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Hyperion Records

CDA67317 - Organ Dreams, Vol. 3
CDA67317

Recording details: October 2001
Truro Cathedral, United Kingdom
Produced by Paul Spicer
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: June 2002
DISCID: 54122717
Total duration: 76 minutes 46 seconds

'A beautiful sense of intimacy and privacy pervades; nothing is hurried, nothing overdone … This is a superb disc' (Gramophone)

'Christopher Herrick’s playing is an ideal blend of textural clarity and rounded warmth, helped by the range of colours he draws from the organ of Truro Cathedral, and Hyperion has given him excellent recorded sound … This doubter ended up entirely convinced' (International Record Review)

'the programming works exceptionally well … Herrick gives a compelling performance' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Herrick’s performances offer not only state-of-the-art sound, but the sounds of a quite special British organ' (Fanfare, USA)

Organ Dreams, Vol. 3

This summer holds much in store for Christopher Herrick. As well as this release of the third in his hugely popular Organ Dreams series, he is giving a recital on 6th August at Westminster Abbey as part of their Summer Organ Festival, and in September, Hyperion are to release a 16-CD set of his recordings of works for organ by J.S. Bach. Not forgetting of course, that in May he turns 60, so birthday congratulations and best wishes to Mr Herrick!

Like the others in the series, this disc comprises a selection of both well-loved pieces (such as Moonlight and Roses, In a monastery garden and Whitlock’s Folk Tune), and lesser-known but equally attractive works, all played with Herrick’s customary deftness and unsurpassed musicality. Add to this mixture the rich sonority of the grand organ of Truro Cathedral and the result is another magical disc of harmonious sound from one of the world’s greatest organists.


Moonlight and roses
Bring wonderful mem’ries of you.
My heart reposes
In beautiful thoughts so true.
June light discloses
Love’s olden dreams sparkling anew,
Moonlight and roses
Bring mem’ries of you.
(Ben Black and Neil Moret)

Edwin Lemare was born into a musical family on the Isle of Wight in 1865. At the age of twelve he competed with six other candidates, three of them as much as six years older than him, for a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, and won. He moved with his mother to London and, as well as assiduously pursuing his studies in piano and organ, took every opportunity to hear the finest instrumentalists and singers who passed through London, hearing, among others, the pianists Clara Schumann and Vladimir de Pachmann, as well as Joachim and Adelina Patti. Perhaps most important, he attended Hans Richter’s concerts where he fell under the lifelong spell of Wagner’s music. The breadth of his musical education at this time clearly paid dividends later in life, not just in the size and scope of his repertoire but also, by all accounts, in the sheer musicality of his playing. By the age of nineteen he was already in demand as a demonstrator of organs at the International Inventions Exhibition in South Kensington and in 1886 he became organist of Sheffield Parish Church, where he stayed for the next six years.

It was during this time that Lemare wrote what was to become his most popular work, the Andantino in D flat. For the rest of his concert-giving career it was very rare for him to get away with not playing it during a recital. In spite of the piece’s popularity, and the fact that it sold tens of thousands of copies over the years, Lemare made no money out of it: when it was published in London in 1892 by Robert Cocks, the composer received a flat fee of three guineas. However, in 1921 the American song-writer Charles Daniels, under the pseudonym of Neil Moret, added the words ‘Moonlight and Roses’ to the melody, without permission, and very soon it had sold over a million. When, in 1925, Lemare threatened legal action, Daniels was forced to hand over a proportion of the royalties and so at last the composer began to reap the reward of this little gem. Ravishing in its simplicity it nonetheless contains a particularly sophisticated example of the technique known as ‘thumbing down’, for which Lemare was famed. While the left hand plays the accompaniment on one manual, the right hand plays the melody on another. Meanwhile the thumb of the right hand plays in sixths with the melody on the manual below; the player is thus performing the spectacular feat of playing on three manuals at once.

Born in Birmingham, Albert Ketèlbey had a certain early success as a composer, winning a scholarship to Trinity College, London, at the age of thirteen. But it would not be until he was in his thirties that he would follow this up with the series of works, including Bells Across the Meadow, In a Persian Market as well as In a Monastery Garden, which would allow him to live very comfortably in later life. He was appointed organist of St. John’s Church, Wimbledon, at the age of sixteen, but left only a handful of original compositions for the instrument. He quickly moved into the world of theatre and light music, establishing for himself a niche providing music to accompany silent films. He was an expert orchestrator and several publishing houses employed him to produce arrangements for the many spa and municipal orchestral ensembles active at the time. Ketèlbey’s first major success as a composer came in 1912 with Phantom Melody for cello and piano. He followed this up, in 1914, with In a Monastery Garden. According to the composer’s synopsis, the initial warm theme represents the tranquillity of a monastery garden where, to the accompaniment of birdsong, a young poet contemplates his life and woes. His musings are expressed in a darker, more agitated, second theme. Monks are heard singing the Kyrie eleison in the distance, after which the opening theme returns, now even more heart-warming and consoling. The monks’ chant sounds out a final time, gaining in intensity and leading to a conclusion ‘in a glow of exultation’.

Written in 1998 for the confirmation of his daughter, this occasional piece shows a very different side of Eftestøl’s character to the densely allusive Seven Allegorical Pictures featured on Christopher Herrick’s Organ Fireworks IX (CDA67228). After a few flourishes to warm up the fingers, it takes the well-known Northumbrian folksong Dance to your Daddy on a giddying journey, with constantly changing metres and cross-accentuation.

Swedish-born Oskar Lindberg held posts as teacher and organist in Stockholm for the whole of his working life. At the same time as keeping up with the latest compositional trends he was deeply affected by folk music, and this interest is reflected in Gammal fäbodpsalm från Dalarna (‘Old Cattle Pasture Hymn from Dalarna’). The fäbodpsalms were traditionally sung by the women as they tended the cattle and sheep way up in the mountains at their summer pasture. The tune in Lindberg’s version, one of the most famous, is a haunting and melancholy tune from his native region of Dalarna. It is set against a gorgeously rich chordal background.

Throughout his life, Carl Nielsen had a great appetite for learning, striving constantly to improve his knowledge not only of the great Viennese classical tradition but also of earlier music. But his distinctive and individual voice has as much to do with the circumstances of his upbringing near Odense on the island of Funen in Denmark. He grew up in relative poverty, the son of musical parents. From his father he learned the violin and cornet and from his mother he imbibed a love of Danish folksong, which was to remain an important influence throughout his life. The 29 Little Preludes Op 51, along with the Three Motets Op 55, both dating from 1929, are among the fruits of his studies of early vocal polyphony and keyboard music. The Preludes, for organ or harmonium, are for the most part modest in their demands, aiming for clarity of expression and employing a relatively simple harmonic palette. But occasionally, as for instance in the quirky phrase-patterns of the eleventh prelude, or the figuration and distinctive take on chromatic harmony in No 28, one catches a glimpse of the Nielsen of the magnificent Commotio which was to follow two years later (recorded by Christopher Herrick on Organ Fireworks V, CDA66676).

Between 1861 and 1892 Guilmant published the eighteen volumes of his Pièces dans différents styles, a collection of sixty-six pieces, ranging from relatively simple liturgical works to more complex concert items. The Marche de Procession, also titled Fantaisie, is the third item in the eleventh volume, which dates from 1875. As its title states, it is based on two church themes whose first phrases, whether by chance or design, share a common outline. The first theme, Iste confessor, on which most of the piece is based, is heard at the opening in a simple chordal setting and then immediately repeated with harp-like chords in the right hand. After a short development of the opening motif the harp chords reappear, this time with double pedalling. The second theme Ecce sacerdos magnus, in a harmonically rich setting, forms a meditative interlude and is then combined with fragments of Iste confessor, leading to a full repeat of the first theme enveloped in more harp-like arpeggios. At this point Guilmant gives the player the option of bringing the piece to a tranquil conclusion or, by way of a bridge passage, linking it to a fugato movement based again on the first notes of the Iste confessor theme, creating a grander ending. It is this version which Christopher Herrick has chosen to record.

During the Paris Exhibition of 1889, Guilmant gave a concert at the Trocadéro in which he played Handel’s ‘Largo’ in an arrangement for organ, orchestra and ten harps. It was perhaps for the same event that he made his orchestral version of Marche de Procession for similar forces.

As an articled pupil of Herbert Brewer at Gloucester Cathedral in the early years of the twentieth century, Herbert Howells was well placed to become acquainted with the major trends in composition through the Three Choirs Festival. Here he also got to know many of the important musicians of the period, including Elgar and Vaughan Williams. One of his most significant early musical experiences was hearing the first performance of RVW’s Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis in 1910 at Gloucester. In 1912, at the age of twenty, Howells won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where, for the next five years, he studied composition under Stanford. Along with the First Set of Psalm Preludes the First Rhapsody was among his earliest works to achieve publication, in 1915. (The First Piano Concerto had already been performed at the Queen’s Hall in 1913 with Stanford conducting.) The voice of his teacher is still clearly to be heard in the harmonic language of the First Rhapsody in D flat major; there are, however, already hints of the individual voice which was to come, such as the harmonically ambiguous opening or the particularly characteristic dissonance at the main climax. What is certainly present from the outset is an absolute mastery of organ style and texture which he was to build upon, not only in the important series of solo works for the instrument, but also in the marvellous accompaniments to his works for the Anglican liturgy.

First as a chorister and later as assistant organist, Percy Whitlock was associated with Rochester Cathedral in his native Kent until the age of twenty-seven, when he moved to Bournemouth to become organist and choirmaster of St Stephen’s Church. He became Municipal Organist at the Pavilion in 1935, a post which he retained until the end of his relatively short life. Like Ketèlbey, he was a significant figure in the field of light orchestral music. Although there has recently been renewed interest in his large-scale compositions, it is undoubtedly for the smaller pieces that he will generally be remembered. Folk Tune, the second of his Five Short Pieces of 1929, is typical of Whitlock’s unpretentious style. It consists essentially of a threefold repetition of a wistful melody (the second time in the tenor register) which, like all the best folk tunes, sounds as if it has always been in the air, not brought into existence by human hand.

Brahms spent the summer of 1896, his last, at Ischl in Upper Austria. In the previous few years he had lost a great many of his closest friends, including the pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow and the scholar Philip Spitta, but perhaps the cruellest loss was that of Clara Schumann, who had succumbed to a stroke in May. The gruelling forty-hour journey which he undertook to attend her funeral undoubtedly took its toll on his own health; the liver cancer that would end his life in April of the following year was already far advanced, and he spent much of his time putting his affairs in order. It was at Ischl that he composed his last music, the Eleven Chorale Preludes, Op 122. It is intensely private music, and while certain of the chorales he chose treat of death, the collection is not exclusively to do with endings. In fact, the best-known item, Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen, is concerned with a most important beginning – the birth of the Saviour. Even in the pieces about death, particularly the final setting of O Welt ich muss dich lassen the emphasis is on the bliss and transcendence which will come beyond mortal life. Although in a letter he did refer to them as being not for publication, he did not destroy the manuscript as he had done much other material, and he did have a fair copy made of the first seven preludes; his friend and editor Mandyczewski took this as an indication that he may have been planning to add further pieces. They were finally published in 1902.

Mein Jesu, der du mich (‘My Jesus, you who have chosen me for eternal delight’): Cantus firmus in the pedal with imitative interludes in the manuals, in motet style.
Herzliebster Jesu (‘Beloved Jesus, how have you offended’): Lightly decorated chorale melody in upper part with expressive motivic working underneath, in a style reminiscent of the Orgelbüchlein.
O Welt, ich muss dich lassen (‘O world, I must leave you’) (first setting): Again cantus firmus in upper part, but this time with brief interludes. A richly chromatic sighing motif in accompaniment.
Herzlich tut mich erfreuen (‘I am deeply gladdened by the lovely summertime’): Melody in top part with more extended interludes. The figuration is somewhat pianistic with typically Brahmsian cross-rhythms.
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (‘Bedeck yourself, O dear soul’): Unadorned chorale melody in upper part with two free-flowing contrapuntal lines underneath.
O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen (‘Oh, how blessed you are, you godly ones’): Similar to previous number but the accompanying texture is fuller and more harmonically based.
O Gott, du frommer Gott (‘O God, you benevolent God’): Another movement in motet style in which the chorale migrates between the different voices.
Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (‘A rose has arisen from a tender root’): Unlike all the other preludes in the set there is no obvious Bach model for this setting. It is a harmonic meditation on the chorale in a consistent four-part texture (until the last bar) – the chorale is rendered virtually undetectable by the constant use of expressive appoggiaturas.
Herzlich tut mich verlangen (‘ I deeply long for a blissful end’) (first setting): Decorated melody in upper voice with motivic working underneath.
Herzlich tut mich verlangen (second setting): Cantus firmus in pedal with flowing semiquaver accompaniment.
O Welt, ich muss dich lassen (second setting): A relatively straightforward harmonisation of the lines of the chorale, broken up by answering phrases which echo the final notes of each line.

Stephen Westrop © 2002


Other albums in this series
'Organ Dreams, Vol. 1' (CDA67060)
Organ Dreams, Vol. 1
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67060  Archive Service  
'Organ Dreams, Vol. 2' (CDA67146)
Organ Dreams, Vol. 2
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67146 
'Organ Dreams, Vol. 4' (CDA67436)
Organ Dreams, Vol. 4
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDA67436  Archive Service  
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