dvořák’s melody is there but harmonized as if by Delius and building to a Largamente statement and a fortissimo, full organ climax. Prelude on ‘Ar Hyd y Nos’ has a less forceful treatment, with multiple tremulants and Celestes. Prelude on ‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save’ builds to full organ, adds Choir Tuba or Trumpet and reaches a climax marked ‘Molto maestoso in the grand style!’ Carlo Curley’s performance of the Dvořák is easy to find on YouTube – readers may like to listen and decide whether or not this volume is for them.