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Martin Cooke

Howells

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For one instance, may I refer the honourable gentleman to post 44 above? :)

 

 

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

 

 

Ah yes! I remember Aachen well....nice fountain-sculptures and a curious round-church.

 

They have a bit of a history of presenting the unpallatable at Aachen. I suppose I could be persuaded to absorb the music of Herbert Howells, if the alternative was death by the sword.

 

So we have ONE venue where Howells was heard at least ONCE......that's a start I suppose.

 

MM

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

 

 

Ah yes! I remember Aachen well....nice fountain-sculptures and a curious round-church.

 

They have a bit of a history of presenting the unpallatable at Aachen. I suppose I could be persuaded to absorb the music of Herbert Howells, if the alternative was death by the sword.

 

So we have ONE venue where Howells was heard at least ONCE......that's a start I suppose.

 

MM

 

....I think I already mentionned Ieper Cathedral. Of course, save potato fields,

there is nothing in the Polders !

 

As for Aachen, this is the Hofstat of my own language, minge bester Frenn'!

(We say: "Oche"). There are even some organs there:

 

http://www.aachendom.de/index229-0.aspx

 

Moreover, Oche/ Aachen was the town of a significant organ-builder, Stahlhuth:

 

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Stahlhuth

 

....A pupil of Josef Merklin in Brussels, he built after a peculiar style, uniting

german, french and british influencies. you can have, for instance, french

Flûtes harmoniques, german Principals and strings, a Tuba bought in England

and Trompettes from Mazurie, Paris, in the same organ.

 

It is, therefore, not surprising for such a town to be some years ahead

of others!

 

Pierre

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So we have ONE venue where Howells was heard at least ONCE......that's a start I suppose.

Here are some more continental performances (don't knock amateur enthusiasm):

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

 

Ah yes! I remember Aachen well....nice fountain-sculptures and a curious round-church.

 

So we have ONE venue where Howells was heard at least ONCE......that's a start I suppose.

 

MM

 

Might the "curious round church" have been the octagonal nave of Charlemagne's cathedral?

VH and I were privileged to have taken part in the first-ever Anglican Choral Evensong there a few years ago, where the Mag & Nunc setting was Howells' "Coll. Reg."

We were surprised by (1) Klais' radiating/concave pedalboard and (2) how "English" the organ could be made to sound, e.g. for Psalm accompaniments.

The clergy were also very taken with the Sumsion communion motets at Mass the next morning.

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Might the "curious round church" have been the octagonal nave of Charlemagne's cathedral?

VH and I were privileged to have taken part in the first-ever Anglican Choral Evensong there a few years ago, where the Mag & Nunc setting was Howells' "Coll. Reg."

We were surprised by (1) Klais' radiating/concave pedalboard and (2) how "English" the organ could be made to sound, e.g. for Psalm accompaniments.

The clergy were also very taken with the Sumsion communion motets at Mass the next morning.

 

 

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

 

I was young and I had discovered Schnapps for the first time.

 

Apart from paddling in a fountain without removing my shoes and socks, and picking an one-sided intellectual argument with a bronze, I seem to recall that I was far too besotted with someone to be distracted by a mere cathedral. :lol:

 

I DO remember a huge tomb and the effigy of a very angry looking potentate.

 

Could that have been Charlemagne?

 

MM

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I've just played all the Psalm Preludes, one each week, at our lunch-time concerts in St. John's Cathedral, Newfoundland. They went down very well - and the audiences were by no means organ anoraks. I've played the Siciliano but feel I need to run it a few more times to get it to flow properly. I think it's important to get a broad over-view of Howells and not to judge him on a small selection of works, or in his writing for particular forces.

 

The recently-issued 'God be in my head' is a little gem - definitely worth looking at for those with choirs.

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I have enjoyed singing Howells's Mags and Nuncs with the RSCM Nicholson Singers at various cathedrals and I play some of his organ pieces. My only reservation is that sometimes he seems to "tread water" between good openings and endings. The "Paean" is a good example.

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Ooh, look what I've just found! http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/al.asp?al=CDA67853 (Due out in June.)

 

For me this is going to be a must-have. Superb pieces all (except arguably for the organ pieces) and at last it looks like we will have a decent recording of the wonderful, but almost totally neglected Coventry Antiphon, which I hope will inspire more performances. I think its neglect is partly due to the fact that the text is difficult to fit into an ordinary Anglican Evensong, but, as they say, where there's a will there's a way.

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Superb pieces all.......except arguably for the organ pieces........

 

The Flourish sounds quite fun - 'anyone got a copy?

 

A

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I've just played all the Psalm Preludes, one each week, at our lunch-time concerts in St. John's Cathedral, Newfoundland. They went down very well - and the audiences were by no means organ anoraks. I've played the Siciliano but feel I need to run it a few more times to get it to flow properly. I think it's important to get a broad over-view of Howells and not to judge him on a small selection of works, or in his writing for particular forces.

 

The recently-issued 'God be in my head' is a little gem - definitely worth looking at for those with choirs.

 

 

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

 

I may be able to offer a litle sound advice here:-

 

First of all, take the copies and remove all staples.

 

Secondly, fold each page inwards four times.

 

Thirdly, take a jug and fill it with holy water.

 

Pour the holy water into a food-blender, and feed each of the folded page into it.

 

Now bring the blender slowly up to maximum speed, standing well back to avoid possible contamination by "the Anglican disease." (Not to be confused with the "English disease"....something quite different).

 

Leave to blend for a whole week and then pour the resultant smoothy down the drain, wearing rubber gloves and a nuclear protection overall with breathing apparatus.

 

MM

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

 

I may be able to offer a litle sound advice here:-

 

First of all, take the copies and remove all staples.

 

Secondly, fold each page inwards four times.

 

Thirdly, take a jug and fill it with holy water.

 

Pour the holy water into a food-blender, and feed each of the folded page into it.

 

Now bring the blender slowly up to maximum speed, standing well back to avoid possible contamination by "the Anglican disease." (Not to be confused with the "English disease"....something quite different).

 

Leave to blend for a whole week and then pour the resultant smoothy down the drain, wearing rubber gloves and a nuclear protection overall with breathing apparatus.

 

MM

 

You heretic! :P

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To MM :

 

 

french humour...

 

 

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

 

 

It is important not to neglect the 'F' in french........ (English humour)

 

I think in England, the orange drink adverts claim that we are "Tangoed."

 

This was only possible because the French discovered the tango in Argentinia, and then infected the rest of Europe with them.

 

(Notice the Cavaille-Coll organ)

 

 

You may have Widor, Franck, Vierne, Tournemire, Dupre, Couperin, Clerembault, Messaien (et al), and we may have to make the best of what we can with Howells, but at least our food doesn't hop onto the table!

 

MM

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The recently-issued 'God be in my head' is a little gem - definitely worth looking at for those with choirs.

We sang this at Christchurch a couple of weeks ago - the chap who 're-discovered' it in his notes lives in the parish. It's rather nice, but the last line needs more basso-profundo than I can reasonably produce on a warm evening.

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

You may have Widor, Franck, Vierne, Tournemire, Dupre, Couperin, Clerembault, Messaien (et al), and we may have to make the best of what we can with Howells, but at least our food doesn't hop onto the table!

 

MM

 

Toad in the Hole? :P

 

I suppose that, if we're mentioning Couperin and Clerambault, the English equivalent would be John Stanley et al. I have to admit that, with me, a little of that goes a long way, but there are some gems there, and not all on a small scale. (I like Camidge's Concerto in G minor, too). In the same way, I used to get mighty fed up with what I felt was an overdose of Couperin, de Grigny, Clerambault and so on - there seemed to be a glut of it around when I was a student in the seventies. The cure came when I went to France with the Organ Club in about 1975 and heard it played on authentic instruments like Houdan (and modern ones - everyone was binning the Cavaille-Colls in those days). I was also inspired by a 7" recording of Guilain's Suite on the Second Tone played by Peter Hurford at the RCO (and also a performance, laced with a certain degree of cursing, by Sam Clutton on his Mander house organ at Blackheath). Neat, tuneful and memorable, I found the Guilain much more audience-friendly than yards of Couperin. I think that the secret is capturing the right ambience, sound-wise, and this applies to Stanley as much as to Clerambault. I can do it on my slightly pepped-up 1927 Casavant, and with a bit more contriving it worked on the Harrison at Belfast Cathedral.

 

There was an excellent article by Peter King in The Organists' Review a while ago about registering French music - a lot of good sense.

 

Again in OR, Daniel Moult (I think) had an article which asked, in effect, 'If the works of X, Y and Z didn't exist, would we be any worse off?". He applied the chop to quite a few well-known composers, sometimes with a few exceptional individual pieces, and I think he spoke good sense. I think there is a lot of the French symphonic school which I wouldn't miss if it weren't there, but I would add the caveat that a sympathetic performance on an appropriate instrument could make a lot of difference.

 

There are a number of English pieces which deserve more airings than they are afforded. The Harwood Sonata in C# minor is a very fine work, IMHO, as is the Alcock Passacaglia (I used to think the latter was a good deal better than Rheinberger's, but my opinion of the Rheinberger has gone up a lot recently). I was tickled to read that Vaughan Williams played the Harwood for his FRCO - I did too.

 

Spreading the net wider, I think it's a shame that the Hindemith Sonatas aren't more widely heard, rather than yet another Widor or Vierne symphony, and I have a feeling that there's more in that style that most of us don't know about. Probably pure personal prejudice, and I must admit that I've learned a lot more French music in the past year or so and enjoyed it.

 

And yes, Howells probably wrote too much, but I would hate to be without much of his music, organ and choral.

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Toad in the Hole? :P

 

I suppose that, if we're mentioning Couperin and Clerambault, the English equivalent would be John Stanley et al. I have to admit that, with me, a little of that goes a long way, but there are some gems there, and not all on a small scale. (I like Camidge's Concerto in G minor, too). In the same way, I used to get mighty fed up with what I felt was an overdose of Couperin, de Grigny, Clerambault and so on - there seemed to be a glut of it around when I was a student in the seventies. The cure came when I went to France with the Organ Club in about 1975 and heard it played on authentic instruments like Houdan (and modern ones - everyone was binning the Cavaille-Colls in those days). I was also inspired by a 7" recording of Guilain's Suite on the Second Tone played by Peter Hurford at the RCO (and also a performance, laced with a certain degree of cursing, by Sam Clutton on his Mander house organ at Blackheath). Neat, tuneful and memorable, I found the Guilain much more audience-friendly than yards of Couperin. I think that the secret is capturing the right ambience, sound-wise, and this applies to Stanley as much as to Clerambault. I can do it on my slightly pepped-up 1927 Casavant, and with a bit more contriving it worked on the Harrison at Belfast Cathedral.

 

There was an excellent article by Peter King in The Organists' Review a while ago about registering French music - a lot of good sense.

 

Again in OR, Daniel Moult (I think) had an article which asked, in effect, 'If the works of X, Y and Z didn't exist, would we be any worse off?". He applied the chop to quite a few well-known composers, sometimes with a few exceptional individual pieces, and I think he spoke good sense. I think there is a lot of the French symphonic school which I wouldn't miss if it weren't there, but I would add the caveat that a sympathetic performance on an appropriate instrument could make a lot of difference.

 

There are a number of English pieces which deserve more airings than they are afforded. The Harwood Sonata in C# minor is a very fine work, IMHO, as is the Alcock Passacaglia (I used to think the latter was a good deal better than Rheinberger's, but my opinion of the Rheinberger has gone up a lot recently). I was tickled to read that Vaughan Williams played the Harwood for his FRCO - I did too.

 

Spreading the net wider, I think it's a shame that the Hindemith Sonatas aren't more widely heard, rather than yet another Widor or Vierne symphony, and I have a feeling that there's more in that style that most of us don't know about. Probably pure personal prejudice, and I must admit that I've learned a lot more French music in the past year or so and enjoyed it.

 

And yes, Howells probably wrote too much, but I would hate to be without much of his music, organ and choral.

 

 

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

 

 

One of my personal regrets is the fact that I've never presided at an organ suited to music of the Frnech Baroque. I have been able to play the odd "Dialogue" and a "Basse de Trompette" and even a few other bits and pieces, but I've never had that rich pallete of very specific timbres and solo voices, as I'm sure many others haven't. You really need the real thing, or something built in a specifically French baroque style.

 

English music is often underrated, but I just feel that Howells is overrated; though his music has become a bit of a standing joke with me, as board members know. I actually DO like the "Master Tallis Testament," which is both atmospheric and original in thought and execution.

 

As for early English music, no-one ever mentions Walond or seems to play it much, but it is good music by and large. We even have (rather tricky) counterpoint from Nares, which deserves to be heard more often at home and abroad.

 

Coming more up to date, I agree that the Harwood Sonata is very good. Philip Tordoff used to play it at Halifax PC, on just the right sort of instrument, and I got to appreciate it. I sight read a little gem by Stamford the other Sunday, and it was delightful. Willian is magnificent, and not just the obvious BIG work we all like so much. Few people play Lemare's excellent concert-inspired works, and they really are very, very well written. And what about Francis Jackson's music?

Why does no-one play it? The "Impromptu" alone is one of the most hauntingly beautiful small works in the entire repertoire....as British as Cheddar and Scrumpy, but just exquisite.

 

As for Hindemith, I've always had an affinity with his music; even many of his piano works which other tends to dismiss. He was a very remarkable teacher, composer, player and conductor, and many modern and comteporary American composers have been greatly influenced by Hindemith's teaching at Yale and the legacy he left.

 

As for the wider world, I think my little virtual trips to the Czech Republic and Hungary demonstrated the considerable....indeed....vast repertoire of Eastern Europe, most of which is unknown in Britain for a variety of reasons.

 

Perhapos we all need to be a little more open-minded, and less reliant on "those we know and love," which is often an excuse for laziness.

 

If I felt that organ-music was restircted to French and German works, I would have got bored years ago, (not that I don't cherish and admire that repertoire), but discovering new things and hearing new "schools" of composition, is always interesting, sometimes exciting and frequently astonishing.

 

MM

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MM, so much of what you have said about English repertoire is sadly, very true.

 

We had Walond this morning as a 'light' voluntary before the Bach P+F in G 541. As always, was commented upon as something different. Matthew Camidge wrote some excellent concertos (No.2 being particuarly fine)

 

The Jackson Impromptu is the most fragile piece of music for the most part except the grand climax. I personally play it with each section of 'reed' moving to a greater reed (starting with cornopean, then trumpet, trumpet+clarion and finally tuba) and can really show off an organ.

 

What of the Brewer Marche Heroqiue? in Composition of no less substance than an Elgar pomp and circumstance, or even the Walton marches.

 

Lemare wrote works he knew would impress. Whilst some of it can be seen as sentimental to the nth degree, the depictions of summer 'summer sketches, possibly op.91' are so clever in their observance. The concert fantasia on Hannover presents a stiff challenge to the player, but none the less sounds mightily effective on the right organ. I'm playing the Concert Fantasia No.1 next week in a concert - the most amazing improvisation, featuring Sailors Hornpipe, The march of the Grenadier Guards and Rule Britannia. The last two combine in the final lines playing against each other, as Auld Langs Syne appears in the pedal with a coupled tuba. Such clever writing. I would be inclined to say the same of Hollins, who sadly appears to be little played now except for the Trumpet Minuet.

 

Which Stanford piece did you play? the March Eroica is throughly tasteless, but very good fun!

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MM, so much of what you have said about English repertoire is sadly, very true.

 

We had Walond this morning as a 'light' voluntary before the Bach P+F in G 541. As always, was commented upon as something different. Matthew Camidge wrote some excellent concertos (No.2 being particuarly fine)

 

The Jackson Impromptu is the most fragile piece of music for the most part except the grand climax. I personally play it with each section of 'reed' moving to a greater reed (starting with cornopean, then trumpet, trumpet+clarion and finally tuba) and can really show off an organ.

 

What of the Brewer Marche Heroqiue? in Composition of no less substance than an Elgar pomp and circumstance, or even the Walton marches.

 

Lemare wrote works he knew would impress. Whilst some of it can be seen as sentimental to the nth degree, the depictions of summer 'summer sketches, possibly op.91' are so clever in their observance. The concert fantasia on Hannover presents a stiff challenge to the player, but none the less sounds mightily effective on the right organ. I'm playing the Concert Fantasia No.1 next week in a concert - the most amazing improvisation, featuring Sailors Hornpipe, The march of the Grenadier Guards and Rule Britannia. The last two combine in the final lines playing against each other, as Auld Langs Syne appears in the pedal with a coupled tuba. Such clever writing. I would be inclined to say the same of Hollins, who sadly appears to be little played now except for the Trumpet Minuet.

 

Which Stanford piece did you play? the March Eroica is throughly tasteless, but very good fun!

 

 

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

 

 

I don't have any music by Camidge, but people tell me I should have.

 

I think your registration for the Jackson "Impromptu" is absolutely spot-on. This is much the same as 'Francis' does at York, which has the added advantage of enclosed Tubas as well as the 25" 'beast.'

 

On the other hand, I DO have the music for the Lemare Concert Fantasia no.1, but I've never had the time or energy to learn it, in spite of ambitions. I'm leaving it for my retirement. As you rightly point out, it is brilliantly written and very effective....what a technique and 'polish' Lemare brought to the job of being a concert organist. It's hardly surprising that he was the best paid organist in the world during his tenure in America. (I intend to write a post about Lemare in due course).

 

I can't say that I've ever heard the Brewer, but I shall have to make some enquiries of Philip Tordoff, who has a simply vast collection of English music; some of it handed down to him from the late Shackleton Pollard I believe, who actually performed in front of Brahms!

 

I can't recall what Stanford piece I picked up and played, but I'll check it out the next time I go to church.

 

MM

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