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Jeremy Jones

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Everything posted by Jeremy Jones

  1. I've not heard the De Montfort Hall organ but have heard lots of good things said about it. I'm going to try and get up to Leicester in March when Prof Ian Tracey is performing.
  2. I was wondering whether MM had heard Roger Fisher's recent recording of the Reubke again at Chester on Amphion recorded only a couple of years ago? I'd had the CD for a while without actually listening to it until a couple of weeks ago when I put the Reubke on. This is real no holds barred playing, quite exhilirating and nothing like so many other performances which tend to be over refined and considered. Roger Fisher just puts his foot down and goes hell for leather, particularly in the fugue at the end. My only disappointment was when he slams on the brakes for the last few chords instead of hurtling into the abyss at full steam.
  3. I have some sympathy with Pierre's problem about finding a decent recording of Howells organ music. Quite a bit has been recorded but there are actually very few collections on CD devoted to this repertoire. To my knowledge this consists of: Rhapsodies and Psalm Preludes (Dearnley/St Paul's/Hyperion) Rhapsodies and Psalm Preludes (Cleobury/King's/Priory) Rhapsodies (Bowers-Broadbent/Coventry/Priory) Sonata and 6 Pieces (Barber/Hereford/Priory) Various short works (Partington/Winchester/Priory) Various short works (Kenyon/Charterhouse School/Herald) King's and Hereford are wonderful in the quieter music, but the tutti on both are spoilt by bright mixtures and Coventry isn't really suitable, nor in my opinion is St Paul's where the acoustic is just too big. Winchester makes a worthwhile effort, and the big guns are used most sparingly by Adrian Partington. I do not have the CD made on the Harrison at Charterhouse, so cannot comment. This isn't really music suitable for a powerful Willis. I would love to hear Howells at somewhere like Chichester or Bristol or another instrument not that far removed from the old Gloucester organ for which much of Howells output must have been written in mind.
  4. The magazine certainly seems to have lost its sense of fun, and there's no real sense of anticipation of a couple of hours enjoyment to be had when it plops through the letter box now. Unfortunately, we are not exactly spoilt for choice in this field. Choir and Organ seems to be a thoroughly professional outfit (perhaps too much so) while The Organ continues to frustrate with its amateurish production values and is a lesser magazine without the youthful enthusiasm that Simon Fitzgerald brought to it until his departure a year or so ago.
  5. Now that we have a third edition of OR under the new editorial team, I wondered whether people here think matters are finally starting to improve. For myself, I think the February issue was a decided improvement on the previous two issues, although there were a few things which still need more thought on. First and foremost, they still don't get it about the cover. Car magazines will tend to have a picture of a car on the front, railway mags have a train on the front and football mags have the latest overpaid and over here footballer on its cover. And yet OR's new editor seems remarkably coy about putting an organ on the cover, and seems to think the readers will be happy to be fobbed off with a double spread in the centre of the magazine. Just what are they afraid will happen if an organ is put on the front cover of, quelle horreur!, a magazine called Organists Review? The theme this quarter was Mendelssohn, and I found Thomas Schmidt-Beste's article about the composer's interest in the organ, along with the interviews with Jennifer Bate and Margaret Phillips to be of great interest. However, in all there were about 6 articles about Mendelssohn and the organ - too much - with Alan Spedding's article going over much ground already covered by Schmidt-Beste. Otherwise, with the exception of the article about stamps and music, which I personally thought was scraping the barrel somewhat, there was much to enjoy from writers such as John Norman and Nigel Allcoat, to name just two. There does seem to be fewer CD reviews, which is a shame (11 organ, 5 choral over 8 pages). This compares badly with issues under the previous editorial team where, having done a random check, the CD review section routinely filled between 14 and 18 pages. We are fortunate to have so many organ and choir CDs being released by the record companies, and to just cherry pick for review a tiny proportion doesn't help the CD buying public. So my report after 3 issues would be that there are significant signs of improvements, but must do better, including having the conviction to shout from the rooftops that OR is magazine about organs and organists, and to have covers that reflect this reality.
  6. No one has yet mentioned Jules Grison's energetic Toccata in F which I think would be less likely to scare the natives than Transports de joie. One of the reasons why I think the Widor remains ever popular, even with organists judging from some of the posts here, is that it never outstays its welcome. It doesn't have that declamatory A-G-A motif that BWV565 does which never fails to lower my spirits when heard. But also, the Widor works well at a variety of tempi, with my personal preference for it to be played a little slower than usual, as I find it then goes with a bit of a swing.
  7. I recently purchased the Susan Landale 2CD set of Franck organ works. It is on the Callope label. I ordered it from http://crotchet.co.uk where it retails at £12.95 plus p+p costs. A bargain, featuring as it does superb performances on several C-Coll organs including St Sulpice. The DG Latry recording which received just about the most positive review I have ever read in the new edition of Organists Review, elsewhere has had mixed reviews. All seem to agree on fantastic sound, but....
  8. Thinking about this made me realise just how many instruments there are that I like purely based on recordings as I have never heard them live. They might include St Eustache (Paris), St Patrick's Cathedral (Dublin), Lichfield, Salisbury, Winchester, Durham, Ely, Hereford. But based purely on organs I have heard in the flesh (the first 3) or actually played (the latter 3): WESTMINSTER ABBEY Sounds quite different, depending on whether you are in the Nave, in the organ loft, or in the Quire, but all equally splendid, especially in anything by British composers. WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL The most uncompromising instrument I have ever heard - it doesn't do mystery - and best heard from a seat at least halfway down the building! LIVERPOOL CATHEDRAL In the right hands, this is a superb organ; the only organ to have made me physically cringe at the sheer volume of sound produced at full organ. ROYAL ALBERT HALL I managed to play this twice in my teens when a neighbour was the President of the RAH and could fix that sort of thing. At the console, you just have no idea of the power of this instrument, something I only realised when I stood at the back of the hall and heard someone else play it. An instrument re-born after Manders fantastic work. ST MARY REDCLIFFE, BRISTOL Arthur Harrison regarded this organ as his "finest and most characteristic work" and from a seat in the Nave it is a dream of an instrument to listen to. From the player's perspective, it's bit of a dog, as the console is just across the north aisle from the Swell box which includes 32ft and 16ft Trombones. Plus, because the Swell box is so far away from where the Choir sings, all the beautiful quiet registers usually found on a Harrison Swell, i.e. the Lieblich Flutes, Salicional and Vox Angelica, are on the 4th Echo and Solo manual. A nightmare for visiting organists to remember. Nonetheless, it remains one of my very favourite organs. CLIFTON COLLEGE CHAPEL, BRISTOL This 46 stop 4 manual Arthur Harrison from 1911 was the instrument I learnt to play the organ on, and to be honest, it spoilt me rotten for what I have played since. Of course, it has the idiosyncracies expected of such an instrument, notably Great 8/4ft Trombas that you never really know what to do with and a full Swell that is slightly underpowered and needs the Octave coupler drawn to balance with the Great. However, it is a gem of an instrument and one that others will have the chance to judge for themselves when Adrian Partington's recording of works by Basil Harwood on this organ is released by Priory Records.
  9. About 10 years ago I used to regularly practice on the J W Walker organ in the Christian Science Church on Nutford Place, London W1 (just off the Edgware Road). I do not know if this was atypical of other Walker organs in CS churches, but it was somewhat bland and the acoustics, not surprising given the acres of carpet everywhere, were stone cold dead. Not an inspiring place to play, but at least they let me use anything louder than an 8ft Stopped Diapason, unlike a church nearby with another Walker organ who complained about the noise if the organ was played anything other than mezzo-piano.
  10. No names, but no it wasn't who you suggested. I actually found him to be a true gent. It was, in fact, someone else acting totally out of character. Enough said.
  11. My 'disaster' happened when I had only been playing the organ for a few weeks and was about 14 years old. Up in the school chapel's organ loft to turn the pages for the organist, the clock marched towards 9.00 o'clock with no organist in sight. For me, it was like watching a car crash in slow motion as on the dot of 9.00 the school Rev'd stood up and announced the hymn. 600 boys looked expectantly up at the organ loft as I considered my options: 1) Hide under the organ stool; 2) Do a runner; 3) Draw the curtains aside and tell the assembled throng the organist was AWOL; or 4) Play the hymn myself. Normally (4) would pose no problems as I love playing hymns, but on this morning, fate or the Rev'd had dealt me a bad hand and it was one of those hymns where the accompaniment is really quite difficult, especially if you are sight reading. However, (1) or (2) seemed a bit gutless and I didn't have the courage to do (3), so the hymn it was. I'd managed to get to the end of the first line when there was an enormous crash (the organist entering the organ loft), the sound of doors being slammed (the organist making his way to the console allegro vivace) followed by a splurge of pedal notes and what sounded like a brief burst of Messiaen (the organist stepping on the pedals and trying to take over from me) and finally a loud thump (me being pushed off the organ stool). What was most remarkable about this episode is how at the time everyone else in the Chapel remained oblivious to what was going on.
  12. Um, I did a search on Michael Austin at http://www.mdt.co.uk and came up with 2 Chandos Collect CDs each retailing at £5: ORGAN CLASSICS (CHAN6518) Works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Widor, Liszt, Clarke, Wagner, Purcell, Boellmann This I imagine from MM's previous posting is the recording made at St Augustines, Kilburn. The other CD is: PIPES OF SPLENDOUR (CHAN6602) Francis Jackson at York Minster playing works by Cocker, Purcell, Nares, Jackson, Leighton, Dubois, Guilmant, Gigout and Mulet and Michael Austin at Birmingham Town Hall playing the Reger: Toccata & Fugue in D minor, Dupré: Prelude and Fugue in B and Franck: Final in B flat
  13. Reassuringly, there's actually quite a lot of new instruments being or about to be constructed in the UK before Worcester: St Peters Church, St Albans (Mander, IIIP/39) Cheltenham Ladies College (Tickell, IIIP/33) St Mary the Less, Cambridge (Tickell, IIP/22) Twyford Parish Church (Harrison, IIP/18) St Mary's Metropolitan RC Cathedral, Edinburgh (Matthew Copley, IVP/62)
  14. The specification can be found on the link further up this thread.
  15. I think the organ was also used for Haitink's VW Sinfonia Antartica. I know Andrew Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra made most of their many recordings of Elgar and VW there and it was also a favourite for the EMI Classics for Pleasure team. One of their last recordings made there was I think Sir Charles Mackerras and the London Philharmonic in Dvorak's 7th and 9th symphonies. I always used to see the LPO or BBCSO lorry parked outside the church, but not now.
  16. Have to agree that £120 would be better spent buying some wine rather than a complete set of the organ works of JSB. Naxos can be a bit hit or miss. However, their new CD of organ works by Healey Willan, including the Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue, is played by Patrick Wedd on the 1915 Casavant Organ at the Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste, Montreal, Canada is a real winner. Contrary to what you might expect from the specification, the instrument sounds more like a Skinner or Harrison. No screaming chamades and mixtures here. http://www.casavant.ca/new_temp/anglais/Hi.../Early/0615.pdf The James Vivian CD from JAV recorded on the Harrison Organ in the Temple Church, London, features Passacaglias by Healey Willan (the Introduction, Passacaglia & Fugue again), Buxtehude, Leighton, Raison, Bach, Shostakovich and Alcock. As you would expect from this player and organ, everything sounds effortless and very smooth. If you want something with a bit more byte, this may be rather too much of a good thing. As far as I am aware, it's only available from Allegro Music at http://www.allegro.co.uk/cdcat/jav/jav150.htm Someone mentioned the Healey Willan recorded by Francis Jackson at York Minster. This is avaialble from Amphion Recordings. However, my own personal favourite version of the Healey Willan is that of David Halls at Salisbury on a brilliant CD appropriately called "The Wonderful Willis". This is on Andrew Post's VIF Records.
  17. The Oosten set is certainly a good one to have. One set not mentioned so far is that recorded by Colin Walsh at Lincoln Cathedral. As far as I'm aware, It's available from Priory Records' deletion service (£17 a CD).
  18. Here's the answer: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,...2000097,00.html
  19. I live just down the road from this magnificent church, although rarely venture inside (my loss). I suppose that because I pass it almost daily on the No. 6 bus it doesn't make such an impression on me - indeed, I only ever glance its way going past to check the clock on the church front to see if I'm going to be late for work! What Nigel doesn't say is that the church is virtually surrounded by the worst type of uncompromising 1960s architecture in the form of a school, old people's residence and multi-storey council tower block and is an area you really don't want to be in after sun-down.
  20. I don't think people should get too worked up about what instruments Bach works on and what doesn't. Surely it should be more a question of whatever combination of stops is drawn, is the end product musical? There's no question that you can ever produce something 'authentic' on a Willis or Harrison, so why even try? For me, Peter Hurford provided a clear way forward in a performance of the Bach Passacaglia in C minor with which he concluded a recital on the 4M Harrison at the Colston Hall, Bristol in the mid-1980s when the opening, for pedal only I think, was given on full organ, 32ft reed et al. I think for most of us in the hall who were expecting the usual meek opening, it was something of an epiphany, and without a doubt hair-raising.
  21. I've never yet made it to Ripon to hear the organ there - something to do with it being off the rail network and involving an hour's bus ride from Leeds, probably. So I can only judge from the recordings I have, and I must say on Andrew Bryden's recent Regent CD, and continuing the theme of least musical stops, on the recording the 1963 Harrison 32ft Bombardon sounds like a very loud pneumatic drill. JJ, London
  22. I would have thought the edition for SATB chorus and piano accompaniment would probably do for playing on the organ.
  23. Sorry, but I just don't believe you can divorce the one from the other. For me, Dulcianas must be one of the most useless stops ever conceived, but in a sympathetic enough acoustic, I can see how they might be just a little charming. No, I'm sorry but my personal bete noir is a particular stop on a particular organ, namely the Trompette Militaire in the Corona Gallery of Liverpool Cathedral. There are good examples of the stop to be found e.g. St Paul's Cathedral, but the one at Liverpool is not musical - it just honks.
  24. I have read Taking Stock. To be honest, some of it is pretty dull i.e. the chapters on the author's involvement with poetry and cricket. But don't let that put off buying the book as the chapter on his time as Lay Clerk at Westminster Abbey is easily worth the price on its own. Clucas was at the Abbey during Martin Neary's time there and gives a pretty much warts and all account of the trouble and strife that occurred during and after his reign. It's dynamite! Clucas's experiences as a volunteer at Guildford and Winchester and as a Choral Scholar at King's College, Cambridge during David Willcock's tenure also make for interesting reading. At Winchester, he tells the story about James Lancelot who was sub-organist at the time. Lancelot's playing was so meticulous that the choir nearly went into meltdown when he made - shock horror - 2 mistakes during a Choral Evensong. I bought the book on the strength of a recommendation made in The Times by Richard Morrison, himself an organist, who said it was his book of 2005.
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