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Lyric Music for Flute and Organ

Jehan Alain, Johann Sebastian Bach, Rosalie Bonighton, Marcel Dupré, Hans Hiller, László Király, Franz Lachner, Frank Martin, John Weaver

Keith Reas, Casavant Organ

Powell Flute, No.151 (1930)



“In music, never assume that that which seems unlikely cannot be successfully achieved. Man's imagination and ingenuity in this art form is infinite, and over the centuries, sound worlds of the most peculiar nature have today become accepted creations that command the utmost respect. Who would have thought that the combination of instruments on this disc would be so wonderfully complementary? Indeed, my premonition was that the two are wholly incompatible bedfellows, but listening to this enchanting issue made me think more than twice… An absolute peach of a disc, performed with mastery, panache and a sense of balance that is almost uncanny. First-rate sonics and presentation induce me to give this CD an unreserved recommendation.”
Gerald Fenech, Music & Vision [February 2012]
"The Marianiello-Reas duo has recorded a CD subtitled “lyric music for flute and organ.” Compared to many such releases (and there are many!) this is an admirable endeavor, since it is devoid of the typical transcriptions that often fill such discs... [John Weaver's Rhapsody] is an excellent, serious work in an extended tonal idiom... The tragically short-lived Jehan Alain (1911–1940) saw a great deal of attention in 2011 during his centennial year. Despite the brevity of his working life, he produced a number of organ works of superb quality. Three a very appealing set of three contrasting pieces in his characteristic style... The great Swiss composer Frank Martin’s Sonata da Chiesa (1938) was originally for viola d’amore (or viola) and organ and arranged by the composer for flute a few years later... the duo here gives it a fine performance... In addition to their fine playing, Marianiello and Reas are also to be strongly commended for largely avoiding works that are overly familiar. All is recorded well on the Casavant organ of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee."
Carson Cooman, Fanfare [January/February 2012]
"[Keith Reas' ] partnership is excellent. The sound presents their playing clearly...."
Gorman, American Record Guide [September/October 2011]
"The magnificent Casavant organ is captured with spatial amplitude and timbral confidence set off my Marianiello's sweet-toned, easy virtuosity."
Laurence Vittes, Gramophone [August 2011]
Four flute sonatas were indisputably written by JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH. He was captivated by the expressive qualities of the traverso played by virtuoso flutists such as Johann Quantz whom he heard when he visited Dresden in 1717. It was the first year of his tenure as Kapellmeister in Cöthen, where he composed some of his most significant instrumental works, notably the Brandenburg Concertos, and quite conceivably, the flute sonatas as well. The Sonata in A major, BWV 1032 is one of two obbligato flute sonatas (BWV 1030 in B minor is the other) in which the harpsichord part is fully composed and shares the melodic material with the solo flute. This differs from the continuo sonata, in which only the figured bass is written out, and the keyboard player was left to improvise. Substituting one keyboard instrument for another was a common practice in the Baroque period, and as in the Sonata in A major, the obbligato harpsichord part as written is playable on the organ as well. Dated 1736, the manuscript of the Sonata in A major, titled Sonata a 1 Traversa è Cembalo obligato di J. S. Bach in Bach’s handwriting, is missing forty-six bars at the end of the first movement. To fill this gap, modern editions have added new material based on the earlier sections of the movement. The completion heard in this recording is by Alfred Dürr, one of the editors of the Neue Bach-Ausgabe (New Bach Works, the second complete edition of the composer’s works undertaken by Bärenreiter from 1954 to 2007).
In the nineteenth century, organ builders sought ways of overcoming the limitations of the Baroque organ’s mechanical (or tracker) action. When electricity became widely available, they used it to complement and later supplant the tracker action which changed the way wind was transmitted from the keyboard to each individual pipe. Along with the ascendancy of the symphony orchestra that required larger halls, a new paradigm in organ building called for bigger organs with a wider range of tonal colors. In France, the organs of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll emulated the symphony and allowed for rhythmic freedom, a seamless crescendo from pianissimo to fortissimo, and, in Widor’s words, “a rich palette of the most diverse shades.” Prompted by the increasing chromaticism of the music being written from the late eighteenth into the early nineteenth centuries, flute makers introduced various innovations, significantly the addition of keys to conical bore flutes. Between 1831 and 1847 the Bavarian goldsmith, flute virtuoso, and industrial designer Theobald Boehm developed the prototype of the modern flute, which he and other flute makers continually modified. The silver and gold cylindrical Boehm flutes in use today came into widespread use after the Second World War. (As a side note, conical wood flutes were still used in the Concertgebouw Orchestra until the end of the last century.)

The combination of one melody instrument and organ was not a particularly popular genre among composers of the Romantic period. Two works in the scant literature for this instrumentation are FRANZ LACHNER’s Elegie and HANS HILLER’s Andante religioso. Organist, pianist, violinist, and composer, Lachner witnessed and participated in the development of Romanticism in music both as a composer and a conductor. In Vienna during the 1820s, he met Beethoven and became a close friend of Schubert. After moving to Munich in 1836 to become conductor of the Royal Court Orchestra, Lachner quickly assumed a position of prominence in the city’s musical and intellectual life. His extensive body of works in a wide range of genres was often performed during his lifetime, but is largely forgotten today. Composed late in his career, Lachner’s Elegie for Flute and Organ is orchestrally-conceived and dense in structure, typical of late German romantic music. Hiller, a contemporary of Reger and Schoenberg, composed primarily for his own use as a church musician, mostly in Leipzig. His oeuvre comprises unaccompanied sacred motets, cantatas, organ works, two sacred pieces for violin (or cello) and organ, as well as solo and choral songs. Simpler in structure and more introspective than Lachner’s Elegie, Hiller’s Andante religioso, Op.6, is based on the chorale Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern (How brightly shines the morning star) by Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), heard at the end of the piece.
MARCEL DUPRÉ and his student JEHAN [Jean] ALAIN belong to the French school of organist-composers that includes Franck, Dupré’s teachers Guilmant and Widor, Vierne, and Messiaen. A virtuoso organist, as a composer Dupré is best known for his voluminous works for organ, but he also wrote several piano pieces including the Six Preludes for piano, Op.12, composed in 1916. The Prelude for Flute (or Violin) and Organ is a transcription of Op.12, No.5, by the American organist-composer CHARLES CALLAHAN. Alain died during WWII at age 29, but within that short period he composed more than 140 works for piano, organ and orchestra, as well as songs, choral pieces, masses and chamber music. Written in 1934 for flute (or violin) and piano, Trois mouvements was transcribed for flute and organ by his younger sister and foremost interpreter of his organ music, the renowned organist Marie-Claire Alain. In her arrangement, the organ blends seamlessly with the flute, especially in the second and third movements.

The Sonata da chiesa (church sonata) of Swiss composer FRANK MARTIN reflects his mature style—a synthesis of German and French traditions and a personal adaptation of the twelve-tone system. The Sonata was originally composed for viola d’amore and organ in 1938, and arranged for flute and organ three years later. In this meditative work, Martin creates twelve-tone patterns within the tonal framework of a Baroque trio sonata, resulting in what has been described as “gliding tonality.” Lean, sometimes stark and sometimes hauntingly beautiful textures darken and lighten as they flow in each of the four movements.
The pieces of ROSALIE BONIGHTON, LÁSZLÓ KIRÁLY, and JOHN WEAVER avail of the advanced technical resources and expanded tonal palette of the modern flute and organ. The solo flute introduction of Cantilena by Australian-born Bonighton, organist and music director at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Ballarat, evokes the sound of the didgeridoo (an indigenous wind instrument of Australia) played in the instrument’s traditional improvisatory style. The work’s lyrical theme—somewhat reminiscent of the Alain—is conveyed through a relatively simple structure that makes it suitable for its intended liturgical use. The 3 Miniatures for Flute and Organ by the Hungarian composer Király, part of his 12 Miniatures for flute and various instruments, subvert rhythmic and harmonic expectations, and expand the instruments’ sonic compass to a point that is almost beyond the listener’s comfort zone. Repeated thematic material is passed back and forth between the flute and organ in a carpet of “sound splashes,” more atmospheric than melodic in nature. The lyrical abandon and dense harmonic textures of nineteenth-century Romantic music are conveyed in a frankly twentieth-century style in the Rhapsody for flute and organ by Weaver, former director of music and organist at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City. It is the first of two works written for his flutist wife, Marianne (the second, Dialogues for flute and organ, is the title piece of the Marianiello-Reas Duo’s first CD). Rhapsody was composed in 1966, a few years after Weaver’s church acquired an organ by Casavant Frères (the same organ builder of the instrument at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Chattanooga heard in this recording). This is a piece that, literally and figuratively, pulls out all the stops—a glorious display of the vast tonal spectrum and expressive range of the modern flute and organ, in virtuosic solo and duo passages. [Tomás C. Hernández]

Flutist Linda Marianiello and organist Keith Reas have performed together as The Marianiello-Reas Duo since 1994. They have appeared in concert throughout the United States on the Yale School of Music Artist Series at Woolsey Hall in New Haven, Connecticut, the St. Andrew Music Society in New York City, Music at St. Marks Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., the Millennial Frobenius Concert Series in Saratoga Springs, New York, the Augustana Artist Series in Denver, Colorado and the St. Paul’s Episcopal Concert Series in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They regularly commission and premier new works, including Sumer is … by American composer Frances Thompson McKay. The duo also champions Australian composer Rosalie Bonighton’s Cantilena, which sets the tone for this recording. Their 2003 debut CD, Dialogues: American Music for Flute and Organ on MSR Classics [MS1069], was released to critical acclaim, and has been featured on the Pipe Dreams radio program and on many NPR stations from coast to coast. Cantilena is their second CD for MSR Classics. Whereas Dialogues highlighted works by American composers from the latter half of the twentieth century, Cantilena mainly features European composers from Baroque to contemporary. Yet the two works by John Weaver, Dialogues and Rhapsody, provide a unifying thread. Many listeners find the flute and organ partnership surprisingly new and exciting. At first thought, one wonders if the two instruments are well matched. But they soon discover that the resonant acoustics of churches and concert halls, coupled with a wealth of high-quality repertoire, are perfectly suited to a compelling chamber music experience. The flute and organ genre offers the perfect opportunity for diverse expression. While the flute can feature prominently in a carpet of organ color, it can also become an additional stop that blends into the full organ sound. The two instruments constantly trade roles, explore new sounds and ensemble possibilities. Composers have created a wide range of musical textures that utilize the various strengths of the two instruments. And because each pipe organ is so individual, the duo can truly claim that every performance is unique. At the same time, the flute must develop new sounds that fit each organ and performance space.
JOHN WEAVER (b.1937)


JEHAN ALAIN (1911-1940)

HANS HILLER (1873-1938)


MARCEL DUPRÉ (1886-1971)


FRANZ LACHNER (1803-1890)
ELEGIE (1879)

FRANK MARTIN (1890-1974)

MSR Classics
American Music for Flute and Organ


Romantic Music for Flute and Piano