Thomas Trotter — Opus 100 Organ SeriesOpus 100: Lay Family Concert Organ Series
March 26 | 2017
Thomas Trotter organ
Distinguished British organist Thomas Trotter comes to the Meyerson to perform on the Lay Family Concert Organ.
- Briton Thomas Trotter Displays Full Power of Lay Family Organ at Meyerson Symphony Center
by Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News
"It is tornado and hurricane rolled into one, equal in brawn and brilliance, stampeding past the orchestra and thrilling audiences." So writes the organ historian and consultant Jonathan Ambrosino of the 25-year-old Lay Family Organ in Dallas' Meyerson Symphony Center.
The mass and power were duly demonstrated Sunday afternoon by the brilliant British organist Thomas Trotter, in the second of three "Opus 100" organ recitals presented this season by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. (The Meyerson organ is Opus 100 of the distinguished Massachusetts organ-building firm C.B. Fisk.) What was more impressive, actually, was how much of his recital Trotter devoted to the organ's more intimate effects.
The history of organ building is very much defined by national traditions. Although the Meyerson organ incorporates sounds more typical of French and English organs, its backbone is resolutely Germanic. With one exception, Trotter's program played to that backbone.
The first half was all Bach. Parts of the G-major Fantasia (now more commonly identified by the French title Piece d'orgue) and C-major Toccata, Adagio and Fugue exposed the beefy plenum, the quintessential organ-chorus sound. But the Third Trio Sonata in D minor (BWV 527) and three of the Schubler Chorales displayed lovely single principal and flute stops, the former singing with just enough "breath," the latter suggesting baroque recorders. A rustic German trumpet stop and a gently wailing Trechterregal added color and texture to the chorales' solo lines.
Max Reger, a German composer who lived from 1873 to 1916, represented a transitional figure between Mendelssohn and the hyperchromaticism — and eventually atonality — of Arnold Schoenberg. Opening the recital's second half, Reger's Chorale Fantasia on "Wachet auf! ruft uns die Stimme" (known in English as the Advent hymn "Sleepers, wake") began in a mysterious hush, alternating with massive onslaughts of sound. The hymn tune worked its way through sometimes tightly knotted treatments, and varied sonorities, before a fugue built to fistfuls of notes and double pedal parts thundered out by virtually full organ.
Mendelssohn's position between Bach and Reger was demonstrated with the Overture to the oratorio St. Paul, in W.T. Best's elaborate organ arrangement. Sure enough, again with the "Wachet auf" tune, here were the seeds of Reger's chromatic sequences and busy fugal elaborations.
The one non-German piece was the Frenchman Jean Roger-Ducasse's Pastorale, progressing from a gently rocking tune, decorated with stylized bird twitters, to a storm of manual and pedal virtuosity, to the proverbial calm after the storm.
Start to finish, Trotter delivered first-class playing, technically impeccable — and apparently effortless at that — and stylistic savvy. It had natural flow and urgency, buoyancy and shape. He used an organ that easily can become overpowering with sense and sensibility. And his spoken program notes were models of what such things should be: friendly, articulate and right to the point.