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MMD > Archives > November 2008 > 2008.11.15 > 04Prev  Next

Paul Morris CD "Rebirth of Aeolian Player Organ"
By Rowland Lee

I will never forget the thrill of playing the first rolls on my
first player piano, a Technola, at the age of 10.  Alongside the
sheer mechanical thrill also came the pleasure of discovering a whole
forgotten repertoire of wonderful music; Amy Woodforde-Finden's
"Indian Love Lyrics", Herold's "Zampa" Overture, Paul Rubens'
"I Love the Moon", plus the music of Ketelbey, Chaminade and Harry
Scott-Baker (who, I later discovered, had been the organist of my
local Parish Church) and innumerable, wonderful fox-trots and waltzes.
I soon realised that I had a love for a particular type of music which
many people derided as "salon music", preferably performed in a style
considered by many to be worthlessly anachronistic.

When I later visited Frank Holland's collection at the Musical Museum
in South London and heard the three reproducing pipe organs there, an
Aeolian, a Welte, and a Wurlitzer, I knew that I had discovered the
most thrilling, and for me, the perfect medium for hearing the music
which I loved.  I also became aware that there was a whole forgotten
sub-culture of salon music especially composed for organ by talented
organist/composers such as Waldrop, Heinroth, G.B. Nevin, Chenoweth,
Russell, Stoughton and Swinnen.

Such music, recorded from Duo-Art organ rolls, forms the majority of
the tracks on Paul Morris's new CD, "The Rebirth of Aeolian Pipe Organ
opus 1458", recorded on the magnificent organ which Paul has recently
finished rebuilding in his house in Exeter, Devon, UK.  The sleeve notes
tell us that Paul became aware of this organ through a posting on the
MMD in 2001, at which time the organ was being stored in New Hampton,
USA.  It is now the largest Aeolian Pipe Organ Installation in the UK,
and the only one with a 3-manual console.  The four pairs of vibrato
(celeste) ranks, ranging in volume from a silvery Dulciana to an
assertive solo string on high wind pressure, give the organ a very
distinctive sound which reinforces its credentials as an orchestrally-
voiced concert organ with a sound markedly different to that of the
ordinary church type of instrument.

It is a sad fact that most surviving Aeolians, having been rebuilt as
church instruments, have fallen prey to changing tastes in organ design
and had their Vox Humanas and most of their distinctive string-voiced
ranks replaced by "upper work" and high-pitched mutation stops, which
makes the survival of this organ with its original specification intact
all the more remarkable, as it spent twenty years of its life installed
in a church.

There are many wonderful delights to be found on this CD.  Wilbur
Chenoweth's "In a Patio" and "Harvest Festival" are superbly played,
by the composer, with elegance and Percy Grainger-esque energy
respectively.  Nevin's beautiful "Love Song" from the suite "A Day
in Venice", well known as a piano piece, is here revealed anew in
glowing colours as played by organist Chandler Goldthwaite, while the
ubiquitous Archer Gibson gives an exciting, danceable performance of
Malderen's "Tango du Reve".  For me, the stand-out performance, which
had me reaching for the "repeat" button on my CD player, has to be
Emil Velasco's playing of Drdla's "Souvenir", played with consummate
elegance and poise; truly moving.  Paul Morris also performs one track
himself, "The Love Nest" by Hirsch, reminding us what a fine organist
he is.

Paul has to be congratulated for rescuing this wonderful instrument
from an uncertain future, and thanked for making it possible for us
to hear these rare performances.  Most of these rolls have never before
been recorded for CD or vinyl release, and have been accessible only
to those with a Duo-Art pipe organ.  Copies can be ordered through
Paul Morris' web site: 

Rowland Lee
Lincolnshire, UK 

(Message sent Sun 16 Nov 2008, 00:05:58 GMT, from time zone GMT.)

Key Words in Subject:  Aeolian, CD, Morris, Organ, Paul, Player, Rebirth

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