CD

Come, Creator Spirit: Fedak Plays Fedak at Westminster Church, Albany
Released December, 2009


“This recording serves a twofold purpose. It demonstrates the marvelous E.M. Skinner organ of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany, N.Y., and it showcases several of the organ works of Alfred Fedak, who is minister of music and arts at the church. The Skinner has a fascinating story: it served the church from 1929 until 1976, when, because of insufficient funds for proper refurbishment, an electronic instrument took its place. Fortunately, two wise church members, Dr. Thomas and Anne Older, installed the Skinner intact in their home. In the late 1990s, the electronic instrument began to fail, and the Olders donated the Skinner back to the church. Austin Organs reconstructed the instrument, preserving its original design but adding a few new ranks, including a ten-rank antiphonal. The organ has been prominently featured in conventions of the AGO and the OHS, receiving high praise. In this recording, it handily proves its ability to play service repertoire.

“Alfred Fedak creates music that is effective, appealing, and accessible to both performer and auditor. He skillfully performs twelve liturgically oriented works on this recording. Freely composed works include Sonata for Worship, Sonata II for Worship, Variations on a Ground, and the lovely Lyric Suite. The other pieces are based on hymn tunes and chants, including Veni Creator (running whole-tone scales effectively evoking the rushing winds of the Spirit), Divinum Mysterium, Hyfrydol, Pange Lingua, In Paradisum, Adoro Te Devote, St. Anne (with impressive pedal solos), and a particularly fine set of variations on “Beach Spring.” All of these works are published by Selah, and catalog numbers are given for each. This recording provides the opportunity to hear some of the creative work of one of America’s leading church musicians performing on one of the finest extant examples of E.M. Skinner’s work.”

– The American Organist, December, 2009

“The instrument in this recording is a fine IV/42 E.M. Skinner of 1929, with the chancel organ reconstructed and an antiphonal division added by Austin Organs, Inc., in 2003. A detailed history of the organ, including its 20-year removal from the church beginning in 1976, is provided along with a stoplist. The predominately mellow sound serves Fedak’s music admirably.

“The selections on the program, all of which are published by Selah, emphasize free treatments of hymn tunes (Veni Creator Spiritus, Divinum Mysterium, Hyfrydol, Pange Lingua, Adoro te Devote, St. Anne) and some larger works. Two Sonatas for Worship are clearly intended to be the primary instrumental service music for, in the 1995 suite, a Daily Office, and in the 2005 one, a Eucharist. The 2003 Lyric Suite is probably best suited to be a recital work, but the individual movements could be incorporated nicely into worship. More abstract works are Plainsong-based In Paradisum and a set of Variations on a Ground. All of the pieces and movements are of moderate length and could be used in various liturgical contexts.

“The compositional style is tuneful and quite accessible with only occasional mild dissonances, as in the opening improvisation on the Veni Creator. Fedak (unlike a few composers I have encountered) plays his own work convincingly. This collection of his music provides a representative sample for an organist’s consideration as well as the opportunity to hear ‘how he plays it.’ The engineering by Ed Kelly is thoroughly sympathetic.”

– AAM Journal, December 2008

“The fourth of the six ‘Pange Lingua Variations’ (2001) presents a piquant ostinato figuration in the right hand that outlines the plainsong melody with a decidedly French harmonic flavor. ‘In paradisum’ (1996) is an attractively atmospheric tone poem based on the Gregorian melody from the Burial Office. The ground bass for ‘Variations on a Ground’ (2002) consists mainly of a series of falling tritones whose harmonic implications lend a mysterious and unsettled quality to the piece as a whole.”

– American Record Guide, March/April 2009

“The CD includes twelve of Fedak’s compositions, most of which are based on traditional hymns, such as HYFRYDOL, and ST. ANNE, and chants, including VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS and ADORO TE DEVOTE. All are published by Selah. He writes in classic forms such as theme and variation, ground bass, fanfares and processionals, but often with fresh harmonies. He demonstrates complete mastery of improvisational techniques, as is shown in his Improvisation on VENI CREATOR SPIRITUS and his Fantasia on ST. ANNE. …In addition to hearing good contemporary music played by a fine organist on a beautiful organ, one might want to own this CD as a means of exploring new music to add to one’s own repertoire. Those who do that should have intermediate to advanced skills.”

– Worship Arts, March-April 2009

“In the 1970s, local arts patrons Thomas and Anne Older saved the Westminster Presbyterian Church’s 1929 Skinner pipe organ from being pitched out by having it reinstalled in their home. An electronic instrument served the congregation until 2003, when the original was donated back, refurbished and expanded.

“Organist and composer Alfred V. Fedak employs it well in a new recording on his original works, ‘Come, Creator Spirit.’ Mostly variations and improvisations on familiar hymns and chants, the disc has a clear, warm and inviting sound. Just when Fedak’s writing seems overly churchy, he’ll take some unexpected harmonic excursions or ramp up the volume.”

– Albany Times-Union, 12/7/08

“Organists and organ music lovers may be interested in a new CD I’ve just acquired and listened to:  Come, Creator Spirit (Selah Publishing Co., catalog no. 520-160). All works are composed and performed by organist, composer, and hymn writer Alfred Fedak. It is recorded on the 4-manual, 42-rank organ installed in Westminster Presbyterian Church, Albany, New York, Opus 780, 1929, by E. M. Skinner. The organ was refurbished and reinstalled by Austin Organs in 2003.This is modern organ music well-composed and well-played.”

– GBOD/The Methodist Church

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