March 12, 2017
Libby Gardner Concert Hall / Univeristy of Utah @ 8pm
The Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia); Westminster Choir College of Rider University
Alan Morrison is recognized as one of America's premier concert organists, performing in prestigious concert organ venues across the United States and in Canada, as well as in international festivals. He is a champion of twentieth- and twenty-first-century composers, personally introducing their works to audiences in recitals and concerts, and enjoys collaborating with vocalists and other instrumentalists in chamber programs.
Mr. Morrison is the Head of the Organ Department at The Curtis Institute of Music, Associate Professor of Organ at Westminster Choir College of Rider University and College Organist at Ursinus College. He frequently conducts master classes sponsored by the American Guild of Organists.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Concerto in A Minor, BWV 593
(After Antonio Vivaldi, RV 522)
Johann Bernhard Bach (1676-1749)
Ciacona in B-flat Major
Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986)
Scherzo, Op. 2
Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)
From Trois nouvelles pièces, Op. 87
Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Prelude and Fugue in B Major, Op. 7 No. 1
~An Intermission of 10 minutes ~
Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)
From Sonata in E-flat Minor, Op. 65
Anne Wilson (b. 1954)
by Dr. Kenneth Udy, University of Utah
Concerto in A Minor, BWV 593Around 1713-1714 in Weimar, Bach transcribed five string concertos for organ solo, including three by Vivaldi. This is the most popular of the transcriptions and comes from Vivaldi's Concerto for Two Violins and Strings, op. 3/8 published in 1711. Bach expands the original harmony (which would sound too thin on the organ), augments the rhythms, and develops the counterpoint, creating a superb piece which seems to have been written originally for the organ. The three movements are a very dancing Allegro, a two-voice Adagio for manuals only, and a virtuoso Allegro, using at times double pedal.
Ciacona in B-flat Major
At 19, Johann Bernhard Bach became organist of the Kaufmannskirche in his native Erfurt; however, in 1703 when Johann Christoph Bach, a first cousin of Bernhard’s father, died leaving vacant the post at St. George's in Eisenach, Bernhard assumed that position and remained there the rest of his life. Bernhard studied briefly with his second cousin, Johann Sebastian Bach, and a close friendship ensued. This masterful set of twenty variations uses rapidly changing rhythmic figures and melodic patterns based on a vigorous eight-measure ostinato bass. It is one of Bernhard’s very few surviving organ works.
Scherzo, op. 2
Duruflé was appointed organist of Saint Etienne-du-Mont in 1929, a post he held for the rest of his life. He was highly self-critical and left only 14 opus numbers. His four major organ works were written between 1926 and 1943 and are pinnacles in the repertory. Reminiscent of Debussy, this delicate work was completed in 1926 and was Duruflé's first published organ composition. It is light and joyful and belongs to a genre of thin-textured, scherzo-like pieces favored by many twentieth-century French organists. Cast in rondo form (ABACA), the three statements of the lively main theme are set off against contrasting couplets. The piece closes with a calm coda. Duruflé later made an orchestral arrangement of the work, which was published in 1947 as his op. 8.
Mystique, from Trois nouvelles pieces op. 87
Born into a family of organ builders, Widor, at the encouragement of the organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll (a family friend), studied privately in 1863 with Jacques Lemmens in Brussels. He then moved to Paris, where, with a recommendation from Cavaillé-Coll, he was appointed "temporary" organist at Saint-Sulpice in January 1870. The appointment of a 25-year-old to such a prestigious post was controversial, but Cavaillé-Coll’s magnum opus at Saint-Sulpice became the inspiration for Widor's ground-breaking ten organ symphonies composed from 1872-1900. In 1933, at age 89, Widor retired after 64 years as "temporary" organist. The following year, after a long gap in his organ output, Widor composed this opus, the last of his published organ music. The three contrasting pieces evoke a mood of melancholy and summarize the various stylistic elements of his organ works. This movement presents a gently sensuous melody on the Flûte Harmonique followed by a more animated, pianistic, and contrapuntal section which then returns to the first theme. The piece closes with an expressive coda.
Prelude and Fugue in B Major, op. 7
Not only was Dupré’s father organist at Saint-Ouen in Rouen, but both his grandfathers were also organists. At 16, Dupré was admitted to the Paris Conservatory and studied under Widor and Vierne. While still a student there, Dupré composed his famous opus 7, a fusion of the contrapuntal style of the Baroque, the orchestral style of the Romantic Period, and the pianistic idiom of Ravel and Debussy. So difficult were these pieces, several Parisian organists felt they were unplayable and would never be published; however, in 1920 they became Dupré's first published organ work. The first of the set was conceived, in Dupré's words, "for a triumphant solemnity--like Easter." The Prelude is a French-style toccata with the hands playing a joyful carillon of rapidly jangling fourths above a striding pedal theme. The quiet, lyrical middle section is followed by a crescendo of antiphonal exchanges between manual and pedal leading to a reprise of the opening theme in canon between the outer parts. The Fugue maintains the vibrancy of the Prelude with its lively subject of the pervasive fourths, now transformed into broken chord figures. The fugal writing is fairly free, and the whole work ends with the return of the Prelude’s toccata figuration and antiphonal exchanges.
Englishman Percy Whitlock was assistant organist at Rochester Cathedral; however, in 1930 when he was passed over for the post of cathedral organist there, he moved and spent the rest of his short life as organist at Bournemouth Municipal Pavilion Theater. This is the last of his large organ works and came about in connection with an organ convention he attended in Plymouth in August 1937. Characteristic of Whitlock (and his teacher Vaughan Williams), it uses themes that sound like folk songs but are, in fact, original creations. The showy opening movement, Allegro Risoluto, utilizes modal language and passacaglia-like repetitions in sonata form. The first theme resembles a folk song, while the second is rhythmically unpredictable with mildly dissonant linear counterpoint. The inner three movements are all miniatures. The first, Lantana ("A Wayfaring Tree"), is a gentle, expressive song without words incorporating a melodic style in which phrase lengths are constantly changing, the effect being one of instability and maybe even anguish. The jaunty, syncopated Chanty recalls the wit of a hornpipe, not unlike Purcell's Hornpipe from Dido and Aeneas. Salix ("The Weeping Willow") is a lovely, mournful siciliano again with folk song overtones. A brilliant French-style Toccata closes the Suite with its flashes of dissonant linear counterpoint and rhythmic asymmetries, similar to those in the first movement, with antiphonal repartee that builds to a breathtaking close.
Allegretto, from Sonata in E-flat Minor, op. 65
Parker was born in a Boston suburb at a time when American classical music reflected a cheerful and optimistic world. He studied composition first with George Chadwick in Boston then with Josef Rheinberger in Germany (a common destination for young American musicians in the 1880s). After returning to America in 1885, he became a music professor at Yale University in 1894, where he taught Charles Ives, among others. Parker’s lengthy Organ Sonata was published in 1908. Its second movement, in ABA form, is a playful romp in B flat minor with a legato middle section in the parallel major. At times it makes humorous use of the lowest register of the organ's reed stop. Parker later included this movement in an anthology of his shorter works published in 1915.
Anne Wilson is organist and conductor of five choirs (three singing, one handbell, one steel drum) at Forest Hill Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. In addition, she plays jazz piano in the Cleveland club scene and classical piano with several choral groups. She is Staff Accompanist at Case Western Reserve University and is also founder of the Greater Cleveland Classical Guitar Society. She is married to organ virtuoso Todd Wilson. This striking Toccata with its modal, medieval flavor dates from 2001. It is characterized by a syncopated theme played on the organ’s solo trumpet stop with interjecting chordal explosions and contrasting color and rhythmic textures. The intensity escalates, even quoting the famous B-A-C-H theme, as the piece comes to a spectacular conclusion.