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NEW - Oxford Organ Music for Christmas Volume 2... but straying into other territory too!

Martin Cooke

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There are two pieces in this new album that stand out for me so far and would be cause, for me, at any rate, to buy the book... a really lovely, atmospheric piece based on Gabriel's Message by Ian Farrington and another on Personent Hodie by Philip Moore. OUP seems to have developed a habit of publishing single items from some of their volumes so it might be worth waiting. Does anyone really play the Homilius piece based on Wachet Auf! which is included in this volume? I don't get it! See here and let me know - perhaps I should persevere!

I have come to appreciate Philip Moore's organ music more and more in recent years and lots of it can be eeked out of those Kevin Mayhew volumes of old in the form of hymn preludes and other short pieces, though there are some excellent more recent examples in the OUP Hymn Settings for Organists series. Yesterday, with a spare few minutes on my hands before a funeral, I played his prelude on St Botolph which is in a blue volume called New Music for Organ Volume 2  by Mayhew which I bought many years ago. It is delightful.

The other pieces in this Mayhew volume which I enjoy include Richard Lloyd's Church Parade, and also Dom Gregory Murray's Processionale on Veni Emmanuel. I have included the latter amongst the pre-service music for the Advent Carol service for the last couple of years and feel it is well worth the learning, though it's not difficult. It has something new to say about this ancient tune. 

In preparation for Remembrance-tide, I have decided to go 'out with the old and in with the new' in terms of 30-minutes of pre-service music. Yes, I'm not including Nimrod for the first time in years, in favour of the Solemn Prelude from 'For the Fallen.' And I have worked up the splendid Epic March of John Ireland instead of the RAF March past which I have often used. This is good fun and is in an old (1988) yellow Novello book entitled Processionals for Organ. I have passed it by all these years but it's caught my eye this year. You can read about for yourselves, but it was commissioned by the Ministry of Information in 1942 to inspire a push for peace and cheer everyone up - well, that's my interpretation. It starts in a rather austere fashion using the morse for 'V' as the opening rhythm and growing in to a stately tune in the Crown Imperial manner. When the hushed first statement of the 'big tune' is first stated, I have found it helpful to play from the IMSLP piano arrangement, just for this section, before reverting to Robert Gower's version in the Novello. The other reason to acquire this volume would be in order to have the arrangement of Whitlock's The Phoebe which is a jolly romp for the right occasion.

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