Reviews the Santa Fe New Mexican: "Thévenot is a musician of experience and taste, the kind of admirable player who can be faithful to the spirit of a composition as well as the letter of its score. She plays Mulet's energetic Carillon Sortie broadly and energetically, while Mendelssohn's fifth sonata is appropriately grave without being stuffy before it explodes into its majestic allegro fireworks. Quinn's Continuum -- a knotty, probing yet very rewarding work that Thévenot premiered at Notre Dame in Paris -- gets a passionate but balanced performance, and Thévenot goes on to give Australian/Canadian composer Harold Barrie Cabena's Sonata Giojoso just the right kind of joyous exuberance. The interpretation of Dupré's Cortége et Litanie is one of the most insightful and refulgent I can recall, and a perfect example of the meaning of the Latin canticle surge, illuminare -- rise, shine, for thy light has come. Special kudos for Raven engineer Peter Nothnagle, who has kept the organ sound clear while being true to the cathedral acoustics."
Maxine Thévenot, Director of Cathedral Music and Organist of the Cathedral of St. John (Episcopal) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, plays the cathedral's 2002 Reuter organ, op. 2210, of four manual divisions and pedal. Works explore the range of Baroque, Romantic, and the introduction of recently composed works in their recording premieres. Recording engineer Peter Nothnagle captures a gracious acoustic that engages the rich, characterful, and powerful sounds of the organ.
HENRI MULET: Carillon Sortie
PERCY GRAINGER: Early One Morning, arr. Iain Quinn*
IAIN QUINN: Continuum*
HAROLD BARRIE CABENA: Sonata Giojoso
FELIX MENDELSSOHN: Sonata No. 5, op. 65
J. S. BACH: Prelude & Fugue in G major, BWV 541
VICTOR TOGNI: Five Liturgical Inventions for Organ:*
Jesu Dulcis-Verbum Supernum, Ave Maria, Adoro te Devote, Laudate Dominum, Alleluia
CALVIN HAMPTON: At the Ballet, from Five Dances
McNEIL ROBINSON: Hommage à Messiaen*
MARCEL DUPRÉ: Cortége et Litanie, op. 19
Writes Albert Neutel, President of the Reuter firm, “The warm acoustics in this ‘mile high’ cathedral space, and the placement of the organ, allowed for the use of varied wind pressure to create the sound of what is truly a cathedral organ. The Great principal chorus is voiced on 2-3/8" pressure while the enclosed divisions are on 6". The Tuba plays on 25" of pressure. The Antiphonal, located over the main entry to the cathedral, plays on 3" of pressure, with the Bishop’s Trumpet on 6". The tonal design of the organ is Reuter’s American Classic. Every stop in the organ is voiced with the ideal harmonic development for clarity and refined beauty. The layering of musical textures allows for seamless crescendos to a commanding tutti.”
Notes on the Music by Maxine Thévenot
French organist and composer Henri Mulet was born in 1878, Paris. He was choirmaster of the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur, Paris, in addition to being organist in various Paris churches including St. Roch where he wrote Carillon-Sortie. He studied organ with Guilmant (improvisation) and Widor (composition). Carillon-Sortie, considered to be an expressive post-Romantic work, was written before 1910 and dedicated to Widor. Mulet was professor at the École Niedermeyer and at the Schola Cantorum from 1924 to 1931. In 1937, Mulet burnt his manuscripts and left Paris for Provence. He was cathedral organist in Draguignan until 1958 and died there in 1967. He spent 30 of his 89 years in seclusion. He had no children and died in a convent.
Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882-1961) was a composer who felt that his most important compositions were neglected and grew to hate his own most popular pieces. He was a mixture of enormous talents, extreme ideals and complex contradictions. Early One Morning was originally written for harmonium duet and arranged for solo organ by Iain Quinn.
The organ work Continuum was written by Welsh-born organist Iain Quinn (b. 1973) who serves as Director of Cathedral Music at the Cathedral Church of St. John, Albuquerque. It was inspired by several compositional factors and written following a concert improvisation in a similar genre by the composer at Yale University in December 2003 at the encouragement of its dedicatée, Maxine Thévenot, who gave its premiere performance at Notre Dame, Paris in July 2005. Continuum employs an oscillating pattern between two manuals over which the letters of N O T R E D A M E are used in a tone-row in the pedal voice.
Barrie Cabena has a rich musical background with nearly 500 compositions to his credit. Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1933, he studied music privately and later at the Royal College of Music in London with Herbert Howells (composition) and John Dykes Bower (organ). He eventually made North America his home and currently resides in Guelph, Ontario. His organ and choral works have been broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for more than 37 years. Dr. Cabena has been a church organist in London, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Guelph, Ontario, Canada. After 27 years on the music faculty at Wilfrid Laurier University, he took early retirement in 1996. As professor emeritus, he continues to maintain a keen interest in music education. He is the 2006 winner of the Holtkamp-AGO Award in Organ Composition and the AGO/ECS Publishing Award in Choral Composition. Sonata Giojoso, op. 84, was written in 1978 as the result of a commission for a postlude for a service commemorating the 125th anniversary of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Kitchener, Ontario. There are several sections, played with little break: Toccata, Episode (in scherzo style), Toccata (with rhythmic alterations and with the addition of a chorale-like theme in the tenor register), a fugal treatment of the chorale-like theme, Episode, Toccata (on full organ with pedals added), and a concluding triumphant statement of the chorale theme, with pedal cadenzas recalling the episode material.
Mendelssohn’s music represents the first major German contribution to solo organ literature after J. S. Bach. Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847) was undoubtedly one of the great organists of his day, yet he never held a position as a church organist, had no organ students, and played only a few public recitals. Written between 1844 and 1845, Six Sonatas, op. 65, were commissioned by the English publisher, Charles Coventry, and are dedicated to the distinguished Frankfurt organist, F. Schlemmer. The traditional forms of organ music such as the fugue and the chorale naturally run through these works, but Mendelssohn also uses a virtuoso piano-like idiom and whether consciously or inadvertently, brought into being a new genre for the instrument. Sonata No. 5, in three movements, begins with an independent and unknown chorale followed by a short Andante con moto and concludes with a large and symphonically conceived Allegro maestoso movement.
In his day, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was better known as an organist than as a composer. The Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 541, was written in the early Leipzig period and conveys an exuberant mood from the outset of the toccata-like running passage. Bach was not only interested in the high quality of his own work, but was also very supportive of his sons, especially when it came to launching their careers. When Wilhelm Friedemann Bach was applying to the organist post at St. Sophia’s church in Dresden, his father wrote the letter of application to the Dresden city council for him and even signed it! In addition to this, Bach copied out the audition piece for his son: the Prelude and Fugue in G major. It must have been a household favorite!
Victor Togni was born in 1935 in Tanganyika, East Africa (now Tanzania), of Swiss parents. His musical studies began at the Abbey of Einsiedeln in Switzerland and continued at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome, École Normale de Musique and the National Conservatory in Paris, Royal College of Music in London, and the Geneva Conservatory in Switzerland. His teachers included Fernando Germani, Olivier Messiaen, Marcel Dupré, Rolande Falcinelli, Jean Langlais, and Jean Jacques Grunenwald. During his short life, Mr. Togni received several scholarship prizes for organ performance and improvisation, including First Prize in Improvisation at the National Convention of the AGO in 1964. In Europe, Mr. Togni was organist of St. Gregory’s Basilica in Rome and of the Lugano Cathedral. In Canada, he was organist at several churches in Ontario including St. Basil’s Church of St. Michael’s College, Toronto, and professor of organ and improvisation at St. Michael’s Cathedral Choir School. He played several inaugural organ recitals including St. Mary’s Cathedral in Calgary, Alberta, and the Cathedral of St. Paul, Minnesota. On March 29, 1965, Mr. Togni was on his way to Montréal to record a recital for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation when the car in which he and his producer were riding was involved in a fatal collision near Gananoque, Ontario. This is the premiere recording of Five Liturgical Inventions which are based on Gregorian chants: Jesu Dulcis – Verbum Supernum, Ave Maria, Adoro te devote, Laudate Dominum, and Alleluia. Special thanks are expressed to Victor Togni’s son, Peter Togni for his encouragement and support of this premiere recording.
Calvin Hampton (1938-1984) is probably best remembered today as a composer. His compositional style used diverse elements such as rock, gospel hymns, synthesizers, and quarter tones in his works. His output for the organ is significant and continues to be played throughout the world. Both as a performer and composer, Calvin Hampton possessed an uncommonly unique and prodigious talent to convey a unique vision of beauty. Calvin Hampton composed Five Dances in 1982 as a joint commission from Park Avenue Christian Church in New York City and the Holtkamp Organ Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Each dance is characterized by employing a different repetitive figure in each movement. In the case of At the Ballet, this figure is further enhanced by the unique registration which employs strings and flute on the manuals over a floating 2’ flute and tremulant in the pedal. It is up to the listener to discover the images each dance evokes.
McNeil Robinson was born in 1943 and is organist of the Park Avenue Christian Church and the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City and Chairman of the organ departments at the Mannes College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. For two decades, he served as organist and choirmaster at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York. An internationally renowned concert organist, improviser, composer, and teacher, he has been commissioned to compose works by the Archbishop of Canterbury, numerous American churches, and by the American Guild of Organists. His works have been performed at New York’s Lincoln Center and on network radio and are regularly heard in churches throughout the United States. Hommage à Messiaen was written in 1981 and was commissioned by the United States Naval Academy, Maryland.
Cortége et Litanie, op. 19, no. 2 was written in 1922 by the French organist and composer, Marcel Dupré (1886-1971). The work has a complicated history, and exists in several different versions. It originally formed part of a suite of incidental music which Dupré composed for a friend who was having a play performed in Paris, and was first conceived in terms of a chamber orchestra of eleven instruments. The composer also made an arrangement for piano solo, and when he played this to his American concert agent Dr. Alexander Russell, Russell was so impressed that he persuaded Dupré to make two more arrangements, one for organ solo and another for organ and symphony orchestra; the organ solo version was premiered in New York in September 1923 and the first performance of the orchestral version was given by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra early in 1925. The organ solo version is richly harmonized on soft strings and the melody of the Cortége is one of his most memorable tunes; the ends of the phrases are punctuated by a motif of two repeated notes, like the tolling of a distant bell. The poignant repetitions of the Litanie begin on a delicate solo flute, and move through a variety of tone-colors before a gradual increase in intensity leads to the powerful return of the Cortége theme and a brilliant toccata-like conclusion.
Canadian-born organist and choral conductor Maxine Thévenot enjoys a distinguished career performing in Europe, Great Britain, and North America, with a wide-ranging repertoire that includes contemporary works composed for her. Described as “musically sensitive,” “brilliant,” and “full of virtuoso playing,” (Royal Canadian College of Organists) she is known as a consummate musician with an engaging performance style coupled with a flair for exciting programming. Ms. Thévenot received the Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree with distinction from the University of Saskatchewan, and the Master of Music degree and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance from the Manhattan School of Music, New York, where she was twice-awarded the Bronson Ragan Award as “most outstanding organist.” She also holds the Associate diplomas from the Royal Canadian College of Organists and the Royal Conservatory of Music (piano). Her principal organ teacher was McNeil Robinson. She has also been influenced by the teachings of Dr. Terence Fullerton, Bernard Lagacé, Olivier Latry, Jean-Pierre Leguay, Simon Preston, and Gillian Weir. She also studied with Cécile Désrosiers (harpsichord and piano), Dr. Mary Wedgewood and Hart Godden (organ), Robin Harrison and Merne Amundson (piano), and Sr. Marie-Reine Ricard (counterpoint, theory, history, and piano).
Maxine Thévenot has performed throughout North America and Europe at many prestigious churches, concert halls and festivals, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, London; Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris; Washington National Cathedral; St. Thomas Church, New York; Princeton University Chapel; Jack Singer Concert Hall, Calgary; Basilica of Notre Dame du Cap, Montréal, the music festivals of Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, and Vienna.
She has been a featured performer at the opening night of the American Guild of Organists National Convention in Chicago (2006) and the Royal Canadian College of Organists National Conventions in Winnipeg (2004) and Calgary (1995). The recipient of several competition prizes and scholarships, Ms. Thévenot was unanimously awarded First Prize in the Canada Bach 2000 National Organ Competition. She has broadcast for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, National Public Radio, Pipedreams and has recorded three commercial compact discs: The Seven Joys of Christmas with the Calgary Girls Choir; Hearts Ascending with the Calgary Boys Choir; and Without Boundaries, her début solo recording.
As a concerto soloist, Ms. Thévenot has played with numerous orchestras including performances with members of the Chicago Metropolis Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, and the Adelphi University Orchestra. As a chamber musician she has performed with the UBS Verbier Orchestra together with soprano Renée Fleming, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Manhattan School of Music Symphony Orchestra and has worked with internationally acclaimed conductors Mario Bernardi, Boris Brott, Christopher Lyndon-Gee, Dimitri Sitkovetsy, and Julian Wachner. She has toured internationally with several renowned ensembles including the CBC award-winning Calgary Girls Choir.
Ms. Thévenot has premiered several works including: Stephen Paulus (New Every Morning is the Love, Cathedral Church of St. John, May 2006); Mary Lynn Place Badarak (Petite Suite, Cathedral Church of St. John, March 2006); Malcolm Archer (Missa Omnes Sancti, Cathedral Church of St. John, February 2006); Iain Quinn (Continuum, Notre Dame, Paris, July 2005); Hayes Biggs (Sicut Rosa, Corpus Christi Church, New York, March 2005); Jenny Olivia Johnson (Deux Images, Washington National Cathedral, July 2003). She is also the dedicatée of works written by Hayes Biggs, Noel Goëmanne, and Iain Quinn.
An accomplished and respected conductor, Maxine Thévenot has directed ensembles across North America. Ms. Thévenot has served on the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where in 2004 she founded an auditioned 30-voice women’s ensemble, Concentus. Within their first year, they established themselves as a premiere ensemble attracting distinguished composers such as Hayes Biggs to write and dedicate works for them. In addition to her work with Concentus, Ms. Thévenot has conducted performances with members of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra and the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra, and musicians of The Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music. While at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City, NY, 2003-2005, she was the Director of the Cathedral Girls Choir and the Schola Cantorum. In 2004, The Cathedral of the Incarnation Boys and Girl Choirs toured the UK with residencies at the Cathedrals in Edinburgh, Bristol and St. Albans.
In 2010, Dr. Thévenot became Organist-Choir Director at the Cathedral Church of St. John in Albuquerque, where she had been the Associate Organist-Choir Director, then Interim, since September 2005. She has also held positions at Christ Church Episcopal, Manhasset, NY; Parkdale United Church, Calgary; the Anglican Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, Calgary; St. James Anglican Church, Saskatoon; and St. John’s Anglican Cathedral, Saskatoon.
She is a published photographer in issues of The Organ and Choir and Organ magazines. Maxine Thévenot has given lectures, workshops, and masterclasses including presentations on Canadian organ music and organ works of Mozart. Ms. Thévenot has adjudicated for regional choral festivals and competitions, and is a member of the National Board of Examiners for the American Guild of Organists.