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Hyperion Records

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Dieppe, 14 July 1905: Night by John Duncan Ferguson (1874-1961)
Reproduced by courtesy of the National Gallery of Scotland / C Perth and Kinross District Council Museum & Art Gallery Department
Track(s) taken from CDA66605
Recording details: February 1992
St Bartholomew's Church, New York, USA
Produced by Paul Spicer
Engineered by Christopher Greenleaf
Release date: July 1992
Total duration: 8 minutes 57 seconds

'Hyperion's organ recordings are in a class of their own, and this wonderfully mixed bag of goodies … represents unparalleled value for money. I doubt whether any of these pieces has ever been played better' (Gramophone)

'Herrick's performances need no recommendation to those already acquainted with his dazzling skills' (The Good CD Guide)

Concert Variations on 'The Star-Spangled Banner', Op 23
composer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the USA, the inspirational words of which were written in Baltimore by Francis Scott Key in 1814, and intended for the tune to which they are now always sung. This tune itself was written in England for the Anacreontic Society of London by a singer and composer of catches and glees called John Stafford Smith (1750–1836), the original song being ‘Anacreon in Heaven’.

Dudley Buck was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and travelled to Europe to study music in Leipzig, Dresden and Paris. On returning to the USA he toured as a concert organist and also held a succession of church organist appointments, at St James Chicago, St Paul’s Boston, and at several churches in Brooklyn where he settled in his mid-thirties. He was assistant conductor of the Theodore Thomas Orchestra, and composed mainly vocal music including The Legend of Columbus and Paul Revere’s Ride.

These concert variations became a very popular item in organ recitals and consist of the theme, four variations, and a fughetta. The third variation is noteworthy in terms of the pedal virtuosity required, and the writing suggests that the composer knew his Bach fugues. The fourth variation follows convention by being cast in the minor key, but departs from it with a sly enharmonic modulation for the repeated part of the tune. The finale works out some of the fugal possibilities of the tune before the inevitable triumphant metamorphosis, proclaiming the spirit of those who kept the American flag flying over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in the face of the British bombardment in 1814 and so inspired Francis Scott Key.

from notes by Ian Carson © 1992

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