The Organ

Francis Jackson CDs - Haddo House and Samuel Wesley

Organ Music of Samuel Wesley: Vol 1
Francis Jackson plays the 1787 Samuel Green Chamber organ in St Mary the Virgin, Edith Weston, Rutland
75' 34"

Organ Music from Haddo House, Aberdeenshire
Played on the Father Willis Organ of 1881 by Francis Jackson.
Amphion PHI CD 193
77' 18"

What a joy to have two discs from Francis Jackson for review! His playing is as fine as ever on these two completely different discs.

On the first he plays an introductory andante maestoso for full organ and follows with twelve short pieces - in which are included the better-known Air and Gavotte together with God Save the King variations in D. The disc concludes with the Jig from Jackson's own Georgian Suite for Organ and a demonstration of the stops on this instrument, now carefully restored and tuned to an unequal temperament which is shown up in variation in the Allegretto entitled 'A Melody' This is in E major, and extreme key for this temperament. Other short pieces include three voluntaries dedicated to John Harding, another dedicated to William Linley and two delightful 'Scraps for the Organ'. This is all music for the manual only and makes a complete change from much of the grander and louder music of today - it is a joy to listen to this disc.

Completely different is Francis Jackson's recordings made of the 1881 Father Willis organ found in the Chapel of Haddo House. On this disc, Jackson explores and demonstrates the extreme versatility of the three-manual and pedal instrument with its seemingly small specification of Great 7 stops: Swell 7 stops; Choir 6 stops and but 3 Pedal stops and, at the age of 86, shows that Francis Jackson is still very much one of our leading players. Here he plays Bach's Prelude and Fugue in G minor: the Chorale prelude Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ: Menuetto and Polacca from Brandenburg Concerto No 1 and three movements from his Trio Sonata in C. Henry Smart's Andante in F and Postlude in C follow and Edward Grieg's At the Cradle. Boellmann's Ronde Ffrancaise and Camidge's Introduction, Fugue, Andante and March from his Concerto in D and two pieces by John Ireland, The Holy Boy and Villlanella are followed by Ravel's Trois beaux oiseaux du paradis and concludes with the Divertissement from 24 pices en style libre by Vierne.

This is a fine selection that shows off this little known gem from Father Willis - designed by G E Street (the last work of his before his death in the same year 1888) - extremely well. Haddo House is now maintained by the National trust for Scotland and the Chapel, where we find the organ, is in regular use by the Episcopal church, the Roman Catholics and the Presbyterians and also has its own choral and operatic society. RFB