Writes Charles Huddleston Heaton in the in The Diapason, February 2009, ". . . a modest sized instrument of great effectiveness played with style and imagination . . . [including] a very fine arrangement of Gabriel Fauré's Pelleas et Melisande Suite, done by Mr. Baugh -- it includes the charming "Fileuse" and the more familiar "Sicilienne." This organ transcription should be published. . . . It is worth noting that four of the twelve compositions have a premiere recording here. Kudos!"
Writes James Hildreth in the in The American Organist, December 2008, "Baugh is a superb player whose sensitive musicianship matches his abundant technique. The sound of music is alive and well in the Roanoke Valley. Fisk's Op. 124 . . . does many things very well. Its seven 8' manual flues, all open and full length or harmonic, produce a rich, broad fonds combination to which is added a wide array of French and German reeds, vibrant strings, and colorful mutations. . . [the] premiere recording of the dazzling Toccata of Gerre Hancock . . . requires technique aplenty, which Mr. Baugh readily delivers. . . . Baugh expertly demonstrates this instrument's ability to make the grand gesture and sustaing multiple coloristic contrasts. . ."
Writes Victor Hill in The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, "Tom plays splendidly, with vital rhythm, incisive technique, and an intelligent sense of style. The organ is truly elegant, and the sound is captured with impressive effect. . . . His program is notable for four premiere recordings. . . . Tom has arranged the Fauré Pelléas et Mélisande suite for organ solo in an especially gratifying manner. The second movement, Fileuse, comes off sounding just like a scherzo of Vierne or Duruflé . . ."
Searle Wright: Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue
Gabriel Fauré: Pelléas et Mélisande Suite, Op. 80*
transcribed for organ by Thomas Baugh
Prélude · Fileuse · Sicilienne · La mort de Mélisande
Gerre Hancock: Toccata*
Nicolas de Grigny: Récit de tierce en taille
Claude-Bénigne Balbastre: Noël, Où s’en vont ces gais bergers?
Richard Cummins: Hymn Prelude on Nyland*
Robert N. Roth: Improvisation on The Infant King *
J. S. Bach: Wir glauben all’ in einen Gott, BWV 740
J. S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C (“9/8”), BWV 547
Thomas Baugh plays the Fisk organ, op. 124, completed in 2004 at Christ Episcopal Church, Roanoke, Virginia. This unique organ’s plenum is made unusually rich by including only open flue pipes in the manual divisions – there are no stopped ranks or partially-stopped ranks (such stops as Gedackts, Stopped Diapasons, Bourdons, Rohrflutes, Chimney Flutes, etc.) but, instead, a rich panoply of entirely open flue ranks at all manual pitches, including sumptuous open and harmonic flutes, principals, montres, and harmonically well-developed strings, etc. Add to these warmly glowing sounds the telling ensemble and solo reeds so beautifully voiced, and the organ becomes an ideal venue for repertoire benefiting from gorgeous sound. Demonstrating this is a program of such works, especially the orchestral effects achieved for Thomas Baugh’s transcription of the beloved music composed by Gabriel Fauré for Maeterlinck’s play, Pelléas et Mélisande, and also especially the major work by Searle Wright.
Thomas Baugh became Director of Music of Christ Episcopal Church in Roanoke in 1986. There, he directs adult and young people’s choirs, parish instrumentalists, and Flemish hand bell ringers. He received the Master of Music degree with distinction from Westminster Choir College. He studied organ in the United States with John Mueller, Bruce Stevens, Eugene Roan, and in Lyon, France, with Louis Robilliard. At Christ Church, he has conducted works of Byrd, Handel, Bach, Mozart, Barber, Duruflé, and Britten with the Parish Choir and with instrumentalists of the Garth Newel Chamber Players.
Notes on the Music by Thomas Baugh
For 33 years as Organist and Master of the Choristers at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, Gerre Hancock invigorated the Anglican choral tradition in America. At the same time he introduced the art of organ improvisation to the country as a coast-to-coast recitalist. He continues teaching today as Professor of Organ and Sacred Music at the University of Texas. The Toccata, dated Feast of the Epiphany 2002, is based on a syncopated modal theme that is contrasted, then combined, with a flowing counter theme. As the moto-perpetuo pattern travels into the pedal and more stops are added, the spectacular results remind us of Dr. Hancock’s own marvelous playing.
Nicolas de Grigny was born at Reims. After study with Nicolas Lebègue, he became organist of the great royal abbey church of St.-Denis in 1693. In 1697, he returned to Reims as Cathedral organist, where, in 1699, he produced a Livre d’orgue consisting of a mass and several hymns that are as delicious as the champagne of the region. Bach admired Gringy’s Livre so much as to copy it about 1713. Bach’s edition was used for the present recording of the profoundly beautiful Rècit de tierce en taille from the Gloria of the Mass. Bach corrected minute engraving errors and eliminated some spicy cross-relations, but retained the celebrated dissonance of a diminished fourth in the solo at bar 35, which Gringy prepares and resolves in a characteristically French baroque manner as the emotional apex of the piece.
Balbastre, as organist of the Church of St.- Roch, quickly found a career in the French court as music tutor to Marie-Antoinette and organist of the Chapel Royal. With Daquin and others, Balbastre formed a school of noëlistes whose brilliant variations on carols and popular songs dazzled the Parisian public. The Archbishop of Paris once forbade Balbastre to play on Christmas Eve so as to preserve order among overly enthusiastic congregants. In the variations on “Where go these merry shepherds?”, the Fisk organ permits authentic registrations: the sassy Dulcian, beautiful flutes and singing Cornet, and a Grand jeu roanokais consisting of the Great Trompette 8’, Grand Cornet, and Octave 4’.
For an 1888 performance of Maeterlinck’s play, Gabriel Fauré wrote incidental music that his pupil Charles Koechlin later collected into a suite and orchestrated. This passionate music has been widely programmed on public radio, and the Sicilienne is universally recognized. The theme of Mélisande (a rising minor triad) appears in the second movement, a picture of Mélisande at her spinning wheel. In the fourth movement, this theme becomes, first, a funeral march and, then, a haunting final evocation. As the Fisk voicers produced the beautiful foundation stops, strings, and reeds of Opus 124 during the summer of 2004, the writer was reminded of this music and set about transcribing it for the newly-minted voices.
Richard Cummins, for longer than 25 years, has been Organist and Director of Music & Fine Arts at Greene Memorial United Methodist Church in Roanoke, where he hosts a renowned concert series. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and Westminster Choir College. The tune, Nyland, was written by John Ernest Bode (1816-1874), and is familiarly paired with the hymn, “O Jesus, I have promised.” Mr. Cummins dedicated this prelude to the organ teacher of his youth in Petersburg, Virginia, Raymond H. Herbek.
Robert Roth is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, the University of Virginia, and the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary, New York. He served longer than 30 years as Organist and Choirmaster of the Church of St. James the Less, Scarsdale, and is a widely-published composer. He edited the Episcopal Children’s Hymnal, We Sing of God, with his wife, The Rev. Nancy L. Roth. This prelude on the Christmas carol is dedicated to her.
Searle Wright was long Director of Music of St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University, and taught composition at the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary where Robert Roth and Gerre Hancock were his students. Mr. Roth recalls: “Searle was a great guy, wonderful teacher of composition and improv, very talented and very funny. He always gave you something that was very practical for your profession. I learned so much from him that I will always be eternally grateful.” Later, Wright was Link Professor of Music at SUNY Binghamton. The Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue was commissioned by Marilyn Mason for the Detroit AGO convention in 1960. The work opens with dramatic statements, each with Hollywood sweep, in the two key-centers of F major and D minor that form a continually shifting harmonic basis for the work. Thirty variations follow in often novel textures, sounds, and styles. The Gershwin variation (number 10), Wright said, “just came out that way.” Great excitement builds in the later variations. Following the model of Bach’s Passacaglia, the fugue subject is based on the beginning of the passacaglia theme, accompanied by a counter subject that gives the music drive. The full fugal development even quotes B-A-C-H before a stretto reintroduces the passacaglia theme on sonorous full organ and resolves the dual tonality in favor of F major.
Variously attributed either to Johann Sebastian Bach or his favorite pupil, Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780), the prelude on Wir glauben all in einen Gott layers a simple statement of the chorale melody over a rich four-voice accompaniment which is based on points of imitation from it. The Renaissance-like contrapuntal texture suggests in this performance a consort registration. Dated by most authorities around the 1740s, the Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 547, is contemporaneous with Bach’s final contrapuntal masterpieces, the Goldberg Variations, the Art of Fugue, and the Musical Offering. Four motives play against one another in a dancing prelude of which the 9/8 meter gives the work its nickname. In the transcendental fugue, the subject appears more than 50 times, both rightside up and upside down, in four voices. In the final quarter of the piece, a fifth voice in the pedal sounds at half speed while the others continue in stretto, the music ringing like carillon bells.