English Organ Music, Vol. 1 (Gareth Green/ Peter H. Hill) (Naxos: 8.550582)
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ENGLISH ORGAN MUSIC
Craig S. Lang (1891 - 1971)
Tuba Tune, Op. 15
Herbert Howells (1892 - 1983)
Psalm Preludes, Set 1, Op. 32
Edward Elgar (1857 - 1934)
Sonata, Op. 28
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872 - 1958)
Hymn Prelude on 'Rhosymedre'
Percy Whitlock (1903 - 1945)
Hymn Preludes on (a) Darwalls 148th (b) Song 13
Norman Cocker (1889- 1953)
C. S. LANG (1891 - 1971) was born in New Zealand but later settled inEngland. Between 1929 and 1945 he was Director of Music at Christ's Hospital,Horsham. The Tuba Tune is his most popular piece, exploring the sounds of thesolo stop in both the treble and tenor registers.
HERBERT HOWELLS (1892 - 1983) wrote his first set of Psalm Preludes between1915 and 1916, the second set at three following in 1938/9; In same ways theseearly works illustrate the influence of his teacher, Charles Stanford, with whomhe had studied, at the Royal College of Music in London, but they also bear thehallmarks of his individuality - a reflective style full of harmonic and tonalcolour, homophonic and contrapuntal contrasts, the use to rhythm to generatemomentum at one moment and to create suspense at another, the subtle use ofmelodic lines which emerge from the texture, and all within a carefully definedstructure, Howells went on to write his "Elegy' in 1917, in memory of afellow student who had died during the First World War and the meditativequalities of these psalm preludes are perhaps a reflection of the troublewar-time experiences which were being felt during the time of their composition.
Like his father before him EDWARD ELGAR (1857 - 1934) was church organist. Hewas most excited by the sounds of the new organ in Worcester Cathedral and itwas to be this instrument which inspired the composition of his Organ Sonata,completed in June 1895. The first performance was given by Hugh Blair, on theoccasion of a visit to Worcester Cathedral by a group of American organists. Thework is orchestral in concept, both in terms of the large scale structure and interms of the internal detail. The contrasting thematic material in each movementis tightly organised and even sometimes links movements - the use of the Andantemain theme in the concluding section of the Presto is the most obvious example.
Within each movement a wide range of musical and tonal variety is explored -solo stops are featured and combined, various chorus sounds are heard, and thereare sweeping crescendos and diminuendos, as well as sudden contrasts in sound.
In short, this is a Symphony for the organ. The work is dedicated to CharlesSwinnerton Heap, a much respected Choral conductor to whom Elgar owed much ofhis early success.
"Rhosymedre", the second of a set of three pieces founded on Welshhymn tunes, is perhaps the most famous organ piece written by RALPH V AUGHANWILLIAMS (1872 - 1958). Like Howells, he studied composition with Stanford at theRoyal College of Music and there are many parallels to be drawn between the workof these two gifted proteges. The influence of folk song on Vaughan Williams wassignificant and, like Howells, he was much interested in the contrapuntal styleof the sixteenth century English school of composers. Even closer parallelsmight be drawn between the work of Vaughan Williams and that of Elgar - bothdictated the mainstream developments in English music of the first half of thetwentieth century.
Another graduate of the Royal College of Music was PERCY WHITLOCK (1903-1946). He went on to be Assistant Organist at Rochester Cathedral where he hadpreviously been a chorister. It is thanks to this background that he producedsuch a skilfully crafted collection of compositions for the church in both theorgan and choral spheres, as these two little known pieces aptly illustrate. In1932 he became the Borough Organist at Bournemouth and established hisreputation as a recitalist of distinction, despite his badly deformed right handthumb. Percy Whitlock's early death came about after a long fight againsttuberculosis.
NORMAN COCKER (1889 - 1953) was born in Yorkshire and went on to become achorister at Magdelene College, Oxford. He progressed to the Organ Scholarshipat Merton College, Oxford but never completed his degree being sent down, on hisown admission, for not doing enough work. He was appointed Assistant Organist atManchester Cathedral in 1920 and later held appointments in various churches andcinemas in the city. Beside his musical attributes Cocker was also an amateurconjurer.
?® Gareth Green, 1992.
Gareth Green began his professional studies at the Royal College of Music ona junior exhibition, achieving the A.L.C.M. and A.R.C.M. Organ Performerdiplomas soon after his fifteenth birthday. A year later he passed A.R.C.O. andat the age of eighteen, was awarded the Dixon and Turpin prizes for F.R.C.O.
Subsequently, he added CHM (Choir training) diploma and the F.L.C.M. incomposition. He held Organ Scholarships at St. Paul's Cathedral London,Worcester College, Oxford University and at Canterbury Cathedral before beingappointed assistant organist at Wakefield Cathedral and music master at QueenElizabeth Grammer School Wakefield, in January 1983. Between 1985 and 1991 heserved as Director of Music at the school, a post he has now relinquished infavour of his free lance interests as a recitalist, examiner, adjudicator,accompanist, composer and private teacher. He has given over 200 recitals in theU.K. and elsewhere in Europe, including a number of radio broadcasts.