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Scottish (or Scottish-themed) organ music


David Surtees
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I have been asked to contribute one or two pieces to an online concert to take place on Burns’ night, and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions of interesting music that might be worth considering. I have settings of Highland Cathedral by both Charles Callahan and Antony Baldwin, as well as several folk-song settings in various Mayhew anthologies. I’ve also noticed Robert Gower’s arrangement of Amy Beach’s Scottish Legend in The Oxford Book of Ceremonial Music for Organ, Book 2. (While vaguely familiar with the piano original, I have never played it). 

What other pieces should I look at before making my choice?

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If you're up for a challenge (and the organ is as well!), there's at least one arrangement of Hamish McCunn's Overture The Land of the Mountain and the Flood, one of which is listed on John Kitchen's CD from the Usher Hall.  Simon Lindley also plays one though I'm not sure if it's the same arranger.

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9 minutes ago, DariusB said:

If you're up for a challenge (and the organ is as well!), there's at least one arrangement of Hamish McCunn's Overture The Land of the Mountain and the Flood, one of which is listed on John Kitchen's CD from the Usher Hall.  Simon Lindley also plays one though I'm not sure if it's the same arranger.

That is a bit longer than what I had in mind, and I don’t think I could learn it in two weeks, either. The arrangement John Kitchen plays is by the late Jeremy Cull, and published by Animus. Not sure the organ I have access to would be able to cope anyway - it is to all intents and purposes a decent sized two manual (though there is a choir division not currently in working order).

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18 minutes ago, DariusB said:

Sorry I hadn't registered the 'two weeks' part - that was slightly unrealistic!  

I didn’t specify a date, just assumed that everyone knows that Burns night is on the 25th January, which is probably an unfair assumption to make for most people outside of Scotland. 

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Two very straightforward pieces I’ve used before are James MacMillan’s White Note Paraphrase and then I have a guitar arrangement of Maxwell Davies’ Farewell to Stromness which works really well on organ. 

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The Maxwell Davies 'Farewell to Stomness' is paired with 'Yesnaby Ground' in the piano book. Both transfer to organ well and are unlikely to frighten a congregation.

If you would consider music pre-dating Burns and you are inclined to open the Fitzwilliam book on occasion this book has a few good pieces in it: Early Scottish Keyboard Music. Transcribed and edited by K. Elliott. Stainer and Bell

I'd commend Tom Wilkinson's performance of the same Cull transcription, played at Paisley Abbey, available as an apparent filler on a CD of folksongs. If you have Spotify, I think this link will take you there

 

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Maxwell Davies Reliqui Domum Meum is lovely, and very straightforward - manuals only.  There's also a lovely Veni Creator by him, and the Three Voluntaries on Scottish Hymn Tunes are not hard (but they are quite austere). The Macmillan Meditation is very much worth a look, likewise the Wedding Introit. And the slow mvt of the St Andrew's Suite is gorgeous. Most of his other pieces are on the continuum tricky - fiendish, although worth every bit of effort.

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... sorry... and don't forget Highland Cathedral is not Scottish in origin. Christopher Tambling wrote a lot of organ music with a Scottish flavour, all of it published either by Mayhew or Dr Butz. I can narrow this down to a few favourites if you would like me to.

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Thankyou all, for these interesting suggestions.

23 hours ago, andrewm said:

Two very straightforward pieces I’ve used before are James MacMillan’s White Note Paraphrase and then I have a guitar arrangement of Maxwell Davies’ Farewell to Stromness which works really well on organ. 

I have the Macmillan, but have never had an opportunity to play it. This might be a good occasion. I’ve played Farewell to Stromness on the piano, but don’t seem to have a copy. I hadn’t thought to use another arrangement as a basis of an organ version, but could imagine it would be very effective. 

22 hours ago, OwenTurner said:

The Maxwell Davies 'Farewell to Stomness' is paired with 'Yesnaby Ground' in the piano book. Both transfer to organ well and are unlikely to frighten a congregation.

If you would consider music pre-dating Burns and you are inclined to open the Fitzwilliam book on occasion this book has a few good pieces in it: Early Scottish Keyboard Music. Transcribed and edited by K. Elliott. Stainer and Bell

I'd commend Tom Wilkinson's performance of the same Cull transcription, played at Paisley Abbey, available as an apparent filler on a CD of folksongs. If you have Spotify, I think this link will take you there

Given it’s an online choir concert, not sure frightening a congregation is an issue, but it would be nice to have something fairly approachable. I love early music, but all the stuff I have at the moment is English. Thanks for that tip - I have ordered it, and will see if it arrives in time. (Should do, but Stainer and Bell seem to have a relatively long lead time on their music for some reason) I knew Tom Wilkinson had recorded the MacCunn, but don’t think I’ve heard his performance. I have the Kitchen CD, so it was interesting to compare the 2 versions. 

9 hours ago, andrewm said:

Another thought, simply because the composers were Scottish based would be pieces by Leighton or Hollins. 

I love Leighton’s music, but have never got round to learning any of it. Similarly with Hollins - lots of lighter stuff that always goes down well. 

8 hours ago, sjf1967 said:

Maxwell Davies Reliqui Domum Meum is lovely, and very straightforward - manuals only.  There's also a lovely Veni Creator by him, and the Three Voluntaries on Scottish Hymn Tunes are not hard (but they are quite austere). The Macmillan Meditation is very much worth a look, likewise the Wedding Introit. And the slow mvt of the St Andrew's Suite is gorgeous. Most of his other pieces are on the continuum tricky - fiendish, although worth every bit of effort.

I picked up a copy of the first two Maxwell Davies pieces a while ago, but don’t think I’d ever played them. I got them out this afternoon - and agree they are rather lovely. Wasn’t familiar with the Three Voluntaries though, but they sound interesting. Don’t have any of the Macmillan pieces but have heard all of them. The St Andrew’s Suite is recorded on one of Michael Harris’s CDs from St Giles. 

4 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

New volume published by Banks of Scottish themes arranged for organ by Anthony Baldwin. Out now.

I know Antony, so was aware this was coming out, but haven’t yet got a copy. 

4 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

This is quite something, but I think I will file this alongside Hamish MacCunn, for a future occasion. I discovered a recording by Simon Nieminski, that definitely whetted my appetite. 

4 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

... sorry... and don't forget Highland Cathedral is not Scottish in origin. Christopher Tambling wrote a lot of organ music with a Scottish flavour, all of it published either by Mayhew or Dr Butz. I can narrow this down to a few favourites if you would like me to.

Indeed it isn’t - but it’s been generally accepted by the Scottish people. I have several of Tambling’s volumes (though by no means all of his voluminous output), so will have a look through them to see if anything takes my fancy. 

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