Jacquet's Ghost Stephen Farr
- Huw Watkins (b. 1976)
- 1Piece d'orgue*05:19
- Alexandre P. F. Boëly (1785-1858)
- 2Messe solennelle: Kyrie08:46
- Jehan Alain (1911-1940)
- 3Variations sur un theme de Clement Jannequin, AWV 9906:03
- Judith Bingham (b. 1952) / Jacquet’s Ghost (2012) *
- 4I. Tombeau02:09
- 5II. Labyrinthe02:11
- 6III. Pastorelle somnambule01:24
- 7IV. Envoi01:50
- William Albright (1944-1998)
- 8Chorale-partita in an old style on Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten10:53
- Lionel Rogg (b. 1936)
- 9Ricercare Cromatico*05:11
- Hugo Distler (1908-1942)
- 10Partita und Satz, 'Jesu Christus, unser Heiland, der von uns den Gotteszorn wandt'07:06
- Jon Laukvik (b. 1952)
- 11Monody with Variations*05:56
- Bernard Foccroulle (b. 1953)
Info for Jacquet's Ghost
Following on from his acclaimed world premiere recording of Judith Bingham's The Everlasting Crown, Stephen Farr releases a rare recording of the Metzler organ of Trinity College, Cambridge. The 1975 Metzler organ of Trinity College, Cambridge contains pipework retained from earlier organs installed by Father Smith in 1694 and 1708 and it is this combination of the new and old that colours the musical programme with the message that old and modern idioms can be close, not distant, relations.
The album features several world premiere recordings including Huw Watkins’ Pièce d’Orgue, Lionel Rogg’s Ricercare Cromatico, Jon Laukvik’s Monody with Variations and Bernard Foccroulle’s Spiegel. The recording also contains the first recording of a specially commissioned work by the acclaimed British composer, Judith Bingham entitled Jacquet’s Ghost, which explores the unique tonal qualities of Trinity’s organ.
‘It should be possible for a musician of the twentieth century to retain the spirit of this earlier music. Idiom does not matter [...] by the simple game of ‘musical spelling’ one should be able to pass imperceptibly from one to the other [...]’ These remarks of Jehan Alain, written in an autograph source of the Variations sur un thème de Clément Jannequin, are far from a manifesto: there are few composers for the instrument less likely to wield such a blunt instrument. But their fundamental message – that old and modern idioms can be close, not distant, relations – is one explored by all the music in this programme. The catalyst for Alain’s work is a sixteenth- century chanson, L’espoir que j’ay d’acquerir vostre grâce, erroneously attributed to Clément Jannequin by the anthologist Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin, who was also responsible for numerous editorial modifications to the original chanson. Alain adheres closely to Weckerlin’s altered version of the theme, but the second variation, curiously entitled ‘Maggiore’ – it is anything but – sees the process of alteration begin; the theme is re-stated a perfect fifth higher, and intervals become more complex over a less simply functional bass line. The extended fugato that follows takes this process of complication further, interleaving a secondary idea of increasing angularity and chromatic intensity between the fugal treatments of the theme and moving rapidly through a series of keys. The concluding ‘Grave’ follows a similar process in microcosm, re-emphasising the tonal centres of the home key before recapitulating fragments of the theme in triple, rather than duple time.
Alain (whose performance markings here, as in other works, are often contradictory and inconsistent) specifies throughout the work the use of sonorities typical of the French Classical school, a preoccupation with tone colour which links the Variations to the work of Hugo Distler. The more general aesthetic resemblances between Distler and Alain have sometimes been overstated; indeed, one study by François Sabatier suggests that they share little common ground beyond an interest in early music and in writing for organ and voice. Distler, inspired by the range of sonorities available on the historic Stellwagen instrument of the Jakobikirche in Lübeck where he was organist, drew heavily on the influence of Buxtehude and the North German Baroque idiom. Deploring the cosmopolitan cultural influences so enthusiastically embraced by Alain, and eschewing the Romantic symphonic tradition, he left an oeuvre notable for its intellectual rigour, firmly rooted in the procedures and preoccupations of an earlier generation of German composers and characterised by intensive use of motivic and figurative development. The Partita und Satz “Jesus Christus unser Heiland, der von uns den Gotteszorn wandt” displays these aspects of Distler’s aesthetic clearly; more an extended fantasia than a simple set of variations, it consists of a contrapuntal chorale setting, bicinium (two part invention) and intricately worked ricercare. Appended to the whole is a virtuosic peroration owing much to models from the seventeenth century.
The figural devices of the German Baroque also constitute an important element in William Albright’s Chorale Partita in an Old Style. It is an early work, but the composer drew on the musical procedures of the period elsewhere in his organ music; the Basse de Trompette in Organ Book III, for example, is inspired by the forms, if not the musical language, of the French Classical school of organ composition. Unlike that work, this partita, based on the chorale ‘Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten’ (a melody familiar from its inclusion in J.S .Bach’s ‘Schübler’ chorales) is a sustained homage to earlier models, not only in terms of formal design, but also in aspects of rhythmic figuration, scoring, and registration. In his maturity Albright viewed this work as something of a manifesto; it was published at a time when, in his own words, ‘more and more composers [were] rejecting the necessity of a linear progression of musical language’.
In keeping with Albright’s stated intention of recapturing a past idiom, the music is characterised by both a sense of austerity and notable motivic integrity. Albright’s choice of the same tonality as Bach’s setting of the chorale, C minor, may be construed as a further layer of allusion to earlier models. The characteristic dactyl rhythms of the Bach work are not used, but the texture and figuration of his final variation are closely related to the final variation of Bach’s partita on ‘Sei gegrüsset, Jesu gütig’, BWV 768.
Alexandre Boëly’s Messe Solennelle does not explore earlier idioms by means of allusion; instead, it offers a fresh perspective on them by juxtaposing them in an unaccustomed, indeed unintended, context. The Messe, from which the ‘Kyrie’ is performed here, adheres to the alternatim principle, a liturgical practice widespread in seventeenth and eightennth century France in which organ interludes (often improvised) alternated with sung plainsong. Notable publications in this form included those of Nicolas de Grigny and François Couperin, whose two alternatim settings of the Mass Boëly himself copied out. Boëly – organist of St Germain l’Auxerrois in Paris – was an admirer of earlier music at a time when it was wildly unfashionable to be so, and incorporates his own transcriptions of works by J.S. Bach, Johann Kirnberger, François Couperin and G.F. Handel into his compilation. His own brief contributions are of characteristic contrapuntal fluency and harmonic charm, even if the works by Bach and Handel seem, to modern sensibilities, curious choices for the penitential liturgical context. In the process of compiling this unique collection, Boëly offers an idiosyncratic nineteenth century perspective on older practice, which one commentator has happily characterised as a ‘gallery [...] filled with ghosts’.
Stephen Farr, organ
Members of Sidney Sussex College Chapel Choir 2
David Skinner, director
* world premiere recording
Judith Bingham - Composer
Born in Nottingham in 1952, and raised in Mansfield and Sheffield, Judith Bingham began composing as a small child, and then studied composing and singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She was awarded the Principal’s prize in 1971, and 6 years later the BBC Young Composer award. Recent composition prizes include: the Barlow Prize for a cappella music in 2004, two British Composer Awards in 2004 (choral and liturgical) one in 2006 (choral) and the instrumental award in 2008.
Judith Bingham was a member of the BBC Singers for many years, and between 2004 and 2009 she was their ‘Composer in Association’, during which time she wrote a series of choral works. Several of these were for the BBC Singers, but there were also pieces for other professional, amateur and collegiate choirs, including Salt in the Blood, written for the BBC Symphony Chorus to perform at the 1995 Proms, a Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis for King’s College Cambridge, and diverse anthems and church works for many UK cathedrals. A CD of some of her choral works –‘Remoter Worlds’ by the BBC Singers was released in 2009 on the Signum label. In 2007 she was made a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music for distinguished services to church music.
Although Bingham’s output is marked by the number and variety of its choral works, she has always been seen as an all-rounder, and the scope of her activities has included pieces for brass band, symphonic wind ensemble and various chamber groups and solo instruments, concertos for trumpet and bassoon and tuba, and several impressive works for large orchestra. She has written a substantial body of pieces for organ including Jacob’s Ladder, a concerto written for Stephen Cleobury and Philip Brunelle. A CD of her organ music performed by Tom Winpenny will be released in 2010. A carol God would be born in thee was performed at the King’s College Cambridge Nine Lessons and Carols at Christmas 2004 and was released by EMI on the CD ‘On Christmas Day’. Recently her works have included See and Keep Silent for the BBC Singers and Guy Johnston, and Shadow Aspect for choir, organ and timpani, written for the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union.
Stephen Farr - Organist
Stephen Farr is Director of Music at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, and at Worcester College, Oxford, posts which he combines with a varied career as soloist, continuo player, and conductor. He was Organ Scholar of Clare College, Cambridge, graduating with a double first in Music and an MPhil in musicology. He then held appointments at Christ Church, Oxford, and at Winchester and Guildford Cathedrals.
A former student of David Sanger and a prizewinner at international competition level, he has an established reputation as one of the leading recitalists of his generation, and has appeared in the UK in venues including the Royal Albert Hall (where he gave the premiere of Judith Bingham’s The Everlasting Crown in the BBC Proms 2011); Bridgewater Hall; Symphony Hall, Birmingham; Westminster Cathedral; King’s College, Cambridge, St Paul’s Celebrity Series and Westminster Abbey: he also appears frequently on BBC Radio 3 as both performer and presenter.
He has performed widely in both North and South America (most recently as guest soloist and director at the Cartagena International Music Festival), in Australia, and throughout Europe.
He has a particular commitment to contemporary music, and has been involved in premieres of works by composers including Patrick Gowers, Francis Pott and Robert Saxton; he also collaborated with Thomas Adès in a recording of Under Hamelin Hill, part of an extensive and wide-ranging discography.
His concerto work has included engagements with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra and the London Mozart Players; he made his debut in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 2005. He has also worked with many other leading ensembles including the Berlin Philharmonic (with whom he appeared in the premiere of Jonathan Harvey’s Weltethos under Sir Simon Rattle in October 2011), Florilegium, the Bach Choir, Holst Singers, BBC Singers, Polyphony, The English Concert, London Baroque Soloists, City of London Sinfonia, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Wallace Collection, Endymion Ensemble, the Philharmonia, Academy of Ancient Music, Britten Sinfonia and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.