Joby Bell | Joby Bell: Live Performances

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Joby Bell: Live Performances

by Joby Bell

Hear the excitement in these live performances by an organist who practices what he teaches. A thrilling balance of clarity, precision and passion.
Genre: Classical: Organ
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Carillon-Sortie
5:24 FREE
2. "Schmücke Dich, O Liebe Seele," Op. 122, No. 5
2:25 FREE
3. "Herzlich Tut Mich Verlangen," Op. 122, No. 10
3:42 FREE
4. "O Welt, Ich Muß Dich Lassen," Op. 122, No. 11
3:08 FREE
5. Concerto in G, BWV 592: I. Allegro Assai
3:23 FREE
6. Concerto in G, BWV 592: II. Grave
2:15 FREE
7. Concerto in G, BWV 592: III. Presto
2:06 FREE
8. Sonata No. 1 in F Minor Op. 65, No. 1: IV. Allegro Assai Vivace
3:31 FREE
9. Prelude, Fugue & Variation
10:13 FREE
10. Finlandia
8:48 FREE
11. Sonata in C Minor, BWV 526: I. Vivace
4:17 FREE
12. Sonata in C Minor, BWV 526: II. Largo
3:29 FREE
13. Sonata in C Minor, BWV 526: III. Allegro
3:51 FREE
14. Psalm-Prelude On Psalm 33:3
7:35 FREE
15. Floral Prelude On "La Rose Jaune"
2:37 FREE
16. Toccata
4:57 FREE
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Joby Bell: Live Performances compiles excerpts from live performances given on the Fisk-Rosales organ at Rice University (tracks 11-13, 16), the Aeolian-Skinner organ at Washington National Cathedral (track 10), the Casavant organ at Appalachian State University (tracks 1-9, 15), and from the inaugural recital on the Letourneau organ at Houston Baptist University (track 14).

Carillon pieces for the organ usually involve a repetitive motive that imitates the joyous clanging of bells. Such pieces are particularly popular among French and English composers, whose homelands are dotted with magnificent churches with huge bell towers. Mulet’s Carillon-Sortie was probably intended to be the postlude of a service (sortie meaning “exit”). The listener is treated to a soaring melody, the happy pealing of high bells, the thunderous crash of the low bourdon bells, even a cameo appearance from a small set of real bells – usually called on the organ zymbelstern (Gr.: “spinning star”) or clochettes (Fr.: “little bells”).

Brahms’s profound relationship with Robert and Clara Schumann has been the subject of lively debate. Within that relationship was musical passion above all, followed by the three friends’ favorite “pastime” of composing counterpoint in the style of Bach. As Brahms aged and the Schumanns died, it seems apparent that Brahms became more reflective on matters pertaining to death and finality, yet inclining toward hope and confidence. His organ Chorales may have been borne out of this complex reflection. It is not exaggerating to say that these chorales are the finest of their genre since master Bach himself. They were also probably the last notes Brahms ever wrote, which makes the gentle fading of the eleventh and final piece, “O world, I now must leave thee,” that much more poignant.

Besides being a patron for Bach, young Prince Johann Ernst (1696-1715) was also an amateur composer, and Bach transcribed several of his works for organ, including the charming Concerto in G for two violins and string orchestra. Bach’s arrangement handily conveys the dialogical banter between the orchestra and the two violins. Bach made a number of adjustments from the original; whether that was to produce a more idiomatic transcription for the organ or was a subtle attempt at improving the piece itself is open to discussion. Anything is possible, given Ernst’s young age and Bach’s consummate mastery.

In many ways, we can thank Mendelssohn for re-introducing the world to the genius of Bach. It was Mendelssohn who was the first to program the music of the great master on organ recitals, and it was he who resurrected many of Bach’s choral works. In that era of orchestral and piano predominance, Mendelssohn also brought the organ out of relative obscurity for composers and audiences. He wrote preludes and fugues, chorale settings, and six sonatas (originally conceived as British-commissioned “voluntaries”) for organ, and he carried fugues and chorale settings into his non-organ works, as well. Mendelssohn is the much-needed bridge between the vague, “organless” period following Bach’s death and the re-establishment of the great German school of organ composition. The closing movement of the Sonata in f minor is an exciting flourish representing Mendelssohn and the organ at their symphonic, exuberant, even pianistic best.

Franck’s works for organ are the prototypes of the great solo organ symphonies of Widor and Vierne. The Prelude, Fugue and Variation is a three-part set of melancholy yet beautiful miniatures. The Prelude is a tender aria in b minor for the lovely oboe stop of the organ with flute accompaniment. Its Variation (there is only one) at the end is the same melody with a more flowing accompaniment. The intervening Fugue adds an even greater element of dignity to the poignancy of the other two sections.

Sibelius was one of a handful of northern European “nationalists” whose music bespeaks the tunes of his homeland. Despite its brooding beginning, Finlandia emerges as a triumphal celebration with the now-familiar hymn tune as its centerpiece. For modern listeners, might this piece evoke the image of a dramatic helicopter tour over Finland?

Bach’s six Sonatas in “trio” style are musical and contrapuntal masterpieces, but their light texture and enormous difficulty are often passed over in preference to the larger-scale preludes and fugues. The second Sonata in c minor is one of the more difficult ones, but it easily challenges the notion that minor keys have to sound sad!

Howells was a prolific composer in many genres and remains a giant in Anglican choral music. He wrote six Psalm Preludes, each based on a verse or two from the Psalter. The piece based on Psalm 33:3 is essentially an extended fanfare, joyous and rhapsodic yet resolute. It certainly delivers the thrilling text, as Howells quotes it on the title page: “Sing unto Him a new song: play skilfully [sic] with a loud noise.” Although the piece exhibits a definite formal structure (ABA), the rhapsodic writing and the composer’s characteristically colorful harmonic forays keep the musical tension high throughout, even in the final measures, where Howells comes to an abrupt halt and turns to G-sharp minor before suddenly settling back on the home chord of C major.

The “Floral Prelude” included on this recording is the third in a set of three. Composer Dan Gawthrop writes of the entire set: “The practice of writing extended preludes on familiar tunes, typically hymn tunes or “chorales,” is an ancient and honored one among composers for the organ. Bach wrote dozens of such pieces ranging from relatively simple little perambulations to sprawling works of considerable length and difficulty. Other composers of the Baroque also contributed whole volumes of such preludes to the repertoire. Though not many were created during the Classic period (essentially Haydn & Mozart, Inc.) the practice was revived with relish during the Romantic Age by such composers as Max Reger and Sigfried Karg-Elert and has remained something of a staple ever since in the output of such contemporary composers as the late Paul Manz. My *Three Floral Preludes* (not “choral” preludes but “floral” preludes...get it?) take as their inspiration well known melodies which don’t happen to be hymn tunes or chorales but which all have the name of a flower in their titles. You will doubtless recognize them as they unfold, but here is a hint: “Leucanthemum Vulgare” is the proper designation for the common Daisy; “Durch die Tulpen” is best translated as “Through the Tulips”; “La Rose Jaune” is a yellow rose. Feel free to snicker aloud (or just smile knowingly) when you recognize the tune so that others seated around you will know that you “got it”. These are written for your entertainment; attempts at formal analysis will be prosecuted.”

Jongen was Belgian and wrote very much in the French Symphonic style, a style credited to fellow Belgian César Franck more than a generation earlier. His music is further flavored by esoteric harmonies and balanced musical excitement. The Toccata is a striking opus that derives its excitement from vigorous rhythm rather than sheer speed. This performance is raw footage from a proposed all-French recording on the grand Fisk-Rosales organ at Rice University.



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