July 27, 2014

Sir John Everett Millais, The Pearl of Great Price, Tate Collections, 1864

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it [NRSV, Genesis 13:45-46]."

Christ Church Cathedral Choir Notes
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Click to go immediately to:


Casavant organ, Église des Saints-Anges-Gardiens

Adrian Foster, Assistant Organist at Christ Church Cathedral, will join Jonathan Vromet, fellow doctoral student at McGill University, in giving a recital at the 1920/2002 Casavant organ of L’Église des Saints-Anges-Gardiens, 1400 St. Joseph Blvd., (map) in the Borough of Lachine, Montreal, on Sunday, July 27, 2014, at 3:00 pm.  
Admission free / donation requested.


Adrian Foster

Adrian Foster will perform:  

L’Orgue mystique, cycle de Noël, opus 55
                                         Charles Tournemire (1870–1939)

Epiphania Domini (L’Épiphanie)                                                                                        
I. Prélude à l'Introït
II. Offertoire
III. Élévation
IV. Communion
V. Fantaisie

Livre d’orgue (1953)             Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992)                      
III. « Pièce en trio » (Pour le Dimanche de la Sainte-Trinité)
IV. « Chants d’oiseaux » (Pour le Temps Pascal)
VI. « Les Yeux dans les roues » (Pour le Dimanche de la Pentecôte)

Jonathan Vromet

Jonathan Vromet will perform:

Prelude and fugue in f minor, opus 35, nº 5
                         Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809–1847)

Fantasia in f minor, K608         Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791)

Toccata, opus 9 (1953)                      Jean Guillou (b. 1930)


By way of preparation, listen free online to:

Charles Tournemire, L’Orgue mystique, cycle de Noël, opus 55, No. 7                                                              
Epiphania Domini (L’Épiphanie) performed  by Georges Delvallée at the 1880 Cavaillé-Coll organ in the Cathedral of Saint-Croix, Orléans                                                                                      
I. Prélude à l'Introït [YouTube]
II. Offertoire [YouTube]
III. Élévation [YouTube]  
IV. Communion [YouTube]
V. Fantaisie [YouTube]

Olivier Messiaen, Livre d’orgue (1953) performed by Olivier Messiaen himself at the Cavaillé-Coll organ of l'Église de la Sainte-Trinité, Paris
III. « Pièce en trio » [musicMe]
IV. « Chants d’oiseaux » [musicMe]
VI. « Les Yeux dans les roues » [musicMe]

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Prelude and fugue in f minor, opus 35, No. 5, performed by Andrew Dewar at the 1992 Rieger organ of St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh [YouTube]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Fantasia in f minor, K608, performed by Martin Haselbock at the 1980 Pirchner organ of Brixen Cathedral [YouTube]    
Jean Guillou,Toccata, opus 9 (1953), performed by Yuka Ishimaru at the 1971 Danion Gonzales organ of Chartres Cathedral [YouTube]     

Jonathan Vromet will also perform an organ recital at the 1980 Wilhelm organ of Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday, August 16, 2014, at 4:30 pm.  Admission free / donation requested.  Click for programme.


The prelude for the 12h45 Eucharistie chantée this coming Sunday is Johannes Brahms, Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele.

The complete organ works of Johannes Brahms, performed by Karol Golebiowski at the organ of the Heliga Trefaldighets Kyrka, Kristianstadt [musicMe]:  

Chorale Prelude and Fugue on "O Traurigkeit, O Herzeleid"
Fugue in A-flat minor
Prelude and Fugue in A minor
Prelude and Fugue in G minor
Eleven Chorale Preludes (1896)
 Mein Jesu, der du mich
 Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen
 O Welt, ich muss dich lassen
 Herzlich tut mich erfreuen
 Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele
 O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen
 O Gott, du frommer Gott
 Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen
 Herzlich tut mich verlangen
 Herzlich tut mich verlangen (second version)
 O Welt, ich muss dich lassen (second version)

The complete organ works of Johannes Brahms performed by Robert Parkins at the 1976 Flentrop organ of Duke Chapel, Duke University, Durham, are available for  free online listening through the Naxos Music Library.  Check with your librarian.  [BNQ; BM] (info)

Read what Robert Parkins writes about the organ works of Johannes Brahms:
Most listeners do not think of Johannes Brahms (1833- 1897) as a composer of organ music, for the works that first come to mind are the symphonies, concertos, piano pieces, songs, and chamber music - or perhaps the German Requiem. Yet, the very last compositions from the pen of Brahms were a set of chorale preludes for organ, published posthumously in 1902. Curiously enough, his only previous compositions for this instrument originated much earlier.

In the 1850s, when Brahms was still a young pianist and composer, he mentioned his aspirations to become an "organ virtuoso". Although he found the complex instrument more difficult to master than he had anticipated, he began to compose for it in earnest. Among his first attempts were two preludes and fugues, a conscious emulation of a form developed in the Baroque era but filtered through Brahms's own harmonic language. He regarded both works as novice projects not worthy of publication and apparently thought that the manuscripts had been destroyed. They were discovered much later, however, and published in 1927, thirty years after his death.

The Prelude and Fugue in G Minor, the second and more mature of the two, was written in 1857. The flamboyant prelude recalls the rhapsodic style of praeludia and toccatas by earlier German composers like Buxtehude or even the young J. S. Bach. Brahms was an avid student of pre-19th-century music, and it is by no means coincidental that he often chose archaic musical forms for his own writing.

Counterpoint, especially canon and fugue, absorbed the attention of Brahms during this period in particular. The first version of his Fugue in A flat minor, completed in 1856, was later revised and published in 1864 (as a supplement to the journal Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung). The accompanying prelude in this rarely used key has been lost - if indeed it was ever completed - but the quiet fugue, marked langsam, stands on its own as a masterfully crafted and deeply felt creation. Brahms's contrapuntal ingenuity is revealed even from the outset, as the highly expressive main subject is answered by its own inversion.

After the 1850s Brahms abandoned composition for the organ, other than revision of older pieces for publication, but toward the end of his life and just before the impending death of his close friend Clara Schumann, Brahms once again turned his attention to the organ. The resulting Eleven Chorale Preludes, finished in May and June of 1896, are a high point in German Romantic organ literature. Most are rather short and similar in format to pieces in the Orgelbüchlein, J. S. Bach's cycle of 45 chorale preludes for the liturgical year; that is, the phrases of the chorale melody, plain or embellished, are not separated by long interludes.

A notable exception opens Brahms's set, however. Mein Jesu, derdu mich, a more extended treatment cast in the Baroque mold of the Pachelbel-style chorale prelude, adumbrates each phrase of the hymn tune with fugal imitation of a subject derived from that phrase. Brahms was particularly fond of the chorales O Welt, ich muss dich lassen and Herzlich tut mich verlangen, and he provided two contrasting settings of each. Like Herzliebster Jesu and Herzlich tut mich erfreuen, their texts are concerned with final matters: the passion of Jesus Christ, death, and the afterlife. Just beyond the midpoint of the collection comes O Gott, du frommer Gott, a powerful work in which the tune sounds mezza voce from a subsidiary manual until the final phrase. Balancing the ponderous textures that characterize most of these preludes are three somewhat more subdued ones without pedal: O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen, yet another reflection on death and eternity; the lovely communion hymn Schmacke dich, o liebe Seele, and the gentle Christmas tune Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen.

In 1857, years before he was to focus on things eternal in several of his Eleven Chorale Preludes, Brahms had already written a beautiful Chorale Prelude on O Traurigkeit, o Herzeleid. A Fugue based on this chorale tune was appended sometime later, and a revised version of the chorale prelude followed by the fugue was published in 1882, once again as a musical supplement to a periodical, Musikalisches Wochenblatt. The subject of the fugue is derived from the hymn tune, while the unadorned chorale appears in long notes in the pedal. Like the Fugue in A flat minor, it is slow, marked adagio, and the answer to the subject is similarly inverted.

The Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, ostensibly Brahms's first essay in organ composition, was sent to Clara Schumann as a gift to celebrate his own birthday in 1856. What it lacks in maturity and polish, it more than makes up for in youthful energy and impetuosity, but not at the expense of experimentation with time-honoured contrapuntal devices. More specifically, the fugue subject - already foreshadowed in the pedal line of the brief prelude - appears also in inversion, just preceding still another transformation by augmentation. As in many of Bach's early preludes and fugues, Brahms's counterpoint dissolves toward the end into the free style of the prelude, and the final statement of the subject is nearly buried under a furious flurry of notes.

© Robert Parkins


Charles Tournemire, L'orgue mystique: Cycle after Pentecost, Op. 56: Nos. 32

Mass of the 7th Sunday after Pentecost

Prelude for the Introit [YouTube]
Offertory  [YouTube]
Elevation [YouTube]
Communion [YouTube]
Alleluia No. 4  [YouTube]

Click for the entire performance of L'Orgue mystique by Georges Delvallée.

Click to go to Bach Cantatas for Online Listening.

Gustave Doré, The Sermon on the Mount, private collection, mid-19th cent.

Bach Cantatas for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity:

Click to go to Johann Sebastian Bach, Es ist das Heil uns kommen her / Salvation has come to us, Cantata 9, with performances by Gardiner, Koopman, Leonhardt, Leusink, Richter and Rilling.

Click to go to Johann Sebastian Bach, Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust / Contented peace, beloved delight of the soul, Cantata 170, with performances by Fasolis, Gardiner, Goebel, Guillon, Herreweghe, Lamon, Leonhardt, Leusink, Marriner, Rilling, Scherchen and Sillito.