(Andante con moto, Op. 101 No. 6, by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford [1852-1924])

Released on 1 August 2019 …

Hi-res Pax Brit front cover

Following on from Ars Organi’s first CD, issued in 2018 (The Gates of Vienna: Baroque Organ Music from the Habsburg Empire, AOR001) comes another recording. But this one is devoted to a very different kind of organ music.

Once again, the performer is Robert James Stove (heard here on the organ of Melbourne University’s Anglican residential chapel). Whereas The Gates of Vienna surveyed Continental works from the 17th and 18th centuries, Pax Britannica surveys – as the title suggests – British works: from, moreover, the apogee of the ’empire on which the sun never set’, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

On this CD, such eminent composers as Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Hubert Parry, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, and Dame Ethel Smyth are all represented. So are various thoroughly obscure figures who prove to be well worth revival.

How many compositions by William Wolstenholme, William Thomas Best, or Henry Alexander John Campbell have you heard to date? Well, these and many other very talented musicians from Victoria’s and Edward VII’s reigns have been included. Almost a third of the material on this disc has never been recorded before.

The brilliant production work of Mano Musica’s Thomas Grubb has, once again, ensured admirably vivid engineering in which each nuance of tone from ‘the King of Instruments’ is captured with remarkable realism, from the gentlest whisper to the most assertive climax. Every lover of organ music should own Pax Britannica.

Critics’ generous praise for The Gates of Vienna:

‘Every selection is rendered stylishly and with panache, and the entire proceedings are well recorded. The booklet provides well-written notes by Stove, specifications for the organ, and a brief artist bio. … This is Stove’s debut recording, and also the first release by the brand-new Ars Organi label; on the basis of what is offered here, both deserve a warm welcome and hearty recommendation.’ (James A. Altena, Fanfare [Tenafly, New Jersey])

The instrument has a convincing range of voices, and the edge and attack are splendid throughout.’  (Brian Hick, The Organ [London])

‘[In] the works of Georg Muffat, Johann Kaspar Kerll, Johann Jakob Froberger, Lambert Chaumont, Jan Zach and others there is a substantial variety of mood and approach.” As there is in Stove’s thoughtful, supple and imaginative playing on the 1862 two-manual organ of St Patrick’s, Mentone. Zach’s melancholy Prelude and Fugue in C Minor one of the recording’s highlights receives a solemn, majestical reading counterbalanced by anonymous dances and the delightful Echo of Gérard Scronx, itself echoed by Chaumont’s Echo du Premier Ton. Between these extremes lie improvisatory toccatas by Muffat and Froberger and Joseph-Hector Fiocco’s Vivaldian Andante.‘ (William Yeoman, Limelight [Sydney])

‘Stove wisely varies his program so as to highlight the range of the organ and avoid boring the listener … He is clearly a master of the instrument. If the daring listener were to wish to venture into solo organ music for the first time, I would recommend  R.J. Stove’s The Gates of Vienna as an ideal starting point.’ (Stephen M. Klugewicz, Modern Age [Wilmington, Delaware])

All right, I’m game. How do I obtain this CD?

The cost of each hard-copy is $A20, plus postage and packaging. Of course, the postage will vary according to the buyer’s location. More details here.

To find an easy method of working out how much $A20 is worth in other currencies, click here.

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You can also, if you wish, pay via direct Electronic Funds Transfer. For more information about that procedure, see here.

Details concerning how to pay via cheque or money order are available here.

What about streaming? Can I obtain Pax Britannica via streaming services?

Indeed you can. As of 1 August 2019, the Spotify version can be found here. The Apple Music version can be found here. The Google Play version can be found here. The Amazon Streaming version can be found here. The Idagio version can be found here.

Similarly with The Gates of Vienna. The Spotify version of that is here. The Apple Music version is here. The Google Play version is here. The Idagio version is here.

Happy listening, whatever medium you choose.

Why Ars Organi?

One of the most respected and successful organ instruction textbooks in recent decades has been the three-volume Ars Organi (Latin for ‘The Art of the Organ’), by the outstanding Belgian musician Flor Peeters (1903-1986). For most of his working life, Peeters combined an Antwerp Conservatoire professorship with a Mechelen Cathedral organ post.

And Peeters’ subject is precisely what this CD label hopes to disseminate. Namely, the art of the organ, wherever it might be found.

Ars Organi is a phrase that transcends any particular musical style, any particular school of organ construction, any particular historical period, any particular national spirit. It is eclectic and evocative. Therefore it is, surely, the perfect name for a label that seeks merely to make the organ per se better known and better loved.

Change in address and phone number from 1 July 2019

As of 1 July 2019, Ars Organi reverted to its previous mailing address and phone number.

Before that date, the address was Level 1 / 214 Bay Street, Brighton 3186, Victoria, and the phone number was 03-9595-0253.

But since that date, the address has been Post Office Box 7061, Brighton 3186, Victoria, and the phone number has been 0431-681-116. (If you’re calling from outside Australia, the phone number becomes 61-431-681-116.)

Please update your records accordingly.


(The image in the header above is of the Spanish Organ in Prague; the photograph itself is by Jorge Rayon, via Wikimedia Creative Commons.)