Sunday, 9 August 2009

Frederic Herbert Wood: Scenes from Kent

Recently I was reading through a short essay on organ music by Charles F. Waters and came across a section about music reflecting lines of poetry and prose. Reference was made to a suite by Alec Rowley called The Four Winds. I have this piece somewhere in my collection of organ music, so perhaps more about that piece another day. But it was the following paragraph that caught my eye. Waters wrote: - “The pictorial path was pursued further by Frederic H. Wood (1880-1963) in his suite Scenes in Kent, published by Stainer and Bell in 1924. The four movements comprise and expressive movement for Aylesford Bridge, a rapid moto perpetuo for Allington Lock, a romantic soloed piece for Orchard Blossom, and a carillon for Rochester Bells.”
These are pieces that I have neither heard, nor heard of. Wood followed up the success of this pieces with further suites depicting scenes in other parts of the country –
Scenes from Northumberland Op.25 (1925)
North Tynedale, Cilurnum, Allendale, Borcovicus

Scenes on the Wye (1926)
Rhayader, Monmouth, Tintern, Symonds Yat

Scenes on the Downs Op.29 (1929)
Sunrise on Stonehenge, A Down's Morris, Evening on the Downs, Morning on the Downs

Frederic H Wood was the organist at Blackpool Parish Church for 45 years. He composed a great deal of music for liturgical and recital purposes. Yet as Philip Scowcroft has pointed out, it is the topographical suites that seem to be his musical trademark. Scowcroft suggests that these Suites are “very much in the style of Coates ... contemporary orchestral music and perhaps ranging further than Coates in a geographical sense. Finally, he notes that “The first and last of these suites have been recorded recently; surprisingly they do not appear ever to have been orchestrated. If they were they might have achieved greater popularity.”

At the earliest opportunity I am going to download the two Suites from Amazon and I will then be in a better position to report back as to whether Philip Scowcroft is justified in his enthusiasm. Something tells me that I will be impressed.

Finally in Wood’s obituary in the Musical Times, Peter Dickinson has pointed out that composer’s “published organ music gave him great satisfaction because the photographs used on the covers were his own. The acquisition of the sheet music seems to me to be a priority.


Karen said...

Another gem of information about an obscure composer. The titles are wonderfully evocative of place and mood. I hope that we will eventually get to hear Wood's music. I've searched for recordings but find nothing -- yet. Thank you for an enlightening introduction to FHWood.

Anonymous said...

There is a wonderful recording by David A. Liddle of these superb pieces played at St. Ignatius in New York.
Guild Music GMCD7149.

Anonymous said...

I wonder - is this Frederic H Wood, author of books on ancient Egypt? ( such as: Ancient Egypt Speaks, After Thirty Centuries, The Egyptian Miracle )

Anonymous said...

Yes. He was my great grand father.

Michael Keays said...

Well, I don't seem to be the only one who has just discovered this superb music. As organist of Aylesford Church, I am particularly pleased to have found "Aylesford Bridge", which I will be introducing in a recital in a couple of weeks time. The only way I could get hold of the music was as a Stainer & Bell reprint (expensive, and not brilliant quality, but better than nothing! - Sadly no photos of any significance on the front though). Anyone any ideas though why he came to depict Kent in this way?