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Ken Cowan Plays Romantic Masterworks The 110-rank Schoenstein organ
Real freshness . . . brilliant, Reviews AAM Journal - [OAR-903]

Reviews Martin Clarke in Organists' Review:
". . . Ken Cowan . . . plays with verve and energy and exploits the rich symphonic palette of the vast Lincoln Schoenstein instrument. This has an extremely warm, rounded tone, and is capable of lengthy and seamless crescendos as Cowan amply demonstrates on this recording, while also possessing numerous colourful solo stops at different dynamic levels. The programme is pleasantly varied, the Karg-Elert pieces providing welcome contrast from the substantial and serious works by Reger and Reubke. Cowan's own transcription [of Liszt] . . . is highly effective and is given a dramatic performance, drawing on several solo orechstral stops. The Karg-Elert pieces allow the instrument's softer stops to come to the fore; cowan's interpretation is suitably delicate and playful. His performance of the Valse Mignonne includes effective use of the organ's quirky "Pizzicato Pedal" effect. The Rondo alla Campanella is a moto perpetuo study of harmonic and timbral exploration, bristling with energy and unpredictability . . . The final two works are given commanding performances; while the Reger showcases an astonishing array of sounds, these never take precedence over the communication of the musical sense of the piece. Although both are staples of the German Romantic repertoire, Cowan succeeds in making them sound fresh, through his energetic and controlled playing and his command of this remarkable instrument. . . .

Reviews Victor Hill in the Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians:
Much of the interest here is in a virtuosic performance on the IV/110 Schoenstein organ in the First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. Most of our libraries do not need yet another recording of the Reger Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstem and the Reubke Sonata, but this disc is noteworthy for brilliant readings of these works.
The program opens with a delightful arrangement by Cowan himself of the Liszt Mephisto Waltz No. 1, a favorite of pianists that achieves real freshness with the greater colors of the symphonic organ, and the technical display is just as exciting as on a piano. Karg-Elert is represented by his Three New Impressions, Op. 142 and the Rondo alla Campanella, Op. 156, all played with vigor and understanding. In the first set, the Valse Mignonne may come as a delightful surprise to those who have not heard it on Clive Driskill-Smith's recording (reviewed in September 2006). Both Cowan and Driskill-Smith bring out the whimsy and amusement of this little gem, on entirely different instruments, both worth hearing.
In addition to the extensive specification of the 1997 organ, the liner contains unusually detailed and helpful notes and a variety of photographs. The recorded sound represents exceptionally fine work by Michael Coup and Edward Kelly.

Reviews Michael Quinn in Choir & Organ:
With 6,327 pipes, 144 stops and four manuals, the twelve-year-old Opus 126 Schoenstein organ in Lincoln, Nebraska, is undoubtedly a well-resourced church instrument and lays claim to being the magnum opus in the company's 121-year history. A Romantic organ given a modern twist to accentuate subtlety of tone and dynamic nuance, it sounds delightfully agile in Liszt's Mephisto Waltz, lithe and lyrical in Karg-Elert's op. 142 Impressions, and suitably musical and noble in Reubke's Sonata on the 94th Psalm. The young Canadian Ken Cowan acquits himselft with a well-measured and meticulous mien . . .; the recorded sound is full and well framed.

Ken Cowan, one of America’s most respected young organists and beloved teacher, brings natural musicality and stunning virtuosity to these brilliant performances of landmark masterworks of the 19th century, playing the revolutionary symphonic organ created in Lincoln, Nebraska, by the Schoenstein Organ Company in 1997 for First Plymouth Congregational Church. With 144 stops on four manuals controlling 110 ranks of pipes, the organ and Ken Cowan produce a sonic tour-de-force captured in an audiophile’s dream recording. Cowan teaches organ at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, Houston, Texas, where he joined the faculty in 2012. He previously coordinated the Sacred Music program as an assistant professor at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey, where he was awarded the 2008 Rider University Distinguished Teaching Award.

Franz Liszt: Mephisto Waltz No. 1

Sigfrid Karg-Elert: Three New Impressions, Op. 142
Harmonies du Soir
Valse Mignonne
Romantic Retrospective View

Karg-Elert: Rondo alla Campanella, Op. 156

Max Reger: How Brightly Shines the Morning Star, Op. 40, No. 1

Julius Reubke: Sonata on the 94th Psalm

Ken Cowan Plays Romantic Masterworks<font color=red> The 110-rank Schoenstein organ</font><BR><I>Real freshness . . . brilliant</I>, Reviews <I>AAM Journal</I>
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