Weisselklenzenacht (The Signature) [Fisher]

Ian Hockley [Oman]

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Ian Hockley, church organ (not pictured!)

'I never realised before
but subliminally when I did this photo I must have had the cover of
GB's Savannah lurking in my consciousness.'

IH: Initially I thought about doing a series of improvisations on The Signature's themes in a French style (the template for all organists); however given the essential ‘Englishness’ of the source I felt a more straightforwardly honest transcription would be more appropriate. The solid harmonic style translates well to the organ; there are some tiny harmonic changes in the opening sections to chords which don’t sound quite right spaced over three manuals and pedals.

The opening is reminiscent of Wesley’s Lead Me Lord and the registrations reflect the quasi-religioso piety of so much Victorian church music: it is stated on celestes and strings, with a more solid diapason foundation for the repeat. The A minor section uses a fuller 'plenum' introducing mixtures and swell reeds. The original Gary Brooker piano interlude was really improvised on the spot and I guess I was thinking of Handel in the use of soft flutes at 8 and 2 foot pitch.

The subsequent organ elaboration, however, uses a classical French registration featuring mutation stops at different pitches, in particular the tierce stop, sounding an octave-and-a-third away from the fundamental note.

Finally the last section brings all the reeds on, 32 foot in the pedal, with lots of French toccata-type figuration improvised over the top to build up some movement within the chords, a job which would normally be done by the rhythm section.

Weisselklenzenacht was recorded in about half an hour, in one take using a single mic using Pro Tools digital technology. Modern Mechanical action 32-stop Pipe Organ built by the great British firm of Mander Organs – somewhere in Asia.


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