Current Issue

Feb 2021 - Apr 2021 (Number 395)

Issue 395 includes features on: as well as lots of news from the UK and abroad, reviews of choral and organ CDs, books, concerts, new organ music, new installations, letters, and more.

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Organ Anniversaries

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

In 2021 there are several composers whose anniversaries can be commemorated, although some of the dates are not known for certain; some of the names listed below will need no introduction but there are also quite a few lesser-known names listed here whose compositions are well worth exploring. No claim is made for completion, and there is no guarantee that every edition mentioned is in print – there may well also be editions by other publishers. Publishers’ websites have been given where known. Details of a small number of composers whose preserved output consists of only one or two pieces have been omitted.

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck 1562-1621 Known as The Orpheus of Amsterdam, he published choral settings of the Psalms and also left a quantity of choral and keyboard pieces, including Toccatas, Fantasias, a Ricercar, and settings of sacred and secular melodies, preserved in numerous mss., but none in autograph. His reputation as a teacher led to many youngsters studying with him for 3-4 years, including some of the leading North German composers of the next generation, and Samuel Scheidt, and he was acquainted with John Bull and Peter Philips.

Following on from Max Seiffert’s edition of his keyboard music in 1943, further modern complete editions, which also include several pieces of doubtful authenticity, include volume one in three parts in the Opera Omnia (1.1 Fantasias and Toccatas edited by Gustav Leonhardt, 1.2 Settings of Sacred Melodies edited by Frits Noske and 1.3 Settings of Secular Tunes and Dances edited by Alfons Annegarn) for Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis, four volumes each in two parts edited by Siegbert Rampe (Toccatas, Polyphonic works, Chorale preludes and Song and Dance variations) for Bärenreiter BA8473/4, 8475/6, 8485/6, 8487 and 8494, and four volumes by Harald Vogel and Pieter Dirksen (Toccatas, Fantasias, Chorale Preludes and Song and dance variations) for Breitkopf & Härtel EB8741-44. There are many editions of selected pieces and genres, including the six Echo Fantasias edited by Rudolf Walter for Schott ED21836.

 

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Jan Sliwinski – Polish apprentice of Cavaillé-Coll

Dr Michal Szostak

Jan Sliwinski

The importance of the personal character and work of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll (1811-1899) for the organ world is well known and undeniable. His Parisian company hosted large numbers of apprentices from all over Europe who wanted to learn the secrets of the profession from the most significant master of his craft.1 In the last issue, I described one person who had been working at the Cavaillé-Coll company and then started his own professional activity in Prague – Emanuel Štepán Petr (1853-1930). In this article, I will follow the same path of Cavaillé-Coll’s pupils but focusing on those from the Polish lands. This will be a story of Jan Sliwinski (1844-1903), one of the finest Polish organ builders of the 19th century who was active in the country in and around Galicia.

?On the base of – very well described in the literature – Romantic tendencies in organ building in Western Europe, I described the different situations regarding the subject of our interest in Eastern Europe. All crucial factors referring to the Czech lands are similar to the Polish lands. Perhaps we can even find the Polish situation more compli­cated, due to the fact that many nationalities (Polish, Ukrainian, Jewish) were combined – there creating a vibrant mix of cultures.

 

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Campo Dei Fiori

Andrew Jolliffe

Campo Dei Fiori

Italy’s Campo Dei Fiori is where God might choose to go on holiday. Subtly tucked between the Italian alps, Switzerland, the Great Lakes and Milan, it lives up to its name. The field of flowers. Here, nature has ruled since the dawn of time.

In the village of Azzio, the camellias cautiously give way to thick forests alive with wolves and wild boar. And for nearly two centuries, a different ruler. In 1828, still in the shadow of Napoleon, two friars Pasquale and Antonio Mascioni set up their nephew Giacomo as an organ builder in what is now the church.

Six generations on, Mascioni thrives in purpose-built workshops about a mile down the road from where it all began. It’s a place where tradition and progress effortlessly fuse. The company actually lives inside its source of silver spruce, pine and European oak, yet was one of the first to explore composites. Generations of craftsmen hail from local families, yet technologists and engineers flock from afar. Mascioni exports regularly to the Far East and across Europe, but here lies a curious irony. All the way till 2016, Azzio church never had an organ.

At last, resources became available and the task entrusted to Andrea Mascioni, the firm’s sixth-generation president, with consultant and recitalist Lorenzo Ghielmi of Milan who also helped fund the project.

 

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St Mary’s Portsea

St Mary’s Portsea

Despite the difficulties brought about by Covid the restoration of the fine 1889 J.W. Walker & Sons pipe organ at St Mary's Portsea got underway in the second half of 2020. Initially planned for a 50 stop Envoy 350 FV by good fortune a larger Regent 356 instrument was released early from hire at Edinburgh Episcopal Cathedral and so this instrument was installed from the beginning of the project.

With 3 manuals, a 32 note pedalboard, and 56 speaking stops delivered through 12 speakers plus a bass bin – the opportunities for an outstanding result in St Mary’s wonderful acoustic could be fully exploited. Three days were set aside to install the organ (2 for the install/speaker setup and 1 for the voicing), but thanks to some excellent preparatory work from the Viscount team in Bicester and Mark Gatrell of South Coast Organs the work was completed in 2 days.

Francis Rumsey a Viscount consultant came to voice the organ. Francis had voiced the Viscount instrument at St Mary’s Witney that has greatly impressed many potential customers. The recordings of that instrument which featured a fine performance of Widor’s sixth, was so impressive that it left Mark, an experienced pipe organ tuner struggling to detect the “electronic” sound of a digital organ.

 

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A Yorkshire organ pipe makers work lives next to President Biden’s inauguration

A report compiled by Richard Tilling

Shires

The inauguration of a newly-elected President of the United States of America takes place every four years at noon on January 20 in Washington, D.C.

Few readers will need reminding of the dramatic events surrounding the election itself and the interregnum between polling day and the inauguration itself, but fewer still will be aware of the unique contributions made to the ceremonies marking the assumption of the presidency by Joseph Biden – in particular, for British readers of this journal, by a long-established Yorkshire firm specialising in the construction of organ pipes.

 

 

 

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The Organ Music of Erkki Salmenhaara: radical avant-gardist to master of neo-classical style

Jan Lehtola

Erkki Salmenhaara

The musical instrument of Erkki Salmenhaara (1941-2002) in his youthful years was the organ, which may explain the relatively large proportion of organ music in his output: between 1966 and 1985 he wrote eight pieces for organ. In addition to six for solo organ, they include an Adagio for oboe and organ and an Introduction and Chorale, which is a concerto for organ and symphony orchestra. The solo works are a concrete reflection of his aesthetic shift towards a simpler mode of expression.

How was Salmenhaara the young Finnish modernist inspired by the organ, to the extent that he composed an hour’s worth of solo music for it, given that orchestral music, and symphonies in particular, was the mainstay of his output?

 

 

 

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