Home » Catalog » Yuan Shen, Organist   My Account  Cart Contents  Checkout
The Kennedy Center Organ, Yuan Shen, Organist
2012 Casavant Op. 3899 4 manuals
Mendelssohn · Franck · Bach · Alain · Escaich - [OAR-141]

The Kennedy Center Concert Hall Organ built in 2012 by Casavant with 4 manuals, 4,972 pipes, 85 ranks and 92 stops, is played by Yuan Shen of Beijing University, one of China’s leading international concert organists. Compelling musicianship demonstrates the new Casavant with wonderful results.
MENDELSSOHN: Allegro, Chorale & Fugue in D
J. S. BACH: Fantasy & Fugue in G Minor, BWV 542
FRANCK: Choral No. 2 in B Minor
JEHAN ALAIN: Trois Danses

THIERRY ESCAICH: Poèmes: Eaux Natales; Vers l’Esperance

Great Organ Music for a Concert Hall
Johann Sebastian Bach‘s Fantasy and Fugue in G Minor, BWV 542, probably was composed in Cöthen around 1720, the year in which Bach traveled to Hamburg, presenting a concert at the Katharinenkirche. Some commentators date the Fugue 1715-1717 and the Fantasy between 1717-1720. This masterpiece evokes North German musical traditions, especially in the Fantasy which largely employs the early baroque stylus fantasticus, somewhat abandoned by Bach’s day but widely practiced by the earlier Hanseatic masters, wherein the composer freely creates with few boundaries of melody or harmony, often producing contrasting and brief episodes of toccata-like and fugal pas­sages. The Fugue subject is based on a Dutch folk­song Ik ben gegroet van (I have been greeted).
 Bach (1685-1750) was mourning the death in July, 1720, of his wife Maria Barbara when he traveled to Hamburg in November, possibly as a candidate to become organist of the Jakobi­kirche there and/or possibly to enhance his chances for appointment as cantor of the Hamburg Johanneum and overall musical directorship of the five principal Hamburg churches when that post would be vacated by the ailing incumbent (who died in 1721). For reasons not entirely clear, Bach withdrew his name from consideration at the Jakobikirche. Joachim Hietmann subsequently got the job and paid a fee to be appointed; Bach may have withdrawn when he learned that such a payment was customary in Hamburg. In fact, no documents establish precisely the reason Bach went to Hamburg in 1720. In 1723, Bach took the job in Leipzig as cantor of the Thomaskirche, which also included supervision of music at several other churches.
Some musicologists believe Bach improvised the fugue during his concert at the Kath­ar­inenkirche in Hamburg, possibly as homage to the highly regarded organist of that church, Johann Adam Reincken, who was Dutch and 97 years old, still working! Reincken was present at Bach’s concert and highly praised Bach’s performance. Reincken’s comments from 1720 were so significant as to have been published 30 years later in Bach’s obituary.
The work quickly became popular among musicians who wrote copies of the piece, probably via access to Bach’s manuscript and subsequently from others who had copied it. Among those who owned early copies of the work were several of Bach’s students, including Johann Peter Kellner and Johann Ludwig Krebs. The Fantasy and the Fugue were first published, separately, in 1833, some 83 years after Bach’s death, and were first published together in 1844 (only about ten percent of Bach’s music known today was published during his life). Johann Mattheson reports in his General-Baß-Schule that on October 24, 1725, he required candidates who were auditioning for the organist’s post at the Hamburg Cathedral, where Mattheson was music director, to improvise on the Fugue theme. He writes, “I knew well where this theme originated, and who worked it artfully on paper.”
After the death of Bach and the shift in musical fashion toward rococo, classical and early romantic styles, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-­1847) revived high quality com­po­sition for the organ by writing great works, advocating the music of Bach, and restoring strong instrumental technique, especially that of the pedalboard. Virtuosic writing appears clearly in the allegro of the Allegro, Choral and Fugue in D Minor, composed in 1844. The Allegro combines numerous scales for keyboard and pedal with a dramatic theme. It magnificently introduces the majestic central Choral, followed by a beautiful Fugue with a very elaborate counterpoint. Mendelssohn revisits the diptych form of the prelude and fugue he knew in Bach’s music, placing in its center a grandiose chorale.
César Franck (1822-1890) also inserts a freely invented chorale at the heart of each of his Three Chorales. The Choral No. 2 in B begins with a passacaglia wherein the theme recalls the funeral march of Chopin (the third movement of Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, op. 35, published in 1840). Four variations intensify the discourse and lead to the chorale. In three sections, the chorale is interrupted with free musical comments; then, Franck places a powerful recitative that leads to a fugue where, as usual, he superimposes the theme of the passacaglia with that of the chorale. The work ends with the triumphal return of the ostinato theme, this time in the soprano, followed by the return of the chorale theme singing on the Vox Humana stop supported by a serene and soothing accompaniment.
A chorale and an atmosphere of peace introduce the Trois danses composed by Jehan Alain (1911-1940) for piano in 1937 and arranged for organ in 1939. He was scoring the Trois danses for orchestra in 1940 but the manuscript was lost in World War II and Alain was killed on June 20 as a soldier in the French army.  The three dances are Joies, Deuils, and Luttes (Joys, Mourning, and Struggles). Joies exposes two themes: a contemplative chorale characteristic of Alain’s style and an ardent dance, contrasting and superimposing them. After a last seizing crescendo, a nostalgic melody appears from the Oboe stop of the organ: “a wind of melancholy melts the highly animated music into a sad, insistent song.”
Deuils (Mourning) bears a subtitle, Funeral dance to honor a heroic memory, in tribute to Jehan’s younger sister, Marie-Odile (1914-­1937), who died in a mountain-climbing accident. Deuils opens with a sepulchral theme which is none other than a modification of the initial theme of Joies. This thematic ostinato is transformed through several variations into a scherzando evoking a wild ritual dance, and then triumphs over the tutti of the organ, like a chorale.
Luttes takes up the oppositions and thematic overlays of Joies, but the funeral chorale of Deuils arrives abruptly, so promptly that it explodes like shell fire that would break down the themes of Joies. It is ultimately these bombings that dominate and complete the work.
One cannot help forming a link between this work and the heroic and tragic fate of a young man who was defeated on the field of honor. The organ manuscript of these dances miraculously reached Paris a few weeks before the death of the author.
Successor of Maurice Duruflé at the organ of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont since 1996, the composer, improviser and organist Thierry Escaich (b. 1965) composed in 1998 Trois Motets for 12 mixed voices and organ based on poems by Alain Suied as extracted from the collection Le Pays Perdu (The Lost Country). They were adapted in 2002 for solo organ, under the title Poèmes.
Eaux natales (Birth waters) begins with an uninterrupted and slightly irregular rhythmic sway. The composer explains that “the only two progressions of intensity of the piece come to translate, first, the image of ‘runoff of the natal waters of the universe,’ then, a little later, the slow rise in the ‘Heat of a cry,’ where the initial swing moves in the form of a short organizational toccata before falling back, bloodless, in the silence of the mystery of the Nativity.”
The second poem, Le Masque (The Mask) is an imploration inspired by the text of De profundis (From the depths I cried to you, Lord . . .). Hammered chords and an incantatory melody structure the movement. As usual, the composer deals with these elements in a crescendo that develops and amplifies the two initial ideas.
In the last poem, Vers l’espérance (Toward Hope), the composer expresses a frantic escape before death and a call to the Creator. This breathtaking race played on the full organ concludes this organ recital.

Shen Yuan
Yuan Shen is quickly establishing herself as China’s foremost concert organist and pedagogue. She is Associate Professor of Organ at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music, where she teaches organ and courses in the organ curriculum.
She received her doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in organ performance from Seitoku University where she studied with Prof. Naomi Matsui, and did further Konzertexam stud­ies at the Universität der Künste Berlin with Prof. Leo van Doeselaar and Prof. Er­win Wiersinga. She also took lessons from Ton Koop­mann, Louis Robillard, Zig­mond Szathmary, Oliver Latry, Michael Radulescu, Wolf­gang Zerer, Pieter van Dijk, Christ­ophe Mantoux, Aude Heur­te­matte, and others.
She has performed in China, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, and Egypt, including the 2008 Spring Festival Ceremony and the Olympic Cultural Festival in Beijing. In 2012, she was invited by the Ministry of Culture of China and the China Artist Association to perform in a Chinese New Year concert at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna.
She was chosen as one of four Young Composers for the 2014 Haarlem International Organ Festival, during which she premiered her organ work Waiting for Godot at St. Bavo’s church. In 2016, she lectured for the Haarlem festival about “The upcoming organ culture in the Far East.”
Dr. Shen has been a prizewinner in national and international competitions, including the Grand Prize of the senior section of the 2010 Beijing International Organ Concours as well as the Richard-­Brad­shaw Audience Prize at the 2017 Canadian International Organ Competition (CIOC).
Dr. Shen is spearheading the effort to develop an organ culture in China and Asia. As such, she published The Art of Organ Performance in two volumes providing a selection of organ music for Chinese students. Her Chinese translation of the Organ Dictionary was published with editions in 22 other languages by CEOS v.z.w. of Belgium. She has also been the artistic director of the Beijing International Organ Festival since 2013, and in 2017 founded the China Organ Society in partnership with the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. This society represents the first union of organists, music universities and conservatories, and performance centers in China. She also established a partnership between the Beijing International Organ Festival and the Haarlem International Organ Festival.

Casavant Frères, op. 3899, 2012, Rubenstein Family Organ
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D. C.

4 manuals, 92 stops, 85 ranks, 4,972 pipes, slider windchests, electric action

GREAT Man. 2
16 Double Open Diapason
8 Open Diapason
8 Chimney Flute
8 Gamba
4 Octave
4 Open Flute
2-2/3 Twelfth
2 Fifteenth
II-III Grave Mixture
IV-V Mixture
III Cymbal
16 Double Trumpet
8 Trumpet
4 Clarion
Unison Off
Tuba Chorus 16-8-4 CH
Swell to Great 16 8 4
Choir to Great 16 8 4
Resonance to Great

Man. 3
16 Bourdon EXT
8 Open Diapason
8 Stopped Diapason
8 Viole de Gambe
8 Vox Céleste
8 Spitzflöte
8 Spitzflöte Céleste TC
4 Octave
4 Harmonic Flute
2 Piccolo
V Full Mixture
III Chorus Mixture
16 Bassoon
8 Trompette
8 Oboe
8 Vox Humana
8 Clairon
Swell 16 8 4
8 Tuba Mirabilis CH
Resonance to Swell

CHOIR Man. 1
16 Lieblich Gedeckt EXT
8 Violin Diapason
8 Voce Umana FROM BASS G
8 Bourdon
8 Concert Flute 1-12 8 BOURDON
8 Dulciana
8 Unda Maris TC
4 Octave
4 Spindle Flute
2-2/3 Nazard
2 Super Octave
1-3/5 Tierce
1-1/3 Larigot
III-IV Mixture
16 Bass Clarinet EXT
8 Cornopean
8 Clarinet
8 Filene*
8 French Horn
CH 16 8 4
16 Tuba Magna TC
8 Tuba Mirabilis EXT
4 Tuba Clarion EXT
Swell to Choir 16 8 4
Resonance to Choir
* regal-type reed retained from the previous organ, Aeolian-­Skinner op. 1472, 1971

32 Contra Diapason PD & RES 16 DBL OD
16 Double Open Diapason
16 Bourdon 1-44 PD 16 SUB
8 Open Diapason 1-32 PD 8 OCTBASS
8 Harmonic Flute 1-12 PED 8 STFLT
4 Octave
V Grand Cornet MC EXT
IV-VII Harmonics 1-32 PD MIX
16 Trombone 1-56 PD TROMB
8 Trumpet EXT RES 16 TROMB
16 Herald Trumpet
8 Herald Trumpet EXT
4 Herald Trumpet EXT
Great to Resonance

32 Double Open Diapason**
32 Contra Bourdon EXT
16 Flute OPEN WOOD
16 Contrabass
16 Open Diapason GR
16 Subbass
16 Bourdon SW
16 Lieblich Gedeckt CH
10 Quint SUBBASS
8 Octave Bass
8 Open Flute EXT
8 Stopped Flute EXT
4 Octave
4 Flute RES
IV Mixture
32 Contra Trombone FULL LENGTH
16 Trombone EXT
16 Double Trumpet GR
16 Bassoon SW
8 Trumpet EXT
8 Tuba Mirabilis CH
8 Herald Trumpet RES
4 Clarion EXT
4 Tuba Clarion CH
Pedal Divide
Great to Pedal 8 4
Swell to Pedal 8 4
Choir to Pedal 8 4
Resonance to Pedal

** 12 notes, 1-7 common with 32 Contra Bourdon with “helpers” which are tapered pipes at 16' pitch and which speak simultaneously with notes 1-7; notes 8-11 Haskell open wood

256 levels,
12 General pistons,
6 Divisional pistons for each division
Registration sequen­cer  Next/Previous


Manuals 61 notes
Pedal 32 notes

The Kennedy Center Organ, Yuan Shen, Organist<BR>2012 Casavant Op. 3899 4 manuals<BR>Mendelssohn · Franck · Bach · Alain · Escaich
Click to enlarge
Currently, you have 0 quantity of this product in your shopping cart
   Customers who bought this product also purchased   
<font color = red><I>Wonderful Splendor</font></I>, Russell Weismann Plays the 1962 Rudolf von Beckerath Organ<BR>St. Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh<BR><I><font color = red>97 ranks, 4 manuals</I></font>
Wonderful Splendor, Russell Weismann Plays the 1962 Rudolf von Beckerath Organ
St. Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh
97 ranks, 4 manuals
Patrick Scott, Organist<BR>The Kennedy Center Aeolian-Skinner, Relocated & Rebuilt
Patrick Scott, Organist
The Kennedy Center Aeolian-Skinner, Relocated & Rebuilt
Sacred Expressions: Twentieth-Century Organ Music<BR>Kola Owolabi, organist<BR>1950 Holtkamp Organ, Crouse College, Syracuse University
Sacred Expressions: Twentieth-Century Organ Music
Kola Owolabi, organist
1950 Holtkamp Organ, Crouse College, Syracuse University
Jehan Alain: Trois Danses and other organ works<BR>Christophe Mantoux, 1890 Cavaillé-Coll 4m, St-Ouen, Rouen<BR><Font Color = red><I><B>Grand Prix du Disque!</B><BR>2 CDs for the Price of One</I></font>
Jehan Alain: Trois Danses and other organ works
Christophe Mantoux, 1890 Cavaillé-Coll 4m, St-Ouen, Rouen
Grand Prix du Disque!
2 CDs for the Price of One
Widor, Master of the Organ Symphony<BR>Documentary on 2 DVDs & 2-CDs, more
Widor, Master of the Organ Symphony
Documentary on 2 DVDs & 2-CDs, more
Pilgrimages: Organ Music of Rachel Laurin, Inspired by Sacred Themes<BR><font color = red><I>****4-Star Review in Choir & Organ!</I></font>
Pilgrimages: Organ Music of Rachel Laurin, Inspired by Sacred Themes
****4-Star Review in Choir & Organ!

Copyright © 2024 Raven Recordings