Friday, March 06, 2015

Northern Virginia organist gives recital at National City Christian, focus on the "B's"

Today, Carol Feather Martin, Director of Music and Arts and Organist at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington, VA, gave a “free” one hour organ recital at the National City Christian Church in Washington DC.

The concert was played through the rear organ in the back of the sanctuary, since the forward organ was undergoing emergency maintenance.  Fast tempi may not have been as effective as they would have been with both organs available.

The name of the program was “B is for…”  Well, my last name starts with “B”. 

The program started with Toccata for Organ by Canadian composer Gerald Bales (1919-2002).  It was rather modern and spirited.

The next work was the “Andante Moderato in C Minor” by British composer Frank Bridge (1879-1941), a British violinist and composer. Despite the soothing title and somewhat modal, pastoral harmonies at the start, the work ended with a brazen triumphant climax that you might expect from a Bax symphony (especially the Fifth).

The highlight of the recital was the Chorale Prelude and Fugue in A Minor by Johannes Brahms, WoO7, “O Traurigeit, O Hertzeleid” (“O Suffering Hart”. Even the Prelude sounded fugal, and the ending in A was relatively happy; a piece mostly in rapid tempo.
People used to say, “I will now play Brahms.  You may not like it, but it will be good for you.” Eat your vegetables?  No, Brahms is more meat and potatoes.  He wrote a similar work for organ in G Minor, and several “prelude and fugue” works for Piano, the largest being the Variations and Fugue on a theme of Handel.  Mozart and Beethoven also wrote powerful fugues (as did Mendelssohn).  
The Trio #6 “Only God on High” by J. S. Bach followed.  

The program concluded with the lively Roulade, Op. 9 #2 by Seth Bingham (1992-1972), which ends with a will-of-the-wisp.  This piece was familiar to me from the 1950s.  

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