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David Craighead: Organ

Craighead / Albright / Persichetti
Release Date: 07/09/2012 
Label:  Crystal   Catalog #: 181   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  William AlbrightVincent PersichettiSamuel AdlerPaul Cooper
Performer:  David CraigheadGordon Stout
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

ALBRIGHT The King of Instruments. 1 PERSICHETTI Sonata for Organ. Drop, Drop Slow Tears. ADLER Xenia. 2 COOPER Variants for Organ David Craighead (org); 1 Eugene Haun (narr); 2 Gordon Stout (perc) Read more class="BULLET12"> • CRYSTAL RECORDS CD181 (55:22)

William Albright’s The King of Instruments is a fascinating work that gives a fine demonstration of many of the organ’s almost infinite possibilities. The narrator discusses the use of the manuals, pedals, and stops including: flues, mixtures, flutes, principals, sesquialtera, reeds, clarion, faggott, gamba, and celeste. Finally, he also describes the most important ingredient in an organ concert, the organist. This composition, written in the late ’70s, is rather dissonant and sets the piece right in its historical time slot. David Craighead gives the demonstration of the organ’s possibilities on the Holtkamp Organ in the Sacred Heart Church at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. At this point you may wish you had some visual input, but the theme is the organ and hearing it is paramount. The narrator is Eugene Haun who wrote the text in association with the composer, and when he speaks of the organ’s pedals, you can hear them dance. He gives the flutes a jazzy theme that tells you this piece is more then just serious music, it’s also a great deal of fun. Haun conceives of the mixtures as insects that swarm and buzz with a treble intensity. The flutes are surprisingly low and are said to be eating everything in sight. The principals are serene and reserved, but the sesquialtera is a strutting descendent of Scarlett O’Hara. He imbues the reeds with loud tones but says almost nothing of the clarion and faggott. My favorite of all the stops is the gamba, which Albright interprets by playing a “Red hot Latin samba.” Surprisingly, the celeste is not very angelic, but Haun’s description of the organist’s fingers dancing on the keys while his feet prance among the pedals gives the piece a fabulous finale. Craighead plays all of various parts of this complicated piece with grace and finesse.

Organist David Craighead (1924-2012) was well known both as a teacher and as a soloist. He taught at the Eastman School in Rochester, New York, from 1955 until his retirement. The main comparison for Craighead and Haun’s recording is the Equilibrium two-disc set by Douglas Reed on the C. B. Fisk Organ in Yokohama, Japan. The English language narrator is Michael Barone, and there is also a Japanese narration, thus necessitating the second disc. Vincent Persichetti (1915–1987) was a keyboard virtuoso who often played both piano and organ. Rudolf Kremer premiered his Sonata for Organ, op. 86, in 1960. Persichetti was one of the major contributors to 20th-century American music, both as a teacher and a composer. His Hymns and Responses for the Church Year , which contains the piece entitled Drop, Drop Slow Tears , has become a standard setting for church choirs. Craighead plays the sonata with exquisite style and grace. His interpretation was intensely poignant and made this listener conscious of the sadder moments in the story of Christianity. Samuel Adler was born in Germany but moved to the United States in 1939. Currently he is a member of the composition faculty at the Juilliard School. Xenia is a little known word of Greek origin that denotes a series of short poems. The word was also used to refer to a dialogue between Goethe and Schiller. Adler’s piece is a dialogue between organ and percussion. Paul Cooper (1926-1996) was professor of music and composer-in-residence at Rice University in Houston, Texas. His Variants for Organ endeavors to bring out the instrument’s many possibilities by contrasting its various timbres. It is a strong piece and David Craighead plays it with robust vitality.

FANFARE: Maria Nockin
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Works on This Recording

King of Instruments by William Albright
Performer:  David Craighead (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1978; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/29/1980 
Venue:  Sacred Heart Church at the University of 
Length: 18 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Sonata for Organ, Op. 86 by Vincent Persichetti
Performer:  David Craighead (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; USA 
Date of Recording: 01/25/1978 
Venue:  Herrick Memorial Chapel, Occidental Coll 
Length: 11 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Drop, drop slow tears, Op. 104 by Vincent Persichetti
Performer:  David Craighead (Organ)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1966; USA 
Date of Recording: 01/25/1978 
Venue:  Herrick Memorial Chapel, Occidental Coll 
Length: 6 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Xenia: A Dialogue for organ & percussion by Samuel Adler
Performer:  Gordon Stout (Percussion), David Craighead (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1972 
Venue:  Bridges Hall of Music, Pomona College, C 
Length: 8 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Variants for organ by Paul Cooper
Performer:  David Craighead (Organ)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1971-1972 
Venue:  Bridges Hall of Music, Pomona College, C 
Length: 10 Minutes 18 Secs. 

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