The Perkins & Wells Memorial Organ, C. B. Fisk, Opus 126, 2005
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Greenville, North Carolina
3 manuals and pedal, 44 voices, 57 ranks, 3,119 pipes
John Cook 1918-1984: Fanfare
Jean Langlais 1907-1991: Mors et Resurrectio from Trois Paraphrases Grégoriennes
Jean-Adam Guilain ca. 1680-1739: Suite du second ton
Felix Mendelssohn 1809-1847: Sonata in A Major, Op. 65, No. 3
Maurice Duruflé 1902-1986: Sicilienne from Suite, Op. 5
Herbert Howells 1892-1983: Master Tallis’s Testament from Six Pieces for Organ
Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750: Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542
Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur 1908-2002: In Paradisum
Louis Vierne 1870-1937: Final from Symphonie No. 1
Notes on This Recording
When this recording was conceived, my desire was to show the versatility of the Fisk organ in St. Paul’s, Greenville, The Perkins & Wells Memorial Organ. Such is the personality of the organ that it is affectionately known as “The Duchess.” While this album certainly makes a generous bow to the French Symphonic “DNA” of this organ, it also affords listeners an opportunity to enjoy the instrument’s ability to interpret a wide variety of literature. The Tuba mirabilis of Opus 126 is singularly exciting among such stops that I have heard anywhere in the United States; it is showcased in John Cook’s Fanfare. Thanks to the expressive lyricism of Opus 126’s color stops, such as the amply voiced flute cornet combination on the Positiv division and the various reeds on each division, even the classical French literature succeeds brilliantly here. It is my hope that you will find “The Duchess” to be as dazzling an organ as do I.
Notes on the Music
An ideal concert-opener or equally riveting Sunday morning voluntary, John Cook’s Fanfare (1952) has long been a favorite piece among organists and audiences alike. Cook, an Anglo-American organist and composer, studied at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music, and held church positions in England before emigrating to Canada and, later, the USA. He was organist at Boston’s Church of the Advent from 1962-1968. According to notes by Marian Metson for her Raven CD “Organ Music of John Cook,” the work was composed in an afternoon and used pre-existing material that he had composed for a pageant at Warwick Castle for the Festival of Britain in 1951. The Fanfare is easily Cook’s most famous work.
Jean Langlais learned the compositional technique of Gregorian paraphrase by way of his studies with Charles Tournemire, whom he succeeded as organist of Ste. Clotilde in Paris. Primarily an improvisatory form, the paraphrase alternates free material with direct quotations from Gregorian chant. The first of Trois Paraphrases Grégoriennes from 1933, Mors et resurrectio (death and resurrection) is dedicated to Henri Cabié, Langlais’s classmate in the conservatory organ class, whose untimely death occurred before the completion of his studies. This work is a profound expression of Langlais’ faith in a life hereafter, and represents a mystical vision of life after death. The work uses a continuous crescendo effect, beginning as a solemn cortège with an ostinato in the left hand accompanied by rich 32’ sonority in the pedal creating a mysterious atmosphere. This opening motif is derived from the introit of the Requiem Mass: Requiem aeternam, (“eternal rest”). Life hereafter is represented by the gradual chant from the same Mass, which is introduced on the trumpet stop, and is subsequently combined with the cortège. The work builds intensity using these two themes, gradually giving way to life-affirming Easter triumph with a thrilling, full-organ arrival. An inscription at the beginning of the work quotes Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: “Death, where is thy victory?” (source: Ann Labounsky: Jean Langlais: The Man and His Music and others)
The Suite du second ton by Jean-Adam Guilain represents an archetypal, 18th-century collection of versets intended to be performed in alternatim with the Gregorian chant for the Magnificat (Song of Mary), the appointed canticle for the office of Vespers. After the organ’s opening Plein jeu, which sets up the G-minor tonality, each successive line of the Magnificat is alternately sung in Gregorian chant or replaced by an organ verset; these versets may or may not attempt to musically depict the particular text being replaced. A fine example of “text-painting” can be heard in the Tierce en taille, which interprets the text “For He hath regarded the lowliness (humility) of His handmaiden.” This movement is one of the most beautiful examples of a Tierce en taille in the entire classical French literature. Guilain’s music represents the later school of the classical French era. He was more-or-less contemporary with de Grigny, du Mage, and Clérambault. Notable for its elegance, color, ornamentation, and emotiveness, the organ music of 17th- and 18th-century France closely follows elements of the ballet du Coeur and opera, of which Jean-Baptiste Lully was the most prominent musical figure. Rhythms and moods of various Baroque dance forms can be heard in much organ music of this time. Each verset of a Mass or Suite such as Guilain’s is a highly personal miniature, often reflecting a profound religious or musical notion. With this in mind, each movement is assigned a very specific registration (indicated in the title), without observation of which, the verset would be lost to communicate its ambiance.
Mendelssohn’s Third Organ Sonata in A Major is one of six that he wrote in response to English publisher Coventry & Hollier’s 1844 request for a set of organ voluntaries. In England, the term “Voluntary” originally referred to a freely composed piece of organ music, most often in two parts: slow, then fast, and probably originally improvised. The term became more generally applied later, referring to solo organ pieces played in church before and after services. Mendelssohn was not familiar with the term “voluntary,” despite his having made ten trips to England (where he was something of a celebrity) during his short lifetime. Unique among the six organ sonatas, op. 65, no. 3 consists of only two movements. The first is a large-scale fantasia and double fugue on the chorale tune Aus tiefer Noth, both introduced by and concluded with a hymn-like theme. The short, second movement, Andante tranquillo, recalls Mendelssohn’s piano works, the Songs without Words (also published in England), in its lyrical brevity. The Sonata may leave the listener wondering whether a third, fortissimo movement was originally planned to round out this fine work.
Outside of the small “organ circle,” most people know Maurice Duruflé for his Requiem, op. 9, magically spun out of the Gregorian Requiem Mass, using Duruflé’s unique gift for impressionistic harmony. Duruflé was truly a master of harmony; his aesthetic is recognizably influenced by Debussy and Fauré, and he was Professor of Harmony at the Paris Conservatory. Born in 1902 in Louviers, he spent much of his early life in a monastic choir school where he developed a love of chant. He was a pupil of Vierne, Tournemire, and Dukas; he was Tournemire’s assistant at Ste. Clotilde for a brief time, and was the titular organist of the Church of St. Etienne du Mont in Paris from 1930 until his death in 1986. Duruflé’s organ music assumes a fluent technique. For example, despite the apparent naïve simplicity heard in the beginning of the Sicilienne from Suite, op. 5, this enchanting work challenges the player with issues such as double pedaling, and playing on three manuals and pedal at the same time.
It is somewhat ironic that Herbert Howells has earned a reputation amongst the “greatest of the great” 20th-century English composers of sacred choral and organ music, because he never held a church or cathedral organist position for any length of time. Howells taught theory and composition at the Royal College of Music for about fifty years, and deputized as an organist at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and Gloucester Cathedral — the latter being a principal inspiration in his writing. Master Tallis’s Testament, while conceived in 20th-century harmony, pays obvious tribute to Tudor composer Thomas Tallis — indeed, to the Tudor period in general. The theme cannot be identified as having been composed by Tallis, but it is reminiscent of melodies from polyphonic era or even earlier. Howells imposes his skillful harmonic treatment upon this short tune in variations (not unlike a chaconne) that employ a variety of written-out ornaments and lush, increasingly passionate harmonies. Paul Spicer indicates that this was a favorite composition of Howells himself, and that Howells regarded the work as a kind of post-script to Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis.
For a composer who did not travel very much outside his native east-central Germany, Johann Sebastian Bach was remarkably familiar with contemporary trends in other parts of Europe. His organ music shows influence of north German, Italian, and French characteristics. The great Fantasia und Fuga in G Minor, BWV 542 needs little introduction. It stands as a towering monument of J. S. Bach’s mature work. The Fantasia is marked by sheer drama — suspensions, diminished chords, chromaticism, timely pauses — all of them contributing to tension and resolution. The first section is typical of the stylus phantasticus, a common feature of the north German style. And the fugue with its sequential subject and grandiose conclusion does not soon depart the memory of the listener.
A lesser-known composer of 20th-century France, Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur was, like Langlais, a student of the organist and Roman Catholic mystic, Charles Tournemire. He was also a life-long friend of Olivier Messiaen, with whom he founded the group La Jeune France. Daniel-Lesur, along with Langlais and Jean-Jacques Grunewald, performed the world-premiere of Messiaen’s La Nativité in 1935. Tournemire’s influence on Daniel-Lesur is obvious— In paradisum takes the form of another Gregorian paraphrase. The principal melody, introduced immediately in the left hand is another chant (antiphon) from the Mass for the Dead. Daniel-Lesur’s setting is simple, beautiful, and mystical. It ends with a single chord, high in the key register, reflecting the chant’s text, “May the angels lead you into paradise.”
The French symphonic school of organ composition, begun in the 19th century by Widor and Guilmant, reached its height in the music of Louis Vierne. Organ symphonies are perhaps more realistically understood as suites of pieces written for orchestral organs and incorporating forms commonly found in orchestral music (sonata-allegro, variation, scherzo, etc.). The exuberant Final from Vierne’s First Symphony, op. 14, is undoubtedly one of his happiest works. Later works reveal a darker, yet still virtuosic, side of Vierne — one that was more influenced by an unfortunate series of catastrophes that occurred in his life. Beginning in 1906, Vierne experienced several setbacks: a bad fall, typhoid fever, glaucoma, the disintegration of his marriage, and the death of his friend Alexandre Guilmant all being examples. Despite these setbacks, Vierne remained the titular organist of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris from 1900 until his death at the organ during his 1,750th public recital in 1937. Maurice Duruflé was sharing the recital with him, and legend has it that Duruflé moved Vierne off of the organ bench and finished the recital himself!
Andrew Scanlon, a native of Methuen, Massachusetts, joined in 2009 the keyboard faculty at East Carolina University, where he directs the undergraduate and graduate programs in organ and sacred music. He is the Organist-Choirmaster at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Greenville, where he maintains a full schedule of choral services and, in addition, he serves as Artistic Director of the East Carolina Musical Arts Education Foundation. Andrew served as organ faculty at Duquesne University 2005-2009, and he previously held positions at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, Buffalo, NY; Christ & St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, New York City; and Marquand Chapel at Yale Divinity School. He has performed at national conventions of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), the Organ Historical Society (four times), as well as throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Scanlon has performed in some of the world’s famous religious venues including The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, and the Church of St. Mary the Virgin (New York), National City Christian Church (Washington) The Cathedral of St. Philip (Atlanta), Fourth Presbyterian Church (Chicago), St. James’ Cathedral and Yorkminster Park Church (Toronto), Saint Paul’s Within the Walls (Rome), Notre-Dame Cathedral, The American Cathedral and La Trinité (Paris) and other venues in England, Italy, Germany, Canada and Croatia. Actively involved in the AGO, Andrew Scanlon holds the Fellowship diploma (FAGO), has been a faculty member for three Pipe Organ Encounters, and serves on both the AGO National Board of Examiners and the National Committee on Professional Certification. Scanlon is a graduate of Duquesne University and both the Institute of Sacred Music and School of Music at Yale University. His principal teachers have been John Skelton, Ann Labounsky, David Craighead, John Walker, and Thomas Murray.
About the Perkins & Wells Memorial Organ
Built in 2005, C. B. Fisk’s Opus 126 represents the work of the non-profit East Carolina Musical Arts Education Foundation (ECMAEF) that united three groups: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, East Carolina University, and the Greenville, North Carolina, philanthropic community. Together, they funded an organ that is the cornerstone of a common mission: educating future organists and church musicians, and inspiring congregations and audiences for generations to come.
The organ fulfils a central role in leading worship every Sunday morning and at special choral services at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and it is the principal teaching and performing instrument for East Carolina University’s organ and sacred music program. Additionally, it is the centerpiece of ECMAEF’s education and outreach initiatives, including the “The Fisk Academy.” The academy offers a number of innovative programs, instruction and demonstrations designed to open up the splendor of this organ to as wide an audience as possible.
The tonal design of Opus 126 is strongly influenced by the French Romantic School. Pipe design and materials, as well as voicing techniques, follow closely in the tradition of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll’s late work. The stop list is the result of careful research and thoughtful discussion of the musical requirements of the Episcopal liturgy, including both leadership and accompaniment. The splendid acoustics of St. Paul’s, designed by Dana Kirkegaard of Kirkegaard Acoustics, Inc., provide the aural environment in which to create an organ with the breadth and flexibility needed to serve as a university teaching organ and recital instrument.
C. B. Fisk, Opus 126 (2005), The Perkins & Wells Memorial Organ
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Greenville, North Carolina
3 manuals and pedal, 44 voices, 57 ranks, 3,119 pipes
Grand Orgue Man. I
Montre 16’ en façade
Flûte conique 8’
Flûte harmonique 8’
Flûte ouverte 4’
Plein jeu harmonique II-VI
Plein jeu VI
Positif to Grand Orgue
Récit to Grand Orgue
Grand Orgue to Machine*
Tremulant G. O. and Pos.
Positif expressif Man. II
Cor de Nuit 8’
Flûte douce 4’
Plein Jeu IV
Tuba Mirabilis 8’
Récit to Positif
Récit expressif Man. III
Viole de gambe 8’
Voix céleste 8’
Flûte traversière 8’
Flûte octaviante 4’
Plein jeu IV-V
Cornet III (G0-d3)
Bourdon 32’ extension
Montre 16’ GT
Bourdon 16’ SW
Salicional 8’ GT
Flûte conique 8’ GT
Contre Bombarde 32’ ext.
Bombarde 16’ GT
Trompette 8’ GT
Trommeten 8’ GT
Clairon 4’ GT
Grand Orgue to Pédale
Positif to Pédale
Récit to Pédale
Récit to Pédale 4’
*Kowalyshyn Servopneumatic Lever provides pneumatic assist (similar to a Barker Machine) to the Grand Orgue key action. It must be engaged for the “Octaves graves” coupler to function. Octaves Graves acts on the Grand Orgue and any division coupled to the Grand Orgue.
Keydesk: 61 keys CC-c4, bone naturals, ebony sharps; 32-key flat pedal keyboard CC-g