POULENC ORGAN CONCERTOMusic for Organ with Soprano, Violin, Saxophone and Orchestra
Lili Boulanger, Paul Halley, Francis Poulenc, Tomaso Antonio Vitali, Charles Marie Widor
WILLIAM NEIL, organ
JOHN JAY HOPKINS MEMORIAL ORGAN
Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company
National Presbyterian Church, Washington D.C.
“[The Poulenc] keeps William Neil at full stretch, and the National Presbyterian Church at Washington responds joyously to the panoply of organised sound let loose on the John Jay Hopkins Memorial Organ… [the] Eclipse Chamber Orchestra under Sylvia Alimena finely realises Poulenc's teeming invention…”
Robert Anderson, Music & Vision [March 2014]
“Nothing beats the sound of a big organ singing out in full voice in a big space. That’s exactly what we get here, from the Aeolian-Skinner instrument at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. This varied program starts with a thunderous rendition of the first movement of Widor’s solo-organ symphony, followed by the ethereal introspection of the Vitali piece, beautifully rendered here by Mr Neil and Miss Green, with a recorded perspective that’s just distant enough to feel like something slightly otherworldly. The piece by Lili Boulanger is…more astringent and gratifying. The Poulenc is, of course, the centerpiece; and I’m having trouble deciding which performance I like better, this one or the one by Martin Heini… MSR gives the concerto seven separate tracks rather than the one 24-minute track on the Guild release... The recorded sound is excellent... After the spectacular finale of the Poulenc, the unique combination of the organ and the mellow soprano saxophone in the songful, soulful Winter’s Dream by Paul Halley (born 1952) is a very soothing ending to an exciting program.”
Hansen, American Record Guide [January/February 2014]
“…solid performances from organist William Neil… He’s backed up efficiently by the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra under conductor Sylvia Alimena and has able collaborators in saxophonist Paul Winter, violinist Heather LeDoux Green, and Jane-Anne Tucker… if the program appeals you should find enjoyment here.”
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition [September 2013]
“[This organ] has been praised as one of the finest of that company’s creations… [In the Chaconne], National Symphony Orchestra violinist Heather LeDoux Green seems unfazed by the challenges of a work that has been used as a virtuoso vehicle by the likes of Heifitz, Francescatti, and Elman. The performance is soaringly lyrical, and Neil proves a sympathetic accompanist. Lili Boulanger’s last composition…also benefits from the dark colors of the instrument. Soprano Jane-Anne Tucker’s crystalline brightness contrasts nicely with the instrumental umber, and the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of founder and NSO hornist Sylvia Alimena, seconds her heart-breaking expressiveness… This is a stylishly executed performance [of the Poulenc]…and in the context of the program as a whole should give much pleasure. The organ itself is a terrific success, beautifully recorded to show off the brilliant integration of the new pipework into the existing instrument… the excitement of the occasion carries the day. Recommended to anyone for whom this program has appeal.”
Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare - Issue 36:6 [July/Aug 2013]
“[the] Allegro from Charles-Marie Widor’s Organ Symphony in G Minor will curl your toes, so lifelike is the organ sound and so energetic is William Neil’s playing… the Vitali Chaconne just blew me away. What an exquisite piece of music this is! It slowly but surely rises, up through the scale, until the violin is positively floating above the organ. This is not “ambient” or “relaxing” music but a really well-written chaconne… Neil’s playing [of the Poulenc] is very good, in fact very similar to what Duruflé did in the early 1960s… so far as technique and orchestral blend go, the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra plays extremely well… the CD ends with an absolute masterpiece of playing: the great Paul Winter…playing the soprano saxophone in Halley’s atmospheric Winter’s Dream… It’s a wonderful finale to the disc.”
Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare - Issue 36:6 [July/Aug 2013]
“From the sounds of this recording [the gala] must have been quite a spectacular event… the CD goes a long way towards capturing the brilliance of the original… [In the Widor] William Neil making use of the considerable colors of his Hopkins organ to full effect… Heather LeDoux Green, a member of the National Symphony Orchestra, plays [Vitali’s Chaconne] with suitable passion and emotion in an excellent performance…the sentiments posited by the performance [of Lili Boulanger’s work by] soprano Jane-Anne Tucker do her memory proud… This performance [of Poulenc’s masterly Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Timpani] is superb… the sound on this disc is stunningly realistic and almost at an audiophile level. An easy recommendation.”
[ * * * * ] Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [May 2013]
“[the] Aeolian-Skinner of true symphonic breadth and stature…proved as adept in the quiet moments in a far-ranging program of palpable delights as it did in the sort of atom-smashing that people always seem to associate, rightly or wrongly, with the instrument. With Neil at the console, the Skinner shows that it can speak with a soft voice and still make its authority felt in the farthest corner of a (very) large recording venue… Praise also for the lovely recorded sound, which captures the full range of timbres and tones in true perspective. It is not for nothing that MSR lists this release as a ‘Demonstration-Class Recording’.”
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta [March 2013]
PROGRAM NOTESRecorded live on October 10, 2010 at a Gala Organ Concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of the John Jay Hopkins Memorial Organ and the inauguration of its new Solo Division at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C.
William Neil is organist of the National Presbyterian Church, and organist and harpsichordist of the National Symphony Orchestra and National Philharmonic. From 1998 to 2000 he was organist of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago. He has been a soloist with the National Symphony under the batons of Leonard Slatkin, Mstislav Rostropovich, Alessandro Siciliani, Christopher Hogwood, Iona Brown and Lorin Maazel. He has performed with the Choral Arts Society of Washington, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Washington Chorus, City Choir of Washington, and Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, with conductors including Gerard Schwarz, Helmut Rilling and Robert Shaw. Neil’s concerts with the New York Trumpet Ensemble, Millar Brass and Washington Symphonic Brass, appearances at national and international brass festivals, and recordings and
performances with trumpeters David Bilger, Steven Hendrickson and Don Smithers have earned him the reputation among brass musicians as “the trumpeters’ organist.” Neil was the first Washington organist to perform on the Charles Fisk Organ at Meyerson Hall in Dallas. In 2006 he joined members of The Philadelphia Orchestra as featured soloist in a dedication concert of the Fred J.
Cooper Memorial Organ in the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. In 2001 and 2012, he was featured soloist in the inaugural concerts of the Casavant Organs at Robert Jacoby Hall, with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with the National Symphony Orchestra. Neil is a graduate of Penn State University and Syracuse University. His teachers have included Leonard Raver, Arthur Poister and Anthony Newman. In 2011 he was the recipient of Penn State’s Alumni Fellow Award, the highest honor accorded a PSU graduate, for distinguished service to the performing arts and the University. Neil has been on faculty at George Mason University and Catholic University of America with many former students now holding prominent positions in the United States and abroad. His extensive discography includes recordings on the Philips, Sony, Naxos and MSR labels.
Violinist Heather LeDoux Green is currently a member of the National Symphony Orchestra, earlier
having served as Assistant Concertmaster of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra and as a
member of the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra. She holds degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory and the Shepherd School of Music, where she was awarded the prestigious Presser Music Award. Green frequently performs at the Arts Club of Washington, Smithsonian Chamber Series and Fessenden Ensemble, and has participated in the Amadeus Quartet Program of the Royal Academy in London. She has studied at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena and Mozarteum Summer Academy in Salzburg. Green is involved with coaching young orchestral players in the Washington D.C. Youth Orchestra and the American Youth Philharmonic.
Soprano Jane-Anne Tucker’s solo appearances include performances of Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Beethoven’s Mass in C and the Requiem masses of Fauré and Rutter. Tucker has appeared on the operatic stage as Susanna in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Sister Constance in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites. More recently, she served as soprano soloist and Chancel Choir section leader at The National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. After earning her undergraduate degree in History from Dartmouth College (magna cum laude), Tucker earned a Master of Music degree from New England Conservatory.
Saxophonist Paul Winter is one of the pioneers of world music, combining Latin, African, Asian and
classical music with the spontaneous spirit of jazz. He is one of the first composer-performers to weave nature and wildlife sounds into his work, a practice he has attributed to humpback whale song. Winter refers to this genre as Earth Music. With his ensemble, the Paul Winter Consort, he has performed in several spaces of great reverberation, such as the Grand Canyon, Lake Baikal in Siberia, and by a lake at 12,000 feet in the mountains of Colorado. Winter has more than 40 albums on his Living Music label, with 14 Grammy Award nominations and seven Grammy Awards. He has been artist-in-residence at St. John the Divine in New York since 1980. [ paulwinter.com ]
Conductor Sylvia Alimena, Music Director and Conductor of Eclipse Chamber Orchestra, maintains an active conducting schedule in the Washington D.C. area. She has conducted numerous world premieres, many commissioned for Eclipse Chamber Orchestra and released on the Naxos label. As a horn player, Alimena is currently in her 26th year with the National Symphony, having previously served as Principal Horn with the Boston Lyric Opera, and has played in the Boston Pops under John Williams and the Utah Symphony under Joseph Silverstein. Alimena is a recipient of Boston University’s Distinguished Alumni Award and is a member of Washingtonian Magazine’s Musical Hall of Fame.
The Eclipse Chamber Orchestra is known for exceptional performances and diverse repertoire. Founded in 1992, it is comprised predominantly of musicians from the National Symphony, as well as members of area chamber ensembles, including the American Chamber Players, Capitol Woodwind Quintet, National Musical Arts Society and Chamber Soloists of Washington. Eclipse players have been featured chamber soloists in recital series including the Corcoran Gallery, Phillips Collection, Dumbarton Concert Series, Terrace Theater and Library of Congress, and also as concert soloists with the National Symphony and orchestras throughout the United States. [ eclipseco.org ]
PROGRAMCHARLES-MARIE WIDOR (1844-1937)
ORGAN SYMPHONY NO. 6 IN G MINOR (Op. 42, No. 2, 1879) - ALLEGRO
TOMASO ANTONIO VITALI (1663-1745)
CHACONNE IN G MINOR FOR VIOLIN AND ORGAN
LILI BOULANGER (1893-1918)
PIE JESU (1918)
FRANCIS POULENC (1899-1963)
CONCERTO IN G MINOR FOR ORGAN, STRINGS AND TIMPANI (1938)
Subito andante moderato
Tempo allegro, molto agitato
Très calme. Lent
Tempo de l’allegro initial
Tempo introduction. Largo
PAUL HALLEY (b. 1952)
WINTER’S DREAM FOR SOPRANO SAXOPHONE AND ORGAN (1983)