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Francis Jackson

Mark Taylor

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Hear! Hear! The recital is an excellent initiative.

Ad multos annos.

A discussion of Dr Jackson’s organ works would useful. Because he is a prolific composer and his music takes some getting to know, it is hard to know where to start. As a result I don’t play much by him, which I regret.

It’s not the sort of music that one can play through and say, “Ah, yes, I want to learn that.” It’s only after one has invested time and effort in learning that something clicks and one can really appreciate the strengths and beauties of a piece.

So suggestions from those who play more of Dr Jackson’s oeuvre would be especially helpful.

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What a wonderful present from a local Organist's Association to it's most distinguished and oldest member and one time President. And, for me, lots of memories of continuo playing at York in FJ's day.

Belated Happy Birthday Francis! 

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I've played quite a lot of FJ in recent years, so hope this will help.

Good starting points would be:

Three Pieces (op.17) - the outer pieces Procession and Pageant are very useful voluntaries

Seven Pieces (op.84) - there is a Praeludium written in Leipzig as homage to JSB, and an Intrada with echoes of Walton's Belshazzar

Acklam Pieces (op.141) - I play the opening Fanfare, Reverie on a theme of Ravel, and Aria Celtica (a prelude on 'Slane')

Prelude on East Acklam (his own tune) from Five Preludes on English Hymn Tunes

All the above are quite approachable in terms of both musical language and technical difficulty, and work well on a variety of organs.

After those, Sonata No.6 is probably the first big piece to go to - satisfying and probably not as difficult as most of the others - the last movement is fun, a gigue written at about age 87!

The Impromptu (op.5) is very fine - written for Bairstow's 70th birthday though with the York organ in mind, making full use of the various Tubas (enclosed and unenclosed)

Probably the most satisfying big pieces are:

Toccata, Chorale and Fugue (op.16) - an ingenious piece, particularly the fugue on a very quirky subject but ideally needs a big Tuba at the end

Sonata No.1 (op.35) - written for the opening of the Blackburn organ in 1970 and so needs that kind of colour, i.e. a reasonable selection of mutations and soft reeds, plus a big reed for the last movement.

Paul Walton

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12 hours ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

Thank you. Just the sort of recommendations I was hoping for.

Yes, absolutely - thank you Paul. I have recently bought the Acklam Pieces but didn't take to any of them, including the Ravel piece, on first appraisal, but I shall settle to them again following your recommendation.

The East Acklam piece is more to my taste - it's just a shame that the tune isn't better known. (It was originally conceived for God that madest earth and heaven, I understand.) It has recently been re-published by OUP in a blue ceremonial organ music volume, edited by Robert Gower.

The other piece of FJ's that perhaps Paul might have included, in that it's easier and more harmonically digestible, is his Meditation on Love Unknown. This is a delightful piece and is to be found in the OUP green volume Lent and Easter Organ Music, also edited by Robert Gower. This is the album with Chris Tambling's piece based on Shine, Jesus, shine - and also David Bednall's Toccata on Aberystwyth. 

I very much hanker back to days, more than fifty years ago now, when FJ's Benedicite and his Communion Service in G were very much part of the diet. John Dykes Bower's spirited playing of the former on the Choir School piano was quite something! Until about 1973, that was the only Jackson I knew... and then one of the music masters at my senior school played the Fanfare (from A Festive Album - as played on the recording from Bridlington). 

And by the way, whilst we're recommending things... for those who like 'last verse arrangements' - do visit Paul Walton's website where some of his outstanding last verse and descant arrangements may be found - some are even free to download and others available for purchase having been afforded a glimpse. 

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Sorry to blah on... but linked to FJ and his East Acklam tune - I thoroughly recommend Philip Moore's variations on this that appear in Fanfare for Francis. These are not difficult but need a reasonably versatile organ with an athletic registrant ready to pay obedient service or set of (preferably) general pistons. Another good post would be all about Philip Moore's compositions. There are some lovely miniatures in the Oxford Hymn Settings for Organists series which I generally find more attractive and less strident than the earlier hymn preludes that were published by Mayhew. 

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Thanks for the Love Unknown recommendation - I've not played it but clearly should, as I've got the book. There's also a nice Cantilena in the Centenary Album of the Oldham, Rochdale and Tameside Organists' Association.

Thanks for the plug for the hymn arrangements - let's hope for an opportunity to use some of them before too long!


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If you're looking for a toccata, there's Diversion for Mixtures which is a perpetuum mobile type piece. It's in Novello's The Colours of the Organ album. Not sure if it's in print but I bought one s/h recently for Lloyd Webber's lovely Benedictus. Diversion was on FJ's Great Cathedral series LP. I last heard it at York at an RCO service for FJ's 100th

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I've just received his 5th Sonata and the Sonata Giocosa in the post, having bought them in an EBay auction. At first sight they look to be somewhat technically easier than the Sonata in G minor or the Sonata No.3 - both of which look rather technically formidable!


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