Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Descants/last Verse Arrangements (of Carols)


jonadkins
 Share

Recommended Posts

The Willcocks arrangement of Good King Wenceslas is a classic - the 'Herod' verse is a real spine tingler every time - especially with a decent Full Swell (box shut) plus 32'. Likewise the Trumpet/Tuba under the first line of Sing Choirs of Angels in Hark the Herald. I also remember from my early youth the effect of the 8 + 2 (or 8 + 1-1/3 as we had just had one installed at our church) at the start of the Willcocks Sussex Carol arrangement - much immitated (quite a lot by Willcocks) but not bettered - I think anyway! CFC1 was a breath of fresh air when it arrived.

 

AJJ

We have recently used the Paul Halley arrangement of G-K-W(see Pelagos Music) at our village church in Kent - it is both spine-tingling and hilarious, requiring the choir to make storm noises at suitable points - it's marvellous fun. Actually his music is worth investigating in general. He's Essex born, found his way to Canada/USA and eventually became organist at St John the Divine Cathedral in New York. As you can tell, I'm a real fan. Visit the website and listen to some of the sound tracks.

 

 

HECTOR

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Willcocks arrangement of Good King Wenceslas is a classic - the 'Herod' verse is a real spine tingler every time - especially with a decent Full Swell (box shut) plus 32'. Likewise the Trumpet/Tuba under the first line of Sing Choirs of Angels in Hark the Herald. I also remember from my early youth the effect of the 8 + 2 (or 8 + 1-1/3 as we had just had one installed at our church) at the start of the Willcocks Sussex Carol arrangement - much immitated (quite a lot by Willcocks) but not bettered - I think anyway! CFC1 was a breath of fresh air when it arrived.

 

AJJ

 

I think the Herod verse you refer to is actually from "Unto us is born a son" Alistair. Agreed, it is a good sound. "Good King Wenceslas" has some clever touches too - moving into A flat minor for "Sire the night is darker now" is one, as is the pungent harmony at the end of verse 4, highlighting the word "freeze" - very effective.

 

G

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the Herod verse you refer to is actually from "Unto us is born a son" Alistair. Agreed, it is a good sound. "Good King Wenceslas" has some clever touches too - moving into A flat minor for "Sire the night is darker now" is one, as is the pungent harmony at the end of verse 4, highlighting the word "freeze" - very effective.

 

G

 

Aaaagh - major mess up - blame it on pressure of the season - thanks for pointing it out Graham! 'Good job we're doing neither this year or goodness knows what I might have played!!

 

AJJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have recently used the Paul Halley arrangement of G-K-W(see Pelagos Music) at our village church in Kent - it is both spine-tingling and hilarious, requiring the choir to make storm noises at suitable points - it's marvellous fun. Actually his music is worth investigating in general. He's Essex born, found his way to Canada/USA and eventually became organist at St John the Divine Cathedral in New York. As you can tell, I'm a real fan. Visit the website and listen to some of the sound tracks.

HECTOR

 

I'll second this- I discovered Paul Halley's music a few years back with the Nightwatch CD of Improvisations, and can also recommend 'Triptych', original Halley compositions for Organ, Piano and Harpsichord. I notice that these are now available on iTunes music store (search for 'Paul Halley'), as well as his arrangements recorded with his choirs 'Chorus Angelicus' and 'Gaudeamus' . I also really enjoy his Jazz/Gospel arrangements, many on the 'Sound over all waters' CD. There are also many CDs borne of collaboration with the saxophonist Paul Winter- organ and soprano sax is quite a haunting combination- including music from the annual Winter Solstice concerts at SJD. Search for 'Paul Winter', and though Halley is not always performing, many of the arrangements and compositions are his or partly his.

Back on topic, I rather enjoy the Halley 'First Nowell' arrangement (also on iTunes store on Chorus Angelicus' 'What Child is this')- it's different!

As you can tell, Hector, I'm also most definitely in the Halley/Winter fan club!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi

 

Some of them were published by Oxford - I have a copy somewhere (unless I gave it to my son for his brass quartet a few years ago - which looks likely as it's not in my "Christmas Music" file any more). PM or e-mail me if you want me to try and track it down. It may be out of print by now - I picked it up several years ago.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

We have just used the two fanfares (into O Come All Ye Faithful and Hark the Herald) in our recent carol services. OUP have recently republished a set of 8 carols with brass accompaniment plus the two fanfares, all using the Willcocks CFC arrangements. ISBN-10: 0-19-380446-8. They're marvellously effective, though it has been hard to persuade Ian Crabbe that the use of brass adds to, rather than detracts from, the sound of the Beckerath... I suspect that using both fanfares was slightly OTT, but they're both so well written I found it hard to choose between them.

 

I had anarchy on my hands when I dared to switch a couple of descants from Willcocks to Cleobury this year, and I have to say that IMHO, although the Cleobury descants are invariably very effective, his harmonisations can seem a little ham-fisted in places when compared with Willcocks' established CFC versions.

 

Incidentally, many thanks to a member of this forum who PM'd me a copy of a descant he'd written for Helmsley, written over the Martin How last verse re-harmonisation. Just awesome! Used sparingly, there's no doubt in my mind that a great descant coupled to a mighty reharmonisation can move everyone to a new level at the conclusion of a service. It took me days to come down from that O Come Quickly!

 

Merry Christmas.

 

Tim

 

Tim Ridley

Director of Chapel Music

Marlborough College

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you really want your spine tingled, and the hairs on the back of your neck to stand to attention, try Hugh Keyte's amazing last verse arrangement of "While shepherds watched" on the CD "Christmas with Emma Kirkby and Westminster Abbey Choir". This nearly caused an accident the first time I heard it (in the car, en route to a service) as I was so gobsmacked by it. The programme note describes this as "something that composers of around 1600 annoyingly neglected to provide: a more expansive tenor-tune setting which could be assigned to massed forces". Probably not for congregational use, but what the h***?!

 

On the subject of other descants by DVW et al, for the last couple of years we have used the last verse arrangements of Once in RDC (Robin Wells), O come AYF and Hark the HAS (William Llewellyn) in the Novello Book of Carols. Does anybody know these, use them, or have any comments on their quality (or otherwise)? And what about Bill Llewellyn's 5/4 Ding dong merrily in the same book? We think it's great fun, but others may disagree. For "Lo, he comes" I think the CC3 last verse takes a lot of beating, but I have rarely heard of anyone using it.

 

For "Of the Father's heart begotten" we normally use Bobby Ashfield's processional setting as an introit, and will do so again next Sunday (on the first anniversary of his death) as we did last year within an hour or so of his passing.

 

Best wishes to all for Christmas & the new Year.

 

Douglas.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me, Willcocks takes some beating, and Christmas wouldn't be the same without the glorious soaring "Glory to God" on O come all ye faithful.

The Lo he comes last verse is also very fine, although needs a good choir to pull it off well I'd say.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...