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Thanks ajsphead and Damian for your welcome replies.With the glimpse thought it may have been The Temple Church. I will have to study Alkan a bit more. Any reasonably easy ones to start of with?

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8 hours ago, Cantoris said:

Thanks ajsphead and Damian for your welcome replies.With the glimpse thought it may have been The Temple Church. I will have to study Alkan a bit more. Any reasonably easy ones to start of with?

 

I've always thought of Alkan as being the writer of some horrendously difficult piano music and little else - sort of the Paganini of the piano!!! - Lots of notes and little music! Having said that I'm sure that I have played a Sonata by him - named, rather like the Beethoven Op. 5 Nr. I Sonata, for Piano and 'cello - with the piano part doing the brunt of the work!

If you look on IMSLP there are quite a few really rather easy little pieces that you might think are worth a second glance! Be warned - some of it is not great music!!!

Most of Alkan's organ music he writes on two staves. But for a period of his life he owned a pedal piano and wrote 12 studies for it as well as the Op. 54 Benedictus. The above were originally written for this pedal piano.

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3 hours ago, S_L said:

I've always thought of Alkan as being the writer of some horrendously difficult piano music

Liszt looked up to him as an executant.

There are quite a number of lovely miniatures which are not especially hard.

Paul

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Kevin Bowyer has done a good edition of the pedal studies.  Some of them, being for pedal piano, went down to bottom A so he's provided transposed versions.  These are sometimes in keys which makes them even harder to play!  The first of the set of 12 isn't too hard - the rest are pretty challenging. 

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In view of the lack of choral music in Cathedrals at the present time I thought that members might enjoy this.

On 28th July the Choral Scholars of Tewkesbury Abbey, along with those of the Cathedrals of Bristol, Worcester, Exeter, Truro, Gloucester, Wells and Hereford raised money for the CCEF (Cathedral Choirs Emergency Fund) by doing a virtual Evensong. The fundraising target is around £1m and, as of 27th July, was at just short of £850k - see https://bristol-cathedral.co.uk/news/scholars-evensong.-tuesday-28-july-6.30pm - and the resulting service, which also features Romain Bornes (Organ Scholar, Bristol Cathedral) and Manuel Piazza (Organ Scholar, Truro Cathedral) is very good indeed.

MUSIC:

Pre-service organ music: Scherzetto from Sonata in C Minor (Percy Whitlock) Cantabile from 3 Pièces pour grand orgue (César Franck)

Introit: Lead me, Lord (Paul Mealor)

Responses: Bernard Rose ATB

Psalm: 23 (C. Hylton Stewart)

First Lesson: Micah 6 vv.1-8

Canticles: Wood in E for Double ATB

Second Lesson: Corinthians 13

Anthem: Let all the World (Roxanna Panufnik)

Hymn: Glory to thee, my God, this night (Tallis’ Canon)

Final Responses: Ferial (Edward Naylor)

Voluntary: Prelude and Fugue in B Major (Marcel Dupré)

CAST:

Altos: Ella Venn, Jessie Woodhouse, Alice Risdon, Esmée Loughlin-Dickenson, Adam Fyfe, Hope Pugh

Tenors: Michael Burgess, Matthew Jeffrey, Daniel Maw, Robert Murray John, Oliver Fulwell, Tomasz Holownia, Edward Dunne, Rufus Pawsey, Horatio Carr-Jones

Basses: Benedict Dimond, Tom Noon, Andrew Culver, Harry Hoyland, David Bevan, Tom South

Sorry for the black background to the music and names: I couldn't work out how to remove it.

HTIOI, and enjoy!

Dave

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is well worth hearing. The untouched 1737 Baumeister organ of the Klosterkirche in Maihingen, Germany. Still has original blowing mechanism (as an alternative to electric blowing, I think?), pipework, keyboards and all. Lovely sound.

Dave

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  • 2 weeks later...

I recently stumbled across this performance of  Sidney [not Sydney] Campbell’s Variations on the Plainsong ‘Vexilla Regis’.  I never knew him to play, or promote, his own organ compositions, but he did once recommend these to me, saying that he would ‘like to hear them again’. I did eventually learn them, but not until after he had died. John Pryer makes them sound very well here. The acoustic helps. Campbell knew how to tailor his compositions for a big space: his impressive Te Deum, written at Canterbury for the enthronement of Archbishop Ramsey in 1961 is another example. Some of the registration indications in the variations – RH Cornet, LH Trumpet; pedal Schalmei 4’; fanfare reeds – seem tailor-made for his organ at Windsor, but the piece was published in 1962, three years before the Windsor organ was built. Perhaps he had Coventry in mind. (The sung opening is not part of the piece. Why did the singers not use the correct English version of the tune that Campbell did?)

 

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Here is a very nice clip of the organs of Braga Cathedral, Portugal. I was fortunate enough to spend a day in Braga a few years back and the cathedral was a definite highlight. The music in much of this clip featured on Howard Goodall's "Organ Works" programme on TV several years ago when it was played on an organ in, IIRC, Salamanca.

The city is considered a major religious centre and was, at least for a time, known as the "Rome of Portugal" (its line of Bishops and Archbishops has, if records are correct, only been broken 3 times since AD45, specifically AD716-1070, 1641-1670 and 1728-1740 according to Wikipedia). The organs date from around 1735-1740.

HTIOI,

Dave

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The Braga link is fascinating.  I cross-checked with my DVD of the Howard Goodall programme and confirm it's the same music - unattributed on the programme listing on Howard Goodall's website (which just says "18c Portugese [sic] Battle Music").  It was played by Kimberly Marshall at Abarca de Campos - a small village church whose 1778 Tadeo Ortega organ was restored, I believe, under the advocacy of Francis Chapelet.  It's up on Youtube too if anyone's interested (watch the first ten minutes or so of the episode ... or all of it if you like!):  

 

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9 hours ago, SomeChap said:

The Braga link is fascinating.  I cross-checked with my DVD of the Howard Goodall programme and confirm it's the same music - unattributed on the programme listing on Howard Goodall's website (which just says "18c Portugese [sic] Battle Music").  It was played by Kimberly Marshall at Abarca de Campos - a small village church whose 1778 Tadeo Ortega organ was restored, I believe, under the advocacy of Francis Chapelet.  It's up on Youtube too if anyone's interested (watch the first ten minutes or so of the episode ... or all of it if you like!):  

 

Yes, I love that programme series and have the DVD.

Not only is Howard Goodall an excellent musician, but also I find some of his quips highly amusingly descriptive.  His brief description of the 'altitudinous' Austrian nobleman, the owner of an historic table organ, as 'six feet going on seven feet' to the background music of similar title from The Sound of Music.

 

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On 21/09/2020 at 12:42, SomeChap said:

The Braga link is fascinating.  I cross-checked with my DVD of the Howard Goodall programme and confirm it's the same music - unattributed on the programme listing on Howard Goodall's website (which just says "18c Portugese [sic] Battle Music").  It was played by Kimberly Marshall at Abarca de Campos - a small village church whose 1778 Tadeo Ortega organ was restored, I believe, under the advocacy of Francis Chapelet.  It's up on Youtube too if anyone's interested (watch the first ten minutes or so of the episode ... or all of it if you like!):  

 

Thank you for the correction on the location where that Battle Music was played. I watched HG's series at the time it was first aired and it was great seeing all those historic organs and the fabulous churches which house them. If you get a chance to go to Braga it is worth the visit. When I went to the Cathedral there the gallery at one end was open to visitors and the organ photos I got came out very well.

Dave

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On 17/09/2020 at 13:56, Vox Humana said:

I recently stumbled across this performance of  Sidney [not Sydney] Campbell’s Variations on the Plainsong ‘Vexilla Regis’.  I never knew him to play, or promote, his own organ compositions, but he did once recommend these to me, saying that he would ‘like to hear them again’. I did eventually learn them, but not until after he had died. John Pryer makes them sound very well here. The acoustic helps. Campbell knew how to tailor his compositions for a big space: his impressive Te Deum, written at Canterbury for the enthronement of Archbishop Ramsey in 1961 is another example. Some of the registration indications in the variations – RH Cornet, LH Trumpet; pedal Schalmei 4’; fanfare reeds – seem tailor-made for his organ at Windsor, but the piece was published in 1962, three years before the Windsor organ was built. Perhaps he had Coventry in mind. (The sung opening is not part of the piece. Why did the singers not use the correct English version of the tune that Campbell did?)

 

I like very much Campbell's Gaudeamus with its bouncy fugue subject (marked 'non legato' I think) and play it quite often. It's in one of the OUP albums. Has it been recorded? Are there any other good Campbell pieces I should know about?

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17 hours ago, Clarabella said:

I like very much Campbell's Gaudeamus with its bouncy fugue subject (marked 'non legato' I think) and play it quite often. It's in one of the OUP albums. Has it been recorded? Are there any other good Campbell pieces I should know about?

Campbell didn't write much. This is the full list, so far as I am aware.

Exultate (OUP, 1956).
This is in much the same vein as Gaudeamus, but is more of a carillon-toccata hybrid with the hands doing most of the work.

Gaudeamus (OUP, 1956) 


Epilogue on a Gallery Carol (in A Christmas Album, OUP, 1956).
This is a fine, short Christmas postlude on a tune beginning like ‘Tomorrow shall be my Dancing Day’. If you like Gaudeamus, you should like this.

Canterbury Improvisations (Novello, 1961)
        1.  Impromptu based on a French Church Melody.
             This is effectively a chorale prelude on ‘Grafton’.  

        2.  Lento
             This is harmonically very degenerate, as Campbell effectively admits in a footnote, but it was his favourite style amongst a seemingly inexhaustible variety for improvising the choir into the stalls before a service. 

        3.  Fugal Epilogue
             This does what it says, predominantly in 5/8 time.

Canterbury Interlude ((Hinrichsen, 1962) 


Pageantry (Novello, 1962).
I am very fond of this, even though it is a bit vulgar. There’s just a hint of the brass band about it.


Variations on the Plainsong Vexilla Regis (Novello, 1962)
As above

John Porter’s interpretations linked above are definitive: he captured Campbell’s manner perfectly.

In addition to these organ solos, the RSCM book of last verse harmonies has Campbell's arrangement of ‘Easter Song/Lasst uns erfreuen’, which I would go so far as to say is the most impressive last verse arrangement I know (which is remarkable, considering that Campbell didn't believe in last verse harmonies: he wrote it at Gerald Knight’s request). The only problems with it are (1) he sets the original A&M Standard rhythm whereas probably everyone nowadays uses the EH one with the extra beats (I did my own adaptation) and (2) it doesn't suit the modern fad for fast hymn speeds: it’s very much written with a cathedral acoustic in mind and requires a feeling for grandeur.

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On 25/09/2020 at 00:51, Vox Humana said:

Campbell didn't write much. This is the full list, so far as I am aware.

Exultate (OUP, 1956).
This is in much the same vein as Gaudeamus, but is more of a carillon-toccata hybrid with the hands doing most of the work.

Gaudeamus (OUP, 1956) 


Epilogue on a Gallery Carol (in A Christmas Album, OUP, 1956).
This is a fine, short Christmas postlude on a tune beginning like ‘Tomorrow shall be my Dancing Day’. If you like Gaudeamus, you should like this.

Canterbury Improvisations (Novello, 1961)
        1.  Impromptu based on a French Church Melody.
             This is effectively a chorale prelude on ‘Grafton’.  

        2.  Lento
             This is harmonically very degenerate, as Campbell effectively admits in a footnote, but it was his favourite style amongst a seemingly inexhaustible variety for improvising the choir into the stalls before a service. 

        3.  Fugal Epilogue
             This does what it says, predominantly in 5/8 time.

Canterbury Interlude ((Hinrichsen, 1962) 


Pageantry (Novello, 1962).
I am very fond of this, even though it is a bit vulgar. There’s just a hint of the brass band about it.


Variations on the Plainsong Vexilla Regis (Novello, 1962)
As above

John Porter’s interpretations linked above are definitive: he captured Campbell’s manner perfectly.

In addition to these organ solos, the RSCM book of last verse harmonies has Campbell's arrangement of ‘Easter Song/Lasst uns erfreuen’, which I would go so far as to say is the most impressive last verse arrangement I know (which is remarkable, considering that Campbell didn't believe in last verse harmonies: he wrote it at Gerald Knight’s request). The only problems with it are (1) he sets the original A&M Standard rhythm whereas probably everyone nowadays uses the EH one with the extra beats (I did my own adaptation) and (2) it doesn't suit the modern fad for fast hymn speeds: it’s very much written with a cathedral acoustic in mind and requires a feeling for grandeur.

Thank you very much Vox. John Porter's playing is indeed fine.

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57 minutes ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

Yes, I enjoyed this recording when it first came out. It struck me how strong an advocate Porter was for Campbell’s music.

John Porter was an exceptionally fine player and a great loss. He was an organ scholar under Campbell before becoming his assistant, so had plenty of time to absorb his ways. When I first heard the original LP in 1983, I thought, "Yes, I can absolutely hear Campbell's playing." Judging from this Evensong (the only one I can find with him accompanying), his psalms accompaniments were quite reminiscent of Campbell's manner, with regular re-spacing of the harmonic textures and descants, although perhaps not as liberal as Campbell used to be. It's very difficult to analyse, though, as it's mostly very discreet. The psalms begin at 1:13.

 

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On 27/09/2020 at 17:29, Vox Humana said:

John Porter was an exceptionally fine player and a great loss. He was an organ scholar under Campbell before becoming his assistant, so had plenty of time to absorb his ways. When I first heard the original LP in 1983, I thought, "Yes, I can absolutely hear Campbell's playing." Judging from this Evensong (the only one I can find with him accompanying), his psalms accompaniments were quite reminiscent of Campbell's manner, with regular re-spacing of the harmonic textures and descants, although perhaps not as liberal as Campbell used to be. It's very difficult to analyse, though, as it's mostly very discreet. The psalms begin at 1:13.

 

Thank you for that pointer. Superb playing, and a fine psalm to accompany. The singing's not too shabby either! No doubt a happy combination of all three to raise things to this level.

This approach to psalm accompaniment seems not exactly a lost art, but less common nowadays. I was brought up with the idea that it was inartistic, even amateurish, to play the voice parts of a chant (or indeed hymn) as written over and over again. I'm not sure why there has been a change - I don't recall e.g. a critique of the "free" approach and a call for a simpler one.

It's been some years since I listened to the Radio 3 Choral Evensong broadcasts regularly, but with this point in mind I've just listened to the psalms from a couple of recent broadcasts. The free approach seems to be alive and well in Portsmouth. The accompaniment at Royal Holloway  by contrast was much plainer - I only noticed a single bit of descant (may have missed some subtler stuff). That's not to criticise the musicians at all, for the psalms were done well and the registrations were varied and imaginative.

A shift in taste, I suppose.

(Incidentally, do you know the published Campbell arrangement of the Barnby chant (usually in E but here in E flat) for Psalm 24?)

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30 minutes ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

Incidentally, do you know the published Campbell arrangement of the Barnby chant (usually in E but here in E flat) for Psalm 24?

Oh, yes indeed! It's thrilling!  I understand that CJR altered the accompaniment in the first quarter and his version has spread to one or two other places, e.g. Salisbury.  I prefer SSC's original. 

If you have the published sheet, you will have seen his single chant for psalm 114, which is also very gripping.  This printed version is incorrect. Campbell claimed that he wrote it out for Novello's from memory and got it wrong. I'm not sure that I quite believe that, but the version he used at Windsor was certainly far superior. The correct version is somewhere in the archives of the Anglican Chant group on Facebook.

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27 minutes ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

the idea that it was inartistic, even amateurish, to play the voice parts of a chant (or indeed hymn) as written over and over again

N.B. Just reporting, not endorsing that view!

I prefer the freer approach, but I shouldn’t wish to impugn the artistry or professionalism of musicians who adopt a different one.

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3 hours ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

I was brought up with the idea that it was inartistic, even amateurish, to play the voice parts of a chant (or indeed hymn) as written over and over again. I'm not sure why there has been a change

Ooh! Hobby horse time! 🙂 Regarding hymns, my view (one that I was indoctrinated with by far better people than me) is that the organist has no business mucking around with them. The whole raison d'être of hymns (except perhaps plainsong office hymns) is communal.  Even cathedrals accept this. Hymns are the congregation's territory.  The organist's job is to support and encourage that communal singing, not to distract them with fancy fripparies.* (For the same reason, I strongly disagree with using the last line for the play-over). 

Psalms are a different matter. They really do sound their best when delivered by choir and organ alone. It's the choir's job to deliver the 'story' and, insofar as the DoM feels it appropriate, the emotions enshrined therein. The organist's job is to enhance the moods. Personally, I'm all for a bit of variety of texture, etc to keep the proceedings alive. However, while some DoMs like vivid, dramatic psalmody, others prefer a more refined, less demonstrative approach.  In the latter case, plainer accompaniments may well be in order. Horses for courses, I think. The Campbell style of accompaniment requires great expertise and musicianship. To do it completely off the cuff, as he did, the pointing and the harmony of the chants all must be memorised so that they are second nature.  If you are having to read either the text or the notation for anything more than an aide-memoire you are going to be at a disadvantage, especially if you don't want your registration to be shackled to your piston settings.  In the old days, cathedral organists acquired this familiarity as a matter of course.  With psalmody now so diminished in many places it must be much less easy.

Apologies for hijacking yet another thread. Back to YouTube.

* I have to admit that my liking for occasional last verse harmonisations is entirely inconsistent with this view. I have no excuse. In continental countries where unison hymns are the norm it is routine for organists to vary the harmonies for every verse: there it is accepted and expected—but not here. Nor have I any objection to arrangements of hymns for special occasions—brass fanfare introductions, for example.

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I am a big fan of last verse reharmonisations for some hymns and still use them, in a gentle fashion, in my small village church with 15 in the congregation and no choir. I think they were more popular some years ago than today and it was quite usual to hear them in the "Wednesday 4 o'clock". It's much less common these days which I regret. The sound of a large organ thundering out a good juicy alternative harmony is quite thrilling. On the other hand I don't much like descants, now much more prevalent, with some exceptions such as Andrew Fletcher's Verdi-esque "Ark the Erald" and some of Sir David Willcocks's offerings.

When I was much younger and before the realisation dawned (on others) than my talent wasn't equal to my ambition I spent 4 days on a residential RSCM accompaniment course at Addington Palace during which much of the third day was spent being tutored in mucking about with harmonies, both in hymns and psalms, all of which experience was used in various churches thereafter. 

I was thinking about psalms the other day and concluded that I would struggle to remember how to use the pointing so long has it been...

 

Sorry for another off-topic post. And so to YouTube...

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14 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

Ooh! Hobby horse time! 🙂 Regarding hymns, my view (one that I was indoctrinated with by far better people than me) is that the organist has no business mucking around with them. The whole raison d'être of hymns (except perhaps plainsong office hymns) is communal.  Even cathedrals accept this. Hymns are the congregation's territory.  The organist's job is to support and encourage that communal singing, not to distract them with fancy fripparies.

I couldn’t agree more. I should have added a rider - something like “and hymns but in a rather different way.” Distraction and mucking about were emphatically not what I had in mind.

I would suggest a separate thread on hymn accompaniment to avoid further hijacking this one, but I am wary as this is such a contentious area.

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On 28/09/2020 at 18:34, Vox Humana said:

Oh, yes indeed! It's thrilling!  I understand that CJR altered the accompaniment in the first quarter and his version has spread to one or two other places, e.g. Salisbury.  I prefer SSC's original. 

If you have the published sheet, you will have seen his single chant for psalm 114, which is also very gripping.  This printed version is incorrect. Campbell claimed that he wrote it out for Novello's from memory and got it wrong. I'm not sure that I quite believe that, but the version he used at Windsor was certainly far superior. The correct version is somewhere in the archives of the Anglican Chant group on Facebook.

This sounds very interesting. Where is the sheet, please?

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