DOUGLAS CLEVELAND - Plays Rockefeller Chapel

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DOUGLAS CLEVELAND - Plays Rockefeller Chapel - Douglas Cleveland (Organ) - 617145111821 - Released: June 2012 - Loft Recordings LRCD1118

1} Percy E. Fletcher - Festival Toccata
2} Louis Vierne - Suite II from 24 Pièces de fantaisie, Op. 53
3} Pamela Decker - Jesu, dulcis memoria (2010)
4} David Briggs - Four Concert Etudes (2006)

The grandeur of the inner space within the walls of the University of Chicago Rockefeller Memorial Chapel is very well captured on this new CD. A first recording of the 1928 E. M. Skinner Organ renovated in 2008 by the Schantz Organ Company. A monster of an instrument with 8,565 pipes, including a 64' Gravissima and five 32' stops. Its star attraction is the row of high-pressure Randel State Trumpet pipes (named after a former president of the university) in the gallery at the back of the Chapel. When they make themselves heard for the first time during the Festival Toccata by Percy Eastman Fletcher they leave an impression, blaring high over the background melodic lines of English-style tubas. Fletcher (1879-1932) was a British composer who holds the distinction of being the first one to compose a piece for brass band.

Even more impressive for a pipe organ of this size and magnitude, is how it can sound so mysteriously subdued and gentle, like in the opening of the wonderfully evocative Jesu, dulcis memoria by organist-composer Pamela Decker, heard here in its world première recording. Or how easily this instrument fills this vast room with its volley of notes during the powerful Toccata by Louis Vierne. But regardless of the organ's qualities, it takes a masterful organist to bring it to life. As demonstrated in this world première recording of the Four Concert Etudes by David Briggs, another formidable organist-composer, which imposes many technical demands on the player, including rapid-fire pedal work while both hands are playing even faster, Douglas Cleveland is like the Dr. Frankenstein to this monster instrument. It's surprising the whole edifice didn't cave in while he performed the final Etude.

Jean-Yves Duperron - July 2012