PHI CD 197: English Organ Music from Hull City Hall - Roger Fisher organ

Basil Harwood (1859-1949)
[1] Rhapsody Op. 38 [15.48]
Thomas Dunhill (1877-1946)
[2] Cantilèna Romantica No. 4 of Four Original Pieces for Organ Op.101 [2.15]
Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)
[3] Fantasie Choral No.1 in D flat major [11.02]
Armstrong Gibbs (1889-1960)
[4] Lyric Melody from Six Sketches for Organ Book One [3.40]
Christopher Steel (1939-1991)
Variations on a Theme of Guillaume de Machaut Op. 65 [17.20]
[5] Theme, Variations 1, 2, & 3: Troubadors & Trouvères
[6] Variations 4 & 5: War [7] Variation 6: Courtly Love
[8] Variation 7: Black Death [9] Variation 8: Dirge
[10] Variations 9 & 10: Pilgrimage [11] Variations 11 & 12: Feast Days
[12] Variation 13: The Cathedral of Notre Dame
William Faulkes (1863-1933)
[13] Scherzo in A minor Op. 138, No. 3 [2.17]
Francis Jackson (b. 1917)
[14] Toccata [6.46] [15] Chorale [3.16] & [16] Fugue [4.49] Op. 16

Console assistant: Gillian Fisher. Recorded 17 & 18 October 2003.

Released 25/6/04

In 1900 a scheme was drawn up to build a public hall in the centre of Hull and J.H.Hirst, the city architect, working in consultation with the renowned architect Frank Matchman, designed the building copying the renaissance style of the Wren period. Work commenced in 1903 when the then Princess of Wales laid the foundation stone and the building was in use by 1909.
Mr J.A.Meale, organist of the Queen's Hall Mission, Hull, drew up the specification for the City Hall Organ for which space had been provided at the rear of the stage. The design proved controversial and some leading organ builders of the time declined to tender, considering the instrument unnecessarily large and too big for the allotted space. The contract was eventually placed with the famous Hull firm of Forster and Andrews with the manager, Philip Selfe, directing the work and designing the distinguished organ case which blends so admirably with the architecture of the Hall. Edwin Lemare gave the opening recital on Thursday 30th March 1911.
In 1941 Hull City Hall was shut as a result of bomb damage to the roof, the organ also being badly affected. The restored Hall was re-opened in 1950 and in the following year the restoration and enhancement of the organ by the John Compton Organ Company was completed. Comptons respected and preserved the work of Forster and Andrews, but, by making sympathetic tonal alterations, corrected the organ's previous lack of power. The magnificent instrument as heard today has undergone no further major tonal modifications, and long may it remain unchanged.
Between 1985 and 1991, Rushworth and Dreaper rebuilt the organ console with drawstops, introduced solid state switching, re-leathered the bellows and restored the soundboards.
It is now hoped that the instrument will be heard more often and that this C.D. recording will help in that process.
© John Pemberton (Organ Curator) November 2003


Roger Fisher took early retirement from Chester Cathedral in 1996 to concentrate on his career as a recitalist, teacher and adviser on organ construction and in January 1997 he also became Features Editor of Organists' Review.
Born in Woodford, Essex, he was educated at Bancroft's School and studied at the Royal College of Music with Harold Darke and Herbert Howells, gaining his ARCM, FRCO and CHM diplomas and winning the Geoffrey Tankard Prize for Organ playing. In 1959 he was awarded an Organ Scholarship at Christ Church, Oxford, which gave him the opportunity to study with Dr Sydney Watson, Dr Bernard Rose and Dr H. Kennedy Andrews. Having graduated at Oxford, he moved to Hereford, accepting the posts of Assistant Organist at the Cathedral and Assistant Lecturer in Music at the College of Education. During this period he studied the piano with Professor Claude Biggs and was closely involved with the Three Choirs Festival, acting as an assistant chorus master, organ soloist, and accompanist.
In 1967 he was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Chester Cathedral and has directed the music on several Royal Occasions. Upon completion of the rebuilt organ in 1970, he embarked on the first of many BBC broadcasts and numerous recordings (including several for EMI, Decca and RCA) which have had world-wide sales. He has recorded at many venues, not only in the United Kingdom, but also in the USA, South Africa and Germany and the number of his CDs has now exceeded 30. Recently he has collaborated with Gordon Pullin in an eight volume series of CDs of The English Tenor Repertoire. He tours frequently and extensively as a recitalist in Europe, Scandinavia, South Africa and North America and has a wide repertoire. He specialises in the music of Bach and of the Romantic Era. He plays the piano for pleasure and gives piano recitals and concerto performances when time permits.