Jowers Leaves Crowd Wanting to go Bach for More
RECITAL REVIEW BY PAUL S. HESSELINK
On Friday, March 29, organist Florence Jowers presented the fourth recital in the Southern Nevada Chapter’s 2018-2019 Organ Recital Series at 7:30 P.M. in Dr. Arturo Rando-Grillot Recital Hall in UNLV’s Beam Music Center.
Her program was designed to highlight organ works by J.S. Bach and composers Georg Böhm and Dieterich Buxtehude who influenced Bach and from whom he learned, and by Bach’s “best” student Johann Ludwig Krebs. Bach was known to have referred to his student as “Die beste Krebe (crab) in die Bache (brook).” Jowers also included by extension, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who played a seminal role in reintroducing the works of Bach to the public after years of neglect. The 2004 von Beckerath Maurine Jackson Smith Organ in Doc Rando Hall was an ideal vehicle for presenting her carefully chosen program.
Of the four selections by Bach on the program, three were relatively unfamiliar and only rarely programmed. Her performance of the double pedal chorale prelude “An Wasserflüssen Babylon” BWV 653b, one of Bach’s most challenging for the performer chorale preludes, was fluid and elegant.
The virtually unknown Chorale Fantasy for Organ on “Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei us halt,” BWV 1128 which followed, was rediscovered as recently as 2008 and is thought to have been composed between 1705 and 1710. The work “reflects the influence of the North German composers Buxtehude, Reinken, and Bruhns,” thus neatly fitting into Ms. Jowers’ recital theme, “Bach as Student and Teacher.” (For a fascinating account of the rediscovery of this work, go to: https://www.thediapason.com/bwv-1128-recently-discovered-bach-organ-work).
The Bach Prelude and Fugue in E Major, BWV 566 is an early Bach work written between 1705-1706, probably during the time Bach made his famous 275-mile walk to hear Buxtehude in Lübeck. The work is in five sections and its compositional form resembles that of preludes by his mentor. The first section alternates manual or pedal cadenzas with dense suspended chords. The second is a charming fugue with much repetition following the circle of fifths. The third section is a brief flourish for manuals, ending with an even briefer pedal cadenza punctuated with nine-voice chords. The fourth section, in triple meter, is a second fugue with a rhythmic subject resembling the theme of the first fugue; it is immediately followed by the fifth and final section which opens with a virtuoso pedal-solo.
In the Buxtehude Chaconne in E Minor, BuxWV 160, Ms. Jowers showed off many colors of the organ by finding suitable but subtle secondary sounds for each repeat of the second four measures of the eight-measure theme. The Krebs Trio in F Major virtually sparkled, and including the Krebs Fugue in B-flat Major, based on the B-A-C-H motive, was an artful touch to underline the theme of the recital. While much of the literature on the recital was relatively “unknown” or less familiar than the usual Bach works we are accustomed to hearing, Ms. Jowers’ performance of the final work on the program, the Prelude and Fugue in B Minor, BWV 544, was an electrifying and familiar conclusion to a thoughtfully-planned and extremely well-performed and satisfying program.
Ms. Jowers, currently the Director of Music at Christ Lutheran Church in Staunton, Virginia, has recently retired as Professor Emerita from Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina, where she taught organ and church music for nineteen years. At her church in Virginia she plays each week an organ built by the Taylor-Boody Organbuilding firm; George Taylor apprenticed with the Rudolf von Beckerath Orgelbau of Hamburg, Germany, the firm which built the organ at UNLV. Ms. Jowers at age 14 began studying organ at and later attended Stetson University in DeLand, Florida where there are six von Beckerath organs on the campus.
Florence Jowers Profile, Bio & Program information, CLICK HERE
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