writes James Hildreth in The American Organist, January 2008, . . . This wonderfully cosmopolitan instrument is inspired by diverse elements of historical organbuilding . . . Speaking in an acoustically warm space, the instrument boasts bold voicing, with plenteous foundations, clarity of ensemble, and a bounty of distinct color. In this well-produced recording, St. Bartholomew's organist-choirmaster Brad Hughley demonstrates the instrument's stunning versatility in a well-conceived, brilliantly executed program . . . Timothy Tikker's exciting, hypnotic Toccata Kopanista (premiere recording) is cast in the French toccata idiom. . . . Throughout, Hughley demonstrates his exemplary musicianship and technical mastery."
writes Richard Blakely in The American Record Guide, January/February 2008, . . . Hughley is an excellent organist and manages well the weidr range of styles and periods in the program. There are two pieces he plays especially well. The first is the Sweelinck. Very few organists seem to be able to project this music across the centuries that separate the composer from us. This one does; the lively dances are evocatively played. The second piece that is given an outstanding performance is the Duruflé. That it can be so well executed . . . is a credit both to the skill of the player and the excellence of the organ. Bravo!"
Dietrich Buxtehude (C. 1637-1707): Toccata in F, BuxWV 157
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639
Claude-Benigne Balbastre (1727-1799): Marche des Marseillois et l’Air Ça-ira
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621): Ballo del Granduca
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847): Prelude and Fugue in G Major, op. 37, no. 2
César Franck (1822-1890): Prélude, Fugue, et Variation, op. 18
Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986): Prélude et Fugue sur le Nom d’Alain, op. 7
Alec Rowley (1892-1958): Benedictus
Timothy Tikker (B. 1959): Toccata Kopanitsa
Notes on the Program
by Brad Hughley
All of the works featured on this disc demonstrate the glorious versatility of Rosales Op. 29 at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, Atlanta. The pieces selected call for registrations that exemplify different schools of the organ repertoire: the plenum (16’ and 8’) in Buxtehude; the sesquialtera with tremolo in Bach; the reeds, solo 4’ flute, and mixtur de tierce in Sweelinck; the Grand jeu in Balbastre; the 8’ Principal in Mendelssohn; the Hautbois against the Flûte harmonique, as well as a striking Jeu de Fonds in Franck; the Cèleste and full English swell in Rowley; and the full organ in both Duruflé and Tikker. In considering the choice of repertoire, I found that the pieces presented themselves in a neat package of preludes, fugues, and variations; these are all flanked by two toccatas, one old and one new, bookending the program.
Dietrich Buxtehude (C. 1637-1707):
Toccata in F (BuxWV 157)
Although titled “toccata,” its basic form consists of a prelude and fugue. A stylus phantasticus toccata with Sweelinck-inspired echo effects precedes a fugal section, here played on the 16’ Clarinette with 8’ Geigen Principal an octave higher against the 8’ Trumpet in the pedal. The final section returns to the earlier fantasy style, this time employing a 16’ plenum rather than an 8’ plenum. Final flourishes are enhanced with the Cymbelstern for maximum effect. The organ’s tuning in Kellner temperament makes for an especially exhilarating finish with pure thirds in the key of F major.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750):
Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639
This gentle chorale setting is unique among its companions from the Orgelbüchlein in that it is the only bona fide trio setting in the collection. It begins as an elegantly ornamented chorale setting, but curiously drops all ornamentation halfway through the piece. Much scholarly ink has been spilled over the issue of playing this chorale exactly as written or carrying out the ornamentations throughout the piece. The solution here is to continue the setting as an ornamented chorale in an improvised manner where Bach’s written out version trails off. In his handwritten introduction to the collection, Bach clearly indicates that the Orgelbüchlein is a teaching tool, and it seems that he wanted to demonstrate the way to begin and entrust the player to work out further ornaments extemporaneously.
Claude-Benigne Balbastre (1727-1799):
Marche des Marseillois et l’Air Ça-ira
By the mid 1780’s, the height of elegance and opulence of the French Baroque (so seminal to French culture that its organ repertoire is referred to as the “Classic” style) had vanished in the dust of a giant political and religious upheaval. Such was the environment surrounding Balbastre, whose career lay in the crossroads of two dramatically different eras. His part-time position as organist of Notre Dame in Paris was supplemented by patronage from the court of Louis XVIII. In this capacity, he taught harpsichord lessons to Marie-Antoinette and relatives of foreign dignitaries, including, incidentally, one of Thomas Jefferson’s daughters. Balbastre was known as an intensely gifted organist, but in the pre-Revolution days the instrument fell further and further out of favor. He became a champion of the newly created pianoforte, for which his variations on La Marseillois were written. Its adaptation for organ on this recording is in the spirit of arrangements and adaptations common in the 18th century. During the days of the revolution, patriotic and militaristic tunes replaced plainchant and hymns in churches – not necessarily because of nationalistic fervor, but in order to save one’s neck, literally, from a populous of revolutionary zealots. As for the music, the more flamboyant, the better – even imitations of cannons were written into the score (created here by playing a large cluster of notes at the bottom of the pedalboard).
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621):
Ballo del Granduca
The Dutch organist Sweelinck influenced an entire generation of international composers. Sweelinck himself combined national styles in his compositions and brought to the organ repertoire an unprecedented level of virtuosity while increasing its popularity. Among his sets of variations, the Ballo del Granduca is among the more succinct. Based on an Italian wedding tune, this melody was also a popular subject among Spanish composers. Here, the melody is played on the 8’ Trumpet with 4’ Prestant. The following variations utilize reed stops on the organ and the beautiful 4’ Spire Flute on the Swell. The virtuosic fourth variation features the mutation stops on the Great in combination with principal stops, and the final variation uses a 16’ plenum.
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847):
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, op. 37, no. 2
Perhaps eclipsed by the groundbreaking accomplishments in the Six Sonatas (op. 65), the three sets of preludes and fugues (op. 37) tend to attract less attention. The G major prelude and fugue demonstrates the facility and confidence of a 28-year old composer. The self-assured prelude was composed when Mendelssohn was on his honeymoon; the fugue was composed later and paired together with the prelude at the time of publication. Here the prelude is played on the 8’ Principal in the manuals and 16’ Prestant in the pedal – the core stops of the organ. The fugue registration adds 4’ flutes and 4’ principal stops.
César Franck (1822-1890):
Prélude, Fugue, et Variation, op. 18
Often described as Franck’s most “classical” organ work, his op. 18 is one of six works for solo organ sent for publication in 1868. These six organ pieces are among his early and significant contributions to the organ repertoire. Each piece is dedicated to a different musician; the Prélude, Fugue, et Variation is dedicated to Camille Saint-Saëns. The Prelude and Variation, each set as trio movements, contrast with the four-voice Fugue, creating a beautiful symmetrical form. Although the published organ works of Franck garnered little attention until after his death, he was known internationally as an expert improviser. Additionally, much of Franck’s organ music follows strict voice leading and counterpoint rules that had been out of fashion in the nineteenth century. In response to Franck’s abilities as an improviser and composer, Franz Liszt declared him the Johann Sebastian Bach of his generation.
Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986):
Prélude et Fugue sur le Nom d’Alain, op. 7
Highly critical and perfecting of his compositions, Maurice Duruflé allowed only four organ works to be published in his lifetime. He required frequent and successive revisions of them to be published, implying a lack of satisfaction with even the choicest fruits of his labors. His op. 7 pays homage to his student and friend, Jehan Alain (1902-1942), a brilliant organist and composer tragically killed by a land mine in World War II. The predominant musical idea in the Prelude and Fugue is a melody created by spelling the name A-L-A-I-N in musical nomenclature: since the musical alphabet runs A – H (H is reserved in German notation for B-natural), the literal alphabet continues by repeating the musical alphabet (I=A, etc; L=D, N=F). The simple five-note cell appears throughout the prelude and serves as the fugue subject to astonishing effect. A variety of colors are demanded from the organ throughout the piece from its quietest opening to its brilliant conclusion.
Alec Rowley (1892-1958): Benedictus
The tonal design of Rosales Op. 29 includes elements of the English Romantic organ. Rowley’s Benedictus, published in 1931, calls for crescendos and frequent piston changes, and works remarkably well on the two-manual Rosales organ. In contrast to most of the other works recorded here, this piece is free from strict forms. The title of the piece refers to the Canticle of Zachary from the Gospel of Luke: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has come to his people and set them free;” it seems to have been inspired by a miniature composition by Max Reger with the same title. An epigraph heads the score, quoting the poet and hymnwriter Christina Rossetti: “I bring refreshment – I bring ease and calm.”
Timothy Tikker (B. 1958): Toccata Kopanitsa
Commissioned for the dedicatory recital series of the Rosales organ in 2004, and premiered by Brad Hughley, Tikker’s Toccata Kopanitsa attractively combines traditional Western forms with ancient folk music and Asian modes. The composer writes: “The work’s title refers to the Kopanitsa, a Bulgarian dance in a quick 11 meter (2+2+3+2+2). With this characteristic rhythm are blended Asian modes (a pentatonic subset of the Hindu mode Harikambogi; an Indonesian hexatonic Pelog mode) and Indonesian gamelan-type rhythmic layering. The piece is cast in the genre of a French organ toccata, using the organ’s large ensembles: full organ, then full foundations with full Swell division.”
Introduction to Opus 29
by Jonathan Ambrosino
Any organ completed in 2003 stands in the shadow of 20th-century organbuilding, a period of greater upheaval and transformation than any previous era. From 1900, intense activity in church building, coupled to cultural restlessness and curiosity, allowed the United States to engage in more of the organ’s transformation than any other land. No element of organbuilding escaped reconsideration, and the century unfolded in one long pattern of resistance, perfection and acceptance, followed by rejection, rediscovery and reintroduction. With such a turbulent backdrop, and so much ground covered, it remains no small challenge in our century to say something genuinely new in organbuilding.
Against that scenario, the Rosales organ for Atlanta stands proud, representing a personal expression. However, it is not without antecedent, in this case the builder’s Opus 9 for the First Presbyterian Church in Northridge, California. That instrument, a comprehensive two-manual instrument of 1981, was rebuilt in 1994 after damage caused by the Northridge earthquake. While following the general physical characteristics of the earlier example, Opus 29 has fewer stops and a different style of console. The marriage of suspended mechanical key-action and modern playing aids is deliberate, for flexibility both of touch and of registration. It was felt that an instrument with these attributes would be particularly appropriate in a liturgical setting, and form a useful addition to the pipe organs of the greater community.
The bold Great principal chorus is this instrument’s heart and soul, based upon a solid 16-foot Prestant and majestically warm 8-foot Principal. The Swell chorus has its own lighter character, while adding unmistakably to the Great’s. When compared to its earlier inspiration, Opus 29's tonal design reflects an evolution of thought over two decades, embodying the dynamic and color variety more typically associated with the romantic element in Anglican liturgy. Thus, the Chimney Flute at Northridge has become a Harmonic Flute for Atlanta; a quiet Gemshorn supplants the earlier Dutch-style Vox humana and additional mutation stops intended for earlier organ literature; the Cromorne found at 8-foot pitch in Northridge is here transposed to 16-foot as a Clarinette, coupling with the Hautbois into a suggestion of the characteristic English “full swell;” and a Great Seventeenth replaces Northridge's Mounted Cornet, permitting not only a Sesquialtera registration but also a tierce-infused plenum, which is at the heart of most pre-20th-century American, English and German organbuilding traditions.
A subtle sophistication shines through the organ's twenty-six registers. Since stops blend in unusual and convincing ways, the organ possesses a range of color normally associated with larger instruments. For example, the Gemshorn is quiet enough for delicate passages, but strong enough to blend with the Harmonic Flute into a mild principal voice. The Voix céleste marries tellingly with the Geigen, but just as effectively with the Gemshorn for a more delicate effect. The narrower, principal-toned Twelfth, Fifteenth and Seventeenth contrast well with the wide-scale Nasard, Doublet and Tierce. The Pedal Trombone is a solid, full-toned reed suitable for plenum registrations, but is transformed when mated to the fiery bass of the Great Trumpet.
The instrument was designed and constructed in England by the P&S Company, with tonal and technical input from Manuel Rosales and Kevin Gilchrist. It is P&S’s first suspended key action. The Great is located behind the façade, with the Swell elevated and behind. The larger pedal pipes are located at the rear of the case, with the largest beginning at floor level. The attached keydesk features solid-state memory for combination pistons, discreet lighting, and keys of ebony and bone. The arrangement of the stopknobs in side terraces permits ease of manipulation within the natural arc of the player’s arm motions.
A fine organ is distinguished by more than its voicing. The nature and responsiveness of the action are vital. The behavior of the wind system exerts seminal influence. The physical arrangement of the pipes within the case determines blend and projection. In this respect, Saint Bartholomew’s offers an ideal. The organ’s location permits tone to speak easily throughout the church, dispersed and enriched by a gracious acoustical environment.
In the years preceding World War II, a builder’s style reflected not only his convictions about how music should sound forth, but also the guidance of his own personal ear. In the most recent phase of artistic organbuilding, a new synthesis has developed, in which stylistic precedents have often been the predominant motivating factor in how an instrument sounds. An organ’s intended repertoire, rather than its creator's original vision, become a new animus. Many exquisite organs have been built along these lines.
Yet this approach is born out of an inherent paradox. Often the genius of an old organ transcends its sounds, its action or its case. Every element of the instrument is just as noteworthy for being a reflection of the builder’s unique sensibility, that point where vision triumphs antecedent. No matter how closely one attempts to model one’s work on elements of the past, ultimately an organ can only echo the sensibility of its builder and its own good time.
It is possible, however, to take inspiration not only from the organs, but the creativity, resourcefulness and ingenuity the old masters demonstrated, and apply that sense of artistic energy toward the development of a personal, modern style. It is in this respect that Manuel Rosales has stood above his contemporaries. Despite intensive inquiry into the styles of many national schools (American, Dutch, German, Spanish, French, Mexican), his greatest influence is an abiding desire to build an organ true to his own ear and eclectic sensibilities.
While the Rosales voicing gladly learns from the past, and will borrow unapologetically from it, the result is individual - radiant with a personality by turns sophisticated, articulate and intelligent, charming, humorous and even outrageous. One has only to listen to this instrument’s 8-foot Principal to hear a tone, character and speech so immediately personal to appreciate how much of the man we hear in his work. In Opus 29, a clear respect for the past is just as important as its confident anticipation of the music of today, and of tomorrow.