Sunday, May 18, 2014

Hector Olivera, vrituoso organist, offers many CD's privately; here's a review of one of them

I missed the organ concert of Hector Olivera at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC on April 27, 2014, so I did the next best thing, bought a representative CD.  And I had to order it from him directly, not from Amazon (web site ).

I ordered the CD “The Artistry of the Pipe Organ” ($25), performed at the Ruffatti Organ of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City, MO.  

The program opens with a Toccata by W.R. Driffill, the last movement of a suite which the manuscript of which the performer discovered in the Netherlands in 1985.

The “Prelude, Fugue and Variation” by Cesar Franck, Op. 18, is dedicated to Camille Saint-Saens, is relatively quiet and not as commanding as some other works of the composer.

The Voluntary in D Major by John Stanley is exuberant (I used to say "ebullient"), and alternates in the use of the Pontifical Tromba and the Royal Tuba.

The Andante Con Moto, Op. 16, No. 1 by Alexandre Guilmant uses the foundation stops of the “Great and Swell”.

The famous Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C by J.S. Bach (BWV 564) is the centerpiece of the CD. Olivera takes the outer movements of this “sonata” quickly, rather sounding like Virgil Fox, but draws out the slow movement as if from the romantic era.  This particular performance makes me feel that it is really “Sunday Morning” (the way Benjamin Britten would have said, like in “Peter Grimes”). 

The “Claire de Lune” by Sigfrid Karg-Elert is even quieter than Debussy’s, if not as sweet.  (For what it’s worth, Reid Ewing’s famous “In the Moonlight” song from Modern Family seems to relate to the Beethoven Moonlight Sonata distantly, but not to the Debussy or to this.  The song works if you play it by ear on a great organ.)  The “Claire” is the second of “Trois Impressions”.

Mario Enrcio Bossi revs us up with his Scherzo in G Minor.   The Solo Clarinetto is slight, but the “Etude Symphonique, Op. 78” gives a rousing conclusion to the disc.  Why am I recalling Schumann’s famous piano piece “Symphonic Etudes”? 

On May 4, the Chancel Choir of the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC had presented an offertory anthem, “And They Drew Nigh”, by Richard DeLong, who was both a physician and a composer and led a tragically short life (1951-1994) and apparently may have been in Dallas why I lived there.  The biography is here. There is apparently no relation to the John De Long whom I knew at William and Mary in 1961.    The piece is rather modal, and was sung a cappella,  I don't recall if I've mentioned this, but a man named Danny Ray, a neighbor in a north Dallas neighborhood and who attended MCC Dallas, composed a lot of hymns in common use today in many churches.  

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