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Track(s) taken from CDA67356

The Ancient Vesper Hymn 'Theme, variations and fugue'


Graham Barber (organ)
Recording details: April 2002
Tewkesbury Abbey, Worcestershire, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: March 2003
Total duration: 11 minutes 34 seconds


'a worthy celebration of the British organ tradition … rich, clear recordings' (Gramophone)
A publishing venture began on 1st January 1869 with the first issue of William Spark’s Organist’s Quarterly Journal. Announcing the series, Spark (born in Exeter, 28 October 1823; died Leeds, 16 June 1897) proclaimed: ‘The Organist’s Quarterly Journal will consist of loud and soft voluntaries, Preludes, Postludes, Fantasias, Offertories, Symphonies, Fugues and other Organ Pieces of different degrees of difficulty and length, and in various styles ancient and modern…’ His enterprise was rewarded by a steady flow of new compositions by English and continental composers, including works by Silas and Macfarren.

Spark also used the OQJ volumes to publish his own works, including the Ancient Vesper Hymn (Theme, Variations and Fugue). The tune can be found in The Bristol Tune Book (No 215). In 1861 Spark became the first Borough Organist at Leeds Town Hall where a large instrument of 93 stops on five manuals and pedals had been installed in 1859 by Gray and Davison. It was one of the most innovative concert organs of its time, offering opportunities for a great variety of colour, as well as mechanisms for swift execution of passagework and rapid changes of registration. Spark exploits such resources to the full in this set of seven variations, of which the last is a fugal finale.

from notes by Graham Barber © 2003

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