Forthcoming Release: Sweelinck’s Complete Keyboard Music volume 3
A copy of this instrument made by David Evans is played in the third volume of my recording of Sweelinck’s complete keyboard works, to be released by Chandos Records in early 2016.
The construction is typically Flemish. The 41 note compass C/E-a2,g2 is strung in iron with yellow brass basses. The pitch is A415 hertz.
An outstanding feature is the plucking point which lies about half way between that of the spinetta (plucked close to the nut) and the muselar (plucked well away from the nut). This gives the Grouwels a sound more like that of a small harpsichord than that of the more typical and later Flemish instruments.
CD of music by Handel and his English contemporaries, including Handel’s friend Maurice Greene, organist of St Paul’s, Thomas Roseingrave, organist of Handel’s parish church, Starling and William Goodwin, organists of Southwark Cathedral, William Boyce and John Stanley, organist of the Temple Church, played on an organ built in 1766 by Thomas Parker – Handel’s favourite organ builder!
Performed on the 1766 Thomas Parker Organ at St Mary and St Nicholas, Leatherhead
Next CD release
Sean Rafferty and Robert Woolley discuss the 1740 Shudi harpsichord from the Royal Collection, and play music composed for the First Georgians by Handel and Domenico Paradies on BBC Radio 3 In Tune on http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04359wm – 1hr: 40 mins in
This year Robert will make audio and video recordings of music connected with George I and II, playing a two manual harpsichord commissioned in 1740 by Frederick, Prince of Wales, from Burkat Shudi, which was later owned by King George III and Queen Charlotte, and now belongs to the Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. He will give a recital on this instrument at Buckingham Palace later this year.
This harpsichord is one of Shudi’s earliest and finest instruments. Its quills are taken from the ravens from the Tower of London.
Listen to recordings on this instrument here: Royal Collection Sound
Concert, Buckingham Palace, Friday 30 May: Royal Collection Event
Royal Collection Trust – What’s on: Royal Collection Digital Programme
THE QUEEN’S MEDAL FOR MUSIC
Dame Emma is the sixth winner of the award which was introduced in 2005 and is made annually to an individual (or group of musicians) judged to have had a major influence on the musical life of the nation. Previous winners are Sir Charles Mackerras (2005), Bryn Terfel (2006), Professor Judith Weir (2007), Kathryn Tickell (2008) and Sir Colin Davis (2009).
WEDNESDAY 1 JUNE 2011 – ST BOTOLPH’S ALDGATE
Robert Woolley plays Handel, Boyce, Goodwin, Kendall, Nares, Walond on the Renatus Harris Organ, 1702
SATURDAY 3 OCTOBER 2009 – BRITISH INSTITUTE OF ORGAN STUDIES
THE GEORGIAN PARISH CHURCH ORGAN AND ITS MUSIC
1766 THOMAS PARKER ORGAN AT LEATHERHEAD PARISH CHURCH
11.00 Registration & Coffee
11.30 Introduction to the organ and its restoration Linda Heath, Sally Drage and Dominic Gwynn
13.00 Lunch (please specify dietary requirements below)
14.00 The world of the Georgian parish church organist Dominic Gwynn
14.30 The contribution of the organ to congregational singing and parish life in Georgian England
Sally Drage (co-editor Musica Britannica vol.85 Eighteenth Century Psalmody)
16.00 Organ concert by Robert Woolley
St Mary & St Nicholas, Leatherhead, Surrey has an 18th Century organ by Thomas Parker (1766) recovered from the remains of the fire damaged 1873 Walker pipe organ (II/14) and restored by Goetze & Gwynn Ltd (2007). The stoplist is based on the surviving Great windchest, and the entry in the Walker shopbooks, when they moved the organ to Leatherhead in 1843.
Original pipework which has survived has been incorporated. The Trumpet is new, based on the surviving Parker Trumpet in the organ at St Mary’s, Barnsley and Church, Spitalfields. The case is new, using the dimensions in the Walker shopbooks, and the sketch in the Sperling Notebooks, with reference to surviving contemporary cases.
Further details can be found on – www.goetzegwynn.co.uk/restored/leatherhead.shtml and www.parishchurch.leatherheadweb.org.uk/parkerorgan
BLUE PLAQUES: JOHN BLOW
“I have been working with English Heritage towards the installation of
a Blue Plaque to John Blow at Beveree, his house in Hampton: English
Heritage has now shortlisted this for full historical research,
including a detailed investigation into Blow’s surviving London
addresses and their suitability for commemoration.
A report will be submitted to English Heritage as soon as possible
after this investigation is complete, and will be posted here. Please
watch this space !”
Concerts this season include: St John’s Smith Square, London; The University Church, Oxford, West Horsley; Robinson College, Cambridge; Internationale Orgelwoche, Waldshut; Kingston upon Thames Parish Church; Ergue Gaberic, Gumiliau, Brittany; Flanders Festival; Dartmouth Festival; Cobbe Collection, Hatchlands Park; Dunblane Cathedral;
Louis Couperin – Newly discovered and transcribed organ works
Sweelinck – Fantasias, Variations, Toccatas for harpsichord and organ
JS Bach – Piece d’Orgue (early version after JJ Walther)
MUSICAL POINTERS REVIEW
J S Bach Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1
Robert Woolley, clavichord
October 29 2011, Quaker Meeting House, Oxford
The clavichord is a demanding instrument: to produce a good sound, one must think carefully about each note, and play it with just the right amount of pressure. So playing 24 preludes and fugues in one afternoon is a major task requiring the utmost concentration. It was triumphantly accomplished by Robert Woolley on October 29 in the Quaker Meeting House.
Hearing Book 1 as a whole was a revelation. The preludes are all so different, and so beautiful; and the fugues help to bind the preludes together into a single structure of alternating formal and informal pieces. Though, Bach being Bach, the formal-informal alternation is not quite regular; for example, Prelude 7 is in fact a toccata and fugue – and a substantial 4-part fugue at that – while Fugue 7 is light and scherzo-like.
The different characters of the pieces were well brought out in this performance. Each musical line was clear, intelligible, and beautifully shaped, even in the complex four- and five-part fugues, and the structure of each piece was made clear by subtle pauses for breath at key points – yet the feeling of forward movement was never lost, even in the more thoughtful cantabile pieces. I particularly enjoyed the last few bars of each item; there are so many ways of approaching the end: various degrees of slowing down, perhaps followed by a crisp cadence, or going full speed to the end, to name but a few. Woolley used a great variety of approaches, always beautifully managed, making me smile every time.
The Karin Richter clavichord 2009 (copied from an anonymous unfretted clavichord c.1730 from the Dresden region) sounded clear and beautiful in the wood-panelled Meeting Room, and it was an ideal medium for this music. A harpsichord can sound ravishingly beautiful, but it’s arguable that the Well-Tempered Clavier is better served by a less strongly flavoured sound. I was reminded of the old saying “with the harpsichord you listen to the instrument; with the clavichord you hear the music”.
British Clavichord Society Event
Anonymous clavichord from the Dresden area c.1730, Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Keyboard Instruments.