Gordon Young was a famous organ player and composer of our time, born in McPherson, Kansas in 1919: he is well-known especially for his organ and choral repertoire. His musical studies took place at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas and then he continued them thanks to a scholarship by Curtis Institute of Music of Philadelphia with the organ plater Alexander McCurdy in the 40s. Later he received his degree as Doctor of Sacred Music in 1964 and 18 consecutive annual prizes of composition. He wrote over 800 works and a great number of anthems such as Now sing we joyfully unto God. Among his organ music, Prelude in Classic Style is entered in the standard repertoire of many organ players and Cathedral Suite with Baroque Suite was recorded by the famous Dutch organ player Feike Asma. Young died 2nd October 1998 at St. Clair’s Shores, Michigan. One of his composition, Contempora Suite, was used by the Florida Bandmasters Association for Solo & Ensemble competitions. In his organ works, Young shows a huge ability with the neo-romantic writing and with many pieces that recall the great baroque composers. It is clearly inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach the Prelude of Cathedral Suite, while the Aria of the same work deeply reminds the romantic authors with its melting melody. The other Suite’s movements are very concise and conflicting: they allow a great use of the soloist registers until the final Toccata in French style with a huge theme remitted to the pedal and a series of chords with the keyboards, first in minor, then in major. The Happy Trumpeter is a brief and brilliant composition, written according to the Trumpet Tunes style: the composition uses, as per tradition, a soloist register and the organ Plenum. The Prelude in Classic Style is one of the most popular compositions by Young and it is one of the most performed. It presents a melodic refrain, very brilliant, in Vivaldi’s style with a deep rhythm, a brief cadenza and a series of chords. Holiday is written for the pedal keyboard only and has the typical characteristics of the organ showpiece, where the performer should be a virtuoso. The Passacaglia is a longer composition, that ends with huge soundings. The Prelude on What a Friend is a polished work where Young shows his ability to write on traditional melodies; the brief Trumpet Voluntary presents a simple melody for the trumpet register, while Pageant is one of the most virtuosic compositions written by Young: the song is very free, written in the form of Fantasia with episodes that come back several times during the piece and from the brilliant opening the author makes us understand that he wanted to write a composition of great commitment. The Sonatina is a small tripartite piece that opens with a Toccata in Bach style followed by a Sarabanda, which presents a simple theme performed solo. The Finale, curiously titled Postillon, recalls the horn blasts of the ancient Postiglione and adds a touch of originality to the whole composition. Young has written three collections of Preludes for the Worship, where the most diverse styles and forms are used. The four pieces proposed, which can also be presented as a Suite, are very contrasting with each other, starting with a Trumpet Tune in a modern style with a very marked rhythm, followed by a very sweet Aria with a romantic melody. Foglio d’album is a sort of little joke with various keyboards dialogs and Jubilation needs no introduction as the title is absolutely explanatory about the character of the piece: vigorous, with a marked rhythm written in rhapsodic form. Although they are very short pieces, they have a character, which makes them extremely attractive and pleasing both when performed in groups and when played individually. The Carol Fantasia is a song written in a very free form and based on some very popular Christmas themes. The incipit written in the form of Toccata presents the vigorous chorus Von Himmel hoch, followed by various episodes that blend together up to the final Carillon that presents the theme of Adeste Fideles that crowns this composition. The Baroque Suite is another very popular piece by Young and, despite the title, it could be called Romantic Suite due to the harmonic and melodic features found there. The solemn Plein Jeu is written in free form, almost a Fantasia with a recurring motif of great effect that opens and closes the composition. The March seems almost a Scherzetto and even here we find a melodic-rhythmic repetition that makes the song unmistakable. The Aria presents a beautiful melody with refined modulations, while the Toccata, in pure symphonic style, closes the composition passing from a minor key to a major one in a close dialogue. The Variations on the hymn Nettleton are another wide-ranging song composed by Young. The Hymn is presented at the beginning with a simple harmonization followed by very different and very contrasting variations with a great use of sonorities such as in the second and fifth variation. After a “passing” variation the ending presents a vigorous and free Toccata where the theme of the Hymn is presented to the pedal several times against a virtuosic figuration on the keyboards. After an intermezzo in the form of a fanfara, the Toccata is resumed, which rapidly closes the piece.
Additional info about this CD
Recorded in chiesa di Sant’Anastasia, Villasanta (MB), Italy, on January 2019.
16 pages full colour booklet (Ita and Eng).
Full organ specs card included.