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Organ Works of Leo Sowerby, Lorenz Maycher, Organist
"It is difficult to imagine anyone not falling in love with this exciting disc . . ." American Record Guide - [OAR-310]

Lorenz Maycher plays the 1949 Æolian-Skinner organ at First Presbyterian Church, Kilgore, Texas.

Comes Autumn Time
Requiescat in pace
Air with Variations
Whimsical Variations
Dialog (with pianist James Culp)
Carillon (played on this organ by William Watkins, recorded 1951)

Reviews David Mulbury in American Record Guide:
Lorenz Maycher is an unusually gifted American organist . . . It is difficult to imagine anyone not falling in love with this exciting disc, so well recorded and produced. The recording is an appropriate tribute to Leo Sowerby, an important American composer, whose beautiful music should be more widely appreciated and enjoyed . . . While there is rich diversity and scope in Sowerby's music (over 550 scores), it is often bittersweet, nostagic, and evocative of an era now past — a time that unfortunately cannot be brought back except through such music . . ."

Leo Sowerby
The influence of Leo Sowerby (1895-1968) in American music remains tremendous today. One could mention the sheer volume of his work, the Prix de Rome, the Pulitzer Prize, the performances world-wide by orchestras and soloists, his accomplishments as a teacher, his humility. But in this recording we are highlighting some of his organ compositions, not unknown but not frequently played, which indicate the many-sided colors of his genius.

Comes Autumn Time, 1916, shows the young Sowerby to be a true poet of the organ. A virtuosic, fiery piece, it builds to a majestic climax. One theme plays a leading part throughout.
Requiescat in Pace, 1920, another powerful tone-poem, utilizes the entire dynamic range of the organ. Again a single melody is developed to an amazing degree.

Air with Variations, 1933, begins with an inspired melody which Sowerby develops through an increasingly complex set of variations. He arrives at a forte, dissonant passage and then melts into an incredibly lovely final statement. The piece ends reflectively.

Arioso, 1942, while appearing to be a piece in free style, shows how disciplined was Sowerby's work. An opening melody, played on a reed stop, is followed by a middle section, seemingly improvisatory but actually tight-knit. The opening melody then returns in a much grander sound and leads to a quiet ending.
In the jaunty Whimsical Variations, 1950, the listener quickly sees that there is nothing here in the usual sense of the word "whimsical." Rather, a serious mind explores in clever detail the possibilities of the opening theme.

The opening movement of the Sonatina, 1944, contains an extraordinarily imaginative series of variations over a constantly repeated theme. Technically it cannot be called either a passacaglia or a chaconne since it is in 4/4 time, but the format is otherwise like that of a chaconne, with the theme being repeated in both lower and higher voices. The second movement is one of Sowerby's most beautiful adagios, and the final one is a dashing, brilliant rondo.

The Dialog, 1967, for organ and piano, tackles a difficult and seldom-rewarding medium. The organ and the piano do not usually blend, for some aesthetic reasons that defy explanation. But Sowerby treats them from an intimate knowledge of each; the result is startlingly successful.

In later life, Sowerby eschewed the Carillon, 1917, as not characteristic of his mature musical thought. It has, however, remained popular. It contains not only his usual carefully worked-out form but also a series of evocative, warm melodies.
Notes by William Watkins

1949 Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co., Boston, Op. 1173
The organ in The First Presbyterian Church of Kilgore, Texas, was developed over a period of longer than thirty years under the guidance of the late Roy Perry, organist and choirmaster at First Presbyterian from 1932 until 1972. A memorial gift of Mrs. W. R. Crim and her family, the instrument began life as a small Pilcher organ in the previous building. In 1935, the organ was rebuilt and enlarged by the M. P. Moller Company, and then was moved to the present building when it was erected in 1939.

The major portion of the instrument, built in 1949, was designed by the late G. Donald Harrison, president of the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co. of Boston from 1932 until his death in 1956. Opus 1173 remained one of his favorite organs and the console bears his signature. In the early 1950's, Aeolian-Skinnner initiated the "King of Instruments" series of recordings to demonstrate some of their fine instruments as played by leading organists. Volume I introduced the series with narration by Mr. Harrison interspersed among musical examples, many of which were played on Opus 1173. The organ was again featured in Volumes II and X.

In 1964, the bottom twelve notes of the 32' Bombarde were installed by Mr. Perry as a memorial to Mr. Harrison. In 1966, final additions included the exposed pipework on each side of the chancel window and alterations and additions to the chambered divisions; the console was rebuilt. The organ was voiced (final tonal finishing of the pipes) by Roy Perry. So, from its inception, the instrument bore the personal stamp of the man who presided over its console for so many years.

Roy Perry's Words:
In a church where a typical music list will include repertoire from all historical periods, with an emphasis on the organ-anthem literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, an extremely retrospective (i. e.. Baroque) organ would be inadequate, if not useless. The aim here has been rather to produce what might be called the Classic-Romantic organ and, judging from the results, one might well add the words, de luxe. In the primary choruses, both reed and flue, all the elements of a fine and flexible ensemble are generously present. In addition, the secondary flutes, strings, and small reeds are here in such quantity and beauty of color as to give this organ a unique and enviable appeal.

The manual and pedal flue choruses are musical and satisfying in almost any way they are built up. The quality is brilliant but not aggressive, and not a single pipe "sticks out." The chorus reeds color the flue mass without dominating it, and although they are made with open shallots, their rather broad scale gives them more of an English effect than French. The unenclosed manual reeds are not intended as part of the chorus, but are to be used tuba-wise against the organ. The Trompette-en-Chamade is the first modern example of this particular pipe construction and has attracted considerable notice to this organ. It is a spectacular success.

Especially notable is the eloquent chorus of strings and celestes. These are carefully graded to build from the merest whisper to a rich and impressive forte, and the transition to the normal buildup can be made imperceptibly. Nothing could be of greater value in choral accompaniment. The Great flutes and small reeds have the advantage of a swell box and tremulant, so that in quieter music this manual can function as a solo organ.

The acoustical environment in the First Presbyterian Church is unusually kind to both organ and singers. The factors involved — shape and size of the room, building materials, position and layout of the organ — impart to every sound a warm and sympathetic quality often wished for but seldom realized. The organ has been carefully finished to take advantage of this happy situation.
A word of praise must be said for Mr. T. J. Williams and his son, J. C. Williams, who installed and maintain the organ. The superb craftsmanship of these men is rare and precious in our mass-produced world.
Roy Perry, from a pamphlet published ca. 1952

1949 Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co., Boston, Op. 1173
First Presbyterian Church, Kilgore, Texas
GREAT enclosed (*unenclosed)
*16' Spitzflöte
8' Principal
8' Flute Harmonique
*8' Bourdon
*8' Spitzflöte
4' Octave
4' Flute Octaviante
4' Flute Couverte
2-2/3 Quinte
2' Super Octave
*2' Blockflöte
* II Jeu de Cornet
IV Fourniture
III-IV Cymbale
* III-IV Plein Jeu
*8' Trompette-en-Chamade
*4' Trompette-en-Chamade
8' French Horn
8' English Horn
CHOIR enclosed
16' Gamba
8' Gamba
8' Camba Celeste
8' Concert Flute
8' Gedackt Pommer
8' Harmonic Spitzflöte (2 ranks)
4' Montre
4' Koppelflöte
2' Prinzipal
1-1/3' Nasat
1' Octav
IV Scharf
8' Trompette-en-Chamade (Gt.)
8' Posaune (Ped., unenc.)
8' Cromorne
8' Basson
SWELL enclosed
8' Geigen
8' Rohrflöte
8' Viola
8' Viola Celeste
8' FlautoDolce
8' Flûte Celeste
4' Principal
4' Flûte Triangulaire
273' Nasard
2' Flûte à Bee
V Plein Jeu
II Carillon
16' Bombarde
8' Trompette
8' Hautbois
8' Voix Humaine
4' Clairon
32' Untersatz
16' Principal
16' Flûte Ouverte
16' Bourdon
16' Spitzflöte (Gt.)
16' Gamba (Ch..)
8' Octave
8' Flûte
8' Bourdon
8' Spitzflöte (Gt.)
4' Choralbass
4' Spillflöte
II Mixture
32' Bombarde (Sw., bass 12 enclosed in Great)
16' Posaune
16' Bombarde (Sw.)
8' Posaune
4' Klarine

Organ Works of Leo Sowerby, Lorenz Maycher, Organist<BR><font color=red><I>\"It is difficult to imagine anyone not falling in love with this exciting disc . . .\"</I></font> American Record Guide
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