Organ Music for Pentecost
Music played in Blackburn Cathedral
Veni Creator Spiritus (1981) Carl Rütti
Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott Franz Tunder
Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott BuxWV 199 Dietrich Buxtehude
Fantasia super Komm, Heiliger Geist BWV 651 J.S. Bach
Messe de la Pentecôte (1950) Olivier Messiaen
Nun bitten wir den Heiligen Geist BuxWV 209 Dietrich Buxtehude
Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist BWV 667 J.S. Bach
Prélude, Adagio et Choral Varié sur le thème du Veni Creator Maurice Duruflé
Total playing time 70m 47s
The music on this CD is all suitable for the feast of Pentecost, 50 days after Easter, when the church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit. Much of it is based on the ancient Latin hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, the famous English translation of which begins:
‘Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,
And lighten with celestial fire;
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost thy sevenfold gifts impart.
Born in Manchester in 1976, Greg Morris began to study the organ with Andrew Dean at the Manchester Grammar School. He subsequently held organ scholarships at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, Jesus College, Cambridge and St Martin-in-the-Fields. While at Cambridge, he held a music exhibition as well as directing and accompanying the two chapel choirs. In September 2000 Greg took up the post of Assistant Director of Music at Blackburn Cathedral. He conducts the Young People’s Choir, which under his direction has visited Rome on its first foreign tour and broadcast Choral Matins on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship. Greg also accompanies the Cathedral Choir and Cathedral Girls’ Choir, and with them has visited Germany and USA, and broadcast on BBC Radios 3 & 4, as well as BBC TV’s Songs of Praise.
Greg has studied the organ with Paul Stubbings, Dr John Kitchen and Thomas Trotter. He gained his FRCO diploma in 2000, winning the Limpus, Frederick Shinn and Durrant Prizes for organ playing and the Samuel Baker Prize for overall performance. As a soloist, Greg has performed at a number of prestigious venues in this country and abroad, including St Paul’s Cathedral, London, Huddersfield Town Hall and Braunschweig Cathedral in Germany. This is his first solo CD recording.
The Organ of Blackburn Cathedral
Blackburn Parish Church was built in 1826, and organs by Gray (1826 and 1831) and Cavaillé-Coll (1875) were placed on the west wall of the church. The building was re-consecrated as a Cathedral in 1926, when the Diocese of Blackburn was established, and ambitious plans to extend the building were drawn up. When the large transepts were completed in 1953, Henry Willis III was commissioned to move the organ to a bridge at the East end of the Nave. In 1964 the organ was taken down so that a temporary wall could be built, dividing the nave from the transepts to enable work to begin on restoring the nave, whilst the remainder of the cathedral could be used for worship. J.W. Walker and Sons removed the organ and lent the cathedral a four-rank, totally enclosed, extension organ, which served well for five years.
A scheme for a new instrument was drawn up by John Bertalot (the Cathedral Organist), in consultation with Francis Jackson and Bert Collop (managing director of Walker’s). William Thompson, a generous benefactor from Burnley who had already given large sums of money for the restoration of the Nave and the building of the Lantern Tower and Spire, was asked by John Bertalot to give £30,000 to pay for the new organ. On 20th March, 1968, an envelope arrived from him with a cheque for 30,000 guineas (£31, 500) made out to John Bertalot. The new organ was dedicated on 20th December 1969. It was voiced by Walter Goodey and Dennis Thurlow. John Hayward, the artist, consulted with Walker’s to produce the stunning highly coloured organ “cases”, including swell boxes which are in full view, and a doubly mitred Serpent, coloured green and gold.
The organ swiftly gained an enviable reputation for its vibrant tonal quality, most notably the fiery reed stops. However, from as early as 1983, serious problems became apparent, particularly in relation to the wind system and action. At the same time, the Lantern Tower also required major work, thus delaying work to the organ. In 1994, shortly after Gordon Stewart’s appointment as Director of Music, David Wood took over the care of the organ. Some short term problems were attended to and the console was modernised.
In October 2000 an appeal was launched to restore the organ. I was keen that all of the 1969 tonal features should be retained, but that the opportunity should be taken to provide various extra colours to enhance and better equip an instrument that is expected not only to accompany liturgy on a daily basis, but also to present the complete range of solo repertoire in a stylistic manner. For example, I felt that an Oboe on the Swell and a Fifteenth on the Great were essential additions. Also that a reed at 8’ pitch on the Positive and a Vox Humana would be useful and that the organ really needed additional 8’ foundation pitch, more gravitas on the Pedal and extra 16’ manual tone. In order to address these desired tonal additions and to bring the organ into proper working order, I devised a scheme to restore and enlarge the organ, in consultation with David Briggs, John Bertalot, Canon Andrew Hindley, Greg Morris and David Wood. The organ was restored and enlarged between July 2001 and June 2002, during which time a Rodgers digital instrument was used.
The entire instrument has been cleaned and overhauled. A Fifteenth on the Great and a Cliquot-style Cromorne on the Positive have been added. The new Solo department has been positioned above the Great, with new stops: Flûte Harmonique 8’, Viola 8’, Viola Céleste 8’, Flûte Octaviante 4’ and Voix Humaine. The old Swell Cromorne has been moved to the Solo, and renamed “Clarinette”; in its place on the Swell is a new Hautbois. Two new ranks of pipes have been made available on the Pedal: a 6 2/5 Grosse Tierce and 10 2/3 Grosse Quint. Two new digital ranks, by Walker Technical Company USA, have also been made available on the Pedal: 32’ Sub Principal and 16’ Flûte Ouverte. A wealth of octave and sub-octave couplers have been provided. A new 4 manual console has been built by Wood of Huddersfield, in the style of the original 3 manual console. A new Cymbelstern and star have been added and safety features for maintaining the instrument have been incorporated.
David Wood and his colleagues have developed the instrument with great skill; they have breathed new life into all the wonderful original colours which had been sounding tired for some years and have blended new ranks into the organ in such a sensitive way. The result is an incredibly versatile and reliable instrument with a tremendous range of dynamic and tonal colour, coupled with a sense of sheer power, but also great subtlety and tremendous beauty. There are few organs in the world that can demonstrate the entire solo repertoire with such a convincing sense of style. It is also a fantastic organ for the liturgy, capable of accompanying choir and congregation in a sensitive manner. The full range of the organ’s capabilities was shown off to great effect at the opening recital by David Briggs on 6th July 2002. This recording provides further evidence!
Blackburn, February 2003
Produced by Richard Tanner
Recorded and edited by Lance Andrews
Photograph by Brian Newton