Finale From Symphony, Op. 13, No. 4, Charles-Marie Widor
Fugue on B-A-C-H, Opus 60, No. 3, Robert Schumann
Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 545, Johann Sebastian Bach
Organ Sonata, Op. 65, No. 2, Felix Mendelssohn
Improvisation on "Londonderry Air" (Swann)
Fantaisie in A, César Franck
Tuba Tune, Norman Cocker
Even Song, John La Montaine
Sonata VIII, Op. 132, Joseph Rheinberger
Symphony, Op. 13, No. 4
Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)
The great Cavaillé-Coll organ in the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris was installed in 1862. In 1870 Charles-Marie Widor was appointed organist of Saint-Sulpice for a one-year probationary period. Although he was never officially appointed organist, he remained in the position for the next sixty-four years! The majority of the movements comprising his ten “symphonies” for organ were composed during his years at Saint-Sulpice, and were inspired by and are a direct reflection of the Cavaillé-Coll organ.
Many editions of the Organ Symphonies have been published over the years, and, in addition, scholars have found copies with changes made in Widor’s hand. It would appear that few movements received as many alterations (mostly minor) by Widor as the exciting Finale of the Fourth Symphony, first published in 1872. The version heard on this recording is from the 1936 publication by Marks Music of New York and displays the full plenum of this organ.
Fugue on B-A-C-H, Op. 60, No. 3
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
In addition to his popular pieces for pedal-piano that are frequently performed on the organ (Op. 56 and Op. 58), the Op. 60 fugues were specifically designated for organ by the composer, who greatly admired the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Unlike the other five highly contrapuntal and involved fugues, Op. 60, No. 3, is somewhat serene, and offers an opportunity to hear the combined 8' foundation stops of the organ.
Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 545
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
It has been said that Bach did not always indicate the pairing of his preludes andfugues, and that frequently the paired pieces might even have been composed in different periods. There are also indications that a slow movement could be inserted between some preludes and fugues, such as is sometimes done in performances of BWV 545. The Prelude and the Fugue in C were composed during Bach’s early years at Weimar, with possible changes made during his years in Leipzig. The strong prelude, with its somewhat unusual pedal points, is followed by a majestic alla breve fourvoice fugue.
Organ Sonata, Op. 65, No. 2
Allegro maestoso e vivace
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
The Six Organ Sonatas of Mendelssohn, commissioned by the English publisher Coventry and Hollier, were composed between 1839 and 1845. Although primarily known as a pianist, composer and conductor, Mendelssohn became very popular during his London years as an organist. He was a champion for the works of Bach, and paid homage to Bach through three Preludes and Fugues (Op. 37) and by including either a German chorale or a fugue in five of the six organ sonatas.
Improvisation on “Londonderry Air”
There are several texts – notably “O Danny Boy” – associated with this beautiful Irish melody. This arrangement is presented to highlight several of the beautiful solo stops and rich flute/string ensembles of the Fisk organ.
Fantaisie in A
César Franck (1822-1890)
Fantaisie in A is one of Trois Pièces composed in 1878 for the inauguration of the large organ at the Palais du Trocadéro in Paris. It is multi-sectional work that begins boldly with a unison theme and proceeds through various colorful sections to a tremendous climax. The work ends quietly in the minor tonality. Franck’s requested registrations can be fully realized on this organ, the reeds of which speak with a decided French accent.
Norman Cocker (1889-1953)
There are many compositions, especially by British organists, designed to showcase the Tuba stop–a powerful voice always present in great English organs and increasingly found in large American instruments built in the twentieth century. In sharp contrast to the “French sound,” more staid and weighty English ensembles are heard here to accompany the commanding Tuba located high in the organ loft.
John La Montaine (b. 1920)
This quiet, reflective composition is one of three organ works by a Pulitzer-prizewinning American composer. Beautiful string stops and the solo Doppel Flute are featured.
Sonata VIII, Op. 132
Introduction and Passacaglia
Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901)
History shows Rheinberger to have been a prodigy who achieved incredible success by the time he reached his twenties. He was equally revered as a teacher, performer, and composer. In addition to varied works in differing mediums, he composed twenty sonatas and miscellaneous works for organ. Of the many movements contained in the sonatas, the Passacaglia of Sonata No. 8 is regarded as one of the most outstanding. Rheinberger’s stated inspiration for this movement was the Passacaglia of Bach, and this performance is treated in a classic (rather than romantic) manner, using several stops and ensemble combinations not heard elsewhere on this recording. The short Introduction that opens the Sonata is here followed immediately by the concluding Passacaglia. Twenty-four variations are built on the theme, and writing similar to the Introduction returns at the end as a coda.
This is the premiere recording of the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ, C. B. Fisk, Opus 130, featuring 4 manuals and pedal, 73 ranks, 4,322 pipes. The program and registrations were specifically chosen to showcase the wide and colorful tonal spectrum of this superb new organ.