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Handel Organ Concertos


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I am after advice on this. I'm looking for arrangements of any of the concerto's for organ only for the organist with modest resources and even more modest ability! Preferably manuals and pedals where possible. I'm not even sure whether such arrangements exist or not so any help is appreciated.

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IMSLP has the op.4 concertos in John Walsh's keyboard-only edition of c.1738 and a later edition of c.1784 (scroll down the page to "Organ Solo (with cues)"). I suppose one ought really to use the former, but the latter looks more readable and (from a very quick scan) seems to avoid the C clefs occasionally used in the earlier edition.

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I am after advice on this. I'm looking for arrangements of any of the concerto's for organ only for the organist with modest resources and even more modest ability! Preferably manuals and pedals where possible. I'm not even sure whether such arrangements exist or not so any help is appreciated.

 

 

Far and away the best arrangement of the organ concertos (IMHO) is that published by Novello, an arrangement of all the Op.4 concerti made by John Dykes Bower and C.S.Lang. Not all movements are tricky by any means and further thinning out can be done if this is found necessary - though it is already a much more transparent texture than three other versions I have here.

 

I note that you wanted a version with pedals, but particularly interesting (and useful) is Hinrichsen's publication of the Concerto 'The Cuckoo and the Nightingale' which consists of Handel's own version for manuals only. In that case you may want to add the odd note here or there to complete the harmony as players of the time would have done.

 

If either of these are out of print, I'm sorry to set you looking, but they may well turn up on second-hand Organ Music sites.

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I am after advice on this. I'm looking for arrangements of any of the concerto's for organ only for the organist with modest resources and even more modest ability! Preferably manuals and pedals where possible. I'm not even sure whether such arrangements exist or not so any help is appreciated.

 

Hi

 

I was browsing through a music book that I've had for years - but has only just resurfaced. It's a bound set of W.T. Best's arrangements of Handel, and I noticed some organ concerto movements in it. If you're interested, I'll see what there is. I don't know if the pages will fit on my scanner though! - and I suspect that they're not the easiest arrangements. I have played a couple of pieces from here in the past (at least 20 years ago!) but not the more complex ones.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Aren't there also some 'organ only' editions by G S Holmes*? Published by Paxton I recall.

 

 

I've got them. I usually play only one piece from this version, the Concerto in D/Dm (no.10), ignoring several of the markings.

 

In my advice I'd taken these*into account, the Dupre, the W.T.Best and the Dykes Bower/Lang. There's a fifth version, of which I was only made aware yesterday at Hull City Hall when we were treated to a concerto from Op.7 played by Jonathan Bielby. From my vantage point (in the gallery above) my best guess is that it was a Mayhew edition, or something of similar appearance. It appeared to be on two staves, and he was playing the left hand part on the pedals so he frequently had nothing to do with his LH apart from balancing himself by holding the bench with it. Compared to the Novello I've already recommended, it did so little for me that I didn't ask him afterwards which arrangement this was.

 

The rationale for my generally wanting a set with pedals is not just that it gives the legs some exercise, it is because of Handel's scoring. When the orchestra plays, the bass line is given to Contra Basses and Celli which would be playing what amounts to 16' and 8' pitch - so you get a far better contrast between the two forces if one has a clear 16' and the other (solo) doesn't.

 

I think these Concerti make wonderful transcriptions, they always go down well with an audience, you can just about play them on any organ and they still work. At best you need a three-manual organ because Handel's organ at Drury Lane had two manuals and there are several places (unmarked) where (I am content to assume that) he intended to use both of them in echo passages. The Cuckoo and the Nightingale is very much a case in point. The plentiful recordings on box organs, even those benefiting from touch as precise and varied as Simon Preston's are bound to fail on that score. Of course, a one-manual of the right period might well have a shifting movement. You would then get your three volume levels - orchestra, organ solo, organ with shifting movement engaged (reducing to 8' Stopped Diapason). Clever things shifting movements.

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If you're looking for something Handelian sounding, but not Handel, can I recommend the John Stanley concertos? These work very well as a solo arrangement and OUP publish an excellent copy of the original printed edition. Some concertos work really well in solo arrangements; in particular No.1 in E, and No.6 in C, and the slow movement from the Cm concerto is simply sublime. There are no published slow movements for Nos 1 and 6, so I transpose the slow movement from the Cm concerto (from Eb to F) for the C major one, and use a song called 'The Blind Boy' (appropriately written by Stanley himslef) as the basis for the E major concerto. Of course, you could just improvise a slow movement, but I've yet to have the courage to do that!

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If you're looking for something Handelian sounding, but not Handel, can I recommend the John Stanley concertos? These work very well as a solo arrangement and OUP publish an excellent copy of the original printed edition. Some concertos work really well in solo arrangements; in particular No.1 in E, and No.6 in C, and the slow movement from the Cm concerto is simply sublime. There are no published slow movements for Nos 1 and 6, so I transpose the slow movement from the Cm concerto (from Eb to F) for the C major one, and use a song called 'The Blind Boy' (appropriately written by Stanley himslef) as the basis for the E major concerto. Of course, you could just improvise a slow movement, but I've yet to have the courage to do that!

 

 

I heartily concur with Guilmant's advice. [bTW, I love his own compositions!]

 

In addition to the urtext versions, the same Oxford University Press published two concerti (C minor and C major) by Stanley in the 1970s (?) arranged for solo organ by Peter le Huray. They're both excellent, though a mite trickier than the Handel ones.

 

There's also Arne. I have a wonderful arrangement of his Concerto in B flat edited/arranged by Archibald Farmer - long out of print that one, but IMHO the best 18th century English organ concerto of the lot.

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Thank you Cynic (I'm assuming your talking about Guilmant's compositions, not my own, though maybe you did acidentally come across the odd carol of mine in the Worcestershire days?). Anyway, this got me digging out my volume from the English Organ Music Series (pub. Faber ed. Langley? correct me if I'm wrong here) there are a number of concertos that work well as a solo, including several by the Wesleys (John and Charles) etc. I think there is an arrangement of the Arne C major as well.

 

I quite like these 'uncluttered' versions with skeleton music, and a figured bass, because there fewer visual distractions to modify what you play to the instrument you play it on. Back in my Scotland days, I played the Stanley C major on several occasions, ranging on organs from the Kelvingvove to the Ahrend in the Reid Hall.

 

I think these volumes are officially out of print, but there are various places (I think Allegro) that do prints on demand.

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There's a fifth version, of which I was only made aware yesterday at Hull City Hall when we were treated to a concerto from Op.7 played by Jonathan Bielby. From my vantage point (in the gallery above) my best guess is that it was a Mayhew edition, or something of similar appearance. It appeared to be on two staves, and he was playing the left hand part on the pedals so he frequently had nothing to do with his LH apart from balancing himself by holding the bench with it. Compared to the Novello I've already recommended, it did so little for me that I didn't ask him afterwards which arrangement this was.

 

I think this may have been Peter Williams' (the Bach guru) arrangements of the complete Opus 7 set, published by Oxford in 1988. I hardly dare disagree with Cynic, who has probably forgotten more than I ever knew about these things, but I rather like the arrangements. I'm not sure if they meet the requirement for "easy", though.

 

Also worth looking at (IMHO) are Andrew Moore's arrangements for manuals only of William Boyce's Eight [Orchestral] Symphonies. They're about the difficult of the average Voluntary for Organ of the period, very tuneful, and fit well on the organ. They were published by Mayhew in 1994.

 

Ian

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I think this may have been Peter Williams' (the Bach guru) arrangements of the complete Opus 7 set, published by Oxford in 1988. I hardly dare disagree with Cynic, who has probably forgotten more than I ever knew about these things, but I rather like the arrangements. I'm not sure if they meet the requirement for "easy", though.

 

Also worth looking at (IMHO) are Andrew Moore's arrangements for manuals only of William Boyce's Eight [Orchestral] Symphonies. They're about the difficult of the average Voluntary for Organ of the period, very tuneful, and fit well on the organ. They were published by Mayhew in 1994.

 

Ian

 

 

Dear iy,

disagree by all means, everyone is equally entitled to air their opinion. Despite the fact (and it is a fact) that I have an enormous library and know quite a bit of it, I'm no authority of any kind on those arrangements, I've never even seen the copy close to - I suppose I should have made my verdict plainer: despite exemplary playing (as you would expect from Jonathan Bielby) I merely said that the arrangement I heard did nothing for me.

 

All good wishes,

P.

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