First Presbyterian, Charlottesville VA, April 28.
This is my last Sunday in this every-other-week interim. Dr. Jeremy Thompson will be assuming the director of music position in June, and in May the subbing will be in the capable hands (and feet) of Linda Hanson, David Diggs, and Roger Authers. It has been a pleasure working with them and with Bryce Hayes, who has done a great job with the choir in the interim. I heard Jeremy's audition service and am quite pleased that he was the one selected among the 70 applicants and three who auditioned. The music program in this wonderful church will be in excellent hands.
I chose the music for today to complement the sermon and to expand on the texts of the weeks after Easter.
Zeuch an die Macht, du Arm des Herrn (Isaiah 51:9)………….. Ernst Pepping
Basse et Dessus de Trompette from “Suite on the First Tone”…….Clerambault
Es ist das Heil uns kommen her…………………………………………….Komponist unbekannt
The Pepping is a jaunty, jolly little piece, rather sparse in the “alio modo” tradition. The text loosely translates “Go to strength, Arm of the Lord” I listened to some YouTube renditions where the Plenum was used and decided that was a bit too sedate for this piece. The registration, all on one manual combines the 16’ Trompette, the 2’ Octavin on the Recit coupled 8’ to the Grand Orgue with the 4’ Principal and 2’ Quarte de Nasard of the Positif coupled 4’. I was trying to capture the sound of E. Power Biggs’s recording of this chorale prelude on the Harvard Flentrop, where he used the 8’ Krummhorn and 2’ Principal.
The Clerambault requires a real French Baroque approach on this French Canadian Casavant. Where I would use a flute 8 and Principal 4 against a Trumpet on an “American Classic” instrument, this one requires that the Grand Orgue Trumpet be augmented with the Flûte à cheminée 8 and Doublette 2, to balance the octaves better. The accompaniment is on the Positif Principal 8, Octave 4, and Quarte de nazard 2.
The “anonymous” chorale prelude on “Salvation Has Come to Us” appears in the Peters Edition “80 Chorale Preludes” and in “The Church Organist’s Golden Treasury, Vol 1.” It is a typical 3-voice German Baroque chorale prelude. My guess is that it was written by Kneller. To get a clear but light pedal on this organ is a challenge. There are no soft stops in the pedal, just loud and louder. So on this one I use the 16’ Soubasse on the Pedal along with the 8’ Gamba coupled down from the Grand Orgue. The melody is on the Cornet decompose of the Positif, using Bourdon 8, Principal 4, Nazard 2 2/3 and Tierce 1 3/5 with Tremulant. Thanks to David Storey for fixing the trems on this instrument when he tuned it for the Oratorio Society performance accompanied by Kit Jacobson earlier this month, and for brightening up the upperwork with good tuning. The left hand uses the Flute Majure 8 and Flute Harmonique on the Recit. Thanks to the miracle of couplers, I played the Recit on the bottom manual and the Positif on the middle manual. This instrument has a “GO/Pos swap” coupler and I always put the GO on the bottom, Pos. in the middle, and the Recit on top. Sometimes the Recit gets to be a Solo, just by using the Trompette Royal (but not in this piece.)
Offertory: On the Lake of Galilee (John 21: 1-23)………………Isaac Barton MD
Isaac Barton was a Physician (Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat mostly) in Philadelphia at the turn of the 20th century. He was also an excellent concert organist and composer. This piece appears in Annus Ecclesiasticus-music for the church year, published in 1954 by G. Schirmer, edited by J. Julius Baird. It is a typically picturesque tone poem from 1912 or so. A toccata like right hand is accompanied with left hand chords, with the bass line in the pedal. There is a slower middle section with a very romantic melody with a bit of chromaticism in the accompanying chords. The first theme returns and it ends with a burst of descending arpeggios and then a concluding three chord coda. The right hand is on the Positif using the 8’ Principal, 4’ Octave, and 1 1/3 Larigot. The left hand uses the Viole de Gambe 8 and Voix Celeste 8 of the Recit, and the Pedal uses the 16’ Soubasse and couples the 8’ Gamba from the Grand Orgue. For the center section, the Positif adds the Nazard, Tierce, 4’ coupler, and Tremolo, for a rather “Hope Jones” effect.
Postlude: Prelude and Fugue in F Major BWV 556…………………..J. S. Bach
This, one of the “8 Little Preludes and Fugues” variously attributed to J. S. Bach, or others. I take it at a “Virgil Fox” (quick) tempo, having heard it played in this style some 50 years ago on the 4 manual Ernest Skinner in St. Paul’s Memorial Church, Charlottesville, by a University friend Ron Davis, a Fox student, who is now retired from college teaching and does opening recitals for A. E. Schlueter organ company. I play it rather detached, but with “baroque phrasing.”
It is on the same manual plenum throughout. The Grand Orgue chorus with both mixtures is augented with the Recit coupled at 8’ with the Trompette 16 Octavin 2 and Plein Jeu IV. The Positif chorus including the Cymbale is coupled at 4’ The pedal uses the softer of the two 32’ Resultants, the Soubasse 16, the Bourdon 16, with the Swell Coupled. Also in the pedal are the Octavebasse 8, Octave 4, and Mixture IV.
I now will be taking a few weeks off and will return to the bench at First Presbyterian Harrisonburg in June and July, with two weeks at the Allen in Bethany Presbyterian, Staunton.