Young Virtuoso Returns to Flint's Historic Church
Music at St. Paul's
By Dennis E. Ferrara
A large and enthusiastic audience on Sunday, February 14th, 3 pm, heard Nathan Laube in a brilliant organ recital as part of the Music at St. Paul’s Recital Series. This is the second time that the artist has returned to play the 4 manual, 89 rank Dalton Memorial Organ built by Adams and installed in the warm acoustics of the historic Episcopal church.
Variety in programming is an art unto it self and this young artist certainly understands this statement. He opened the recital with his own organ transcription of the Overture to Die Fledermaus (“The Bat”) of Johann Strauss II. The artist has added and developed a stronger pedal theme in this prodigious transcription. Orchestral voices were in abundance including clarinets, select flutes and lush strings from the various divisions within the instrument. A true and thrilling symphonic transcription was in evidence.
The Fantasia in F minor, K. 594, also known as the Andante and Allegro, K. 594 of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart demonstrated the fine flutes of the instrument. The artist chose the difficult transcription by the late Marcel Dupré for this recital. This transcription is more demanding than the original, adding in the pedal the Allegro theme throughout, and this artist’s pedal and manual technique was clean and concise.
The first half of the program ended with the massive Passacaglia, BWV 582 of Johann Sebastian Bach. Laube’s registrations for the 21 variations of the old dance form and the 12 times that the fugue subject appeared were extremely colorful and demonstrated the numerous masculine and feminine choruses of the organ.
The Moderato or Variations on ‘Puer Natus est’ from Symphonie Gothique pour Grand Orgue, Op. 70 of Charles-Marie Widor, showed once again Laube’s imaginative and colorful registrations in this massive movement, which is obviously Widor’s homage to J.S. Bach.
The recital ended with the Suite pour Orgue, Op. 5, of the late Maurice Duruflé. The composition is divided into three movements: Prélude, Sicilienne, and Toccata. The Prélude with its dark, rich and foreboding themes was clearly an example of the artist’s understanding of registration and rhymes. The impressionistic Sicilienne was a beautiful piece of expressive feeling and nuance. Always the color artist, Laube utilizes the organ as a painter would use a painter’s palate in describing a feeling, thought, or aesthetic experience. The fiery Toccata in the typical French manner demonstrated the artist’s brilliant facility on the instrument. This Suite was an excellent “audience pleaser.”
Nathan Laube returned and as an encore played a stunning fugue from Prélude et Fugue sur la nom d’ALAIN, again by Duruflé. The constant registrations from soft to the full organ were in evidence in this superb composition and Laube’s playing was peerless.
The artist’s educational and informal comments between compositions added much to the overall enjoyment of the audience whether an individual was a novice, aficionado or season performer. One may best describe Nathan Laube as a “sensitive virtuoso.” Not only is his technique extremely brilliant but his understanding of the importance of the subtle, musical, and totally expressive musical phrase. This is very important in making music truly musical and an experience for the heart, mind and soul of its listeners.
Dennis E. Ferrara
Associate Professor Communications/Film
Mott College Flint, Michigan
Flint Chapter of the American Guild of Organists