... methinks so, sadly. Even though the (excellent) new instrument is not miles away at the West end, it is up quite high and so this distance might well have been the cause of some questionable choir intonation. Sadly I have to agree about the choice of introit in the circumstances and we were all willing the soloist to get up there possibly to the point of it exhausting us nearly as much as it seemed to be a strain for him...
Originally Posted by Y Mab Afradlon
Bluntly, Keble was a bit of a low point compared to recent months. That said, apart from the Mystical Pong the repertoire was well chosen.
PS: have always been soft on that Boyle anthem, with one of the great 'treble tunes' of the 20th C in the middle (not unlike the one in Blessed City), and it was standard in the Lloyd-era Durham days (incl. a good recording of it) - ah, happy days for some of us!
One would surmise that there must be one or two at least cathedral etc choirs who would have given a lot to stage a CE last Wednesday, even to getting their choirs back a day or so early to practice. Likewise, there is a HUGE BBC archive if not. What we heard on Wednesday was .....well, just a tad dismaying.
Was this broadcast all about the new organ? Yes, without a doubt ..!
I'm reminded of two 'notorious' broadcasts from St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle in October 1965. Choral Evensong then was only allowed 45 minutes air time, but Sidney Campbell managed to whip the choir through 'the business', including the penetential rite at the beginning of the service, in around 30 minutes, so that an entire voluntary could be aired, unusual, if not unique in those days. Harrison & Harrison had only recently finished their wonderful new instrument in the chapel, and a Praeludium in D minor by Buxtehude was played at one service, and the Toccata (from the Suite) by Duruflé at the other. The Psalms especially went at one hell of a lick to facilitate this! The Duruflé, by the way, was played by the brilliant young organ scholar at that time, who later came back to St G's as assistant organist, and my predecessor, John Porter.
Last year, St Edmundsbury did a rather more subtle job show-casing their wonderful new instrument, by programming an anthem (Bairstow Blessed city), which has a splendidly colourful organ part, as well as a fine Howells voluntary.
However wonderful the new organ in Keble chapel, the old pipe organ was made to work effectively enough by organ scholar Colin Walsh accompanying Christ Church Cathedral Choir dir. Simon Preston in one of my all-time favourite choral recordings: 'Romantic Choral Classics' on the Argo ZRG871 rec.Oct. 1977. Majestic accounts of 'Give unto the Lord' (EE), 'Christus factus est' (AB) and other gems that sounded very well in that resonant acoustic - the CCChoir enjoying themselves away from the dead acoustic of home. To the best of my knowledge, of the ten tracks on the LP, only the Elgar has been reissued on CD.
This organ was replaced by a Copeman Hart digital organ which had done temporary service at Truro Cathedral while its Father Willis was being given a brush-up during the early 1990s. The harpsichord stop on the CH raised a smile when used, sparingly, but inevitably always inappropriately (by Mr Briggs).
What a wonderful story! Are you sure that it was the Duruflé though? If it was the Buxtehude at the first service, then the second must have been the Final from Vierne's Symphonie no.1 because Campbell once played me a tape of it, saying specifically that it was JP playing it after a broadcast Choral Evensong. And what a jaw-dropping performance it was, too. But maybe the Vierne was from a third broadcast.
Originally Posted by Roger Judd
Last edited by Vox Humana; 27-12-12 at 22:16.
Yes, it was the Duruflé - I heard it at the time, and I also have a CD transfer of a tape, made at the time, which is dated. The broadcast was dubbed 'The Express Service'!
John Porter was an extremely fine player, as indeed was Sidney Campbell. The latter made a quite brilliant LP of French repertoire on the then new Windsor organ, and it has reappeared on a Priory 2 disc set called 'the Ryemuse Collection' - recordings that date from the 1960s. Even Priory's technical expertise cannot iron out some of the period shortcomings in recording technique, but the performances quite easily override failings in that department.
Thank you, Roger. Now I am wondering whether it is my memory which is at fault - which, at this distance in time, is more than possible!
I have "The Ryemuse Collection" and, indeed, a copy of Dr Campbell's original LP (now much the worse for wear). His interpretations are masterly indeed. He told me that he had the microphones placed at some distance from the organ in order "to pick up the chapel acoustic". I assume that is why there is less clarity to the sound than one might have expected. I have an LP of John Porter's on which he plays music by Harris, Campbell and others. The playing is scintillating and his interpretations of Campbell's pieces are exactly as he would have played them himself.