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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Yesterday (Wed 19th June) I had the pleasure of giving the first organ recital in Dundee Congregational Church since 1958! Not that this church is a stranger to concerts- being one of the venues for Dundee Chamber Music events. I'm much impressed by the instrument (3 manuals by the Dundee builder Miller 1929- as in the photo), and while it's not in tip-top condition, the finely voiced 8' stops on the swell and choir in particular, and also pleasant solo stops such as the choir clarinet, are a pleasure to work with. My continuing recognition of the Wagner anniversary informed my programming of the Prelude to Act 1 of Parsifal (screened Live from the Met at DCA earlier in the year) as the opening item: having known the original version for a long time, I was slightly doubtful as to how effectively it might transfer to the organ, but Edwin Lemare made a fine job of it, the trumpet solo from the original being thumbed out on the great beneath demisemiquaver arpeggios on the swell. In fact it almost feels like an original organ piece, somewhere between Franck and Guilmant( who said he wanted to hear it on reaching paradise!). The organ writing of Lemare(who was organist at St Margaret's Westminster before emigrating to the USA) has a clarity that I for one do not readily associate with English writing of the period(c.1900); a further authority is given to his Wagner transcriptions in that they recieved the imprimatur (not always infallible!) of the Wagner family(?Cosima). The other reason for playing Parsifal was to commemorate Ron Turbyne whose passing coincided, I believe,with the 200th birthday of Wagner; Ron played for a while at this church in the 70s, one of many duties fulfilled in his significant contribution to Dundee's musical life over more than half a century. After a number of smaller pieces, I concluded with Bach's Fugue in Eflat (known as St Anne in the Anglosphere)- another Guilmant favourite. The reception to all this from the small audience was very warm: I hope the people of Dundee will support the lunchtime concerts at this venue in the weeks to come. Dundee has developed an interesting lunchtime concert scene accross several venues in recent years: this new addition is a welcome development. My next recital here will be on Wed 17th July, and will include "Pipedream" by Iain Matheson and pieces by Marcel Dupre. Indeed, after the success of yesterday's event, I'm considering playing the (shorter) prelude to Act3 of Parsifal.

The Bosendorfer piano in Dundee University Chaplaincy this morning, shortly before my recital as part of WestFest. Inspite of losing much practice time to an unforeseen bout of hayfever caused by a large field of oil seed rape just beside my house, I managed to put together a programme of piano music by Scottish composers; I'm glad to say it was warmly received. It fell into two parts: works by the mutually acquainted composers Erik Chisholm (3 of the Piobaireachds for solo pf), F.G.Scott (2 song transcriptions by Ronald Stevenson) and Stevenson himself (2 folk settings,Sonatina Serenissima-well received again, & Recitative and Air on DSCH); and secondly Morris Pert's "Standing Stones" suite of 2007 preceded by Iain Matheson's "Drosten", part of my Pert project-of which more elsewhere-performed in the presence of the composer. The event seemed to work pretty well, and further confirmed my feeling that Chisholm and Pert complement each other particularly well.

For several years now, the episcopal cathedral in King St Aberdeen has hosted a year round series of lunchtime concerts at noon every Saturday; admission is free, and a wide range of music is performed. A significant contribution to Aberdeen's already healthy music scene, as important in its way as the excellent Sound festival which takes place in November. Pictured here is the Yamaha piano and the case of the Hill,Norman and Beard organ; the 3 manual console is located at ground level on the other (ie South) side of the choir; at the east end of the north aisle of the nave can be seen the screen in front of the choir organ(operated from the lowest manual). My next recital in the series(on organ) will be on 30th November and will probably include music by Wagner and Ronald Stevenson.

The Yamaha piano in St Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral,Aberdeen just before my lunchtime recital last Saturday (8th June) which was largely a repeat of the Wagner bicentenary programme I played in Dundee in February. The large grey volume is Der Musicalische Nachlass by Nietzsche, from which I played a piece written by the 19 year old future philosopher, based on a poem by von Eichendorf. The two principal pieces in the programme were von Bulow's piano reduction of the prelude to Tristan and Liszt's Solemn March to the Holy Grail based on material from Parsifal.