PHI CD 223: Organ Showcase Volume Three Hull City Hall John Pemberton - organ


[1] David N. Johnson - Trumpet Tune in C major
[2]-[4] William Hayes - Concerto in G major

[5]-[6] J.S. Bach - Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (BWV 542)
[7] Tylman Susato - Mohrentanz
[8] Dietrich Buxtehude - Fugue in C major (Bux WV 174)
[9] Johann P. Kellner - Chorale Prelude (Was Gott, das ist wohlgetan)
[10] Camille Saint-Saëns - Fantasie in E flat
[11] Enrico Pasini - Cantabile in F major
[12]-[15] Edward Elgar Organ Sonata in G major (Op 28)


Released 15 July 2008

This programme and its duration have been chosen to reflect the type of music which is being enjoyed by the regular audiences at the "Organ ShowCase" series held monthly at the City Hall on Wednesdays at 12.30 pm. For further details please visit Hull City Hall website: E mail:

Produced by Martin Monkman, Amphion Recordings.

Thanks are expressed to Kingston-upon-Hull City Council and to the staff of Hull City Hall for their help and encouragement with the making of this recording: Tony Ridley, City Hall Manager; Olwyn Hall, House Manager; Richard Mobbs, Stage Manager; Tony Evans, House Electrician and also to Graham Smails who tunes and maintains the City Hall Organ.

Born at Stratford - on - Avon in 1941 and educated at Brighton College, it was whilst at school in Brighton that John came under the inspiring influence of the then Director of Music, Philip Dore (later of Ampleforth College) who gave him his early introduction to the organ. This was followed by study with a number of teachers, including George Austin, culminating in the ARCM and FTCL diplomas, both for Organ Performance. He studied Medicine at King's College, University of London and retired from the profession in 1999.
John has been connected with parish church music for over fifty-six years, as a choirboy, assistant organist and in various appointments as organist and choirmaster and has also given numerous organ recitals. He served for 20 years on the RSCM Lincoln area committee and more recently as the RSCM Area Education Officer, a post he relinquished in September 1999. He has provided the organ accompaniment for many RSCM festivals as well as supervising introductory courses for organists.
For the past 16 years he has been Organs Adviser to the Lincoln Diocese and was appointed Curator of the Organ at Hull City Hall in 2003. Since then lunchtime organ music has been re-instated as the 'Organ Showcase Series' which takes place at 12.30pm on the first Wednesday of each month August and September excepted.
He has recently been appointed to the Advisory Board of the prestigious journal 'Organists' Review' which enjoys an international circulation. During his busy life, John has found time to construct two pipe organs for his personal use.

Programme Notes by John Pemberton
[1] Trumpet Tune in C major - David N. Johnson (1922 - 1987)
David N Johnson was an American Composer, Organist and sometime Professor of Music at Syracuse University. He published over three hundred compositions mostly for church use. The Trumpet Tune in D major, arranged for Marine band, was played at the wedding of Richard Nixon's daughter.
The Trumpet tune in C major played on this CD is in simple A - B - A form.
[2]-[4] Concerto in G major for Organ - William Hayes (1708 - 1777)
William Hayes was professor of Music at the University of Oxford having previously been Organist of Worcester Cathedral. He was a great admirer of Handel whose works he promoted.
The Concerto in G major was originally scored for four - part strings and organ solo. The transcription for solo organ used in this performance is by Robin Langley. There are four movements: Adagio, Allegro, Andante and Minuetto Allegro.
[5]-[6] Fantasia and Fugue in G minor BWV 524 - J.S. Bach (1685 - 1750)
The Fantasia is in five sections: three in true Fantasia style separated by two fugal episodes. Its startling chromatic idiom, multiple suspensions and enharmonic modulations together with the creative use of colour all combine to make this one of JS Bach's most famous organ works. The harmonic structure of the work requires a well-tempered instrument and also suggests a moderate tempo in performance particularly in a resonant acoustic.
There is much debate as to whether the Fugue belongs with the Fantasia. The fact that the Fugue also appears in some manuscripts in the key of F minor merely adds to the uncertainty. The jollity of the Fugue, the subject of which is of Dutch origin, makes such a contrast with the austere grandeur of the Fantasia that the two not only fit musically but also appear to be magnetically drawn together.
[7] Mohrentanz - Tylman Susato (c1500 - c1562)
Tylman Susato was a Music Publisher, Instrumentalist and Composer in Antwerp. He wrote and published several books of masses and motets in the modal polyphonic style of the time. He produced one book of dance music in 1551 which was simple and homophonic in texture.
Mohrentanz is a mediaeval dance and may have been composed based on a contemporary popular song.
[8] Fugue in C major (Gigue) Bux WV 174 - Dietrich Buxtehude (1637 - 1707)
Buxtehude was appointed Organist at the Marienkirche in Lubeck in 1668 from where his fame spread widely. He exerted a formative influence over the young J.S. Bach who walked 200 miles in order to hear him. Handel also made his acquaintance.
The Fugue in C major, the Gigue, has been likened to the dance of the same name and is clearly the model that JS Bach had in mind when he came to compose his own "Gigue Fugue".
[9] Chorale Prelude - "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" -
Johann Peter Kellner (1705 - 1772)
Johann Peter Kellner was born in Thuringia and was a pupil of Johann Schmidt. Kellner was famous throughout Thuringia as an Organist and Teacher; he knew JS Bach whose music he copied out, so helping to preserve it.
This Chorale Prelude was re-discovered by Karl Straube who published it in 1907. The chorale melody, possibly by Johann Pachelbel, is associated with the words "What God ordains alone is right" and also with various harmonisations by J.S. Bach.
Kellner presents the chorale melody line by line in a mildly decorated form beneath which is a flowing accompaniment. The lines of the chorale are separated by decorative contrapuntal passages which also feature at the beginning and the end of the work.
[10] Fantasie in E flat - Camille Saint-Saëns (1835 - 1921)
Saint-Saëns was a prolific composer and was Organist at the Madeleine in Paris from 1857 - 1875. Liszt considered him to be the world's greatest Organist. He was also a master of improvisation and a virtuoso pianist.
The Fantasie in E flat is in two distinct sections the first of which has a soft attractive melody which possesses a characteristically elegant line which is accompanied by re-iterated chords. The subsequent louder section, together with its fugato, is made of much sterner stuff and forms a majestic conclusion to the work.
[11] Cantabile in F - Enrico Pasini (b. 1935)
Enrico Pasini is one of Italy's most respected composers for organ whose music not only encompasses a wide range of styles but also has appeal beyond the organ loft. He studied composition with Armando Renzi and is Titulaire Organist at St Rosalia Church in Cagliari.
The Cantabile in F is arguably becoming one of his best known compositions.

[12]-[15] Organ Sonata in G - Edward Elgar (1835 - 1921)
Elgar completed his G major Organ Sonata in 1895 ready for the first performance in June of that year. This was given by Hugh Blair before a group of visiting American church musicians on the Thomas Hill, nave organ in Worcester Cathedral. The performance was not entirely successful and publication of the work was also delayed as Novello wished to issue it as four separate compositions. Breitkopf and Härtel eventually agreed to publish the complete sonata which appeared in a revised version in 1896. The confidence and expressiveness of the work is an indication that Elgar was entering into his mature romantic period; the Enigma Variations followed in 1898 - 1899. It has been suggested that Elgar composed with the orchestra in his mind and the Organ Sonata is without doubt one of the most orchestrally conceived organ works ever written. It has even been described as an orchestral transcription for organ.
Nobilmente is one of Elgar's favourite markings and recordings from the 1920's and 1930's of Elgar conducting his own works show them to be full of nervous energy with an improvisatory feel. He was never afraid of manipulating metronomic note values in order to achieve an emotional effect.
George Austin, sometime Assistant Chorus Master at Glyndbourne and Director of Music at St Bartholomew's Church, Brighton in the 1950's and 1960's had known Elgar personally as his parents owned a rival music shop in Worcester and the two families were great friends. Austin related how he played this Organ Sonata to Elgar on the Hope Jones organ in Worcester Cathedral. It would be reasonable to assume that this discussion of the work with the composer would have informed George Austin's own teaching and performance of this work.
The Sonata has four movements the first of which is in sonata form. The second, an Allegretto, twists and turns expressively in G minor with frequent modulations and key changes. The slow movement, Andante Expressivo starts with a melody that moves towards a middle Tranquillo section which then culminates in a central climax. The original melody then returns and the movement ends with a coda. The Finale, Presto (comodo) rushes on towards a more restful central section after which the original theme returns and the work moves on inexorably to a resounding climax.
© John Pemberton, May, 2008


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 Matcham, 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 Philip Selfe (by then principal partner), 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) May 2008