Gillian Weir – A Celebration Gillian Weir – A Celebration


Gillian Weir – A Celebration
Gillian Weir
Label
Decca
Catalogue No.
Barcode
Format
22-CD
About

A 22-CD celebration of the doyenne of organists on her 80th birthday (17 January 2021) spanning her illustrious career of nearly five decades.

‘Weir is to the organ what Heifetz was to the violin, and Casals to the cello – a phenomenon,’ pronounced the celebrated broadcaster John Amis. Fittingly, this is a 22-CD celebration of the doyenne of organists – Dame Gillian Weir – on her 80th birthday (17 January 2021) spanning her illustrious career of nearly five decades.

It presents Gillian Weir’s complete Argo recordings, selected recordings on other labels that have reverted to her, and most enticingly, no fewer than ten discs of previously unpublished BBC radio broadcasts – selected by Dame Gillian. The first twelve CDs in the set are made up of studio recordings and the remaining ten CDs comprise previously unpublished recordings of BBC broadcasts. (Note: the BBC recordings are not included on digital services for streaming or download.)

The set features sixteen organs from six countries and includes a 13,000-word booklet includes informative introductions to the recordings, with Gillian Weir’s reminiscences and amusing anecdotes from the recording sessions and from her encounters with composers such as Olivier Messiaen and William Mathias.

Highlights of this compendium include:

A showpiece recital of dazzling Toccatas and Fantasias from the French organ tradition opening and closing with spectacular pieces by Marcel Dupré, the epitome of the French organist-composer tradition

A recording of Charles Camilleri’s breathtaking Missa Mundi, one of many pieces written for and premiered by Gillian Weir

A stunning disc of pieces by Messiaen recorded at the Royal Festival Hall, London in 1966, shortly after she won First Prize at the St. Albans International Organ Competition

A recital on the beautiful organ of Hexham Abbey, built by Dame Gillian’s late husband, Lawrence Phelps

No fewer than ten discs of previously unpublished BBC radio broadcasts – selected by Gillian Weir, including:
The complete organ works of César Franck, recorded on the magnificent Cavaillé-Coll organ of Saint-Sernin, Toulouse
A thrilling “Proms” recital from The Royal Albert Hall, London of music inspired by dance
The then-complete works of Messiaen recorded in 1979 at the The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, on the organ chosen by Messiaen himself for the première of one of his monumental works
Dame Gillian’s recital from St. Albans Abbey recorded the day after winning the St. Albans Competition, and marking the beginning of her recording career
A recital of French music drawn from three individual programs

GILLIAN WEIR

In 1964, a young organist still in her second year at the Royal College of Music was taking part in the prestigious St. Albans International Organ Festival. As her final piece she played a major work by Olivier Messiaen. At that time this seminal composer’s music was little known outside France, and the drama of the music and the emotion of the performance stunned the audience and the jury of international experts. The prize was hers, and Gillian Weir went on to become one of the world’s best known performers, a concert organist acclaimed by critics and public alike for her musicality, virtuosity and intelligence. Her stature as an international performer is recognised by her numerous awards and honours, which include more than a dozen Honorary degrees, a CBE in 1989 and, in the 1996 New Year’s Honours List, a DBE for her distinguished services to music.

Gillian Weir’s career has been highly unusual in its scope, tracing a trajectory unique for an organist, right from her spectacular double debut shortly after that competition success: first as concerto soloist on the First Night of the Proms, and then with a solo recital at the Royal Festival Hall. Her impact as a new kind of organist, combining youthful glamour with virtuosity and erudition, was immediate, and she was launched on a career which saw her respected worldwide as an extraordinary musician and, in particular, as an ambassador for the organ, on the stages of the world’s concert halls from London to New York, Paris to Tokyo, Berlin to Hong Kong. Her appeal has been to both audiences and critics as well as to fellow musicians: a birthday concert sold-out the Royal Festival Hall in two days, critical plaudits such as ‘Weir’s performance was a marvel’ (Telegraph) are typical, and she was recently made an Hon. Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, joining such luminaries as Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Britten. She has been the subject of Melvyn Bragg’s South Bank Show (the only organist to be accorded that accolade), and was included in both the Sunday Times’s and Classic CD’s Millennium surveys as one of the 100 greatest players of the century.

Gillian Weir has brought new audiences to an appreciation of organ music through her TV appearances and documentaries. Her six-part BBC series The King of Instruments, in which she was both presenter and player, drew a weekly audience of two million, exceptional for an arts program, and was repeated in several other countries.

Dame Gillian is acclaimed as a pre-eminent exponent of Messiaen’s music, and is widely sought-after as lecturer and writer (including for Faber’s Messiaen Companion). Yvonne Loriod Messiaen’s ‘C’est magnifique!’ sums up the reaction to her famous Messiaen recordings. But her repertoire is exceptional in its breadth and variety, stretching from the Renaissance to contemporary works, as showcased in her legendary series for Argo, and she has performed the complete works of Bach as well as Franck and others. She is a sought-after pedagogue and coach for young players, and she has forged new paths for women, both as a player and in such roles as President of the venerable Royal College of Organists as well as of the Incorporated Society of Musicians.

In 2012 Gillian Weir brought her 48-year-long performing career to a close, after some 2000 appearances and a host of acclaimed recordings. After her standing-room-only farewell recital, John Allison wrote in the Telegraph ‘The organ world will never be quite the same again’. Happily Dame Gillian continues to give master-classes, act as competition jurist, and indefatigably to champion the cause of music.

TRACK LISTING / ARTISTS

THE STUDIO RECORDINGS (CDs 1–12)

CD 1
NICOLAUS BRUHNS (1665–1697)
Præludium in G major
Præludium in E minor ‘Großes’
Præludium in E minor ‘Kleines’
Fantasia on Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

SAMUEL SCHEIDT (1587–1654)
Passamezzo, SSWV 107
Gillian Weir at the Organ of Clare College, Cambridge

CD 2
JEAN-FRANÇOIS DANDRIEU (1682–1738)
Premier Livre de Pièces d’Orgue
Pièces en A. Mi La majeur
Magnificat
Pièces en G. Ré sol mineur
Magnificat
Gillian Weir at the Organs of Leonhardskirche, Basel and the Great Organ of the Church of Saint-Maximin de Thionville

CD 3
LOUIS MARCHAND (1669–1732)
Premier livre d’orgue excerpts
Troisième livre d’orgue excerpt
Quatrième livre d’orgue
Cinquième livre d’orgue
Gillian Weir at the Great Organ of the Church of Saint-Maximin de Thionville

CD 4
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685–1750)
Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, BWV 564
Fantasia in G major, BWV 572
Trio Sonata No. 1 in E flat major, BWV 525
Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582
Gillian Weir at the Organ of Laurenskerk, Rotterdam

CD 5
FRANÇOIS COUPERIN (1668–1733)
Messe pour les Paroisses
Gillian Weir at the Organ of Prediger-Kirche, Zürich

CD 6
FRANÇOIS COUPERIN (1668–1733)
Messe pour les Couvents
Gillian Weir at the Organ of Prediger-Kirche, Zürich

LOUIS-NICOLAS CLÉRAMBAULT (1676–1749)
Livre d’Orgue
Suite du Premier Ton (G minor)
Suite du Deuxième Ton (D minor)
Gillian Weir at the Organ of Prediger-Kirche, Zürich

CD 7
FRANÇOIS ROBERDAY (1624–1680)
Fugue et Caprices pour orgue
Gillian Weir at the Organ of Leonhardskirche, Basel

CD 8
CHARLES CAMILLERI (1931–2009)
Missa Mundi
Gillian Weir at the Organ of the Royal Festival Hall

CD 9
THE ORGAN AT HEXHAM ABBEY
CHARLES-MARIE WIDOR (1844–1937)
Allegro (Symphony No. 6, Op. 42 No. 2)

LOUIS VIERNE (1870–1937)
Impromptu (Pièces de Fantaisie)

JOHN BULL (1562–1628)
Dr. Bull’s My Selfe
Dr. Bull’s Jewell

NICOLAS DE GRIGNY (1672–1703)
Récit de Tierce en Taille (Premier Livre d’Orgue)

HENRI MULET (1878–1967)
Tu es Petra (Esquisses byzantines)

LOUIS-CLAUDE DAQUIN (1694–1772)
Noël XII: Noël Suisse

MARCEL DUPRÉ (1886–1971)
Fileuse (Suite Bretonne, Op. 21 No. 2)

JEAN LANGLAIS (1907–1991)
Dialogue sur les mixtures (Suite Brève)

THOMAS TOMKINS (1572–1656)
Worster Braules

JAN PIETERSZOON SWEELINCK (1562–1621)
Mein junges Leben hat ein End

THÉODORE DUBOIS (1837–1924)
Toccata in G minor (12 Pièces Nouvelles)
Gillian Weir at the Organ of Hexham Abbey

CD 10
FELIX MENDELSSOHN (1809–1847)
Hör mein Bitten (Hear my Prayer)
Motet, Op. 39 No. 1: Veni, Domine
Ave Maria, Op. 23 No. 2
Felicity Palmer, soprano (Hör mein Bitten)
John Elwes, tenor (Ave Maria)
Heinrich Schütz Choir and Chorale
Gillian Weir, organ
Roger Norrington

ZOLTÁN KODÁLY (1882–1967)
Psalm 114, from the Geneva Psalter
Laudes Organi – Fantasia on a 12th-century sequence
Brighton Festival Chorus
Gillian Weir, organ
László Heltay

CD 11
OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
Le Banquet Céleste
Les Corps Glorieux
Apparition de l’Église Éternelle
Gillian Weir at the Organ of the Royal Festival Hall, London

CD 12
OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
Verset pour la Fête de la Dédicace
L’Ascension (excerpts)
Gillian Weir at the Organ of the Royal Festival Hall, London

MARCEL DUPRÉ (1886–1971)
Variations sur un Noël, Op. 20

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835–1921)
Fantaisie No. 1 in E flat major

LOUIS VIERNE (1870–1937)
3 Pièces de Fantaisie

JACQUES CHARPENTIER (1933–2017)
L’Ange à la Trompette

MARCEL DUPRÉ (1886–1971)
Deuxième Symphonie, Op. 26
Gillian Weir at the Hradetzky organ in the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester

BBC RECORDINGS (CDs 13–22)
Live Recordings from the BBC – Previously Unpublished
CD 13

LOUIS VIERNE (1870–1937)
Naïades (Pièces de Fantaisie)

OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
Combat de la Mort et de la Vie (Les Corps Glorieux)

WILLIAM MATHIAS (1934–1992)
Variations on a Hymn Tune ‘Braint’, Op. 20

GILLIAN WEIR
at the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Alban, St. Albans, Hertfordshire

DIETERICH BUXTEHUDE (1637–1707)
Toccata in F major, BuxWV 156

GIROLAMO FRESCOBALDI (1583–1643)
Aria detto to Balletto

LUIGI ROSSI (1597–1653)
Toccata Settima

ARTHUR HONEGGER (1892–1955)
Fugue

ANTON HEILLER (1923–1979)
Suite: In Festo Corporis Christi
Gillian Weir at the organ of Chapel of Clare College, Cambridge

CD 14
THE ORGAN DANCES
ANTONIO VALENTE (1520–1580)
Lo ballo dell’ Intorcia

CÉSAR FRANCK (1822–1890)
Choral No. 2

ANTON HEILLER
(1923–1979)
Tanz-Toccata

PETR EBEN (1929–2007)
Walpurgisnacht (from Faust)

JEHAN ALAIN (1911–1940)
Trois Danses

OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
Transports de joie d’une âme devant la gloire du Christ qui est la sienna (L’Ascension)
Gillian Weir at the organ of the Royal Albert Hall, London

CD 15
MARCEL DUPRÉ (1886–1971)
Le Monde dans l’attente du Sauveur (Symphonie-Passion, Op. 23)

JEHAN ALAIN (1911–1940)
Intermezzo

CHARLES TOURNEMIRE (1870–1939)
Choral-paraphrase sur le Victimae Paschali (transc. Duruflé)
Gillian Weir at the organ of Birmingham Oratory, Birmingham

JEHAN ALAIN (1911–1940)
Deux Fantaisies
Gillian Weir at the organ of the Royal Festival Hall, London

JEAN LANGLAIS (1907–1991)
Incantation pour un jour saint

MAURICE DURUFLÉ (1902–1986)
Prélude sur l’Introït de l’Epiphanie

LÉON BOËLLMANN (1862–1897)
Versets sur ‘Adoro Te’

JEANNE DEMESSIEUX (1921–1968)
Deux Choral Préludes, Op. 8
Te Deum, Op. 11*
Gillian Weir at the organ of Aarhus Domkirke, Aarhaus, Denmark

CD 16
CÉSAR FRANCK (1822–1890)
Choral No. 1 in E major (Trois Chorals)
Cantabile (Trois Pièces)
Grande Pièce Symphonique (Six Pièces)
Fantaisie in A major (Trois Pièces)
Prélude, Fugue et Variation, Op. 18 (Six Pièces)
Pièce héroïque (Trois Pièces)
Gillian Weir at the organ of Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, France

CD 17
CÉSAR FRANCK (1822–1890)
Choral No. 2 in B minor (Trois Chorals)
Pastorale (Six Pièces)
Prière, Op. 20 (Six Pièces)
Choral No. 3 in A minor (Trois Chorals)
Fantaisie in C major, Op. 16 (Six Pièces)
Andantino in G minor
Final, Op. 21 (Six Pièces)
Gillian Weir at the organ of Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, France

CD 18
OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
Le Banquet Céleste
Diptyque
Apparition de l’Église Éternelle
L’Ascension
Gillian Weir at the organ of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC

CD 19
OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
La Nativité du Seigneur
Gillian Weir at the organ of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC

CD 20
OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
Les Corps Glorieux
Gillian Weir at the organ of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC

CD 21
OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
Messe de la Pentecôte
Verset pour la Fête de la Dédicace
Livre d’Orgue
Gillian Weir at the organ of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC

CD 22
OLIVIER MESSIAEN (1908–1992)
Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte Trinité
Gillian Weir at the organ of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC

Recording information

CD 1
Recording Producer: Michael Bremner
Balance Engineer: Stanley Goodall
Recording Location: Clare College, Cambridge, UK, 18–20 March 1974
Original Argo Release: ZK 65: June 1980

CD 2
Recording Producer: Michael Bremner
Balance Engineer: Stanley Goodall
Recording Locations: Leonhardskirche, Basel, Switzerland, 1–3 August 1973; Saint-Maximin de Thionville, France, 1–2 October 1974
Original Argo Release: ZK 84: July 1980

CD 3
Recording Producer: Michael Bremner
Balance Engineer: Stanley Goodall
Recording Location: Saint-Maximin de Thionville, France, 1–2 October 1974
Original Argo Release: ZK 57: April 1979

CD 4
Recording Producer: Michael Bremner
Balance Engineers: Stanley Goodall, Simon Eadon, Malcolm Hogg
Recording Location: Laurenskerk, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 29 October–1 November 1974
Original Argo Release: ZK 10: November 1976

CD 5
Recording Producer: Michael Bremner
Balance Engineer: Stanley Goodall
Recording Location: Prediger-Kirche, Zürich, Switzerland, 7–12 August 1972
Original Argo Release: 4BBA1011-12: April 1977

CD 6
Recording Producer: Michael Bremner
Balance Engineer: Stanley Goodall
Recording Locations: Prediger-Kirche, Zurich, Austria, 7–12 August 1972 (Couperin); Leonhardskirche, Basel, Switzerland, 1–3 August 1973 (Clérambault)
Original Argo Releases: 4BBA1011-12 (Couperin): June 1973; ZRG 742 (Clérambault): March 1974

CD 7
Recording Producer: Michael Bremner
Balance Engineer: Stanley Goodall
Recording Location: Leonhardskirche, Basel, Switzerland, 1–3 August 1973
Original Argo Release: ZRG 744: September 1974

CD 8
Recording Producer: Norman Austin
Balance Engineer: Sean Davies
Recording Location: Royal Festival Hall, London, UK, 1974
Original Argo Release: ZRG 812: June 1975

CD 9
Recording Producer: Christopher Hazell
Balance Engineers: Stanley Goodall, Simon Eadon
Recording Location: Hexham Abbey, Northumberland, England, UK, 25–26 September 1975
Original Argo Release: ZRG 864: February 1977

CD 10
Recording Producers: Michael Bremner (Mendelssohn); James Mallinson (Kodály)
Balance Engineers: Stanley Goodall (Mendelssohn, Kodály), Peter van Biene (Mendelssohn)
Recording Locations: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, 24, 26 & 28 February 1972 (Mendelssohn); Guildford Cathedral, UK, 14–15 November 1977 (Kodály)
Original Releases: Argo ZRG 716 (Mendelssohn): November 1972; Decca SXL 6878 (Kodály): May 1979

CD 11
Recording Producer: unknown
Balance Engineers: Campbell Hughes, Clive Webster
Digital Remastering: Campbell Hughes, Simon Weir, Morgan Roberts (Classical Recording Company, London, UK)
Recording Location: Royal Festival Hall, London, UK, 10–11 October 1966
Original Release: Decca Eloquence 481 0793: January 2014

CD 12
MESSIAEN
Recording Producer: unknown
Balance Engineers: Campbell Hughes, Clive Webster
Digital Remastering: Campbell Hughes, Simon Weir, Morgan Roberts (Classical Recording Company, London, UK)
Recording Location: Royal Festival Hall, London, UK, 10–11 October 1966
Original Release: Decca Eloquence 481 0793: January 2014

DUPRÉ, SAINT-SAËNS, VIERNE, CHARPENTIER
Recording Producer: Robert Walker
Recording Engineers: Martin Palmer, David Slaymaker
Recording Location: Hradetzky organ in The Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, England, UK, November 1976
Original Release: Prelude Records PRS 2507

CD 13
VIERNE, MESSIAEN, MATHIAS
Recording: The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St. Alban, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, UK, 4 July 1964 (recorded after winning the 1964 St. Albans International Organ Competition)
Original BBC Broadcast: 12 July 1964

BUXTEHUDE, FRESCOBALDI, ROSSI, HONEGGER, HEILLER
Producer: Tim Thorne
Recording Location: Chapel of Clare College, Cambridge, UK, 31 August 1996
Original BBC Broadcast: 5 November 1997

CD 14
Recording: Royal Albert Hall, London, UK, 26 July 1987
Original BBC Broadcast: 26 July 1987 (BBC Proms 1987)

CD 15
DUPRÉ, ALAIN (Intermezzo), TOURNEMIRE
Recording Producers: Jeremy Hayes, Steve Portnoi, Verity Sharp
Recording Location: Birmingham Oratory, Birmingham, UK, 10 December 1998
Original BBC Broadcast: 10 December 1998 (Part of the BBC Radio 3 Messiaen celebrations)

ALAIN (Deux Fantaisies)
Recording Location: Royal Festival Hall, London, UK, 2 December 1990 (50th anniversary of Alain’s death)
Original BBC Broadcast: 6 January 1991

LANGLAIS, DURUFLÉ, BOËLLMANN, DEMESSIEUX
Recordings: Aarhus Domkirke, Aarhaus, Denmark, 1994
Original BBC Broadcast: 20 June 1998

CDs 16 & 17
Producer: William Robson
Recording Location: Saint-Sernin, Toulouse, France, February 1984
Original BBC Broadcasts: 5 May 1984 (Fantaisie in A major; Cantabile; Pièce héroïque), 12 May 1984 (Andantino; Grand Pièce Symphonique), 19 May 1984 (Fantaisie in C major; Choral No. 1), 26 May 1984 (Prélude, Fugue et Variation; Pastorale; Choral No. 2), 2 June 1984 (Choral No. 3; Prière; Final)

CD 18
Producer: William Robson
Recorded by Geoffrey Klinton Parker (BBC); Paul Blakemore (National Public Radio, Washington)
Recording Location: The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, USA, 1979
Original BBC Broadcast: 3 January 1981 (Le Banquet Céleste; Diptyque; L’Ascension), 17 January 1981 (Apparition de l’Église Éternelle)

CD 19
Producer: William Robson
Recorded by Geoffrey Klinton Parker (BBC), Paul Blakemore (National Public Radio, Washington)
Recording Location: The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, USA, 1979
Original BBC Broadcast: 10 January 1981

CD 20
Producer: William Robson
Recorded by Geoffrey Klinton Parker (BBC), Paul Blakemore (National Public Radio, Washington)
Recording Location: The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, USA, 1979
Original BBC Broadcast: 24 January 1981

CD 21 & 22
Producer: William Robson
Recorded by Geoffrey Klinton Parker (BBC), Paul Blakemore (National Public Radio, Washington)
Recording Location: The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, USA, 1979
Original BBC Broadcast: 17 January 1981 (Messe de la Pentecôte; Verset pour la Fête de la Dédicace), 31 January 1981 (Livre d’Orgue)

Reviews

“Gillian Weir dazzles the ear.  This repertoire could hardly be played more masterfully.” – PENGUIN RECORD GUIDE 2003 (5-CD release of the legendary Argo recordings)

“Gillian Weir is one of the great virtuosos of our time” – AMERICAN RECORD REVIEW 

“A marvellous Bach player who iconoclastically sweeps the mighty C major Toccata, Adagio and Fugue BWV 564 and C minor Passacaglia BWV 582 of their weighty cobwebs and restores their improvisatory impetus – 10/10” – CLASSICS TODAY.COM

“The dazzling performances of Dubois, Vierne and especially Dupré have scarcely, if ever, been beaten” – MUSICWEB

“Her performance is magnificent:  sensitive, meaningful phrasing, virtuoso technique, musical intuition of the highest order” – FANFARE (French Virtuoso Organ Music)

“An astonishing range of organ technique and sonority…Weir gives a thrillingly dedicated performance” – PENGUIN GUIDE TO COMPACT DISCS (Camilleri)

“Incredibly virtuosic playing of Camilleri’s Missa Mundi” – MUSICWEB

“Such is Dame Gillian’s outstanding musicianship that it is easy to imagine her as a singer, conductor or ballerina” – GRAMOPHONE

“Gillian Weir plays with enormous style and aplomb” – PENGUIN GUIDE TO COMPACT DISCS (Roberday)

“There is an aristocratic poise and restraint which illuminate Weir’s readings of Clérambault’s two Suites” – BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE

“Towering musicianship in evidence from beginning to end” – BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE