Lunchtime Organ Recital

February 3, 2021
1:15 pm

Roger Sayer will be peforming online live-streamed on the Church’s YouTube Channel

JS Bach (1685-1750)

Toccata in F BWV 540

Prelude and ‘fiddle’ Fugue in D minor BWV 539

Francis Jackson (1917 -)

Toccata, Chorale and Fugue op 16

The Toccata in F was written in either Leipzig or Weimar, and is an extended work of eye-watering counterpoint. It opens with a canon above a tonic pedal point, followed by a brilliant pedal solo, before the canon is reiterated with variations in C minor. The two canons move the harmony from the tonic key of F to the dominant, and the remainder of the movement is a brilliant concerto, full of imitation, dazzling and adventurous harmonies, and virtuosic writing which present Bach at his most daring.

Bach wrote his Prelude and Fugue in D minor, BWV 539, around 1720. It is likely that he had not intended these to be paired. The short Prelude is for manuals alone, whilst the Fugue was recycled from the Violin Sonata in G minor, BWV 1000. It shows Bach as the master of transcription as well as composition.

The Toccata, Chorale, and Fugue by Francis Jackson (b. 1917) was completed in 1955 and is ‘affectionately dedicated to Dr Healey Willan’, an English-born composer who settled in Canada.

Toccata, Chorale and Fugue is a virtuoso work that explores a vast range of colour and dynamics on the organ. Much is made of the fiery theme, heard as an introduction before the Toccata (although without the dotted rhythm), and the Toccata itself is vibrant and spirited, and full of modal harmony.

The Chorale is built up from an upward leap of a seventh and part of the Toccata theme. It opens with a recapitulation of the Toccata’s powerful introduction before settling into a lyrical reinterpretation of the Toccata’s semiquavers and dotted rhythms.

The Fugue is built on a characterful independent subject, but soon the introduction of semiquavers from the Toccata take hold and there is no restraining all the other themes from the Toccata and Introduction, which dash forward in contrapuntal tumult.

Roger Sayer is at the forefront of British choral and organ music. He joined Temple Church in 2013 and has since created an impressive portfolio of concert, recordings and broadcasts. In addition to conducting, he is in demand both as a recitalist and accompanist at home and internationally and his work has also extended into the film world, with his most recent performance as organ soloist for Hans Zimmer’s Oscar nominated score for the motion picture Interstellar.

Lunchtime Organ Recital

February 10, 2021
1:15 pm

Roger Sayer

Flourish for an Occasion, William Harris

Elegiac Romance, John Ireland

Iste Confessor Domini from Le Tombeau de Titelouze, Op. 38 no. 12, Marcel Dupré

Final in B flat, Op. 21, César Franck

William Harris made a significant contribution to English Church music, writing some of the 19th Century’s most treasured choral classics, including Holy Is The True Light, Faire Is The Heaven, and Bring Us O Lord God. During his time as organist of St George’s Chapel Windsor Castle he became familiar with the pageantry of royal services and ceremonies. Flourish for an Occasion dates from 1947, the year of the marriage of Princess Elizabeth, and exploits the huge variety of colour and power available to the Romantic organ in delicate textures, lightning-fast scales and powerful antiphony between full organ and solo tuba.

John Ireland was a major British musical figure of the 20th Century. His compositions ventured into many genres, and his influence as a teacher at the Royal College of Music was profound, guiding and shaping the development of a number of successful students, including Benjamin Britten. Ireland’s own output includes music for solo voice, choir, orchestra, piano, and organ. The Elegiac Romance is his earliest work for organ. It is a beautiful and emotional tour de force, characterised by Ireland’s distinctive Impressionist style, mysterious harmonies and orchestral writing. It subtly shifts from gentle solo melodies and flowing accompaniments to a monumental chorus, and back to a recapitulation of the opening melody.

Marcel Dupré was one of the most significant organists of the 20th century. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his death in 1971. He wrote a colossal array of music, whilst maintaining an active recital career and holding the post of Organist Titulaire at the church of Saint Sulpice, Paris. This short and prayerful choral prelude is based on a Latin hymn used in services on the feasts of confessors. The chorale is in the pedals, supported by a sumptuously rich accompaniment.

There can be no dispute of the importance of César Franck in the musical life of Paris. His approach to organ composition brought about major change with a new ‘symphonic style’ which matched the colours, textures and dynamic range of the Romantic orchestra. Dupre’s music is often complex, using a harmonic language that is prototypically late Romantic, and betrays the influence of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner. The ‘Final’ is dedicated to Lefébure-Wély, a contemporary of Franck whose playing was virtuosic, and compositional style rather frivolous. One can hear both of these elements in the ‘Final’ which features much joy, as well as the typical rich harmonic counterpoint so prevalent in Franck’s other music.

This performance will be live-streamed on the Church’s YouTube Channel

Lunchtime Organ Recital

February 17, 2021
1:15 pm

Charles Andrews Organ

Fantasia in C minor BWV562 (Bach)

Two settings of Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier BWV731, 730 (Bach)

Jesu dulcis memoria (Walford Davies)

Elegy (Thalben-Ball)

Attende Domine (Demessieux)

Prelude & fugue in F minor BWV534 (Bach)

Today’s programme is intended to reflect the penitential mood Christians observe on this day in the church calendar, Ash Wednesday. Bach’s Fantasia in C minor betrays his admiration for French contemporaries with its five-part texture. No complete accompanying fugue has survived, but the plangent Fantasia feels quite complete by itself.

Two settings of the chorale “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier” follow. The text, in Catherine Winkworth’s translation, is, “Blessed Jesus, at your word we are gathered all to hear you. Let our hearts and souls be stirred now to seek and love and fear you. By your gospel pure and holy, teach us, Lord, to love you solely.” Chorale preludes are played, in German traditions, before the first verse of a hymn is sung. Bach’s serene music must have been meant to inspire an attentive attitude to this hymn text.

Henry Walford Davies was Organist at the Temple Church from 1898-1923. An extremely eminent musician of his day, he was Master of the King’s Music from 1934-41 and Organist of St George’s Chapel, Windsor from 1927-32. His most famous works include RAF March Past, Solemn Melody for organ and strings and the short anthem, “God be in my head”. He was known as a very fine choir-trainer and a man of exceptional Christian devotion. Jesu dulcis memoria is based on a motif composed by Walford Davies to words by Julian of Norwich, “The place that Jesus taketh in our Soul, he shall never therefrom remove, without end; For in us is his homeliest home, and his endless dwelling.”

The successor of Walford Davies at the Temple Church, George Thalben-Ball’s glorious tenure lasted nearly sixty years until 1982. Widely acknowledged as the most brilliant organ virtuoso of his day, his teachers included the composers Stanford and Parry and the organist G D Cunningham. Thalben-Ball apparently improvised the melody of his famous Elegy at the request of Walford Davies, after a service broadcast by the BBC. He later formed it into the present composition. Elegy consciously mimics the spirit of Solemn Melody by Walford Davies but the result is sincere and touching and one of Thalben-Ball’s most satisfying compositions.

Favourite student of celebrated organist-composer Marcel Dupré, Jeanne Demessieux wove the two distinctive melodies of the ‘Lent Prose’ into a rich and intense tapestry in her prelude Attende Domine. The translation known best in England is, “Hear us, O Lord; have mercy upon us: for we have sinned against thee”.

Many scholars today consider the Prelude & fugue BWV534 unlikely to have been composed by Bach. Though the counterpoint and balance of form are not consistently so fine as in the master’s best works, BWV534 packs significant emotional punch and makes a most satisfying work to perform.

This recital will be available on the Church’s YouTube Channel.

Holy Communion

February 18, 2021
1:15 pm

This service will be live-streamed on the Church’s YouTube Channel

Holy Communion

February 21, 2021
11:15 am

This service will be live-streamed on the Church’s YouTube Channel