Portraits for Organ

The Lewtak Organ
St. Joseph' S Church, Camillus, New York



The idea behind this recording was to present a musical picture of the instrument that is genuinely unique in its character. Musical selections presented on this disc give a comprehensive picture of the sonic range of the pipe organ at St. Joseph’s Roman-Catholic Church in Camillus, New York. The old pipework from 1896 bears unmistaken stamp of personality of the late 19th century North-American organ building. This historic character, however, is skillfully complemented by the new sets of organ ranks that were voiced in a style typical for the North-European instruments. What seems to be perhaps a bit peculiar marriage of vastly different styles in fact resulted in the creation of an instrument that lends itself beautifully to a broad range of organ repertoire.

Several pieces on the disc call for a French symphonic organ sound, which most organists associate with the distinguished French organ builder, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Litanies for Organ and Postlude pour l’office de Complies by Jehan-Ariste Alain, as well as Cantabile in B major by César Frank, and especially Carillon de Westminster by Louis Vierne – all were written with the rich sound of the great French instruments in mind. All three composers had a direct contact with the existing Cavaillé-Coll’s organs and were influenced by their tonal abilities. In a similar realm of timbre, although with the slight Northern European inspiration, stays the Improvisations on the Polish hymn "Holy God" (Święty Boże) by Mieczysław Surzyński and Improvisations on "Bogurodzica" by Bogus?aw Grabowski. All of the aforementioned compositions require solid, broad-sounding, eight-foot foundation stops in conjunction with powerful, yet not harsh pallet of treble ranks.

The organ sound from the Renaissance and the Baroque era is so unmistakably untainted and crystal-clear. After all, the pipe organ found its way to churches for a reason – of all existing instruments, it was capable of producing the sound of heaven, the sound of purity and, at the same time, the sound of power and might. There is plenty of force in J.S. Bach’s Fantasia in G major (BWV 572), the piece which calls for the classic Organo Pleno compilation of principal chorus ranks and a great Mixture. A different aural picture is presented in Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, where the organ sounds mild and unforced. A variety of acoustic effects and a true burst of aural color are presented in the series of short pieces from the Polish Renaissance period. Compositions by Nicolas from Krakow, Wojciech D?ugoraj, Diomedes Cato, Andrzej Rohaczewski, Paul Siefert and several pieces by unknown composers present the artist with an opportunity to explore deeply the potential of the Lewtak instrument, and to show off the magic of its pipes.

Boguslaw Grabowski is an international concert organist as well as a church organist in one of the largest churches in the world, St. Mary’s of Assumption Basilica and Co-Cathedral in Gdansk, Poland – a six-hundred-year-old building of monumental proportions, boasting an impressive twenty-five thousand people capacity and nearly four acres of roof! Mr. Grabowski has held the prestigious post of the Director of Music and Principal Organist at this church since 1985, the same year he joined the faculty of the Academy of Music in Gdansk. In 1998, he received full professorship in organ performance from the Academy. In 2003, Mr. Grabowski was appointed a Chairman of the Department of Sacred Music at the Academy of Music in Gdansk.

Grabowski performs on a regular basis in virtually every major organ center in Poland, as well as in Germany, France, Belgium Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus and Russia. He is no stranger to the United States, where he was invited to play at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City for a recital commemorating the first anniversary of passing of Pope John Paul II. Mr. Grabowski has made and released several recordings of his work.

Born in 1955 in Sopot, Poland, Grabowski received his earliest training in Gdansk, but later graduated from the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, having studied under the direction of Professor Joachim Grubich. He also participated in International Master Classes led by legendary Belgian organist and composer, Flor Peeters. Mr. Grabowski has received many honors and awards for his tireless zeal in creating, performing and promoting music.

The organ at St. Joseph’s Church in Camillus, New York was dedicated on April 17th of 2006. It is a rather sizeable, three manual instrument built by Lewtak Pipe Organ Builders in a beautiful, contemporary church setting.

This organ is magnificently crafted in every respect. There are over 2,500 pipes, both wooden and metal. Half of the pipe work came from the 1896 Casavant organ. The pipes have been fully restored and given a bit stronger intonation. The other half was custom-made in Germany. The key action is of a mechanical suspended type (tracker), with exceptionally long connection runs. Despite the length, and thanks to the absolute Precision of the entire linkage, key weight is marvelously comfortable while pipe response is crisp and offers outstanding articulation. The stop action is state-of-the-art electronic, utilizing highly sophisticated German-made "free combination" system, indulging the performer with 1,280 instant registration settings.

The case is a freestanding one, made out of birch and select white poplar. The façade design is Lewtak’s original one, very rich in appearance, reflecting what is inside the organ’s case – melding both, the old and the new. Frontal pipes include the original thirty-seven stenciled pipes from 1896, as well as thirteen new pipes made out of double-flamed copper. Very elaborate woodworking went into making of the facade. Neither time nor money was spared to make the instrument as perfect as humanly possible. The choice of white ash and Honduras mahogany for the entire façade ensured both durability and lasting elegance of form. Delicate details around the console reveal top craftsmanship and refinement – elaborate embellishments are truly appealing to the eye.


Litanies for Organ AWV 13/Op.21; Postlude pour l'office de Complies AWV 100/Op.79

Improvisations on the Polish hymn "Holy God" (Święty Boże)

J.S. BACH (1685-1750) Arr. Duruflé
"Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" - Choral from Cantata BWV 147; Fantasia in G major, BWV 572

PAUL SIEFERT (1586-1666)
Fantasia a 3

Canzon a 4 (from 6th Volume of Pelplin Tabulature)

NICOLAS from KRAKOW (ca. 1500-1550)
Hayducki; Alia poznanie

DIOMEDES CATO (ca. 1570-1615)
Cantio Polonica; Chorea Polonica

WOJCIECH DŁUGORAJ (ca. 1550-1619)
Vilanella I
Vilanella II

CÉSAR FRANCK (1822-1890)
Cantabile in B major

LOUIS VIERNE (1870-1937)
Carillon de Westminster

Improvisations on "Bogurodzica" (oldest known Polish religious hymn)
ANON: Polish Dance (from 1598 Organ Tabulature, August Nörmiger); Good Polish Dance (from 1585 Organ Tabulature, Christoph Loeffelholtz); Dance (from 1537-1548 Organ Tabulature, Jan from Lublin)

MSR Classics