Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

In a Monastery Garden (Ketèlbey)
Londonderry Air (trad.)
Improvisation on 'Were you There' (Callahan)
Improvisation on 'Abide with Me' (Callahan)
Rigaudon (Campra)
Dreams (McAmis)
Fiat Lux (Dubois)
Chorale Prelude on 'Crimond' (Rowley)
Prelude on Song 46 (Sowerby)
Largo, Xerxes (Handel)
Paean (Chuckerbutty)
Trumpet tune (Callahan)
Arioso (Callahan)
Sicilienne (Paradis)
Christos Patterakis (Perry)
Solemn Melody (Davies)
Adagio Cantabile (Bach)

A compilation played on organ by J. Culp
First Presbyterian Church, Kilgore, Texas
GUILD GMCD7212 [76.03]

This organ recital is an intelligent mix of unfamiliar music and of some better-known works, the emphasis being - appropriately so - on American composers.

Charles Callahan (b.1951) is represented by three short pieces as well as by his arrangement of- Maria Theresa von Paradies' Sicilienne. His Improvisation on "Were You There", his brilliant Trumpet Tune and the beautiful Arioso are engaging, well contrasted miniatures.

Roy Perry (1906 - 1978) is also doubly present here: with his own very fine meditation Christos Patterakis and with his arrangements of Walford Davies' Solemn Melody and of Bach's Adagio Cantabile (from Violin Sonata No.3 BWV 1005).

Another American composer, totally unknown to me, is Hugh McAmis (1899 - 1942) whose Dreams is very fine indeed, and well worth hearing; whereas Leo Sowerby is a much better-known composer who has written a good deal of organ music and who is probably best-known for his Classic Concerto for organ and orchestra written in 1944. His short Prelude on Song 46 (i.e. Gibbons' Song 46) is another strong work that deserves to be heard more often.

Besides Walford Davies, three other British composers are featured in this recital. First, Ketèlbey whose In a Monastery Garden (in an arrangement by Hugh Ware) gives this release its generic title. This very popular work transfers quite satisfyingly to the organ, including some bell effects. Quite nicely done. Then, Alec Rowley (1892-1958) who composed a considerable amount of organ music and whose beautiful Chorale Prelude on "Crimond" provides for a good introduction to his music. (The tune Crimond has also been used by Michael Tippett in his Birthday Suite of 1948). Now, I still doubt that Wilson Oliphant Soorjo Alexander Chuckerbutty was a real person, though he is given the dates 1884 - 1960, for who indeed could have lived for about 80 years with such a highly improbable name? However his Paean, presumably written in the 1950s, sounds as a brilliant, humorous pastiche and is very funny indeed.

The rest of the programme includes arrangements of Londonderry Air and of Haendel's Largo from Xerxes as well as short pieces by Campra (Rigaudon) and by Theodore Dubois (Fiat Lux).

This varied program is superbly played by James Culp, who has also included his own Improvisation on "Abide With Me".

Well worth investigating for some too little-known pieces that are really very enjoyable. A very fine recording.

Hubert Culot

and Raymond Walker adds:-

This light music compilation is mainly intended for 'Easy-listening' or for giving a background ambience. Some of the composers are American and largely unknown in the UK. The recording was made in Kilgore, Texas in 1992.

A word about the composers might be of interest since the notes are very sketchy about some of them:-

Chuckerbutty hails from the North-West of England where he was an organist and bandmaster and wrote 'Paean' in the 1950s.

Callahan is an American, born in 1951, whose two organ duets have been previously recorded.

McAmis is a Texas-born American who studied with Widor and Bonnet in Paris before returning to America in 1928 to become organist and choirmaster of a New York church.

Perry This is Roy Perry who was born in 1906 and lived in Texas. He made several organ transcriptions of classical pieces.

Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941) was a London organist, better known for his appointment as Director of Music for the RAF and later as Master of the King's Music. A few of his pieces have been in the catalogues for a number of years.

The organist on this disc is James Culp, organist at the First Presbyterian Church, Kilgore, Texas and whose instrument is used in the recording. The dry acoustics tend to soak up some of the organ's harmonics and suggest that a sophisticated electronic organ is being played. However, a picture of organ and manuals confirms that a traditional pipe organ is being used. There is a sluggishness to the response of pedal notes, which can sometimes come in up to a quarter of a beat late.

A bigger variety of stops and dynamics could have lifted the pieces, but the timbre of the instrument is 'thick' and lacks crispness. In fact the recording generally suffers from a loss in treble frequencies which may have been done to hide tracker action, or maybe the venue is fully carpeted.

The CD Notes are sufficient yet they give disproportionate detail of composers and their works. The first two tracks Ketèlbey & Petrie are given a full page of notes while Chuckerbutty, Callahan, Perry, and Davies are demoted to a few lines. A full specification of the Aeolian-Skinner, Boston organ is provided on a dedicated page, however.

This is not a CD I would go out of my way to buy.

Raymond J Walker

Sound Quality

The two reviewers above differ in their opinion of the sound quality of this recording so another copy was obtained and tested on high end equipment. There does not appear to have been any technical manipulation of the recording but I agree with Raymond Walker that there is an overall opaqueness in the actual sound of the organ exacerbated by the scoring of many of the pieces. This may be true to the organ or may have been the result of hall acoustic and microphone placement but there is a general lack of attack or tightness in the quality of sound produced.

Len Mullenger

Equipment Used:
Chord CPA 3200 / SPM 1200 / DSC1100
Proceed transport
B & W Nautilus 802

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