Grosvenor Chapel: Weckmann (b1616)

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Mayfair Organ Concerts
The Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, Mayfair , London W1K 2PA
1 November 2016, 1:10-1:50

Matthias Weckmann  (1616-1674)

In the last of his three recitals of the organ music of Matthias Weckmann (in his anniversary year), Andrew Benson-Wilson plays the William Drake organ in the Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, Mayfair in a programme of a Praeludium, Toccata, Canzon, Fantasia and two contrasting chorale-based works.

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The 1735 Spitalfields Richard Bridge organ

The 1735 Spitalfields Richard Bridge organ
Margaret Phillips
Christ Church, Spitalfields, 29 September 2016

One of the most important musical events in London in 2015 was the long-awaited opening of the 1735 Richard Bridge organ (restored by William Drake) in the Hawksmoor designed Christ Church, Spitalfields. For many decades it was the largest organ in the UK, and its musical importance is immeasurable. My review of the gala opening recital, given by (the now sadly, late) John Scott, and information about the restoration and an organ specification can be found here.

In the first of a short series of recitals, Margaret Phillips played what she admitted at the start was a “perverse” programme, including only one English piece in a concert titled ‘The Eighteenth Century English Organ’. She explained that her emphasis was on the many different colours of the Spitalfields organ. Although there is an enormous repertoire Continue reading

Weckmann – ‘Es ist das Heil’

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Mayfair Organ Concerts
St George Hanover Square, St George Street, London W1S 
11 October 2016, 1:10-1.50

Matthias Weckmann  (1616-1674)
‘Es ist das Heil kommen her’

Andrew Benson-Wilson plays the monumental set of 7 verses on the Lutheran chorale ‘Es ist das Heil kommen her’ written by Matthias Weckmann (1616-1674). Lasting about 35 minutes, it is the longest such organ work from the whole of the 17th century. It includes, as the sixth verse, the most extensive and most complex Chorale Fantasia of that era.

It is played on the 2012 Richards, Fowkes & Co organ in St George’s Hanover Square, based on North German 17th/18th century organs.
Admission free – retiring collection.
Programme notes below

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St Giles-in-the-Fields: Samuel Wesley (b1766)

St Giles-in-the-Fields 60 St Giles High Street. London, WC2H 8LG
Friday 29 July 2016: 1pm.
Andrew Benson-Wilson plays organ music by
Samuel Wesley (1766- 1837)

Samuel Wesley was born in Bristol 250 years ago. He was the son of Charles Wesley the hymn-writer and nephew of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church. He was a 2014-07-04-1716.jpgchild prodigy, writing his first oratorio, Ruth, aged 6. When he was 8, the composer Dr William Boyce referred to him as the ‘English Mozart’. His family moved to London when he was about 12, living in Marylebone. He led a colourful life, some of his apparent eccentricities possibly being caused by a serious head injury when he was about 21. An organ virtuoso, Samuel Wesley was the leading pioneer of the Bach revival in England. Bach seems to have been a strong influence on his Opus 6 Organ Voluntaries, published between about 1807 and 1820, and the focus of this recital.

The wonderful William Drake reconstruction of the Dallam/Smith/England/Lincon/Gray & Davison organ, contains some of the oldest pipework in London. It is very well-suited to Wesley’s music as, in its current form, it represents the English organ in the early years of the 19th century, with strong reminders of the earlier 17th and 18th English organ style.

Organ information: http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/NPORView.html?RI=P00119
Free admission, retiring collection.
The church is just behind Centre Point/Tottenham Road Court station.

 

 

 

Dulwich: College of God’s Gift 400th Anniversary Recital

The Chapel of Christ of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift
Gallery Road, Dulwich, SE21 7AD

Sunday 10 July 2016, 7.45

The College of God’s Gift 400th Anniversary Recital

Circa 1616

Andrew Benson-Wilson will give a special organ recital to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the dedication of the the Chapel of Christs of Alleyn’s College of God’s Gift in Dulwich. Andrew will play music from the years around 1616 on the famous 1760 George England organ.

Benjamin Cosyn – ‘Voluntary’ (c1620)
Orlando Gibbons – Fantazia in Foure Parts (c1611)
John Lugge – Voluntarie.3.pts. Continue reading

Weckmann recital: programme notes

The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford.  27 April 2016
WP_20151124_12_09_44_Pro.jpgMatthias Weckmann
1616–1674

Andrew Benson-Wilson

Praeambulum Primi toni a 5
Ach wir armen Sünder (3v)
Canzon V
Magnificat Secundi Toni (4v)
Toccata ex D
Gelobet seystu, Jesu Christ (4v)

Matthias Weckmann is one of the most influential 17th century organist composers of the North German – a compositional school that started with Hieronymus Praetorius and the pupils of Sweelinck and culminated in Buxtehude and, by influence, Bach. Weckmann’s contribution was to bring elements of the Italian style to North Germany. Unlike most of his contemporaries who were born in or near Hamburg and studied in Amsterdam, Weckmann was born in Thuringia. He studied in the Dresden Court under Heinrich Schütz, a pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli, and in Hamburg with Jacob Praetorius, a Sweelinck pupil. After periods in Denmark and Dresden (where he befriended Froberger, also born in 1616), Weckmann settled in Hamburg in 1655, becoming organist of the Jacobikirche and setting up the Collegium Musicum. He is buried beneath the Jacobikirche organ.

The Praeambulum Primi toni a 5 is a fine example of the mid-17th century North German style of free composition that led Continue reading

Matthias Weckmann (1616-1674)

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Andrew Benson-Wilson plays music by
Matthias Weckmann (1616-1674)
on the famous Frobenius organ in the Chapel of The Queen’s College, Oxford. 

27 April 2016, 13:10.

A recital of organ music by the Hamburg master organist/composer, Matthias Weckmann, born 400 years ago this year. A pupil of Schütz who, in turn, was a pupil of Giovanni Gabrieli, Weckmann studied and worked in Dresden and Denmark. A friend of the influential Froberger, Weckmann settled in Hamburg in 1655 as organist of the Jakobikirche. He died in 1674 and is buried beneath the Jakobikirche organ.

Praeambulum Primi toni a 5
Ach wir armen Sünder (3v)
Canzon V
Magnificat Secundi Toni (4v)
Toccata ex D
Gelobet seystu, Jesu Christ (4v)

Programme note here.

Admission free – retiring collection.  Organ information here.
See also www.organrecitals.com/abw.

Overture Transcriptions for organ

Overture Transcriptions II
The Organ of Rochdale Town Hall
Timothy Byram-Wigfield
Delphian DCD34143. 67’27

Overtures by: Nicolai, Spohr, Bach, Handel, Verdi, Weber, Tchaikovsky;
Transcribed by: Lemare, Best, Grace, Lang, Peace, Byram-Wigfield.

The story of the British Town Hall organ is a bit of a sideline of European organ history, but it is one worth exploring. The use of organs to promote civic pride and usurp their neighbours was not new in organ history – in 17th century Netherlands, for example, the main church organs were owned by the town, not the church, and a similar competitiveness is evident. The initial inspiration in Britain seems to have come from the increasingly large choral societies, their own roots going back to the enormous late 18th century Handel Commemoration Concerts. Such large vocal forces rehearsed and performed in the sumptuous Victorian Town Halls, notably in the emerging industrial powerhouses of the Midlands and North, but also in more southerly places like Reading. Some of the largest British organs are housed in such places, and Continue reading

German Renaissance Organ Music c1460-1577. Programme notes

The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford.  25 November 2015
German Renaissance Organ Music  c1460-1577

Andrew Benson-Wilson

Conrad Paumann (c1410-1473) Gloria de Sancta Maria Vergine
Paul Hofhaimer (1459-1537)      Salve Regina  5v.
Hans Buchner (1483-1538)         Gloria patri in la quarto toni
Hans Kotter (c1485-1541)           Kochersperger Spanieler
Arnolt Schlick (c1460-c1521)    Da pacem
Bernhard Schmid I (1535-92)    Ein gutter Wein ist lobenswerdt    –    Sicut mater consolatur

Queen's photo.jpgThe start of the Renaissance is difficult to define. In organ music, around 1450 seems a reasonable date, with music from the likes of the Buxheimer Orgelbüch and the Faenza Codex combining elements of Medieval and Renaissance styles. By this stage, the organ had a fully chromatic keyboard, sometimes more than one manual, and independent stops were beginning to be separated out from the Medieval ‘Blockwerk’ – the equivalent of single mixture where one note plays a chorus of ten or more notes.

The first piece demonstrates this transitional phase. Continue reading

The Organ Tablature from Klagenfurt

The Organ Tablature from Klagenfurt
Manfred Novak, organ
1558 Ebert organ, Innsbruck Hofkirche
MDG 606 1701-2. 54’03+49’42

Anonymous: Exercitatio bona, Petre amas me; Josquin Desprez: In principio erat verbum, Agnus Dei, Mille regretz, Miserere mei, Pater noster, Stabat mater dolorosa; Jean Mouton: Tua est potentia a 5; Pierre de la Rue?: Patrem omnipotentem; Ludwig Senfl; De profundis a 5, Nisi Dominus, Preambulum a 6; Claudin de Sermisy: Le content; Philippe Verdelot; Infirmitatem a 5.

There cannot be a more appropriate merging of organ and music than is found on this CD. Although there is no specific evidence, the Klagenfurter Orgeltabulatur seems to have been written around 1560 and was possibly written for a Carinthian monastery in central Austria. It is now in the state archives of the state of Carinthia (as Klagl. 4/3). It is the earliest known collection of keyboard music in Austria, and one of the first to use the ‘New German Organ Tablature’ letter notation. At the same time as it was being prepared, Jörg Ebert was making a bit of a meal of building the organ commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I for the Court Church in Innsbruck in the Austrian Tyrol. He had been appointed in 1555, but progress was slow and, as a result, he nearly lost the contract. But by 1558 the organ was substantially complete, and was inspected and approved in 1561. A seminal restoration in the 1970s (by Ahrend) produced an excellent, and rare, example of a Renaissance organ, with only three stops having to be reconstructed from new. I gave a recital on it last year, and it is an absolute joy to play. Continue reading

J S Bach: Organ Works Vol III

J S Bach: Organ Works Vol III
Robert Quinney
Coro COR16132. 61’31

J.S. Bach: Organ Works Vol. IIIThis timely (but subtle) release for the season includes three choral preludes on the Advent choral Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, the Italianate Pastorella and the Canonic Variations on the Christmas choral, Vom Himmel hoch, together with the Prelude and Fugue in C (BWV 547) which some commentators have associated with Christmas performance. These works are enclosed within the well-known Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (BWV 542) and the final exhilarating Prelude and Fugue in G (BWV 541).

Robert Quinney plays the 1976 Metzler organ in Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge, built in the case of the 1694/1708 ‘Father’ Bernard Smith organ, and retaining several Smith pipes in the Hauptwerk chorus. Although not up to the ‘authenticity’ Continue reading

The Queen’s College, Oxford. German Renaissance Organ Music c1460-1577

2014-03-12-850The Queen’s College Chapel, Oxford

25 November 2015, 1:10

German Renaissance Organ Music

Andrew Benson-Wilson

A rare chance to hear some of this fascinating and little-known repertoire, played on the Frobenius organ during its anniversary year.

Conrad Paumann (c1410-1473)       Gloria de Sancta Maria Vergine  8v.
Paul Hofhaimer (1459-1537)            Salve Regina  5v.
Hans Buchner (1483-1538)               Gloria patri in la quarto toni
Hans Kotter (c1485-1541)                 Kochersperger Spanieler
Arnolt Schlick (c1460-c1521)            Da pacem   3v.
Bernhard Schmid I (1535-92)           Ein gutter Wein ist lobenswerd
                                                             Sicut mater consolatur
Admission free – retiring collection.  Organ information here.

Renaissance Organ Music: 1448-1623. Programme notes.

St George’s, Hanover Sq, 20 October 2015
Renaissance Organ Music: 1448-1623
Andrew Benson-Wilson

SGHSThe start of the Renaissance is difficult to define. In organ music, around 1450 seems a reasonable date, with music from the likes of the Buxheimer Orgelbüch and the Faenza Codex combining elements of Medieval and Renaissance styles.

The first two pieces (by Adam Ileborgh von Stendal) demonstrate this transitional phase.  Ileborgh compiled his Tabulature in 1448 – its full title is Incipiunt praeludia diversarium notarum secundum modernum modum subitliter et diligentor collecta cum mensuris diversis hic infra annexis per fratrem Adam Ileborgh Anno Domini 1448 tempore sui rectoriatus in stendall. It include five tiny pieces called Praeambulum (the earliest known example of that title) and three variations on the popular song Frowe al myn hoffen an dyr lyed. The Praeambulum super d a f et g is the longest of Continue reading

1690 organ, Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, Longueville

1690 organ, Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, Longueville
Flemish and Walloon Organ Treasure, Vol 4
Joris Verdin, organ, Capilla Flamenca
Vision-Air 2006/01. 70’10

Organ pieces by Peeter Cornet and motets by Peter Philips, Orlandus Lassus and Herman Hollanders

It is pretty certain that the organ in the church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption in Longueville (southwest of Brussels) was built around 1690, but it is not clear who the organ builder was, although Blasius Bremser is a possibility. It was originally built for the Saint-Martinsdale Priory in Leuven but was moved south to Longueville when the priory was dissolved in 1785, placing it in the Walloon rather than the Flemish province. It has one manual with 12 stops, two of which are divided (in the Spanish fashion) to allow for bass and treble solos. The construction and style are Flemish. Continue reading

Krebs: Clavier-Übung III

Krebs: Clavier-Übung III
Jan von Busch, organ
MDG Audiomax 706 1888-2. 78’34

Six Sonatinas Krebs-WV 801-806, Six Sonatas Krebs-WV 832-837  

This CD produces an interesting meeting of minds between the composer Johann Ludwig Krebs and the organ builder Johann Georg Stein, both born a few miles from each other (near Weimar) and at about the same time (1712/13). Both absorbed local influences in their craft, before stylistically moving into a new style. Krebs, of course, was the favourite pupil of JS Bach, leading to Bach’s comment about him being the “best crayfish (Krebs) in the brook (Bach)”. It is to Krebs that we owe the preservation of much of Bach’s organ music. His own organ compositions are often based on recognisable Bach pieces, often extended to quite extraordinary lengths and developed into the early Classical style. So it something of a relief to hear him composing in miniature form. Continue reading

Magnificat: Weihnachtliche Orgelmusik

Magnificat: Weihnachtliche Orgelmusik
Markus Eberhardt (organ),
Schola Gregoriana des Consortium musicum Passau
Cornetto-Verlag COR10043. 67’38

Music by Fischer, Muffat, Zipoli, Kobrich, Eberlin, Schmid, Murschhauser, Kindermann and 16th century Tabulatures.

This CD combines three threads. Firstly, examples of alternatim settings of the Magnificat – where the Magnificatplainchant choir and organ sing and play alternate verses, a tradition dating from the late Medieval period through to the late Baroque). Then late 16th century intabulations of choral settings and variations and, thirdly, examples of the organ pastorella, a popular Christmas musical theme in southern Europe, representing the shepherds away the birth of Jesus, and often including well-known Christmas melodies such as the Resonet in laudibus.

The organ is the 1737 Baumeister organ in the former collegiate church of Maihingen, near Nördlingen, Germany. It seems to have d the former monastery was secularised in 1803 and became the chapel of a princely establishment. When it was restored in 1990, it was found to have retained its meantone temperament. For the technically minded, it has two manuals and pedals (11/7/4) with a short and broken octave. It is typical of southern German organs of the 18th century, with no reeds but a wide range of 8′ foundations stops (eight of the 18 manuals stops are at 8′ pitch), which can (and, indeed, should) be combined to form different tone colours. The registrations used are given in the liner notes, and include such distinctive sounds as the Quintaton, Selecinal and Cythara stops. There is only a brief summary of the German text translated  into English. Continue reading

Rameau & Handel

Rameau & Handel
Ensemble Zäis (dir. Benoît Babel) & Paul Goussot (organ)
Parity PARATY714127. 68’20

Handel: Organ Concertos Op7/4, Op4/4, Op4/1;
Rameau:
transcription for organ and orchestra from Pièces de clavecin en concerts and Hippolyte et Aricie.

Rameau & Handel: Dom BedosHandel and Rameau are both frustrating composers for organists. Both were very keen organists throughout their life, but Rameau left no organ music, and Handel very little. I have given many organ recitals solely devoted to Handel’s music, but only by drawing on music almost certainly intended for harpsichord. It works well, but I would love to have heard Handel (and Rameau) improvising on the organ. This CD is something of a nod towards that very happening. The unspoken premise of this recording seems to be that Handel and Rameau (born two years apart) meet near the west coast of France (which Handel certainly never ventured even close to) in a church housing one of the largest and most comprehensive French baroque organs ever built – the 1750 Dom Bedos organ of Saint-Croix in Bordeaux. There happens to be an orchestra present. They set about a run-through of some of their pieces, Handel expanding on his Organ Concertos and Rameau transcribing some of his orchestral and harpsichord ensemble works for organ and orchestra. Both improvise at will.  Continue reading

John Scott: Gala opening recital

John Scott: Gala opening recital
on William Drake’s reconstruction of the 1735 Richard Bridge Organ
in Christ Church, Spitalfields. 30 June 2015

ABW SpitalfieldsIn one of the highlights in the English organ world for many a year, William Drake’s reconstruction of the extraordinary 1735 Richard Bridge organ in Christ Church, Spitalfields was opened last night with a Gala Concert given by John Scott. John is one of the Patrons of the Friends of Christ Church Spitalfields, who for nearly 40 years have been fundraising for the restoration of this spectacular church as well as the Bridge organ.

Christ Church, Spitalfields was built between 1714 and 1729 as part of the ’Fifty New Churches’ Act of Parliament of 1711. It is one of the six London East London churches designed by the distinctive Baroque architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. The organ was built by Richard Bridge, one of the leading Continue reading

Organ Music before Bach

Organ Music before Bach
Kei Koito.
1736 Johann Jakob Hör organ, Pfarrkirche St. Katharina,Wolfegg, Germany
Deutsche Harmonia Mundi – Sony Music 8843040912. 78’37

Pachelbel Toccata in D Minor, Ciacona in D Minor, Fantasia in D Major (ex E-Flat Major), Vom Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her, Toccata in G Minor, Ciacona in G Minor (ex F Minor), Fantasia in C Major, Toccata in C Major, Prelude in E Minor, Fugue in E Minor; Muffat Toccata prima, Ciacona in G Major, Toccata decimal; Fischer Ricercar pro Festis Pentecostalibus, Chaconne in F Major, Rigaudon & Rigaudon double, Passacaglia in D Minor; Kerll Passcaglia in D Minor;  Froberger Ricercar in D Minor, FbWV 411, Canzon in G Major, FbWV 305, Meditation faist sur ma Mort future laquelle se joue lentement avec discretion, FbWV 611a

Despite the all-encompassing title of this CD, the focus is on German organ music before Bach and, more specifically, South German and Austrian music. The opening piece is by Pachelbel, an organist composer raised in the strict Lutheran tradition.  But the Italian influence is immediately apparent. Like so many other Continue reading

The Virtuoso Organist: Tudor and Jacobean Masterworks

The Virtuoso Organist: Tudor and Jacobean Masterworks
Stephen Farr, organ, Choir of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge Resonus RES10143. 68’35
William Byrd, John Bull, Thomas Tallis, Thomas Tomkins, John Blitheman & Orlando Gibbons. 2013 Taylor & Boody Opus 66 organ, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

The programme on this CD is designed to demonstrate the new 7-stop chamber organ in the Chapel of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.  It is designed in a 16th to early 17th century Dutch/North German style, one arguably similar to that of the English organ of the same period, about which we know very little as far as the sound is concerned.

The programme covers the English organ repertoire from about 1540 to 1637.  Tallis’s Ecce tempus idoneum and the anonymous Bina caelestis and Magnificat include chanted verses sung by the men of Sidney Sussex College Choir in the ‘alternatim’ tradition of the period.   The musical highlight is Farr’s magnificent performance of Thomas Tomkins’s monumental Offertory, at over 17 minutes long, one of the most complex examples of a uniquely English genre. It was very likely influenced by the two large-scale Tallis examples in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Stephen Farr’s control of the pulse and build up of tension in this remarkable piece is exemplary – he demonstrates similar skill in Orlando Gibbons Fantasia (the Fancy in Gam ut flat) and the concluding Byrd A Fancie, from ‘My Ladye Nevells Booke’ (1591).

Tallis himself is represented by two verses on Ecce tempus idoneaum, featuring the prominent ‘false relations’ so typical of Tallis. The earliest pieces are from the enormous British Library Add. 26669 collection, dating from around 1540/50 and later owned and annotated by Tomkins – the hymn setting of Bina caelestis and a Magnificat by an anonymous composer that could well be Thomas Preston. The secular repertoire is represented by John Bull’s Galliard ‘to the Pavin in D sol re’ and Coranto Joyeuse, the latter using the delightfully pungent Vox Virginia reed stop.

Although he allows himself an occasional flourish (notably in the anonymous Bina caelestis) Farr’s playing is methodical in a way that is entirely appropriate for recordings.  His interpretations will repay repeated listening, with no risk of annoying mannerisms.  In live performance one might expect a little more flexibility in interpretation, but such individualisms can be tricky when set in recorded stone. His articulation and touch are attractively subtle.  We can hear the occasional slight pairing of notes (for example, in track 4, John Bull’s In nomine II) but he otherwise wears his period performance credentials lightly.

The organ sounds very effective in this repertoire, and speaks into a helpful acoustic.  It is tuned in a very appropriate (but not quite meantone) temperament devised for the restoration of the famous late 17th century Schnitger organ in Norden, Germany. A reasonable solution, not least as there are several parts of the English organ repertoire of this period that can sound weird in meantone temperament, even if that could well have been the tuning of the period.  The CD notes include comprehensive essays on the music (by Magnus Williamson) and the organ (by the organ builder, George Taylor).

http://www.resonusclassics.com/organ/the-virtuoso-organist-stephen-farr

The Virtuoso Organist: Tudor and Jacobean Masterworks

[https://andrewbensonwilson.org/2015/04/03/the-virtuoso-organist-tudor-and-jacobean-masterworks/]

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Sammartini: Concertos for the Organ

Giuseppe Sammartini Concertos for the Organ, op 9.
Fabio Bonizzoni, La Rizonanza 63′ 17″
Glossa GCDC81505

This is a re-release of a 2000 recording. Giuseppe was the elder brother of the better known Giovanni Battista Sammartini.  Born in 1695, he left Milan for London in 1728, where he stayed until his death in 1750, making quite a name for himself.  These concertos, published after his death for “Harpsichord or Organ”, are domestic in scale, with just two violins, cello and bass alongside the organ. It is not clear when they were composed, but they have more of a Rococo than Baroque feel to them, rather enhanced by the playing style on this CD. The spiky solo registrations are not in keeping with the English organ of the period, and nor is the over-articulated performance style.  Bonizzoni keeps to the two-part structure of most of the organ solos (without infilling the harmonies, a debatable point for this repertoire), but it is a shame that he doesn’t make more of the organ when in its continuo role – it is more-or-less inaudible.  The notes give no information on the organ, but I have a feeling it is later than this repertoire.  It is certainly not in any English or Italian early to mid 18th century style. Two lively little Sonatas by Giovanni Battista Sammartini complete the disc. 

Sammartini Concertos For The Organ La Risonanza Fabio Bonizzoni Glossa

[https://andrewbensonwilson.org/2015/03/31/sammartini-concertos-for-the-organ/]