Introduction to the Organ. Niland (Faber, 45s.).
LIKE "The British Organ"
(Glutton and Niland; Batsford Ltd.), "Introduction to the Organ" is a primer, useful not merely to the beginner but to all organists. One cannot study its pages without a fresh appraisal of tone colour and range in the king of instruments. Diagrams as to the mechanism and registration are clear—just the right amount is demonstrated by each figure; and that makes for quicker understanding. The Festival Hall Organ was constructed in 1954 to the specification of Ralph Downes. The classical revival in the building of British organs had come to stay. And in these days of moonmen wonder, it is still an experience to hear the full power of Messalen's description of the Saviour's Ascension played on the Harrison instrument in the R.F.H.
For all that, dispute will go on; the pre-classical revival of Victorian organ of Great Britsin is irresistible. as a comparison between the Albert Hall and Festival Hall organs will show. The full effect of the Albert Hall instrument is warmer and more "diapason-principal" in tone than the rich, ready amalgam of the Festival Hall organ.
Austin Niland makes the point that much organ playing is too loud. Organists might study the end of Smetana's "Overture to the Bartered Bride"; triumphant volume can go with an ending but much more skilled is the careful buildup interspersed with soft contrast and/or changes in rhythm.
The glossary of organ stops is invaluable. Perhaps a few words on electronic organs and their development over the last 50 years might have been included.
"Making the best of the average British organ" is a wise chapter.
The plates showing various organs are of top quality.
Basic Music Knowledge. Warburton (Longmans, I5s.).
The thoroughness of all Annie Warburton's text books is in evidence in "Basic Music Knowledge". Take the subject of "Melody Writing to Words". Each step—from the use of hyphens between syllables to the subtleties of musical and poetic accent—is analysed with one object in view: the understanding of the pupil.
The book as a whole is the work of a great teacher who is endowed with the "patience" spoken of in St. Paul's 2nd Epistle to Timothy (iv. 3).
In the harmony section, information about the aural recognition of cadences is telling. The correct thought processes for relating melody and bass are all laid down. If one can inculcate the habit of accurate analysis necessary for writing music of different periods and styles, a victory has been achieved.
The chapter on the history of music should be taken, one suggests, in parts—for example the Bach-Handel instruction should be connected with the first pages of the harmony chapter.
Inevitably, some inaccuracies appear in the section on the history of music. This is because a rapid rather than a detailed scholastic survey is Annie Warburton's aim. Instruments 'were sometimes used, however. for church music of the 16th early 17th centuries as the work of the Gabrielis shows.
A useful chapter on prescribed works and their analysis, especially in G.C.E. work, has been included.
The questions after hearing a record or tape of orchestral music are well put.
St. James' Mass. St. M. Rose O.P, (St. Paul Publications).
It is good to see that the last section of the "Lord have
mercy" does not imitate, note for note, the first part; it follows the spirit rather than the letter of the 1st phase and ends in B flat Major rather than the expected G Minor (with "Picardie' 3rd).
In the "Gloria", •the melody is pleasant and singable but a better arrangement of musical and verbal accent might be suggested at "We adore thee" and "We glorify thee." There are points where improved harmony is desirable—e.g. at "Lord Jesus Christ" (only begotten Son). Range of melody is for the most part rather restricted on the first page of the "Gloria".
Some of the harmonies of "Sanctus" and "Agnes", being too "romantic", don't mix with the somewhat severe, almost modal melody. The part writing is a bit cramped in a bar or two of the "Agnus .
One would wish for music of a more dramatic quality in a Mass. But Sister Rose knows children from eldest to youngest in a school. She is an economist (and much more) as well as a musician. One admires her formidable experience in education. Sister Rose knows well that her Mass will be beautifully done at St. James', Burnt Oak. It will be liked elsewhere but in unison rather than harmony