Monday, December 17, 2012

More scary organ music for the holidays

Today I was going to play you some familiar Christmas carols on the piano. However, I didn't manage to record them before the workers started replacing the sanctuary carpet (see Friday's post) and as of today they are still working. They've made good progress and might finish up today, and with any luck the organ will be put back in place tomorrow, along with the piano. But it seems the carols will have to wait for next year. There are an awful lot of them that ought to be played more, particularly as, for every concert, church event, and service, we seem to sing the same three or four. I think I've played "O Come, All Ye Faithful" at least a half-a-dozen times already and we've still got a week to go before the big day.

So for today you're stuck with something else you may not have heard before, an organ piece by Michael Praetorius, from early 17th century Germany. I recorded the piece back in July (note to organists: it is a good idea to record/practice your Christmas music in the summer) which is the only reason I can post it now.  For me, the piece is not new. I first played it on Christmas Day 2005, when Christmas was on a Sunday. We had four Christmas Eve services that year, and I played about 26 verses of Silent Night. I also remember trying to nail down all the Christmas music while flying out to Baltimore for my oral defense--I was finishing up my degree that year, my first in Illinois. It snowed a couple of days before I had to fly, prompting concern over whether I was going to be able to get there on time, and it snowed in Baltimore that afternoon as well, after it was all over. I also played the piece on the day after Christmas (a Sunday) in 2010. It might be my favorite of Mr. Praetorius' organ pieces.

Funny--the first time I recorded the piece, in 2005, I remember some workers coming into the sanctuary and loudly dropping a stack of lumber right near the end of the piece! It's hard to listen to the present recording without hearing it in my mind. Fortunately for your peace of mind, this recording is lumber-free. I hope you are having an enjoyable holiday season, and that Mr. Praetorius is able to contribute to it. The chant on which it is based shows up in slow motion in the bass, where it is hard to hear, but you know what? Just enjoy the sounds and the festivity and don't worry about it.

Here it is:   Michael Praetorius:  Summo Parenti Gloria

p.s. The Christmas show is up at hour of organ music for the holidays. Enjoy.

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