GO Arts: New recording of organ music by David Dahl a beautiful celebration of Tacoma organists and instrument

Staff writerDecember 30, 2013 

"The Organ Sings: Music of David Dahl" celebrates Tacoma composer, organ and organist.


It doesn’t get much more local than this: a CD of music by a Tacoma composer, played by a Tacoman on a Tacoma instrument. With “The Organ Sings,” just released by Raven music, that’s exactly what you get. The CD features organ music by David Dahl, former organist at Christ Episcopal Church on North K Street, played on the famous Brombaugh organ there by the organ builder’s brother, Mark Brombaugh – the church’s current organist. And while that might also sound a bit cozy and in-house, every track on this CD thoroughly deserves this recognition, and they sound all the better for being played on the marvelous instrument that many of them were written for.

As you’d expect, there’s plenty of sacred work, especially variations on hymn tunes. “Dove of Peace” explores the deliciously reedy stops, while “Lobt Gott Den Herren” alternates between the shiny octave and trumpet on the great manual and the soft, woody flutes on the positive. In “Cwm Rhondda” Dahl hits a compelling compositional voice, somewhere between baroquely comforting and thoughtfully innovative, to a triumphant finish. Some, like “Es ist Ein Ros,” are just harmonic reworkings of the tune, though pretty; others invent something completely new.

But there’s plenty of secular as well. The “English Suite” gives one movement each to major stop families on the instrument – stately diapasons, brilliant trumpet, baroque-style flutes. Not everything’s easy to listen to: the Jigg, in particular, gets weightily contrapuntal. But the “Italian Suite,” a kind of medieval-meets-modern, paints beautiful windows of tone.

Even better, for the organ aficionados among us, is that every single registration is listed in the extensive jacket notes.

"The Organ Sings: Music of David Dahl" is available at Christ Episcopal (310 N. K St., Tacoma; 253-383-1569, ccptacoma.org; at amazon.com, jwpepper.com and ravencd.com. $17-$27.

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 rosemary.ponnekanti@thenewstribune.com

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