PHI CD 222: English Organ Music from St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol performed by Paul Derrett

Edward Bairstow (1874-1946) Toccata-Prelude on 'Pange Lingua'
Craig Sellar Lang (1891-1971) Fugue-Trilogy on E.G.B.
William Henry Harris (1883-1973) A Fancy
William Boyce (1710-1779) Symphony in F

Richard Drakeford (b.1936) Scherzetto
Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918)
Fantasy and Fugue 'The Wanderer'
Herbert Howells (1892-1983) Six Pieces
Preludio 'Sine Nomine'
Sarabande (for the Morning of Easter)
Master Tallis's Testament
Fugue, Chorale and Epilogue
Sarabande (In Modo Elegiaco)

Recorded & produced by Martin Monkman, Amphion Recordings
Recorded on the evening of 5 October 2004

Paul Derrett and Amphion Recordings are grateful to the following for their help with this project: Revd. Tony Whatmough (Vicar of St. Mary's), Andrew Kirk (Director of Music), Duncan Bennett (Organ Tuner), Tony Reynolds and Crispin John (Vergers),
Douglas Carrington and Mona Benson.

Released 3/3/08

Very few parish churches in England can hold their own musically or architecturally with the finest of our ancient cathedrals. Of these few, St. Mary Redcliffe is arguably the finest. No less a visitor than Queen Elizabeth I is reputed to have described it as "the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England" when she visited it in 1574. It has lost none of its beauty or importancesince that time. The building was begun in 1280 and completed by 1380. Essentially it remains now very much as it was then. The early spire was struck by lightning in 1446 and repaired by the generosity of William Canynges, five times mayor of Bristol,who later became a priest. As a whole, this church is a marvel of both decoration and elegance.
There were certainly organs in earlier times, but the first records giving any detail of interest relate to the instrument by Harris and Byfield which was installed in 1726. This was unusually complete for the time, with various innovative features including a octave coupler for the first time in a English organ and a 16' stop on the Great manual. This instrument remained in use for many years and a significant amount of 18th century pipework was incorporated in a rebuilt and enlarged instrument installed either side of the chancel by W.G.Vowles of Bristol in 1867.
By 1909 the Vowles instrument was regarded by the the organist, Ralph Morgan, as impossibly obsolete and schemes were draw up for which a number of firms were asked to tender. The submissions from J.J. Binns of Leeds and Harrison and Harrison of Durham survive - each are for four-manual organs of around sixty stops. In the event, Harrisons were chosen and lengthy discussions the took place between Ralph Morgan and Arthur Harrison, tonal director of the firm in the course of which the scheme was further enlarged. A number of old pipes were retained, but most of the instrument was to be brand new. The somewhat restricted space available either side of the choir gave rise to a most unusual layout and thus an unusual specification in which some of the roles of traditional Solo and Swell organs are reversed. Essentially, the only space suitable for a very large enclosed Swell division (which includes the lesser of the two Pedal 32' reeds) is a chamber on the north west corner of the north choir aisle. For this reason,the Solo organ (located much nearer the choir) contains many of the most useful accompanimental effects and a small 'full swell' of its own. The divisions lie as follows: the Swell Box with two sets of shutters facing West and South lies well to the North side, Great and some Pedal are on the North side of the choir (and are to be heard on this CD with the Swell, on the left hand channel). The Choir, Solo and some pedal (especially the big 32' reed) are on the South side (right channel).
The instrument was completed in 1911 and there have been few changes since. In 1942 a act of arson severely damaged part of the Swell and this damage was made good by Harrisons. In 1974 the Swell and Great mixtures were modified to Garth Benson's design and a Mixture was added to the Pedal. In 1990 the blowers were replaced, general pistons were added to the console and the 1974 mixtures were modified to improve the blend. Although organs of this period are not to everyone's taste, few would deny that the St.Mary Redcliffe organ is a masterpiece. It is not difficult to understand why Arthur Harrison (who built or rebuilt more than twenty cathedral organs) considered this to be his most perfect work. Long may it be enjoyed!

Through broadcasts, over 500 public recitals since 1981 and more than twenty solo CDs, Paul Derrett has established himself as one of the leading players in this country. Recitals have been given in France, Holland and Germany and his recordings are regularly broadcast in many countries. Venues in 2006 included ten cathedrals, amongst which were Liverpool (Anglican), Westminster (R.C.), York Minster and Bordeaux Cathedral, France. He studied at The Royal College of Music with Herbert Howells, Richard Popplewell and Nicholas Danby but also trained as an organ-builder which explains his reputation for being able to display each organ to best effect. Paul particularly enjoys reviving interest in neglected works and suggestions for additions to his repertoire are always welcome. Until recently, Paul was organist and director of music at the largest parish church in the U.K., Holy Trinity, Hull. Paul's website is at

[1] Edward Bairstow (1874-1946) Toccata-Prelude on 'Pange Lingua'
Toccata-Prelude was published in 1911,the same year that this wonderful organ was built. In 1911 Bairstow was Organist and Master of the Choristers at Leeds Parish Church; his previous appointment having been that of Sub Organist at Westminster Abbey. He was to move to York Minster shortly afterwards, holding that appointment until his death. A supremely gifted man, with the highest ideals, his temperament made him fervent admirers but few friends. Like S.S. Wesley before him he left relatively few works but every one has something unique to say. The Toccata-Prelude is in 5/4 time, allowing the plainsong melody (first heard on the Tuba coupled to the Pedals) to flow freely. The setting is both passionate and devotional, as befits the text 'Sing, my tongue the Glorious Battle' which speaks of Christ 's Resurrection. Arthur Harrison was a friend of Bairstow 's, and the York Minster organ was modified in 1916 and completely rebuilt in 1928 to a design arrived at jointly. A feature of Harrison organs is the extremely wide dynamic range, while every voice still speaks with refinement. Within the short span of this work we can hear this characteristic admirably demonstrated.
Featured stops:
fff Great, Swell and Pedal with Solo Tuba coupled down,
Solo Strings
[2-4] Craig Sellar Lang (1891-1971) Fugue-Trilogy on E.G.B.
A former student of Stanford, C.S. (know as Robin) Lang was both prominent and prolific in English musical life. We have reason to be grateful for his work as a editor, sometimes in collaboration with Sir John Dykes Bower of St.Paul's. He was for many years Director of Music at Christ's Hospital School, Horsham. Whole generations of players were brought up on his work-books, which were designed to prepare budding organists for the R.C.O. examinations. His Fugue-Triology (1952) was written for (Ewart) Garth Benson whom Lang had first met when Benson was a chorister at St.Paul's Cathedral. Benson later attended Ardwyn Grammar School, Aberystwyth, from where he won a place at The Royal Academy of Music only to be called up for National Service, working as a Bevin Boy in a coal mine in Sheffield. From there he won the prestigious Organ Scholarship to Kings College, Cambridge. Following Cambridge he was appointed Organist and Choirmaster of All Saints Church, Margaret Street where there is a particularly fine Harrison and Harrison organ for which this piece was written. In 1953 he moved to St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, a post which he held for thirty-five years with great distinction. The three fugues are in F major, F minor and D minor respectively in a style which owes a lot both to Stanford and Brahms, but is also reminiscent of the 'Edwardian Style' of Bach
playing. The Fugue-Trilogy is a most effective work and deserves to be better know .
Fugue 1 opening: Solo and Choir 8' 4' and 2' stops with
Great Small Open Diapason 8'
Fugue 2: Soft Choir and Solo coupled then Swell Harmonic Flute 8' alone
Choir Viola and Diapason against Great Stopped Diapason
Swell Viole and Celeste (as solo voice)
Fugue 3: LH on Tuba with octave coupler, Full Pedal at the end
[5] William Henry Harris (1883-1973) A Fancy
Harris was a highly gifted and much-loved musician, holding positions at Lichfield Cathedral, New College and Christ Church Oxford before becoming Organist and Master of the Choristers at St.George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in 1933. This delightful trifle was written for Percy Whitlock only a short time before the latter's tragically early demise and it was published in 1947 in his memory. Whitlock was a superb player; he became famous as composer of attractive and skillful organ music in the English romantic tradition and immensely versatile organist of the Bournemouth Pavillion which can be played either as a straight concert organ or as a cinema-style instrument. Whitlock was also a prolific broadcaster for the BBC. This Fancy is in ternary form; of interest are the catches of melody scattered across different manuals that conclude the first and third sections. The middle section is more legato and modulates away from the tonic only to lead smoothly back to the opening melody, now more elaborately accompanied.
Opening: 8' flutes on each manual, Pedal 16' Dulciana, coupled to Solo and Choir
Later: Solo Salicional 8' with Flute 4', Great 8' and 4' Flutes

[6-8] William Boyce (1710-1779) Symphony in F
Boyce begun an illustrious career in 18th century London as a chorister of St. Paul's Cathedral. By the time of his death he had been recognised as the natural successor to Handel in both his instrumental and stage work. He held the position of Organist to H.M. Chapels Royal, so it is regrettable that he published so little music for his own instrument - a single set of Ten Volunaries is all that survives. In keeping with the prevailing taste for transcriptions which made early works 'effective on the modern organ', this transcription of Boyce 's (orchestral) Symphony No. 4 was published in 1937 - the arrangement being made by Arthur Hutchings (1906-1989), Professor of Music in turn at Durham and Exeter Universities. There are three movements.
Allegro: Great Small Open Diapason, Octave 4' and Superoctave 2'
Swell Harmonic Flute 8' Principal 4' and Fifteenth 2' Pedal Flutes 16' and 8' coupled
Vivace ma non troppo: RH Choir Corno di Bassetto and Flute 4'
alternating with Swell Cor Anglais 16' and Flute 8' (up an octave)
accompanied on Great Stopped Diapason 8' and Wald Flute 4'
Gavotte: Swell Flutes 8' and 4' with Fifteenth 2'
Great Small Open Diapason 8', Octave 4', Octave Quint 2.2/3' and Superoctave 2'
[9] Richard Drakeford (b.1936) Scherzetto
This short work was written while Drakeford was still a pupil at Clifton College, Bristol and was dedicated to Eva Prentice, Assistant Director of Music at that time. Prentice was a fine musician and much-loved teacher; his subsequent early death (due to a accident involving a television aerial) was nothing short of a tragedy. Drakeford left Clifton for Oxford where he was Organ Scholar of Worcester College and followed this with a teaching career at Harrow School, where began as a assistant master and progressed to being Director of Music. For many years he has been artistic director of the Little Missenden Festival in Buckinghamshire and a leading light in the Peter Warlock Society. This delightful miniature has never been published.
Swell Flutes 8' and 4' with octave coupler accompanied on soft Solo and Choir stops
Middle section adds 4' flutes, Solo Salicional and Choir Open Diapason
Swell Orchestral Oboe
[10-11] Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918)
Fantasy and Fugue 'The Wanderer'
Parry's most substantial organ work was only published posthumously. Parry was a prolific composer despite his heavy duties as Director of The Royal College of Music, but he suffered from self-doubt, and such organ works as he released for publication had undergone many revisions with the help of Parry's organist friends, amongst which Sir Walter Parratt and Sir Henry Walford Davies were the most prominent. A very keen sportsman from his Eton days onwards, Parry's chief recreation became that of sailing his yacht 'Wanderer'. Some commentators have been content to observe that this piece represents a voyage. It is certainly changeable enough in mood, and thoroughly stormy in the right places. However, bearing in mind the years in which it was written (i.e. during The Great War) and Parry's strong Christian faith it is possible to reflect further. One of the most well-known Bible references to a stormy voyage appears in Psalm 107 (verses 28-30):
So when they cry unto the Lord in their trouble: he delivereth them out of their
For he maketh the storm to cease:so that the waves thereof are still.
Then they are glad, because they are at rest: and so at length he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be.
The symbolism of a ideal haven is clear - indeed these words were quoted on a number of memorials to the dead of WW1. This interpretation of Parry's purpose may be thought to make sense of such curiosities as a particularly grand ff passage in the fugue being marked Tranquillo! The 'Wanderer' theme is particularly sinuous, and Parry's style here is extremely elaborate, virtuosic and chromatic. This work and Healey Willan's monumental Introduction and Passacaglia may be see as the greatest English responses to the challenge set by Max Reger.
Much use is made of the 'small full swell' combination available on the Solo organ
Pedal Ophicleide 16' adding Double Ophicleide 32' later.
[12-17] Herbert Howells (1892-1983) Six Pieces
Howells early and prolific talent whisked him from the shires, his position as one of Sir Herbert Brewer 's articled pupils at Gloucester Cathedral, up to The Royal College of Music. His early compositions were rushed in to print and gained a terrific following. In the years that were to follow, both inspiration and support were sometimes harder to come by. As we rightly view him now as a true 'Grand Old Man of English Music' it is sad to reflect on the times when his music was not well-received, at his beloved Three Choirs' Festival, for instance - and the non sense which he often had to go through with his publishers who in 1971 (with one of his last organ works, the Partita written for Edward Heath) were still refusing to print things the way he wanted them. Following what amounted to general non-acceptance of his massive 1932 Organ Sonata (despite the strong support of its dedicatee, George Thalben-Ball) it was not until 1949 that any of these pieces appeared. Even then, Novello were unwilling to publish them together, a preliminary selection of only two were issued under separate covers.
The Six Pieces are a remarkable set. Written between 1940 and 1945 they naturally reflect the anxieties of war-time, but there is both a profound Englishness and confidence in God to be found in them. The first Preludio: 'Sine Nomine' comes from another (maybe older) world, somewhat after the manner of Vaughan Williams' Tallis Fantasy - a work that had the profoundest influence on Howells. Following on, Sarabande for The Morning of Easter is a ecstatic dance. Master Tallis's Testament is a wonderful blend of pastiche 16th and mid 20th century. The darkest movement follows: Fugue, Chorale and Epilogue, which was written in May 1940. The stunning climax of the Chorale is followed by a mood which at its most optimistic can best be described as patient suffering or longing. Sarabande (in modo elegiaco) written in September 1945 obviously remembers the fallen in its stately melancholy but it finishes with great grandeur and power; characteristic touches here remind us that the sarabande (a favourite form of Howells) has its origins in Spain. The set finishes with Paean - a true toccata, marked Allegro sempre brioso, which is largely in the dorian mode. The whole set is inscribed 'For Herbert Sumsion'. This is not exactly a dedication in the usual sense (though the two men were always very good friends), the inscription is in fact a statement of purpose - the performance Howells heard in his mind was one on the Willis/Harrison organ of Gloucester Cathedral which was always his favourite instrument and following the radical rebuilding carried out in 1971 is now sadly only a memory.
Preludio 'Sine Nomine': Swell Open Diapason, Solo Oboelater Swell Viole and
Viole Celeste,with 4' Viole Octaviante and the Choir fluework added for the
climax;the piece ends on the Solo Salicional 8 ' alone.
Sarabande (for the Morning of Easter): Solo Oboe, Solo Flutes 8' and 4' with
Salicional; Great chorus with both mixtures
Master Tallis's Testament: Choir Diapason with Solo Flutes 8' and 4'
Swell Cor Anglais 16' (up an octave)
Fugue, Chorale and Epilogue: Swell Harmonic Flute 8'
Solo Double Clarinet and Lieblich Bordun (up an octave)
Ending: Swell Viole, Choir Viola and Dulciana coupled to the pedal, Solo strings
Sarabande (In Modo Elegiaco): Solo Salicional and Flute 4
Swell Orchestral Oboe then (Swell) Open Diapason, steadily building towards the
climax; 'on the way there' the softer 32' reed can be heard beneath Solo 'small
full swell' coupled to the Great 8'and 4' fluework
Paean: ff and fff Great and Swell Pedal Ophicleide 16'
middle section: softer 8'4's on Choir, Swell and Great.
Towards the end the massive Pedal Ophicleide joins the 16' Trombone, later still the Solo Tuba is coupled to the Pedal
© Paul Derrett, 2007