It is 10 years to the day since the magnificent Mander Organ was inaugurated in the school Chapel, and we celebrate this anniversary with a recital by our Organist in Residence, Mr Philip Scriven, paying tribute to its generous benefactor, Hamish Ogston (OC). This recital is the third in our new Online Concert Series; after Long Leave you can expect to hear some magnificent performances given by our pupils.
Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911) was a Parisian organist, who, much like his more famous compatriot César Franck, began a school of organist/composers in France that is still very much alive and thriving today, 150 years later. He succeeded Widor as Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatoire, was organist at the Church of the Holy Trinity (near the Paris Opera) for 30 years from 1871 to 1901, and was ‘Organiste honoraire’ at the Cathédrale of Notre-Dame from 1902. As well as composing prolifically for the organ, he was a widely travelled recitalist, and a musicologist who did much for earlier French music. His Sonata in D minor (the first and by far the most popular of eight such works) dates from 1874, and was the only one which Guilmant later orchestrated; to become his Symphony for Organ and Orchestra.
The dotted rhythms of its Introduction seem like a homage to the French overtures of the Baroque period, and is followed by spirited sonata-form movement with a splendidly athletic first subject (announced by the famous opening pedal solo) and a sustained and expressive second theme. The lovely Pastorale in A major explores the colourful and gentle reed stops of the organ; particularly the oboe, clarinet and Voix Humaine. The brilliant finale, like the first movement, is a tour de force, and also has a sustained second theme whose material dominates the splendid coda at the end. Here the minor-key tensions of the sonata’s dark and turbulent introduction are magnificently resolved into the resplendent key of D major.