Sunday, October 04, 2015

Sunday Classics snapshots: They don't make organists like Virgil Fox anymore


Virgil Fox at the console of Riverside
Church's grand Aeolian-Skinner organ

by Ken

Somehow I wound up with at least two and maybe three copies of a CD reissue in the "RCA Living Stereo" series: the album of Encores recorded January 27-30, 1958, on the grand Aeolian-Skinner organ of Manhattan's Riverside Church by that master showman of the organ Virgil Fox (1912-1980). When one of those copies, still sealed, suddenly popped out in the open, it got me to thinking. While most of the selections would be sneered into oblivion by today's musical intelligentsia,

I had a feeling it would be both more fun and more musical than the music being generated contemporarily in what word has it is a new golden age for the organ, with incomparable genius organists composing new horizons for this grand old instrument. The only thing that would be more exciting is if any of the music was the tiniest fraction as interesting as these little baubles.

So I thought today we'd just arrange a series of musical snapshots from the album, like these organ arrangements of three thrice-familiar little pieces.

BACH: Jesu, joy of man's desiring (arr. from final chorale of Cantata No. 147, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben)

PURCELL or more likely JEREMIAH CLARKE: Trumpet Voluntary

BACH: Air on the G String (arr. Fox, from Orchestra Suite No. 3, S. 1068)

Yes, that's quite a clatter the way the gossamer Air on the G string begins, but later our man Virgil scales it down to a haunting wisp.


Though not a behemoth like Riverside Church's Aeolian-Skinner. But doesn't this little piece, in this format, sound effervescently grand? (Can you imagine what would happen if an organist today essayed a grand ritard like the one Fox does before the final statement of the jaunty theme?)

BACH: Trio Sonata for Organ No. 6 in G, S. 530: i. Vivace


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At 11:36 PM, Anonymous Bil said...

Cds huh? I got VINYL!


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