Plays & Improvises on the Pasi Organ[CD]
~ Aaron David Miller
Aaron Miller is an excellent young performer, improviser and composer. His performances of the standard repertoire are among the finest recorded. The Bach "Vom Himmel hoch" variations have no peer on CD; they are imbued with infectious rhythm and ingratiating style, literally dancing for joy. The order in which they are played in from the autograph, rather than the print, which places the most complex variation in the middle. They exhibit liveliness, delicacy and tenderness. The performance makes one forget how difficult this music is. The same could be said for the Passacaglia, which slowly but energetically unfolds with fine improvised ornamentation and continuous rhythmic drive; the fugue grows directly from the climax of the last passacaglia statement, resulting in a compelling performance. The Sweelinck variations are lively and well articulated; beginning with restrained but colorful registrations, they build to a fitting climax. The Mendelssohn Sonata, set forth in an entirely different stylistic mode, is appropriately heroic at the opening and closing of the first movement, with an initially quiet but then exciting buildup for the central chorale-derived section. The quiet second movement is gracefully restrained. Mr. Miller reveals equal talent in his improvisation, which tend to be tonal, colorful, and rhythmically inspired. Whether on a free theme or on a familiar cantus firmus, they exhibit skillful settings, sometimes very polyphonic, other times more homophonic, but with interesting accompaniments. Both Regent's Square and the Swedish folk song feature delicate garlands woven around the theme. The "Sinfonia on a Theme of Vaughan Williams" (Sine Nomine) is a fine three-part work with a lively beginning, a quieter middle section, and a spirited finale. The Pasi organ is an equal partner in the enterprise: the historically informed tracker has fine sounds, clarity, and unforced speech. As proven in this recording, it is an excellent instrument for the historic literature and for contemporary improvisation. Program notes include Mr. Miller's biography, a brief statement of improvisation and the organ stoplist. .....review in The American Organist, Arthur Lawrence.
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