Noontime Organ Recital

Noontime Organ Recital
September 18
12:30 PM to 1:10 PM

September 18 organist;  Stephen Self

Trois Danses (1937) – Jehan Alain (1911-40)
   Joies ("Joys")
   Deuils ("Mourning")
   Luttes ("Struggles")

Suite, Op. 5 (1932) – Maurice Duruflé (1902-86)

Stephen Self is Minister of Music at Grace University Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.  He is a frequent soloist on piano and organ in the Twin Cities, and is a staff accompanist at Gustavus Adolphus College.  He holds doctoral degrees in music history and organ performance, and is particularly interested in the performance of new music for both piano and organ.

Jehan Alain was a promising young French composer, when his life was cut short by his participation in the French army during World War II.  His Trois Danses were composed in 1937, when France was struggling economically and politically to regain its former role as a major world power after the disastrous First World War during which the country suffered four million casualties.  The dances are certainly unusual for their genre.  Each has at least one sombre moment in which the rhythmic pulse wanes, and there are frequent bursts of sound followed by more reflective moments.  Even when moving in a straightforward meter, the rhythmic organization seems to defy traditional dance expectations.  In short, these masterworks are a glimpse into the French national persona of the years immediately preceding World War II.  Today, they are considered one of the great French contributions to the twentieth-century organ repertoire.

The masterful composer Maurice Duruflé was born before Alain, and lived over forty years after Alain was killed, and yet his creative output is amazingly concise.  Best known for his Requiem, Duruflé also composed several major organ compositions, including his Suite, Op. 5, which comes from 1932.  The Suite's three movements are strikingly different from one another: the Prélude is brooding and unsettled in manner, rising from a very soft beginning to a magnificent climax, and then retreating to its opening mood.  The Sicilienne is modeled on an Italian dance, but it is infused with impressionist sounds made so famous by another Frenchman, Claude Debussy.  And the Toccata is a continuous tumult of sound, sometimes striking a fleeting moment of repose before erupting again.

At St. Olaf, we are blessed to have a magnificent 67-rank pipe organ. This fall, it will be showcased in a series of recitals on Wednesday afternoons, immediately following the noon Mass.
Come hear the organ thunder with might and whisper gently as talented organists showcase a variety of repertoire.

Wednesday Organ Recitals run from September 18 through December 4, and will be approx. 30-40 minutes long.

Freewill donation.


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