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Paul Isom

Holiday playing

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Having bought myself a portable toaster to enable me to practice at our French house, I have been seeking out various interesting repertoire to amuse myself with my single manual (actually 2 plus imaginary pedal). I have been using my iPad a fair bit and have downloaded all volumes of Les Maitres Contemporains de l'orgue from the IMSLP. These contain some mostly unknown works by composers from all over the world. The French volumes are fantastic and contain some more obscure works by Mulet, Krieger (Toccata), Nibelle, Messerer etc. I can heartily recommend them, and the content is not restricted to just manuals only, and contained in the volumes are some pretty meaty works. I've also been hammering through the Litaize 24 pieces, Fleury 24 Pieces, Vierne 24 pieces, and also the Langalis 12 pieces as well. Can anyone explain the significance of 24 as a figure here, and are there any others who can illuminate me as to the importance of the number 24?

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Goodness knows what the answer is to your question, Paul, but I have much enjoyed spending the first hour of the day looking through the Les Maitres first two volumes. I am playing, for the first time, on a 1 manual + 1 octave of pedals William Hill organ on Sunday and I shall enjoy some of the manuals only pieces which I have printed off.

 

Of even greater joy to me this morning was locating the delicious Pastourelle by Fela Sowande that you once recorded on the temporary Wyvern instrument in Arundel Cathedral. I was able to download it from the Faber Music website for £2.50 and I am delighted to have it. By the way, if I may say, that was a really great CD with several pieces that I hadn't come across before at that time - the David Johnson Trumpet Tune in A major, for example - and a most stirring performance of BWV 545. I am an unashamed fan of digital instruments and you gave a wonderful account of the Wyvern in that recording.

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Having had a lovely little one manual and pedal 1860s Vowles as my main church instrument for the last 20 plus years I can certainly say that I never tire of what one can actually get it to do both liturgically and in the repertoire it can cope with. With a bit of research there is much around from all points of the repertoire that will work effectively - enough to make me not over worried about that which will not!

 

A

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Having had a lovely little one manual and pedal 1860s Vowles as my main church instrument for the last 20 plus years I can certainly say that I never tire of what one can actually get it to do both liturgically and in the repertoire it can cope with. With a bit of research there is much around from all points of the repertoire that will work effectively - enough to make me not over worried about that which will not!

 

A

 

I am bound to say that I had a lovely time playing it yesterday. It was the sort of instrument you can play for hours (with the right music). It had strong, bright tone and was perfectly in tune despite not having been attended to, it seemed, since 2011*. I did actually use the pedals but the Bourdon only had an octave of pipes. The pedals were permanently coupled to the manuals and the Bourdon worked on the manual as well as the pedals which was a nuisance, actually. It was humbling that my appearance to play gave the small congregation such a lot of pleasure. Like many churches round here, they have to resort to CDs most weeks.

 

* This set me thinking as to the role of diocesan organs advisors. Churches all have to have quinquennial inspections and I can't help but think it would be a good idea if the organ was officially 'inspected' from time to time to make sure that it is being looked after properly and possibly to check on insurance. It has struck me a number of times that churches somehow raise money to do all sorts of things but because there is no organist, the organ is forgotten, despite it being the most valuable artefact in most church buildings.

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