Christmas and other Ecclesiastical Feasts in Gregorian Chant and Organ Music
Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis · Erich Türk


A kolozsvári Nagyboldogasszony templom orgonája

Hymnus A solis ortus cardine – Christmas Laudatory Hymn

Nicolas de GRIGNY: A solis ortus cardine I–IV.

Nicolas de Grigny (1672-1703) was the organist of the Notre-Dame Coronation Cathedral from Reims, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Earlier, between 1693 and 1695 he served as an organist at the Saint Denis Cathedral in Paris. In 1695 he married Marie-Magdeleine de France, with whom he had seven children. He died young, at the age of 31. His main work is Premier livre d'orgue, first published in 1699, and again in 1711. For a long time, this second edition was the only known. The sole existing copy of the first edition was not found until 1949, in the National Library of France. The first part of this collection contains parts of the Holy Mass, while the second adaptations of five hymns for Vespers and Lauds. One of these is the adaptation of the hymn entitled A solis ortus cardine, a composition attributed to Caelius Sedulius, in the 5th century.

Antiphona Sancta Maria cum Magnificat – Antiphon for Vespers on Marian festivals

Johann Sebastian BACH: Fuga sopra Magnificat BWV 733

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), the offspring of an extended family of musicians, is the most significant composer of the German Baroque music. He started his career in 1703 as an organist in the cities of Amstadt, Mühlhausen and Weimar, and as a concertmaster (Kapellmeister) in Köthen and Leipzig. One of the main pillars of his legacy is the rich organ literature that professionally is highly demanding, often requiring virtuosity. Most of his organ works were written in Weimar (for example the first part of the Orgenbüchlein, a collection containing 44 choral preludes). Saint Thomas Church of Leipzig was his workplace for the last 23 years of his life. The Sovereign appointed him as Court Composer in 1736. In 1747 he received a de facto invitation to the Prussian Court. It was there, that he became familiarized with the fortepiano, a new musical instrument at that time. He died of diabetes and a cerebral stroke. The fugue written for the Magnificat (Mary's Song, Luke 1:46-55) evokes a recitative tone, called tonus peregrinus. Unlike other reciting tones, here the tone of the first verse differs from the second. The first part of the actual theme shows up in the fugue's exposition, but it fully evolves on the pedals only in the second part.

hymnus Veni Creator Spiritus – hymn for Vespers during the week before Pentecost

Johann Sebastian BACH: Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist! BWV 667

One of the greatest challenges and achievements of J. S. Bach's lifework were his chorale arrangements, the main body of Protestant congregational singing. The master arranged 188 chorales for four voices, some having multiple versions. He also composed instrumental chorale preludes, partitas, chorale fantasies and fugues, most of them for the organ. The lyrics of the Veni Creator Spiritus hymn is attributed to Rabanus Magnentius Maurus, the renowned 9th century Frankish theologian. The poem follows the noblest tradition of the Ambrosian (Milanese) hymn-lyrics. In his Komm, Gott, Schöpfer, Heiliger Geist! chorale arrangement, Bach leaves the first two lines of the four-division musical strophe untouched, but he re-writes the third and fourth lines in order to confer a more "German" character to it that the chorale tradition required.

hymnus Ave Maris stella – Hymn for Vespers on Marian festivals

Charles TOURNEMIRE: Fantaisie-Improvisation sur Ave maris stella

Charles Tournemire (1870-1939), born in Bordeaux, was César Franck's youngest disciple. From 1898 until his death he had been the titular organist of the St. Clotilde Basilica of Paris; he also taught chamber music and organ improvisation at the Conservatoire of Paris. He died in 1939 of unknown circumstances. He was considered a prominent master of the art of improvisation. Tournemire's improvisations are characterized by an enthusiasm of free soaring, unlike those of his friend and colleague, Vierne, whose improvisations are more "componistic". In 1930 five of Tournemire's major organ improvisations were recorded on phonograph, and later transcribed by Maurice Duruflé. Ave maris stella is one of the five opuses of improvisation on Marian hymns. With its wallow in rich colour nuances, chromatic repetitions, reverberation effects and César Franck-like romantic cantabiles, he seems to follow 19th century French organ tradition.

introitus Puer natus est nobis – Introit to third Christmas Mass

Olivier MESSIAEN: Puer natus est nobis (Livre du Saint Sacrement V.)

Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992) was born in Avignon. He studied organ and improvisations from Marcel Dupré, and composition and orchestration from Paul Dukas. In 1931 he became the organist of the Holy Trinity Church in Paris. In his compositions elements of numerology, of the Gregorian cantus planus, of Indian rhythm and Javan gamelan tonality can be traced alongside of Stravinsky's and Debussy's influence. Being a professional ornithologist, Messiaen studied the melody and rhythm of bird songs. In his organ composition, Puer natus est nobis, dedicated to the sacraments, he cut the melody of the Christmas Introit into two parts, then he filled it with furiously alternating compact chords and rich harmonies, while the whole work is woven through with the starting fifth ("Puer") reminiscent of the dawn trumpet call.

hymnus Lucis Creator optime – Invitatory-hymn during ordinary time

Jehan ALAIN: Variations sur Lucis Creator

Jehan Alain (1911-1940) was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Music ran in his family, his father was a composer and organist, and his brothers also became musicians. Having studied under famous masters of the Conservatoire of Paris, he won national grand prize in theory of harmony, counterpoint and fugue practices. He was named the organist at the Maisons-Laffitte in 1936. Alain's Litanies are today considered standard pieces of the 20th century organ literature. He died at the age of 29, leaving behind three children. The short first part of his work uses Pope St. Gregory the Great's twilight hymn (Lucis Creator optime) and presents the theme in chord setup. The first variation is chorale-like: the slightly transformed cantus firmus is accompanied by a string of quavers, while the pedal-part also divides. The second variation is basically a fugue, which settles down, after a tonal parade – behind the pedals' playing the theme as a "farewell" – by the end of the composition.

hymnus A Patre Unigenite – Vespers Hymn for the Baptism of the Lord

Hans Peter TÜRK: In baptismate Domini

Hans Peter Türk (b.1940) is a composer and a professor. He studied composition with Sigismund Toduţă at the Music Academy of Cluj (Romania), and became a professor of theory of harmony and composition in the same school. In his orchestral, choral, organ and chamber music works, Transylvanian themes rooted in the folklore or the German literary tradition play a central role. He composed his work, In baptismate Domini, by invitation, especially for this CD. Its title refers to the liturgical use of the hymn A Patre unigenite, on the day of the Lord's Baptism. Throughout the composition, in the midst of the easily recognizable hymn melody, surprising ornamentations appear as symbols for contemplation, exultation, quest or discovery.