Derrick Meador at St. Peter Catholic Cathedral, December 18, 2017.
The organ at St. Peter is so distinctive, unusual (at least in these
parts) and so awesome that it works best for a recitalist to open
a program with a piece that shows off the beguiling variety of sounds
and compositional moves from the times, including fugal passages and
prominent use of the pedals. Thus Meador began with a very suitable
choice, Pierre du Mage's "Grand Jeu" from his "Suite du premier ton".
The St. Peter organ was modelled after the Parisian Clicquot family's
instruments built during the same period, so that DuMage's music could
be recreated with a large degree of authenticity.
Next was Buxtehude's Präludium in D (BuxWV139) with fugal sections
that included some dazzling pedal passages. In contrast to the Clicquot
organs, the St. Peter organ has a fully developed pedal division, a
concession to the German composers of the time, whose extensive use of
the feet dates back to Arnolt Schlick, in the early 1500s.
Two advent chorale preludes by Bach followed: "Nun komm der heiden Heiland"
(BWV659) and the familiar "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" (BWV645), both
more meditative and with ornamented melodies.
It was back from Germany to France, with Jean-Adam Guilain's "Suite du
second ton" (Piece d'orgue pour le Magnificat), a collection of pieces
in standard French format:
Prélude - a bold piece
Tierce in taille - with an ornamented melody in the tenor
Duo - One ornamented voice on the Cromorne against a softer one
Basse de trompette - upper voices on flutes, tenor & bass on the trumpet
Trio de flôtes - with shimmering sounds (from the tremulant)
Dialogue - with some fugal passages
Petit plein jeu - full sound but short ("petit")
Now to England, with John Bennet's "Trumpet Voluntary". This was in
standard English format, a brief introductory section followed by
a florid section featuring the trumpet stop.
Again. from England, John Wesley's "Pastorale", a mellow piece, played
on a registration including the gamba.
For a finale, back to Buxtehude, "Präludium, Fuge, and Ciaconna
in C" (BuxWV137). This monumental work opened with a prodigious full pedal
passage, followed by the fugue; section 1 had the soprano, alto, and
tenor voices entering in that order; this was repeated, followed by
the thunderous bass entry on the pedals; by now the dynamics were at
ff, and continued through the ciaconna to the ending.
Derrick Meador is an exciting organist, both in the selections he
chooses to play and also how he plays them. His touch was well-adjusted
to the wonderful acoustics. Two comments: Every composer represented
overlapped Bach, and we got a demonstration of differences among the
three nationalities (French, German, and English); second, this might
go down as one of the most heavily ornamented recitals I have heard.
There are books written on French musical ornamentation, and Bach and
Buxtehude were also masters in this area; the English as well (especially
in the Bennett "Trumpet Voluntary").
Again we thank Derrick Meador for a memorable program, and we also
thank St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Cathedral for sharing their
treasured organ with the community.
Glenn A. Gentry