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Jeremy Jones

What Is The Right Repertoire For Recitals?

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Oh good - however, if I cannot locate a copy in time, this could make it a little harder.

I doubt it. I don't have it either, but I did sight read through a friend's copy once (not in public) and don't recall it being a problem.

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I doubt it. I don't have it either, but I did sight read through a friend's copy once (not in public) and don't recall it being a problem.

 

OK. Meanwhile, I shall ensure that the B minor and the C minor are up to scratch.

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After all this debate, apparently my boss has expressed a preference for the B minor (BWV 544) - so, B minor it is, then.

 

Therefore I shall go in tonight and experiment with some registrations - although it will need to be quite loud, since there are usually several hundred people attending our Advent Candlelight Service.

 

However, I shall exercise at least enough restraint to stop me using the chamades.

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Hello Jeremy,

Just a couple of small gripes. Firstly, re. the Glasgow Uni organ concerts: it would be nice to be represented accurately here. I notice you say the only respite from "this stuff" is the organ concert by our organ scholar Peter Y-J in February. Please do take a "cursory look" at the recital programmes and you'll see that in the last couple of months the Tuesday recitals (by me) have consisted of music by Bach, Vaughan Williams, Duruflé, Jongen, Dupré, Rheinberger, Howells, etc. In fact, with very few exceptions, it's all been more or less standard repertoire. The contemporary stuff is saved for the series "Glasgow Pipeworks" which runs to four recitals a year and is specifically reserved for that repertoire.

Next, a lesser gripe - and this with a bit of a smile: although I do play much more contemporary repertoire than most other organists (and deliberately so too) I've also recorded the entire organ music of JSB on 29 CDs, plus all the Brahms and Alain as well as Schumann, Reubke, Hindemith etc. And did you miss the light music? Organ X-plosion (2 volumes) and "Storm" on Regent? If my contemporary music reputation has run me off the board for everything else, then perhaps that's something I should be proud of.

No criticism really - just a plea for accurate reportage.

Kevin Bowyer

 

Sometimes I wonder whether some organists ever stop and consider for a moment the tolerance levels of their audience. Two pieces of evidence support my case for the prosecution:

 

If you take a peek at organrecitals.com you will find that our hallowed cathedrals and abbeys are being as original as ever this Christmas in wheeling out the default Christmas repertoire, i.e. Messiaen's La Nativite du Seigneur. Sitting through the whole of this work is not my idea of fun, and I like organ music! Only Hereford, it would seem, has chosen instead to put on a mixed recital of Advent and Christmas music played by the ever reliable Peter Dyke.

 

If I had to choose one work that really sums up Christmas and the celebration of Christ's birth, it would have to be Pierre Cochereau's Sortie sur Adeste Fideles. A wonderful piece to end a Christmas recital, one that is likely to have the audience walking on air as they file out.

 

Kevin Bowyer's appointment as the University of Glasgow organist was quite a coup for that house of learning. When you couple in Harrisons recent rebuild of the Willis organ in the Memorial Chapel to produce, by all accounts, a fantastic instrument, and they would seem to be onto a winner. The problem is, however, that Bowyer's repertoire comes mainly from the extremist wing of contemporary music

 

A cursory glance at the works he has programmed for the series of recitals in the Chapel proves to be a real turn-off, and you wonder just who, apart from his chums, is expected to come along and sit through this stuff. The only respite from this stuff comes next February when the Organ Scholar, Peter Yardley-Jones, is given a slot, and the people of Glasgow get the chance to hear the organ in a balanced and audience friendly programme featuring works by Bach, Widor, Eben, Howells and Leighton.

 

If organists keep on programming works that are going to frighten the horses, why should we be surprised at the dwindling numbers attending recitals?

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Hello Jeremy,

Just a couple of small gripes. Firstly, re. the Glasgow Uni organ concerts: it would be nice to be represented accurately here. I notice you say the only respite from "this stuff" is the organ concert by our organ scholar Peter Y-J in February. Please do take a "cursory look" at the recital programmes and you'll see that in the last couple of months the Tuesday recitals (by me) have consisted of music by Bach, Vaughan Williams, Duruflé, Jongen, Dupré, Rheinberger, Howells, etc. In fact, with very few exceptions, it's all been more or less standard repertoire. The contemporary stuff is saved for the series "Glasgow Pipeworks" which runs to four recitals a year and is specifically reserved for that repertoire.

I am grateful for Kevin for taking the opportunity to reply to my posting. However, what Kevin omits to mention is that works by the composers mentioned are spread over a number of recitals and stand shoulder to shoulder with music by other composers to which the word 'obscure' must surely have been invented to describe them:

 

24 October - Adalberto Guzzini, Graham Hunter, Harold East, Henry Hudson, Dick Koomans

 

4 November - Hummel, Bach, Richard Hall, Durufle

 

23 January - Bach, Denis ApIvor, Vaughan Williams, Harold East, Jongen

 

30 January - Bach, Michael Short, Howells

 

20 February - Bach, Widor, Eben, Howells, Leighton

 

4 April - Iain Shaw, David Nield

 

May 1 - Thierry Pallesco, Paul Fisher, Reger

 

Note the odd one out - 20 February - when Peter Yardley-Jones, the Organ Scholar, is given his head with what looks on paper an attractive programme. Kevin has carved a niche for himself as an organ recitalist who champions contemporary music, and that is to his credit and to be applauded. It just seems a shame that his recitals are monopolising such a romantically inclined instrument as that in the Memorial Chapel in Glasgow with works suitable for an organ of more recent vintage and disposition.

 

Next, a lesser gripe - and this with a bit of a smile: although I do play much more contemporary repertoire than most other organists (and deliberately so too) I've also recorded the entire organ music of JSB on 29 CDs, plus all the Brahms and Alain as well as Schumann, Reubke, Hindemith etc. And did you miss the light music? Organ X-plosion (2 volumes) and "Storm" on Regent?

With such a diverse discography, Kevin could never be accused of being a one-trick pony! However, I have found Kevin or his record company's bent for recording on chilly Marcussen organs a bit of a turn-off. Not so the Organ Explosion recordings, both of which lounge in my CD library. As for the Storm CD, well again my main complaint here is the Blackburn organ, which I do not like. Had that CD been recorded on the Glasgow organ, Gary Cole would have been richer by £13.50.

 

Mention of recording the Glasgow organ, are there any plans in the pipeline to burn a CD or two?

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Hello again. The 24th October programme was a programme of light music framed by two pieces of jazz, greatly enjoyed by those who turned up. The Henry Hudson (1912) was from the Storm CD, which sold many copies at the concert. The April 4 concert is a lunchtime organ meditation, not falling into the remit of the Tuesday series. The music in this infrequent lunchtime series is deliberately liturgical and reflective in nature. The two works played in this one are both pieces for holy week and are rather in the vein of Dupré. Both are good pieces and deserve to be heard. Of the other programmes, a trek through John Hendrson will reveal that most of them are Romanitc or early 20th century, the most modern pieces being the Leighton and Eben from Peter's recital, the one you single out as being the odd one out. I think the real problem here is not that the music is contemporary, but that there's an "obscure" slant. Hummel, Richard Hall (1943), ApIvor (1949), Harold East (OK, 1980s but very easy listening (and easy as well as rewarding to play - and short - can't recommend this too highly), Pallesco (very much in the style of Dupré/Duruflé - went down very well when I played it in Truro a couple of years ago), and my two discs of music by Paul Fisher should convince that this music is hardly difficult to listen to. But you don't quote my programme of music with narrator (Feb 27), and I wonder why not. That's an equally obscure programme (but very easy to listen to, even funny): Richard Francis, Ernest Austin, Ronald Watson, Paul Fisher, Ad Wammes.[There are people out there, perhaps in a minority, who appreciate something a bit different, as well as people who stay away from organ concerts because they can be so predictable.

On the Glasgow recording front, yes there are many plans to record the organ, hopefully at least four or five CDs this year alone. A lot of late Romantic repertoire, including the last disc in my Alkan series, the Op. 31 Preludes. It is a fine, subtle instrument. The Organ Festival (plug) runs from June 3-June 16 with recitals by Sophie-Veronique Choplin, Jacques van Oortmerssen, John Kitchen, John Butt, Chris Nickol, Peter Y-J, Francesca Massey and two by me, including a complete performance (June 16) of "The Pilgrim's Progress" (nearly three hours long) by Ernest Austin. Pay us a visit.

Best wishes,

Kevin

 

quote name=Jeremy Jones' date='Feb 5 2007, 06:08 PM' post='19340]

I am grateful for Kevin for taking the opportunity to reply to my posting. However, what Kevin omits to mention is that works by the composers mentioned are spread over a number of recitals and stand shoulder to shoulder with music by other composers to which the word 'obscure' must surely have been invented to describe them:

 

24 October - Adalberto Guzzini, Graham Hunter, Harold East, Henry Hudson, Dick Koomans

 

4 November - Hummel, Bach, Richard Hall, Durufle

 

23 January - Bach, Denis ApIvor, Vaughan Williams, Harold East, Jongen

 

30 January - Bach, Michael Short, Howells

 

20 February - Bach, Widor, Eben, Howells, Leighton

 

4 April - Iain Shaw, David Nield

 

May 1 - Thierry Pallesco, Paul Fisher, Reger

 

Note the odd one out - 20 February - when Peter Yardley-Jones, the Organ Scholar, is given his head with what looks on paper an attractive programme. Kevin has carved a niche for himself as an organ recitalist who champions contemporary music, and that is to his credit and to be applauded. It just seems a shame that his recitals are monopolising such a romantically inclined instrument as that in the Memorial Chapel in Glasgow with works suitable for an organ of more recent vintage and disposition.

With such a diverse discography, Kevin could never be accused of being a one-trick pony! However, I have found Kevin or his record company's bent for recording on chilly Marcussen organs a bit of a turn-off. Not so the Organ Explosion recordings, both of which lounge in my CD library. As for the Storm CD, well again my main complaint here is the Blackburn organ, which I do not like. Had that CD been recorded on the Glasgow organ, Gary Cole would have been richer by £13.50.

 

Mention of recording the Glasgow organ, are there any plans in the pipeline to burn a CD or two?

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How nice to hear from Kevin Bowyer; a performer I have always wanted to hear in the flesh ever since that splendid BACH-Reger was broadcast from St.Alban's by the BBC.

 

Knowing that Kevin often champions modern and contemporary music, I would be very interested to know what he thinks of the music of Marian Sawa, the Polish organist/composer who died last year. Not only that, I wonder if he may be aware of the efforts to get the 400 or so unpublished works of Wiedermann into print, whom Jiri Ropek described as "that most charismatic of organists" when Wiedermann was at St.James'Prague.

 

I cannot help but think that so much is being ignored or neglected in the Central European repertoire, and unless someone starts to play it or record it, everyone will be denied the pleasure.

 

Should he want an absolutely scorching contemporary piece, there is that wonderful Fugue by Trompke, which would be a great track on a CD, or a fine recital work.

 

MM

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How nice to hear from Kevin Bowyer; a performer I have always wanted to hear in the flesh ever since that splendid BACH-Reger was broadcast from St.Alban's by the BBC.

 

Knowing that Kevin often champions modern and contemporary music, I would be very interested to know what he thinks of the music of Marian Sawa, the Polish organist/composer who died last year. Not only that, I wonder if he may be aware of the efforts to get the 400 or so unpublished works of Wiedermann into print, whom Jiri Ropek described as "that most charismatic of organists" when Wiedermann was at St.James'Prague.

 

I cannot help but think that so much is being ignored or neglected in the Central European repertoire, and unless someone starts to play it or record it, everyone will be denied the pleasure.

 

Should he want an absolutely scorching contemporary piece, there is that wonderful Fugue by Trompke, which would be a great track on a CD, or a fine recital work.

 

MM

How very kind you are about the old Reger at St. Albans. I remember the terror and perspiration as if it were yesterday!

I'm ashamed to say I'm ignorant of almost all the repertoire you mention. More information please?

Kevin

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