Program notes for April 28


Program notes for April 28, 2019 – Paul Jacobs, organ

… by Aileen James, DMA

“Music is the vapor of art.  It is to poetry what reverie is to thought, what fluid is to liquid, what the ocean of clouds is to the ocean of waves” – Victor Hugo (1802-1885)

For musicians of any age who have learned to negotiate 88 keys and three pedals, the idea of ‘taming’ more can be overwhelming. Our artist today presents a masterful demonstration of ultimate proficiency on an instrument with a profusion of keys, buttons, and pedals.

Mr. Jacobs opens his concert with a rousing performance of the “Fantasia for Organ” by John Weaver, written in 1977. The celebratory nature of the music is a fitting tribute to the man who was Jacobs’ teacher and mentor at the Curtis Institute of Music.

In his lifetime, J.S. Bach was known only as an organist throughout Germany – as composer and teacher, and in assisting others in acquiring an organ for their churches. Students of his music, at any level, experience his singular style of giving each finger a ‘voice’, expanding to the feet for the organ. The Trio Sonata in e minor is an ideal example of the technical intricacies of all four limbs exchanging the melodies throughout.   Mozart’s “Fantasia in F minor” written originally for piano-duet, was composed in 1790 a few months before his death and played on a “mechanical” organ. It presents a heraldic beginning, a hymn-like and fugal middle section, combining both in the final Adagio.

American composer Charles Ives’ approach to composition has never been totally understood, even today. He pushed all facets of music to its limits, combining the sounds around him with traditional notation. The “Variations on ‘America’” was originally scored for orchestra, and later arranged for organ by the composer William Schuman. One biographer has referred to it as ‘stylish anti-patriotic mockery’!

French organist Alexandre Guilmant was considered one of the best in his day, and for 30 years was organist at La Trinite in Paris. Besides brilliantly successful tours in England, America, and Europe, he was one of the founders of the Schola Cantorum where he taught. The “Sonata No.1 in D minor” opens with a solemn Introduction followed by a majestic Allegro, and the Pastorale is folksong-like with an outdoor feeing.  The monumental and exciting Finale brings to a close an uplifting program that will remain in our minds and hearts for many weeks!






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