10.17.2010

Didòmhnaich Adhradh: 10/17/10

Fall is tumbling down off the trees and blanketing the ground orange.

15th cent. Italian Antiphonal

Prelude: Hergewehtes Glockengaläute - S. Karg-Elert (pf)
Special Music: I Sing the Mighty Power of God - arr. V. Labenske (pf)
Offertory: Prelude in D Major - Ken Benshoof (pf)
Plien jeu a la Couperin - Gordon Young (o)


I came across Karg-Elert's Heidebilder Op. 127 while rummaging through the singles at Santa Barbara Sheet Music. I enjoy the bite-sized morsels of late ultra-Romantic German music: the rich, colorful, and wide-fingered chords, shifting and impertinent harmonies, nuanced and extreme dynamics. "Distant Bells" is the third of these 10 Small Impressions, tip-toeing along the black keys of F-sharp Major, splashing in the puddle of E Major, then A-flat Major. I would say that this piece and this genre in general take demand a lot of emotional sympathy from the performer. It's no good with any sense of being perfunctory. It's a fragile sound, a fragile world.

No choir today, so I got to fill the Special Music slot. Labenske is just fun. His arrangement of an old 1784 favorite from the Gesangsbuch der Herzogl is filled with wonderful variations, and a pretty smooth climax. Something must be done about the stunted last chord however, though I can't quite decide what. You can't build through that Neopolitan-ish 7/8 measure and then end it all with an A Major add 2 quarter note. It leaves me breathless that way. Perhaps that's the point.

Kenneth Benshoof is a living composer residing in Seattle at the moment. As I've been exploring the world of prelude sets I came upon a recording of his 24 Preludes. A few emails later and Ken himself sends be a copy of them! Wowee! I haven't been able to dive into them fully, but a precursory glance shows me a sparse, Spartan texture, tight forms, interesting rhythms, and plenty of emotion. Number 5 in D Major is marked "Simple" with measures changing from 3/2 to 2/2. This piece is just a breath and then it's gone. I'm so excited to grown into these momentary glimpses through the veil.

I'm back to Gordy! It's been a while. But I'm ready. Hodson encouraged me to enjoy the it-sounds-more-complicated-than-it-really-is goodness of Mr. Young. The first piece of his Baroque Suite for Organ (1963) is definitely a crowd pleaser and had the listeners of Westminster on their feet... too early. It was also a great challenge for me to hone my pedal, manual switching, and stop changing skills. Just wish Westminster had 32' stops!

It's proving quite difficult to find a time to come down to the church and work on these pieces before hand. Yet I truly enjoy the opportunity of bringing these sections of the liturgy together. 

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