SWANN: April 2000
This is the second in the series of organ recitals celebrating the100th Anniversary of Holy Rosary Cathedral and the refurbished Organ.
Frederick Swann is an internationally known organist, currently Organist-in-Residence at the First Congregational Church at Los Angeles. As in the previous recital by Patrick Wedd, the concert comprised compositions from diverse periods.
There was a decidedly French influence in the music of at the first half of the recital, while the second half , with one exception, comprised Fantasia and Fugue compositions. The contemporary Grand Chorus by Guy Weitz, (1883-1970), a Belgian who studied in France with the well-known French organists C.M.Widor was a truly grand opening.
It was followed by Two Organ Mass Movements by Francois Couperin (Le Grand) (1668-1733), two charming pieces of ecclesiastic genre, and employing the "tierce" stop in the contemplative Recit de tierce en taille, Mass for the Convents Fantasie in E-Flat, an enchanting light and lilting piece by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921) .
This was followed by Louis Vierne's Chorale (Symphony 11), a sonorous composition encompassing the full organ. Honnegger's (1895 -1955) Fugue and Chorale and the magnificent Piece Heroique by Cesar Frank (1822 - 1890) concluded the first part of the recital.
As no organ recital would be complete without a work of J.S.Bach (1685 -1750), the beautiful Fantasia and Fugue in C, BWV 537 opened the second part of the concert and was followed by a contemporary composition, Introduction and Fugue on "St Denio" by John Weaver .
The excellent programme notes inform that John Weaver is at present head of the organ department of both the Julliard School of Music and The Curtis Institute, among other appointments. This work was commissioned by the choir of the Crystal Cathedral as a gift to Frederick Swann, on his retirement from the Cathedral in 1998. The introduction is in the form of a fantasia, and the Fugue builds to a happy and triumphant climax.
As with Bach, no organist can complete a recital ignoring Charles-Marie Widor (1844 - 1937), the renowned French organist and composer. Swann chose to play the tranquil and peaceful Andante Sostenuto. The programme built to a triumphant climax with Hubert Parry's (1844 - 1918) Fantasia and Fugue in G..
The appreciative full house was treated to an encore. Dr. Swann remarked that he was often told that his recitals contained no familiar music. He chose for an encore to play variations on two familiar hymn tunes: Amazing Grace and O God , Our Help in Ages Past.