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Bonbons for Organ Vol.2
John Joseph WOODS (1849-1934)

‘God Defend New Zealand’ (1870) [1.23]
Paul SPICER (1952- )

"Kiwi Fireworks", Variations (5) on ‘God Defend New Zealand’ [16.00]
Johann ERNST (1696 - 1715)

Violin Concerto in G Op 1, #1 (arr. organ solo by J.S. Bach: BWV 592) [8.12]
Jules GRISON (1837-1914)

Toccata in F [6.41]
Tielman SUSATO (c.1500 - c.1564)

Mohrentanz (arr. Rawsthorne) [3.08]
Martin SETCHELL (1949 - )

Trumpet Gigue [2.21]
Aram KHACHATURIAN (1903 - 1978)

Gayaneh: Sabre Dance [2.34]
Erik SATIE (1866 - 1925)

Gymnopédie #1 [3.20]
John Philip SOUSA (1854 - 1932)

The Liberty Bell [3.30]
Sir William WALTON (1902 - 1983)

Façade: Popular Song (arr. Gower) [2.25]
Joseph CALLAERTS (1838-1901)

Toccata in e, Op 29 #1 [2.46]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835 - 1921)

Carnival of the Animals: Elelphants [1.34]
Jean LANGLAIS (1907 - 1991)

American Suite: Scherzo-Cats [2.07]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865 - 1957)

Finlandia (arr. Fricker) [9.18]
Pietro YON (1886 -1943)

L’Organo Primitivo: Humoresque [2.23]
Alfred Louis James LEFÉBURE-WÉLY (1817-1869)

Sortie in Bb [3.33]
Martin Setchell, Rieger Organ (1997) in Christchurch Town Hall, New Zealand
The Artist’s website: www.organist.co.nz
All arrangements are by Setchell unless otherwise noted.
Organ tuned by Thomas Rhoffs to A=440.
Recorded in Town Hall, Christchurch, New Zealand, 27 January 2003
ATOLL ACD 603 [72.41]

The island nation of New Zealand used to be mentioned only in Agatha Christie novels as an appropriate place for English speaking people suddenly to emerge from or suddenly to disappear to, the surface of the moon being, at that time, due to technical considerations, as yet unavailable for such purposes. But now New Zealand has conquered the world by means of two films (a third being promised) based on the Tolkien novels. New Zealand has triumphed where Hollywood and London had, following 50 years of pitiful struggle, miserably failed. The superiority of New Zealand having thus been definitively established, other things from there are now of interest. Already volume 1 of Bonbons for Organ has become a best seller (regrettably I’ve not heard it) but never fear (fanfare, please) volume 2 is here!

The first selection is, perhaps not surprisingly, the New Zealand national anthem, "God Defend New Zealand:"

God of nations! at Thy feet
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our Free Land.
Guard Pacific's triple star,
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.

Thomas Bracken (1843-1898)

We are spared the words in this performance, but soon we spy that there is a purpose to it for the second selection is a set of variations on that same tune. Foreigners understandably being unfamiliar with the song would naturally require a refresher hearing.

This set of variations on a national air is not nearly so much fun as Charles Ives’ set of organ variations on the tune that is sometimes known in the colonies as ‘My country, ‘tis of thee.’ Mention of this Ives composition under the wrong circumstances could easily get your name struck permanently off the invitation list for Royal teas, and might even earn you a dead fly in your next G&T. Now that’s FIREWORKS. However unless fireworks is New Zealander slang for gentle smirk, or maybe quiet snicker, the piece is not aptly described. No, this set of variations is a perfectly acceptable topic of conversation at most Royal occasions, right after She says something modestly dismissive about New Zealand in general, of course.

I have a particular nostalgia for Bach’s BWV 592 because in my very first love affair it was "our song." Surely not terribly many starry eyed teenage lovers have a special song with a BWV number, but I have never confessed to being anything other than exceptional. And while Setchell’s performance of it is quite OK, my performance is better, my registration is better, and my ornamentation is better. So if those of you who admire this recording want something a little more upscale, watch this space for information on how to purchase my recording of this music when it becomes available.

Finlandia as performed here is arranged by Fricker; but not the Fricker you might expect, that is to say P. Racine Fricker, composer and professor at the Royal College of Music and actually a distant relative of Racine. No, not that Fricker whose surname was once described in a masterpiece of British understatement as ‘faintly Teutonic.’ No, this Fricker is a different Fricker entirely, Herbert Fricker, who was organist at Leeds Town Hall before emigrating to Canada. And while Canada is not nearly so conservative nor so far away from England as New Zealand, many will no doubt consider it to be a step in entirely the right direction.

Organist Setchell himself was born in 1949 in Blackpool, England. He is also a linguist as well as a musicologist, and teaches and lectures at various universities as well as giving concerts in many countries. He is occasionally even permitted to return briefly to the UK.

Although the Gymnopedies of Satie are heard these days played on almost every combination of instruments except its native instrument, the piano, this organ version by Setchell is particularly effective. The Sousa is played with plenty of bounce, and there are genuine wit and sarcasm in the Walton. The Callaerts and Grison Toccatas are unfamiliar (to me) but brilliant display pieces of considerable interest. Setchell brings the requisite heaviness to the Saint-Saëns, and the clever and sprightly Langlais gives the perfect contrast. The Finlandia makes abundant use of the organ’s extensive brass voices. The Yon Humoresque makes a quiet interlude between two loud pieces. It is startling to think of the rollicking Sortie by Lefébure-Wély actually played in any church, let alone Saint-Sulpice; a music hall would be more like it, but it brings things to a solid conclusion.

Although it was built by an Austrian firm, this is a French organ in sound and style, and the performer underlines that by programming much French organ music. We might hope that in the future recorded recitals of French repertoire might issue from this venue. The cartoon figures on the packaging (and the tone of my comments) might have you believe that this is a comic concert with whoops and shrieks and a laugh track, but in fact it is more in the mood of a noontime organ recital. Although Number 2 might bring a smile to the face of a New Zealander, there is nothing here that is blatantly satirical or bufffoonish; while some of the music is quite serious, most of it is light in nature. However, it should be obvious that the whole production has left me in a playful mood and I suspect it will do as well for you. Spoofing aside, Mr. Setchell is a virtuoso of awesome capabilities and knows how to use of every feature of this huge instrument with its 32 foot kontraposaune, and make it all sound so easy, which it most certainly is not. The variety of pieces displays the organ to very good advantage, and, since the recording is demonstration quality, enthusiasts of organ sound would find this a valid documentation of this beautiful and unique instrument which includes a sequencer. But this is not a true theatre organ, and as such there is no xylophone in the Sabre Dance, no cymbals in the Mohrentanz, no drums or snares in the Sousa, and no drum roll before the National Anthem.

If your favourite record shop does not stock this CD, it is available on line from

www.jigsawpuzzles.co.nz/organcd_shop.htm

Paul Shoemaker

see also review by Simon Jenner



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