|ROMANTIC AND VIRTUOSIC - Adam Brakel (Organ) - Austin Pipe Organ Op. 2777 -
Bethesda-by-the-Sea - 003469693325 - Released: December 2011 - Raven OAR933
1- Dudley Buck - Concert Variations on the Star-Spangled Banner, Op. 23
2- Herbert Boswell Nanney - Adagio from Sonata in E Minor
3- Joseph Bonnet - Etude de Concert
4- Max Reger - Fantasie und Fuge in D Minor, Op. 135b
5- Andrew Fletcher - Cantilena
6- Franz Liszt - St. Francis of Paola Walking on the Waves
7- Jeanne Demessieux - Six Etudes
I hope your loudspeakers are insured, because if you play this new recording from Raven
loud enough, they may just catch fire. This 2000 Austin Pipe Organ Op. 2777 located
in the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida, is a monster of an instrument.
With 109 ranks and not only one 32' stop, but six, including a 32' Untersatz, Open Wood, Grand Cornet VI,
Ophicleide, Contra Violone, Contra Posaune, and a 64' Ophicleide all shared by two identical four-manual
consoles, this pipe organ moves enough air to fuel a tornado.
Add to this a full and varied program of pieces that exploit this organ's wide ranging qualities and you're set
for an entertaining hour (or the neighbours knocking at your door). For example, the Dudley Buck
Concert Variations, once you've disassociated it from the national anthem, is
quite an enthralling piece of music. It manipulates and moulds the main theme into a wide ranging set of moods and
techniques, including a solo pedal workout for the organist, and eventually builds to a few final chords that might
be capable of displacing your speaker cones so much as to set off motion sensors. Between the big virtuosic works
are a few buffer pieces that represent the 'romantic' in this CDs title. Both the Nanney and the
Fletcher pieces exploit this organ's soft, lush, orchestral stops and bring out its tender persona.
The Franz Liszt is an organ transcription of an orchestral work and certainly puts organist
Adam Brakel to the test by demanding he become a one-man band, combining the efforts of string,
woodwind and brass instruments into one organic entity. The disc rounds off with the interesting Six Etudes
by French composer and organist Jeanne Demessieux, who studied under Marcel Dupré and who, by the
end of her life, had memorized over 2500 organ works, including Bach's complete opus. These 'études' in thirds, chords, sixths
and octaves, not only act as a stress test on the organist, which Brakel passes with flying colors, but also present themselves
as unique and unusual musical creations all their own, the last of which building from quick and light gestures to full organ in
just over three minutes.
Another impressive organ recording by Raven, which once again proves that when you specialize and focus on one thing,
you can't but do it well.
Jean-Yves Duperron - January 2012