IN A MONASTERY
|In a Monastery Garden
Improvisation on 'Were you There'
Improvisation on 'Abide with Me'
Chorale Prelude on 'Crimond'
Prelude on Song 46
A compilation played on organ
by J. Culp
First Presbyterian Church, Kilgore, Texas
This organ recital is an intelligent mix of unfamiliar music and of some
better-known works, the emphasis being - appropriately so - on American
Charles Callahan (b.1951) is represented by three short pieces as
well as by his arrangement of- Maria Theresa von Paradies' Sicilienne.
His Improvisation on "Were You There", his brilliant Trumpet Tune
and the beautiful Arioso are engaging, well contrasted miniatures.
Roy Perry (1906 - 1978) is also doubly present here: with his own
very fine meditation Christos Patterakis and with his arrangements
of Walford Davies' Solemn Melody and of Bach's Adagio
Cantabile (from Violin Sonata No.3 BWV 1005).
Another American composer, totally unknown to me, is Hugh McAmis (1899
- 1942) whose Dreams is very fine indeed, and well worth hearing;
whereas Leo Sowerby is a much better-known composer who has written
a good deal of organ music and who is probably best-known for his Classic
Concerto for organ and orchestra written in 1944. His short Prelude on
Song 46 (i.e. Gibbons' Song 46) is another strong work that deserves
to be heard more often.
Besides Walford Davies, three other British composers are featured
in this recital. First, Ketèlbey whose In a Monastery Garden
(in an arrangement by Hugh Ware) gives this release its generic title.
This very popular work transfers quite satisfyingly to the organ, including
some bell effects. Quite nicely done. Then, Alec Rowley (1892-1958)
who composed a considerable amount of organ music and whose beautiful
Chorale Prelude on "Crimond" provides for a good introduction to his
music. (The tune Crimond has also been used by Michael Tippett in
his Birthday Suite of 1948). Now, I still doubt that Wilson Oliphant Soorjo
Alexander Chuckerbutty was a real person, though he is given the dates
1884 - 1960, for who indeed could have lived for about 80 years with such
a highly improbable name? However his Paean, presumably written in
the 1950s, sounds as a brilliant, humorous pastiche and is very funny indeed.
The rest of the programme includes arrangements of Londonderry Air and
of Haendel's Largo from Xerxes as well as short pieces
by Campra (Rigaudon) and by Theodore Dubois (Fiat
This varied program is superbly played by James Culp, who has also included
his own Improvisation on "Abide With Me".
Well worth investigating for some too little-known pieces that are really
very enjoyable. A very fine recording.
and Raymond Walker adds:-
This light music compilation is mainly intended for 'Easy-listening' or for
giving a background ambience. Some of the composers are American and largely
unknown in the UK. The recording was made in Kilgore, Texas in 1992.
A word about the composers might be of interest since the notes are very
sketchy about some of them:-
Chuckerbutty hails from the North-West of England where he was an
organist and bandmaster and wrote 'Paean' in the 1950s.
Callahan is an American, born in 1951, whose two organ duets have
been previously recorded.
McAmis is a Texas-born American who studied with Widor and Bonnet
in Paris before returning to America in 1928 to become organist and choirmaster
of a New York church.
Perry This is Roy Perry who was born in 1906 and lived in Texas. He
made several organ transcriptions of classical pieces.
Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941) was a London organist, better
known for his appointment as Director of Music for the RAF and later as Master
of the King's Music. A few of his pieces have been in the catalogues for
a number of years.
The organist on this disc is James Culp, organist at the First Presbyterian
Church, Kilgore, Texas and whose instrument is used in the recording. The
dry acoustics tend to soak up some of the organ's harmonics and suggest that
a sophisticated electronic organ is being played. However, a picture of organ
and manuals confirms that a traditional pipe organ is being used. There is
a sluggishness to the response of pedal notes, which can sometimes come in
up to a quarter of a beat late.
A bigger variety of stops and dynamics could have lifted the pieces, but
the timbre of the instrument is 'thick' and lacks crispness. In fact the
recording generally suffers from a loss in treble frequencies which may have
been done to hide tracker action, or maybe the venue is fully carpeted.
The CD Notes are sufficient yet they give disproportionate detail of composers
and their works. The first two tracks Ketèlbey & Petrie are given
a full page of notes while Chuckerbutty, Callahan, Perry, and Davies are
demoted to a few lines. A full specification of the Aeolian-Skinner, Boston
organ is provided on a dedicated page, however.
This is not a CD I would go out of my way to buy.
Raymond J Walker
The two reviewers above differ in their opinion of the sound quality of this
recording so another copy was obtained and tested on high end equipment.
There does not appear to have been any technical manipulation of the recording
but I agree with Raymond Walker that there is an overall opaqueness in the
actual sound of the organ exacerbated by the scoring of many of the pieces.
This may be true to the organ or may have been the result of hall acoustic
and microphone placement but there is a general lack of attack or tightness
in the quality of sound produced.
Chord CPA 3200 / SPM 1200 / DSC1100
B & W Nautilus 802