Thursday, 15 January 2009

Organ Music: Sounds of St. Asaph

Nicolaus Bruhns (1665-1697) Praeludium in E minor François Couperin (1668-1733) Three Movements from Messe Pour Les Paroisses: Et In Terra Pax / Benedicimus Te / Qui Tollis Peccata Mundi; J.S. Bach (1685-1750)Wir gläuben all' an einen Gott BWV680 (c.1739) J.D. Edwards (1805-1885)Rhosymedre; Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) Prelude On Rhosymedre (1920) Romanza: The White Rock (1956) Herbert Howells (1892-1983) Master Tallis's Testament (1940) Psalm Prelude Set 2 No 1 Ps 130 v1 Out Of The Deep Have I Called Unto Thee, O Lord (1938-39) William Mathias (1934-1992) Processional (1964) Chorale (1966) Recessional (1964) Camille Saint SaËns (1835-1921)Fantaisie in D flat Op.101 (1895) Petr Eben (1929-2007) The Wedding In Cana: No 4 of Four Biblical Dances (1990-91) A
lan McGuinness on the organ.

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing this excellent CD or organ music from the small but perfectly proportioned Cathedral of St Asaph in North Wales. Perhaps the thing that impressed me most on this recital was the Vaughan Williams pieces –with a little extra:-
"One of the little treasures on this CD is the hymn tune Rhosymedre. Probably better known in its incarnation as Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Prelude, it is nice to hear the original tune that was written within the bounds of the Diocese of St. Asaph. The Parish of Rhosymedre was established in 1844 and is situated in the River Dee valley. The first vicar of the parish, a certain Rev. John David Edwards wrote this tune during his time at the parish.
RVW wrote comparatively few works for the organ - or piano for that matter. Most impressive is the Prelude and Fugue in C minor. However his Prelude on Rhosymedre is probably the most popular and best known: it was the second of his Three Preludes founded on Welsh Hymns. This is surely one of the loveliest pieces of organ music in the repertoire. It sounds surprisingly easy to play, but the simplicity belies a subtlety and poise that is near perfect".

Another interesting part of this recital are the three pieces by the great Welsh composer William Mathias, He was:-
“...the founder of the North Wales International Music Festival in St. Asaph is well represented on this disc with three fine pieces. I have always been a great fan of his Processional, which was written in 1964. I can recall just about getting my fingers round this work when I used to play the church organ. Unlike Alan McGuinness I was hardly note perfect and the pedal part was largely ‘faked’. It is well performed here, even if a little restrained. The Choral which was written at Easter 1966 is introverted and quite mysterious: I guess it has more to do with a misty Welsh landscape than anything Anglican or churchy. Perhaps the most impressive of Mathias’s ‘warhorses’ is the colourful Recessional. This work, as its title implies, would be played at the end of a service as the congregation leaves the Cathedral. I would probably hang on until the organist finished! After an impressive tuba solo, the piece develops contrasting moods of ‘dark brooding’ material with a much brighter tune that nods back to the Processional. The tuba solo at the conclusion banishes all care”.

Please read my full review at MusicWeb International

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