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Sounds of Alan Ridout

Sounds of Alan Ridout cover picture

Robert Crowley plays organ music of Alan Ridout at Canterbury Cathedral


The Fourteen Stations of the Cross
Jesus is condemned to death
Jesus receives the cross
Jesus falls the first time
Jesus meets his blessed mother
The cross is laid upon Simon of Cyrene
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Jesus falls the second time
Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem
Jesus falls the third time
Jesus is stripped of his garments
Jesus is nailed to the cross
Jesus dies on the cross
Jesus is taken down from the cross
Jesus is laid in the sepulchre

Easter Fanfare

Dance Suite

Five pieces from Canticle of the Rose

Total playing time 73m 28s

Sounds of Alan Ridout

Sounds of Alan Ridout

The four Processions were written for Margaret Phillips and published by Chappell in 1974. The first, an energetic march in ternary form, is followed by a slow movement developed over a ground bass. The third movement is a whimsical invention for manuals only, while the fourth begins and ends quietly, building up to full organ before a restful, measured conclusion.

The Fourteen Stations of the Cross were written for Allan Wicks and published in 1994 by Kevin Mayhew. In scope and intention these pieces are comparable with Ridout's The Seven Last Words (1965), also dedicated to Allan Wicks and one of the landmark works of the modern organ repertoire. According to the Composer's Note: This work was suggested by the sculptured reliefs of the Stations to be seen in the Cistercian monastic church in Altenburg, Westphalia, Germany. The music consists of thirteen variations on a theme which is heard only in its complete form when the fourteenth Station is reached. This is brooding music, often slow, taking time to unfold, embracing extreme dissonance as well as tender, diatonic harmonies.

Easter Fanfare was written for the “Dawning of Easter” midnight mass of 1990 at Canterbury Cathedral. In the same service Alan Ridout provided an Easter Gloria for ATB voices and organ, both works being completed on 6 March. Easter Fanfare is in a solemn, improvisatory style.

Dance Suite was written for Allan Wicks in 1969, and published by Chappell in 1975. The four movements explore different styles of writing for the organ, ranging from the energetic, dynamic first movement to the imposing, majestic fourth. The second movement is a based on a slow, plaintive melody in 5/4 time. In contrast, the third movement is a lively and rhythmic piece, largely in octaves.

Canticle of the Rose was written for the unveiling of the Laporte Window at St Albans Cathedral on 26 September 1989. To quote from the Foreword: The eight movements of this work, whose title was suggested by a poem of Edith Sitwell, were inspired by the Rose Window in St Albans Cathedral, Hertfordshire, England, and they are directly related to the symbolism of the window. The three movements, Father, Son and Spirit were first played at the Service of Dedication and Thanksgiving on the occasion of the unveiling of the Rose Window in the presence of HRH Princess of Wales on September 26 1989, and the fanfare which concludes the final movement was played at the moment of unveiling. The work may be played as a cycle, as separate items, or in one of two suggested suites: a) Earth, Fire, Air, Water and Postlude, or b) Father, Son, Spirit and Postlude. The total duration is approximately 24 minutes. Canticle of the Rose was published in 1992 by Kevin Mayhew. Less intensely felt than The Fourteen Stations of the Cross, each movement conveys a distinct mood. Ridout here makes a series of bold statements, and the music is colourful and extrovert in nature.

Robert Crowley
September 2004

Alan Ridout

In his prolific career, Alan Ridout (1934-1996) composed a total of fifteen operas (including several for children), eight symphonies, twenty five concertos for various instruments, eight string quartets and numerous shorter orchestral, choral and instrumental pieces. He studied with Gordon Jacob and Herbert Howells at the Royal College of Music, and subsequently with Peter Racine Fricker, Michael Tippett and Henk Badings (with a Netherlands Government Scholarship). Although he was not an avant garde composer, his interests were wide, ranging from medieval polyphony to electronic music and serialism; his Psalm for Sine Wave Generators (1959) was one of the first pieces of electronic music by an English composer. He also wrote a number of pieces in the 31-tone temperament, using microtones. Alan Ridout was a Professor of Theory and Composition at the Royal College of Music from 1960 to 1984, and he also taught at the Universities of Birmingham, Cambridge and London. Much of his church and organ music was written for performance at Canterbury Cathedral while Allan Wicks was Organist there, and he also taught at the Choir School, and then at the King’s School, for many years. Alan Ridout moved to France towards the end of his life, settling in Vitré and then moving to Caen. He was received into the Roman Catholic Church at Ampleforth Abbey in 1994. This CD explores aspects of Alan Ridout's musical personality and compositional style, recorded on the organ with which he was particularly associated.

Robert Crowley

Robert Crowley is currently Director of Music and Chapel Organist at St George's School, Harpenden. He received his early musical training with Martin Neary as a chorister at St Margaret's Church, Westminster and he studied the organ with Martindale Sidwell at the Royal Academy of Music, subsequently studying with Susi Jeans and Arthur Wills. At the RAM he was awarded the Recital Diploma for Organ, also winning the Henry Richards and Frederick Keene Organ Prizes. Robert Crowley is particularly interested in contemporary music, and has commissioned pieces from a number of composers. He has recently been made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

Recording sponsored by the RVW Trust and Robert Scott

Recorded with the kind permission of Dr David Flood (Organist and Master of the Choristers) and the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral

Special thanks to Margaret Phillips and Dr Allan Wicks for their assistance.

Photograph by Lance Andrews
Recorded in May 2003
Produced and edited by Lance Andrews and Robert Scott