Andrew Benson-Wilson @ Christ Church Spitalfields

1360 to 1699
Organ music from the Gothic period to the late 17th century
Andrew Benson-Wilson
Christ Church Spitalfields

Commercial St, London E1 6LY
Monday 24 October 2022, 7.30

The magnificent 1735 Richard Bridge organ in the sumptuously restored Nichola Hawksmoor Christ Church Spitalfields is the most important historical restoration of any 18th-century English organ. For around a century, it was the largest organ in the UK. After many decades of silence, William Drake completed his restoration in 2015, taking the specification and technical details back to that of 1735, with the addition of three pedal stops.

Although obviously ideally suited to English music of the period, this recital will explore the wider potential of the English 18th-century organ to interpret music from other eras and countries. It starts with one of the earliest known pieces of organ music (dedicated, appropriately, to “those playing music”), dating from the mid-14th century, and the first known ‘prelude’ from 1448. The famous pioneers of early organ music follow (Francesco Landini, Conrad Paumann and Paul Hofhaimer), before a fascinating anonymous piece from a manuscript in the circle of Henry VIII, dating from around 1530.

Having explored the early development of organ music, the remaining pieces show the different regional styles that developed across Europe from the late Renaissance and early Baroque, ranging from Germany, England, Italy, Portugal, Spain and France. Composers represented are Hieronymus Praetorius, John Lugge, Girolamo Frescobaldi, Pedro de Araújo, Correa de Arauxo, Matthias Weckmann and Nicolas de Grigny. As well as representing different musical and organ-building styles (including one of the dramatic battle scenes from the Iberian peninsular), there are remarkable links between many of the composers and compositions.


Robertsbridge Codex c1360 Firmissime / Adesto / Alleluya
(after Philippe de Vitry, 1291-1361)

Faenza Codex <1420 Non ara may pieta questa mia dona.
(after Francesco Landini, c1325-1397)

Adam Ileborgh von Stendal Praeambulum super d a f et g
Mensura trium notarum supra tenorem Frowe al myn hoffen an dyr lyed
(Ileborgh Tablature, 1448)

Conrad Paumann (c1410-1473) Gloria de Santa Maria Virgine 3/8v.
(Buxheimer Orgelbuch c1460)

Paul Hofhaimer (1459-1537) Salve Regina 3/5v.

Anon c1530 Offertory: Felix Namque
(Brit.Mus. Roy. App. 56)

Hieronymus Praetorius (1569-1629) Magnificat Tertii Toni 2/3v.

John Lugge (1580-1647+) Voluntary.3. pts.

Frescobaldi (1583-1643) Toccata Quinta sopra I pedali per l’organo
(Il Secondo Libro di Toccate 1627)

Anon (Pedro de Araújo? c1610- c1684) Batalha de 6 Tom

Correa de Arauxo (1584-1654) Tiento de medio registro de dos tiples
(Facultad organica 1626)

Matthias Weckmann (1616-1674) Nun freut euch. 3v

Nicolas de Grigny (1672-1703) A solis ortus. 3/4v.
(Premiere Livre d’Orgue, 1699)
A solis ortus – Fugue a5 – Point d’orgue sur les Grands Jeu

A link to the detailed programme notes can be found here.

Christ Church is a 5-minute walk from Liverpool Street station.
Entry will be through the crypt door to the right of the steps up to the main entrance.
The crypt bar will be open before and after the recital.
Tickets (£10) can be pre-purchased online via this link, or from the crypt bar on the day.