Holy Trinity Church

Anglican worship in Geneva

Making the Organ Dance

What does the title ‘Organ Recital’ conjure up for you?   What type of music do you expect to hear? 

Forget it !  Vincent Thévenaz opened his recital on 26th May by announcing a programme designed to show as many capabilities of  our recently refurbished Kuhn organ  as possible.  He likes to stretch the instrument on which he is playing to its limit and certainly did so.  He also wanted to make us dance, at least jiggling in the pews. 

What followed was an amazing hour-long exposé of the skills of Prof Thévenaz himself and the versatility of the organ.  The programme, starting with the Codex Robertsbridge from 1360, possibly the first piece ever performed on an organ, took us through allegros, a pavane, fugues, dances from Latin America, a stately gaillard and other contemporary dances, a salamanca and Prof. Thévenaz’ own improvisation on Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’.  Composers included Vierne, Sweelinck, Duruflé, Bach, Piazzola, Van Soldt and Bovet. 

Under his skillful hands, feet and musicality, the organ danced, shimmered and thundered.   At one time we were listening to a carillon of bells, sweet flutes, clashing cymbols and, for most of us the first time ever, the sound of drums.  This last effect was produced simply by using the pedals with no tone at all.   Little jokes were built into the pieces that made us laugh.    We always knew that the organ could cover a wide range of Anglican music, but this stretched it far further. 

Vicent Thévenaz has many roles, including professor of organ and improvisation at the Haute Ecole de Musique and organiste titulaire and ciarilloneur at the Cathedral of St Pierre both in Geneva.  We are very grateful to him for giving us such an enlightening performance.   Our organ series continues with Claire Hobbs on 30th June at 5pm   Don’t miss the opportunity to come and share what she will offer us.