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The Organ Sings - Organ Music by David Dahl; Mark Brombaugh, Organist - [OAR-953] $15.98

Reviews Jonathan Dimmock in The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians:

Mark Brombaugh, recording on the John Brombaugh organ at Christ Church, Tacoma, has brought to life the solo organ compositions of David Dahl with enormous care, love, and beauty. There is so much to commend in this CD. First, we hear the elegant Brombaugh organ (Opus 22) that, quite clearly, was a major influence in Dahl's writing style. This is one of John Brombaugh's finest instruments, perfectly voiced (and recorded) to bring to life the character of the North German and Dutch organs of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The second noteworthy aspect of this disc is the enormous breadth of styles of David's composing (nearly all published by Augsburg Fortress). From an Homage Suite (with homages to Buxtehude, Couperin, Franck, and Dubois) to an English Suite, to an Italian Suite to a Scandanavian Suite, to twelve different hymn tunes treated in a Pepping style and ranging in length from hymn introduction length to service prelude length—David's scope of ideas is broad, and his musical mind ingenious. What's especially enjoyable about this recording is the way one can easily visualize David improvising any or all of these works. His understanding of what makes music special, both musically and harmonically, and from so many different regions of the world and eras of history, show what an incredible musician he is.

Mark Brombaugh's playing of his brother's instrument demonstrates his ability to wed clarity and musicality into one neat package. It is obvious that he holds both David's work and this organ in utmost respect. I'm not sure who deserves the most praise for this recording, David Dahl, John Brombaugh, or Mark Brombaugh (who performed, recorded, edited, and mastered the production). Clearly it is the joint effort of all three masters that creates such an enjoyable disc and a great testimony to David's many years at Christ Church.

Mark Brombaugh plays David Dahl’s engaging organ works, mostly on hymn tunes, on the gorgeous John Brombaugh organ at Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma, Washington, where Dahl served 40 years and Mark Brombaugh succeeded him as organist.

Works on the CD:
From Hymn Interpretations:
Rendez á Dieu
Lasst uns erfreuen
Nun komm der Heiden Heiland
Puer Nobis

From The Organ Sings:
Es ist ein Ros
Forest Green
Lobt Gott den Herren, ihr
Variation Suite on Lobe den Herren (Intro-Chorale, 5 var.)
Suite Homage:
Praeludium in g – Homage á Buxtehude
Tierce en taille – á Couperin
Petite Offertoire – á Franck
Grand Choeur – á Dubois

From An American Suite:
Variations on Dove of Peace (5 variations)
Variations on New Britain (5 var.)
Variations Wondrous Love (4 var.)

From An Italian Suite:

From An English Suite:
Voluntary for the Diapasons
Voluntary for the Cornet or the Trumpet
Pastorale for the Flutes

From A Scandinavian Suite:
Nordic Aria
Norwegian Fiddle Dance

From Organ Music for the Seasons, Vol. 2:
Cornet Processional

Festive Prelude on Cwm Rhondda

Music of David Dahl
David Dahl’s music for organ was composed over a 25 year period, inspired by the sound of a number of fine instruments. Foremost among these is the organ heard on this recording, John Brombaugh & Associates Op. 22, built in 1979 for Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma, Washington. This instrument, one of the builder’s favorites, is an especially colorful yet well-blended organ situated in optimal resonant acoustics. The exceptional singing sound of this organ, a characteristic especially heard in the Præstants (Principals), is referred to as vocale voicing by the builder, John Brombaugh.

The repertoire is drawn from six collections published by Augsburg Fortress:
Hymn Interpretations for Organ (1999)
An English Suite for Organ (2002)
An Italian Suite for Organ (2004)
A Scandinavian Suite for Organ (2007)
An American Suite for Organ (2010)
The Organ Sings (2013)

The Suite Homage, contained within The Organ Sings, consists of four pieces honoring prior well-known composers for the organ. The Praeludium in g, honoring Dieterich Buxtehude, is written in the 17th-century north German rhetorical style that features alternation between improvisatory and fugal sections. The Tierce en taille, honoring François Couperin, presents the expressive lyric quality of this beloved 18th-century French Classical form. The Petite Offertoire, honoring César Franck, is not unlike shorter liturgical pieces used during Mass. The Grand Choeur, honoring Théodore Dubois, is a festive piece similar to those often improvised at the end of the Mass.

Inspired by 18th-century English Georgian organs and their repertoire, An English Suite for Organ contains works based on common models of the time, but using harmonies common to more recent times. The Voluntary for the Diapasons provides the opportunity to hear the two Præstant façade registers, beginning with the Positive Præstant 4’, played one octave lower, followed by the Great Præstant 8’. The Voluntary for the Cornet or Trumpet, with whimsical shifts of tonality, features the five-pitched treble Cornet register; the Pastorale for the Flutes is a lyric duet for flute registers at 4’ pitch. The Jigg, featuring the potent color of the Harfenregal, presents a thematic idea that is inverted in the second half.

An Italian Suite for Organ
was inspired by early 17th-century Italian organs and their repertoire. Its pieces, while using historic models, explore the limits of chromaticism permitted by the system of mean-tone temperaments common to the time. Though this music works well in equal temperament, it yields more harmonic and melodic color when played in an unequal temperament such as the Kellner temperament of the Brombaugh organ. The Pavana & Gagliarda were popular as a slower-faster dance pair. The Elevatione is meant to express the mystery of the consecration of bread and wine to become the body and blood of Christ, and is played on the Erzähler Celeste, which is akin to the Italian Voce Umana.

Four works were chosen from Hymn Interpretations for Organ, each originally intended as a festive introduction to the singing of the hymn-tune upon which it is based. Included are Lasst uns erfreuen, involving fugal imitation; Nun komm der Heiden Heiland and Rendez à Dieu, each featuring two repeating ostinati under the hymn tune; and Puer nobis, employing a rapid toccata figuration over the hymn-tune in the Pedal.

Three hymn-based works are represented from The Organ Sings. Es ist ein Ros features imitative interplay between the accompaniment and solo. Forest Green is a duo featuring continuous triplets beneath the hymn tune. Lobe den Herren, ihr is a longer hymn prelude that includes a canonic middle section leading to a fugal concluding section.
Two works were selected from A Scandinavian Suite for Organ. The Norwegian Fiddle Dance evokes the outdoor playing of the Norwegian Hardanger violin. This work was inspired by David Dahl’s Norwegian-born father, Peder Malmedal (later Dahl), who taught himself to play the violin as a young man in Norway, and then later, in America, to create five high-quality violins. The Nordic Aria (Lament) was written at the time of the death of the composer’s mother, Norma Dahl.

An American Suite for Organ contains four sets of variations based on early anonymous American hymn tunes, originating from Appalachia. These tunes are typically pentatonic and were often sung as rounds and known as “figuring tunes.” These variations are intended for use in alternatim with the singing of the various stanzas, or as stand-alone organ works. The variations for “Amazing Grace” (New Britain) are dedicated to Mark Brombaugh and his wife Kathryn Nichols, and the variations on “What Wondrous Love Is This” (Wondrous Love) are dedicated to Samuel Baker. “Messiah Comes on Wings of Hope” (Dove of Peace) was composed for an Advent service of Lessons and Carols, and is dedicated to Sandra Tietjen.

The Variation Suite on Lobe den Herren (“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”) was commissioned by Kathryn Nichols and Mark Brombaugh for the celebration of the 50th wedding anniversary of John and Christa Brombaugh, and was premiered at that occasion on the Op. 19 Brombaugh organ of Central Lutheran Church, Eugene, Oregon. This organ and Op. 22 at Christ Church share a similar tonal structure and many sonorities. The Introduction and Chorale as well as the final Variation 5 feature the Præstant (Principal) choruses. Variation 1 explores quartal harmony to accompany the chorale melody on the Krummhorn. Variation 2, written as a duo or bicinium, is intended to sound playful; the treble voice is for the Cornet registration sounding over a bass voice that includes a 16’ register (Quintadena). Variation 3 offers a lyrically ornamented melody accompanied by an ostinato based on the last phrase of the chorale. Variation 4 is a bold solo for the pedals alone, concluding with double pedal. This work is included within The Organ Sings collection of numerous hymn preludes and hymn intonation-preludes.

The Cornet Processional, published in Organ Music for the Season, Vol. 2 was composed as a wedding processional at the marriage of James Dale Holloway and Judy Carr.

The Festival Prelude on Cwm Rhondda, “God of Grace and God of Glory” (unpublished) was commissioned by Warren Guykema for the occasion his 75th birthday. The first performance took place on May 19, 2013, on the Op. 22 Brombaugh organ at Christ Episcopal Church.

David Dahl

David Dahl is Professor of Music/University Organist Emeritus from Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, retiring in 2000 after 35 years of teaching. On August 1, 2010, he retired as Director of Music Ministries at Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma, where he served for 40 years. During his career, he has been an active recitalist, including performance for national conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society. As consultant for many organ projects in churches and academic institutions, he has actively supported high quality organ building, especially encased mechanical action organs, both historic and newly built. Dahl has traveled extensively in Europe, touring historic organs. A published composer of organ music through Augsburg Fortress, Dahl’s most recent volume is The Organ Sings, released in 2013. He was recently awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the Organ Historical Society, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pacific Lutheran University, and the Bishop’s Cross presented by the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.

Together with Glenn D. White, he formed Olympic Organ Builders (Seattle) in 1962, to represent two German organ builders of tracker-action organs and, later, for a brief time, to operate a workshop which built twelve tracker-action instruments under the Olympic name. He has been a major influence since the early 1960s for the revival of encased mechanical action organs in the Pacific Northwest.

Mark Brombaugh

Mark Brombaugh is Co-Director of Music Ministries at Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma, a position he shares with his wife, the Rev. Kathryn Nichols. From 1992-2008, he was Director of Music and Organist at the United Church on the Green (UCC), New Haven, Connecticut. Before assuming this position, he was a faculty member in organ, harpsichord and church music at the University of Oregon, Westminster Choir College, and the University of Illinois, and had served churches in several states. At Westminster Choir College, he was also Acting Head of the Church Music Department. He holds degrees from Oberlin College, the University of Louisville, and Yale University.
Dr. Brombaugh’s concert appearances as organist and harpsichordist have taken him throughout the United States. As a clinician he has led workshops and masterclasses for the American Guild of Organists, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians and the Hymn Society of America.  He served as Curator of Organs at Westminster Choir College and as consultant for numerous churches. Dr. Brombaugh is past national secretary of the Organ Historical Society and Sub-Dean of the Tacoma Chapter, American Guild of Organists.

John Brombaugh & Associates, Opus 22 (1979)
Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma, Washington

Opus 22, as with nearly all of the more than sixty organs by John Brombaugh, is built according to tonal and technical concepts based on the great North German and Dutch organs of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Thus we find complete and complementary choruses of principal stops on both manuals, each with its foundation stop, the Præstant, placed entirely in the façade. The manual divisions also include quite varied and colorful flutes at several pitches. The four reed stops both undergird the sound of the full organ and greatly increase the tonal color spectrum.
The sound is enlivened by the rich acoustical environment of the 1969 building, designed by award-winning architect, Paul Thiry.

Several basic principles are crucial to the organ’s success:
• placement entirely within the space where it is heard
• encasement in a solid wood case to blend and focus the sound
• slider windchests for best pipe speech and blend
• winding from a single wedge bellows for gently flexible, “living” wind
• responsive mechanical key action
• unequal temperament (Bach-Kellner well temperament)
The case is made from fumed white oak, with hand-carved pipe shades of basswood backed by western red cedar. The inspiration for the case design is the 1473 Lorenzo del Prato organ of the Basilica of San Petronio, Bolgna, Italy, but the execution of the details is thoroughly contemporary to harmonize with the architecture.

Quintadena 16
Præstant 8
Holpijp 8
Octave 4
Spitzflöte 4
Quinte 3 + Tierce
Octave 2
Mixture III-V
Trumpet 8
Harfenregal 8
Positive to Great

Gedackt 8
Erzähler 8
Erzähler Celeste 8
Præstant 4
Rohrflöte 4
Nasard 3 + Tierce
Cigarflute 2
Scharff III
Krummhorn 8

Subbass 16
Octave 8
Octave 4
Posaune 16
Trumpet 8 (GT)
Great to Pedal
Positive to Pedal

The Organ Sings - Organ Music by David Dahl; Mark Brombaugh, Organist
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