The organ always remained a central feature of Charles Villiers Stanford’s (Dublin 1852–London 1924) career as a composer and practical musician. He was educated in the organ lofts of both Christ Church and St Patrick’s Cathedrals in Dublin, principally under the tutelage of Sir Robert Prescott, and his formative years were shaped by church music, the voluntary and the skill of extemporisation. By his teens he had learned to play for services in the cathedrals and St Stephen’s Church (near to his home in Herbert Street) and to provide accompaniment for choral societies in Dublin and neighbouring towns. Indeed, such was his capacity as an organist (not to mention similar abilities as a pianist and violinist), that he gained entrance to Queen’s College, Cambridge, as the first of the university’s organ scholars in the autumn of 1870. In 1873, he migrated to Trinity College on the resignation of John Larkin Hopkins, and remained there as organist and choirmaster until Christmas 1892.
Besides working to boost the profile of the college’s choir, he did much to make the chapel a hub of musical activity and appreciation through the regular series of organ recitals there. To begin with, Stanford was a regular performer at these recitals, though as time went on, his role receded as the expanded series began to attract major organists from cathedrals and major London churches. After resigning his Cambridge post – by which time he had been elected to the Professorship of Music at the university – he moved to London, but at no time did he lose interest in writing for the organ. In part his compositions reflected a major commercial pressure from publishers such as Houghton, Stainer & Bell (with whom he had a close working relationship) and Novello, who wanted works for their catalogue, and, of course there were appreciable royalties to be earned. Indeed, towards the end of his life, when the years of war (and after) depleted Stanford’s income from royalties, the demand for new organ works offered some practical means of earning a meagre living. Furthermore, the production of music for the organ also allowed him to pay tribute to his many organ-playing colleagues.
Daniel Cook is Master of the Choristers and Organist of Durham Cathedral and is recognised internationally as a liturgical and concert organist of the highest order. In addition he is Artistic Director of Mousai, Curator of JAM on the Marsh, Musical Director of Durham University Choral Society, and maintains a busy schedule of recitals, concerts and recordings, both as performer and producer, as well as being in demand as a conductor, teacher and singer.
He has recorded this work on the Priory label.
I. Allegro (molto moderato) 1
II. Tempo di Menuetto (Allegretto) 6
III. Allegro maestoso (Come Prima) 13
Performance Notes 22
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