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Organs of Edinburgh


Guest Hector5

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My copy of the much-awaited Organs of Edinburgh book and CDs (4) arrived today and it does not disappoint, well 90% of it didn't anyway. I am sure that the producers went all out in order to ensure a wide repertoire, and for the bulk they have achieved it extremely successfuly. What rather sticks in my throat is the need for one of the players (who I am sure is a fine musician) on two separate organs, to play the most awful inaccessible music imaginable. One instrument is a modern essay in organ design, and is perhaps a good vehicle for such music, the other seeming to me to be utterly inappropriate for this kind of music. Why, oh why do we have to have this neo-brutalist music assaulting our ears not once, but four times, wasting a staggering 27 minutes thirteen seconds?!? While there is limited track time in which to fully demonstrate the organs, could there not have been some contrast in repertoire. On one organ I had to listen to twelve minutes of assorted bleeps and blurps and a similar waste of time on the other. No effort seemed to have gone into truly demonstrating the scope and versatlity of these two organs. The music appeared to be aimed at no-one other than the player's own peers. Don't get me wrong, the rest of the tracks are definitely well worth the price, as is the sumptuous book.

 

I'm sorry if I appear to be a stick in the mud. I believe in challenging the listener with new and interesting repertoire, but this to me, took things a little too far.

 

Has anyone else listened to their copy yet?

 

Hector

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  • 2 weeks later...

I did have a passing interest in this book/CD set, but neither Delphian nor the Edinburgh association see fit to elaborate on the contents, beyond giving one list of instruments and another of players. There are also three different prices floating around - Delphian are advertising it for either £49.99 or £54.99 (both inc. P&P) depending on which bit of their website you look at. For this price, I think they could offer more information to tempt potential customers.

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I did have a passing interest in this book/CD set, but neither Delphian nor the Edinburgh association see fit to elaborate on the contents, beyond giving one list of instruments and another of players. There are also three different prices floating around - Delphian are advertising it for either £49.99 or £54.99 (both inc. P&P) depending on which bit of their website you look at. For this price, I think they could offer more information to tempt potential customers.

 

It's available for £44.49 inc p&p from the Edinburgh Society of Organists website - www.edinburghorganists.org

 

We'll get a track listing up on the site shortly - useful feedback, thanks.

 

Hope you enjoy!

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I have an official Delphian flyer in front of me (with full track listing, you won't be disappointed), and it states that the RRP is £59.99. At that price it is very good value, at £44.99 it is excellent value. I'll follow up Hector5's review with one of my own at a later date.

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Hector5 - I agree with you. I'm working my way through the CDs at the moment and I'm mystified why it was necessary to include the "brutalist" material. Having said that everything else I've heard so far is very good and the recording quality excellent. The book contains very fine photographs. It might have been an idea to include some notes about the music played but that's a minor criticism and Edinburgh organists deserve praise for initiating the project which I doubt anyone else would attempt. I have to say though it's not up to the excellent standard of the recent CD/DVD issue of the organs in the Groningen area produced by the Dutch and still available from fuguestatefilms.co.uk (not meant to be an advertisment, just that I find it so very enjoyable!).

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  • 4 weeks later...
My copy of the much-awaited Organs of Edinburgh book and CDs (4) arrived today and it does not disappoint, well 90% of it didn't anyway. I am sure that the producers went all out in order to ensure a wide repertoire, and for the bulk they have achieved it extremely successfuly. What rather sticks in my throat is the need for one of the players (who I am sure is a fine musician) on two separate organs, to play the most awful inaccessible music imaginable. One instrument is a modern essay in organ design, and is perhaps a good vehicle for such music, the other seeming to me to be utterly inappropriate for this kind of music. Why, oh why do we have to have this neo-brutalist music assaulting our ears not once, but four times, wasting a staggering 27 minutes thirteen seconds?!? While there is limited track time in which to fully demonstrate the organs, could there not have been some contrast in repertoire. On one organ I had to listen to twelve minutes of assorted bleeps and blurps and a similar waste of time on the other. No effort seemed to have gone into truly demonstrating the scope and versatlity of these two organs. The music appeared to be aimed at no-one other than the player's own peers. Don't get me wrong, the rest of the tracks are definitely well worth the price, as is the sumptuous book.

 

I'm sorry if I appear to be a stick in the mud. I believe in challenging the listener with new and interesting repertoire, but this to me, took things a little too far.

 

Has anyone else listened to their copy yet?

 

Hector

 

 

I'm in agreement hector - 90 percent of this new publication is very very good. The book is lovely with excellent photography and eloquent writing. It is a shame that there are two glaring omissions, the wonderfull original 3 man. Father Willis at St. Stephens Center was water damaged a while ago and unable to be used for the project and an apparent dispute of some sort with Greyfriars Church (excellent 3 man Peter Collins) led to that instrument not being included. The McEwan Hall organ is currently undergoing restoration too, but that was included never the less from a previous recording (though of rather uncompromising repertoire I must say.) I think it may have been this that led to more tracks being on the CD of a similar modernist nature by the same player being recorded elsewhere in the set. For me this spoils the recording a little, I don't doubt that some of the modern music on the CD will be long forgotten in 100 years time, unlike the the rest of the more historic music on the CD. Having listened to some of these tracks a couple of times, I now skip them when listening to the others.

 

On the other hand great congratulations must go to John Kitchen for a wonderful performance of the Whitlock organ sonata (1st movement) and to the late and sadly missed Tom Laing Reilly whose playing is spectacular too. Almost all of the remaining performances are of a very high standard also - well worth the investment!

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As a bit of an aside, I'll be in Edinburgh over Christmas. Which churches should I try to catch, from an organ and church music point of view?

 

 

Depends partly on your prefered denomination. Scotland is mainly Presbyterian, and the obvious choice for that is St. Giles Cathedral. The Anglican churches in Edinburgh tend to be very well appointed with choral music. I would recommend either St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral to enjoy Scotland's only daily choral foundation (though wrap up warm as it is the coldest building you could imagine...) or the excellent high church Old St. Paul's, where the City Organist John Kitchen plays and directs the music. The organ there is less remarkable than those featured in the 'Organs of Edinburgh' collection, but it still makes a good bold sound.

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