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Variations On America - Organ Spectacular / Simon Preston


Release Date: 01/30/2009 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 421731   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John Philip SousaCamille Saint-SaënsCharles IvesDudley Buck,   ... 
Performer:  Simon Preston
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The re-launch of Argo under the auspices of Decca is very welcome. Organ records were very much part of the original output of that famous label. Here Simon Preston produces a flamboyant programme on an organ entirely suited to this repertoire, an instrument with a fascinating history. It was commissioned in 1857 for use in Boston Music Hall, but delays in its German manufacture and during its long, stormy passage across the Atlantic on a Dutch brig, inappropriately named ''Presto'', meant that it was not finally installed until 1863. For two decades it was the focus of Boston concerts until the inauguration of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which superceded it. It was then auctioned and rebuilt in the Methuen Memorial Hall, which was Read more designed primarily to house the organ. Finally in the 1940s the instrument was rebuilt by the Aeolian-Skinner company to more modern specifications.

It is a magnificent instrument and its wide range of colouring, which Simon Preston draws on with characteristic flair, is highly suited to the orchestral transcriptions included in the present programme. Ingeniously, Preston's registration gives the opening Stars and Stripes a gaudy, carousel-like brilliance, but in Ives's gleefully disrespectful Variations on ''America'' (which of course has the same melody as our own national anthem) Preston is even more obviously in his element, finding an ideal balance between mock-solemn sonority and brilliance. Donald Buck was the resident organist in Boston from 1872 onwards and his elaborate set of Variations on ''The Last Rose of Summer'' is characteristic of the era, a bit long-winded, and a good deal more conventional than Ives's piece. Lemare's Andantino is a mildly sentimental morceau, which became famous in the 1920s when lyrics were added and the tune became Moonlight and roses.

The rest of the programme offers plenty of rhetoric and dashing passagework: the finale of Guilmant's Sonata is quite dazzling. The recording is splendid, showing the acoustical skill of the architect, Henry Vaughan, who produced a large hall for the sole purpose of flattering the organ which it was to house. The Argo engineers provide spectacle and ambience, good definition and presence.

-- Ivan March, Gramophone [11/1990]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa
Performer:  Simon Preston (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; USA 
Venue:  Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 
2.
Danse macabre in G minor, Op. 40 by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Simon Preston (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; France 
Venue:  Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 
Notes: Arranged: Lemare 
3.
Variations for Organ on "America" by Charles Ives
Performer:  Simon Preston (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: ?1891; USA 
Venue:  Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 
4.
Variations for Organ on "The last rose of summer", Op. 59 by Dudley Buck
Performer:  Simon Preston (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: USA 
Venue:  Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 
5.
Etude Symphonique for Organ, Op. 78 by Marco Enrico Bossi
Performer:  Simon Preston (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Venue:  Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 
6.
Andantino for Organ in D flat major "Moonlight and Roses" by Edwin Lemare
Performer:  Simon Preston (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; England 
Venue:  Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 
7.
Sonata for Organ no 1 in D minor, Op. 42 by Felix Alexandre Guilmant
Performer:  Simon Preston (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; France 
Venue:  Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, MA 

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