Maxine Thévenot at Galloway U. Methodist Church, September 28, 2018.

It happens from time to time that when I hear an organ I am familiar with played by someone I have not heard before, I am pleasantly surprised by exciting new sounds. So it was with Maxine Thévenot and the Galloway organ, especially in the first three pieces: "Ballo del Grandua" (SwWV 319) by Sweelinck (1562-1621) with varied registrations appropriate to the period; "Praeludium, Fuge und Ciacona" (BuxWV 137) by Buxtehude (1637-1707), opened with a pedal solo that included a light 16' reed sound (coupled from the Great Trumpet); and finally, from Jean-Adam Guilan (1680-1739), "Recit de tierce en taille" and "Basse de trompette", from his "Suite de deuxième ton", again with appropriate registration and slight variations in tempo to provide accents.

Next was Mendelssohn's Sonata V Op 65: The "Adagio", on full flues that included a small 16' sound on the manuals; the "Andante con moto", and the "Allegro", wih a big ending that included reeds. In great contrast, from Frank Bridges' "Three Pieces for Organ" (H.63), number II began very softly on the strings, increased gradually to ff and then at its close was barely audible.

From Denis Bédard (b.1950),"Variations on Ubi Caritas" followed; the different sections were connected as if they were part of a continuous fantasia; the swellboxes were used extensively to enhance expression. This was an experience packed with imagination, both from the composer as well as from the organist. From "Five Liturgical Inventions", by Victor Togni (1935-1965), nos. III - V were then played. "Adoro te devote" was basically a canon, "Laudate dominum" was light and fast, and "Alleluia" was fanfare-like, with interspersed softer passages.

In contrast, from McNeil Robinson (1943-2015), a choral prelude on Llanfair was next and provided a brief and pleasant respite before Franck's "Pièce Hèroïque" (from his Trois pieces pour grand orgue). Here the registration, though traditional, was still varied and used the swellboxes effectively.

Overall Thévenot played an exciting and imaginative recital which held my attention from start to finish. I would be happy to hear her again.

- Glenn A. Gentry