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Riff-Raff and Rhumba

Johann Sebastian Bach, Guy Bovet, Maurice Duruflé, Robert Elmore, Robert Schumann, Giles Swayne


Rudolph Von Beckerath Pipe Organ
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Cleveland, Ohio



"this recording does a great service to the sound of the [organ]... the sound is clear and warm. The playing is also clear and warm, with apparent enjoyment in the process of recording these pieces. The theme of the disc comes through quite nicely... Mustric plays with panache and pulls this varied disc off nicely."
The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians - October 2011, Vol.20, No.8
"The engineering is fine, and the clarity is excellent... Mustric handles [the pedal dexterity of Rhumba] easily... Mustric registered [the Durufle] intelligently. [In Bach's Fantasy & Fugue] all the moving lines are as clear as one would want."
Metz, American Record Guide - July/August 2011
"Mustric plays [Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in A minor] with aplomb, and rounds off the recital nicely... Overall, Mustric gives a solid performance in what is essentially a programme that requires a sense of playfulness."
Byzantion, MusicWeb International - May 2011
Mentally and physically, an organist’s brain and hands and feet must manage all those details. Psychologically, the organist lives in the shadow of the immortal Bach. All that conspires to make the organist’s lot a serious one. Well, it’s time to have some fun!

We dive in with Robert Elmore’s dazzling Rhumba, with its sizzling melodies and tight rhythms. Dedicated to virtuoso Claire Coci, Elmore’s Rhumba is a tour de force for the feet. They are not to be outdone by the hands! The feet play glissandi, chords, and the melody in the laidback middle section. Elmore was organist for the Philadelphia Orchestra, which performed some of his works.

Salamanca was born as an improvisation at the Cathedral of Salamanca, Spain. To thank the custodians for working long hours during a week of music events, Guy Bovet asked them to give him the subject for his improvisation at the final concert. Salamanca begins with piccolo and drum effects, segues into classical Spanish organ styles, and ends with a flourish of the matador’s cape. Olé!

Fugue on Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther theme began as an improvisation at a Bach Society concert (to add an element of surprise, he redundantly titled this Fugue on a Subject). Bovet slyly tweaks the Pink Panther theme. Could the humor of some of Bovet’s music be compensation for the seriousness of his two specialties, the Spanish Baroque era and the music of Jehan Alain?

For pure fun, it’s hard to beat Robert Elmore’s Fantasy on Nursery Tunes. We hear four tunes: “Three Blind Mice,” followed by “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” (adorned by the cymbalstern, a set of untuned bells), next by “London Bridge Is Falling Down,” and then by “Pop Goes the Weasel.” Finally, Elmore combines all the tunes for a madcap finish. For fun from the player’s perspective, it’s hard to top a boogie-woogie bass played by the feet.

That’s just one of the many attractions in Giles Swayne’s Riff-Raff, composed in 1983. A cross-over work, Riff-Raff draws on non-classical styles. Swayne exploits idiosyncrasies of the organ in savvy and imaginative ways. He occasionally ignores human limitations – at times, two hands and two feet are barely enough. In the world of jazz, a riff is an ostinato, or repeating pattern, that accompanies a solo. Riff- Raff is a kaleidoscope of riffs and rhythms. Swayne usually sets up his riffs gradually, so you can hear them develop layer by layer. Some riffs return, perhaps in new combinations. A few riffs surface briefly, then vanish. The music builds to a climax, drops back, and builds again. Gradually, the build-ups come faster and more insistently. Riff-Raff begins with short chords that burst unpredictably, ranging in dynamics from fortissimo to an echo of an echo. When the sound-bursts return, Swayne pits their unpredictability against their total opposite – a strong rhythmic ostinato in the Pedal line. Finally, the soundbursts occur alone again, to end Riff-Raff.

The totally elegant Scherzo by Maurice Duruflé is as French and as light as a successful soufflé. Duruflé had such exacting standards that he released very few of his compositions for publication. This perfect concoction is his Opus 2!

Robert Schumann composed four Sketches, or Skizzen, for pedal piano, an instrument which basically made it possible to practice organ music in the comfort of home. The last in the set, this whimsical Sketch in D-flat major, is the least pianistic and the most delightful of the four.

J.S. Bach can be great fun to listen to and even greater fun to play. So I wrap this CD with the Fantasia and Fugue in A minor (S. 561), an early Bach work whose repeated patterns and echoes juxtapose nicely with Riff-Raff. Scholars now say the Fantasia and Fugue in A minor is not the work of Bach, but I cannot imagine a likelier composer.

Finally, to top it all, Trinity’s Beckerath organ is great fun to play.

RUDOLPH VON BECKERATH ORGAN (1956) Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Cleveland, Ohio
This historic organ was the first large mechanical-action organ in North America. It was built in 1956 in Hamburg, Germany by Rudolph von Beckerath, who crafted it in the tradition of the organs of northern Europe in the Baroque era. With this organ, Beckerath demonstrated that centuries-old techniques of organ-building produce a beautiful sound that is transparent and powerful yet warm. Ideal for Baroque repertoire, this organ also serves music of many other styles and periods. It has inspired more than one generation of builders, organists and music lovers. This organ has 3,467 pipes arrayed in 65 ranks in five divisions.

Florence Mustric has a master of music in organ performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a bachelor of arts from Oberlin. In April 1994, to showcase the world-famous Beckerath organ at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cleveland, Ohio, Florence Mustric and Robert Myers, director of music, began Music Near The Market, a series of themed programs presented free every Wednesday of the year.


Robert Elmore
Fantasy on Nursery Tunes

Guy Bovet
Fugue on Henry Mancini’s Pink Panther Theme

Giles Swayne

Maurice Duruflé

Robert Schumann
Sketch in D-flat major

Johann Sebastian Bach
Fantasia and Fugue in A minor (S. 561)

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