|March 3, 2021|
Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)
Fantasia & Toccata
Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)
An Wasserflüssen Babylon
William Lloyd Webber (1914-1982)
Prelude on Rockingham
Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897)
Prière à Notre-Dame
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude in B minor
Written in 1898, Stanford’s Fantasia & Toccata is perhaps our finest Romantic British organ work. As professor of composition at the Royal College of Music he taught two former Temple Church Organists, Henry Walford Davies and George Thalben-Ball.
Though best known for wedding music favourite Canon in D, German composer Johann Pachelbel left several organ works. Here is a prelude on the Lutheran hymn, An Wasserflüssen Babylon, a paraphrase of psalm 137, “By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept: when we remembered thee, O Sion.”
While musically conservative, William Lloyd Webber’s work is as remarkable for its sincerity and charm as for its utter competence. Organist of All Saints, Margaret Street at the time of the Second World War and later of Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, Lloyd Webber composed many religious works including this prelude on Rockingham, the tune most often sung to the hymn When I survey the wondrous cross. Lloyd Webber’s sons Andrew and Julian have both achieved huge fame, respectively as composer and cellist.
The French organist-composer Léon Boëllmann wrote the enduringly popular Suite gothique in 1895. Prière à Notre-Dame (Prayer to Our Lady) is the calm third movement of the suite making use of the soft flute and string stops of the organ.
It’s likely that Bach first performed his Prelude in B minor at a memorial service for the Queen of Poland in 1727. Generally reserved at the time for particularly melancholy music, the key of B minor was also used, notably, by Bach for the aria Erbarme dich in his St Matthew Passion.
This recital will be live-streamed on the Church’s YouTube Channel