Rorem Organ works

Author: 
Marc Rochester

Rorem Organ works

  • Views from the Oldest House
  • (A) Quaker Reader

American organ music seems to have escaped wide attention outside the USA, yet, perhaps because of the variety of very fine (and often very large) instruments and the siting of so many of these instruments in 'secular' buildings, American composers have been more ready to write for it than their European counterparts. Ned Rorem is no exception. His total published output for organ amounts to an early Pastorale and the two substantial suites recorded here, dating from 1976 and 1981 respectively.
Views from the Oldest House was inspired by Nantucket's Sunset Hill near Rorem's own home. These six movements portray in unashamedly picturesque language various aspects of this obviously peaceful place. Perhaps something from Rorem's sojourn in France during the 1950s rubbed off in the last movement, ''Sunday Night'', which incorporates a clear quotation from Messiaen's Dieu parmi nous.
A Quaker Reader owes its origins to Rorem's own Quaker background and his remembered cravings for ''Catholic'' music. Something of the conflict which exists between a Quaker (a religion which espouses silence in worship) and musical composition seeps through in occasional impassioned outbursts.
Catharine Crozier, who over half a century has done more than most to promote the work of contemporary American composers, is currently committing much of this repertoire to record: already she has produced, also for Delos, a disc of music by Rorem's teacher Leo Sowerby ((CD) DE3075, 10/89). She plays with utter conviction and considerable insight. The recording itself is a model of clarity and the organ seems ideally suited to the demands placed upon it.'

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