The Paul Manz Organ Series
Three 'zingers' open new season
August 30, 2011 -- The Paul Manz Organ Series will begin its sixth season on September 6 with a concert of standout music from the organ repertoire. Artistic Director Thomas Wikman reports that he has selected three exceptional pieces to open what he hopes will be another exemplary series of organ concerts.
Considered by many to be the greatest piece of organ music ever written, Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor (BWV 582) will usher in the new season. An eight-measure theme in the pedal is followed by 20 variations, with the theme always present. "The music is continuous," says Wikman. "It never stops, but builds to a tremendous climax."
"The Passacaglia is followed by a double fugue of tremendous sweep," Wikman went on, "climaxing on a Neapolitan chord and then finishing with great power and gravity."
The much-admired Bach work was transcribed by many other composers for piano and various combinations of instruments. It was famously used in the baptism sequence of The Godfather, among other films.
Charles-Marie Widor's popular Adagio -- from his organ Symphony #5 -- will follow. "It has an almost Brucknerian feel to it," said Wikman, "with its broad lines and luscious harmonies."
The Chorale in A minor by Cesar Franck will be the last and most brilliant piece of the concert. Franck's final work, it is based on a fiery French toccata figuration.
Shortly, the chorale theme is introduced, and alternates with the toccata figures. In an extensive middle section, a beautiful melody builds to a full organ climax. Then the toccata resumes, with all elements resolved together in the final few pages.
"It is truly one of the treasures of the organ repertoire," Wikman said.