Various Artists

Heavy Pedal: Works for Organ

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The title of Navona's attractive and eclectic album Heavy Pedal might be referring to the pedal solo, the "Perpetuum Mobile" from German composer Wilhelm Middelschulte's Konzert für Orgel uber ein Thema von Joh. Seb. Bach, but the performance by Brink Bush is anything but heavy; his fleet agility in the showstopper is dazzling and leaves the listener wondering how such playing is physically possible with the feet alone. That piece (1903) and Middelschulte's post-Romantic Passacaglia (1897) are the only works that don't have a distinctly contemporary sound, and most of them could probably be characterized as post-modernist. The most musically sophisticated and substantial work on the album is American composer Curt Cacioppo's "di cibo celeste" (ciaconna-fantasia on themes from Mozart's Don Giovanni), which has an especially lively inventiveness. British composer Michael Summers' four-movement Variations on an English Folksong is a similarly intriguing work, manipulating its source material in striking and ingenious ways. The indebtedness of American composer Tadd Russo's Salzburg Prelude to Minimalism is evident, but that doesn't detract from its effectiveness as an exuberant, celebratory work. He wrote the lovely piece for his own wedding and it's easy to see how he could find its way into the repertoire of quality wedding music. Australian composer Ron Nagorcka is represented by two works that include other instruments; Fantasia uses a clarinet and To be a pilgrim uses trombone and didgeridoo. Organists Michael Kraft, Robert Gallagher, David Scott Hamnes, Brink Bush, and Karel Martinek perform admirably on a variety of instruments. Although the tracks were recorded in a number of different settings, including live performance, the sound is consistently clean and distinct. The CD-ROM track includes program notes and the musical scores of the pieces performed.

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