Press Release – St Matthew in the City
After outstanding concerts by Olivier Latry, Robert Costin, Martin Satchell and John Wells to introduce St Matthew’s new organ to the city, Michael C.W. Bell, Director of Music at St Matthew’s will play the final concert of the series at 2:30pm, Sunday November 18.
Michael Bell (BMus, DipTchg) is presently resident organist and composer at St Matthew-in-the-City and a music teacher at Avondale College, Auckland. He teaches organ at Baradene College and has performed with many choirs and orchestras around the Auckland region including NZ Opera Chorus and Bach Musica. He has a passion for the music of J.S. Bach and improvises with traceable Baroque elements. Bell’s musical ambitions involve performance and composition. He is currently working on twenty-four preludes and fugues for keyboard and ongoing works for orchestra and voice. In 2009 his “Magnificat Antiquitatis” was performed by Bach Musica at the Holy Trinity Cathedral and he won first equal prize in the ORGANZ composition competition the same year. In 2012 St Matthew-in-the-City performed his “Mass for the Patronal Feast”, originally written for the new Willis organ and the work has been professionally recorded.
1. Alla breve BWV589 – A stand-alone work dating from circa 1709 while Bach was in the employ of Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar. The title indicates a two-minim pulse. While fugal, the counterpoint is not intensely developed giving the work a sense of praeludium (introduction).
2. Concerto in A Minor BWV 593 (after Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins) – Bach learned from Vivaldi how to develop Italian-style subjects. His transcriptions of V.’s violin works for organ display his deep understanding of the instrument. What works for strings often needs translation in order to function well on organ. The concerto’s opening and final movements are almost wildly driven while the central movement possesses unusual spacing and a haunting central melody. Allegro-Adagio (senza pedale)-Allegro
3. Adagio in G Minor (Tomaso Albinoni) – This work was only attributed to Tomaso Albinoni, since it was written by Italian musicologist Remo Giazotto in 1949. It was still claimed for years that it belonged to Albinoni, as Giazotto claimed he based his composition on a paper scrap found in the ruins of Saxon State Library of Dresden, which was bombed during World War II.
4. Andante in F K. 616 (Mozart) – In 1790 Mozart spent a few weeks in Frankfurt at the time of the Emperor’s coronation. During his stay, Mozart composed parts of the adagio for an organ concerto, in order to “play some ducats into the hands of my beloved missus”. Mozart complained of the high pitch of the instrument for which he had to compose, so he must have been working on a piece like the delicate K. 616, notated in Mozart’s autograph on three treble staves and with a range of only three octaves from the F a fifth below middle c.
5. Sonata no. 3 Op. 65 (Mendelssohn) - In 1844 the English publishers Coventry and Hollier commissioned a ‘set of voluntaries’ from the 35 year-old composer. The final six sonatas published the following year include references to a number of Bach chorales, and No. 3 (in A major) incorporates a processional piece which Mendelssohn had written for the wedding of his sister Fanny.
6. Chorale Prelude on ‘St Ann’ Op. 182 (Parry) – The cantus firmus (popularly known from the hymn ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past’) is displayed as sustained long notes in the uppermost voice. At the conclusion of the last chorale phrases Parry adds a rhapsodic coda. A natural outgrowth of the prelude, the coda offers fast figuration, fortissimo block chords and cadenzas for manuals and pedal.
7. Sonata in G Minor for Trumpet & Organ – 1st mvt. (Bell) – Dating from Bell’s initial post at Pitt St Methodist Church, this sonata premiered with Peter Reid on trumpet in Whangarei in May 2011 although it can easily be accomodated for solo organ with three manuals. This movement is built from the falling one-and-half octave theme played in imitation but includes a more reflective middle section.
8. Toccata from Gothique Suite (Boëllmann) – Léon Boëllmann (1862 – 1897) was a composer of Alsatian origin. As a favored student of Gigout, Boëllmann moved in the best circles of the French musical world, and as a pleasing personality, he made friends of many artists and was able to give concerts both in Paris and the provinces. His best-known composition is Suite Gothique, still very much a staple of the organ repertoire, especially its dramatic concluding Toccata (in C Minor).
Date: Sunday, 18 November 2012
Time: 2:30 PM
Venue: St Matthew-in-the-City, Corner of Hobson and Wellesley
General Admission: $10.00
Ticket Sales at the door.