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MP3 Gordon Johnston - Organ Music for Christmas

Well-known Christmas carols are mixed with classical organ pieces based on Christmas melodies, as well as some more modern, jazz-inspired music.

10 MP3 Songs in this album (34:00) !
Related styles: Classical: Organ, Spiritual: Hymns, Instrumental

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The music of Christmas evokes many moods and feelings, from majesty and joy to quiet awe and reflection. The variety of sounds produced by the organ make it an especially appropriate instrument for this special time of year. Having both a baroque-style pipe organ and a symphonic digital organ gives the organists of St John''s Church an especially rich tonal palate.

Some of the pieces on this recording are well-known in their own right, and others are settings of melodies associated with the festive season. Johann Gottfried Walther''s trio on In dulci jubilo contrasts the sound of a single flute stop with the sparkling pipes of the Brustwerk Terzflöte (a stop which was the gift of Myra Clowes and her mother). The rich sound of the full principal chorus is heard in J.S. Bach''s harmonization of the famous melody Sleepers, Wake (Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme). In contrast to the more well-known chorale prelude J.S. Bach, this recording turns to the music of the Flemish composer Flor Peeters, who was for many years organist of St Rumbold''s Cathedral in Mechelen, Belgium. The melody is heard on the Fanfare Trumpet.

The Huron Carol is a well-known melody with Canadian roots. In this setting, the repeated pedal notes give the effect of slow, distant drumming; the sound of the Zimbelstern, a tiny set of five bells, remind the listener of lightly falling snow. Every year, I end the service on Christmas Day with the wonderful Noël grand jeu et duo by Louis-Claude Daquin. It is the tenth of a set of twelve pieces written by Daquin, based on well-known French carols. Each two-voice variation of the tune uses the flutes, cornets and reed sounds of the organ, contrasting with the grand jeu or full organ, coming together at the end in a series of echos. When Daquin was the organist of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Parisians would flock to the cathedral on Christmas Eve to hear him play his Noëls.

Celebrated American jazz pianist, composer, and recording artist Joe Utterback is also a talented organist. His arrangements of two Christmas melodies shine a new light on these traditional carols.

I hope you enjoy this sample of the many sounds of the organs of St John''s Church. Merry Christmas!


Recorded on the organs of the Church of St John the Evangelist, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Tracker action pipe organ (2 manuals, 20 stops)
Gabriel Kney, London, Ontario, 1977

Digital organ (3 manuals, 73 stops)
jOrgan software, 2010
soundfonts by Phoenix Organs, Peterborough, Ontario

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