Ok, so recently I’ve been listening to a lot of organ music again. This has lead me to “rediscover” albums that I simply have not listened too in a long, long time. One of those albums is “Recital in the City” with organist Lynn Trapp.
It’s the premier recording of an organ built for the St. Olaf Catholic Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The organ was built by Lively-Fulcher Organbuilders of Alexandria, Virginia, was completed in July of 2001 and inaugurated in a concert series in 2002. This beauty of 61 stops and 67 ranks is playable over five divisions, Grand Orgue, Récit Expressif, Positif Expressif, Bombarde and Pedale. The tonal design of the instrument is firmly rooted in the 19th Century French tradition, but like so many modern instruments is voiced to play a broad range of the organ literature. Also taken into consideration was the organ’s use with choir and solo instruments and orchestras. The result is a truly versatile instrument with some very unique character.
Recital in the City, features organist Dr. Lynn Trapp — Director of Worship and Music at St. Olaf — who chose a wide range of music to showcase this diverse instrument. A good portion of the works presented on this CD release are works that I had never heard before. (*)
Psalm Preludes Set II: Psalm 33, vs. 3 by Herbert Howells*
Amazing Grace by George Shearing*
Middlebury by George Shearing*
Pisgah by Dale Wood*
Variations on “Christe Sanctorum” by Lynn Trapp*
Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 731 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend, BWV 655 by J. S. Bach
Now Thank We All Our God from Cantata 79 by J. S. Bach/arr. Virgil Fox
Alleluia by William Faulkes*
Moderato in F, Opus 22 by Niels Gade*
Variations on a Norwegian Folktune by Bjarne Sløgedal*
3. Floyteljod (Sound of the Flute)
4. Langeleik (national instrument of Norway)
5. Frygde song (Song of Joy)
Easter Sequence: Victimae Paschali Laudes by Dom Paul Benoit, O.S.B.*
Impromptu from Pièces de Fantaisie by Louis Vierne
Fantaisie in E flat Major by Camille Saint-Saëns
First is the Victimae Paschali Laudes by Dom Paul Benoit. I’ve never even hear of this composer till this recording and I really wish there was more samplings of his music out there. Benoit was a priest, organist, and composer who lived in Luxembourg. His work is clearly influenced by the French Romantic style which makes this piece at home on this Lively-Fulcher organ. But I am also interested in the Gregorian Chant, which is sung on Easter Sunday. I have music by other composers who have explored this chant as well, and this one has a very unique take allowing the chant to be explored rather than taking it more literally. It definitely has a more modern flavor.
Another highlight is the Moderato in F by Niels Gade. The first time I listened to this piece I couldn’t help but think of Mendelssohn, which was funny as I read the liner notes: “The music of this Danish composer is similar in style to the keyboard works of Mendelssohn and Schumann…”
But perhaps most fascinating is Bjarne Slogedal’s Vairiations on a Norwegian Folktune. Anyone who scans through my list of organ CD’s can very quickly figure out that I lack music from the Nordic region. What strikes me about this music is it is so very unique. I think it’s the registrations that it calls for that give it the flavor – which I seriously cannot say is influenced by the Germans or the French! I think this composer as well as others in the same geographical region deserve more exploration in my CD collection.
It’s a beautiful thing when an album I purchase can combine familiar pieces with music I’ve never heard before. But even more beautiful when it is played on a very interesting organ! I would highly recommend this album to anyone looking to explore some “good ol’ favorites” but is also interested in exploring new waters.