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James Goldrick

The Greatest British Organ Work

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Ah, the Hollins C major, it is certainly Hollins' best work; greatest British work? Mmm, have to think about that one.

 

I know a while back we mentioned a couple of smaller works by Kenneth Leighton, but the two big ones that I think do rank up with the best of British are the 'Prelude, Scherzo and Passacaglia', and in my opinion, the best of the lot, the Missa de Gloria, a real organ tour de force.

 

I'd be interested in what MM thinks are 'great' works from America.

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I think that Quentin Maclean playing "Marigold" by Billy Mayerl just pips it!

 

Seriously, I feel sure that I would have contributed to this thread earlier, but in case I haven't, and because I am too lazy to re-read everything, the most outstanding work has to be the "Introduction, Passacaglia & Fugue" by Healey Willan.

 

Ironically, the final two pieces in David Newsholme's recital at the Albert Hall, Nottingham this coming Sunday afternoon! Also featured are Durufle's Suite and BWV 552 (alas, neither are British!). How's that for a plug?!

 

I don't know enough of the pieces being discussed to make a judgement, but the Willan is just brilliant.

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Ah, the Hollins C major, it is certainly Hollins' best work; greatest British work? Mmm, have to think about that one.

 

I know a while back we mentioned a couple of smaller works by Kenneth Leighton, but the two big ones that I think do rank up with the best of British are the 'Prelude, Scherzo and Passacaglia', and in my opinion, the best of the lot, the Missa de Gloria, a real organ tour de force.

 

I'd be interested in what MM thinks are 'great' works from America.

 

=========================

 

 

I suppose "greatness" is relative, and in my understanding of the word "great," I don't think there are ANY great organ-works from the UK, but there are many fine ones.

 

America is no different I suspect, but it has many works of considerable worth.

 

Three of my favourites, (I had to check my notes for these), are an unwritten but recorded improvisation by Joyce Jones, entitled "Akatombo," which she recorded at the huge instrument at West Point, Military Academy. It is a wonderful blend of "French" harmony and Japanese modality.......it is absolutely beautiful.

 

Mext comes a truly moving and ethereal work by Larry King: "Revelations of Saint John the Divine." Using organ & pre-recorded electronic sounds in a modern idiom, this is a very mystical and beautiful work.

 

Perhaps as close to a masterwork as America gets, is Gerald Neare's, "Concerto for Organ and Orchestra," which I think could easily challenge the Poulenc concerto for quality.

 

MM

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The Willan certainly has to be up there, but there are so many pieces that just don't get the airing they deserve. Particular favourites of mine are the Fantasie Op 136 by York-Bowen, Vars on a theme of de Machaut by Christopher Steel, FJ's Sonata No.3, Introduction and Allegro by Arthur Wills which is not quintessentially English, but is jolly good fun, and Mosaici di Ravenna by Francis Pott. For me the Bairstow Sonata is nearly up there with the Willan, Heathcote Statham's Rhapsody on a Ground ought to be more widely known, and I do like the Howells 2nd Sonata; despite the inevitable ramblings it contains some moments of real passion and beauty. Pick any 5 of those 9 and put them on a programme and I'd be first in the queue. It's just a shame that we didn't get any substantial output from Britten, Tippett, and RVW.

 

AJS

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It's just a shame that we didn't get any substantial output from Britten, Tippett, and RVW.

AJS

 

RVW's Prelude and Fugue in C minor?

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The Willan certainly has to be up there, but there are so many pieces that just don't get the airing they deserve. Particular favourites of mine are the Fantasie Op 136 by York-Bowen, Vars on a theme of de Machaut by Christopher Steel, FJ's Sonata No.3, Introduction and Allegro by Arthur Wills which is not quintessentially English, but is jolly good fun, and Mosaici di Ravenna by Francis Pott. For me the Bairstow Sonata is nearly up there with the Willan, Heathcote Statham's Rhapsody on a Ground ought to be more widely known, and I do like the Howells 2nd Sonata; despite the inevitable ramblings it contains some moments of real passion and beauty. Pick any 5 of those 9 and put them on a programme and I'd be first in the queue. It's just a shame that we didn't get any substantial output from Britten, Tippett, and RVW.

 

AJS

 

 

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There's another Sonata for Organ by Michael Berkley; eldest son of Sir Lennox Berkley.

 

If it was the piece recorded by Arnold Mahon back in the early 1980's at St.Bart's, Armley, I found it quite an impressive work. If it wasn't that, then I haven't a clue what I am talking about.

 

Does anyone know it?

 

Anyone heard it?

 

MM

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Coincidentally I was just listening to the Stanford Fantasia and Toccata, Op.57 (a piece I must admit I have never paid much attention to) played at the RFH on the CD set 'Grand Chorus' produced by David Titterington and others a few years back. The performance is stunning and also the piece sounds very fine too - on what would in the first instance seem to be totally the wrong organ! It certainly puts the notes into a very musical perspective - maybe one that Stanford may not have been totally happy with though. Registration is in the best of taste but you can certainly hear everything - clarity - without too much loss of the expected 'awe and wonder'.

 

A

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============================

 

 

There's another Sonata for Organ by Michael Berkley; eldest son of Sir Lennox Berkley.

 

If it was the piece recorded by Arnold Mahon back in the early 1980's at St.Bart's, Armley, I found it quite an impressive work. If it wasn't that, then I haven't a clue what I am talking about.

 

Does anyone know it?

 

Anyone heard it?

 

MM

I know it, and have the music. I first heard it played by Simon Lindley somewhere in Leeds in the early 80's. It needs to come out and be played a lot more.

 

AJS

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