Jacobsen to highlight Romantic era with Massey mini-concert

Although Jared Jacobsen originally planned to perform a range of pieces from the Romantic era of music, he realized he’d rather highlight two major ones.

Jacobsen, Chautauqua Institution organist, will highlight those pieces in the Massey Memorial Organ mini-concert today at 12:15 p.m. in the Amphitheater, with a program titled “The Romantics.”

“It is music with which most people are incredibly comfortable,” he said. “The kind of music that sells tickets to the average person is music from the Romantic era.”

The music will feature Romantic chord structures and form; the form is not cut-and-dry, black-and-white, Jacobsen said. Sometimes the lines between themes are blurred.

“The Romantic music is more stream of consciousness,” he said. “It’s music designed to bend your emotions. To tickle your sensibilities.”

Franz Liszt wrote only three pieces for the organ, all of which were blockbusters, Jacobsen said. He will play one of them, which was inspired by a piece of battle music, titled “Ad nos, ad salutarem nostram,” or “A Fantasy for Organ.”

“It’s unbelievable. It’s loud, it’s soft, it’s high, it’s low,” Jacobsen said. “I wish at the end there was more organ to add.”

He will also perform a fragment of a later piece, “The Firebird” by Igor Stravinsky, which was reworked for the organ by Maurice Besly.

“It’s a wonderful Russian folklore take on the whole creation resurrection theology of the Christian faith,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen will play a quiet excerpt from when the bird is about to die, complete with woodwind solos, and jump to the resurrection of the firebird, which he said is “one of the greatest written out crescendos in all of music.”

“It’s another piece I love to play on the Massey Organ because it’s just overwhelming in its sweep from the very softest, calmest, to the very biggest at the end,” Jacobsen said.