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English organ music from the Temple Church

James Vivian (organ)
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Label: Signum Classics
Recording details: September 2009
Temple Church, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ann Elise Smoot
Engineered by David Hinitt
Release date: December 2010
Total duration: 68 minutes 1 seconds

In keeping with the historic nature of the Temple Church, the first mention of an organ there dates back to 1308—although the organ on this recording, made by Harrison & Harrison, dates from 1954 (after the previous organ was destroyed during the blitz in 1941).

The varied programme touches on a multitude of works for organ by English composers, all of which bring out different facets of this versatile instrument. The organist, James Vivian, has been part of the music department at the Temple Church since 1997, working first with the then director of music Stephen Layton before taking on the role himself in 2006.

The present album ncludes works by Percy Whitlock, Henry Walford Davies, John Stanley, Samuel Sebastian Wesley, Frank Bridge, Basil Harwood, Francis Jackson and Herbert Howells.


'This new anthology is an equally satisfying and diverse programme, tailor-made for this gloriously unabashed Romantic instrument … Vivian brings the full weight and majesty of the Temple organ with such compellingly masterful playing' (Gramophone)

'James Vivian's solo disc draws on a familiar repertoire but is none the less welcome … the warmth of sound is particularly pleasing' (The Organ)» More
This recording opens with the Fanfare by Percy Whitlock (1903-1946), the last of the Four Extemporizations written in homage to Frederick Delius and published in 1933. The exuberant first and last sections, with their solo reed interjections and ever-changing time signatures, are linked by a quieter, more lyrical section. Whitlock studied composition at the Royal College of Music with Stanford and Vaughan Williams. He embraced both the sacred and the secular/ popular realms; he held posts at Rochester Cathedral and at St Stephen’s Church, Bournemouth, and also served as borough organist at the Brighton Municipal Pavilion. After his premature death, his music was largely forgotten, but in recent times interest has grown and he is now best known as a composer of finely crafted miniatures which fully exploit the tonal and dynamic resources of the organ: pieces which no doubt would have been most useful for his many Pavilion recitals and broadcasts.

Like Whitlock, Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941) also studied at the Royal College of Music. He had a distinguished career as an organist, church musician, lecturer and broadcaster, and succeeded Elgar as Master of the King’s Musick in 1934. In 1898 he was appointed Organist of the Temple Church (a position he held for 21 years); he succeeded the long-serving E J Hopkins who had re-formed the choir in the 1840s, enlarged the organ and generally re-established the Temple at the forefront of musical excellence in London. It seems strange that Walford Davies’ extensive list of compositions does not include many for the instrument on which he was so highly regarded as a performer; even the justly popular Solemn Melody (published in 1910) is an arrangement of an earlier piece for strings and organ. Colles’ biography of the composer suggests that Walford Davies was not interested in playing the organ for its own sake and disliked the traditional organ recital format, preferring to interweave organ repertoire with vocal works at his Temple recitals; he also preferred to improvise in the liturgy, and was rarely interested in writing these ‘spontaneous compositions’ down afterwards.

The Voluntary in D by John Stanley (1712-1786) may well have begun its life as an improvisation at the Temple Church, as Stanley held the post of Organist there from the age of 26 until his death. A musical prodigy who had been blinded at the age of two in an accident, Stanley was a prolific instrumental and vocal composer, but it is his keyboard music—and particularly the sets of organ voluntaries—that is most often performed today. Stanley was one of the great keyboard virtuosi of his generation, and his performances at the Temple drew listeners from far and wide; Handel is said to have been among those who came. Like most voluntaries of this period, this is in two sections, with a slow opening in three voices and then an Allegro in two, the melodic line alternating between a trumpet stop and a stopped diapason.

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876) was one of the most gifted organists of his day and an innovative composer of church music, especially anthems. He is rightly credited with a central role in generating a new momentum and artistic integrity in Anglican Church music during the nineteenth century. His somewhat difficult personality and slipshod work habits were often overlooked by church authorities who recognized his genius. Although his reputation caused him to miss out on various appointments and honours throughout his career, he did, nonetheless, become the first professor of organ at the Royal Academy of Music in 1850. The Choral Song and Fugue dates from some years before that (1842) and was originally part of a collection entitled Three Pieces for a Chamber Organ; thus, although Wesley was a champion of full-compass pedal boards and was very interested in contemporary innovations in organ building, this piece—unlike his later compositions—does not have a substantial pedal part and still owes much to the largely manuals-only works of earlier English composers. The performance on this CD is from the well-known edition by musicologist Walter Emery (1909-1974), himself a fine organist (like Wesley, he taught at the RAM) and later a director of Novello & Co and editor of their Early Organ Music series. Emery adds a full pedal part and, in many instances, fills out the texture of the original. Wesley’s music set the stage for the great organ works of Elgar, Parry and Stanford, and so this editior—which in texture and virtuosity owes much to that later school of composition—is a fitting tribute to Wesley’s legacy.

The Allegretto Grazioso of Frank Bridge (1879-1941) was published as part of a set of three organ pieces in 1917, but—like much of his organ music—dates from very early in his career (1905 in this case). He studied composition under Stanford and the violin at the RCM; his extraordinary musicianship soon led to him being hugely sought after both as a chamber musician and a conductor. This attractive miniature exploits the expressive qualities of the organs of the period, beginning with a right hand solo peppered with frequent crescendo and diminuendo markings, gently accompanied by left hand and 8’ pedal stops. A short crescendo leads into the second section, marked mezzo-forte and characterized by a richer, more chordal texture. A return to the material of the opening section follows to end the piece. Bridge’s assured compositional technique is evident even in this early work; not a note is superfluous, and it is a great shame that Bridge never composed a large-scale organ work alongside the more substantial pieces he wrote for orchestra and chamber ensemble.

Basil Harwood (1859-1949) gained a degree in classics and modern history at Oxford, before focusing on musical study and gaining the BMus. In 1882 he set off for a period of composition and organ study in Leipzig and in 1883 he was appointed to his first organist post at St Barnabas, Pimlico (where his remains are buried). His career and his compositions revolved almost exclusively around church music, and in 1892 he returned to Oxford as Organist of Christ Church Cathedral, a post he held simultaneously with the Precentorship of Keble College. He was also Choragus of the University, the founding director of the Oxford Bach Choir, conductor of the Oxford Orchestral Association, and the editor of the Oxford Hymn book. A composer of numerous hymns and anthems, as well as about 40 works for organ, the 1886 Sonata in C sharp minor is one of his earliest compositions, showing the influence of his German studies and specifically the works of Rheinberger. The bold, dramatic sonata-form Allegro appassionato gives way to a tuneful and very beautifully crafted Andante movement. The Con moto fugue of the third movement concludes with a final pedal entry under a huge block-chord setting of the Beata nobis gaudia plainsong from an early psalter (ca. 1500) printed in Mainz, another manifestation of Harwood’s time in Germany. There is then a short section marked Moderato ma senza tempo, which harmonizes this same plainsong in four parts, before launching into the final Grandioso which begins with a fortissimo harmonization and ends with a coda using fragments of the plainsong.

‘I have composed out of sheer love of trying to make nice sounds’, said Herbert Howells (1892- 1983) in 1970. A student of Stanford and Wood at the RCM, Howells was also mentored by Parry. Vaughan Williams’ 1910 Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis proved hugely influential (incidentally, the famous 1960s recording of this piece by Barbirolli was recorded in the Temple Church), and an interest in early music is one of the many elements found in Howells’ music. He also was inspired by the English countryside, was a fine improviser at the organ, and a lover of cathedral architecture; indeed, in the soaring arch forms of many of his organ works (including this one), there is something monolithic and austere that summons up visions of buttresses and Romanesque arches. The rhapsody on this CD dates from around 1916, a time when Howells was also working on the Psalm Preludes, and a period when Howells was experimenting with what Paul Spicer in his biography calls a personal style of ‘mood creation’. It is a fine example of the combination of lyricism and mysticism that characterizes Howells’ works.

The Toccata, Chorale, and Fugue of Francis Jackson (b1917) was completed in 1955 and is ‘affectionately dedicated to Dr Healey Willan’, the English-born composer who settled in Canada. Mentored by Bairstow, Jackson succeeded him as Organist of York Minster in 1946 and held the post until 1982, when he retired to devote his time to composing. Francis Jackson is an internationally known and highly regarded recitalist, and the Toccata, Chorale, and Fugue is a virtuoso work that not only shows off the performer’s technical abilities but also allows him or her to explore a vast range of colour and dynamics on the organ at hand. After an introduction marked largo e pesante, the piece launches into a Toccata in B minor, the harmonies and scale patterns of which are often rather modal in nature. The Toccata is finely crafted, with a crystal-clear texture thatnever exceeds five voices until the last six bars of the movement. A brief re-capitulation of the introductory material leads into the Chorale, which uses dotted rhythm and semi-quaver figures very similar to those of the Toccata, this time in a more sumptuous and lyrical way. The Fugue is marked Giocoso, tempo della Toccata, and the dotted quaver pairs are again used, along with rising arpeggio figures very similar to those heard in the introduction. The semi-quaver toccata figuration makes a brief reappearance, as does the opening dotted figure of the introduction, at the end of the work.

Ann Elise Smoot © 2010

The Temple Church and its Organs
The Temple Church is an oasis of calm in the centre of London, positioned between Fleet Street and the Embankment. For over 800 years it has been a place of worship. It is a building of great beauty, built by the London Templars who in the Temple had their Church, two halls, cloister and domestic buildings. Here they remained until their suppression.

The Church has two distinct spaces: the Round Church and Chancel. The Round Church was consecrated in 1185 and modelled on the circular Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The effigies in the Round include the figures of William Marshall, 1st Earl of Pembroke (d. 1219), and two of his sons, William (d.1231) and Gilbert (d.1241). Brother Aymeric de St Maur, Master of the Knights Templar in England, was also buried here. (After long negotiations conducted through William Marshall the elder, King John put his seal to Magna Carta in 1215; William Marshall the younger was one of the surety barons, Brother Aymeric one of the witnesses.)

The original single-bay Chancel was rebuilt in the 1230s to accommodate the bodies of King Henry III and his Queen who had bequeathed their bodies to the Church. (The King and Queen were finally buried at Westminster Abbey.) The resulting ‘Hall Church’—a masterpiece of Early English Gothic—is a marvellous soaring space full of light, in contrast to the Norman and Transitional proportions of the Round.

By the fourteenth century, the Templars in Europe were falling from favour. In October 1307, every Templar in France was arrested on the orders of King Philip the Fair and accused of blasphemy and heresy. The motives were financial—the King needed money to pay off huge debts—and the Templars were rich in land and treasure; they seemed ripe for the picking. The King of England did not credit the charges against the Order; and in England the Templars were arrested slowly and in general examined without torture. After the Templars’ final suppression, the Temple and its church passed to the Knights Hospitaller. London’s lawyers were already using the Temple for the safe storage of charters and deeds.

'In the Great Church two pairs of organs and in the quire a book for the organs and two cushions for the chanters chairs’ and, in the vestry, ‘twenty-eight choir copes and four little copes for the choristers.’

This is the first mention of an organ in the Temple Church in London and it dates from 1308. (The ‘two pairs of organs’ probably refers to two ranks of pipes rather than two instruments.) A subscription was raised in Inner Temple for ‘new organs in the church’ in 1519; and in the seventeenth century we meet at last with a major record of an organ in the church. By this time, Richard Hooker (1554-1600), the influential theologian, had been Master of the Temple and in 1608 James I had granted all of the Templars’ former land between Fleet Street and the river to the societies of the Inner and Middle Temple provided that the Inns ‘serve for the accommodation and education of those studying and following the profession of the laws.’

For five years, 1682-7, the Inns discussed the installation of a new organ. Renatus Harris (c1652-1708) and ‘Father’ Bernhard Smith (c-1630-1708), were both invited to build an organ in one of the Inns’ halls. However, Smith was upset that Harris had also been invited to tender (he believed the contract had already been awarded to him) and his memorandum to the Inns’ Treasurers resulted in his being given permission to erect his instrument in the Church. Harris was not to be outdone and was allowed to install his organ on the opposite side. Both builders completed their organs at great expense and engaged organists to show off their instruments. The Honourable Roger North reports:

the partisans for each candidate, in the fury of their zeal, proceeded to the most mischievous and unwarrantable acts of hostilities; ... in the night preceding the trial of the reed stops, the friends of Harris cut the bellows of Smith’s organs in such a manner that when the time came for playing upon it no wind could be conveyed into the windchest.'

Each builder was loaned £100 to mount a guard against such sabotage. The ‘Battle of the Organs’ would not be resolved until Judge Jeffreys of Inner Temple recommended the instrument of Father Smith. It was installed on a screen in the central arch between the Chancel and Round; the deed of sale bears the date 20 June 1688 and the price was £1,000. This organ was rebuilt over the following decades and its size gradually increased; a few pipes from this organ are on display in the Church’s vestry.

In the 1840s the Church underwent an extensive restoration; the organ was moved to its present position on the north side of the Church, and the Inns introduced a small choir of men and boys under the leadership of Edward John Hopkins (1818-1901), organist of the Temple Church for over 50 years. Hopkins was an influential church musician particularly remembered for the book The Organ, its History and Construction which he co-authored. He was succeeded by Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941 and latterly Master of the King’s Musick) and Sir George Thalben-Ball (1896-1987, known affectionately as ‘GTB’) both of whom added greatly to the musical tradition of the Temple. It was in 1927 that GTB and Master Ernest Lough, a Temple chorister, famously recorded Mendelssohn’s Hear my prayer/O, for the Wings of a Dove in the Church. This recording featured the four-manual Rothwell organ of 1910 which still contained some of Father Smith’s pipework.

The Rothwell organ remained in the church until the night of 10 May 1941. At around 11.00pm, the evening was interrupted by the sound of air-raid sirens. About an hour later, an incendiary bomb landed on the Church roof. As fire-watchers looked on, the fire caught hold and spread down to the organ and to the wooden furnishings. The chancel’s columns split in the intense heat and the roof of the Round collapsed on to the knight’s effigies below; twelve hours later, the fire was still burning. It would be seventeen years before the Church was fully repaired.

After the war, the chances of a new organ built specifically for the Temple Church looked slim and the leading organ builders of the time had such full order books that the wait would be many years. It was by complete chance that GTB met Lord Glentanar in Cambridge and asked him, ‘How is your beautiful organ?’ ‘I don’t know’, was the reply. ‘I am thinking of giving it away’. GTBknew the organ in question and admired it - a four manual organ built in 1926 by the distinguished firm of Harrison and Harrison Ltd—and had played the instrument during its time in the ballroom at Glen Tanar House in the 1930s. In February 1950 Cuthbert Harrison received a letter from GTB informing him that the Glen Tanar instrument would be relocated—under Harrison’s supervision—to the Temple Church. GTB wrote ‘This offer has filled me with delight…’ and a new chamber—33ft wide, 18ft deep and 40ft high—was included in the designs of the rebuilt Church.

The organ arrived from Scotland by rail in July 1953 and installation began. GTB wrote, ‘I should like this organ to be a real answer to all organ critics—a magnificent 'chamber' organ, the full power of which may be used fearlessly without annoying noise but with a 'Tuba' of sufficient power to satisfy and 'cap' the full tone of Swell and Great.’ It was heard for the first time at the re-dedication of the church on 23 March 1954.

The organ case—based on the Father Smith case—was added in 1966. The organ has been carefully maintained by Harrison & Harrison since its installation and the instrument will be dismantled, fully repaired and cleaned in 2011. The Church will be without its majestic organ for 18 months and it is hoped that it will be heard again for the first time on Easter Day 2013.

The Temple Church and its music still play an important role in the life of the Temple’s community and further afield. In addition to regular services, the Church hosts many concerts, debates and exhibitions. Through the generosity of the Inns the Church continues to thrive, and as the Inns continue to be central to the legal and ethical formation of the barristers of England and Wales the Temple Church could rightly claim to be the Mother-Church of the Common Law.

The Organ of the Temple Church, London

Pedal organ
1. Double Open Wood 32
2. Sub Bourdon 32
3. Open Wood 16
4. Open Diapason 16
5. Geigen 16
6. Bourdon 16
7. Violone 16
8. Dulciana 16
9. Octave Wood 8
10. Flute 8
11. Octave Flute 4
12. Double Ophicleide 32
13. Ophicleide 16
14. Orchestral Trumpet 16
15. Bassoon 16
16. Posaune 8
I. Choir to Pedal
II. Great to Pedal
III. Swell to Pedal
IV. Solo to Pedal

Choir organ
17 - 26 enclosed
17. Contra Dulciana 16
18. Claribel Flute 8
19. Lieblich Gedeckt 8
20. Dulciana 8
21. Salicet 4
22. Flauto Traverso 4
23. Harmonic Piccolo 2
24. Dulciana Mixture III
25. Cor Anglais 16
26. Clarinet 8
27. Tuba 8
V. Octave
VI. Sub Octave
VII. Unison Off
VIII. Swell to Choir
IX. Solo to Choir

Great organ
28. Double Geigen 16
29. Bourdon 16
30. Large Open Diapason 8
31. Small Open Diapason 8
32. Geigen 8
33. Hohl Flute 8
34. Stopped Diapason 8
35. Octave 4
36. Wald Flute 4
37. Octave Quint 22/3
38. Super Octave 2
39. Mixture IV
40. Tromba 8
41. Octave Tromba 4
X. Reeds on Choir
XI. Reeds on Solo
XII. Choir to Great
XIII. Swell to Great
XIV. Swell Octave to Great
XV. Solo to Great

Swell organ
42. Quintatön 16
43. Open Diapason 8
44. Stopped Diapason 8
45. Echo Salicional 8
46. Vox Angelica (to FF) 8
47. Principal 4
48. Fifteenth 2
49. Mixture V
50. Oboe 8
XVI. Tremulant
51. Double Trumpet 16
52. Trumpet 8
53. Clarion 4
XVII. Octave
XVIII. Sub Octave
XIX. Unison Off
XX. Solo to Swell

Solo organ
54 - 61 enclosed
54. Contra Viola 16
55. Viole d’Orchestre 8
56. Viole Céleste 8
57. Harmonic Flute 8
58. Concert Flute 4
59. Orchestral Hautboy 8
XXI. Tremulant
60. Double Orchestral Trumpet 16
61. Horn 8
62. Tuba 8
XXII. Octave
XXIII. Sub Octave
XXIV. Unison Off

Eight pistons to each of the Choir, Great, Swell (duplicated by foot pistons) and Solo Organs.
Eight foot pistons to the Pedal Organ.
Eight general pistons, general cancel and two general pistons for couplers.
The pistons are adjustable, with 128 general and eight divisional memories.
Reversible foot pistons: II, IV, XIII.
Reversible pistons: I - IV, VIII, IX, XII, XIII, XV, XX.
Combination couplers:
Pedal to Great pistons, Great to Pedal pistons, Pedal to Swell pistons, Generals on Swell foot pistons.
Sequencer, operating general pistons.
Balanced expression pedals to Choir, Swell and Solo Organs.
The actions are electro-pneumatic.
The manual compass is 61 notes; the pedal is 32 notes.

Ann Elise Smoot © 2010

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