Wolfgang Rbsam on the E M Skinner Organ of the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel with the Chicago Millar Brass
IFO ORG 7206-2
This CD is important for several compelling reasons. The recording really does convey the aura of the mighty Skinner organ, which was designed and constructed in 1927/28. Rubsam's magnificent playing brings broad canvasses truly alive - his authoritative performance of the elusive Whitlock Sonata alone makes this disc a must for lovers of the romantic repertoire. The little-known Marche Triomphale for brass/ timpani/organ by Louis Vierne composed to celebrate the centenary of Napoleon's death in 1821, together with the Adagio in E flat minor from the Sixth Symphony composed six years later make a compelling contrast. Whitlock often included music by Vierne in his recitals and broadcasts and it is fascinating to hear the two composers juxtaposed - a rarity, which should be repeated more often.
The Adagio is atmospherically intense and chilling while the Marche is very much a 'piece for an occasion'. Shades of Berlioz in its processional swagger with punchy brass phrases driving the organ forward. And what an organ the Skinner is! With 110 ranks and two consoles of four and two manuals it was the ultimate symphonic organ of its time. In November 1928 the organ was opened by Lynnwood Farnam the New York virtuoso to whom Vierne dedicated his Sixth Symphony - another interesting link exploited in this programme.
Wolfgang Rubsam has been intimately involved with this instrument since 1981. His contribution to the Whitlock centenary anniversary through this exceptional recording is truly immense. Percy would have loved every minute of it I'm sure.
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