Adam Brakel’s recording is, indeed, virtuosic!
It includes the Demessieux Six Etudes, Reger’s large Fantasie and Fugue in D minor, as well as Liszt’s St. Francis of Paola Walking on the Waves.
All difficult music!
Adam pulls this off magnificently, along with Dudley Buck’s Concert Variations on “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Herbert Nanney’s Adagio from Sonata in E minor, Bonnet’s Etude de Concert, and Andrew Fletcher’s Cantilena from Five Miniatures for Organ.
The organ, at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach, FL, is a huge Austin (109 ranks). The picture on the cover of the CD shows Adam appearing very buff in a white tee shirt, and clearly he aims to set the organ world alight with dazzling technique. NPR in Florida called him an “organ prodigy, with the technique and virtuosity that most concert pianists could only dream of, having the potential to be the leading organist of his generation… the Franz Liszt of the organ.” Certainly this recording reflects his extreme prowess. Very difficult repertoire is executed with great care and finesse. I applaud his work and encourage many more recordings from him!

Reviews James Palmer in The Organ, Feb-Apr 2015: " . . . Adam Brakel 's programme is particularly interesting, as the title suggests, although one may query certain elements in terms of 'times of crisis', in that the point could probably be stretched to apply to almost any era in European history from the last half-millennium. But the choice of repertoire from over 300 years is particularly unusual, and the opening Drei Tonstucke by Niels Gade is a real find - not often heard - the music fits this fine instrument very well indeed. Brakel is a truly fine musician and admirable technician, an organist with an intriguing approach to programming in terms of planning individual programmes. The concluding movements from Eben's 'Sunday Music' are particularly well conveyed, the subdominant writing in the Moto Ostinato is very well done, and although some may feel the Finale outstays its welcome - though not in this perfor:mance - the trilogy of passacaglias make a suitable centre-piece in this recital, most effectively in Vincent Rone's F minor impressive composition (one would be keen to hear more music by this composer). An excellent CD.

Jonathan Dimmock AAM Journal


1. The Star-Spangled Banner – Dudley Buck
2. Adagio from Sonata in E Minor – Herbert Boswell Nanney
3. Etude de Concert – Joseph Bonnet
4. Fantasie und Fuge in D Minor, Op. 135b – Max Reger
5. Cantilena – Andrew Fletcher
6. St. Francis of Paola Walking on the Waves – Franz Liszt
7. Six Etudes – Jeanne Demessieux


Niels Wilhelm Gade: Drei Tönstucke, op. 22
     No. 1 in F Major
     No. 2 in C Major
     No. 3 in A Minor

     4.Charles-Marie Widor: Mvt. 1 Allegro vivace from Symphony No. 5 in F Minor for organ

Three Passacaglias:
     5.Dietrich Buxtehude: Passacaglia in D Minor, BuxWV 161
     6.J. S. Bach: Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor, BWV 582
     7.Vincent Rone: Passacaglia in F Minor
     8.Nicolaus Bruhns: Praeludium in G Major
     9.Nicolas de Grigny: Récit de Tierce en taille from Premier Livre d’Orgue
Petr Eben: Moto Ostinato and Finale from Sunday Music

     10. Moto Ostinato

     11. Finale

Adam Brakel Plays the Restored 1962 von Beckerath 4m Organ, 97 Ranks
St. Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh - [OAR-956] $15.98

Adam Brakel plays the organ built in 1962 by Rudolf von Beckerath of Hamburg, Germany, with 4 manuals, 67 stops, 97 ranks, at St. Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The Organ

The first mechanical action organ to be installed in a North American cathedral in the 20th century, this organ was the dream of Paul Koch, the Music Director and Organist 1949-1989 of St. Paul Cathedral. The death of G. Donald Harrison in 1956 as well as cost overages and delays led to cancellation of a contract with Aeolian-Skinner which had been signed in 1955 for construction of their op. 1318 to have been completed by August, 1957, with four manuals and 73 ranks. After visiting mechanical action organs by many prominent builders in Germany, Denmark and Switzerland, the dialogue with Beckerath to build the organ at St. Paul Cathedral began in earnest. Paul Koch asked Beckerath to come to Pittsburgh and the rest is history. Robert Noehren, Paul Koch and Rudolf von Beckerath were in consultation on a regular basis about the instrument. The dedication week was filled with music including concerts by Paul Koch, Robert Noehren, E. Power Biggs, and Fernando Germani.

 “I hope your loudspeakers are insured, because if you play this new recording from Raven loud enough, they may just catch fire. This 2000 Austin Pipe Organ Op. 2777 located in the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida, is a monster of an instrument. With 109 ranks and not only one 32′ stop, but six, including a 32′ Untersatz, Open Wood, Grand Cornet VI, Ophicleide, Contra Violone, Contra Posaune, and a 64′ Ophicleide all shared by two identical four-manual consoles, this pipe organ moves enough air to fuel a tornado. Add to this a full and varied program of pieces that exploit this organ’s wide ranging qualities and you’re set for an entertaining hour (or the neighbors knocking at your door). For example, the Dudley Buck Concert Variations, once you’ve disassociated it from the national anthem, is quite an enthralling piece of music. It manipulates and molds the main theme into a wide ranging set of moods and techniques, including a solo pedal workout for the organist, and eventually builds to a few final chords that might be capable of displacing your speaker cones so much as to set off motion sensors."

Between the big virtuosic works are a few buffer pieces that represent the ‘romantic’ in this CDs title. Both the Nanney and the Fletcher pieces exploit this organ’s soft, lush, orchestral stops and bring out its tender persona. The Franz Liszt is an organ transcription of an orchestral work and certainly puts organist Adam Brakel to the test by demanding he become a one-man band, combining the efforts of string, woodwind and brass instruments into one organic entity. The disc rounds off with the interesting Six Etudes by French composer and organist Jeanne Demessieux, who studied under Marcel Dupré and who, by the end of her life, had memorized over 2500 organ works, including Bach’s complete opus. These ‘études’ in thirds, chords, sixths and octaves, not only act as a stress test on the organist, which Brakel passes with flying colors, but also present themselves as unique and unusual musical creations all their own, the last of which building from quick and light gestures to full organ in just over three minutes.  Another impressive organ recording by Raven, which once again proves that when you specialize and focus on one thing, you can’t but do it well.” Jean-Yves Duperron – January 2012