CD 213: Organ Music from the Isle of Purbeck
Performed by Francis Jackson
Played on the historic 1880 organ in
St James's Church Kingston in Purbeck, Dorset
Edouard Silas (1827-1909)
Fantasia & Fugue in E minor
Henry Smart (1813-1879) Air with Variations & Finale Fugato
Sydney H. Nicholson (1875-1947)
Impromptu No. 2 in D (1907)
Healey Willan (1880-1968) from Six Chorale Preludes (1950)
Chorale Prelude on Quem Pastores Chorale Prelude on Vulpius
Francis Jackson (b. 1917)
Interlude & The Sweet Rivelet from The Hovingham Sketches
Matthew Camidge (1764-1844) Concerto III in A minor
Michael Christian Festing (c.1680-1753) arr. George Thalben-Ball (1896-1987)
Largo - Allegro - Aria & Two Variations
Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)
Andante Cantabile from Fourth Organ Symphony
Théodore César Salomé (1834-1896)
Offertoire in F minor from Ten Pieces, Book One
Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911)
Final in E flat (Grand Choeur, Op.40)
TOTAL PLAYING TIME: 79.30
Recorded 23, 24 & 25 August 1995, St. James's Church, Kingston in Purbeck, Dorset
Console assistant Martin Monkman
Recorded & produced by Martin Monkman, Amphion Recordings
The late Reverend Robert Watton was of great assistance during the making of these recordings. Thanks are also expressed to his successor as Priest in Charge of Kingston with Langton Matravers & Worth Matravers, the Reverend Judith Malins.
The Church & Organ -
St. James's, Kingston, Purbeck
By the late Reverend Robert Watton, Vicar of St. James's 1991 to 2003
St. James's Church, Kingston-in-Purbeck, Dorset, was built at the behest and expense of John Scott, third Earl of Eldon (1845-1926). The reasons for commissioning a second church in Kingston (the earlier building on the eastern side of the village, now a private residence, was completed in 1833) are not entirely clear. It seems likely that the Earl saw Kingston's new church as a fitting memorial to his great-grandfather, John Scott, first Earl of Eldon (1751-1838), who was the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain for over twenty-five years. The project also provided employment for the local estate workers, stonemasons and quarrymen during a period of recession.
The third Earl spared no expense and turned for help to the eminent Victorian architect George Edmund Street (1824-1881) who at the time was busily completing the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Between 1874-1880 Kingston's new church rose high on its hill top site overlooking Corfe Castle, and at a cost of more than £70,000. Wherever possible local materials were used, including much grey Purbeck marble, close-jointed Purbeck ashlar walls: and the graded Purbeck roof states.
The overall result is Street's best church ("the jolliest thing I ever did!" he said.) and one of the finest Victorian examples of ecclesiastical architecture in the land. With some justification the building has been described as 'the Cathedral of Purbeck'
At Lord Eldon's suggestion, for his three-manual organ, Street turned to the London firm of Maley, Young & Oldknow. This little-known partnership existed for only about ten years from the mid 1870s. Records show that they built at least forty organs in an area that stretched from London to Cornwall, the Channel Islands and France. A number of instruments were built in Dorset, but most are now lost or have been altered beyond recognition.
Lord Eldon's generosity ensured that the very finest materials were used in the Kingston organ. One stop, the Vox Humana on the swell, is attributed to the renowned French organ builder Cavaillé-Coll. Generally the tonal characteristics of the organ are distinctly continental. The organ is contained in a very shallow north transept with the bellows and much of the mechanism housed in the crypts beneath the chancel floor. Unusually for a mechanical 'tracker' action organ the console is detached, the organist facing the pipes.
In recognition of the organ's special interest as a period instrument the National Heritage Memorial Fund awarded a grant of £22,500 for the organ's restoration, on condition that no alterations were made. Other grants were received from the Pilgrim Trust, the Talbot Village Trust and Dorset Country Council. The painstaking restoration was carried out by Derry Thompson of Maiden Newton and associates in 1992/93. The Reverend Nicholas Thistlewaite of Cambridge, a leading authority on Victorian organs, and Mr Peter Collins, provided much welcome advice. The restored instrument was opened in June 1994 by Doctor Peter Hurford.
Above: The late Robert Watton, vicar of St. James's Kingston 1991 to 2003, who master-minded
the restoration of the Kingston organ which can be seen on the right.
Photograph taken 23 August 1995 by Martin Monkman, Amphion Recordings.
Programme Notes by Dr Francis
- Edouard Silas was born in Amsterdam in 1827 and died in London in 1909. He trained in Paris and in 1859 came to London where he worked as teacher and organist of the Roman Catholic chapel at Kingston-on-Thames for the rest of his life.
The Fantasia & Fugue in E minor is in two movements, the first alternating between an imposingly harmonised tune which then appears in the other voices, and a second melody in the treble accompanied by downward arpeggios. The second movement begins as a fugue with an authentic exposition but does not follow the accepted fugal procedure, preferring to concentrate more on the harmonic aspects of the theme.
- Henry Smart (1813-1879) was always church orientated, being organist of the parish church of his native Blackburn and, on moving to London, of St. Philip's Regent Street, St. Luke's Old Street and, from 1864, of St. Pancras Euston Road. He came of a musical family, Sir George Smart being his uncle.
He was a prolific composer of cantatas, anthems, canticles, part songs. two operas, and a great deal of organ music - Preludes, Postludes, Marches, Minuets, Introductory Voluntaries and many other pieces which, for their titles, rely on their Italian indications as to speed and mood. These include many andantes, several of them in A, intended as Introductory or Middle Voluntaries. Being primarily intended for church use they are all kept within the bounds of propriety and include nothing fanciful such as a scherzo - not even a Mendelssohnian one, let alone a gallic offering such as Vierne or Duruflé so happily provided. In this respect one could compare him to his younger contemporary Rheinberger. Neither did he attempt Bachian preludes and fugues or Mendelssohnian sonatas.
The Variations however, constitute a substantial work. The theme is an ingenious, hymn-like tune. It is in the favourite Smart key of A major, as are the following eight variations. (An attempt was made by a well-known recitalist to avoid monotony of key, involving transposing some to keys as extreme as B flat, and cutting two out altogether). The first change of key offered by the composer, however, comes with the ninth variation which is the tonic minor, and uses the Voix Humana with tremulant in effective contrast with a solemn diapason combination. After the first four variations, which do not depart far from the theme, there is lightness as well as dignity, and an animated anticipation of the fugato. An ingenious combination of the first theme and the fugue brings the work to a satisfying conclusion.
 Sir Sydney Nicholson is remembered less as a composer or Organist of Westminster Abbey than as the founder of the Royal School of Church Music. His compositions are mostly for the church and include operas for choir boys. Impromptu No. 2 was dedicated in 1907 to Arthur Harrison, the noted organ builder, who was also a competent player, and employs an unusual effect consisting of chords alternating between two contrasting manual timbres, with a central section played on a diapason combination.
- Healey Willan ("English by birth, Irish by extraction, Canadian by adoption and Scotch by absorption" as he himself put it) was born in 1880, the year the Kingston organ was built. The two chorale preludes are from a set of six published in 1950. That on the tune of Quem pastores was written on March 17th of that year. It is usually sung to the hymn Jesu, good above all other and employs the Contra Fagotto stop on the Choir manual of the Kingston organ. That on Vulpius was composed ten days later. It is a tune used for the Easter hymn The strife is o'er and makes use of the Great organ Posaune.
 Interlude was written on June 11th 1995 and is founded on a hymn tune which was written with the expectation of having words put to it - an unfulfilled hope as it turned out. Its name is 'Bliss', the maiden name of my paternal grandmother, and it appears three times in simple guises in a piece with no pretensions to any kind of development apart from varied harmony.
 When the Duchess of Kent attended the annual dinner of the Royal College of Organists in 1974 during my presidency, she was presented with a book containing eleven manuscript organ pieces which had been composed by members of the college council. Taking its title from the name of her native Yorkshire village, the collection was called 'Hovingham Sketches'. The stream which runs nearby is chronicled thus by Dodsworth's Church Notes: "...the sweet rivelet called Wath Beck which hath springs upp at Ganthorpe, cometh to Aryholme wher itt receiveth many springs, and cometh to Wath, which giveth it name".
[12-]- The Camidge family held the post of Organist of York Minster for 103 years - Matthew, the second generation from 1799 to 1842, following his father John (1756-1799) and being succeeded by his son, also named John (1842-1859). As well as some psalm chants still firmly in the Anglican repertoire, Matthew wrote "Six Concertos for the Organ or grand Piano Forte composed and dedicated with greatest Respect to his much esteemed friend William Shield Esqr. by Matthew Camidge. Op. 13 Pr. 8/- N.B. the Author in this Work has Endeavoured to imitate the particular Style of Music which has been so long Admired namely that of Handel and Corelli, this Acknowledgement will he hopes secure him from the Critics Censure....." This, in A minor is the third of the set. All six concertos are similar in construction, having four movements each, the last one a march or in this case, what Camidge calls Gavotta.
 Michael Christian Festing (c.1680-1752) was a violinist and member of the King's private band, first violinist in the Philharmonic Society, director of the Italian opera and in charge of music at the Ranelagh Gardens; also composer of sonatas, concertos, symphonies for strings and many cantatas and songs. His son, the Reverend Michael Festing was rector of Wyke Regis near Weymouth, Dorest. George Thalben-Ball arranged these short movements for the organ and published them in 1934.
The three French composers all based in Paris, cover exactly a hundred years from the birth of Guilmant in 1837 to the death of Widor in 1937, aged 92. Felix Alexandre Guilmant was organist of the Trinité for thirty years from 1871, and died in 1910. Théodore César Salomé (1834-1896) organist of the small organ also at La Trinité. Charles-Marie Widor, born in 1845, was organist at S. Sulpice from 1870. Widor and Guilmant were prolific composers, the former with ten symphonies and two for orchestra; ballet, chamber music, operas and other theatrical works; Guilmant with 8 sonatas for organ and 25 sets of organ pieces, masses and other liturgical works.  Salomé's Offertoire in F minor (one of three pieces of that name) is the fourth in a book of ten pieces, once very popular but later suffering neglect for many years.
 Andante Cantabile is from Widor's fourth symphony opus 13.  Guilmant's 'Final (Grand Choeur)' opus 40 in E flat dated Paris May twelfth 1874.
© Francis Jackson, East Acklam, North Yorkshire, December 2004
DR. FRANCIS JACKSON O.B.E.
Francis Jackson, a native of Malton, Yorkshire, was born 2 October 1917, he was a chorister at York Minster from 1929 to 1933 and a pupil of Sir Edward Bairstow, Organist of York Minster. In 1937 he gained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists with the Limpus Prize for the highest marks in organ playing. In the same year he graduated Bachelor of Music at Durham University and attained the doctorate there in 1957. He was appointed Organist of Malton Parish Church at the age of sixteen in 1933 and succeeded Bairstow at York Minster in 1946.
Dr Jackson has given organ recitals throughout Great Britain, and in Eire, Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland and Denmark. In addition, he has made several tours of the U.S.A. Canada and Australia.
He has been a frequent broadcaster on BBC radio, and has made many recordings of organ music and with York Minster Choir, whose director he was until his retirement in October 1982. He has played concertos with several British orchestras and at the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts.
Since his retirement from the Minster he has continued to make many recordings, most of which have been released on CD by Amphion Recordings.
Francis Jackson has written extensively for the Church, and his output, in addition to anthems and service settings, includes six organ sonatas, along with many other pieces for the same instrument. His output also includes a symphony and the overture Brigantia for orchestra, a Concerto for Organ, Strings, Timpani & Celesta (1985). Since leaving York Minster he has composed prolifically and his opus now numbers 148.
In 1961-62 Dr. Jackson was President of the Incorporated Association of Organists, and in 1972 held the same office in the Royal College of Organists for a two-year term. He is Honorary Fellow of both the Royal School of Church Music and Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. In 1978 he was appointed O.B.E. in the New Year Honours. On retiring as Organist of York Minster he received the Fellowship of the Royal Northern College of Music, the Doctorate of York University and - at the hands of the Archbishop of York (the late Lord Blanch) - the Order of Saint William of York. He has recently been honoured with the Fellowship of The Guild of Church Music.
In 1996 the Ebor Press of York published Dr Jackson's biography of Bairstow, entitled Blessed City, the life and works of Edward C. Bairstow (ISBN 1 85972 192 0). His time is now devoted to composing music and giving recitals for which he remains much in demand. He is Patron of the Percy Whitlock Trust, in succession to Whitlock's widow, Edna, and his Fifth Sonata for Organ was composed in homage to Whitlock during the centenary of his birth in 2003.
Dr. Jackson composed his Sixth Sonata for Organ, for the famous Schulze organ in St. Bartholomew's Church Armley at its re-opening festivities after restoration in May 2004.