Monday, 3 October 2011

Exeter Cathedral Organist Emeritus Paul Morgan to play the Bryce Seede Organ at Powderham Friday 7 October

Concert in the Music Room
The 1769 Bryce Seede Organ
In the beautiful baroque James Wyatt Music Room at Powderham Castle is a gem of musical history. The Bryce Seede organ was installed in 1769 and is still in original working condition (just). After much fund raising, and a generous sponsorship offer, it is now possible for the organ to be restored to its full former glory. Very soon, every pipe and every moving part will be taken away to be cleaned and reconditioned, before being carefully reassembled to provide the same quality of sound as when it was built.

Before the organ is dismantled, there is still time to enjoy the beautiful sound it is able to make even now. (It was recently 'overhauled' by Michael Farley). The curator (and 'kapellmeister') of the James Wyatt music room and Bryce Seede organ is Professor George Pratt. George is devoted to the organ and makes sure it is heard publicly as often as possible.

This Friday the organ will be played by the organist emeritus of Exeter Cathedral, Paul Morgan. Appropriately enough, he will be playing a reconstruction of an organ concerto by Johann Sebastian Bach.

During the same evening performance there will also be classical and romantic music provided by the 'Wu String Quartet':
Leader/First Violin: Qian Wu
Second Violin: Edward Brenton
Viola: Matthew Kettle
'Cello: Joe Zeitlin
Founded at Chethams's School of Music in 2002, the quartet are in great demand. They are supported by the Philharmonia Orchestra.
They will be playing:
Josef Haydn: Lobkowitz Quartet number 1 (1799) Opus 77
Felix Mendelssohn: String Quartet number 6 (1847) Opus 80
Antonin Dvorak: String Quartet number 13 (1895) Opus 106

The organist for Friday evening, Paul Morgan, has performed recently in a concert of organ and choral music at St Margaret's Church Topsham.

Paul opened the concert with Bach's 'Toccata and Fugue in D Minor'. This familiar piece really came to life through the skill and delicacy of Paul's hands - and feet. The pedal section was very powerful, but never overpowering, while his playing or the upper register on the manuals was very very soft and smooth - celestial as Bach intended. His transitions between the three manuals and opening and closing of stops were always smooth and assured even in the acrobatic final section.

Exeter Cathedral Organist Emeritus Paul Morgan
plays the Nicholson organ at St Margaret's Church Topsham
Paul also chose several other pieces to demonstrate his extraordinary ability as an organist. John James' 'Echo Voluntary' on 'trumpet' (a high register sounding more like a shawm), John Ireland's Villanella (a very gentle song), Edward Elgar's Sonata in G (huge dynamic range), Camille Saint-Saens' 'Prelude and Fugue in E flat' (in a word 'flashy'!), Alexandre Guilmant's 'Priere et Berceuse' ('Prayer and Lullaby') (glorious celeste), Louis Lefebure-Wely's 'Sortie in E flat' (originally unpopular but now much loved) and finally Charles-Marie Widor's 'Toccata' from Symphony No 5 (very clever pedal work). A very Parisian flavour to the second half of the programme.

(Tony Yeates - an organist himself, and very impressed - led the church choir in four twentieth century anthems interspersed between the organ solos. A very lovely sound too.)

Paul would seem to be the very best person to demonstrate the wonderful qualities of the Bryce Seede Organ at Powderham. With the Wu Quartet, and in the sumptuous baroque setting of the James Wyatt Music Room, this looks like being an evening to remember!

Music for String Quartet and Organ
Powderham Castle Friday 7 October 7.30pm
Wu String Quartet – International prizewinners
Paul Morgan – Emeritus organist of Exeter Cathedral

String Quartets:          Haydn Op.77 No.1
                                    Mendelssohn Op.80
                                    Dvorak Op. 106
Organ Concerto:        JS Bach - reconstruction
                                    In the James Wyatt Music Room
Tickets (£14) from Powderham Castle, 01626 890243

Stop Press: A message from the kapellmeister - 

Next Friday's concert at Powderham Castle:  7.30 pm in the James Wyatt Music Room

As I had to be away for several weeks recently, I sent out information about our next '1769 Powderham Castle Organ concert' rather earlier than usual.  In case it got lost in the mists of time, I'm sending this last-minute reminder to all of you on the 'Friends' list. 

The Wu String Quartet, Fellows of Trinity College, have just returned from a very successful trip to Bejing where they were semi-finalists in a major international competition for string quartets.  So this is our chance to hear them before they are too 'big' for the James Wyatt Music Room at Powderham Castle!

They're playing a delightful programme of highly accessible quartets by Haydn, Mendelssoh and Dvorak.

But we haven't forgotten the organ!  Bach never wrote a concerto for it, but some crafty reconstruction allows Paul Morgan, Emeritus Organist of Exeter Cathedral, to play with the string quartet in what is an absolutely genuine Italian-style concerto in all but name.  We'll explain all in the programme notes of course, but it's breath-takingly beautiful.......

There are still a few tickets left.  If you phone the Castle on 01626 890243, you can have them sent to you or, if time is short, they can be kept for you at the door.

With all good wishes,

George Pratt

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