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Thread: English Organ Music

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    English Organ Music

    I know I'm blowing my own country's diapason (hope that translates into Dansk ok!) but has annyone ever played music by John Stanley? Its fairly standard repertoire here, but I'd be interested to know if he is known on the continent.

    The 30 Voluntaries really are remarkable and I believe show a really individual style with a strong English flavour. He also doesn't try to imitate Handel, but finds ways to be innovative in the late Baroque idioms whilst dabbling occasionally into the emerging rococco style. There is such a variety, even in the 30. I am particularly impressed with his handling of the Handelian fugal form, he has moulded it to his own origional style, and it is quite complex in places. Considering he was blind, and had to compose fugues as Bach did; purely by improvisation and later refinement at the keyboard; and not like other composers by working throught the subjects and entries on paper, I think they are quite an achievement. His use of stretto is also a very effective feature and I have found examples of it in some of his cornet voluntaries too. (Do Continental organs still have, or have they ever had cornet stops?)

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    Administrator Frederik Magle's Avatar
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    Re: English Organ Music

    I have heard some of the John Stanley voluntaries played on organ and it is indeed delightful music, though I haven't played them myself (but I might).
    I can't speak for the rest of continetal Europe but trumpet or Cornet voluntaries/tunes are unfortunately rarely played in Denmark. The reason is that most of our organs sadly lack a useful trumpet or cornet stop. The Cornet is a compound stop of 3,4 or 5 ranks (8 + 4 + 2 2/3 + 2 + 1 3/5), but many Danish organs does not have such a stop, instead they have a Sesquialtera (2 2/3 + 1 3/5) made with narrow diapason (principal) measure, which is rarely useful as a solo voice as opposed to a "real" cornet.

    I'd like to see more soloistic reeds and other voices in Denmark, which will open up a much larger repertoire for the organ (for example trumpet voluntaries)

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederik Magle View Post
    I have heard some of the John Stanley voluntaries played on organ and it is indeed delightful music, though I haven't played them myself (but I might).
    I can't speak for the rest of continetal Europe but trumpet or Cornet voluntaries/tunes are unfortunately rarely played in Denmark. The reason is that most of our organs sadly lack a useful trumpet or cornet stop. The Cornet is a compound stop of 3,4 or 5 ranks (8 + 4 + 2 2/3 + 2 + 1 3/5), but many Danish organs does not have such a stop, instead they have a Sesquialtera (2 2/3 + 1 3/5) made with narrow diapason (principal) measure, which is rarely useful as a solo voice as opposed to a "real" cornet.

    I'd like to see more soloistic reeds and other voices in Denmark, which will open up a much larger repertoire for the organ (for example trumpet voluntaries)
    G'day Frederik, hope you are well? Do you know if there is a single source of information about Swedish, Danish and Norwegian organs on the net? (paa dansk er godt).

    tak David
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    McVities, yes, I'll gladly put up my hand as a Stanley fan as he wrote quite charming pieces. His Trumpet Voluntary in D has been a refreshing request for weddings (when a bride is sensible enough to know it!). Many of his other, smaller pieces I find as accessible as they are playable.

    Matt
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    Most of Stanley's voluntaries are on a 5 CD set of English organ music played by Jennifer Bate on period instruments

    http://www.regisrecords.co.uk/regisr...o/RRC5002.html
    Cheers MIKE.

    How many roads must a man walk down ... ... before he admits he's lost?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorsetmike View Post
    Most of Stanley's voluntaries are on a 5 CD set of English organ music played by Jennifer Bate on period instruments

    http://www.regisrecords.co.uk/regisr...o/RRC5002.html
    Margaret Phillips has recorded all of them on historic English organs : 2-CD set on the Regent label.

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    Being mainly an episcopal/anglican organist-choirmaster for many years I have played anumber of his compositions. I always enjoyed performing them.

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorsetmike View Post
    Most of Stanley's voluntaries are on a 5 CD set of English organ music played by Jennifer Bate on period instruments

    http://www.regisrecords.co.uk/regisr...o/RRC5002.html

    Period instruments? Hmmm, unless the bellows are either manually inflated or inflated using gasoline (or similar) engines they are hardly period any more. I reckon most of the organs on that series have electric fans to provide wind (not authentic).
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

  9. #9
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    I'm in Denmark, and I play the English cornet voluntaries frequenly. If fact, I'll be playing one by Robinson on Sunday. I happen to be fortunate enough to play on an organ with exactly the combination Frederik Magle speaks of: 8', 4', kvint, 2' and tierce. My congregation haven't heard such music before, but they are intrigued by it. Particularly the fellows who go hunting a lot seem to like it.

  10. #10
    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contratrombone64 View Post
    Period instruments? Hmmm, unless the bellows are either manually inflated or inflated using gasoline (or similar) engines they are hardly period any more. I reckon most of the organs on that series have electric fans to provide wind (not authentic).
    Must admit I have not seen the term "period" applied to the organ either. I suspect that it may refer to an instrument that has remained unaltered (perhaps 'completely unaltered' or 'mostly unaltered' ) since it's initial construction regardless of how the wind is supplied (not to forget that some European instruments still give you either option. St Sulpice can still be played from the old manual bellows I believe). I also suspect that it would be highly likely that there exist instruments from Stanley's time that would be in playable condition if they've been well looked after. I recall playing some very old (and very lovely) instruments around various smaller UK parishes (we're still talking about buildings the size of some of our cathedrals here though!).

    However, someone who's actually from the British Isles (or an Organ Historical society?) may be able to comment further on this.
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Soubasse View Post
    Must admit I have not seen the term "period" applied to the organ either. I suspect that it may refer to an instrument that has remained unaltered (perhaps 'completely unaltered' or 'mostly unaltered' ) since it's initial construction regardless of how the wind is supplied (not to forget that some European instruments still give you either option. St Sulpice can still be played from the old manual bellows I believe). I also suspect that it would be highly likely that there exist instruments from Stanley's time that would be in playable condition if they've been well looked after. I recall playing some very old (and very lovely) instruments around various smaller UK parishes (we're still talking about buildings the size of some of our cathedrals here though!).

    However, someone who's actually from the British Isles (or an Organ Historical society?) may be able to comment further on this.
    There is an organ in Wymondham Abbey in Norfolk (England)built in 1793 by James Davis. It is still regularly played and is featured on CD played by Margaret Phillips who has recorded music by members of the Wesley family on it (YORK Ambisonic label - YORK CD 111). The organ has a fine sound having been rebuilt and enlarged twice in the 20th century. On her recording Margaret Phillips uses (as far as possible) only the stops from the original organ contemporary with the composers represented.
    On two other CDs (Regent label -REGCD 190) Margaret Phillips plays the entire voluntaries of John Stanley on four historic English Organs dating from the 18th and 19th centuries all of which sound impressive, but of course they have been restored.
    There are many well-known organs across Northern Europe dating from the 18th century some from Bach's time and a few known to him (and played by him!) which are still played although almost all have been (necessarily) restored and rebuilt.
    All such organs to my knowledge, however, are termed 'historic' (which of course they are) and not 'period' instruments. Period instruments are not necessarily historic. Many are newly made/manufactured copies of original instruments. The term 'period instrument' seems to relate mainly to brass, string and woodwind instruments, although new 'period' keyboard instruments are built,e.g. virginals,harpsichords, etc.

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