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The Freese Collection: Faythe Freese Plays the 106-rank Organ, Magdeburg, Cathedral - [OAR-948] $15.98

Writes William Gatens in The American Record Guide, July-August, 2014:
Faythe Freese is professor of organ at the University of Alabama School of Music. The three substantial pieces on this reconiing reflect significant connections in her life and career. The release takes its title from a work that. Freese commissioned from Pamela Decker (b I955). Its three movements are inspired by three pieces of visual art by the artist Nall in Freese's private collection. The works combine painting and sculpture. Augenmusik is a painted violin on a pedestal. Lirio e Amapola is a painting of lilies and poppies rimmed with mosaic. La Croix de Foi, whose title is a play on Freese's name,. is a cross constructed from organ pipes and strips of wood molding.. In a note. Decker points out that the German, Spanish, and French. titles of the three works are reflected in the musical style of her three movements, though I did not find that particularly obvious on hearing the music. Decker's compositional idiom can be very pungent, but it is generally accessible, running the gamut from quiet delicacy to ferocious virtuosity.

In the 1980s Freese and Decker were Fulbright students m Germany. Both were studying the music of Max Reger: Freese with Heinz Wunderlich (1919-2012) and Decker with Hans Gebhardt. The connection with Wunderlich is reflected here by his Organ Sonata on a Single Theme. The entire work grows out of a four-note motive of a descending minor 2nd, descending rnajor 3rd, and ascending minor 3rd. The almost obsessive presence of this theme invites comparison with Liszt's Prelude & Fugue on B-A-C-H. Much of Wunderllch's sonata reminds me of Hindemith, but not so much as to be mistaken for him.

The Freese-Decker-Wunderiich association comes full circle with the work that concludes the program; Introduction, Variations, & Fugue (1903) by Max Reger. Like many of Reger's organ works, it. was written for Karl Straube. It is the lengthiest of Reger's organ works and for years was considered unplayable.

This recording was made al Magdeburg Cathedral on the organ completed in 2008 by Schuke of Potsdam.. It is a large instrument of four manuals and 93 stops. It is beautifully recorded here, with a good balance of distance and presence. Climaxes are brilliant and powerful but not oppressive, and the most delicate combinations are distinctly audible, judging from this recording, the organ has a well-integrated sound, not just a collection of relatively unrelated tone colors. It is a fine vehicle for the music recorded here.

Freese's playing is technically unimpeachable. In addition, she bring's to her playing an intelligent coherence that is extremely persuasive. Far too many organists just play notes. Faythe Freese makes music. Admirers of Pamela Decker's music will especially want to acquire this recording.

Faythe Freese plays the 2008 Alex. Schuke (Potsdam) organ of 4 manuals, 93 stops, 106 ranks in the soaring acoustics of Magdeburg Cathedral (Germany), in works of Reger, Heinz Wunderlich, and Pamela Decker.

MAX REGER1873-1916: Introduktion, Variationen und Fuge über ein Originalthema für Orgel, Op. 73
HEINZ WUNDERLICH 1919-2012: Orgelsonate über ein Thema
PAMELA DECKER: The Freese Collection (a work in three parts as inspired by three art works created by the artist known as Nall, both the art works and the music commissioned by Faythe Freese).

Music on This Recording

Pamela Decker: The Freese Collection
The Freese Collection was commissioned by Faythe Freese as a composition in tribute to three works of art by the artist known as “Nall.” All three works are in the collection that she and her husband, Jerry, display in their home. The piece proceeds in three movements, each of which represents and depicts one of the art works. The titles appear in three different languages—German, Spanish, and French, respectively; these three languages represent compositional and stylistic features (of the associated movements) that can be traced to influences, images, materials, and styles tied to music from these regions. The first movement, entitled Augenmusik, reflects the double-eye design that is featured on the violin that Nall used as a “canvas” for this work; the intervallic pattern of the primary motive for this movement “outlines” the shape of a human eye. The design features of this piece derive from motivic shapes and compositional procedures indicative of German styles and contrapuntal techniques. Lirio e amapola is the second movement; the iris and poppy of the title are the flowers that appear in the mosaic-rimmed painting that is the inspiration for this second piece. The flowing lines and rich colors of this Nall work find expression in Spanish and South American influences and motivic patterns. The third movement derives inspiration from a striking cross that Nall fashioned from organ pipes. The title, La croix de foi (“the cross of faith”), is a play on words that has meaning at several levels. Of course, the cross is a widely recognized symbol of the Christian faith, and as the art work was conceived as a gift for Faythe Freese, it is literally “the cross of Faythe.” This movement brings French influences into the work as a whole, with liturgical elements also in the picture. A toccata figuration that is somewhat in the French line of influence depicts the cross “shape.” The samba rhythmic pattern that is pervasive in the movement continues the Hispanic reference in the overall three- movement structure.
The musical materials in this work are based on non-tonal modes of my own design—similar in principle to Olivier Messiaen’s modes of limited transposition, but different in actual pitch content and intervallic progression. The intervallic patterns of these modes also relate to the indicated influences associated with the differing nationalities and styles (e.g. flamenco modal patterns and French harmonic influences). Thus, there are both strong contrasts and perceptible unifying factors that parallel the dramatic contrasts in media and unifying elements (such as mosaic patterns) found in the works of Nall. The work as a whole is intended for recital/concert use, but equally at home in liturgical settings. The Freese Collection is dedicated to Faythe Freese, who is truly among the leading artists of our field.                                                 – Pamela Decker

Heinz Wunderlich 1919-2012:
Orgelsonate über ein Thema

Orgelsonate über ein Thema consists of three contrasting movements based on a four-note motive comprised of the following intervals: descending minor 2nd, descending major 3rd and ascending minor 3rd. Contrasting moods within the first movement alternate between tranquility and agitation. The second movement is in recitative style and is full of expression. The Finale is a Toccata fugata and is marked Allegro con fuoco. The subject begins in syncopated fourths, these being derived from the descending first 3 notes of the original theme, followed by a highly articulated reappearance of the four-note motive. The fiery fugue is occasionally interrupted by a Grave section featuring a trumpet fanfare employing primarily open voicings in fifths and fourths. The fugue is a joyous romp, which blazes on to a mighty and dazzling finish.

Max Reger 1873-1916:
Introduktion, Variationen und Fuge über ein Originalthema für Orgel, Op. 73

Set in the key of f-sharp minor, Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme for the Organ is the lengthiest work for organ Max Reger composed; it was long considered unplayable. The monumental work, dedicated on June 14, 1903, to Karl Straube, the famous German organist who premiered many of Reger’s compositions, reveals Reger at the height of his compositional powers and has been compared to other large-scale variations such as J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, and Brahms’ Paganini Variations.
Reger stated, “The piece itself was born of a mood of great yearning. The theme already says everything in its resignation.” The descending tritone motive, f-sharp to b-sharp, sets the mood of the passionate, expressive introduction which is quite expansive through measure 40. Andante in 6/8 meter marks the statement of the tripartite theme which is divided thusly:
 mm. 41-46
 mm. 47-52 (4 bars +1 bar +1 bar)
 mm. 53-56 (2 bars +2 bars)
The style of each variation is:
1. A freely decorated theme in counterpoint.
2. A lively scherzando.
3. A scintillating toccata in d minor.
4. A partial return of the theme in a
chorale-like texture.
5. A stormy prestissimo with theme in the pedals.
6. A descending four-note motif, A-F#-F-E, developed in delicatio, which crescendos into variation 7.
7. An energetic and dramatic pedal line recalling the descending tritone in the introduction and the previous variation’s 4 four-note motive which is expanded to A-F#-F-E-D#.
8. A three-manual toccata composed from thematic motives, undergirded by a treading pedal in triplets.
9. A chordal toccata with the theme in the pedals.
10. A fantasia, built upon the initial tritone, which crescendos to the climax of the work.
11. A homophonic and partial return of the theme in a cyclic similarity to variation 4.
12. A pastoral variation in the Neapolitan G major with an ostinato in left hand based on the thematic motif accompanying shimmering upperwork.
13. A powerful return of the theme in retrograde in the pedals accompanied by the hands in arppeggios, chordal toccata figurations, and passaggio work in f-sharp minor.
14. A homophonic setting of the entire theme in F-sharp major, closing with a lovely solo on the clarinet in the left hand.
The concluding fugue, marked Vivacissimo, balances the introduction both in performance time and in printed space. The four voices introduce the thematically-derived subject in a light, yet rather diabolical manner. The fugue increases in mass and volume, culminating in a mighty pedal point on the dominant, leading to a glorious cadence in F-sharp major.
– Faythe Freese

Faythe Freese, Professor of Organ at the University of  Alabama School of Music, is in demand as a recitalist throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. Her performances have been hailed as “powerful…master-
ful… impressive … brilliant.”
Faythe Freese is the first American woman to have recorded at L’Eglise de la Sainte- Trinité, Paris in the landmark church where Guilmant, Messiaen and Hakim were titular organists. Her fourth compact disc, entitled Faythe Freese à l’Orgue de l’Eglise de la Sainte Trinité, has received critical acclaim in The Diapason, The American Organist and The Tracker magazines. Dr. Freese has commissioned and premiered the following new works for solo organ: The Freese Collection and Passacaglia on BACH by Pamela Decker, To Call My True Love to My Dance by Naji Hakim, and Out of Egypt by John Baboukis.
Dr. Freese has been a featured lecturer and concert artist at Regional and National Conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the Biennial Conventions of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. She has also been a featured performer on the faculty of numerous Pipe Organ Encounters and Pipe Organ Encounter Advanced (POEA), week-long residencies created to nurture and educate high school organ students.
Dr. Freese holds the Doctor of Music degree and Master of Music in Organ Performance and Church Music degree from Indiana University. She has held faculty positions at Indiana University, Concordia University in Austin, University of North Dakota-Williston, and Andrew College. As a Fulbright scholar and an Indiana University/Kiel Ausstausch Programme participant, she studied the works of Jean Langlais with the composer in France, and the works of Max Reger with Heinz Wunderlich in Germany. Her organ teachers have included Marilyn Keiser, Robert Rayfield, William Eifrig and Phillip Gehring. She has coached with Dame Gillian Weir, Simon Preston, and Daniel Roth.

Dr. Freese is the author of publications Sunday Morning Organist: A Survivor’s Guide for the Pianist and Sonus Novus: Intonations and Harmonizations (Concordia Publishing House). She is on the roster of Concert Artist Cooperative.

In the 1980s, Faythe Freese and Pamela Decker were Fulbright students living in Germany, studying the works of Max Reger. Faythe Freese studied with Heinz Wunderlich, Pamela Decker with Hans Gebhardt. Another connection: Barry Jordan, organist and choral director of Magdeburg Cathedral, and Faythe Freese became acquainted in 1988 at the Nikolaikirche, Kiel.

Magdeburg, Dom St. Mauritius und St. Katharina
Alexander Schuke Potsdam-Orgelbau GmbH 2005 – 2008

I. Hauptwerk
C – c’’’’
16’ Principal
16’ Bourdon
8’ Octave
8’ Diapason
8’ Gedackt
8’ Doppelflöte
8’ Gambe
5-1/3’ Nassat
4’ Octave
4’ Hohlflöte
4’ Spitzflöte
3-1/5’ Tertia
2’ Quinte
2’ Octave
V Cornett
V Mixtur maior
IV Mixtur minor
16’ Trombone
8’ Trompette
4’ Clairon
Sw/Hw   Sw16/Hw
Pos/Hw  Solo/Hw

II. Positiv C – c’’’’
16’ Salicional
16’ Quintaton
8’ Principal
8’ Rohrflöte
8’ Cor de nuit
8’ Viola
8’ Fugara
8’ Vox coelestis
4’ Octave
4’ Traversflöte
4’ Fugara
2-2/3’ Nassat
2’ Octave
2’ Piccolo
III Echocornett
III-V Harmonia aetherea
16’ Englischhorn
8’ Trompete
8’ Klarinette
8’ Cromorne
8’ Chamade
Sw/Pos  Sw16/Pos

III. Schwellwerk C – c’’’’
16’ Bordun
8’ Principal
8’ Bordun
8’ Flûte traversière
8’ Voce umana
8’ Viola di Gamba
8’ Voix céleste
4’ Octave
4’ Viola
4’ Flûte octaviante
4’ Flöte
2’ Nazard
2’ Quarte de Nazard
1-3/5’ Tierce
1-1/3’ Larigot
1’ Sifflet
III-V Progressio
16’ Bombarde
16’ Aeoline
8’ Trompette
8’ Voix humaine
8’ Hautbois
4’ Clairon
IV. Solowerk C – c’’’’
8’ Doppelprincipal
8’ Flûte harmonique
8’ Seraphon
VI Cornett 16’
8’ Clarinette (from Brindley & Foster organ, 1913)
8’ Tuba mirabilis

Pedal C – g’
32’ Principal
32’ Untersatz
16’ Octave
16’ Violon
16’ Subbass
16’ Kontrabass
16’ Zartbass (from SW)
10-2/3’ Quinte
8’ Octave
8’ Flöte
8’ Gedackt
8’ Cello
8’ Cello piano
6-2/5’ Terz
5-1/3’ Nassat
4’ Octave
4’ Flöte
2’ Flöte
32’ Contrabombarde
16’ Bombarde
16’ Fagott
8’ Trompete
4’ Clairon
Hw/Ped  Pos/Ped
Sw/Ped  Solo/Ped

The Freese Collection: Faythe Freese Plays the 106-rank Organ, Magdeburg, Cathedral
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