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Friday, June 30 Brass & Organ

June 30 @ 7:30 pm

St. Augustine Music Festival 3 Color Logo

Eugene Gigout                 Grand Choeur Dialogue
Organ & Brass Quintet

Ewald Victor                      Brass Quintet No. 1 in Bb minor, Op. 5
(c.1890, rev.1912)

I. Moderato
II. Adagio – Allegro – Adagio
III. Allegro Moderato

George Thalben-Ball         Elegy
Eugene Gigout                  Toccata
Organ solo

Alan Hovhannes             The Prayer of Saint Gregory
Organ & Trumpet (Kevin Karabell)

Intermission

Louis Vierne                     Symphonie No. 1
VI.  Final
Organ solo

Eric Ewazen                     Colchester Fantasy

Modest Mussorgsky         Pictures at an Exhibition
X. The Great Gate of Kiev
Organ and Brass Quintet

Kevin Karabell, Jonathan Swygert  Trumpet,  Mary Beth Orr French Horn, Alexis Regazzi Trombone, Bernard H. Flythe Tuba, Tim Tuller Organ

 


PROGRAM NOTES

Eugène Gigout (1844-1925) Grand Choeur Dialogue was the last of “Six Pièces d’orgue” by French organist and composer Eugène Gigout, published in 1881. A student of Camille Saint-Saëns, Gigout was organist of the church of Saint-Augustin in Paris for sixty-two years. He was a prolific composer, renowned improviser, and important pedagogue who founded his own music school. Originally written for solo organ, Grand Choeur Dialogue was intended as a showpiece for the fine instrument at Saint-Augustin and has remained one of Gigout’s most popular works. The title refers to the “dialogue” between various manuals and stops on an organ. It is heard today in an arrangement by Gary Olson which substitutes the alternation between organ timbres with alternation between organ and brass.

Ewald Victor (1860-1935) Ewald’s first quintet for brass was composed in1890. It is set in three movements, the first of which is the most substantial, written in sonata form with two clear themes and a development. The second contrasts a lyrical Adagio with a very assertive Presto section which effectively serves as a Scherzo movement, returning to the Adagio towards the end. The grand and inspiring final Allegro Moderato brings the work to a triumphant conclusion.

George Thalben-Ball (1896-1987)    English organist and composer George Thalben-Ball’s Elegy in B flat had its origins in an improvisation which Thalben-Ball performed at the end of a BBC live radio broadcast of an Evensong during the Second World War. The service had finished a couple of minutes earlier than expected, and so the sound engineers approached Thalben-Ball at the organ to ask him to fill in the remaining time. The resulting improvisation so intrigued radio listeners that Thalben-Ball received numerous requests to write the music out. Thalben-Ball complied, and the result was the as Elegy in B flat, published in 1944. The dignified melody and nostalgic mood have ensured the work’s popularity ever since.

Eugène Gigout (1844-1925) Gigout’s Toccata in B minor comes from the collection “Dix Pièces pour orgue,” composed in 1890. Rivaling the Grand Choeur Dialogue as one of Gigout’s best-loved works, the Toccata in B minor turns up quite frequently on organ recital programs. It is cast in the style typical of a nineteenth century French organ toccata, consisting of rapid manual passagework over thundering melodic lines in the pedals. The piece gradually builds in intensity as it progresses, increasing in volume and rhythmic drive right up to the resplendent conclusion in B major.

Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000) Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness was incredibly prolific. His output runs to some five hundred works, including over seventy symphonies. His music combines Western traditions with Armenian influence, often making use of unusual modes and rhythms. The Prayer of St. Gregory was originally scored for trumpet and strings and began life as an intermezzo in Hovhaness’ opera Etchmiadzin, composed in mid -1946, and premiered in New York in October of that year. The present excerpt, described by Hovhaness as “a prayer in darkness,” was soon extracted as a separate work, and is one of his most popular short pieces. The person referred to in the work’s title is St. Gregory the Illuminator, who at the beginning of the fourth century brought Christianity to Armenia.

Louis Vierne (1870- 1937) French organist and composer Louis Vierne was organist at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris from 1900 until his death (on the organ bench during a live concert!) in 1937. His crowning compositional achievement are his six organ symphonies, which continued and perfected the French symphonic organ tradition that had begun a generation earlier with César Franck and Charles-Marie Widor. The Final from Vierne’s first organ symphony is easily his most popular and often played piece. It as another example of a French organ toccata with rapid manual figurations supporting an infectious melody in the pedals. Commentators have noted the similarity of this pedal melody to The Marseillaise, though the connection is likely coincidental.

Eric Ewazen (b. 1954) Colchester Fantasy was written during the summer of 1987 while I was teaching at the Estherwood Music Festival in Chidester, England. Colchester is among the oldest cities in Britain with an old Roman wall, a massive Norman castle, picturesque homes and churches, and, as in all decent English towns, colorful old pubs. Each movement in this work is named after one of the old Colchester pubs.

The first movement “The Rose and Crown” is filled with bright, sonorous chords, energetic rhythmic patterns, and constantly changing and fluctuating motives. The second movement “The Marquis of Granby” (a name I associated with distant, faded aristocracy) is a stately, chorale-like movement with somber, plaintive themes. The third movement, “The Dragoon,” brings forth the sounds of battle with dissonant, clashing harmonies, agitated rhythms, and fragmented melodies. To close the work, the fourth movement, “The Red Lion” (a name intimating royalty and nobility) is a resonant fugue, propelled forward with motoric motion and a rapid, spinning fugue theme.

The old English pubs of Colchester were a fine source of inspiration. Their names brought to my mind images of ancient and historical traditions and impressions of grandeur and majesty of times past. The beer was good, too!
program note by the composer from the publication

Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881) The Great Gate of Kiev is the final movement in the suite of ten pieces, originally for solo piano, written by Mussorgsky in 1874. The movement draws its inspiration from Russian architect Viktor Hartmann’s 1869 design for monumental city gates in Kiev to commemorate the Tsar Alexander II’s narrow escape from an assassination attempt on April 4, 1866. Hartmann’s sketch was in the ancient Russian massive style with a cupola shaped like a Slavonic helmet. Though Hartmann’s design won a national competition, plans to build the structure were later cancelled. The Great Gate of Kiev begins with a grand main theme derived from the Promenade movement which opens the Pictures at an Exhibition, and the solemn secondary theme is based on a baptismal hymn from the plainchant repertory of the Russian Orthodox church. The version heard today for organ and brass quintet was arranged by Damiano Drei

Details

Date:
June 30
Time:
7:30 pm