I recently acquired the Velesovo, Slovenia, organ of Our Lady in Adergas for the Hauptwerk VPO software. It has been described to me as a good "Bach" organ of two manuals, with a range from 32' Untersatz in the pedals right up to 1-1/2' Tertia on the Oberwerk. My first piece on this instrument is Bach's Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625 from his Orgelbüchlein. Translated, the title of the piece means "Christ lay in death's bonds", which is an Easter hymn written by Martin Luther. Whilst you're enjoying my rendition of this chorale, let me write a little bit about how I discover repertoire.
This evening I was chatting with an organ friend, Hamish Wagstaff, who reminded me of two pieces that I learned and play due to his influence—he was right of course. I learned the pieces because I had seen them in his recital programmes. The two pieces in question were Attende Domine by Jeanne Demessieux and Carillon-Sortie by Henri Mulet. As a matter of fact, I can probably tell you a short story about every piece I have played on the organ! Well, I won't bore you with that, but I do want to make a short comment on 10 recent pieces and how I discovered them.
- Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 625 - Johann Sebastian Bach
I heard this piece from YouTube played by Luca Raggi. There's so many pieces I'd like to eventually learn from the Orgelbüchlein and I decided this one would be next!
- Prelude, Fugue and Chaconne in C, BuxWV 137 - Dieterich Buxtehude
This piece was again from the organ friend mentioned above! A great recital piece opener and I recently recorded this for the Secrets of Organ Playing Contest Week 62.
- Echo Fantasie - Gerardus Scronx
This piece was given to me by my first organ teacher and was from the popular CH Trevor collection of books. I also played the "duet" version on two organs with him.
- Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639 - Johann Sebastian Bach
My very first piece I ever learned from the Orgelbüchlein. I found about this piece through another organ friend who often joked that I couldn't play it because it was essentially a trio.
- Largo (from Xerxes) - George Frideric Handel
I was asked to play this for a Remembrance Day Service a few years ago. It gave me a good reason to find a transcription and play it. I only recently recorded this for my YouTube channel.
- Meditation on CHINA - David Harrison
I discovered David Harrison through YouTube (a fellow organist). There were several videos of him playing hymns with gusto and panache. I asked him many years ago about his fancy hymn introductions et. al and eventually he transcribed them and made a book! I bought this collection and also this solo organ work. I recently recorded it for my YouTube channel.
- "Andante Religioso" from Sonata IV, Op. 65 - Felix Mendelssohn
This was the first Mendelssohn piece I learned and was given to me by one of my organ teachers. I can still remember back in those days where I struggled so much with the pedal part! Again, I recently recorded it for my YouTube channel.
- Pastorale - Michael Calabris
@michaelcalabris is a fellow organist and composer whom I met through @organduo on Steem. Over time we have got to know each other and recently he sent me this work in the interim whilst he is composing a piece just for me. The piece ends on an imperfect cadence which is unexpected!
- Fugue in C, BuxWV 174 - Dietrich Buxtehude
I first heard this piece played on the little Bevington organ at Wangaratta Cathedral by the organist and director of music there. Not long after, I heard it again by another organist who played it on the Jindera organ. I eventually decided to learn it this year after finding an edition that is set out well. I find that a good edition makes all the difference in efficiently learning a new piece of music.
- Pièce d'orgue, BWV 572 - Johann Sebastian Bach
Many years ago, I saw this on a recital programme by organ friend Edwin Kwong. Not long after that, I heard it played at an academic event as the recessional music. I decided to learn it due to is usefulness in recital, plus it's of a decent length.
How do you discover new repertoire to learn? I'd be interested to know.