Organ Recitals:

 

As an organist, I play and enjoy the music of all periods, but have a special affinity for the North German masters of the seventeenth century from Sweelinck to Buxtehude.  In 2007, I presented the complete organ works of Dieterich Buxtehude in eight recitals.  In 2010, I played the compete organ and harpsichord works of Georg Böhm in two concerts.

 

Harpsichord Recitals:

 

My greatest interest as a harpsichordist is the music of Louis Couperin and his nephew, François, whose work is the sine qua non of all harpsichord music.

 

 

~See below for recent recital programs.~

A Recent Harpsichord Recital Program:

 

The Court of Louis XIV depicted in the music of François Couperin  (1668-1733)

 

Premier Livre ( published 1713)

Premier Ordre

      Sarabande la Majesteuse                                              Sarabande His Majesty

      Les Abeilles                                                                     The Bee

Second Ordre

      Sarabande la Prude                                                       Sarabande The Prude

      La Diane                                                                          Diana

Troisiéme Ordre

      La Favorite, Chaconne a deaux temps                    The Favorite, a Chaconne in two

       La Lutine                                                                       The Sprite

Cinquiéme Ordre

      La Bandoline                                                                  Hair Lacquer

 

Second Livre (1716-1717)

Neuviéme Ordre

      La Princesse de Sens                                                     The Princess of Sens

      L’Olimpique                                                                  Olympus

      La Petit-deuil, or les trois Veuves                             Half-Mourning or The Three Widows

Onziéme Ordre

      L’Etincelante, ou La Bontems                                   The Shining (One) or

                   Louis-Alexandre de Bontemps, (Valet de chambre to the King)

      Les Graces-Naturéles                                                    Genuine Grace

Douziéme Ordre

      La Coribante                                                                   The Corybantes

 

Troisiéme Livre (1722)

Treiziéme Ordre

      Les Lis naissans                                                               The Birth of the Lily

Quinziéme Ordre

      La Régente ou la Minerve                                           The Regent or Minerva (Wisdom)

Seiziéme Ordre

      Les Graces incomparables ou La Conti                   Grace Incomparable or

                     (François Louis de Bourbon, Prince) de Conti

      La Distraite                                                                       Absent Minded

 

Quatriéme Livre (1730)

Vingtiéme Ordre

      La Princesse Marie~Air dans le goût Polonois       The Princess Marie~Air in the Style of a Polonaise

Vingt-Sixiéme Ordre

      La Convalescente                                                            The Convalescent

Vingt-Septiéme Ordre

      Les Chinois                                                                       The Chinaman

      Saillie                                                                                   Joke or Jump (Reproach)           

A Recent Organ Recital Program:

Divine Service

A recital of music for the Mass arranged in the order of Mass

 

The Prelude

 

Praeludium in E Major    Vincent Lübeck    (1654-1740)           

 

Until recently, this joyful piece would have been referred to as a prelude and fugue, a term which denotes two paired, but freestanding, pieces, one in free counterpoint and the other in strict counterpoint.  The earlier term, praeludium, describes a multi-partite piece, which contrasts within one form several free and strict sections, none of which are intended to stand on their own.  The ultimate inspiration for these praeludia (some are called toccata) are the early seventeenth century toccatas of Girolamo Frescobaldi.

 

The Penitential Rite

 

Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy)

            Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit, Canto fermo in Soprano (Melody in the soprano) 

                        (Have Mercy, Eternal Father God) (BWV 669)    J. S. Bach    (1685-1750)

 

Christe eleison (Christ, have mercy)

            Christe, aller Welt Trost, Canto fermo in Tenore (Melody in the tenor)                 

                        (Christ, Comforter of All the World) (BWV 670)    Bach

 

Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy)

            Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist, a 5, Canto fermo in Basso. Con Organo Pleno

                        (Melody in the bass. With full organ)                                                                  

                        (Have mercy, God, Holy Spirit) (BWV 671)    Bach

 

These three chorale preludes are actually organ settings of sections of the same hymn.  This hymn, which dates from the early days of Lutheranism, is a metrical version of the plainsong, "Kyrie fons bonitatis," which dates from about 950 C. E.  Because of their length, it is difficult for modern church goers to imagine that these pieces were actually intended to introduce the singing of the sections of this hymn.  Could settings like this have been a reason that the "Hauptgottesdienst," the main Sunday morning service in Bach's time, routinely took three hours to complete?  These settings are part of Bach's Clavierübung, Part III, a collection of organ settings of the hymns used in Luther's Catechism.  This collection is sometimes erroneously referred to as the German Organ Mass.  In the third setting, by the way, "full organ" means the Principal Chorus, supported by the Principal stops of the Pedal with a sixteen-foot reed.

 

The Hymn of Praise (Glory to God in the Highest)

 

Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr    Georg Böhm    (1661-1733)

            (Glory to God in the Highest)

 

This hymn, number 166 in our hymnal, is a German version of the Latin "Gloria in excelsis deo."  Both the tune and the text also date from the early days of Lutheranism.  This particular setting is intended to be a practical introduction to the singing of the hymn in service.  Fragments of the tune are used imitatively to build a contrapuntal texture.  The tune, although it is never heard in its entirety, is easily recognizable.  Georg Böhm worked for much of his life in the city of Lüneburg and was there when J. S. Bach, who is known to have respected Böhm's music, was a student in the city, although no direct connection between the two has ever been established.

Recit de Tierce en Taille, from Livre d'Orgue    Nicolas de Grigny    (1671-1703)

            (Solo for the Tierce, from Organ Book)

 

The ordinary of the Mass (the texts that are the same in every Mass) in Romance language countries was commonly presented in alternation, that is, a verse of the text would be sung and then an organ verset would replace a section of the text, and so forth.  This practice continued all the way through the nineteenth century.  De Grigny's extensive Mass setting, published in 1699, offers versets for all possible options.  This emotional piece, a solo for the left hand in the tenor range using the composite sound commonly called a Cornet, which contains a third-sounding stop called a Tierce, was likely written to replace the section of text, "You take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us."

 

Laudamus te, from Melodie di Verdi    Carlo Fumagalli    (1822-1907)

            (We Praise You, We Bless You,... from Melodies of Verdi)

 

This verset, which was written to replace the Gloria verse beginning with "Laudamus te," is from a Solemn Mass based on tunes from the opera Aida by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901).  Apparently, church music based on opera tunes was quite popular in the nineteenth century!

 

The Creed (We Believe in One True God)

 

Wir glauben all in einen Gott    Hans Friedrich Micheelsen    (1902-1973)

            (We All Believe in One True God, Hymn 374)

 

Albert Schweitzer was a prime mover behind the Freiburg Organ Conference of 1926, convened to consider the future of organ building in Germany after the Romantic excesses of the nineteenth century.  The conclusions of the conference led not only to a revival of interest in Baroque organ building and music, but also to the creation of a new musical style, now referred to as "Orgelbewegung," or Organ Reform Movement style, which emphasized contrapuntal construction, but used modern harmonies.  This hymn on the Creed was written by Luther and set to a tune adapted from chant.  This particular piece is intended to be an introduction to the singing of the hymn.

 

The Communion Rite

 

Offertorio, from Melodie di Verdi    Carlo Fumagalli

 

This piece for the presentation of the bread and wine is from the same Solemn Mass as the above verset.

 

Toccata terza Per l'Organo da sonarsi all Levatione    Girolamo Frescobaldi    (1583-1643)

            (Toccata Three to be played on the Organ during the Elevation)

 

Frescobaldi's toccatas were the inspiration of generations of German composers, all the way though the time of Bach.  Girolamo specifies that these pieces are not to be played all the way through at the same speed, but "now slow, now fast, and even held in the air," according the sense of the music and the good taste of the player!  The Elevation toccatas were to be played during the consecration of the Host and thus are intended to be mystical introspections into the meaning of communion.

 

The Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts)

 

Plein chant du premier Sanctus en Canon    François Couperin    (1668-1733)

            (Plain chant on the first verset of the Sanctus in Canon)

 

Récit de Cornet (Solo for the Cornet)

 

Benedictus, Chromhorne en Taille (Blessed Is He, Krummhorn in the tenor)

These three versets from Couperin's Mass for the Parishes of 1691 are for alternation with the other verses of the Sanctus text.  The first presents a fragment of the Sanctus chant in canon between the bass and the alto voices.  The second is a lyrical solo for the cornet, while the third piece is an emotional solo in the left hand for a reed stop.

 

The Agnus Dei (Lamb of God)

 

Christe, du Lamm Gottes    Helmut Walcha    (1907-1991)

            (O Christ, Thou Lamb of God)

 

Known as a teacher of American organists after World War II, this blind German virtuoso organist was also a product of the Organ Reform Movement.  This piece is intended to serve as an introduction to the singing of this hymn.

 

Hymn during Communion

 

Psalmus sub Commuione: Jesus Christus, unser Heiland    Samuel Scheidt    (1587-1654)

            (Psalm for Communion:  Jesus Christ, Our Savior)

 

      1. Versus. (four-voice motet structure)

      2. Versus. (Bicinium--a two-part invention)

      3.  Versus. Choralis in Cantu (melody in the soprano)

      4.  Versus. Choralis in Alto (melody in the alto)

      5.  Versus. Choralis in Tenore (melody in the tenor)

      6.  Versus. Choralis in Basso (melody in the bass)

 

Like the Latin Mass, the singing of Lutheran hymns in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries proceeded by alternation.  Thus the organ would play a stanza and the congregation would sing one, and so forth.  The organ was not used for accompaniment because the congregation traditionally  sang alone.  Although not meant to be played as a set of variations, these pieces contrast well with each other.  The set comes from the huge collection printed in open score using movable type called Tabulatura Nova, published in 1624.  In this one collection, Scheidt, one of the more intellectual of the many German students of the Dutch master, Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, published more music than J. S. Bach did in his entire life!  In four and five, the organist is expected to extract the melody from the texture as written and play it in the Pedal.,

 

The Postlude

 

Toccata, from Sonata in A Minor, Number 6, Opus 110    Camillo Schumann    (1872-1946)

From its opus number, we know that this jaunty toccata, by the largely unknown Camillo Schumann, was written before 1910, although it appears not to have been published until 1976.  Following a dramatic introduction comes a perpetual motion section, which is followed by a soft, melodic, A major section.  After this, the perpetual motion section returns, once again in minor, and eventually dissolves into brilliant figuration.  The piece ends with a grand return of the A major melody.

© 2015 J. William Greene. Created with Wix.com

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