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Sir Edward Meets Father Willis
(Hybrid SACD)
Simon Nieminski

Simon Nieminski plays original organ works and organ transcriptions of works by  Sir Edward Elgar on the ‘Father’ Willis organ of Saint Mary’s Scottish Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland.

This title is available only
as a Hybrid SACD.

Plays in all CD players. In Stock.

$17.98

Product Description


Details

Format: Hybrid SACD (plays in all CD players)
Label:  PRO ORGANO
Catalog Number:  CD 7199
Length: 79′ 04″
Tracks: 21
Organ: Father Henry Willis 1879
Venue: Saint Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland UK
Recorded: 03/16/2005
Released: 12/30/2005
Producer: Frederick Hohman
Notes Author: Simon Nieminski
Notes Language: English
Graphics Format: 12pp book, traycard, jewel box
UPC #: 636077719905

Simon, who was the eminently gracious host for the visit to Saint Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh for the Iona extension of AAM / 2007, here performs transcriptions of works of Sir Edward Elgar on the 1879 “Father” Henry Willis organ (with four rebuilds by Harrison & Harrison) at the Cathedral. His playing is spectacular, and the organ is an ideal choice for these ambitious arrangements. The recording is also a fine complement to the choral “Hear My Words, Ye People,” reviewed in the preceding issue of this Journal.

The undoubted highlight is the masterful transcription by Ruaraidh Sutherland of the “Enigma” Variations. Sutherland is not identified here, but was listed as organ scholar at the Cathedral in the choral release. The realization is so thoroughly idiomatic that one might have guessed that it was originally an organ work, later orchestrated by Elgar, rather than the other way around. Each movement is convincing, and I confess to a distinct preference for Sutherland’s setting of the ever-popular “Nimrod” over the standard one by William H. Harris. (These is also an excellent transcription by Roland Leich, published by the Vienna Woods Music Company in the U.S.). The scherzo-style variations sparkle, and the final variation simply dazzles, both in virtuosity and in the rich “Father” Willis sound.

In his notes, Simon Nieminski suggests, “Nowadays, it seems perhaps bizarre” that Herbert Brewer’s transcriptions takes only the “Prelude” and the concluding “angel’s Farewell” from The Dream of Gerontius, but surely there is ample precedent in orchestral concerts that pair the “Prelude” and “Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde – and Brewer’s work makes a nice 16-minute recital piece. The familiar Chanson de Matin and Chanson de Nuit come off appealingly.

I can respect Simon’s choir to transcribe himself, “as an Anglo-Pole,” the large-scale Polonia, with its national airs and even a bit of a Chopin Nocturne, but I don’t fine it the most interesting piece on the piece, brilliant technical display notwithstanding. Any mixed program, however, may have different levels of appeal to different listeners – and this disc is work owning for the “Enigma” alone!

Fine program notes (including Elgar’s own for the Variations), organ specification, and a biography are included.

– Victor Hill, The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians (September 2007)

01 • Polonia, Op. 76 transcribed by Simon Nieminski • Edward Elgar • 14′
02 • Chanson de Matin, Op. 15 Nº2, transcribed by Herbert Brewer • Edward Elgar • 3’42”
03 • Prelude and Angel’s Farewell from The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38, transcribed by Herbert Brewer • Edward Elgar • 15’58”
04 • Contrasts: The Gavotte – AD 1700 and 1900, Op. 10 Nº3, transcribed by Matthew Kingston • Edward Elgar • 4’32”
05 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36, transcribed by Ruaraidh Sutherland – Theme • Edward Elgar • 1’24”
06 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – I – C.A.E. • Edward Elgar • 2’7″
07 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – II. H.D.S.P • Edward Elgar • 53″
08 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – III. R.B.T. • Edward Elgar • 2’36”
09 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – IV. W.M.B. • Edward Elgar • 35″
10 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – V. R.P.A. • Edward Elgar • 2’24”
11 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – VI. Ysobel • Edward Elgar • 2’40”
12 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – VII. Troyte • Edward Elgar • 1’10”
13 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – VIII. W.N. • Edward Elgar • 1’57”
14 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – IX. Nimrod • Edward Elgar • 3’46”
15 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – X. Dorabella • Edward Elgar • 3’23”
16 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – XI. G.R.S. • Edward Elgar • 1’11”
17 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – XII. B.G.N. • Edward Elgar • 2’33”
18 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – XIII. (***) • Edward Elgar • 2’45”
19 • Variations on an Original Theme “Enigma”, Op. 36 – XIV. E.D.U. – Finale • Edward Elgar • 5’31”
20 • Chanson de Nuit, Op. 15 Nº1, transcribed by Herbert Brewer • Edward Elgar • 4’55”
21 • Minuet from Beau Brummel (1928) transcribed by Purcell J. Mansfield • Edward Elgar • 2’53”

Simon Nieminski
Simon Nieminski was born in London and descended from an unlikely mixture of Edwardian Japanese acrobats, Lancastrian Music Hall artistes and a Polish army veteran. He studied in London at the Royal College of Music, at Cambridge University and as Organ Scholar of York Minster. He has many years’ experience in the cathedral music tradition, currently as Organist of St Mary’s Metropolitan Cathedral, Edinburgh. Learn more…