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Lunchtime Recitals: Paul Derrett


1. Prelude and Fugue in G minor – Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

2. Sheep may Safely Graze – J.S.Bach arr. Stainton de B Taylor

3. L’Ascension (four meditations) – Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)

Messiaen studied at The Paris Conservatoire winning several prizes and soon found regular employment as organist to the society church of La Trinite. An organist, famed as an improviser, most of his output as a composer was naturally for his own instrument, but there are other important works written for particular people or occasions. L'Ascension was first heard in an orchestral version in 1933, but an organ solo version was published soon afterwards. The orchestral third movement 'Alleluia sur la Trompette' is replaced in the organ version with a movement which would defy any but the most reckless orchestrator! Messiaen's whole life was driven by his profound Catholic faith and the four movements are given expressive and pictorial titles, in each case supported by quotations.

    i. Majeste du Christ demandant sa gloire a son Pere

    Father the hour has come, glorify thy son that thy son may glorify thee

    ii. Alleluias sereins d'une ame qui desire le ciel

    We pray thee Father that by thy Spirit we may come to live in heaven

    iii. Transports de Joie d'une ame devant la gloire du Christ qui est la sienne

    We give thanks to God the Father who has considered us worthy of the heritage of the Saints in Light

    iv. Priere du Christ montant vers son Pere

    Father, I have shown thy ways to men, they remain in the world as I return to thee

    The whole of this work is so other-worldly and unusual both in harmonic and rhythmic language that it still retains the power to shock audiences. All melodic lines are far distant from our normal musical language, as is Messiaen's trick of adding unexpected beats to rhythms and unexpected notes to otherwise normal chords. L'Ascension is a master-work, a vision sometimes of unearthly patience, sometimes of peace, and at other times of wild ecstatic utterance.

4. Scherzo-Caprice – Cyril Christopher (1897-1979)

5. Carillon Sortie – Henri Mulet  (1878-1967)

More About Paul

A complete pipe organ addict from a very early age, Paul started both official organ lessons and ‘helping out’ (which largely consisted of making tea, boiling glue and sweeping up) at a local firm of organ builders at 12. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Nicholas Danby, Richard Popplewell and Herbert Howells. He now lives his childhood dream, giving around twenty recitals each year in (mostly) prestigious venues; recitals in 2014 included seven UK cathedrals and a recital tour in Germany.

He has recorded more than thirty solo CDs, several of these have received five star reviews. Recitals have been given in France, Germany and Holland in recent years and in 2013 he was the most-often-requested performer on the internet radio station which is based in the U.S.A.  As a hobby he rescues redundant instruments and he has repaired and re-installed several of these over the years. Paul’s website can be found at