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themythes

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Everything posted by themythes

  1. Further to my initial posting about the “original” version of ‘Hear My Prayer’: The internet has been mildly helpful, though not, so far, in respect of casting any light upon the Larousse fac-simile. It looks as though the English words by W. Bartholomew came first and the German was a translation of these. The orchestral version throws up the most interesting point so far - it was made by Mendelssohn just before he died, in 1847, for Joseph Robinson, an Irish baritone; the piece is invariably sung by a treble or soprano voice but apparently Mendelssohn thought of it as interchangeable with a broken voice. Why not? It may be a partial answer to Vox’s point about the mood of Psalm 55. Has anyone heard it this way? The plot thickens! David Harrison
  2. Dave Harries’ enquiry about church cats and his reference to Worcester felines prompts me to tell a little story that may even appeal to Churchmouse. Just before the Three Choirs Festival of 2002, I had chanced to photograph Marmaduke curled up on his favourite sofa at home. He was, in his prime, a large cat, but had been involved in an accident before Adrian and his family acquired him and was tailless, a fact which probably doesn’t show up in the pictures in the book. The sight of Marmaduke fast asleep, as usual, prompted me to produce a formal photograph of him with the title “The Dream of Gerontipuss”. The Festival that year was Wulstan Atkins’ last visit before he died; he was much amused by the picture in Adrian’s front window and a copy was given him. Sadly, I have to tell you that Marmaduke, too, died recently and thus is no more. He was a truly splendid animal, justly earning the sobriquet “Magnifi-cat”. David Harrison
  3. The BBC, it appears, have launched another of their mass performing campaigns, this time with Mendelssohn's O for the wings of a dove. I realise that this is not strictly speaking an organ topic but very few of us have not come across the piece in some capacity or other, indeed I have told the story elsewhere on this forum in another topic of my own participation in a performance which rose a semitone in the second half despite being accompanied; quite an achievement, I think you would agree. My reason for beginning this topic is that I recalled discovering a facsimile of the opening page, presumably in Mendelssohn’s handwriting in the Larousse Encyclopedia of Music edited by Geoffrey Hindley and published in 1971; at least my edition was. What is reproduced on page 277 is said to be Mendelssohn’s autograph manuscript; there are several departures from that with which we are now familiar, and that’s just the first page. It is a well known fact that Mendelssohn revised his work several times; Novello have published fascinating early versions of the organ sonatas. There is thus a strong suggestion that there may well be an substantially different, earlier version of Hear My Prayer knocking around somewhere. Does anyone have any knowledge of this and if so, how can one get hold of it? Meanwhile, I have sent an enquiry and await a possible reply from the BBC! David Harrison
  4. I am not one of those sainted beings who knew Boris Ord personally, but I recall a friend (I think David Blott, who designed the organ over which pcnd5584 presides) telling me that one of his favourite Boris quotations (David was a choral scholar at Kings under Boris) was “I’ve got a noise for everything in the psalms except Og the King of Basan”. David Harrison
  5. Try, if you can find it, “The Hymn Tune Mystery” by George A. Birmingham. This was the pseudonym of the Revd. James Owen Hannay and one can find out all about him in Wikipedia. The story gives a pretty good impression of life in a sleepy backwater Cathedral of the 30s and makes for an entertaining read. The organ connection is the murder of the organist, (not another, I hear you cry) but I won’t add any spoilers at this stage. Either Roffensis hasn’t read my request (Post No 18) or he/she is disgusted that I don’t know it; if I am the only member of the forum to be in ignorance of both Mr Smallharp and the obviously luscious Melissa surely someone can enlighten me. Mind you, the repetition of “And she did” makes me wonder about what preceded this excerpt, to say nothing of its continuation. David Harrison
  6. There is a largish 3 manual Rothwell in All Soul’s, Ascot; I played there regularly during the 80s and early 90s. I remember that it seemed a good instrument with a particularly effective swell. The tabs between the keys didn’t really make for easy stop control, though I suppose one could get used to anything if one tried for long enough. However, what I could never have become accustomed to was the fact that the keyboards were necessarily miles apart, (note the picture of Roger Fisher playing the Headstone organ) and also getting my feet on to the swell pedal and even managing the pedal notes themselves proved the organ to be effectively useless for practice, certainly as far as I was concerned. Perhaps those of more concise dimensions might have found the organ more rewarding than I did. Shame, because it sounded well in the church. I would be interested to know from others whether they have found the same problem with Rothwell consoles. David Harrison
  7. Would Roffensis be so kind as to enlighten us as to the provenance of the piece of deathless prose quoted above? Googling Mr Smallharp has produced nothing, as far as I can see. David Harrison
  8. In response to Innate: On page 171 of my copy of Holy Disorders by Edmund Crispin aka Bruce Montgomery, Geoffrey (the organist who takes over temporarily at the Cathedral after the titulaire is murdered) tests his suspicion of the landlord of the local pub by asking him which is his favourite setting of the (evening) canticles. The landlord replies that, as a Presbyterian, he is not as familiar as some with Anglican settings but he professes a liking for the Stanford settings in B flat and G. Geoffry suggests the setting in E flat, but the landlord replies that he has not heard of it. Presumably we are expected to infer from what follows that Geoffry has made it up - "[he} cursed inwardly; the man had the better of him." Presumably the laugh is on Mr Montgomery because I see from Choral Wiki that Stanford did indeed write a setting in E flat, though, like the landlord, I haven't come across it. I'm sorry if the foregoing comes out as if I have been partaking too liberally of the landlord's hospitality. Do read the book; it's a must for anyone who has an interest in church music. Bruce Montgomery is well known for his scores for the early Carry On films; they are, however, light years away in style from his 'Oxford Requiem' and 'Christ's Birthday', both looking rather Howellsian. There is also a superb little miniature - 'My Joy, My Life, My Crown' - a setting of words by George Herbert. Well within the capabilities of the most modest village choir, it is certainly worth a look if you don't know it. It was published, I think, by OUP, but I don't know whether or not it is still in print. David Harrison
  9. The organist on the Priory LP recorded at St Andrew's Hall, Norwich in the mid 80s was Adrian Lucas, at that time assistant at the Cathedral and curator of the St Andrew's organ. The Marche aux Flambeaux is indeed a choice example of the taste free repertoire, but no one should overlook another masterpiece on the same record - the Viennese March, also by the Revd Mr Scotson Clarke. Pure joy! I had hoped that Adrian might have recorded all 14, or is it 15, of the Scotson Clarke Marches, but mysteriously, he declined the suggestion. Nevertheless, I do hope someone will oblige. David Harrison
  10. Echo Gamba - you are quite right. At the time of the rebuild in the early fifties the old console was retained, but the new one was added and installed, at floor level, in the chancel. It was the first to have the curved stop jambs and I was told that when Ralph Downes spotted it at the Harrison works he requested it for the RFH organ which was being built at the time. Norman Cocker had designed the new console himself and he refused to allow the RFH to have it, thus Manchester Cathedral was the first to have what became, for some time, the signature Harrison console. It was possible to play both consoles together, but it was as well to do it sober as they were not completely independent. As I recall, with an ever fading memory, the swell pedals and, I think, the Pedal section had to be selected on a switch board near the choir console. I recall trying to play for an evensong one Saturday when Allan was away; I had forgotten that I had played for a wedding at midday on the nave console and although I had switched the organ off and pressed general cancel, some kind, thoughtful and helpful soul had subsequently drawn the 16, 8 and 4ft reeds on the great - I think that there was no way of locking the nave console, hence the verger’s message to you! Circumstances led me to play the choir in for evensong at the choir console without checking the setter switch and on other keyboards than the great and so when I drew some tasteful stops to accompany the psalms I and the entire choir jumped at least six feet into the air. No shrinking violet, that organ, as I recall. The rest of the service was pretty dire, from my point of view, though by the time I have got to the end of the Sumsion in G Mag, I had worked out what was wrong. Now, I believe, the console is on the screen and has been for some time, but I have not darkened the doors of the Cathedral since I left. Just for the record, I am sure Dr Wicks spells his given name with two lls; I got it wrong in my previous post. And Vox Humana will, I'm sure, confirm that Sidney Campbell most certainly did not like his name being spelt incorrectly! David Harrison
  11. I have found this thread about Dr Wicks most interesting and can wholeheartedly agree with all the enthusiastic comments that have been made. I was, in fact, his assistant at Manchester long, long ago and for only a brief period; he will not remember me with much pleasure, I fear. Nevertheless, I recall a couple of stories about him that Churchmouse might, possibly, care to note for the next volume. Mention of the Maxwell Davies O magnum mysterium reminds me that Alan fired it off at a Royal Festival Hall recital in late 1959. He had undoubtedly worked on it assiduously as recounted by Barry Jordan and he played it just before the London recital after a midweek evensong. I, together with a few of the layclerks, gathered in the nave to listen; it wasn’t until someone noticed that Maxwell Davies appeared to have repeated some sections several times that eventually we realised that Alan was actually practising it as he went along. The other story, told over the usual pint after the service, concerned the habit, then indulged widely, of smoking. I recall Alan telling us that he had given up smoking a while before and those of us who then were still in thrall to this filthy habit asked him how he did it. It seems that he had been in conversation with Geraint Jones, one of the most distinguished British organists of the immediate post-war period. Jones, it seems, had already given up smoking; Alan, at that time, was still trying to kick the habit. He asked Geraint Jones what had helped most; Jones replied that giving up had improved his technique enormously. This was, of course, a great incentive and Alan immediately decided to kick the habit which he did, successfully. We asked him if it had made any difference to his technique: Absolutely none whatsoever was the reply. David Harrison
  12. Please add my name to those attending on Saturday 31st January. David Harrison
  13. From Peter Clark (Sorry - I haven't yet sussed the quote bit; I'll work on it during the sermon) Well for a start it just sounds nice! More seriously it seems to provide a "proto-climax" to the tune, heightened by the suspension and resolution into the "extra" bar which demands a slight interruption to the established rythmic pattern. This sense of psychological tension is finally overcome by the conclusion of the tune when it returns to the expected bar-count and home key. Peter, thank you for drawing my attention to your previous comment about “Coe Fen”, of which I was fully aware. I feel that what you have did then was to present an explanation of why you like it, which is not, I contend, what I asked for. It is obvious that you love the tune and that’s absolutely fine by me, but that of itself does not necessarily make it an example of correct musical procedure, any more than my own predilections would justify changing, or wanting to change a composer’s work, such as the 'Scotch Snap' in 'Lord for the Years'. Considered purely as a piece of music, I can see that there are many other examples of the same sort of thing being done elsewhere; my reservation was simply that it may not be the ideal way to ‘design’ a congregational hymn. However, one gathers from others that congregations seem to have no difficulty with it and thus such reservations as I have seem largely unimportant. Given your very carefully thought out reasoning for how musically satisfactory that extra bar is, for you!, how do you feel about the end of the third line of ‘Blaenwern’? I suspect that you would recoil, like everybody else, from the idea of adding an extra bar because we are all used to it as it is, but does it make that modulation to line four any more acceptable? I know that it is possible to cover the worst aspects of the modulation in the last bar of line three, especially in the last verse, but imagine it with the extra bar - I reckon it would have the same impact as the ‘Coe Fen’ tune, and would, I suggest, make even more musical sense. Nevertheless, if called upon to play either hymn, like almost everyone else, I will try to play what the composers wrote. David Harrison
  14. I agree with Peter Clark and others who find this lone nod to “modernism” gratuitous. Like Mr Coram and others I just play crochets in the lower parts there and leave the choir and congregation to work out their own salvation. I am, however, intrigued by the fact that no one appears to have any reservations about the last line, which strikes me as being very weak as a result of all those repeated notes. I fear that this tune will, probably, not stand the test of time in the same way that, for example, Michael, or even Guiting Power, despite its ridiculously wide range, have done; nor do I think that it deserves to. With reference to what a composer might think of his masterpiece being changed without permission, I am equally intrigued by Peter’s readiness to suggest a weakness in this tune when he seemed unable to spot a similar weakness (for me) that I pointed out, in other topic, in “Coe Fen”. Would I have been right to remove the 'extra bar' in “Coe Fen”? Of course not, and thus I don’t use it. David Harrison
  15. It seems that organs can crop up in what appear at first to be unlikely scenarios. Recently I found myself watching an ITV feature film about the serial killer John George Haigh, who flourished, if that is 'le mot juste', just after the Second World War. He had discovered a novel way of disposing of his victims, id. est., by letting them luxuriate in what the press called an acid bath. It is difficult for we organists and choirmasters, who lead quite blameless lives, filled with the doing of good works for our fellow men and women, to realise that there was at least one musician out there who seemed to gain satisfaction from slaying those around him more or less at random. Are there any more similarly motivated characters known about by others on the forum? What part does an organ play in this grim tale? Haigh was brought up by strict parents who were Plymouth Brethren, but who allowed him to take up a choristership at Wakefield Cathedral. One account of his life suggests that he may even have become, briefly, an articled pupil to the organist, Joseph Hardy, (presumably - see Wikipedia) and there is a fine shot of the impressive 5 manual Compton console with the small child playing the youthful Haigh 'attempting' BWV 565 - what else? “A is for Acid” - is the film title; I thought it was very well done, with Martin Clunes, ever reliable, as the eponymous anti-hero. David Harrison
  16. "And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded" I'm really sorry if there are any who have felt cajoled or pressured into revealing their identities; I had no idea that some members of the board would feel that this was such a sensitive issue. I suspect my only reward will be to learn to follow the advice given me by a former Director of the RSCM, speaking in his rich Cornish accent "Never write to the press (or equivalent) on matters of opinion, my dear; write only about matters of fact." Guilmant has got me really worried, though; I'm afraid, respected sir, that I haven't a clue as to who you are. Might you be among those present at the Worcester Cathedral Organ Day at the end of January? David Harrison (possibly)
  17. Thanks for all the many and varied replies; Yes, I do see that there might be cases where anonimity will save one a whole packet of trouble and it is sad that those who do publish their details in good faith are put in awkward situations. I, too, have often wondered about the identity of Lee Blick; I must confess to being a brickhead here; it was sometime before I realised that he wasn't actually called Lee and neither was he the son of Mr and Mrs Blick. Excellent pseudonym, though? Thanks, too, to those who have enlightened us; I hope that you won't come to regret doing so. David Harrison
  18. Some time ago there was a topic posted entitled “ Introduce yourself”. There were many interesting and entertaining replies and the response to it was extensive and informative. There are, also, those who have dropped 32ft sized hints as to whom they are, even if they didn’t actually tell us precisely. Nevertheless, there were and are some contributors who have not come out of the woodwork at all. Am I the only one on this forum who is becoming just a little irritated by some quite trenchant opinions being offered anonymously? Even if we discover your identity, no one is going to come round to your house and heave a brick through your front window, simply because you think that the Mulet “Tu es petra” should be played as fast as possible or that the old Worcester Cathedral organ was the finest instrument ever built. Everyone is fully entitled to hold their opinions and express them in a civilised way but they would carry much more weight if we knew by whom they were expressed. Privacy and anonymity are not quite the same thing; we have several cathedral organists together with some notable concert organists on the list who have made no attempt to conceal their identities. What have you got to hide? David Harrison
  19. While the eggheads among us have all busy recently discussing the Latin and Greek origins of the title of Mulet’s toccata, may I pick up on one solitary note from Gareth Perkins; fascinating as the various arguments are, I am equally, if not more intrigued by the way it is played, especially in respect of the tempo. Most players seem to want to take it at a breakneck speed and one can certainly admire various performers’ techniques when it is heard this way. There is, however, a recording, I think, by Naji Hakim, who was organist, was he not, at Sacre-Coeur, taken at a very sedate pace. The effect, for me, is positively mesmeric and the pedal part begins at last to make its full effect. I am inclined to think that M. Hakim played it slowly from conviction and not because he couldn’t play it any faster. Is this his own view of the piece or is there a performing tradition handed down at SC? Of course, a lot will depend upon the instrument and the building as it does with so much organ music, but nevertheless, I do think that “le plus vite possible” is not necessarily the best or only way for this splendid warhorse. Since we appear, now, to be multi lingual, “nas vedenje”. David Harrison
  20. Further to my original posting, I have since managed to elicit another nugget of information to refute any suggestion that the priapically named lady in question was not a figment of my diseased imagination. It seems that no less a giant of the journalistic scene than the great Victor Lewis Smith, he of the racy section of Private Eye and Bach Organ Music on the telly, has referred to her on more than one occasion. I have not purchased the right to read the whole article but there is enough to suggest that further research could yield positive results. Try “The American Organist - back issues”. I wonder if any university would accept me for a Ph.D thesis on this subject? David Harrison
  21. I have just come across the posting by MM about notable female organists (June 12 -The James Bond Thread) in which he reminds us that at their best they can equal or surpass most mere males. There must, equally, be a large number of unsung female heroines who rarely catch the eye; for some years now I have been searching the internet in vain to ascertain the progress, if any, of a lady, who, some years ago advertised an organ recital in the American Guild of Organists “Music” magazine of October 1978. Her programme, from Christ Church, Detroit, was one that many of us would not undertake unadvisedly, lightly or wantonly – the Bach F major Toccata, Vierne 1 finale, Dupre G minor P & F, Franck 3 and some Peeters to round it off. Only someone seriously minded would essay such repertoire and I am keen to know what sort of reputation she may now enjoy. Google throws up nothing that appears to be relevant but I cannot believe that such an arresting name as hers would not have attracted much attention from concert promoters. How the devil could anyone fade into obscurity with a name like “Randy Lynn Bangs”? David Harrison
  22. The two cases of the new organ in the quire at Worcester Cathedral take some beating; the cathedral is now in “summer order”, almost all furniture in the nave having been removed and from anywhere in the nave the eye is drawn irresistibly upwards towards what must be, currently, two of the finest cases in the country. Quite coincidentally, it sounds every bit as good as it looks. David Harrison
  23. Thanks Jim; fair point. Sorry if you thought I was being a bit heavy handed, but as you know there has been quite a lot of mud slung around various parts of this forum and I'm glad you have put me right! David Harrison
  24. I should like to think that Jim Treloar dashed off his message about Mr Carpenter without giving quite enough thought to his comment about Mr Curley. I don’t know Mr Curley well, but on the few occasions that I have had the pleasure of meeting him I have found him to be extremely likeable, very kind and considerate and excellent company. Certainly he has a flamboyant presentational style and expresses himself with great confidence, but I think that Mr Treloar may well have given an impression of Carlo that, I hope, he didn’t mean. David Harrison
  25. Gaffes in WHAT? Hector5’s reference to the hitting of a piston which he thought was the right one and instead producing a “shout that tore hell’s concave” reminds me that about 20 years ago in the mid to late 80s I was accompanying son-in-law Adrian’s singers (Wymondman Choir) for evensong at Ely Cathedral. The setting was Stainer in B flat, definitely one of the best laughs in the repertoire. Never a dry seat . . . We had arrived peacefully and without mishap at the bottom of page 5. Deciding that I needed full swell with the box closed for the start of the next section, I prepared the swell pedal appropriately and pressed purposefully on what I thought was Swell 8; it turned out be General 8. I don’t know about the effect it had on the choir; they were all too shocked to be able to speak for several days afterwards. Somehow I managed to get back on an even keel and after the service left a note for the visiting organist after me: “Do please note that the foot pistons on the left of the swell pedals are general and not swell pistons. I didn’t and the plaster is still falling from the ceiling.” Obviously I should have found it out beforehand but time is often so limited, is it not? It had all gone so well at rehearsal; but then that is the punch line to one of my very favourite jokes and wild horses wouldn’t persuade me to repeat it here. Thing is, I’m due at Ely again this coming weekend: and the setting for Sunday evensong is Stainer in B flat. Hmm. David Harrison
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