Two voluntaries by John Stanley
Voluntary XIII (Prelude - Fugue)
Voluntary VI (Diapasons – Corno or Diapasons)
A blind child prodigy, John Stanley was appointed organist at All Hallows, Bread Street London) at the age of 11. He eventually became one of the organists of the Temple Church in London, and succeeded William Boyce as master of the King’s Band of Music. He wrote many songs, solos for the flute, violin, and harpsichord; concertos for strings, and three sets of organ voluntaries. These multi-movement oluntaries assume many forms, including preludes and fugues, concertos, and pieces which show off arious stops of the organ (flutes, trumpets, etc.)
The Prince of Denmark’s March by Jeremiah Clarke
Jeremiah Clarke was a chorister under John Blow at the Chapel Royale, and eventually became one of the organists of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London (with William Croft). This piece was originally written for harpsichord, and later arranged in a suite for strings, oboe, and trumpet. The movement with this melody was titled “The Prince of Denmark’s March.” However, when Henry Wood arranged his piece as a grand processional trumpet voluntary for brass and strings, he attributed the work to Henry Purcell and gave it the name, “Trumpet Voluntary.” It is Wood’s version that was used for Queen Elizabeth’s wedding, and for many Easter postludes at St. Marks. The equally popular arrangement by E. Power Biggs for organ (or optionally, organ and trumpet) has been played at many weddings in this chapel, and provides a less bombastic, more elegant style, befitting the scale of the chapel and its new organ.
Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott, BuxWV 199 by Dieterich Buxtehude
This ancient hymn is based on a German version of the 12th-century chant Veni Sancte Spiritus, and was arranged as a chorale by Martin Luther in 1524. Although sung today as a Pentecost hymn, during Buxtehude’s time it was used as an introit, inviting the Holy Spirit to come into the hearts of the faithful at the beginning of the service. Buxtehude’s setting offers a florid, ornamented treatment of the chorale in the soprano, played on the Dulcian stop with the 2' flute.
Praeludium in D Major, BuxWV 139 by Buxtehude
Dieterich Buxtehude, the great North German organist, composer, and mentor to J. S. Bach, has created here a colorful organ work containing both free, toccata-like passages, as well as a central ugue. The work opens with two contrasting flute combinations. The fugue is played on the Dulcian, and in the closing, rhapsodic sections we hear the principal chorus alternating with the flute chorus.
Six chorale preludes from Orgelbüchlein Johann Sebastian Bach
Bach’s Orgelbüchlein (“Little Organ Book”) consists of short chorale preludes for each season of the liturgical year. These colorful preludes were originally intended as teaching pieces, both for beginning organists and composers. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland features the Praestant with tremulant. Vom Himmel hoch adds the 4' Octave to the Praestant. In dulci jubilo (a canon between the top voice of the right hand and the pedals), features the Rohrflöte with the 2' Octave in the pedal. A canon between the right hand and the pedal in Erschienen ist der herrliche Tag’ is played on the Trompet accompanied by the flutes. Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein features the Blockflöte (played in its lowest range) accompanied by the Gedeckt. In dir ist Freude is played on the full Principal chorus with the Trompet in the pedal.
O Welt, ich muß dich lassen by Johannes Brahms
Brahms wrote a set of eleven organ chorales toward the end of his life; this funeral chorale (“O world, I now must leave thee / Thy paths remain behind me / I go to my Father’s land. / My spirit I surrender / My life, my every member / To God whose throne I now draw nigh.”) is one of the most beautiful in the collection. With its “sighing” two-note motif, sadness and surrender pervades most of the work, until a pause. Then, the final line of the chorale text leads melodies upward, eventually resolving in the rapturous warm harmony of a seven-part F-Major chord.
Vater unser im Himmelreich (chorale and four variations) by Toon Hagen
Toon Hagen is the organist of St. Michael’s Church in Zwolle, Holland, where he plays the last organ designed by Arp Schnitger (finished by his sons). This four-manual organ was restored by Flentrop in 1955. Hagen uses complex rhythms and minimalist techniques to create a mesmerizing partita on the Lutheran chorale setting of the Lord’s Prayer—an effect similar to what one might experience in repetitious prayer.
Two Pieces by Louis Vierne
Adagio from Symphony III
Impromptu from Pièces de Fantasie
These two works by the great French organist Louis Vierne, organist at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris for many years, demonstrate how well late romantic French music can sound on this organ, an organ patterned after organ-building practices of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Germany. The Adagio features all the foundation stops (8' pitch) of the organ, including the Voix celeste. The whimsical Impromptu contrasts flutes with the Viol di Gamba and Voix celeste.
Prelude and Fugue in C Major, BWV 547 by Bach
This joyful prelude, in the unusual meter of 9/8, presents a rising, surging theme in the manuals over a descending arpeggio in the pedals which is repeated in various keys. The five-voice fugue, based on a very short theme appearing no less than 46 times, is developed through inversion, augmentation, and stretto. The entrance of the fifth voice is saved until the end of the fugue and appears grandly in the pedals in augmentation (notes of double length).