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Eleanor Fulton Plays at Yale: Musical Evolution
by Peter Sarro Date Added: Wednesday 28 May, 2014
The organ in the Dwight Chapel at Yale is a decently appointed 3-manual and pedals tracker action instrument; according to the specs available (http://ism.yale.edu/academic-life/facilities/organsyale/boz-
yan-organ-dwight-chapel/specifications) it was designed by Rudolf von Beckerath of Hamburg, Germany in 1971. The specifications of the instrument are well suited to the compositions on the disk including the Mendelssohn sonata, and acoustics in the chapel, at least from what I could hear, are very good. Chronologically, the compositions on the disk span from Nicolas de Grigny (1672 - 1703) at the earliest, to J.S. Bach (1685 - 1750) mid-way, and up to Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847) at the latest - a relatively short span of 175 years. However, the order in which the compositions are performed does not follow a chronological sequence: the compositions on disk are buttressed at the beginning with the Mendelssohn sonata in B flat major and at the end with the Bach E minor Prelude & Fugue BWV 548 ("Wedge") with shorter Bach chorals and the well-known de Grigny Veni Creator Spiritus in between. Such a non-chronological sequence is perfectly acceptable, especially when it might be considered that certain compositions in the grouping might have a greater musical impact than others. And while all the compositions here are worthy and interesting individually, placing the Mendelssohn at the beginning and the "Wedge" Prelude & Fugue at the very end certainly, from a programming standpoint, provides more "impact", and keeps one, as I was, engaged at all times. In terms of performance: although Ms. Fulton starts out with a rousing performance of the Mendelssohn organ sonata in B Flat major Opus 65 Nbr 4 - and performs the de Grigny and Bach chorals with equally exemplary flair and skill - it is with the Bach Prelude & Fugue in E minor BWV 548 ("Wedge") that is clearly a tour-de-force performance both technically and musically of all the compositions here. Organists familiar with the "Wedge" Prelude & Fugue know all too well how difficult BWV 548 is and will appreciate how seemingly effortlessly Ms. Fulton performs this difficult organ composition. Of special note with the "Wedge" is the entrance in the pedals at various places of the fugue subject and which requires a significant trill at the subject's end - in the pedals - something which not all organists seem to do - or be able to do in performance - because of the difficulty. Yet Ms. Fulton not only performs the trill effortlessly, but she does it consistently at all appearances of the fugue subject! If you are familiar with the "Wedge" Prelude & Fugue, then you really need to hear how the fugue subject in the pedlas is handled here to truly appreciate what I'm talking about. In terms of the overall production: The CD appears to have been recorded and produced in 2006. The sound is excellent and full without an overwhelming low end which is so easy to accomplish with an organ. Clearly, microphone placement was carefully chosen. The disk comes with an attractive and well-printed color booklet with interesting notes on the compositions, a specification list of the organ, and a short musical bio of the organist. If you're an organ aficionado, organ student, or just appreciate the organ then this is a CD you must have for your own collection. Highly recommended. The ratings available for reviews only range from bad to good... if "outstanding" were available that's what I would have rated this CD.

Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!]

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