Concert on 7th May 2017

Richard Walker (Shrewsbury)

Richard Walker

Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 541: J S Bach
Three Pieces: Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Pax Vobiscum op 86 no 5
Jerusalem du hochgebaute Stadt op 65 no 48
Hymn to the Stars (from Seven Pastels From The Lake Of Constance)
Scherzo (Symphonie 2): Louis Vierne
Sonata Eroica: Joseph Jongen


Marche Moderne: Edwin Lemare
Caprice: Alexandre Guilmant
Overture to The Flying Dutchman: Richard Wagner (arr. Lemare)
Slapstick: Ernest Reeves (arr. Richard Walker)
Festival Toccata: Percy Fletcher

After school and cathedral posts in Edinburgh and Cambridge, Richard Walker spent twenty years as director of music at Harrow School. At about the same time he became Treasurer of the Karg-Elert Archive, which did an immense amount to make that composer’s music well known, hence Richard is playing three of his pieces in this concert.

He begins however with what is possibly Bach’s most cheerful piece, and then lets us hear from composers who visited England. Karg-Elert came over for a festival of his music in May 1930, and from his prodigious output we hear three pieces: the gently self-indulgent Pax Vobiscum, a rousing chorale prelude and finally the (initially) marchlike Hymn to the Stars which culminates in Karg-Elert’s typical heartwarming blaze before vanishing into the night. Vierne toured England twice and came to Nottingham in 1925 when he played on our “other” Binns organ in Castlegate; his programme included the fluffy impressionistic scherzo we are to hear today. Jongen was here for the entire duration of the first world war; the first half of the programme concludes with his impressive Sonata Eroica.

Only two known visitors to Nottingham in part 2: the much-loved player and teacher Alexandre Guilmant, who knew the big nineteenth-century organ in St Mary’s in the Lace Market. Guilmant’s Caprice is a delightful piece which involves rapid changes between the manuals.

But before that, the man who opened the Binns organ in 1910: Edwin Lemare, with a sonorous march to start with and then one of his famous transcriptions, in this case the Overture to The Flying Dutchman, said to have been inspired by a very stormy voyage which Wagner was obliged to make across the North Sea (or the German Ocean, as they used to call it).

A nice family connection, and a light episode just before the end, is Ernest Reeves’s Slapstick. Arranged by Richard Walker, the pages will be turned (as for the rest of the recital) by Ernest Reeves’s grand-daughter Gay Walker.

Finally, Percy Fletcher’s Festival Toccata: a rousing piece dedicated to Lemare by a Derby organist who found fame in London’s musical theatre.

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