On Sunday afternoon, May 26, we had the opportunity to hear an all-Bach program inaugurating the recently installed tracker organ at the Episcopal Church of St John the Baptist in Aptos. Performing on this occasion was organist Vlada Volkova-Moran, who is also a distinguished Russian-trained pianist and teacher residing in Santa Cruz.
The two-manual tracker organ was built near Boston c. 1869 and was originally installed in a church in Marysville. The Episcopal Church of St. John the Baptist purchased the organ for one dollar, and then spent $100,000 to have it dismantled, packed up and shipped to Aptos, where it was then restored, installed and finely adjusted for its new home.
The all Bach program consisted of the Toccata & Fugue in C Major, BWV 564, five Choral Preludes, the Concerto in G Major, BWV 592, the Fantasia in G Major and Three Preludes from the Schübler Chorales — and ending with the Prelude & Fugue in A Minor, BWV 543.
This writer, normally a reviewer of piano recitals can only give a few impressions of this organ recital. Vlada’s performances sounded impeccable, error-free, and they probably well utilized all the sonic capabilities of this antique organ. However, to this pair of ears (old and slightly deaf) this organ offered little variety in its weak sounds and was lacking in resonance contrast.
The newest instrument in this church in the new Kawai 7’6″ satin ebony grand piano provided by an anonymous donor. You can hear it yourself this coming Sunday, June 16, at 3:00 pm under the hands of the super-talented pianist Sofya Gulyak. Don’t miss it.