American Works for Organ and Orchestra
- CDR 90000 063
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American Works for Organ and Orchestra offers a sonic extravaganza of neglected masterpieces by noted American composers. Here are four works that showcase the spectacular sonority of full organ combined with large symphonic ensemble.
Samuel Barber's Toccata Festiva for Organ and Orchestra, Op. 36, written for the 1960 dedication of the Philadelphia Orchestra's organ, opens the program with explosive eruptions of sound leading to passages of great majesty and lyrical beauty.
Emotionally reminiscent of Barber's famous Adagio for Strings, the profoundly moving, passionate first half of Walter Piston's 1943 Prelude and Allegro for Organ and Strings (first time on CD) gives way to an exciting, rhythmically charged conclusion.
Leo Sowerby's 1951 Concertpiece for Organ and Orchestra (world premiere recording) percolates with his urbane lyricism and ebullient high spirits.
From a whole other world comes Michael Colgrass's fascinating 1990 Snow Walker for Organ and Orchestra (also a world premiere). Surging winds depicted by the strings and howling wolf cries from a trombone set the stage for this inventive, impressionistic work evoking the frozen expanses of the North American Arctic and the fortitude, humor, and spirituality of its native Inuit peoples.
Making its recording debut is the magnificent new (1998) Casavant Frères organ in Chicago's Orchestra Hall, with acclaimed organist David Schrader at the keyboards. Chicago's esteemed Grant Park Orchestra, now in its seventh decade, makes its own commercial recording debut, with principal conductor Carlos Kalmar at the helm.
"Brilliant performances, spectacular sound, and intelligent repertoire selection add up to a winning package in this marvelous new disc from Cedille, a label that seems to be going from strength to strength . . . The Grant Park Orchestra under Carlos Kalmar plays with extraordinary confidence and panache, especially in the many exposed, technique-testing passages of the Colgrass piece. Cedille's sonics really are the last word in naturalness, but none of that would have mattered if the ensemble didn't have the strength to stand up to the full power of Schrader's exceptionally fine organ playing. Well, it certainly does have what it takes, and the result is not only a terrific hi-fi demo disc, but a completely captivating musical experience of the highest quality. Bravo!"