Listen to the Organ of Ormskirk Parish Church

Listen here to the ‘March in D’ by WT Best, taken from the CD which is available from the church:

Listen here to the ‘Rondeau’ by Mouret, taken from the same CD:

CD: The Organ of Ormskirk Parish Church

Played by Colin Porter

Available from the church, price £8

Dr. Colin Porter has been Organist of Mossley Hill Parish Church, Liverpool, since 1985, presiding at the famous Father Willis Organ. Along with this appointment, he has also been since 2004 Hon. Organist & Director of Music at St. Barnabas, Penny Lane, until its recent closure and re-opening. He is Chairman of the North & Midlands School of Music and a Fellow of the Guild of Musicians and Singers along with playing organ recitals in many churches, cathedrals and other venues, including Lancaster Town Hall, where he is a regular concert organist. In a number of school holidays, he has played for services in various cathedrals when accompanying the choir of St. John’s College, Southsea. He has been a personal friend of the current Organist at Ormskirk Parish Church since 1980, is Godfather to one of his children and is currently tutor to student organists at the church.  In 2020, he was awarded a Doctorate in Sacred Music, honoris causa,  in recognition of his outstanding work in the field of church music.

The Organ of Ormskirk Parish Church – recording and programme notes:

It was decided to record the organ exactly as it is heard in the building. On that basis, no enhancement has been made to the sound and so the recording was made using two Sony electret condenser cardioid microphones facing the organ diagonally at a height of only 5’, from the Scarisbrick Chapel. The pieces have been selected to reflect the variety of sounds available from the instrument, whilst accounting for the current deficiencies, which it is hoped a restoration would rectify.

The Programme is as follows:

March in D – Best: Included here chiefly because WT Best was probably the greatest concert organist of all time, playing at St George’s Hall, Liverpool, to huge audiences. Whilst he was responsible for many transcriptions of orchestral music to bring them to the wider population, this is an entirely original piece. It provides a good impression of the massive Full Organ sound.

Sonata pour l’Offertoire – Petrali: Petrali was the teacher of the great Italian organist/composer, Marco Enrico Bossi. This piece was written as an incidental piece for the mass; it demonstrates movement between Great, Swell and Choir.

Trumpet Voluntary – Clarke: Clarke was the first Organist of the new St Paul’s Cathedral, London, built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire, and became simultaneously Organist of the Chapel Royal. His inability to establish a relationship with the woman of higher social status with whom he had fallen in love resulted in his committing suicide by shooting himself. He is buried at St Paul’s. Nevertheless, this piece is a staple of many weddings, and features the Tuba on the Choir Organ.

Fugue in G – Krebs: This piece has been selected to demonstrate the organ’s ability to deliver the lighter music of C17/C18 northern Europe in a piece by Krebs, who was a pupil of JS Bach.

Choeur des Sauvages – Rameau: Rameau was born at the end of the C17. This piece is part of some incidental music to a play with a plot involving French and Spanish settlers and their interaction with the ‘Savages’, i.e., the indigenous population. There is nothing remotely savage about this piece!

Allegro – Thorley: The Ormskirk organ still retains a few stops from the C18 predecessor instrument, including flutes on the Choir Organ. These are used to effect in a piece of music contemporaneous with them, written for organ without pedals.

Grand Choeur – Fletcher: A feature of the Ormskirk organ is the distinctive characteristics of each of the departments; the Choir Organ is in fact two divisions, with the Enclosed Choir being, in reality, a Solo Organ, albeit on the third manual. This piece demonstrates the differences between the Great and Swell, heard at the opening, the Swell on its own, which is almost as powerful as the Great and has a massive crescendo ability, and the Choir, heard in the lighter interludes, although not markedly smaller in volume.

Gavotte – Camidge: Camidge was Organist of York Minster and wrote a large amount of light-weight organ music for the classical English organ without pedals. This piece alternates between the C18

Choir Open Diapason (originally on the Great in the predecessor instrument) and the Swell Open Diapason of 1887.

Te Deum Prelude – Charpentier: More recently adopted as the European Anthem, this piece was popularised by Dr Noel Rawsthorne during his tenure as Organist of Liverpool Cathedral. It demonstrates the Tuba in the playing of a large orchestral transcription and is very effective, although Marc-Antoine Charpentier would never have had the opportunity to hear it in this form!

Post Communion – Morandi: This piece is in a lighter idiom; Morandi was a major Italian composer in the first half of the C19 and this piece forms a bridge between the classical style and the incoming romantic movement. It has something in common with the slightly later Court music of Johann Strauss II in Vienna.

Scherzo Pastorale – Federlein: Federlein’s writing, although from the very early C20, is more modern in idiom; here, the Choir Clarinet features.

Prelude and Fugue in D – Buxtehude: Buxtehude was the organist whom legend has it that JS Bach walked many miles to hear. It will be clear from this piece the extent to which he influenced Bach. It demonstrates the ability of this instrument to render some authenticity to north European organ music of the baroque period.

Rondeau – Mouret: Mouret represents the early C18 French school of organ-writing. This piece is a fanfare-like trumpet tune, again rendered on the Tuba against the remainder of the Great, Swell and Pedal.

Sarabande – Karg-Elert: Karg-Elert was a German organist at the beginning of the C20. Probably his most famous piece is ‘Nun Danket Alle Gott’ from the ‘66 Chorale Preludes for Organ’; this miniature from the same collection demonstrates the string-tones on the Swell of the Ormskirk organ. The final episode is delivered on the Clarinet.

Bluebell Polka – F Stanley, arr. C Porter: Not to be confused with the great blind organist John Stanley, no-one seems to know who F Stanley was, although this polka became popular in the mid 1950’s rendered on an accordion! The sound of a French Trompette can be heard in this very lightweight piece; it is achieved by the combination of the Choir Clarinet and Orchestral Oboe!

War March of the Priests – F Mendelssohn: Written as part of the incidental music to Racine’s play Athelie, this has become very well-known and provides a tongue-in-cheek option as a voluntary at the end of a service involving a great number of clergy!

Mark D Rawsthorn 2016