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Cover Notes

The present recording offers a recital program designed primarily for listening pleasure - and thus basically without regard to whether on paper it might at first, like the sequences of some successful live concerts, appear somewhat strange or puzzling. Its two sections, mostly German and mostly American, respectively, may be apprehended in close succession or on separate occasions - as may of course any of the individual twelve works - according to personal preference. But the listener who, taking it first on faith, does attend to the whole may enjoy an increasing awareness of the factors that manifoldly interconnect the pieces and validate their programmatic ensemble. Many of the connections that will reveal themselves to the attentive (or "gourmet") ear would not be immediately apparent from a look at the program (or "menu") as such. The following observations may serve to suggest some of the abundant interrelationships.

One thematic strand pertains to historical considerations, as our program commemorates some special facets of the musical year 1987. By the end of February of that year, the new Floyd E. Anderson Center for the Performing Arts at the State University of New York at Binghamton had, through the generosity of the family of Marion and Edwin Link, received and dedicated its eagerly awaited, uniquely movable and flexible 21-stop modern tracker-action organ, built in West Berlin, Germany by the firm of Karl Schuke.

Then, on May 7, 1987, the 80-year-old Schuke, a pioneer of the twentieth-century Organ Reform Movement (Orgelbewegung), died in Berlin, making this the last of his company's instruments to be completed and installed during his lifetime. (Schuke's team of personally trained coworkers had already been autonomously fulfilling new commissions from many parts of the world and continues to do so today.)

Precisely ten years earlier, on May 7, 1977, Chicago's Irwin Fischer, Dean of Faculty at the American Conservatory, composer, conductor, organist, pianist and theoretician, had died, leaving an as yet largely unexplored legacy of works, of high craftsmanship, conceptual density, poetic sensibility, sensuous sheen - and unusual stylistic range - in nearly all musical media. Two of his organ chorale-preludes and his brilliant TOCCATA are offered here in their first recorded performances. (Fischer's lifework as a composer received a thorough analytic review in Three American Composers by Edith Borroff, University Press of America, 1986.)

Better - though not yet adequately - observed by the world at large, 1987 marked the 350th anniversary of the birth of Dieterich Buxtehude: a northern European master of choral, vocal, chamber and keyboard music of haunting warmth and personal charm - by turns dramatic, witty, fantastic and mystical - who, while still all too often "categorized away" as but a "mentor" of J.S. Bach, was now accorded the recognition of several festivals at home and abroad, as well as a new full-length English-language biography (Dieterich Buxtehude, Organist in Lübeck, by Kerala J. Snyder, New York, 1987). Represented here by four of his distinctive organ works, alternating between exquisite miniatures and largest-scale selections (both of the latter in fact - as characteristic 17th-century north German organ "preludes" - tie together a diversity of short preludes, fugues and interludes), Buxtehude duly dominates both title and substance of the recording.

One of his predecessors, Samuel Scheidt - who was fifty when Buxtehude was born in 1637 - reached the four century mark in 1987. Our program begins with what may be the first recording of the set of Variations on a Flemish Folk Song by this German court and church musician, whose Idiom may be seen in retrospect as marking a phase of transition between the Renaissance and Baroque musical styles. While Scheidt's instrumental treatment of chorale melodies more characteristically retained earmarks of vocal polyphony, his handling of this folk tune seems unabashedly instrumental and secular in terms of both keyboard virtuosity and dance references.

The program connects in another respect to concert experience as in both halves it honors the principle of "encore," or aural dessert, with a pithy or lighter work as musical "afterthought" to ease the transition into silence or thence again to the verbal dimension. Such an "encore" may be an excerpted movement rather than a complete work, as in the case of the bubbly SCHERZO from the Fourth Organ Symphony by late-Romantic French composer (and, incidentally, mentor to Albert Schweitzer) Charles-Marie Widor, whose death in 1937 at the age of 93 preceeded that of Fischer by four decades and of Schuke by half a century. The twentieth-century American works comprising the main portion of our program's second half variously manifest German, French and uniquely American influences, with the French Romantic inspiration most evident in the rapidly alternating chords and registral changes of Irwin Fischer's Toccata.

A kindred texture is found, superimposed upon a jubilantly accelerated statement of Johann Crüger's hymn tune, in the concluding variation of Tui St. George Tucker's chorale partita on HERZLIEBSTER JESU - though interestingly enough this composer, unlike Fischer, had not actually been exposed to the early twentieth-century French organistic prototypes. Perhaps because in an "avant-garde" dominated period she dared to be "conservative" - as substantiated for instance by an organ work dating from 1961, offered here in its first commercially available recording - while on the other hand, vis-a-vis a current trend of "post-modern" neo-tonal and/or "minimalist" simplification, she may be found pioneering new applications of microtones, Tui St. George Tucker has sometimes been referred to as an "underground" composer. In her work, like her (also living and comparably individualistic) colleague Louis Hardin (or "Moondog"), Tucker, who was born in southern California, has always shown an unmistakably American originality. As with Moondog and Fischer, there are few musical media to which she has not made contributions, but like Fischer she forges her individual path through a broad range of idioms - in her case with astonishingly differing degrees of "modernity", of relative dissonance and consonance, and of harmonic and rhythmic motility). For Organ, Tucker has composed four sets of variations on well-known hymn tunes; in HERZLIEBSTER JESU, Variations on a Theme by Crueger, the five variations follow a two-fold introduction of the tune (solo, and in a four-part harmonization). The score cites phrases from the hymn text as interpretive suggestions for each variation: "Ah, holy Jesus, how hast Thou offended?"; "Who was the guilty?"; "Lo, the Good Shepherd"; "For me Thine incarnation" (here, in the work's "inner sanctum", Herzliebster Jesu is combined with that other and yet more famous Passion chorale whose text is often rendered in English as "O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded"); and (conveying the breakthrough from Passion into Easter) "Though I can't repay, I do adore Thee."

If Widor's Gallic effervescence rounds off the American works, lightening while perhaps some ways completing or "explaining" their burden, for the German half the meditative serenity our early English "encore" UPON LA MI RE - by an unnamed, perhaps female?, composer - serves to calm, while also setting into "relief", the capricious fantasy and exuberant dance energies of Buxtehude and Scheidt. Here, a freely evolving melody floats over a rigorous three-note ground bass that is stated at two pitch levels, in the lower voices, in close canon with itself.

The first section of Buxtehude's G-minor Praeludium had already featured a ground bass, there undergirding a virtuoso two-voice toccata and preforming the themes of that Praeludium's two fugal sections.

Somewhat more akin to Upon La Mi Re, however, is Moondog's C-sharp-minor LOGRUNR, which - recorded here for the first time - opens our (mostly) American half and wherein the ground bass, while it appears singly, provides the foundation for a canon in the upper voices, much as did Pachelbel's in his beloved (ground bass-)Canon, though Moondog's texture here is sparser, more transparent, and his melodic gesture expansive-evoking, in conjunction with the minor mode and some characteristically Moondogian harmonic inflections, a "landscape" of tender longing. Moondog, born louis Hardin and blinded at 17 by a dynamite explosion, moved from the midwest, via music studies in the southeast, to New York City, where he became a treasured part of the aural and visual cityscape, as over decades he stood in midtown traffic, in self-made Viking costume, composing in Braille, conversing with friends and sightseers, and offering his musical scores, as well as myths and aphorisms, for sale. Today he resides in the town of Oer-Erkenschwick (near Recklinghausen), West Germany, whence he travels by invitation to many parts of Europe to oversee presentations of his music, which continues ever more grandly to embody his personal fusion of jazz and American Indian with European Renaissance-and-Baroque contrapuntal traditions. It seems conceivable that the ongoing popular success of musical minimalism - including aspects foreshadowed in Moondog's own work of the 1940s and '5Os - together with the saga of his life and music as told in Robert Scotto's soon-to-be-published Moondog biography may spark a new recognition of this artist in his homeland and perhaps induce him to revisit America.

Meanwhile it is interesting to recall - and thus close another of the subterranean cross-circuits of the present recording - that it was not long after Moondog's mid-1973 visit to the campus of he State University of New York at Binghamton that he received an invitation from the Hessian Radio to come to Frankfurt to conduct in concert, and tape for broadcast, a program of his orchestral music. Once there, and feeling his and continental audiences' "ripeness" for one another, Moondog decided to stay on in Europe. Among the first places to which he was able to hitchhike was the town of Lübeck, where, incidentally, it is not hard, standing in the marketplace near the Marienkirche where Buxtehude once served, to reaffirm a sense of the broad and enduring spirit and tradition that - with such colorful variety of issue - has nourished each of the seven unique composers who share company on this recording.

Born in New York City, Paul Jordan studied composition, conducting and keyboard instruments in the United States and Europe and holds degrees from the Yale School of Music and the Frankfurt Staatliche Hochschule für Musik. He has recorded for Decca, Kapp, Classic Editions, Nonesuch and Spectrurn, as well as for the Berlin, Frankfurt and Hannover Radio networks, and performed in twenty-five states, as well as in Japan, Australia, Israel and throughout western Europe. Paul Jordan's first Solo recording, a double LP/double cassette of J.S. Bach's Orgelbüchlein (Spectrum, SR-150/1; SC-250/1), was nominated for the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis. He has served both the church, including ten years as Director of Music at United Church on the Green in Ncw Haven (CT'), and the academy, beginning in 1974 at SUNY-Binghamton. In 1983-84 a Solo Recitalist's Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts enabled Paul Jordan to commit to memory Bach's entire Art of Fugue and to begin a series of tours through which he hopes to help familiarize increasing numbers of concert-goers with that singular work.

This recording was made on October 10 and 11, 1987, in the Chamber Hall of the Anderson Center for the Arts, Binghamton, NY, with an Aachen Head binaural system, consisting of an accurate dummy head with shoulders, precision B&K microphones, and a record processor providing flat response for direct sound from in front. The result is an unusually transparent, accurate reproduction, either on loudspeakers or free-field-equalized headphones, of sound sources and acoustic space. The Aachen Head was developed by Dr. Klaus Genuit at the Aachen Technical University and is made by Head Acoustics GmbH, Aachen.

Totally digital recording: Wade Bray

Digital assembly: Audio Graphics, Inc., Royal Oak, MI

Note: As the Aachen Head geometrically reproduces human hearing, the experience of a listener hearing this album with the aid of free-field-equalized headphones a la Sony MDR series will, in accoustical terms, precisely equal that of a listener seated in the hall during the recording.)

SPECIFICATIONS of the 2-manual, 21-stop tracker-action pipe organ built in 1987 for the Floyd E. Anderson Center for the Arts (State University of New York at Binghamton) by the Karl Schuke Berliner Orgelbauwerkstatt GmbH (of West Berlin, Germany)

Subbass 16' Rohrflöte 8' Quintadena 8'
Pommer 8' Principal 4' Gedacktflöte 4'
Hohlflöte 4' Nassal 2 2/3' Principal 2'
Nachthorn 2' Waldflöte 2' Quinte 1 1/3'
Posaune 16' Tierce 1 3/5' Terzlein 4/5'
Rohrschalmei 4' Mixtur III-IV Cymbel II-III
Dulzian 16' Vox Humana 8'
HW/PED. Trompete 8'

General Tremulant for manuals only.

1. Cantio Belgica,
(Variations of a Flemish Folk Song) [5:02]
Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654)
2. Canzona in G major
(Bux WV 171) [2:24]
Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707)
3. Praeludium in G minor (Bux WV 149) [9:08]
4. Canzonetta in E minor (Bux WV 169) [4:10]
5. Praeludium in E minor (Bux WV 142) [10:17]
6. Upon la mi re [2:54] Anonymous (14th-century English)
7. Logrundr XVIII in C-sharp minor [3:49] Moondog (Louis Hardin, b. 1916)
8. Herzliebster Jesu
Variations on a Theme by Crueger [7:38]
Tui St. George Tucker (b. 1924)
Two Chorale Preludes: Irwin Fischer (1903-1977)
9. Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier [3:11]
10. Das walt' Gott [1:46]
11. Toccata (1950) [5:25]
12. Scherzo from Organ Symphony No. IV [6:56] Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)