"Illinois organist Scott Montgomery seemed at home on the bench of the Holtkamp organ at the Baptist Temple.
As the 2006 winner of the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance, one expected his technical abilities to be of the highest order, and they were, but it was his playing in the second half of Sunday’s concert that interested me most.
Montgomery played as part of the Orgelfest series, which is back after a two-year absence.
The second-half opener was a work by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, his Sonata No. 2 in A Major. After a rousing revelation of the first movement, Montgomery settled into the second movement.
For me, this is where the music began. He handled the work like one might prepare a small fish, very gently.
At no time was there the least suggestion of urgency and yet, he never allowed the mood of the music to lay fallow. Next up was two pieces from Louis Vierne’s Pieces de Fantaisie.
The first of these, Naiades, had Montgomery’s right hand playing the 5,000 notes that very clearly denoted the rippling water that sustained the floating melody like a buoyant sycamore leaf in autumn.
Vierne’s second selection, Claire de lune, move me more like a haiku bu the master poet Kobayashi Issa than the melodies of the other famous French Composition by Debussy. Vierne’s moon is more real than romantic, and more mysterious because of the reality.
There were plenty of “big” works on the program by Bach and Widor to sate the hunger of those with bigger appetites, and Montgomery handled them with great aplomb. But for me, those quiet, introspective middle works revealed more of this artist’s musical integrity and hint at greater things for him and, if we are lucky, those of us who listen as well."- Rick Justice