Piano Music

Ernest Chausson, Max Reger, Josef Suk




“[Chausson's Four Dances] offer Orgel opportunities for expert characterisation… he responds well to the more arrestingly extrovert charms of the increasingly dramatic Forlane.”
Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International [October 2015]
“[In the Suk] Mr Orgel’s playing is tender, clean... [Pedalling] is especially careful and sensitive, expertly balancing clarity and harmonic richness. I can’t get these pieces out of my head; they’re sneakily memorable... [In the Reger] Orgel’s careful pedal sustains the romantic sonorities while keeping the chromatic harmonies clear and controlled. Orgel has assembled a very moving moodsetting recital, and I look forward to hearing this again. The Steinway has clear, firm bass and midrange and a slightly muffled treble assisting the pianist’s muted, anti-virtuoso approach.”
Wright, American Record Guide [September/October 2015]
“the album itself is a virtually unalloyed delight... [Of the Suk, Orgel's] is an eloquent, unaffected, masterfully gauged interpretation that wisely allows this intensely moving music to speak for itself... Orgel’s performance of these graceful, shockingly little-known works [by Chausson] is deft and knowing... [In the Reger] Orgel’s interpretations could not be more intelligent or sympathetic, enhanced by the up-close—but never claustrophobic—recorded sound. A warm welcome, then, for another of the year’s most unusual and rewarding piano collections”
Jim Svejda, Fanfare [September/October 2015]
“Only the most arcane piano bench would have these three forgotten scores inside, but that’s the reason Paul Orgel has been playing them in recital. He believes that music of such high quality deserves to be heard. Each work is personal and self-reflective... [these pieces] are lovely souvenirs of late Victoriana merging with late Romanticism. Twilight can be seen outside the casement window... Besides being an ingenious programmer and accomplished pianist, Orgel makes interesting connections in his program notes… the entire program comes off as a progression from Suk’s melodic charm to the meditations of Chausson and the faintly academic traditionalism of Reger. Orgel makes an excellent case for these neglected works; they could hardly find a more committed and skilled advocate. MSR’s recorded sound is exemplary, as are the piano and the program notes.”
Huntley Dent, Fanfare [July/August 2015]
[ * * * * ] “Orgel delivers a perfect disc for the keyboard collector of new and often challenging works... Perhaps the most immediately touching set of pieces, the Suk suite of 1907, conveys Orgel’s superlatively affectionate reading... In sharing his affections in music, Orgel gives us a disc that transcends both sentiment and scholarship and illuminates – on several levels – our response to late Romantic music.”
Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition [July 2015]
“[The Dvorak] is pianistically graceful, warm, and charming... Paul Orgel’s limpid playing suits About Mother to a tee... [Chausson’s piano pieces] share an elegance that attests to their French origins, and the final piece calls forth a luminous virtuosity from Orgel. [Reger’s] gentle, dreamy, almost pastoral pieces are volume three of four... [an] hour of interesting, little known piano music... It is a fine disc”
James H. North, Fanfare [July/August 2015]
“Paul Orgel points up the plentiful lyricism in these pieces with a splendid legato tone, a sense for proper balances and with tempos that never seem rushed or erratic. The more energetic and spirited music comes across with plenty of energy and detail, and Orgel's technical skills are fully up to the demands of the music here. MSR's sound reproduction is vivid and powerful. If the repertory sounds intriguing to you, this disc should prove rewarding.”
Robert Cummings, ClassicalNet [June 2015]
“In beautifully played performances [of Suk, Chausson and Reger] Orgel illuminates very personal works by these composers, revealing them to be truly rewarding listening. [In the Suk] Orgel, one of Vermont’s finest concert pianists, delivers all the drama and pathos of this beautifully personal work. From nuanced and tender to dark and dramatic, Orgel displays both sensitivity and virtuosity. All the works on the album are intimate personal statements, and Orgel plumbs their depths vividly... Orgel does both this music and listeners a real service with this recording. By identifying with the composers’ intentions, he delivers their most personal statements compellingly and beautifully.”
Jim Lowe [March 2015]
I have known and loved the three works on this disc for many years and was motivated by their unfamiliarity to record them. When I first played them together as a concert program, I wasn’t aware of their connections, other than their neglect and my affection, but it turns out that, as products of fin-de-siècle France, and early 20th century Germany and Bohemia, they share more than a little in common.

First, though each composer’s style qualifies as being “late Romantic”, each piece has some “modern” features. Chausson anticipates the nationalistic, neo- Classical impulse and dignified mood of several well-known works in dance form by Fauré (Pavane), Debussy (the Sarabande from Pour le piano) and Ravel (Pavane pour une infante défunte, Le tombeau de Couperin). In About Mother, Josef Suk moves beyond his teacher Dvořák’s direct influence toward a more impressionistic, harmonically sophisticated language. Reger’s lush chromaticism, in which I hear more of Wagner’s influence than that of his more often cited model, Brahms, leads toward the free atonality of Schoenberg, who was a strong defender of Reger’s music. (Hindemith cited Reger’s work as a model for his path as a composer).

Second, the songful, introspective pieces that predominate in each set— Suk’s reminiscences of his cherished wife, Chausson’s contemplative musings disguised as dances, Reger’s moody musical diary entries—share a similar mood and affect.

Born in New York City, Paul Orgel has concertized throughout the United States, China and Eastern Europe as a recitalist, soloist with orchestra and chamber musician. A versatile musician with wide-ranging interests and a varied repertoire, he has given notable concerts in such venues as New York’s Merkin Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Jordan Hall and the Gardner Museum in Boston, the Ordway Theater in St. Paul and at the San Francisco Conservatory. Orgel has specialized in Czech music, performing programs of the complete piano music of Janáček and music from Terezin. As a scholar of classical performance practice, he has given recitals of Haydn and Beethoven on the Viennese fortepiano.

As a chamber musician, Orgel has been associated with the Yellow Barn Festival, was a founding member of the Interlochen Trio, is a long-time member of Music at Eden’s Edge and has collaborated with such artists as Jaime Laredo, Soovin Kim, the Chicago String Quartet and the Quartetto di Venezia. He is currently on the faculty of the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival.

Orgel is active as a recording artist, and can be heard on a recording of music for flute and piano by Louis Moyse (CRI/New World), a 2003 Grammy nominee, and  on Keyboard Fantasies by Curt Cacioppo (Capstone). He can also be heard on a 2005 solo recording, Music from the Holocaust, which features music by Karel  Berman, Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein and Viktor Ullmann (Phoenix).

Orgel was educated at Oberlin, the New England Conservatory, Boston University and holds a doctorate in piano performance from Temple University. Among his piano teachers were Russell Sherman, Lillian and Irwin Freundlich, and Harvey Wedeen. Orgel is the director of the Humanities Program Concert Series at Saint Michael’s College, a member of the music faculty at the University of Vermont and a reviewer for Fanfare Magazine. [ ]
JOSEF SUK (1874-1935)
ABOUT MOTHER, OP.28 (1907)
1. When Mother was a little girl (Allegro molto moderato)
2. Once, in springtime (Adagio)
3. How Mother sang at night to her sick child (Andante)
4. Mother’s heart (Andante sostenuto)
5. Remembering (Andante)

No.1 Dédicace (Calme)
No.2 Sarabande (Andante)
No.3 Pavane (Sans hate)
No.4 Forlane (Animé)

MAX REGER (1873-1916)
1. Lied (Andante sostenuto)
2. Albumblatt (Andante sostenuto)
3. Gavotte (Allegretto)
4. Romanze (Andante sostenuto)
5. Melodie (Andante sostenuto)
6. Humoresque (Vivace)

MSR Classics