Hello again. We’re now in the 4th week of lockdown. This week the sun has shone and it’s been lovely to spend some time in the garden and start working on my tan! This is the week leading up to Easter. Is that Easter Week or is that next week? I’ve never been too sure. I know that last Saturday – the day before Palm Sunday, I should have been playing organ continuo for Eastbourne Choral Society’s performance of J.S.Bach: St John Passion. I think they plan to postpone that till next year.
As organist at St Michaels Church in Lewes, I play a voluntary each Sunday, and I had planned to play most of Brahms’ 11 Chorale Preludes throughout Lent. My copy of the complete organ works of Brahms was given to me by my organ teacher, Robert Weddle (then organist at Coventry Cathedral) back in February 1973 – he wrote my name and the date on the front cover. Although it was new then, the copy quickly started falling apart, so my Dad re-bound it for me – he was very good at that sort of thing (and many other things). Sadly, as you can see from the photo, it’s had a lot of hard wear and pages are now falling out.
Brahms wrote his 11 Chorale Preludes in 1897, the last year of his life. In fact, they may be the last pieces he wrote. I’ve played about half of them on a regular basis over the years, but I’ve only just decided to complete the set by learning the rest.
This week I’ve just received in the post a new recording gadget, a Sony PCM A10. It’s not for serious recording, but I find it useful to record my practice sometimes so that I can listen back to hear errors, or uneven tempo or just things that I didn’t realise I did, that could be improved. So yesterday, I recorded 3 or the Brahms Preludes and I thought I would share them with you.
Each piece is a Prelude based on a Lutheran Hymn tune. They are old melodies not sung generally these days, certainly not much in English churches, so you probably won’t recognise the tunes, which are played in the treble part played by the right hand.
I hope you enjoy them and wish you a Happy Easter.
1. Herzlich tut mich erfreuen
My faithful heart rejoices;
The summer comes at last,
When God, all things reviving,
Shall bring Eternity.
The Heav’n and Earth in splendor
Will He afresh create,
And all of us, His creatures,
Shall pure and flawless be
2. O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen
Blessed are ye, faithful souls departed;
Death awakened you to life immortal.
You are delivered
of all cares that hold the world in bondage.
3. Es ist ein ros entsprungen
Behold, a rose is blooming
From out a tender root,
Thus in the house of Jesse,
As tell our ancient hymns,
A young and tender shoot
Amid the gloom of winter
Burst forth in wond’rous bloom.