Donald Sutherland, organ, and Mas Podgorny, bass, play rare works for Double Bass and Organ, and Sutherland plays solo organ works, on the 1998 Holtkamp at Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore.
Joseph Lauber: Quatre Morceaux d’Eglise for Double Bass and Organ
Charles-Marie Widor: Mvt. 4 Adagio, Sym. 5, arr. for Double Bass and Organ
Charles-Marie Widor: Mvt. 1 Allegro vivace from Organ Symphony No. 5
Jean-Adam Guilain: Magnificat Suite on the 4th Tone
Hendrik Andriessen: Thema met variaties
Max Reger: Fugue, Op. 59, No. 6
Max Reger: Introduction and Passacaglia
by Dana Steele
Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937) was a Parisian composer and organist. He received his early training from his father and later from Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens, a Belgian organist who helped to bring about the revival of J. S. Bach’s music among his students. In 1870, Widor was appointed to the position of provisional, or interim, organist at the church of St. Sulpice in Paris — a position he held for 64 years. Using the brilliant sounds and wide tonal palette of Cavaillé-Coll’s organ at St. Sulpice, Widor followed the example set by César Franck (1822-1890) in his Grand Pièce Symphonique and began to write symphonies for the organ. He translated the large-scale, multi-movement structure of the orchestral symphony to the organ, developing this form and bringing it to prominence among French organ composers of the time. Widor wrote ten organ symphonies: the first four were published in 1872, while numbers five through eight were published in 1887. These were followed by number nine in 1895 and number ten in 1900.
Two movements from the Fifth Symphony are recorded here. The first movement, allegro vivace, is performed as an organ solo and is a brilliant set of variations on an original theme. This theme is first presented in a chorale setting, then progresses through increasingly difficult figurations, building to a dramatic climax, showcasing the full tonal possibilities of the organ. The fourth movement, a beautiful adagio, features a gorgeous melody in the lower register. Originally a pedal solo, this melody is arranged for double bass in this performance, incorporating an orchestral instrument into this organ symphony. The arrangement is by Christopher Hamlen and Donald Sutherland, completed while Mr. Hamlen was a student at Peabody. He has held the position of principal bass with the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Symphony since 2012.
Not much is known about Jean-Adam Guilain (ca. 1680-after 1739), who lived in Paris in the first half of the eighteenth century. In 1702, he met and befriended Louis Marchand (1669-1732), an accomplished French organist and composer. Guilain wrote eight suites on the Magnificat which were performed in alternation with the choir during the chanting of the Magnificat at Vespers. However, only four of these suites survive. The one presented here is the fourth suite. It contains seven movements, each highlighting different tonal colors and strengths of the French organ of the time. In this performance, the last petit plein jeu has been omitted, and the basse de cromhorne has been changed to a basse de trompette to allow for a greater variety in registration and color.
Hendrik Andriessen (1892-1981) was born in Haarlem, Holland, to an artistic family – his father was an organist and his mother was a painter. His early studies were supervised by his father, and he entered the Amsterdam Conservatory at the age of 22. He later taught at this institution as well as the Institute for Catholic Church Music in Utrecht. In the turbulent period of the 1940s, he refused to adopt the ideals of the Nazi party and was permitted only to give lessons and play church services. He was even imprisoned for six months. After the war, in 1949, he visited England for the summer as the guest of Susi Jeans (1911-1993), an Austrian organist and widow of physicist, astronomer, and mathematician Sir James Hopwood Jeans (1877-1946) whom she had married in 1935 in Vienna following her second English concert tour in that year. Her interest in early music was similar to Andriessen’s, and this interest is evident in his Thema met Variaties, which he dedicated to Lady Jeans. This piece’s modal theme harkens to earlier periods of music composition, but it is combined with a harmonic language which could only have existed in the Romantic period, building off of the work of César Franck and Max Reger. The entire piece builds to its conclusion, ending on a Picardy third with the final chord in major mode instead of the minor tonality of the rest of the piece.
The Introduction and Passacaglia in D Minor of Max Reger exemplifies the composer’s fondness for Baroque forms. After a dramatic introduction, the work strictly follows the passacaglia form of variations over a repeated bass line. However, Reger shows his command of 19th-century style in the dense chromaticism of the work and in its virtuosic passages in the tradition of Franz Liszt.
Joseph Lauber (1864-1952) was a prolific Swiss composer who wrote more than 200 works in many different genres. He entered the Zurich Conservatory in 1881 where he studied voice, harmony, composition, and music history, as well as organ, with Gustav Weber. He later moved to Munich to study organ with Joseph Rheinberger and then to Paris to study composition with Louis Diémer and Jules Massenet at the Paris Conservatory. He settled in Geneva where he taught at the Conservatory and directed the Grand Théâtre de Genève. His most noted pupil is Frank Martin (1890-1974), a fellow composer and organist. He composed several works for double bass including a quartet for four double basses, a concerto, and Rhapsody for Double Bass and Piano. His Quatre Morceaux d’Eglise for double bass and organ or harmonium dates from 1938.
Although Max Reger (1873-1916) was born in Bavaria to a Catholic family, he developed an affinity for the Protestant chorale and the compositional forms of composers such as Bach and Brahms. Reger stated that the ideal for his music was “architectonic beauty, melodic and imitative magic,” buttressed by “intellectual content.” The Fugue, No. 4 from 12 Stüke für die Orgel, Op. 59, demonstrates this. It combines the Baroque form of the fugue with its strict imitation and counterpoint, with the harmonic language of the Romantics, employing chromaticism and building in intensity and volume to its dramatic conclusion.
Double bassist Mas Podgorny, a native of Seattle, Washington, is a 2014 graduate of the Peabody Conservatory. Engaged in graduate study at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, he is also an active substitute with the Seattle Symphony and the Seattle Opera.
Mr. Podgorny enjoys attending music festivals and collaborating in chamber music projects. His musical mentors include Paul Ellison, Ira Gold, Jordan Anderson, and his father, Brian. Mas performs on an early 19th-century, unmarked, bass of French origin.
At the Peabody Commencement in May 2014, Mas was elected to Pi Kappa Lambda, the musicians honorary society. He received the Olga von Hartz Memorial Prize in Strings and the Azalia H. Thomas Prize, given to the graduating instrumentalist attaining the highest average in music theory.
In his spare time, Mas backpacks throughout the Northwest mountain ranges and rides his bike. In addition to studying music, Mr. Podgorny is also a student in the art of fly-fishing (hopefully to catch some bass).
Donald Sutherland is Coordinator of the Organ Faculty of the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where in 1997 he was given the Excellence in Teaching Award by the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association. He is also Director of Music Emeritus of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland. Mr. Sutherland received his Master of Music degree at Syracuse University, where he was a student of Arthur Poister, and became a member of the School of Music faculty immediately upon graduation. In 1988, he was presented with the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his achievements in music.
Donald Sutherland has presented recitals and master classes throughout the United States and Canada, Europe and the United Kingdom, Russia and the Far East. Orchestral appearances include the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center; the Baltimore Symphony at Carnegie Hall, and the City of London Sinfonia directed by Richard Hickox. A frequent performer of new music, Mr. Sutherland is the dedicatee of works composed by Richard Felciano, Gunther Schuller, Rachel Laurin, David Conte, Peter Klazow, and William Albright.
The organ sits in a hall built in 1878 as a 36-foot by 96-foot sculpture gallery with a cove ceiling of more than 30 feet. The space was restored by architects Ziger/Snead and Charles Brickbauer of Baltimore, Maryland. It has been opened to the attic above, expanding the already generous acoustic. David Kahn was the acoustician. The walls have been restored to their original color, providing a visually attractive setting for the organ, which is ideally situated on the long axis of the room. The drawknob console is arranged with the couplers are centered above the keyboards; the stops of the Pedal are to the left of the couplers; the Great stops are to the right of the couplers. The Swell stops are on the left stop jamb. The Positiv stops are on the right stop jamb. This arrangement provides great ease of handling the stopknobs. The instrument, completed in March, 1998, with mechanical (tracker) key action and electric stop action, is the last design of Walter “Chick” Holtkamp, Jr., crowning a long and successful career as an organbuilder.
Holtkamp Organ Company, Job Number 2068, 1998
Mechanical Key Action, Electric Stop Action
8 Rohr Gedackt
Swell to Great
Postiv to Great
8 Floten Principal
Swell to Positiv
8 Geigen Principal
8 Voix Celeste
4 Octave Geigen
4 Harmonic Flute
Great to Pedal
Swell to Pedal
Positiv to Pedal