Great Australasian Organs VII
Total Playing Time (75:49) A Priory Records Digital Recording. Recorded in Christchurch Town Hall 29-31 January 2010. Front Cover: Christchurch Town Hall Organ
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“Great Australasian Organs VII” Recorded in 2010 on the Christchurch Town Hall Rieger, this CD features many French pieces befitting the instrument's French 'accent'. It was the last recording made on the organ before the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 closed the auditorium and silenced the organ for an unknown length of time.
Extracts from Martin's notes for the CD:
David German (b. 1954) Festive Trumpet Tune
It seems appropriate to begin this CD, dedicated to my wife, with a piece dedicated by the composer to his wife. David German hails from North Carolina, USA, and wrote this stirring processional for his 'loving wife, Kathleen' on the occasion of their wedding.
Some Trumpet Tunes have extra-special appeal; this is certainly one. [. . . ]
G. F. Handel (1685-1759) Overture to the Occasional Oratorio (arr. Coleman/Setchell)
The Occasional Oratorio was premièred on 14 February 1746, the occasion being a celebration by the English that a threatened invasion by the Scots had been repulsed. To meet the deadline, Handel compiled the work in some haste in January and February that year, with a fair amount of musical recycling, in particular from Israel in Egypt and even a bit of Zadok the Priest. The overture was scored for strings, oboes, trumpets and timpani. [. . . ]
Lazare-Auguste Maquaire (1872-1906) Première Symphonie in E flat major Op. 20
Maquaire was a pupil of Widor at the Paris Conservatoire, and later became his assistant at Saint-Sulpice. Written in 1905, it is the most important work he completed in his tragically short life of 34 years, and is dedicated affectionately 'à mon cher maître CH. M. WIDOR'
Not surprisingly it owes much to his famous master, especially in its clear formal structure, clarity of texture and strong contrapuntal sense. The 4-note scalic motif present in the themes of all four movements gives the symphony a strong sense of unity. [. . . ]
This work is deservedly gaining in popularity. The only pity is that Maquaire's first symphony was also his last.
Karl Jenkins (b. 1944) Celebratio
The Welsh composer Karl Jenkins has emerged as a major figure on the English music scheme, especially through his choral works like the Requiem and The Armed Man; a Mass for Peace which have appealed to a wide audience. He has a special connection with New Zealand, having won a Golden Goblet for his score in the soundtrack for the feature film River Queen.
This short celebratory piece is really a dance for organ solo. Above the ostinato3 + 3 + 2 rumba rhythm in the pedals, two melodic themes are used in cross-rhythm.
Jehan Alain (1911-1940) Litanies
The circumstances of Jehan Alain's tragic death, killed in action in the early years of World War II, are well known. Here is another composer whose short life doubtless robbed organists of much fine music. His most famous piece, Opus 119, dates from 1937, by which time he had already written some extremely original music for the organ.
*"It is a fact without doubt that Jehan Alain's Litanies was written following his young sister's death in a mountain accident. In this piece Christian's mysticism is expressed with all the fervour of his faith. Another precise detail about this piece is that Jehan Alain wrote it in the train; the familiar, obsessive rhythm of pre-war trains strongly influenced the musician's imagination. [ . . .]
Jean Françaix (1912-1997) Suite Carmélite
A pupil of Nadia Boulanger at the Paris Conservatoire, Françaix was better known as a virtuoso pianist and composer of film music than an organist. However he was obviously proud enough of this work to dedicate it to Pierre Cochereau, at that time titulaire des grandes orgues de Notre Dame de Paris, (and one of my own early teachers).
The suite consists of a series of short movements, each a cameo, depicting one of the sisters in the Carmelite order. [. . .]
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) O salutaris hostia from the Mass in G minor Op. 4
When the 18 year-old Saint-Saëns was appointed organist of Saint-Merry in 1853, the Cliquot organ was virtually unplayable. The Mass was written to mark the re-opening of the instrument, rebuilt by Cavaillé-Coll, in 1857. This devotional aria, traditionally sung at the elevation, between Sanctus and Benedictus, was obviously one of the composer's favourites since he arranged and played it himself as an organ solo. [. . .]
Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély (1817-1870) Boléro de Concert Op. 166
This popular work is one of a number of pieces by French composers on the disc, chosen to highlight the essentially French character of the Swell division. This particular Bolero has an irresistible 'cha-cha-cha' rhythm highlighted by the Rieger's fine tracker action. [. . .]
Stefano Bertuletti (b. 1962) Fuga sopra un Soggetto
Stefano Bertuletti is organist at the Sacred Heart Church in Bonate Sotto (Bergamo) and teaches organ at the St Cecilia Diocesan School of Music in Bergamo. An English friend's love of the music of the Beatles inspired him to create this delightful parody: a Bachian-style organ fugue on the opening phrase of their famous song Michelle, my belle. [. . . ]
Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897) arr. Gaston Choisnel Ronde française Op. 37
Boëllmann was a pupil of Eugene Gigout (whose niece he married) and became organist at the Parisian church of St Vincent de Paul. Like Maquaire, his life was cut tragically short in his mid-thirties.
He is best known for his popular Suite Gothique for organ, but his output is much wider, including motets, songs, choral and orchestral works, and numerous piano pieces, of which this Ronde française happily transcribes for organ. [. . . ]
Jules Grison (1842-1896) Toccata in F
At the tender age of 21, Grison was appointed titular organist of Rheims Cathedral in succession to his teacher E. Robert, and he served there faithfully for virtually the rest of his life. He was a frequent visitor to England where he and his music became very popular; in fact this famous Toccata, dating from 1890, is dedicated to the Manchester organist Dr Dixon Mann. [. . . ]