Monday, June 20, 2005

ARCHIVE  •  2005  •  SUN 19  •  MON 20  •  WED 22  •  FRI 24  •  SUN 26

Saint Michael & All Angels Church, 8 p.m.

Organ Recital

Cherry Rhodes, organ

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Toccata & Fugue in D minor, BWV 565

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Pastorale in F, BWV 590

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude & Fugue in E minor, BWV 548


Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Toccata No. 11

Partita alla Lombarda

Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Ave Maris Stella III
So long as we journey, aid our weak endeavor

Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Chorale No. XLI, Op. 28
In dulci jubilo (In quiet joy)

Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Antiphon V, Op. 18, No. 5
How Fair and how Pleasant art Thou

Jiří Ropek (b. 1922)
Variations on Victimae Paschali Laudes

  1. To the Paschal Victim let Christians offer their praises.
  2. The Lamb has redeemed the sheep: Christ, the sinless one, has reconciled sinners to the Father.
  3. Death and life have engaged in a wondrous conflict: the slain leader of life reigns alive!
  4. Tell us, Mary, what did you see on your way?
  5. I saw the sepulchre of the living Christ and the glory of him rising:
  6. And I saw the angelic witnesses, the napkin, and the linen clothes.
  7. Christ, my hope, has risen: he shall go before his own into Galilee.
  8. We know that Christ has truly risen from the dead: O thou, Victor, King, have mercy upon us.

This recital by Cherry Rhodes is made possible by
a very generous grant from Jerry and Bobbi Dauderman.

Miss Rhodes dedicates this recital with love and gratitude
to Barbara T. McClellan (1935-2005).

Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D minor, from around 1709, continues to hold its place as one of his most popular works. Bach was a well-known organ virtuoso and consultant who tested and dedicated new organs. It is speculated that he demonstrated the high, middle, and low ranges of the instruments by performing this work with its opening bold octave gestures, echoing motives, and grand harmonic tensions. The Fugue proceeds in a spirit of youthful vigor until interrupted by a massive cadence, after which the mood of the Toccata returns to bring the piece to a dramatic conclusion. BACK


At Weimar, where he was court organist and chamber musician from 1708-1717, Bach had the opportunity to study Italian compositions which greatly influenced his own style. The Italian Pastorella depicted scenes of the Nativity and imitated the music of shepherds. Likewise, the Pastorale in F, in four contrasting movements, is much like a “Christmas Concerto.” Upon hearing Mendelssohn play this work, Schumann described it as “mined from the deepest depths in which such a composition may be found.” BACK


None of Johann Sebastian’s solo works surpasses the virtuosic and musical demands of the Prelude and Fugue in E minor. The most extended of the organ preludes and fugues, this mature and profound work has all the grandeur and vastness of ideas of the Leipzig Bach (1723-1750). The prelude is similar to a concerto grosso, with contrasting sections of concertino versus ripieno sections. The fugue has been nicknamed the “Wedge” because of the shape of its subject (theme) of ever-widening intervals that finally reach the octave span. BACK


Alessandro Scarlatti, father of the famous harpsichordist and composer Domenico Scarlatti, is principally known as a composer of opera and chamber cantatas. He founded the Neapolitan School of opera and also held various church positions in Rome. Toccata No. 11, in four movements, explores the chamber-like qualities of the organ. As is frequent in Italian Baroque music, the pedal part is subordinate to a colorfully virtuosic manual part. BACK


Dupré has been considered by many as the J.S. Bach of the 20th century. Inspired by Bach, Dupré wrote Fifteen Pieces for Organ founded on Antiphons and Seventy-Nine Chorales for Organ based on the hymn tunes that Bach used for his own Chorale Preludes for organ. Dupré generously employs the use of the Baroque devices of fughetta, canon sequence, stretto, inversion and augmentation while maintaining his own harmonic flavor. So long as we journey, aid our weak endeavor is based on Ave Maris Stella (Hail, Star of the Sea), a Vesper hymn honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. The hymn tune in the soprano voice is “ornamented in the style of J.S. Bach,” according to Dupré. BACK


In dulci jubilo finds the tune in the soprano. Written in five parts, ostinati are found in the bass and first tenor voices. The lush celestes of the organ are heard during this beautiful and meditative chorale. BACK


How Fair and how Pleasant art Thou (the Antiphon V, Op. 18, No. 5) employs neo-Baroque contrapuntal imitation, somewhat reminiscent of the late-Romantic chorale-preludes of Brahms, which also were inspired by Bach. The title, in praise of love, is from the biblical Song of Solomon. BACK


Jiří Ropek, a native of Prague, taught at the Conservatory and at the Academy of Dramatic Art, and in 1950, took the place of his teacher as organist at Prague’s great Baroque church of St. Jacob. Ropek has written many compositions for organ solo, organ with other instruments, chamber ensembles and solo voices and chorus, and has performed extensively on the Continent, in England and Latin America.

The brilliantly crafted Variations on Victimae Paschali Laudes, an 11th-century plainsong sequence, was published in London in 1963 and performed by Dr. Ropek at St. Jacob’s in Prague in 1995 especially for Dr. Karson and touring patrons of the Baroque Music Festival, Corona del Mar. The tune, introduced in a sober, modal harmonization, is followed by eight variations (that represent the eight hymn verses) in which are heard canon, ostinato, diminution, augmentation and fugue, all tools used by Baroque composers. BACK

Notes by Cherry Rhodes


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