This recording of Elgar’s Vesper Voluntaries (op. 14) was performed by Richard Apperley on the Hill, Norman and Beard organ at St James’ Presbyterian Church, Newtown. The church has recently closed and is due to be sold and possibly demolished due to dwindling worshippers and rising insurance premiums following the Christchurch earthquakes. The church has also been deemed an earthquake risk by the Wellington City Council, and the cost of alterations to the building are beyond the means of the church. It is fitting, therefore, that the final recording made on this fine instrument is a performance of Elgar’s Vesper Voluntaries – a set of short pieces to be played at the Vespers service held at the end of the day.
The organ was removed in September 2012 and stored at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul until a decision is made about the best use for the instrument.
This recording was made on Sunday 8 January, 2012 – a rainy summer day. As a result, there is a noticeable amount of noise in the building, particularly drips from the leaky roof. The decision was made to treat this as a recital style recording – many of the movements are recorded in a single take, with multiple takes only being used when the noise became overly intrusive. Our aim was to create an accurate representation of the organ and how it sounds in the building.
The Voluntaries were written while Elgar was organist at St George’s Roman Catholic Church in Worcester – a small instrument with a very similar specification to that at St James’ Newtown.
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