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Choral Prelude on "St. Peter" (Six Choral Preludes om Well-Known Hymns, No. 5)

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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (01/15/20)
Composer: Archer, J. Stuart
Sample Producer: Audio Angelorum
Sample Set: Peterborough Cathedral Hill
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Early 20th century
John Stuart Archer was born 19th Nov 1866, at Kensington, London, and died 21st Mar 1954, Paddington, London. Despite his importance on the British organ scene, he was not an academic musician, but rather, an engineer with an interest in chemistry. Looking at his compositions, it's really rather hard to think of him as an amateur. In reality, he was a thorough professional, well connected and very much part of the pre-war London organ "establishment". It is true, though, that he he did not start his professional musical career until he was 33, after a false-start as a civil engineer and maybe taking a gap year or three. He came from a background of privilege: the son of the society portrait painter James Archer and the "name-child" of the famous and eccentric Prof John Stuart Blackie (self-invented Scottish man-of-letters), a close friend of his father. So Blackie was Archer's third given-name, not a nickname.

After his first post as "assistant" to Ireland at Chelsea (where Felix Aprahamian who knew them both noted Archer was the "older man" and implies he was Ireland's mentor) his fine playing and society contacts meant that he quickly climbed the greasy pole eventually landing the envied position at Third Church, which had a wealthy congregation and a large new church right in the middle of Mayfair. One imagines the salary was generous and the duties not onerous, and he enjoyed a fine new 3/40 Hill, Norman & Beard organ.

This eloquent prelude on the hymn-tune "St. Peter" comes from Archer's collection of 6 preludes, published by Paxton in 1925.

The tune was composed by Alexander Reinagle (1799-1877). This tune is usually associated with the text, "How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds," but Archer used "As now the sun's declining rays." The interplay of darkness descending is beautifully portrayed, and the PB Hill works perfectly on this, when "creatively" used.

The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Archer.

Full hymn text in the First Comment.
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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