PHI CD 152: Organ Music from Beverley Minster performed by Alan Spedding
Lemmens: Fanfare. Buxtehude: Prelude & Fugue in A Buxwv 153. Krebs: Trio in E flat.
Vogler: Chorale Prelude: Jesu Leiden, Pein und Tod. Stanley: Voluntary VIII Op.V.
Hawdon: Introduction, Cornet & Echo. Saint-Saëns: Fantaisie III. Reger: Prelude, Op. 65.
Beethoven: Trio. Parry: Prelude on 'The Old 104th'. Vierne: Prélude in F sharp minor. Spedding: Toccata-Carillon (1995).
Alan Spedding was born in London and studied organ and cello at the Royal College of Music. He was organist at Kingston Parish Church before his appointment to Beverley Minster in 1967, where he has been Organist and Master of the Choristers since this date. He has been instrumental in making the great Snetzler/Hill organ better known through recitals, recordings and broadcasts. Alan Spedding is well known as an organ recitalist and has played in many cathedrals, concert halls and universities in Great Britain. He has also undertaken recital tours of Germany and Holland. He has broadcast many times on television and radio as organist, conductor and lecturer and has made several records.
For eighteen years he was music master at Beverley Grammar School and is the conductor of both the East Riding County Choir and the Hull Choral Union, where he has conducted most of the standard works in the repertoire. He teaches part-time in the University of Hull and, until recently, was the Associate Editor of The Organists' Review, the foremost British journal for organists.
Alan Spedding is a well known musical festival adjudicator and is an advisor to the Royal School of Church Music for whom he has directed many choral courses. He is a Council member of the Royal College of Organists and was created a Doctor of Music by the University of Hull in 1994.
The Organ In Beverley Minster
In the middle years of the eighteenth century a thorough restoration of Beverley Minster was undertaken. The interior was refurbished with fashionable Georgian additions, including the great West Doors and the font cover still to be seen in the nave. To crown the work a superb new organ was commissioned from the most influential organ-builder of the time, Johann Snetzler. It was inaugurated in 1769 during a week-long festival of the music of Handel - the first such event north of the Trent.
Snetzler's organ continued to give service for over a century but by 1885 it had fallen into disrepair and the task of reconstruction was given to the most important Victorian organ-building firm, William Hill. Hills were able to save a substantial amount of Snetzler's original pipework, and they matched their own pipes in scale with the old. Thanks to them the Minster organ has more Snetzler pipework than any other organ and this, combined with some of the best of Hill's work, gives it a quality and nobility of sound that is unique among large-scale English organs. It stands on the organ screen of 1885, carved by the local firm of James Elwell, to a design by George Gilbert Scott, in a beautiful case designed by Dr. Arthur Hill in 1916. With its four keyboards and pedals, operating seventy stops and four thousand pipes it matches and complements the beauty of its surroundings.
In any organ the mechanism is complicated and there are thousands of moving parts in the Minster Organ. Prior to the restoration many of these components were coming rapidly to the end of their effective life.
Wood of Huddersfield (Organ Builders) have been at great pains to replace and modernise the action and controls throughout the organ and they have provided a new console complete with a modern stop-control system, using the old ivory keys and re-engraved stop heads. They have also thoroughly overhauled and rationalised the winding system and carefully re-sited the excellent new blowing plant, already in use, to maximise its efficiency. Their excellent refurbishment of the casework is plain for all to see. No tonal alterations have been made apart from some re-ordering of the mixtures in the Great and Swell divisions. Two new stops, Vox Humana and Cornet have been restored to the Swell and Great respectively, a new mixture added to the Choir and two string stops to the solo, making the organ more versatile than ever.
Like Beverley Minster itself, the organ is of European significance and thanks to the hard work and generosity of so many and the professional expertise of Philip and David Wood and their team of craftsmen, it is now able to resume its place in the life and worship of the Minster.
© Alan Spedding 1998