February 12, 2017
Cathedral of the Madeleine @ 8pm
Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington, IN)
A native of New England, Jacobs School of Music Professor Christopher Young is the winner of the 1988 National Young Artists Competition (NYACOP) of the American Guild of Organists and the 1988 Arthur Poister Competition (Syracuse University). He was also recognized by Musical America as one of their outstanding Young Artists of 1989. His concert career began under the auspices of a special young artist program provided by Karen McFarlane Artists, and continued under the Young Organists Cooperative, of which he was a co-director until 1993.
Dr. Young serves as organist of First Presbyterian Church, Bloomington. Dr. Young began organ lessons under the tutelage of Marion Anderson while a freshman at Bates College in Lewiston, ME, where, in 1982 he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with High Honors in Music. A graduate of The Eastman School of Music, he earned the MM and DMA degrees and the prestigious Performer's Certificate under David Craighead and Russell Saunders.
C. Hubert H. Parry (1848-1918)
Prelude on St. Ann’s
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele, BWV 654
Johann Ulrich Steigleder (1593-1635)
Vater Unser - Auff Toccata Manier
William Albright (1944-1998)
Flights of Fancy: Ballet for Organ (1992)
II. Valse triste
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude and Fugue in D major, BWV 532
- An Intermission of 10 minutes -
Max Reger (1873-1916)
Introduction and Passacaglia in D minor, WoO
Phillip Glass (b. 1937) (arr. Michael Riesman)
Act III from Satyagraha (conclusion)
Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)
Prelude and Fugue in B major, Opus 99, No. 2
Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)
from Symphonie Gothique
II. Andante sostenuto
Harold Britton (b. 1923)
Variations on I Got Rhythm by George Gershwin
(by Christopher Young)
C. Hubert H. Parry composed a great deal of choral music and a sizeable quantity for organ, but perhaps he is best known for “Jerusalem”, a work some might consider the Church of England’s national anthem. His Prelude on “St. Ann’s” comes from a collection published in 1912. The work, though filled with numerous rhythmic subversions, has a stately grandeur fitting for a country that at one time ruled nearly half the world.
Penned in 1649 by Johann Franck, the Communion text for Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele speaks of adorning the soul, and leaving the “dark den of sin” behind. Johann Sebastian Bach’s gorgeous setting of the Johann Crüger melody for organ employs an ornamented solo, just as he does in several other chorales (“Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland”, BWV 659, “Allein Gott in der Höh”, BWV 662, and the remarkable “O Mensch, bewein”, BWV 622). Unusual here, although perhaps not given the text, is the adorned accompaniment with nearly ubiquitous trills. These frequently occur on beat two of the triple meter, contributing to the sarabande dance quality of the piece.
Stuttgart Court organist Johann Ulrich Steigleder was born into a musical family, his father and grandfather serving as organists in Ulm and Stuttgart. His father trained in Rome and received instruction by an organist from Liège, suggesting influences from the Netherlands, South Germany, and Italy. In addition to a collection of ricercari, the young Steigleder published a set of forty variations on the Lutheran chorale “Vater unser im Himmelreich”, Luther’s versification of the Lord’s Prayer. This pedagogical collection of 1627 is a compendium of chorale treatments, of which its final movement, “Auff Toccata Manier”, is particularly noteworthy. Here Italian toccata characteristics from the Venetian school, with running scales and passagework comingled with imitative and fugal sections, are coupled with the chorale melody. Those familiar with the tune will hear its phrases in a variety of forms, but almost all relatively well hidden in the imitative or virtuosic textures.
William Albright was, like his University of Michigan colleague William Bolcom, an avid fan of popular musical idioms, frequently combining them with very modern tonality, rhythm, and even chance (aleatoric) approaches. In “Flights of Fancy” we also find his sardonic wit. The organ, after all, is a majestic and serious instrument, and shouldn’t ever be associated with waltzes, shimmys, or risqué tangos! To be sure much “serious” music of the past relied on dance forms (the final fugue of the Bach work is a stylized gigue), but Albright pierces the veil of decency with a Mack truck: most movements are unabashed secular music with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The Valse triste offers veiled moonlight and shadows, while the Shimmy features a solo marked “Electric”, suggesting the Hammond organ.
The Preludes and Fugues by J. S. Bach are remarkable for so many reasons, not the least of which is that Bach never seems to repeat himself. Though the source history of the Prelude and Fugue in D major suggest the possibility that these movements were not conceived at the same time, it is obvious that they belong together. The opening ascending scale, an act of bravado on the part of Bach because it is played in the pedal, is complemented with descending arpeggios. These ideas return at the end of fugue, where the contrapuntal texture gives way to an orchestral one resembling his concerto grosso writing. The “youthful exuberance” that characterizes most of the work is only briefly abandoned at the end of the Prelude, where a harmonically dissonant and adventurous Adagio suggests the influence of his South German and Italian predecessors. This passage, incidentally, was featured (along with a portion of the Passacaglia) in the famous baptism scene at the end of the film “The Godfather.”
Max Reger's fondness for Baroque forms led him to compose a large number of passacaglias, toccatas, fantasias, and fugues. The Introduction and Passacaglia in D minor, while considered relatively short and tame when one considers the composer's entire output, reveals the richness of harmony and sheer volume and intensity of sound that is characteristic of Reger's music. The brief, but striking Introduction is followed by a series of variations over a repeated bass pattern (passacaglia). Each variation increases the rhythmic activity, volume, and virtuosity (including pedal trills), creating a powerful crescendo from beginning to end.
Philip Glass' opera Satyagraha (Sanskrit word meaning "truth force") centers on Mahatma Gandhi and his development of non-violent resistance to the colonizing British. The conclusion features Ghandi singing text from the Bhagavad Gita: “The Lord said…I come into being age after age and take a visible shape and move a man with men for the protection of good, thrusting the evil back and setting virtue on her seat again.” A gently pulsing harmonic series serves as the backdrop to intermittent verses of the ascending vocal part (tenor) played by the right foot.
Saint-Saens was a highly regarded pianist and organist in late 19th-century France (Liszt proclaimed him the finest he had ever heard). Though he served a church for twenty years and produced a number of outstanding compositions for organ, most organists only know his one-hit wonder, the Symphony #3 with organ (hard to believe that the brassy final theme of this work was “sung” by pigs and other fauna for the film “Babe”!). The second of a set of three from 1894, the Prelude and Fugue in B Major juxtaposes a lyrical and luscious Prelude with a rather playful fugue. The lean textures and somewhat classical phrase structure offer a very different side of French romanticism not shared so much by his colleagues Widor, Guilmant, Franck, and Vierne.
Perhaps the most famous slow movement by Charles-Marie Widor, the 'Andante sostenuto' comes from his Symphonie Gothique of 1895, the first of two quasi sacred symphonies that represent his last offerings in this genre. Rollin Smith, a highly regarded artist and scholar, claims the piece to be "four pages of elevated and divinely inspired music" (I can’t argue him on this point), and in reference to Gothic architecture, this movement "as Marcel Dupré suggested, depicts the calm interior of the nave."
Harold Britton’s Variations on “I got rhythm” by George Gershwin is a lively and playful romp on a well-worn melody. Britton combines late Romantic and early Twentieth century variation techniques that one might hear in major European cathedrals and movie houses. Britton’s program note: “I got Rhythm (1930) contains short motives which can be developed more extensively. The transcription for organ was written as a ‘fun’ piece, in order to provide a little levity during a classical organ concert. The opening phrase is heard in imitation, followed by the announcement of the theme re-harmonised. Four variations follow in various rhythms, giving way to a fugal exposition leading to a scintillating toccata, with the theme being assigned to the pedals.”