PHI CD 156: British Organists of the 1920s Volume Two Recorded 1913-1936
Berkeley Mason, B.B.C. Concert Organ, Broadcasting House London, Hollins: Concert Overture No. 2 in C minor.
Reginald Goss-Custard, Kingsway Hall, London,
H.F. Watling : Minuet Antique. Samuel Coleridge - Taylor: Three Fours Waltz arr. R.G.C.
Harold Darke, St. Michael's Church, Cornhill, London, Franck: Andantino in G minor.
George Thalben-Ball, Temple Church, London, Reubke: Fugue from The 94th Psalm Sonata.
Maurice Vinden, St Mark's Church, North Audley Street, London, Wolstenholme: Barcarolle, Opus 16.
William Wolstenholme, Aeolian Hall, London, plays his own Prelude in F & Carillon in B flat.
Herbert Ellingford, Alexandra Palace, London, Karg-Elert: Chorale Prelude on In dulci jubilo Opus 75 No. 2.
Stanley Marchant, St Paul's Cathedral, London, Parry: Bridal March & Finale.
Herbert Dawson, Kingsway Hall, London,
Elgar: Organ Sonata No. 2 in B flat, Opus 87a. Arr. Ivor Atkins. i) Introduction. ii) Toccata. iii) Fugue.
Herbert Walton, Glasgow Cathedral, Lament of Sir Rory Mer (Traditional)
Ralph Downes, St. Mary's le Savoy, London, J.S.Bach: Chorale Preludes: Heut' triumphiret Gottes Sohn.
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland. Erstanden ist heil'ge Christ. Alle Menschen müssen sterben.
Arthur Meale, Central Hall Westminster, London plays his own Storm.
Easthope Martin, City Road Studio, London, Guilmant: Grand Choeur in E flat.
The organs of Kingsway Hall & Central Hall, Westminster
THE RECORDINGS, PERFORMERS & COMPOSERS
The original 78 r.p.m records on this CD include one from the acoustic age; i.e a large horn (not a microphone) pointed towards the organ and the sound vibrations were transmitted via a diaphragm and stylus to a wax disc or earlier cylinder. Easthope Martin made seven records, covering works by himself Evensong, Lefébure-Wély, Guilmant, Wagner (Bridal March), Mendelssohn (Wedding March), Widor, Handel, Batiste, Lemmens and The Lost Chord by Sullivan. Dating from 1913, these pre-date the other recordings which were all electrically-produced between 1926 and 1936, by players born between 1865 and 1904; the earliest electrical organ record issued was by Cecil Whitaker-Wilson at Kingsway Hall, playing Handel's Largo - HMV matrix CR8.
Music on this disc represents a great range, showing at one end ephemeral 'light' compositions and the obligatory 'storm', and at the other, Bach chorale-preludes, Karg-Elert and Reubke. Organs vary from Alexandra Palace and St. Paul's Cathedral to the two-manual instrument in St. Mary-le-Savoy.
Berkeley Mason born in 1882 in Bradford, was one of the BBC's organists playing for concerts and broadcasts. Between the Wars he performed at Promenade Concerts as soloist and with orchestras, after being organist at Queen's Hall and City Hall in Hull.
Recorded at BBC Concert Hall, Broadcasting House, London, Compton 1932 - built on the extension principle in a very awkward space!
Alfred Hollins (1865-1942), blind like William Wolstenholme, also toured as a concert organist - in Hollins' case, in South Africa, Australia and three times to the United States.
For many years organist of Free St. George's church in Edinburgh, he had been a pupil of Hans von Bülow and E. J. Hopkins. Prior to moving to Scotland he was at St. John's Redhill, then St. Andrews Presbyterian, Upper Norwood, as well as being in charge of music at the People's Palace in the East End of London.
Hollins had actually made cylinder recordings (mentioned in his autobiography "A Blind Musician looks back") both at the home of J. I. Walker, then Managing Director of J. W. Walker's, and later on an organ in their factory.
Hollins wrote much music in lighter vein, such as Trumpet Minuet, Song of Sunshine and weightier works - three Concert Overtures, of which this, in C minor, is the second (1899) - the version recorded here has a total of 55 bars of music missing from three passages, to fit the time available on a 78.
Reginald Goss-Custard (1877-1956) succeeded Edwin Lemare at St. Margaret's, Westminster, in the shadow of Westminster Abbey, when Lemare crossed the Atlantic to become organist in Pittsburgh, USA. Goss-Custard was also successor to G. D. Cunningham at the Alexandra Palace after the organ's restoration in 1929, and at the Bishopsgate Institute. (Reginald's brother Harry also made 78 rpm records as organist of Liverpool Anglican Cathedral).
Organ: Kingsway Hall, by Binns, Fitton and Haley of Leeds 1912, additions by Hill, Norman & Beard 1924 - recorded by seven organists between 1926 and 1929.
Horace F. Watling born 1880 in Norwich was blind. Professor at the Royal Normal College of the Blind, Upper Norwood, where he had been a pupil; his Minuet Antique of 1921 simply forms a pleasant 'character piece' as the title suggests.
Contrasting with the Minuet, the Three Fours Waltz by S. Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) is more developed, with contrasting choral and scale passages, resulting in an overall effect most unlike a waltz - apart that is from the central section of its ABA form. This arrangement is Goss-Custard's own.
Harold Darke (1888-1977) was a Londoner. A pupil of Stanford and Parratt at the Royal College of Music (where he later became a Professor), he was assistant to Walford Davies at the Temple church, then organist at St. James Paddington and (for 50 years) at St. Michael, Cornhill. During World War II, Darke was acting organist at King's College, Cambridge.
Darke later made LPs for Delta (including his own Three Chorale Preludes op.20) and Pilgrim (where music includes his Meditation on Brother James's Air.)
Recorded at St. Michael, Cornhill, London - Rushforth & Dreaper 1925.
César Franck's Andantino in G minor was composed in 1857 before his major music for organ; it is a piece which is not usually included in recordings of 'Complete organ works', as it is earlier and in a much less-developed style than the Trois Pièces, Six Pièces and Three Chorals.
George Thalben-Ball (1896-1987) was for many years THE organist asked to open more new and rebuilt organs than any other in Britain. Born in Australia, he moved to Britain where he was a student at the RCM.
He was assistant organist at Whitefield's Tabernacle, London, then organist at Holy Trinity, Castelnau, Barnes, and St. James, Paddington, before succeeding Walford Davies at Temple church. He also succeeded G. D. Cunningham as Organist to Birmingham City and University.
Thalben-Ball was Curator-Organist at the Royal Albert Hall; he is most well-known to the general public for the HMV 78 rpm record with Ernest Lough and the Temple church choir of Hear my Prayer. He was knighted in 1982.
The Temple church, London, organ - Rothwell 1910 incorporating earlier pipework of 'Father' Smith and other builders. The organ was destroyed in World War II and replaced by the present Harrison, a gift of Lord Glentanar.
Julius Reubke (1834-1858) is known by organists for the Sonata on the 94th Psalm, one of Thalben-Ball's 'war horses'. The excerpt heard here is the fugal finale - the player later recorded the whole Sonata in All Souls, Langham Place for the Vista label on a long-player (1977). It shows some of Liszt's characteristics in the use of the organ, and indeed Reubke was a pupil of Liszt. The Sonata was completed the year before the composer's death.
Maurice Vinden, born in 1894 in Kensington, studied at the RCM, becoming organist at St. Lawrence Jewry in 1913. He later went to St. Mark, North Audley Street.
Organ in St. Mark, North Audley Street - Rushforth & Dreaper 1930 - organ also recorded by Marcel Dupré, Jeanne Demessieux and George Thalben-Ball. (Organ later removed to Holy Trinity, Brompton).
The Barcarolle by William Wolstenholme is typical of much 'light' music included in recitals during the period of the recordings on this CD. Lyrical, with melodies to the fore, often representing 'concert' rather than 'church' stylistically. Representing the other side of the coin to the previous track of Reubke, this style was not generally heard at recitals for years in the latter part of the twentieth century.
William Wolstenholme (1865-1931) made two records of his own works for Vocalion, the only known discs of his playing. (The other disc comprises his Rondino in Db and Sketch in G).
Wolstenholme, though blind, toured the United States as a recitalist. Previous to this he held posts at St. Paul, Blackburn (town of his birth), the King's Weigh House church, London and All Saint's, St. John's Wood.
Aeolian Hall, London - Aeolian Organ Co., details unknown, formed the core of the instrument, later built in Warwick Road Congregational church, Coventry by Alfred Davies (1949).
As with the Barcarolle on the previous track, so Wolstenholme's own recordings are from his shorter compositions - the Prelude in F and Carillon in Bb. These miniatures are always well-crafted and of differing effects. The Carillon takes its name from the bell-like central section, preceded and succeeded by flowing melodic movements.
Herbert Ellingford (1878-1966) was a student at the RCM under Parratt and Bridge; between 1913 and 1943 he was City Organist at St. George's Hall, Liverpool (succeeding A. L. Peace). He was also organist at Holy Trinity, Southport. Later he became a Professor at Trinity College, London.
Alexandra Palace - 'Father' Willis organ (1875) and Henry Willis III (1929).
Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933) is one of the major German composers for organ. He succeeded another important figure in the organ world, Max Reger, as director of Leipzig Conservatory (1919) - where Karg-Elert had earlier studied with Jadassohn and Reinecke.
The prelude on In dulci jubilo is from Opus.75. The tune is heralded by a loud introduction followed by motifs from the tune, ending with a toccata-like variation on full organ: Karg-Elert called his chorale-based works improvisations, and this example certainly retains an improvistory nature allowing the organist to explore the scope of this instrument.
Stanley Marchant (1883-1949) was for many years connected with St. Paul's Cathedral; he was second Sub-organist, Sub-organist to Charles Macpherson and in 1927 became Organist. From 1937 he was organist emeritus.
As organist to the Henry Wood Promenade concerts at Queen's Hall, Marchant was assistant to F. Kiddle for some years. He was later Professor of Organ at the RAM and from 1936 its Principal. He was knighted in 1943.
St. Paul's Cathedral 'Father' Willis 1872, incorporating earlier pipework.
The Bridal March and Finale by Hubert Parry (1848-1918) dates from 1906. Parry composed much organ music, but this orchestral music comes from the incidental music to The Birds of Aristophanes, arranged for organ.
Herbert Dawson (1890-1976) studied at Westminster Abbey where he was articled to Sir Frederick Bridge. After being organist at Ealing Parish church and assistant at Norwich Cathedral, Dawson became organist at St. Margaret, Westminster (1929-65). He made many records as soloist and accompanist. Recorded at Kingsway Hall (as tracks 2 and 3).
Sir Edward Elgar's second organ sonata (1930) in Bb is actually an arrangement by Ivor Atkins of the composer's Severn Suite for brass band. It bears no relation to the Sonata in G either in form or substance. The movements are Introduction, Toccata, and Fugue - the latter including Atkins' Cadenza.
Herbert Walton (1869-1929) was, like others on this disc, a student of Parry and Parratt at the RCM. He was organist of St. Mark, Leeds before succeeding A. L. Peace as organist of Glasgow Cathedral where he held office 1897-1929.
Glasgow Cathedral organ - Willis (1913).
The Lament for Sir Rory Mer is a traditional Scottish tune, arranged by the organist. The melody is used to demonstrate several registers as variations on the theme.
Ralph Downes (1904-93), the youngest player on this CD, is known as designer of many famous instruments, including the Harrison in the Royal Festival Hall, London. His autobiography 'Baroque Tricks' catalogues Downes' experiments and activities; his post as Director of Music at Princeton University in the USA (1928-35) and visits to Europe broadened his musical views, and these tracks were recorded the year after he returned from America to become organist at Brompton Oratory in London. The project of this set of 78s of Downes and Noëlie Pierront playing Buxtehude and Bach was underwritten by Aubrey de Brisay on the Stroud label.
St. Mary le Savoy, London, Gern 1904, Walker 1935 (incorporating earlier stops, some by Snetzler c.1767)
These four short chorale preludes by J. S. Bach are from the Orgelbüchlein collection. Downes chose an instrument with a specification allowing him to use registrations which in the mid-thirties were not usually heard on traditional English organs; already results of his travels and his ideas about how Bach should sound can be heard, especially when we consider how other players represented here would tackle the music!
Arthur Meale (1880-1932) was known primarily as organist of Central Hall, Westminster - 'the cathedral of Methodism' - where he attracted the largest audiences in London for his recitals. He arrived at Westminster in 1912 when the organ was new, from his previous post at Hull Central Mission. Meale made many records at both Central Hall and Queen's Hall, including his own music.
Organ in Central Hall, Westminster, Hill 1912, enlarged by Hill, Norman and Beard in 1923.
The playing of a Storm was included in many recitals in the early part of the twentieth century. As with other examples, Meale paints a sound picture, distant thunder rumbles and intensifies, breaking through the hymn Eternal Father, strong to save. Then comes calm, a bell tolls and O God our help ends the piece.
Easthope Martin (1882-1925) was a student of Edward d'Evry and Coleridge-Taylor. He played concerts as a pianist under the pseudonym John Morrow, and visited the United States as a concert organist.
City Road, London, HMV Studio (no details of organ known).
Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911) toured as concert organist a generation before other great French players such as Marcel Dupré and Joseph Bonnet. Guilmant held the organist's post at La Trinité church, Paris for thirty years.
A profilic composer, Guilmant wrote eight sonatas for organ, many pieces for services, and much other work in many styles. Considering that this recording was made less than two years after the composer's death, although on a small studio instrument, it comes as a historic document in sound.
© Terry Hoyle, Tuffley, Gloucester, April, 2001