English Organ Music, Vol. 2

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Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Sonata No.2 in B Flat Major, Op. 87a

(from Severn Suite, arr. Ivor Atkins)

Hubert Parry (1848-1918)

Choral Fantasia on an old English tune

Edward Elgar(1857-1934)

Cantique, Op. 3

Herbert Howells (1892-1983)

Siciliano for a High Ceremony

Percy Whitlock (1903-1945)

Plymouth Suite

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

3 Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes

Herbert Sumsion (b. 1899)

Intermezzo / Ceremonial March

The music on this recording is taken from the vast corpus of organ musicwritten by West Country composers during the twentieth century. Elgar was neverin the forefront of organ composers, even though he had himself been organist atSt. George's Catholic Church in Worcester. His one major contribution to therepertoire had been the symphonic-style Sonata in G, which had been written forperformance in Worcester Cathedral in 1895. Cantique was dedicated to HughBlair, organist of the Cathedral, who had given the first performance of theSonata. It is an unpretentious piece, which had first appeared as a movement inan early Suite for Wind Band. Elgar arranged it for the organ in 1912. Elgar'sso-called Second Sonata is actually a transcription by his friend -and successorof Blair-Ivor Atkins. The movements represent Worcester Castle (a nobleintroduction): a Street Fair and Tournament (here given the sale ecclesiasticaltitle of Toccata); Worcester Cathedral - a reflective fugal movement, which didhave its origins as an organ piece; a cadenza, written by Atkins with Elgar'sapproval, leading to are turn of the grand opening theme. The Sonata was firstheard in London in 1933.

By contrast Parry was a fairly prolific writer for the organ. Some of hisworks for the instrument are among the most significant of the time, bearingfavourable comparison with their European counterparts. The Three ChoralFantasies, dating from 1915, have been described as Parry's 'most perfect workfor the instrument'. The middle of the three is a beautiful elaboration of thedignified little masterpiece from the 18th century - the hymn tune Eltham,associated with the words 'When I survey the wondrous Cross'.

Herbert Howells had received his early training from the organist ofGloucester Cathedral and, although he never claimed to be a proficient executant,it is not surprising that, with his particular gifts of flexible, expressivewriting, he should frequently turn to the organ in his compositions. Sicilianofor a High Ceremony, written for a wedding in 1953, is typical of hisdistinctive style and feelings for dance forms of an earlier period.

Percy Whitlock comes from a rather different background, his work tending tobe associated more with the 'concert organ'. He was a very distinguishedrecitalist, who spent the last fourteen years of his short life as boroughorganist at Bournemouth, but he was also much appreciated as a composer ofapproachable music for the organ. The Plymouth Suite, written during the late1930s, is typical of his writing; it consists of five movements, which arededicated to organist friends. Allegro risoluto with its modal language andpassacaglia -like repetitions was written for Harvey Grace, organist ofChichester Cathedral, whom Whitlock described as 'very garrulous and ratherexalted', characteristics which are certainly portrayed in this vigorousmovement. Lantana is in complete contrast. The ambling nature of the music givesthe movement its title, which means 'a wayfaring tree'; it was written for themonk and organist of Buckfast Abbey. Dom Winfrid, described by the composer as a'raving organ enthusiast'. Dr Reginald Dixon of Lancaster is the inspirationbehind Chanty. This nautical movement was written in response to a similar pieceby Dixon, who was considered to be 'the naughty boy at any party'. Salix ('Theweeping willow') a lovely movement with folk-song overtones, was written forHenry Austin Dewdney, a Bournemouth musician of some note. The French-styleToccata ends the Suite in fine style. It was dedicated to Dr Harold Moreton,borough organist of Plymouth - 'a sprightly old fellow'.

Like Elgar, Vaughan Williams wrote little for the organ, a Prelude and Fugue

and the Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes being his only contribution to therepertoire. The angular Bryn Calfaria and the forthright Hyfrydol areinteresting enough, but the gentle flowing Rhosymedre has been a favourite withorganists since it was written in 1920.

Herbert Sumsion was organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1928 until 1967 andconductor of the Three Choirs Festival during that time, in which he came intoclose contact with most of the composers represented on this disc. His own musicfor the organ, of which there is a great deal, consists largely of miniatures -ideal for before and after Services. Intermezzo, an early work, is a serenemovement which has been arranged from its original form for string orchestra,while the triumphant Ceremonial March, dating from a much later period in hislong and fruitful working life, makes a fitting end to a set of pieces fromcomposers of the West Country, who have made such a notable contribution to thelife and music of Britain, especially through their writings for the church.

1993 Donald Hunt

Donald Hunt

Donald Hunt was appointed Director of Music at Worcester Cathedral in 1975,after a number of years in a similar position at Leeds Parish Church, where hebuilt his reputation as a choral and orchestral conductor, working also with theLeeds Festival Chorus, Leeds Philharmonic Society and Halifax Choral Society andserving as Leeds City Organist and as a lecturer at the Leeds College of Music.

In 1975 he was awarded a doctorate by Leeds University in recognition of hisservices to music in the city. Donald Hunt was born in Gloucester and as a boywas a chorister in the cathedral choir and later, at the age of seventeen,assistant organist, learning much from his teacher Herbert Sumsion and thusforging a direct link with the tradition of Elgar. He continues an active careeras a conductor locally and internationally, with frequent broadcasts and manyrecordings as a conductor and recitalist and regular responsibility for theThree Choirs Festival of England's West Country.

Item number 8550773
Barcode 4891030507739
Release date 12/01/1999
Category Organ
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Hunt, Donald
Hunt, Donald
Composers Elgar, Edward
Howells, Herbert
Sumsion, Herbert
Parry, Hubert
Whitlock, Percy
Vaughan Williams, Ralph
Elgar, Edward
Howells, Herbert
Sumsion, Herbert
Parry, Hubert
Whitlock, Percy
Vaughan Williams, Ralph
Producers Hill, Peter H.
Hill, Peter H.
Disc: 1
Ceremonial March
1 Introduction
2 Toccata
3 Fugue
4 Cadenza
5 Coda
6 Choral Fantasia on an Old English Tune
7 Cantique, Op. 3
8 Siciliano for a High Ceremony
9 Allegro risoluto
10 Lantana
11 Chanty
12 Salix
13 Toccata
14 Bryn Calfaria
15 Rhosymedre
16 Hyfrydol
17 Intermezzo
18 Ceremonial March
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