Assessment: For Franck’s two hundredth, an Organist Pays Grand Tribute
It has not been the happiest two hundredth birthday yr for César Franck. “What Occurred to One in every of Classical Music’s Most Widespread Items?” this newspaper requested a couple of months in the past — the headline to an account of how Franck’s Symphony in D minor, as soon as a regular, largely vanished from live performance packages.
That symphony has not been broadly revived even for this anniversary yr, and Franck’s most frequently heard piece might be his lush, musing Violin Sonata. However he spent many years on the organ console of Ste.-Clotilde in Paris and as a professor of that instrument on the Paris Conservatory; in his lifetime, he was greatest generally known as an organist and a instructor.
So it’s becoming that among the many most outstanding 2022 celebrations — certainly, one of many few 2022 celebrations — has come from Paul Jacobs, one of many most interesting organists and lecturers of our day. Jacobs performed six of Franck’s items at a live performance in March, and on Tuesday one other six, finishing the set of this composer’s 12 main organ works.
Each recitals came about on the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Midtown Manhattan, identified informally as “Smoky Mary’s” for what is claimed to be lingering hints of incense within the air. Its organ, constructed by the Aeolian-Skinner firm, was put in in 1932 and has been lovingly saved since then; it is without doubt one of the main devices of New York, able to filling an area whose reverberation offers music each readability and room to breathe.
In March, Jacobs performed the three items Franck wrote within the late 1870s, and the three sprawling, pensive chorales that had been the nice product of 1890, the yr he died. The 75-minute, intermissionless program on Tuesday pushed additional again in time, to the “Six Pièces pour Grand Orgue” that had been written quickly after Franck took up his place at Ste.-Clotilde, in 1858, and printed in 1868.
These are Romantic outpourings, their constructions grand, if improvisatory in really feel. But Jacobs saved them from turning turgid — his tempos flowing whereas conveying the burden and depth of the music. He started the “Fantaisie” with mysterious, nearly meterless delicacy, just like the prelude to “Parsifal”; within the “Pastorale,” his palette prolonged to spicy burnt umber and milky pale blue, mellow oboe and sweetly piercing flute.
Jacobs’s textures had been additionally fantastically diversified within the “Prière,” the trumpet mellowed by the huge house with out shedding its focus; the “Prélude, Fugue et Variation” was a wistful nocturne, sensitively managed and by no means overblown. The “Closing” moved from roaring lows to shimmering highs, its dotted-rhythm motif bounding earlier than its pile-on conclusion.
Jacobs performed the “Closing” third. His even apter finale to the live performance was the “Grand Pièce Symphonique,” which lasts almost half an hour and influenced a technology of large-scale solo organ works. Right here it was clear in its hovering veils of sound, its quietly lyrical serenity and its toccata flurries, earlier than a gradual, triumphal ending.
If Franck is to have such scattered tributes this yr, at the very least Jacobs has executed him justice.
Carried out on Tuesday on the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Manhattan.
New haven News – Occasions