Partners in Time: Boundless Notes, Part II
Canadian organist Gayle h. Martin’s follow-up album to Partners in Time, Part I (2015) continues to explore works by J.S. Bach and Dietrich Buxtehude, while taking listeners on an even more adventurous journey. This album includes works inspired by Bach and Buxtehude from Mendelssohn, Franz Liszt and Peter Eben.
Classical Music Sentinel
Now here is a collection of organ music that is both stylistically and conceptually sensical. Most compilations always seem to contain a couple of pieces that sound out of place, and therefore break the logical or intended musical thread. But here the very apt Partners in Time title suggests a common timeline relationship. Buxtehude influenced Bach. He in turn influenced his son C. P. E. Bach who then paved the way for Mendelssohn. Franz Liszt admired J. S. Bach so much that he composed a monumental work based on his name. And to tie it all off, Petr Eben (1929-2007) composed a very impressive tip of the hat to Buxtehude, which closes the circle of time.
Eben’s Hommage à Buxtehude is a brilliant 20th century work for organ that draws heavily on Buxtehude’s motifs, but fast forward’s them 300 years by applying distant harmonies and setting multiple and odd rhytmic sequences concurrently. It’s the complexity of it all that makes this piece worthwhile, and organist Gayle h. Martin gives it just the right élan and rhytmic momentum to pull it off and display its technical prowess as well as her own. It goes without saying, but the Buxtehude and Bach pieces on this new recording are great examples of the Baroque style and always push a pipe organ’s qualities to the forefront. And of course the Prelude and Fugue on BACH by Franz Liszt is the perfect example of the romantic ideal, always seeking new expressive avenues. I’m surprised its opening 20 seconds isn’t used in horror movies more often.
The 1965 Casavant Organ at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, is a relatively small instrument consisting of two manuals and only 23 stops, but University Organist and Associate Professor Gayle h. Martin, through clever registration, brings out all of its qualities and makes it sound twice its size. It has a well balanced set of stops that make it an ideal instrument for music from the Renaissance to today, and Martin’s dynamic playing brings it to life. Leaf Music’s audio recording is very good, and sits the listener at the proper distance from the organ loft, as well as capturing the room’s size and acoustics.
Jean-Yves Duperron – July 2018