Alas, I didn't get to drink any coffee during the break but I had 2 chocolate candies instead given to me by the security guard of my church earlier today to refresh me. This should be enough to hold me attentive for the next hour or so...
So the first performer after the break is No. 20 Jan Šprta from Czech Republic. He starts with the Praeludium in E Minor (large) by Nicolaus Bruhns. The opening was really powerfully registered but the fugue creates a nice contrast with 8' principal in the hands and feet. I wish for more calmness here, just like it these dramatic rests at the end of the fugue. The arpeggio episode is also played with the 8' principal. The organist shows some creativity in the flourishes before the 2nd fugue. The registration of this fugue is very loud but some of the articulation is too staccato... No surprises at the end except maybe for the final tempo rush...
The next piece on our menu tonight is Chorale Prelude "Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr", BWV 676 by J.S. Bach. The registration is rather heavy, sounds like 8' and 4' principals in the hands but the pedals are well-balanced with 16' and 8' principals. Not surprisingly fast tempo but good control of situation. However, lacks in listening to the dialogue between the two upper voices.
The organist ends his appearance tonight with "Inspiration" by Vytautas Barkauskas. A well-thought out chaos reigns in this piece including dramatic replicas with Posaune in the pedals. Fast and slower sections are separated by the rest just a tad too large which doesn't create forward motion. Nice choice of mutation stops for slow episode before the end.
Two more Bruhns performances to listen tonight and we're done! I'm sorry Master Nicolaus! But 23 times of E minor in an equal temperament of the modern organ is a heavy test on the listener with a short attention span like myself. So next comes No. 21 Veronika Lobareva from Russian Federation. The jury and the listeners are clearly tired now. A couple of the people sitting opposite to me start to talk between themselves and everybody is looking at them... The first fugue is registered with 8' flute and 4' principals in the hands and 8' in the pedals. The fanfare episode suddenly revives me! I like imaginative runs but would have chosen a more balanced pedal stop combination. The arpeggio episode played with the 8' flute in the manuals and 16' flute in the pedals. I have expected more improvisation from the organist before the 2nd fugue. Now the finish line is getting close. This fugue and the ending are performed with much excitement which suits the character of the piece very well.
Now comes Trio super ''Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr", BWV 664 by J.S. Bach. I expect the dynamic level to decrease a bit after such a dramatic performance of the Bruhns. And yes, it's soft enough to enjoy (8' and 4' flutes in the hands against 16' and 8' flutes in the feet) but now some mistakes spoil my appetite for this gourmet dish. Maybe the last piece will be a good dessert?
And so, the organist starts "Inspiration" by Vytautas Barkauskas with some good inspiration with the feeling of sort of like trying out the organ for the first time! Soft contrasting episodes lead to the culmination after which I really enjoy how the organist explores mysterious flute sounds. The finale sounds powerful and dramatic. Probably the best performed version of this piece for me (but keep in mind I didn't hear yesterday's last few performers).
OK, three more pieces to go and I'm outta here! Here comes No. 22 Hyun Sun Park from South Korea. Oh not the Bruhns again! The organ is also not happy - a cipher in the beginning episode... I think I hear 8' principal and 4' flute in the manual part of the first fugue. The pedal 8' principal alone is too soft for this combination, in my opinion. A sudden appearance of the pedal 16' stop at the end of the fugue isn't what I had expected. For the fanfare episode the organist chooses to use 8' trumpet in the manual which works well here. In the arpeggio episode I hear 4' flute in the manual and 8' flute in the pedals. I want to thank the organist for entertaining me with some really imaginative flourishes before the 2nd fugue. Keep it up until the end! The reed registration is a little unusual but works for me, including the echos. The organ again misbehaves with the cipher on the high F# making the last chord sound like a 9th chord! Great trick to wake the audience up!
Let's now all pray to the organ gods who wield the power of ciphers to be merciful during the last two pieces. First comes Trio super ''Allein Gott in der Höh' sei Ehr'', BWV 664 by J.S. Bach. The organist uses flute registration here. I like the balance between the hands and pedals. A question: Why does everybody play these trios really fast? An answer: To make themselves instead of the piece look good through their virtuosity. Of course, it's nice when an organist has a skill to do it but why not wait for the next toccata?
And so in the "Toccata" by Faustas Latėnas the organist is displaying her control of the instrument really well. A strange effect after hearing this piece many times - I suddenly appreciate repetitions of the same passage much more. Exciting runs lead to the calm and strange ending which the audience meets with the audible relieve...
Now after an hour and 20 minutes we'll find out who's staying for the 2nd Round. Stay tuned...
If you want to watch a recording of the live-stream, check it out here:
Specification of the organ:
Round 1, Group 1 review
Round 1, Group 2 review
Round 1, Group 4 review
[Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion which may or may not coincide with the reader's opinion. If you don't like it, write your own.]
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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