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Widor: Symphony No. 7 + works by Vierne & Litaize
Jeremy David Tarrant, organist
2013 Casavant op. 3898, 3m, 76 ranks
First Presbyterian Church, Kirkwood, Missouri - [OAR-146]

Jeremy David Tarrant plays the 2013 Casavant op. 3898 of 76 ranks built in French Romantic style at the grandly resonant First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood, Missouri.

Charles-Marie Widor:
Organ Symphony No. 7 in A Minor in 6 movements
Louis Vierne: Impromptu, Clair de Lune, Toccata from Pièces de Fantaisie
Gaston Litaize: Lied

Notes on the Program
by Jeremy David Tarrant

This recording is dedicated affectionately
to my grand­parents, Phyllis and Earl Swain.

   Although he is remembered primarily as an organist and composer for the organ (he authored the second most famous organ toccata in history), it is must be noted that Charles-­Marie Widor (1844-­1937) was a prolific and widely respected composer, adept in all forms from songs and chamber music, to orchestral symphonies, ballets, and operas. In addition to his work as an organist, composer, and pedagogue, he was active as a music critic and authored treatises on orchestration and on music of ancient Greece, and together with his student, Albert Schweitzer, he edited the complete organ works of J. S. Bach. Through his own uncompromising standards as teacher and performer, Widor was largely responsible for establishing the modern French organ school, based upon the methods and concepts of his mentor, the great Belgian organist Jacques-­Nicolas Lem­mens (1829-1881).

   In 1870 at the recommendation of the organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll (1811-1899), Widor, aged twenty-six, was appointed organist of the Parisian Church of St. Sulpice, a position he held for an incredible sixty-four years. Finding himself entrusted with one of Cavaillé-Coll’s largest and most famous instruments, Widor channeled creative energy into writing for the organ. Throughout his life, like Franck, Vierne, and others, Widor acknowledged the enormous inspiration he drew from the organs of Cavaillé-­Coll: “If I had not felt the seduction of the timbres, the mystic spell of that wave of sound, I would not have written any organ music.” Indeed, the work of Cavaillé-­Coll paved the way for a new genre fathered by Widor: the sym­phonie pour orgue. Not intended to be a surrogate for the orchestra (“…that would be a parody, definitely anti-artistic”) the organ symphony made use of the Cavaillé-Coll organ’s augmented tonal palate and dynamic range. The great builder had expanded the organ’s flexibility and expressive qualities, creating orchestral textures while maintaining the organ’s idiomatic integrity and aesthetic.

  Of Widor’s ten symphonies for solo organ, the first four are more or less suites of pieces in which the movements share little or no thematic relationship. In the Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, he is finding his voice as to true symphonic structure. Widor’s mighty Symphony VII in A Minor, Op. 42, No. 3 appeared in 1887 at the dawn of the belle epoch and is arguably the apex of symphonic writing for the organ. In a transformation of style, Widor employs a cyclic procedure in which all of the movements become unified thematically, and which he continued in the last two symphonies. Spiritual works, the Symphonie gothique (1895) and the Symphonie romane (1900) are more introspective than their predecessors and both employ Gregorian chants as their primary thematic material.

  About the opening movement, Moderato, Widor scholar John Near writes, “The jagged, sharply punctuated opening theme exerts a raw power not seen before in Widor’s organ music.” While the entire symphony is based upon the following theme or urmotif, it is not until the second movement, Choral, that a clear statement of the theme is heard. Indeed, the supremely elegant Choral might be considered the exposition of the urmotif. The charming lilt of the third movement, Allegretto brings about a lightheartedness that is not present in the rest of the work. Near points out that it is Widor’s proficiency with French art song that pervades this lyric, yet scherzo-like movement.

  Widor’s admiration of Franz Liszt is perhaps inspires the Allegro ma non troppo. Clearly pianistic in technique, this music may have been modeled after Liszt’s sixth transcendental etude for piano, Vision. The urmotif is presented in long note values above a flurry of figuration that gives the impression of the rise and fall of great waves. The movement concludes with a feeling of suspended animation as the urmotif is intoned in its simple, organic form.

  Widor was constantly revising his work. In the preface to his edition of Widor’s organ symphonies, John Near writes, “Following the first publication of each organ symphony, a continual transformation was effected by the composer through several revisions. In certain cases nearly six decades intervened between the first and last versions of a work.” Symphonie VII exists in no less than five versions. The performance on this recording uses Widor’s final (1927) version for all the movements except the Lento. The earliest version of the Lento (1887) is a hauntingly beautiful work, quite worthy of performance in its own right. The spacious quality of the writing, the use of the mystic timbre of the Voix humaine stop, and the clear presentation of the urmotif on the Flûte harmonique combine to make music that falls as a benediction.

  A postlude of titanic proportion, the colossal Finale commences with a statement of the urmotif in octaves in the pedal. The theme then undergoes a variety of treatments, erupting in a hair-raising climax in which we again hear the theme in pedal octaves under a swirling accompaniment reminiscent of Wagner’s Tannhäuser overture. This figuration continues the movement into a long descent, arriving at a nostalgic, haunting, Sibelius-like episode. A brilliant manual flourish then prepares the way for a concluding statement of the urmotif on the organ’s Grand choeur.

  Like his friend and contemporary, Jean Langlais, Gaston Litaize (1909-1991) was educated at the National School for Blind Youth in Paris, and was later a pupil in the organ class of Marcel Dupré at the Paris Conservatory. What followed was a brilliant career as organ virtuoso, teacher, and composer. For thirty years he was also director of religious programming for Radio France. Lied comes from Litaize’s Douze pièces pour orgue, dating from the mid 1930’s. The expressive melody is heard on the Récit Trompette 8’, accompanied by flute and string tone. After an intense middle section, the melody is heard in canon at the flat seventh.

Alongside his teachers Charles-­Marie Widor and César Franck, Louis Vierne (1870-­1937) is the outstanding figure of the French symphonic school of organ composition. Vierne, almost totally blind, was organist of Notre-­Dame de Paris from 1900 until his death at the console in 1937. His four volumes of Pièces de fantaisie (1926-27) were intended as concert music for the organ, and several of these works were played by Vierne in his coast to coast concert tour of the United States in 1926. Impromptu is one of Vierne’s highly original scherzos that, as Rollin Smith describes, “deftly blends the fluidity of pianistic technique with an elegance perfectly suited to the organ.” Clair de lune is lush and impressionistic, its soaring, expressive melody presented on the Flûte harmonique, while the rigorous Toccata in B-flat minor is a virtuosic tour de force.

Jeremy David Tarrant
Jeremy David Tarrant is increasingly recognized for performances hailed as elegant, warm, communicative, and powerfully artistic. Since 2000, he has served as Organist and Choirmaster of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (Episcopal), Detroit, where he served as Assistant Organist from 1994.  In April, 2007 he was seated as Canon Precentor. He is the founding director of the Cathedral Choir School of Metropolitan Detroit.

A student of the American organist and pedagogue Robert Glasgow, Jeremy David Tarrant is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Music where he earned the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in organ performance and sacred music. His other instructors include James Kibbie, Betty R. Pursley, and Corliss Arnold. He has had additional coaching with Lynne Davis.

An active concert organist, Jeremy David Tarrant has performed widely in North America. He frequently appears with the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings and performs in conventions of the American Guild of Organists. His European debut as an organ soloist occurred in 2008 with a recital in the Cathédrale de St. Etienne in Meaux, France; in 2011, he played the closing recital of International Organ Week in Dijon, France. He has been featured in the Pine Mountain Music Festival, presenting three solo recitals in Michigan’s upper peninsula in 2012.

In July, 2014, he conducted the St. Paul Cathedral Choir during its residency at Chichester Cathedral in England. The tour included concerts and services in Canterbury and South­wark Cathedrals, as well. On the choir’s two CD releases, Nowell Sing We, and Evensong for All Saints, he conducts and plays solo organ works.

The Organs of First Presbyterian Church, Kirkwood, Missouri

Casavant Frères Organ Builders of Saint-Hyacinth, Quebec, was chosen by First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood, Missouri, to build a 3-manual, 61-stop, 76-rank pipe organ in the French symphonic style of the great Parisian organs of the late 19th century. Installation began on October 1, 2013, and tonal finishing and voicing, led by Casavant’s artistic director, Jacquelin Rochette, was completed on December 5, 2013. On Christmas Eve 2013, the organ, opus 3898 of the firm,  was played in public for the first time. It was dedicated on May 4, 2014 with a worship service followed by an afternoon dedicatory recital played by Vincent Dubois.

Founded in 1854, the congregation erected its first building in 1856 on the current site of the church. A new buiding was constructed 1888-89 and contained a 12-rank, two-manual pipe organ built by George Kilgen & Sons of St. Louis. The Kilgen was replaced in 1929 by a 22-rank, two-manual pipe organ built by Henry Pilcher’s Sons of Louisville, op. 1491.

The current Sanctuary was constructed 1955- 57 and originally contained a 46-­rank, 4-manual pipe organ built by the Wicks Pipe Organ Co. of Highland, Illinois, op. 3658 contracted in 1955. The Wicks organ was donated to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Apia, Samoa, and was removed by the Wicks firm with volunteer assistance from church members in 2012. The Wicks was dedicated at the Apia Cathedral in August, 2014. The Cathedral, itself, was new in June, 2014, its predecessor of 1857 having been demolished in 2011 following extensive damage from an Earthquake.

The chapel at First Presbyterian Church, Kirkwood, contains a 12-rank, one-manual, pipe organ built in 2006 by the Martin Ott Pipe Organ Co. of St. Louis.

Casavant Frères Limitée, St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, opus 3898, 2013
First Presbyterian Church, Kirkwood, Missouri

61 stops, 76 ranks, 4,357 pipes, three manuals and pedal

Grand Orgue
Montre 16
Montre 8
Violoncelle 8
Flûte harmonique 8
Bourdon 8
Prestant 4
Flûte ouverte 4
Quinte 2-2/3
Doublette 2
Cornet III
Fourniture IV-V
Cymbale III
Trompette 8
Tuba Mirabilis 8* POS
Trompette en chamade 8* ANT
Grand Orgue Muet
Récit à G.O. 16 8 4
Pos. à G.O. 16 8 4
Antiph. à G.O. 8

Récit expressif
Bourdon 16
Diapason 8
Bourdon 8
Viole de gambe 8
Voix céleste 8
Principal 4
Flûte octaviante 4
Oktavin 2
Plein Jeu harmonique II-V
Basson 16
Trompette harmonique 8
Basson-Hautbois 8
Voix humaine 8
Clarion harmonique 4
Tuba Mirabilis 8* POS
Récit 16 4
Récit Muet
Antiph. à Récit 8

Positif expressif
Principal 8
Céleste 8
Cor de nuit 8
Vox éolienne 8
Fugara 4
Flûte douce 4
Nasard 2-2/3
Flageolet 2
Tierce 1-3/5
Larigot 1-1/3
Septième 1-1/7
Piccolo 1
Plein Jeu III
Cor Anglais 16
Trompette 8
Clarinette 8
Positif 16 4
Positif Muet
Récit à Pos. 16 8 4
Antiph. à Pos. 8
Tuba Magna 16 EXT
Tuba Mirabilis 8
Tuba Mirabilis 4 EXT

Antiphonal floating
Violonbasse 16
Montre 8
Violon 8
Bourdon 8
Prestant 4
Flûte conique 4
Doublette 2
Fourniture II
Trompette en chamade 8
Antiphonal 16 4

Montre 32’ EXT 16
Soubasse 32’ EXT 16
Contrebasse 16
Montre I 16
Montre II 16 G. O.
Soubasse 16
Bourdon 16 RÉCIT
Violonbasse 16 ANT
Quinte 10-2/3 (subbass)
Octavebasse 8
Bourdon 8
Bourdon doux 8 RÉCIT
Octave 4
Flûte 4
Théorbe 6 + 4 unit
Contre Bombarde 32 EXT
Bombarde 16
Basson 16 RÉCIT
Trompette 8 EXT Bomb.
Tuba Mirabilis 8 POS
Trompette en chamade 8 ANT
Clarion 4 EXT TROM.
Tuba 4 POS
G. O. à la Pédalier
Récit à la Pédalier 8 4
Positif à la Pédalier 8 4
Antiph. à la Pédalier 8
Coupure de Pédalier

*not affected by couplers
Crescendo programmable
Nave expression shutters of Récit off
Nave expression shutters of Positif off
256 combination memory levels
Registration sequencer
electric slider windchests

Widor: Symphony No. 7 + works by Vierne & Litaize<BR>Jeremy David Tarrant, organist<BR>2013 Casavant op. 3898, 3m, 76 ranks<BR>First Presbyterian Church, Kirkwood, Missouri
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