“Heavy Pedal” – Works for Organ = TADD RUSSO: Salzburg Prelude; In Paradisum; CUT CACIOPPO: “di cibo celeste”; RON NAGORCKA: Fantasia; To Be a Pilgrim; WILHELM MIDDELSCHULTE: Concert for Organ on a Theme of Bach: Perpetuum Mobile (pedals along); Passacaglia; MICHAEL SUMMERS: Variations on an English Folksong – Organists: Michael Kraft, Robert Gallagher, Donald Scott Hamnes, Brink Bush, Karel Martink/Yhasmin Valenzuela, clarinet/ Ole Jorgen Mellus, trombone/ Ron Gagorcka, didjeridu – Navona Records NV5853 (Distr. by Naxos) ****:
Clever title. The album concept is probably based on the one work here by the only non-contemporary composer on the program – Middleschulte—who died in 1943—it is his two-minute variations on a theme by Bach played entirely on the organ pedals. Would have liked to see a video of this, as there was in some portions of Cameron Carpenter’s last video—focusing on his ornate self-designed organist’s shoes that he sells. This really focuses on those low frequencies. There is a CD-ROM feature to the CD, but it doesn’t access a video.
The various organists were recorded all over the U.S. and Europe—one coming from the Czech Republic and another from Norway. The two works by Nagorcka are the two involving additional players: the first a clarinetist and the second both a trombone and a didjeridu player – which might tie in with the Australian government having helped finance the CD.
The Cacioppo work is a ciaconna-fantasia based on themes from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and provides enjoyable listening, especially for fans familiar with that Mozart masterpiece. The English folksong of Summers’ concluding work wasn’t familiar to me, so perhaps my enjoyment of the four-part variations wasn’t as great as it would be for a UK person. Sonic standards are high and there is plenty of low organ bass here for those with subs.
– John Sunier
A grand tour of Beethoven’s Middle Period Piano Sonatas