“A Love So Fierce: The Complete Solo Organ Works of David Ashley White”
David Ashley White: Fanfare for St. Anthony – Aria – Come Pure Hearts: Introduction, Theme, and Variations – Psalm 88  – A Second Light – Hymn: PROFFITT [2, 3] – Night Cries – “How shallow former shadows seem”  – A Love So Fierce and Free: A Litany – Hymn: SIMPSON  – For the Means of Grace and for the Hope of Glory – Canzona  – Sarabande – Reflections on a Tune – Brewer’s Trumpet
Daryl Robinson (organ), Sarah Mesko  (mezzo-soprano), Grace Tice  (oboe), Jesús Pacheco Mánuel  (percussion), Floyd Robinson  (reader)
Recording: Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, Texas (March 14-18, 2021) (First Commercial Recording) – 68’30
Acis Productons APL 61020 – Booklet in English
The complete organ works of David Ashley White may last less than 70 minutes, but they encompass a range of expressive colors, emotions and ideas that could well be the envy of composers with more numerous contributions to the repertoire.
Chief Organist at Christ Church (Episcopal) Cathedral in Houston, Texas, Daryl Robinson performs the album’s 15 short works on the Aeolian-Skinner Opus 976 organ, an instrument which boasts 66 stops, 90 ranks and 5,045 pipes. The organ is joined on several tracks by oboist Grace Tice, mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko and percussionist Jesús Pacheco Mánuel.
Two selections are for organ and oboe, an unusual pairing that, as it turns out, results in a delightful, shared sonority as the oboe’s reedy voice blends perfectly with the organ’s variety of timbres. White is himself an oboist and holds a doctorate in composition from the University of Texas at Austin.
With consummate musicianship, Robinson captures and delivers the bold, uplifting energy inherent in all of these organ compositions, from the rousing fanfare that opens the album, through the dark lamentations of Psalm 88, to the grand processional which concludes the collection. These selections do honor to the body of music handed down, generation to generation, in the Episcopal and other Christian liturgical traditions, but also offer a freshness and contemporary spirit that is unique.
While much of the music is upbeat and joyful, White’s art also gives voice to the twists and turns of the contentious mind as it wrestles with ideas and moral dilemmas. In addition to his great gift for melody, White knows when and how to insert moments of disturbing discord, then resolving them in keeping with religion’s prevailing message of hope. This technique is apparent in the Angst-filled selection, Night Cries, which is followed by an organ accompaniment to the narration, “How shallow former shadows seem”, a hymn text by Carl P. Daw, Jr., here read by Floyd W. Robinson. This transitional selection blossoms into a ballad of warmth and lyricism bearing the album’s title, A Love So Fierce and Free: A Litany.
Accompanying this excellent collection of new music for organ—which is equally appealing with or without its ecclesiastical associations—is an informative booklet filled with texts, commentary, biographies and other useful information...a refreshing change from the “go to our website” approach of many recent recordings. Whether enjoyed for the superb performances of the organist, the distinctive sound of the Aeolian-Skinner organ or the creativity of the composer, this album will be a welcome addition to the collection of any music lover, but particularly those who enjoy music of a spiritual bent.