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A year of music at our church in Illinois. Some for the organ, some for the piano, and of varying styles from all over the world and over several centuries. Beware! Your preconceptions may be challenged!
Music for September 8

Kyrie I
Couperin

Jesus Calls Us (DWJ)
Marteau

Francois Couperin's "Mass for the Parishes" begins with five settings of the Kyrie, the traditional opening of the Mass, in which the assembled people ask corporately for God's forgiveness. The text reads "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy." Couperin's organ pieces may have served as interludes between the verses of the chant.

Despite the plethora of plural pronouns in the hymn (i.e., "Jesus Calls Us ") the hymn nevertheless treats us as an aggregate of individuals. In this unusual hymn setting the busy individual is implored to take their commitment to Christ more seriously than the distractions of the world and in answering this call unwittingly reduces the Christian message to one in which our primary duty is to ignore our neighbor in order to show our love for God.

see also my interesting interview with composer Michel Marteau here.

Music for September 15
"Sin as Being in Exile"

Nocturne no. 1 in Eb Minor
Faure

Kyrie III
Couperin




Remember the good old days? Gabriel Faure's first Nocturne has, for me, this ethos of remembrance. Beginning in numbed sorrow, less than a minute later, after what could pass for a final chord, the piece loops back to narrate the musical events which have led up to this point. Despite the general air of melancholy, there are (or were) moments of joy and tenderness--then it slips away and the end recalls the beginning. "We wept when we remembered Zion..."

Francois Couperin's "Mass for the Parishes" (French, late 17th c.) contains five Kyrie sections, of which this is the third.  They are based on the chant which is itself a setting of the text "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy."

An all French program this week, as it turns out, but from very different eras. I'm continuing my investigation of Couperin's "Mass for the Parishes," which is one of two Masses he ever wrote, both at the age of twenty. He spent his employ at court, and apparently felt no need to contribute to sacred literature further. Gabrielle Faure, despite being a church organist all of his life, wrote nothing for the instrument at all, so if there is going to any Faure in church, it will have to be for the piano. Apparently he simply didn't like writing for the organ (see Wikipedia!); I assume he improvised during services.
Music for September 22

       
Nocturne in E minor, op. 72
Frederic Chopin



O Mensch bewein dein Sunde gross
Pachelbel




Frederic Chopin was a composer who understood exile: he spent most of his adult life in France, pining for his native Poland, to which he could never return. In this nocturne, published after his death, the morose opening theme is relieved twice by hopeful major key episodes, and the nocturne ends in peace.

If I didn't share with you the title to today's offertory in its wonderfully King Jamesian translation, "O Man, Bewail thy Grievous Sins" you probably would never guess that it had anything to do with sins or wailing at all. This piece sounds downright chipper, and it is hardly the only Baroque piece that exhibits this odd schism, so the question is: why? Part of the answer must be that the hymn tune Pachelbel was working with was already in a placid major key. (It sounds a lot like our 10:30 doxology, doesn't it? Actually, the tune can be found in our hymnal at #61 with the text "I'll Praise My Maker While I've Breath") But the composer goes further, adding little figures that some Baroque composers believed stood for things like joy and contentment and would produce that feeling in the listener whether they were aware of them or not. Is he perhaps commenting on the nature of God's forgiveness, that it comes before we even ask for it, or was it simply in Pachelbel's nature not to wallow? We may never know. But it seems that just as the prophets were loathe to end a chapter even of the strongest judgment against Israel without some hint as to the restoration await beyond the exile, so the composer has given us a musical foretaste as well.

In case you were wondering, Op. stands for Opus (Italian for "work") and simply refers to the publication number of a piece of music. Thus, in Chopin's Nocturne Opus 72 above, the piece is the 72nd thing (or group of things) that got published in Chopin's catalogue. This comes in particularly useful for musicians because if someone like Chopin wrote a large number of Nocturnes (he did) you can refer specifically to which one you mean by giving the Opus number. Nocturne means "song of the night" and is a type of piece largely introduced, or at least perfected, by Chopin. (A fellow by the name of John Field wrote several "Nocturnes" a few years before and probably influenced Chopin.)

While we're at it, I should point out that the pipe organ is an extremely flexible instrument. Although certain ranks of pipes are part of one particular keyboard, or the pedal board, on a organ (a "division") you can move them around by the use of "couplers"--you can also find both very high and very low sounds in each part of the organ. Thus, the melody of the Pachelbel tune above, even though it sounds pretty high most the time, is actually being played with my feet. Given that it is the slowest part of the piece, I am actually getting less exercise than usual. I had better go for a run tomorrow to make up for it.

Music for September 29
"Salvation as Restoration"

Sonata no. 12 in A Major
III. Menuetto
Haydn


The Valley of the Bones
Bonds
Friday (9/27) I'm currently waiting to see if I can get permission to post a recording of this copyrighted music. In the meantime, of course, if you want to hear it, you can always go to Youtube....
Thursday 10/3 I'm still waiting...
10-30  still waiting....



It is not uncommon for a piece of music to begin with a pleasing, satisfying tune only to move later into a minor key section of disorientation and melancholy and then, at last, to have the opening conditions return: Exile and Restoration. Here even an early Haydn piano sonata has this quality.  It is curious that the public gaiety of the outer sections turns inward and this more introspective section seems to brood in stark contrast to what came before--and what after.

Margaret Bonds (d. 1972) was born 100 years ago this past March. Her  "Valley of the Bones" is the first movement of "Spiritual Suite" for piano. While the opening is a slow spiritual, after a bit the bones get up and dance--and they don't just dance, they boogie!

 

Music for October 6  "World Communion Sunday"

       Tantum Ergo        Stell
         Communion     Pinkevicius
Two of my friends from around the world are providing music for Faith church this week. Evelyn Stell resides in Scotland. "Tantum Ergo" is the 6th of a very lovely set of "10 Eucharistic Reflections" Vidas Pinkevicius lives in Lithuania. His "Communion" is also part of a larger set, a mass for the 4th Sunday of Lent, which is when I'll play the rest of it. In the meantime, you can hear more of their music in the pianonoise archive, besides checking out their respective blogs.
"Tamtum Ergo" posted with the kind permission of the composer and  the publisher, Fagus Music
www.evelynstell.com / www.forthinpraise.co.uk  (blog) / www.fagus-music.com

"Communion" posted by permission of Vidas Pinkevicius /  Vidas' blog is organduo.it / You can find the score here 



Music for October 13

Praise and Honor be to the Most High
Krebs

Our Father who art in Heaven
Krebs
Johann Ludwig Krebs turned 300 this week. Krebs was a student of J. S. Bach and the composer of several chorale preludes some of which you'll hear this week and next. He may have also written some organ preludes and fugues which some people thought (and/or think) were the work of J. S. Bach himself. Krebs had difficulty getting a job and later in life worked for food only--no money. Which reminds me to say thank you for your stewardship. This organist appreciates it!

The above commentary appeared in the church bulletin as it usually does. At least one parishioner found it amusing.

Music for October 20

What God does is done very well (parts 1 and 2)
Krebs

Jesus, my Joy
(part 1)
Krebs
Two of Johann Ludwig Kreb's Chorale Preludes from his "Keyboard Notebook" (the scintillating title was not, alas, original. Everybody was doing it) Each of the entries begins with a prelude movement; then, in part two, the chorale melody is heard against something of Kreb's own invention. The final part, which I have chosen not to play, is a presentation of the chorale as a hymn. This curious structural plan which shows a gradual unveiling of the chorale tune itself persists throughout the 13 pieces in this collection.

Not convinced that these works were actually written for the organ (or at least conceived with the specific needs of that instrument in mind) I've been playing them on the piano, as the above recordings attest. However, I have also been lately playing them on the organ, and, each week, play them at one service on each instrument. This week I'm switching places so everyone gets a chance to hear both "versions." I'll also recording them on the organ when I get around to it.
Music for October 27

Prelude and Fugue in G
Krebs

Prelude and Fugue in F
Krebs

This morning's selections come for a set of pieces known as "Eight Little Preludes and Fugues" whose authorship was once assigned to J. S. Bach. Scholars have since disputed this for a number of reasons, and suggested the composer was actually Johann Ludwig Krebs, a student of Bach's, or his father Johann Tobias, who also studied with Bach. Like many beginner organists, these were among my first pieces as a teenage organist, played some 29 years ago while substituting for the organist at the church of my childhood. I've grown a bit since then and should have no trouble reaching the pedals this morning!





Music for November 3

Pisgah

Marteau

There will be no solo organ/piano music at Faith this week. Instead of the usual 4 weekend services, the Bishop is preaching at a single unified service (10am Sunday in the Worship and Life Center) and the children's and adult choirs and Fusion band will all provide the music (I'm part of all of these groups so I'll be plenty busy.) The piece at left is to give you folks on the web something to listen to anyway. It is one of five selections I am playing at this weekend's concert by The Chorale, guest conducted by Dr. Craig Jessup in a concert of hymns and spirituals. Some of my cousin Marteau's piano compositions will get things going after the intermission. The piece at left is named for the hymn tune on which the piece is based. Yes, some of them do have funny names. No, I haven't been able to figure out where this one got its name. There is a theory that is has to do with the name of a mountain peak.

This is also apparently a redacted version of the tune, which appears in an arrangement by Alice Parker. Frankly, on listening to the tune in the original, with its frequent meanderings and loss of momentum, I think she seriously improved it!

Music for November 10
Local Observance of All Saint's Day

Prayer (no. 1)            Alkan
Prayer (no. 2)            Alkan
                             
Charles Valentin Alkan was born 200 years ago at the end of this month. A prodigy with prodigious technique, he wrote reams of piano music of extreme difficultly (I played his Grand Sonata for my 40th birthday recital in July of 2011). His Opus 64 is a group of 13 Prayers for the organ--though it is likely the notoriously shy Alkan would have stayed in his apartment and played them on his pedal piano.


Music for November 17

Sonata no. 1 in F for Trumpet and organ

Allegro / Adagio / Allegro
We are joined this morning by trumpeter Jeremy McBain, who got his doctorate in trumpet performance from the University of Illinois last year and now teaches at Eastern Illinois University. Jeremy and I will play a recital of trumpet and organ music at Faith UMC at 3 o'clock the same day.

 

Music for November 24
Christ the King Sunday

Toccata in G
Buxtehude

Depth of Mercy
Marteau
       
Depth of Mercy (UMH #355) The awful consciousness of their own guilt and shame constantly preoccupied the Wesley brothers, who, in this hymn, fixate on the thought that they have "provoked" God's wrath through their egregious "foulness"--building this theme through several verses to such enormous heights that it must have seemed to Charles an incredible mercy on God's part to have actually forgiven him, "the chief of sinners" (there were a lot of them in the 18th century!). The musical-psychological drama unfolds here through the contrast between the windswept opening and the calming presentations of the hymn tune itself.

Does it seem from the snarky program notes above that I'm not taking the hymn too seriously? I want to. In fact, I just came across a website that talked about how the hymn is really about the depth of God's mercy. Which is a nice spin. But not really true, I'm afraid. For the first four and a half verses we get to sing about how awful we are, and only once do we sing anything about God's mercy. I think that in the long run Charles was part of a pretty unhealthy theology of wallowing in feelings of guilt and unworthiness which seemed quite prevalent in the 18th century, and actually is quite pronounced in conservative evangelical churches today. The idea is to focus so much on how terrible a sinner you are and how wrathful God is and how seriously the breach between you and Him is in the first part of the service and then at last to remember through deep emotional catharsis that God's son already died for your sins 2000 years ago and you are forgiven--at which point you experience a great release and feel loved and accepted by God. Sounds like a great formula, right? But then the next week--or the next minute--you are right back at square one, guilt, shame, fear. Maybe you said something rotten to somebody, or took an extra cookie after dinner. If you were Charles Wesley, you can bet that would drive you right back into a spiritual depression. Wait a second? Aren't you forgiven? Didn't Christ die for your sins already? Then stop wallowing and get on with life! I want to yell. But so many never seem able to escape this cycle. There even seem to be quite a few hymn writers and pastors of this era who not only spent a great deal of time and energy protesting their own awfulness, but declaring themselves to be the worst sinners of all time, (hence the parenthetical comment above) a claim which reminds me of all of those Medieval saints trying to out-humble one another by exclaiming that they were THE lowest creatures on God's earth. Again, give it up, already! Can't you just be a terrible sinner who needs God's forgiveness, already? Do you ready have to be THE MOST TERRIBLE sinner in the history of sin? Or do you get some kind of perverse pleasure from beating your breast that much?

But here's the rest of that dynamic. If God, for you, is an exceedingly strict parent, for whom any expression of your own will is an awful sin, you are almost bound to rebel sometimes just from the pressure of not feeling able to live up to such exacting standards, not to mention to save your own sense of smothered personality. If, on the other hand, you have a healthier sense of freedom to be who you are, creatively, and  to accept that sometimes you are going to make mistakes harmful to other people and yourself, and that you will just have to go on living life and doing the best you can, you are probably not so likely to "sin" in the first place.  Psychological pressure can do pretty perverse things to a person, and I'm betting that Charles Wesley had a lot of it in his system.  "Weep, believe, and sin no more"? I wouldn't bet on it. For one thing, if going 26 in a 25 mile an hour zone is a sin, or forgetting to get the mail, or, skipping that last pushup, you're setting yourself up. This is Charles Wesley we are talking about here. How bad could your sins possibly be? Get John Newton to show you something about filthy language and blasphemy if you really want to see something. Plus, continually cataloging all the ways you fall short is a terrific way to keep on doing it. Sort of like trying not to think of that pink elephant....


My suspicion with many of these folks is that they really were clinically depressed and it coloured their theology. So I want to be sympathetic. But they really weren't helping. Instead of focusing on God's grace and then on useful things like loving their neighbors and trying to live Godly lives, people end up spending most of their energy on spiritual self-esteem, which seems like a self-defeating process. The more you focus on it, the bigger a problem it becomes.

Music for December 1
First week of Advent

Nun komm, der Heidan Heiland
Hieronymus Praetorius

Nun komm, der Heidan Heiland
Johann Pachelbel
This week we have two settings of the ancient Advent hymn, "Come, Savior of the Gentiles" known in Latin as "Veni Redemptor Gentium," or in German by the titles on the left. Mr. Praetorius was a Renaissance composer, and Mr. Pachelbel, who lived a century later, was an early contemporary of J. S. Bach.

 

Music for December 8
Second week of Advent
"What Sweeter Music"
Choir Sunday


O Come
Marteau

Now Come
Marteau

Of the two settings of the ancient Advent hymn “O come, Savior of the Gentiles” you’ll hear today on the piano, the first is a melancholy pondering in a firmly 21st century style, while the other mimics a Renaissance dance, which, however, the composer considers “inauthentic” on the grounds that such a festive dance would never have been permitted within the church at the time. However, he notes “joy is surely one response to the anticipation of Christ’s coming.” The brooding meditation of the first setting may also be the impatient plea of a world in which this coming is badly needed. This theme is continued in the introit, and the opening hymn which is another setting of the same advent hymn. In another church practice that goes back at least to the Renaissance, the congregation will join in singing verses of the hymn which will alternate with sections for choir alone.

 

Music for December 15 Unified Christmas Drama this week: no traditional service music


Music for December 22
Fourth Sunday in Advent
Capriccio Pastorale
Frescobaldi
Invitation
Marteau

 

Music for December 24

       
Introduction and Variations on an ancient Polish Carol
Guilmant

The Shepherds at the Manger
Liszt
Alexander Guilmant's "Variations" on the carol we know as "Infant Holy, Infant Lowly" begins with a grand introduction, and then something odd: the tune of this Polish lullaby enters very loudly.  Guilmant probably did this for practical reasons. The piece is marked "Sortie," the French word for Postlude (it literally means "exit") and, assuming members of Mr. Guilmant's church made the same cacophonous exit as most congregations, the theme probably needed to be loud if he wanted it to be heard. The tactic is unnecessary tonight and yet I'll hold to the composer's markings for more theological reasons: we'll look at  the theme as a bold proclamation of the arrival of "God with us." Gradually the variations grow softer (perhaps by this time the more noisy congregants had left!) and at the heart of the piece there is at last a moment for soft strings you might associate with the unfolding of a mystery and the birth of a child. Then it erupts in a jubilant conclusion.

Music for Jan 29---out of town

Music for January 5

Blow ye the trumpet, blow!       
Marteau

Prelude and Fugue in G (WTC II)
J. S. Bach
Although it was probably never actually put into practice in ancient Israel because it involved inconvenient things like property redistribution and debt forgiveness, the Year of Jubilee, as set forth in the Torah, would have been announced by the blowing of trumpets; something Charles Wesley appropriated for this hymn (#449) whose chorus declares "the year of Jubilee is come...return, ye ransomed sinners, home!"

The pastoral flavor of Bach's Prelude in G is perhaps a bid for equal time for the shepherds, who, unlike the wise men, don't get their own holiday. And while those magi have been unbiblically turned into impressive looking Kings from the exotic Orient, of whom there are apparently three (thus dominating many a crèche), frequently you'll find only one shepherd despite the biblical plural, one lonely sheep strung over his shoulders.

It's a class thing, of course, and if you live in the United States and know the political climate, you know that I'm going to accused of trying to start a class war, which is what happens any time you point out that just maybe poor people (the shepherds) aren't getting treated as well as the well off (the supposed kings.) The point being that things were just going along nicely until those malcontents started messing with the ordained order. Well, is it? Where exactly does it say in the Bible that they were kings, or that there were three of them, or where they came from? And how about those shepherds, of whom there is so often only a single representative, back in a forgotten corner somewhere? Or is it just institutionally convenient to show wealth and power front and center, bowing to a symbol of even more wealth and power? I'm not talking about the lowly baby, I'm talking about the established church, center of so much political power for so long; even the kings of the earth had to take notice. It seems like a message the peasants can get on board with, and yet, it isn't really very nice for them in the end. Hey kings, get the message? Don't cross the church! Shepherds, we're not talking to you. You aren't important enough to get worked up over.

Meanwhile, it might be nice if they would invite more shepherds to the proceedings. Just saying...

spring semester

Music for January 12
Baptism of the Lord Sunday

Flowing Water
unknown Chinese composer
The subject of blogs last week and next, this beautiful piece comes from a collection of pieces from mainland China whose composers are not named.  I am also ignorant of the tune (and any lyrics) of which it is the setting. I only know the title as it was translated for me by a friend. Even without knowing that, the musical image of flowing water comes through strongly; perhaps elementally.


Music for January 19
"Our favorite hymns"


Assurance

Marteau

"Blessed Assurance" is consistently in the top 5 or ten favorite hymns among Methodists in surveys. One of the biggest problems with a favorite hymn, it seems to me, is that after a while the focus becomes how much pleasure we get from singing something that we enjoy so much, and we may actually forget to ponder the text of the hymn or let it affect us in ways beyond simple enjoyment. Like anything we do so often we forget to think about it, a favorite hymn may lose its meaning after a while. Which might be where listening to an unfamiliar setting of a familiar hymn could be of use. Try reading the words as you hear the piece (#369) and imagining how those concepts might engage you as they did the composer--particularly when the music does something unusual...

 

Music for January 26
"Hymns of mission and social action"


Once

Marteau

Hymns of mission and social action often have a special sense of urgency Written before the Civil War to advocate unpopular stands for justice (before they eventually become popular and easy), James Lowell's "Once to Every Man and Nation" suggests that there is a crisis moment for individuals and for societies in which we must choose between good and evil before the time for decision passes us by forever. I only noticed recently the great irony of this particular hymn setting: it is entitled "Once" and yet the opening line of the hymn is a repeating fragment which continues to vary above an un-altering left hand pattern, suggesting that perhaps the moment to decide is not once, but many times, that the choice to "do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God" is a choice that must be made anew in every moment of our lives. The repeated pattern does add up to something, just like each of those choices; it reaches an impassioned boiling point before it dies away. It also recasts the hymn, which was originally march-like, in a very contemporary style.



Music for February 2 "Hymns of the Great Poets"     
 I'll Praise my Maker while I've breath         Marteau

 

Music for February 9
"Hymns of Women"

O ignee Spiritus
Marteau

The extraordinary 12th century abbess, theologian, musician and mystic Hildegard of Bingen composed both the music and words of this Hymn to the Holy Spirit. "O fiery spirit" it begins, "praise to you, who on the timpani and the harp play. By you the human mind is set ablaze! The tabernacle of the soul contains its strength."  Hildegard  arrestingly combines what to her contemporaries were opposites, so "in sweetest sound the intellect upon you calls" and yet it is in this phrase and two lines later in "reason sweating in its golden labor" that her personal musical style of consecutive leaps up a fifth and then a fourth gives vigor to an image of rationality that for others would have been represented by calm: instead, passion and intellect are connected. In the 12th century this leap of an octave was apparently quite an eyebrow raiser, but in today's setting it has been replaced by a sudden rush up the entire piano so the audacious point is not lost. For Hildegard, reason could be passionate, desire could be holy, and the Spirit was strong, much like the spirit of the author.

 

Music for February 16
"hymns of African Americans"

How Firm a Foundation?
studio version (no congas or congregation)
Marteau


How Firm a Foundation?
(live recording--10:30 service)
Marteau
In the same year as the United States constitution was adopted, this hymn first appeared in a collection of "hymns from the best authors." As select as this individual no doubt was, he had to remain anonymous, being identified only as "K!" (although several possible authors whose surnames being with K have been put forward as possibilities) The hymn tune is also of unknown origin, an "early American" tune which is at least as old as the Civil war, when it was general Robert E. Lee's favorite hymn tune. It has been played at the funerals of several presidents, though not exactly in the version you'll hear today. Since the hymn talks about God bringing us through "deep waters" and "fiery trials" there is no reason the hymn couldn't apply especially to the African American experience.  At first, the piano plays solo, and there are many "blank" moments where the beat is merely felt. Then the congas join in, making manifest what was there all along even though it wasn't spelled out. Later the congregation affirms that now audible pulse by clapping on beats 2 and 4. Together we'll find out how firm that rhythmic foundation really is.

 

Music for February 23
"hymns of other cultures"

Rise to Greet the Sun          Marteau
This hymn was translated to English by an American missionary couple, Mildred and Bliss Wiant, from the words of their friend and Chinese theologian Tze-Chen Chao, and set to a Chinese melody by Hu te-ai.

 

Music for March 2
"hymns of Charles Wesley"


Pass me not I am standing on the gentle Savior's everlasting arms, Hallelujah!


Marteau
As we survey--and summarize--our dizzying heritage of hymnody, we are struck by the sheer volume: Charles Wesley with his 6,000 hymns to sing, Fanny Crosby with her relatively paltry 600, and the thousands of 19th century American camp meeting and revival style hymns which we mentioned only in passing. The downside to all this quantity --especially in the last instance--is that sometimes the hymn tunes start to sound alike--particularly if half of them are in A-flat major and feature dotted rhythms! Keeping in mind [pastor] Wes's warning about only noticing the tune, and adding the composer's own difficulty keeping some of them straight, here is a loving send-up of at least eight of those revival hymns from 19th century America, four (or more) or them represented in the title. They seem to pass casually by our aural review, but caution! This is no genteel medley. A phrase from one hymn (or only a measure) will suddenly elide with a portion of another, where the difference between them may be only a few notes, or a slight rhythmic alteration. Then suddenly, three of them are going at once! See if you can catch them before they pass you by.


Music for Lent



recordings posted the week of the service
March 9: Sonata no. 2 in c minor: I. Grave--adagio Mendelssohn
 
March 16: Sonata no. 6 in d minor: II. Fuga  Mendelssohn
 
March 23: Sonata no. 1 in f minor: I. Allegro Mendelssohn
 
March 30: Introit from Mass for the 4th Sunday of Lent
   
Vidas' blog at www.organduo.it   score here
Pinkevicius

Noble
                    Toccatina 

April 6: Offertory from Mass for the 4th Sunday of Lent
   Vidas' blog at www.organduo.it   score here
Pinkevicius
 
April 13: Palm/passion Sunday
      Sonata no. 6 in d minor: I. Chorale and Variations
Mendelssohn



notes for Palm/passion Sunday:
"And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives....and Jesus said to his disciples, 'Sit here while I pray...and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled." (Mark 14)

Several of Jesus's words from the cross are prayers, a practice that continued from his life and ministry even to his final breath. Thus it seems appropriate that today's organ selection begins with both a hymn and a prayer. That hymn is "Our Father, who art in Heaven," though it is unlike the triumphant version so popular in 20th century America. Martin Luther's paraphrase of the prayer is in an austere minor mode, which sets the stage for a series of increasingly agitated variations to follow--this prayer is no half-noticed formula, but the very real cry of one in deep distress. The first of these variations has a winding figure over a slowly descending pedal--a chromatic sighing figure that was often used by Baroque composers to depict sorrow. The tune calls out to us slowly. Then the scene changes and the tune is parceled out in full chords atop a triplet figure in the pedal. It is not hard to imagine a procession to Calvary at this point. The next variation picks up some speed and volume, but it is only a precursor of the next two variations. Suddenly the organ is at full strength, and the tune tolls out in the booming pedals. This variations elides directly into the last one, when the tune screams out in the soprano above the whirling din, until after a hair-raising coda, and a short pause, the final phrase of the prayer comes as the last words of Jesus, (not in John but in Matthew)--with a shout!



Music for April 20    Easter Sunday

Grollen: Introduction to Easter Hymn
hymn: "Christ the Lord is Risen Today"
   
live from  the 10:30 service at Faith UMC
Widor: Toccata from Symphonie no. 5


 

 

Music for April 27

Organ Sonata no 1 in F minor:
IV.  Allegro assai e vivace


Mendelssohn
Musical compositions don't exist in a vacuum; composers learn by studying the works of other composers. So if today's piece reminds you a bit of the Widor Toccata I played last week, it's probably no accident. Mendelssohn's contribution dates from 1845, and Widor, who was born the previous year, published his famous Toccata in 1879.  (The Widor Toccata is right here for comparison)

 

 

 

Music for May 4    Luke 24:13-35    "Perspective"
Fanatasia in D     Telemann
(communion music)
Sonata no. 1 in f minor: II. Adagio       Mendelssohn

 

 

Music for May 11     John  10:1-10    "Sheep"

Sonata in A, Hob. 12: I. Andante     Haydn
Pisgah     Marteau

The hymn tune "Pisgah" is sometimes sung to the text of the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd."


Music for May 18
Mendelssohn, Organ Sonata no. 2 in c minor: II. Allegro maestoso e vivace
                                                                                         III. Fugue: Allegro moderato

 

Music for May 25
Fantasia no. 3 in E
Telemann
Prelude and Fugue in Bb
Krebs

 

Music for June 1 Adoro Te Devote
Stell

Ms. Stell's music appears courtesy of herself and her publisher, Fagus Music
Organ Sonata in d minor:
III. Finale: Andante
Mendelssohn

 

Music for June 8
 Pentecost Sunday
Veni Creator Spiritus     verse 1: plein jeu en taille a 5         de Grigny
                                              verse 3: duo

The title of the first verse is an instruction to the organist regarding organ "registration."  It literally reads "full chorus in the alto range for 5 parts." (catchy, no?)  I need seven stops to get the sound the composer requires. French composers of the 17th century were very particular about the combinations of sound they wanted for each piece. The title of the hymn, of course, is "Come Creator Spirit," that venerable hymn for Pentecost which probably dates from the 9th century.

 

Music for June 15
Trinity Sunday
Bach, J. S     Fugue in Eb, Bwv 552, "St. Anne"
Marteau        Trust and Obey
Saying a temporary goodbye to our organ in two weeks means that I find myself playing majestic fugues while I have the chance. It is Trinity Sunday, of course, and Bach's Fugue is in scored in a number of "threes." When it comes to the Trinity, however, people can find references to it nearly every time a composer writes a piece in 3/4 time, or puts three flats in the key signature, or writes a piece in three sections. With Bach, however, you never know. It might not be whistling in the wind after all. In any case, it is a wonderful, extraordinary piece of music. I planned it to go with Trinity Sunday a couple of weeks ago. But, wouldn't you know it, our pastor isn't going to reference the Trinity at all. Instead, he is taking the scriptural phrase, "but some doubted..." for a sermon on "Doubt." And so, for the remainder if the program, which was added on Thursday (!), a postmodern rebuttal to an era when creedal formulations went unquestioned, a supposedly simpler time. Or at least that's the way the story goes.

Marteau's "Trust and Obey" functions practically like a musical trust exercise! It doesn't take long to realize that the four-square assurance of the simple 19th century hymn in its original setting has been replaced with phrases that go on for too long or don't come in when you expect them, clashes that evade the harmonic goal, and sudden shifts of texture, range, and style, all served up at breathless pace. Much of the piece is a parody of an 18th century German chorale setting, a sort of fractured Bach, where, unlike the grand certainty of today's opening voluntary (which later erupts in a joyous, but still disciplined dance) unexpected bits of Brahms, Beethoven, and even Joplin make sudden appearances. It isn't easy to know what the composer has in mind in these "musical parables" but it has occurred to this pianist that it is, after all, a lot easier to trust and obey when everything is spelled out for you in nice regular phrases with no surprises. Here the environment is anything but--which may, after all, be the point. Instead of a nice old hymn we find ourselves moving at the speed of real life; that is when we shall have to really trust. Hang on!

 

 

michael@pianonoise.com

Music for 2013-14 at Faith UMC in Champaign, IL USA for the
8:00 and 10:30 services

2010-11
 2011-12

 2012-13

sermon series:
Sin and Salvation: It's Not All About You

September 8, 2011
"Sin: Get Over It, It's Not All About You"

Kyrie I
Couperin

Jesus Calls Us (DWJ)
Marteau

September 15, 2013
"Sin as Being in Exile"

Nocturne no. 1 in Eb Minor
Faure

Kyrie III
Couperin




September 22, 2013
"Salvation: Get Over It, It's Not All About You"

Nocturne in E minor, op. 72
Chopin

O Man, Bewail thy Grievous Sins
Pachelbel


September 29, 2013
"Salvation as Restoration"


Sonata no. 12 in A Major
III. Menuetto

Haydn


The Valley of the Bones

Bonds



sermon series
on stewardship

October 6, 2013
World Communion Sunday

Tantum Ergo
Stell

  copyrighted music posted with the kind permission of the composer and  the publisher, Fagus Music  

www.evelynstell.com
www.forthinpraise.co.uk  (blog)
www.fagus-music.com


Communion
Pinkevicius

posted by permission of Vidas Pinkevicius
     Vidas' blog can be found at
organduo.it

You can find the score here 


October 13, 2013

Sei Lob und Ehr dem hochsten Gut
Krebs

Vater unser im Himmelreich
Krebs




October 20, 2013

Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan
Krebs

Jesu, meine Freude
Krebs



October 27, 2013

Prelude and Fugue in G
Krebs

Prelude and Fugue in F
Krebs





November 3, 2013
unified worship service in worship and life center
(no piano/organ music)



November 10, 2013
local observance of All Saints Day

Prayer (no.1)
Alkan

Prayer (no.2)
Alkan





November 17, 2013
with trumpeter
Jeremy McBain

Trumpet Sonata no. 1 in F
Pietro Baldassare

Allegro / Adagio / Allegro



November 24, 2013
Christ the King Sunday

Toccata in G
Buxtehude

Depth of Mercy
Marteau


December 1, 2013
Advent 1

Nun komm, der Heidan Heiland
Hieronymus Praetorius

Nun komm, der Heidan Heiland
Johann Pachelbel



December 8, 2013
Advent 2
choir Sunday
"What Sweeter Music"

O Come
Marteau

Now Come
Marteau





December 15, 2013
Advent 3
fusion drama



December 22, 2013
Advent 4

Capriccio Pastorale
 Frescobaldi

Invitation
Marteau



December 24, 2013
Christmas Eve

Introduction and Variations on an ancient Polish Carol
Guilmant

The Shepherds at the Manger
Liszt



December 29, 2013
out of town



January 5, 2014
Epiphany Sunday

Blow ye the trumpet, Blow!
Marteau

Prelude and Fugue in G (WTCII)
J. S. Bach


end of the semester




Spring Semester


January 12, 2014
Baptism of the Lord

Flowing Water
unknown Chinese composer


Sermon Series on Hymns
January 19, 2014
Our Favorite Hymns

Assurance
Marteau


January 26, 2014
Hymns of Mission

Once
Marteau



February 2, 2014
Hymns of the Great Poets and Preachers

I'll Praise My Maker While I've Breath
Marteau




February 9, 2014
Hymns of Women

O ignee Spiritus
Marteau


February 16, 2014
Hymns of African Americans

How Firm a Foundation?
Marteau



February 23, 2014
Hymns of Other Cultures

Rise to Greet the Sun
Marteau



March 2, 2014
Hymns of Charles Wesley

Pass me not I am standing on the gentle Savior's everlasting arms, Hallelujah!
Marteau

Sermon series on the seven last words of Christ
March 9, 2014
Lent1

Organ Sonata no, 2 in c minor:
I. Grave - Adagio
Mendelssohn



March 16, 2014
Lent 2

Organ Sonata no. 6  in d minor:
II. Fuga
Mendelssohn





March 23, 2014
Lent 3

Organ Sonata no. 1 in f minor:
 I. Allegro
Mendelssohn



March 30, 2014
Lent 4

Introit from
Mass for the 4th Sunday of Lent
Pinkevicius

Toccatina
Noble




April 6, 2014
Lent 5

Offertory from
Mass for the 4th Sunday of Lent

   Vidas' blog at www.organduo.it   score here


April 13, 2014
Palm Sunday

Organ Sonata in d minor:
 I. Chorale and Variations
Mendelssohn





April 20, 2014
Easter Sunday

Toccata
Widor



April 27, 2014
Unified Service

Organ Sonata in f minor:
IV.  Allegro assai e vivace
Mendelssohn


sermons based on lectionary readings
May 4, 2014

Organ Sonata in f minor:
II. Adagio
Mendelssohn



May 11, 2014



Sonata in A, Hob. 12: I. Andante
Haydn

Pisgah
Marteau




May 18, 2014

Organ Sonata in c minor:
 II. Allegro maestoso e vivace
 III. Fugue: Allegro moderato

Mendelssohn


May 25, 2014

Fantasia no. 3 in E
Telemann

Prelude and Fugue in Bb
Krebs




June 1, 2014

Adoro Te Devote
Stell

Ms. Stell's music appears courtesy of herself and her publisher, Fagus Music

Organ Sonata in d minor:
III. Finale: Andante
Mendelssohn



June 8, 2014
Pentecost

Veni Creator Spiritus    
I: plein jeu en taille a 5
 III. verse 3: duo

de Grigny




Trinity Sunday

Fugue in Eb, "St. Anne"
J. S. Bach

Trust and Obey
Marteau  



June 22, 2014

out of town



June 29, 2014

Fugue in D
 Bwv 532

J. S. Bach


end of the season
(summer sabbatical)