Eugene Gigout Grand Choeur Dialogue
Organ & Brass Quintet
Ewald Victor Brass Quintet No. 1 in Bb minor, Op. 5
II. Adagio – Allegro – Adagio
III. Allegro Moderato
George Thalben-Ball Elegy
Eugene Gigout Toccata
Alan Hovhannes The Prayer of Saint Gregory
Organ & Trumpet (Kevin Karabell)
Louis Vierne Symphonie No. 1
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
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