EIN' FESTE BURG
Music of the Reformation
Johann Sebastian Bach, James Curnow, Felix Mendelssohn, Otto Nicolai, Heinrich Schütz
CHICAGO GARGOYLE BRASS AND ORGAN ENSEMBLE
Lev Garbar, Andrew Hunter and Joe Loeffler, trumpets
Abigail Black, Kathryn Swope and Renée Vogen, horns
Karen Mari and Ian Fitzwater, trombones
Josh Wirt, Serena Voltz and Lee Stofer, tuba
Michael Schraft, timpani
JARED STELLMACHER, organ
MARK SUDEITH, organ
STEPHEN SQUIRES, conductor
"On the one hand, this disc is an ebullient celebration of brass and organ music; it also celebrates 500 years of music since the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and the Protestant Reformation. One of the most famous Lutheran melodies is Ein’ feste Burg, and this disc celebrates the Reformation through that very melody and, occasionally, one of its friends... The organ is simply magnificent, a four-manual beauty that fits the brass sound perfectly. The sheer sense of peace exuded by Mark Sudeith’s performance of Bach’s Nun komm, der heiden Heiland, BWV 659, is remarkable... All credit is due to Jared Stellmacher for his playing of the four-part fugue that makes up Wir glauben all an einen Gott, BWV 680, (particularly his pedal work), performed on the Schantz organ at the Church of the Gesu at Marquette University in Milwaukee, probably the largest pipe organ in Milwaukee... [We hear here the finale of Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” Symphony], the trumpets full of annunciatory grandeur, the organ an ecclesiastical echo. When things really take off, timpani is added to the mix, effectively... This is an illuminating, uplifting disc, where a fine brass ensemble meets exemplary organ playing."
Colin Clarke, Fanfare [November/December 2020]
"Five hundred years of memorable music condensed into just seventy-one minutes and performed spectacularly by...the Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble. Exciting stuff to lift the spirits."
Gerald Fenech, Classical Music Daily [June 2020]
"The program is particularly effective in showing the lasting influence of the Reformation on music, and in particular the centrality of the chorale in Western music... [In Curnow’s Rejouissance] the quintet plays with verve, shaping lines dramatically and attacking passagework with enthusiasm. On the low end, the tuba offers satisfying heft... [Mark Sudeith's Bach’s prelude on Nun Komm, de Heiden Heiland] is a solid performance and Sudeith doesn’t let the walking bass lines in the pedal part overpower the canon in the inner voices... [Nicolai’s Ecclesiastical Festival Overture] receives an inspired reading that is one of the highlights of the disc... Music by Mendelssohn closes the program: a fine performance of the organ sonata, Op.65/6, and the finale of the 'Reformation' Symphony..."
James V. Maiello, Fanfare [September/October 2020]
"This is a very enjoyable programme of music, taking one of the great melodies of the Reformation, and performing various works which feature the melody in arrangements - or original compositions - for brass, organ or an amalgamation of the two... Curnow's [festive and brilliant] Réjouissance makes for a good curtain-raiser to the disc and sets the tone for a well-played, well-engineered programme... the kind of mixed programme that I enjoy listening to repeatedly."
Nick Barnard, MusicWeb International [May 2020]
"[Conductor] Stephen Squires certainly elicits excellent playing from the ensemble, [in the Mendelssohn] and throughout the disc, and organists Jared Stellmacher and Mark Sudeth contribute impressively to the overall sound. The CD is, at its heart, an experience mixing the serious with the festive, reaching across religions and speaking to many forms of spirituality and belief."
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [April 2020]
"All [organs] are impressive instruments... Fine recorded sound with good brass-organ balance."
Kilpatrick, American Record Guide [March/April 2020]
"The first piece on the recording is a fantasia on Ein’ feste Burg by a composer named James Curnow. It blew me away. It made me feel as if everything was all right, in its proper place. It warmed my heart. Looking at the headnote, you will see that Curnow shares space with Schütz, Bach, Nicolai, and Mendelssohn. But I just wanted to hear the Curnow piece again. I looked him up; he is quite prolific but writes mostly for band. I’m starting to wonder how much wonderful music exists in this repertoire and will ever get the attention it deserves... But the Windy City Gargoyles are standouts on everything they play, as good as any similarly constituted ensemble I have heard, Perhaps one out of every 10 CDs that come to me are instant favorites that I will listen to many times with unflagging enthusiasm. This is one of them."
David Reznick, Fanfare [March/April 2020]
"The Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble under the direction of Stephen Squires, with Jared Stellmacher and Mark Sudeith sharing the duties as organist, give thrilling performances of the Reformation hymns that have inspired composers to create imaginative settings of them ever since Martin Luther’s day. Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott, usually translated A Mighty Fortress is our God, is the best-known, but the Gargoyles also show themselves adept in bringing the lesser-known hymns to life in the sort of glorious arrangements that have been their trademark."
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Club [December 2019]
THE REFORMATION |
500 YEARS OF MUSIC
Drawn from two years of concerts and sessions celebrating the 500th anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, this festive album of brass and organ music follows the development of Ein feste Burg ist under Gott
every 100 years in the music of Heinrich Schütz, Johann Sebastian Bach, Otto N icolai, Felix Mendelssohn and into the 21st century by James Curnow. An additional seven hymns of Martin Luther set by these great composers round out
the album in solo organ and solo brass ensemble concert recordings with three magnificent organs in three great and resonant spaces.
* * *
The Protestant Reformation
is generally considered to have begun with the publication of Martin Luther’s Ninety-five Theses, which he posted in 1517 at All Saints’ Church (“Castle Church”) in Wittenberg, Germany. There were other activists, of course, but Luther himself is regarded as the catalyst of this schism in Western Christianity. His rejection of some fundamental teachings and customs of the Roman Catholic Church included specific criticism of the abuse of the practice of indulgences, by which the purchase of such an indulgence might achieve forgiveness for the sins of the deceased.
We know Luther the composer primarily from Bach’s oeuvre. He expressed his esteem for music in characteristic manner: “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise… But any who remain unaffected [by music] are clodhoppers indeed and are fit to hear only the words of dung-poets and the music of pigs.” Luther played the lute and the flute and sang tenor, but his reputation is based on his chorales for congregational use, some of which he adapted from Gregorian chant or the melodies of popular songs.
Many of these chorales are merely attributed to him, but scholars agree that he composed at least twenty five. Schütz, Buxtehude, Mendelssohn, Reger are other major figures who have used Luther’s chorale melodies, but many later composers such as Brahms and, more recently, Sofia Gubaidulina, James Curnow and Randall Faust have found inspiration at the same source.
Ein feste Burg
itself has been set by major composers from Schütz, Telemann, Pachelbel, Buxtehude, Mendelssohn, Reger and Flor Peeters to less religious composers, including Claude Debussy and Richard Wagner. The theme has been quoted in opera by Giacomo Meyerbeer and Kari Tikka, and even as a fearsome motif for a German U-boat in the film score of 49th Parallel
by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
CHICAGO GARGOYLE BRASS AND ORGAN ENSEMBLE
H. Rodney Holmes Founder and Artistic Director
The Chicago Gargoyle Brass was founded in 1992 by its Artistic Director, H. Rodney Holmes, as a chamber group of faculty and students at the University of Chicago, whose campus architecture boasts a charming variety of the ensemble’s namesake. By 2006, the ensemble had slowly professionalized and established a residency in the western suburbs at a major church with a full-time professional organist. Over the next five years, the group transformed itself into a specialized brass and organ concert ensemble, comprised of classically trained musicians, performing a wide variety of repertoire in an equally diverse range of settings. Well into its third decade, the Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble maintains its position at the cutting edge of music for brass and organ, commissioning and performing new arrangements and compositions for that instrumental pairing. [ www.gargoylebrass.com
has been arranging music for more than 30 years, and has performed with the Boston Pops, Boston Opera Company Orchestra and other Boston area orchestras. As an arranger, Garner has for the last 20 years concentrated on music for brass instruments, having has published more than 120 works. During that time, he co-founded Dorm 40 Music, a publishing company specializing in music for brass. Garner focuses on arranging long-form symphonic works, not typically found in the brass ensemble repertoire. Garner attended the Boston Conservatory and the New England Conservatory, where he received a Master of Music degree.
2006 RODGERS ORGAN, OPUS 1038
Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, Wheaton, Illinois
39 pipe ranks;
250 total stops
SCHANTZ ORGAN CO., OPUS 2300
Church of the Gesu, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
115 ranks; 90 stops
1982 CASAVANT FRÈRES ORGAN, LIMITÉE, OPUS 3544
First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois
Récit, Solo and Pédale
88 ranks; 73 stops
REJOUISSANCE - FANTASIA ON “EIN’ FESTE BURG” (1987/2011)
(1585-1672) | Arrangement for Brass Quartet by Gary Olson
THREE BECKER PSALMS,” OP.5
Psalm 20: “Hear us, Lord”
Psalm 103: “Bless the Lord, O my soul”
Psalm 46: “God is my refuge and strength”
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
“NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND”, BWV 659
“EIN FEST BURG”, BWV 80 | Transcription by H. Rodney Holmes
THREE LUTHERAN CHORALES
“Wir glaüben all an einen Gott”, BWV 680
“Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir”, BWV 687
“Fantasia super Komm, Heiliger Geist”, BWV 651
(1810-1849) | Arrangement by Craig Garner
ECCLESIASTICAL FESTIVAL OVERTURE ON “EIN’ FESTE BURG”, OP.31
(1809-1847) | Arrangements by Craig Garner
ORGAN SONATA NO.6 IN D MINOR, OP.65 (1845)
I. Andante sostenuto
II. Allegro molto – Fuga
III. Finale: Andante “Vater unser im Himmelreich”
SYMPHONY NO.5 “REFORMATION”, OP. 107
IV. Andante con moto – Allegro vivace – Allegro maestoso