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OUP - Stanford Organ Album


Martin Cooke
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This new album, edited by John Scott Whiteley, has much to commend it. There is lots that is new and just a very few things that most of us will have known before. There are some excellent (unsurprisingly) arrangements of piano, instrumental and choral music by JSW himself, but also organ music that hasn't seen the light of day for a while. I can see myself wanting to play and use every piece in this new volume. 

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  • 2 months later...

I received my copy of the new Stanford Organ Album a couple of weeks ago. Considering myself quite a fan of Stanford’s (organ) music, I was very much looking forward to it being published and was somewhat surprised as to how many times its release has been postponed by the OUP (apparently all the scholarly research and the making of the arrangements must have taken somewhat longer than anticipated).

In the past I already downloaded Stanford’s organ music from IMSLP and bought copies of his most interesting works, however, there were still some blanks to be filled. I wasn’t sure what the selection of music for the OUP album was going to be, so I was really happy to find some of my favourite little gems in here, plus the Te Deum-Fantasia, Op. 116/1, which I hadn’t been able to get a hold of before.

For my part, I have known and played – apart from the Fantasia, of course – all of the included original organ compositions, but I must admit I don’t see myself playing many of the arrangements. I took the time to look up most of the originals (sheet music and recordings), and the arrangements, as well made as they might be, really don’t appeal to me very much. I find individual pieces either much more convincing in their original form as piano or vocal music, or simply just not interesting enough to begin with.

I was very glad to find critical notes with a list of questionable spots, misprints or other things that had been corrected according to the autograph. There is, however, one place that remains somewhat unclear: in the Prelude on Tallis’s Canon (Op. 88 No. 6), bar 43, beat 1, there is a printed natural sign in front of the g in the RH, with g flat in the preceding bar as well as on beat 3 in the LH of the same bar. The Breitkopf & Härtel edition, available on IMSLP, has nothing in this place, but Daniel Cook (Vol. 1 of The Complete Organ Works, Priory) quite clearly plays a g flat which, at least to my ears, does make more sense.

One other thing that bothers me with this new album, but also with some of the older editions of Stanford’s organ music, is to have inconsistent manual markings in the individual pieces. We find the usual Gt./Ch./Sw. in the original works, but I, II and III in the arrangements. I’ve also observed the same thing in the Stainer & Bell edition of the Opera 101 & 105. Which divisions do those Roman numbers actually indicate? Don’t most British three-manual organs have Choir as I, Great as II and Swell as III? Yet it seems that in the aforementioned cases “I” actually indicates Great (?). And what are II and III then? Could someone shed some light on this, please?

Although this new OUP album turned out to be, at least for me, only partially new and useful, I very much recommend it to anyone.

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2 hours ago, SlowOrg said:

We find the usual Gt./Ch./Sw. in the original works, but I, II and III in the arrangements. I’ve also observed the same thing in the Stainer & Bell edition of the Opera 101 & 105. Which divisions do those Roman numbers actually indicate? Don’t most British three-manual organs have Choir as I, Great as II and Swell as III? Yet it seems that in the aforementioned cases “I” actually indicates Great (?). And what are II and III then? Could someone shed some light on this, please?

In British usage I/II/III usually reflects the relatively “importance” (for want of a better word) of the division, rather than the physical layout of the instrument. Thus I=Great, II=Swell, III=Choir, IV=Solo (though I’m sure people will be able to cite examples that don’t fit this ...).

So there’s no relationship to the position of the various keyboards, which is (as you imply) normally Choir in the lowest place, Great above it, then Swell, then Solo.

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3 hours ago, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

In British usage I/II/III usually reflects the relatively “importance” (for want of a better word) of the division, rather than the physical layout of the instrument. Thus I=Great, II=Swell, III=Choir, IV=Solo (though I’m sure people will be able to cite examples that don’t fit this ...).

So there’s no relationship to the position of the various keyboards, which is (as you imply) normally Choir in the lowest place, Great above it, then Swell, then Solo.

I have a copy of Stanford's Toccata and Fantasia with a note from him which says precisely this. It's also in the IMSLP version. His performance instructions, such as they are, "... must therefore be regarded merely in the light of suggestions." In leaving so much to the discretion of the performer, and from what little I know of his personality, I get the impression that he rather looked forward to hearing what other people made of his music.

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The whole I/II/III thing is a bit of a minefield - as you say, the I - Great, II Swell etc is 'usual', as Elgar does as well.    Yet Lemare, Elgar's exact contemporary, uses I for Choir, II for Great, etc.   I feel safer with composers who just use the names (like Hollins)....

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Thank you for the replies.

I had completely forgotten about Stanford’s note at the beginnig of the Fantasia and Toccata score. It just seemed so strange the first time I saw it, knowing how, at least on larger instruments, Choir is usually the I. manual. Or would this have been different on the instruments that Stanford knew and used? Unfortunately, the stop lists from St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, and Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge, which can be found as part of the introduction of the Stanford Organ Album, give no clear indication of this. (On a side note, I am astonished that NPOR also doesn’t include any information regarding the division/manual question.) It may well be that the Choir was/is considered "least" important, but then again, I have never seen an organ with a Choir to Swell coupler (would be glad to learn of one, though) …

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The stop lists and  specifications on NPOR (or anywhere else) won't have this information, because manuals on English organs are usually not numbered at all.  So any numbering used is whatever the composer makes up.  I wonder if Stanford and Elgar (being published by Breitkopf) used Roman numerals simply to conform to the publisher's 'house style'.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 30/04/2021 at 14:19, SlowOrg said:

Thank you for the replies.

I had completely forgotten about Stanford’s note at the beginnig of the Fantasia and Toccata score. It just seemed so strange the first time I saw it, knowing how, at least on larger instruments, Choir is usually the I. manual. Or would this have been different on the instruments that Stanford knew and used? Unfortunately, the stop lists from St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, and Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge, which can be found as part of the introduction of the Stanford Organ Album, give no clear indication of this. (On a side note, I am astonished that NPOR also doesn’t include any information regarding the division/manual question.) It may well be that the Choir was/is considered "least" important, but then again, I have never seen an organ with a Choir to Swell coupler (would be glad to learn of one, though) …

Alfred Hollins often specified a Choir to Swell coupler - an example being at St George’s West Edinburgh his own organ -1930 Rushworth & Dreaper - a second  at St Matthew’s Morningside. Another Hollins’ request at these instruments was for two reversible toe pistons for Choir and Swell tremulants.

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  • 1 month later...
On 30/04/2021 at 03:28, SlowOrg said:

One other thing that bothers me with this new album, but also with some of the older editions of Stanford’s organ music, is to have inconsistent manual markings in the individual pieces. We find the usual Gt./Ch./Sw. in the original works, but I, II and III in the arrangements. I’ve also observed the same thing in the Stainer & Bell edition of the Opera 101 & 105. Which divisions do those Roman numbers actually indicate? Don’t most British three-manual organs have Choir as I, Great as II and Swell as III? Yet it seems that in the aforementioned cases “I” actually indicates Great (?). And what are II and III then? Could someone shed some light on this, please?

I had looked at the book you mentioned (online). Reading your summary, I'm currently pleased I didn't order it. However, at the time I was mostly after the first piece in the 1st six short preludes and postludes book. My old photocopy from my organ teacher has eventually bit the dust.

I just checked my book and an old photocopied (35 years old) page from 1st Prelude in F. It still has I II and III. I thought I was playing the first section on the great all those years back, so took I, II and III as Swell, Great, Choir. Top to bottom. I'm going to have to try it with the suggestion above that makes sense, order of importance. Perhaps I started on the swell. Also in the book there are swell, great and choir indications for other pieces. Perhaps, it's not important which keyboard, just a different registration.

What is the 105 book like? Difficulty level and types of pieces. I'm trying to find end of service voluntaries.

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7 hours ago, Nathan said:

What is the 105 book like? Difficulty level and types of pieces. I'm trying to find end of service voluntaries.

Op. 105 is an excellent collection (especially if you like Gibbons). In terms of musical quality it perhaps has the edge on Op. 101. Like the other volume it alternates soft and loud pieces.

Of the latter, nos 2 and 4 are straightforward. No 6 is a much more substantial piece; indeed it feels a little out of place, as there is nothing else on that scale in either of the two volumes. It’s not difficult, but would take more learning than anything else in the two books: well worth putting in the effort, however.

The music is long out of copyright and available on line if you want to check it:

https://imslp.org/wiki/6_Short_Preludes_and_Postludes%2C_Op.105_(Stanford%2C_Charles_Villiers)

(I'm assuming above that you’re looking for louder pieces as out voluntaries, though of course there’s nothing to stop you playing a quiet piece occasionally (or a loud one before the service) by way of a change ….)

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On 15/06/2021 at 05:30, Dafydd y Garreg Wen said:

Op. 105 is an excellent collection (especially if you like Gibbons). In terms of musical quality it perhaps has the edge on Op. 101. Like the other volume it alternates soft and loud pieces.

Of the latter, nos 2 and 4 are straightforward. No 6 is a much more substantial piece; indeed it feels a little out of place, as there is nothing else on that scale in either of the two volumes. It’s not difficult, but would take more learning than anything else in the two books: well worth putting in the effort, however.

The music is long out of copyright and available on line if you want to check it:

https://imslp.org/wiki/6_Short_Preludes_and_Postludes%2C_Op.105_(Stanford%2C_Charles_Villiers)

(I'm assuming above that you’re looking for louder pieces as out voluntaries, though of course there’s nothing to stop you playing a quiet piece occasionally (or a loud one before the service) by way of a change ….)

That's great thank you. 

You mention about soft pieces after service, they would suitable for the end of evening services (once a church I play at starts them again).

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