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Music for Violin and Organ
Music for Violin and Organ
Michal Sobieski, violin; James Biery, organ
CD recorded at the Cathedral of Saint Paul and available for purchase at the Cathedral Gift Shop, Leaflet Missal, Barnes & Noble at HarMar Mall, Cheapo and Applause, and other sites throughout the Twin Cities. It is also available online from MorningStar Music Publishers.
The gift shop is located in the Welcome Center in the lower level of the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Religious articles, books, and Cathedral memorabilia are available for purchase from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Call 651.228.1766 for more information.
1. Overture, Op. 150, No. 6..........Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901)
2. La Croix..........David Evan Thomas (b. 1958)
3. Largo..........Francesco Maria Veracini (1690-1768)
4. Prelude on “The King Shall Come..........Marilyn Biery (b. 1959)
5. Prière, Op. 20..........César Franck (1822-1890)
6. Theme and Variations, Op. 150, No. 1..........Josef Rheinberger
7. Solemn Prelude on a Theme of Thomas Tallis...Gerald Near (b. 1942)
8. Elegy..........James Biery (b. 1956)
9. Fantasia on “O Sanctissima”..........James Biery
10. Gigue, Op. 150, No. 3..........Josef Rheinberger
Sheet music availability:
La Croix is available from the composer, David Evan Thomas
Prelude on “The King Shall Come” and Fantasia on “O Sanctissima” are published by Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Solemn prelude on a Theme of Thomas Tallis and Elegy are published by MorningStar Music Publishers
About the Music
During the second half of the 19th century, Josef Rheinberger was a major musical figure in Europe. In demand as a teacher of composition and esteemed as a composer, this professor at the Munich Conservatoire and Bavarian Court Kapellmeister made his mark on a whole generation of musicians. The fact that many of his compositions were no longer performed after his death in 1901, despite their high musical qualities, was largely a result of external circumstances. The change of aesthetic orientation which began about the turn of the century led to a radical move away from the conservative-classical ideals to which Rheinberger – like Brahms – had felt himself committed. It was also a fact that Rheinberger never publicized his own works vigorously.
However, Rheinberger was still remembered as a composer of organ music and sacred vocal works. Although he had rejected the backward-looking precepts of the Cecilian movement, with the result that his works, especially his masses, were not included in the lists of music from which Catholic church choirs were supposed to draw their repertoire, his church music was nevertheless able to gain acceptance at church services in southern Germany and Switzerland. Rheinberger’s reputation as a teacher of composition also lived on in the work of his pupils Engelbert Humperdinck, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Horatio Parker and Wilhelm Furtwängler.
Much of Rheinberger’s music awaits rediscovery: The accomplished chamber music, the piano works (including four piano sonatas), the secular choral compositions, the orchestral works, the Piano Concerto, and the two operas Die sieben Raben and Türmers Töchterlein. A change of aesthetic outlook regarding all 19th-century art, which has become perceptible since the middle of the 20th century, has led to a revived awareness of the music of such composers as Spohr, Lachner and Bruch. In the case of Rheinberger this has resulted in many of his works have again been played and have been published in new editions.
Minneapolis resident David Evan Thomas is the recipient of an Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a McKnight Foundation fellowship. Born in Rochester, New York, in 1958, he attended Northwestern University, the Eastman School of Music and the University of Minnesota, where his principal teachers in composition were Dominick Argento, Samuel Adler and Alan Stout. From 1997-2005, Thomas was composer-in-residence for The Schubert Club of Saint Paul. La Croix was commissioned by Robert Lyman in memory of Jeffrey McKay Diamond.
César Franck, composer and organist, was an important figure of late French Romanticism. The serenity and mysticism of his instrumental music reflected his religious temperament. Franck's Symphony in D Minor (1889) is a standard of the orchestral repertory. He also composed an oratorio, some chamber music, and a modest but widely heard quantity of organ music.
Franck was born in Liege, Belgium, and studied at the Paris Conservatory. During his lifetime he was known primarily as an organist and teacher; after hearing him play, Franz Liszt exclaimed that Bach had been reincarnated. He was organist at the Sainte-Clotilde Church from 1858 until his death, and professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory from 1872. Described by those who knew him as a lovable, absent-minded eccentric, Franck was a familiar sight in the streets of Paris, humming and muttering to himself as he hurried from one low-paying lesson to another. His teaching methods were demonstrative rather than didactic, and he encouraged his students to find their own creative paths. As a composer Franck developed slowly and all his major works were products of his old age. They were also initially met with hostility and derision. The Symphony in D Minor was a fiasco at its Paris premiere; rival composer Charles Gounod called it, "the affirmation of incompetence pushed to dogmatic lengths". Only once did Franck enjoy success with his music. When his String Quartet was given an ovation in April 1890, he turned to d'Indy with tears in his eyes and said, "There you see, the public is at last beginning to understand me". A few weeks later Franck was accidentally hit by a horse-drawn trolley and never recovered from his injuries. Claude Debussy wrote of him, "This man who was unfortunate and unrecognized, possessed the soul of a child, and one so good that neither contradictory circumstances nor the wickedness of others could ever make him feel bitter."
The Prière in C-sharp minor is one of Franck’s less frequently played organ works. Its long, flowing phrases, the recitative-like interlude, and the improvisatory coda all lend themselves well to this performance by violin and organ.
James Biery’s Elegy was commissioned by noted American composer Pamela Decker for “Celebrating the Organ,” a conference held in Tucson, Arizona in March 2005 in tribute to the late University of Arizona professor and organist, Roy Johnson (1936-1995). On February 28, 1995, Professor Johnson became the victim of a random, violent homicide as he returned home from a faculty performance. Elegy is a reflective and elegant passacaglia based on a theme composed to accompany a single closing statement of the much-beloved Swedish tune Tryggare Kan Ingen Varn (“Children of the Heavenly Father”). The work is intended to be a reflection on Johnson’s life and legacy, his ethnic heritage, and his abiding faith. Composed for organ solo, the violin-organ adaptation was made in 2006.
(material for Rheinberger adapted from Harald Wanger; Franck, from Robert Edwards)