"This program is as big and ambitious as the instrument...the creativity of organ composers of our time is highlighted, and the result is both thrilling and edifying"
The American Organist Magazine
A LOVE SO FIERCE (Acis Records) "Daryl Robinson, winner of the AGO's 2012 National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance, is assistant professor and director of organ studies at the Moores School of Music of the University of Houston and organist of Christ Church Cathedral in Houston. He offers this compendium of works by David Ashley white, director of the Moores School from 1999 to 2014 and composer in residence for many years at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston. The composer's notes in the booklet accompanying the disc provide background information about each piece: a welcome first-person voice. The performances here are first-rate: gripping, matched with elegance and poise. The music is as well. Robinson's registrations leave no stop on the cathedral's Aeolian-Skinner and Schantz organs (a combined 90 ranks) unexplored; White's creations allow for such a pilgrimage. Particularly engaging are the organ-plus works (oboe, percussion, vocalist, reader), along with the opening and closing trumpet tunes (Fanfare for St. Anthony and Brewer's Trumpet), the introspective organ-only works (Aria and Sarabande), and the hymn tune-based works (including A Love So Fierce and Free: A Litany, from which the disc's title is derived), all of which can find ample use in liturgies and in concert settings. Two of the large-scale, technically demanding organ-only concert pieces recorded here demonstrate White's comprehensive understanding of the instrument: Come, Pure Hearts (commissioned by Robinson in 2012 for his master's recital at Rice University) and Night Cries (commissioned by David Lowry for his performance at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in 1978) are not for the shy! One of the gifts of such a collection, which spans many years of composision, is that the listener has the opportunity to assess the composer's evolving voice--in this case from post-college works (1960s) to more recent ones, including one from 2020. Another facet of this (or any) retrospective of a composer's oeuvre is the convenient context for the performer to choose pieces he or she may wish to learn. At a time when many producers have chosen to for the listener to hunt online for written notes, biographical information about the performers, and information about the organ(s) used for the recording, Acis's decision to provide a full-color booklet is to be lauded. It is a keepsake and a historical document. Providing full texts (not merely the first stanzas) of the hymns sung and spoken would have been welcome. Why not print, especially, the stanza of Carl Daw's hymn for Good Friday--"How Shallow Former Shadows Seem"--which contains the phrase that is the disc's title? Kudos to recording engineers (Ryan Edwards and Shannon Smith) for capturing the brilliance, warmth, and power of the instruments and the sung and spoken voices. This disc and these pieces should fine a home in your library." The American Organist Magazine, April 2022
A LOVE SO FIERCE (Acis Records) "David Ashley White’s solo organ works comprise what the composer calls a ‘small but indispensable’ part of his extensive catalogue of anthems, service music and hymns. Played with forceful authority by Daryl Robinson on the magnificent instrument at Houston’s Christ Church Cathedral, this powerful recording shows White’s affinity with the gravity and radiance that only an organ brings – in this case an Aeolian-Skinner, Opus 976, installed in 1938, with 66 stops, 90 ranks and 5045 pipes – and the devotional music that is its core repertoire. The title-track, A Love So Fierce and Free, has a Shakespearean pace and solemnity tempered by an open American West sensibility. Night Cries was written for a recital at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival and shows off the organ’s full range of possibilities and demands immersed in darker regions, with an appropriately Southern musical drawl. White’s comprehensive Come, Pure Hearts, commissioned by Robinson for his Master’s recital at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, is a set of often phantasmagoric variations cushioned by a sumptuous deep bass. His Psalm 88, with its songs, pipings and keening played exquisitely by oboist Grace Tice, unfolds with a kind of order Bach would have appreciated. The recital begins with an exuberantly Bachian Fanfare for St Anthony and ends with the splendid Brewer’s Trumpet. In the midst of it all, White’s hymn tune PROFFITT, featuring mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko and percussionist Jesús Pacheco Mánuel, captures the hymn’s ‘endless dance of love and light’ with the innocence of a summer night; at 70 seconds it’s also an excellent addition to audiophile playlists." Gramophone Magazine, February 2022
AMERICAN FANTASIA (Gothic Records) "This program is as big and ambitious as the instrument; all but three of the works on the CD are by American composers, and everything is bold and exciting. (Of those not from the U.S., two--David Briggs and Jason Roberts--are presently living in New York City. The third, Jeanne Demessieux, made unforettable recital tours here in the 1950s.) Organist Daryl Robinson, a native of Houston and former student of Ken Cowan, does a wonderful job on this CD, painting a grand vision of the instrument entirely suitable to the venue and the great dreamer for whom it is named. The creativity of organ composers of our time is highlighted, and the result is both thrilling and edifying. The opening piece by Aaron David Miller is "Fantasia on a Theme by Gustav Holst." This work was commissioned for the recording and we hear its world premiere. The piece focuses on the hymn tune THAXTED, originally heard as part of "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity" from Holst's beloved suite "The Planets, Op. 32". This haunting tune is also sung in the U.K. to the text "I Vow to Thee, My Country" and to several texts in U.S. hymnals. As I listen to this piece, I think of the long shadow cast by Gerre Hancock. While the composition is very fresh and original--almost a fantast and fugue, with a commanding and quirky opening theme giving way to a quiet statement of the tune, which in turn works up to an apotheosis--there is something of this piece that speaks to me of a tradition, a school of composition, to which any composer would be glad to belong. Perhaps a Fifth Avenue School--a high church, urban, Episcopal style, where intelligence, faith, and ceremony find common ground; a certain anglophilia but also a francophilia, and above all a genial American vier of it all. Not bad. I'm very grateful that Calvin Hampton's "Lullaby" from Suite No. 2 was included. It's a humble masterpiece and should be regarded as canonical repertoire--the stuff of many, many a master's recital. Bringing it back into print would be an excellent first step. I appreciated seeing teh late Harry Huff's description of the piece in the PDF booklet--words which are very familiar to met, but need dissemintation. My sole concern is that the work was recorded at a rather low loevel compared to the bigger pieces on the program--both on car and home stereos I found this issue. The piece should be soft and quiet, but easily audible. Get a score of this piece, by hook or by crook (well, not by crook) and learn it. Gerre Hancock's "Air" from 1960 is here, as is a wonderful setting of "Attende Domine" by Jeanne Demmesieux. Both of these are on the quiet side, in terms of playback; both are rendered beautifully. There is nothing on the CD that I do not like. Out of the remaining tracks, I would point out David Briggs's "Variations on NICAEA" also both commissioned and premiered for this occasion. It's a technical and stylistic tour de force. The recording includes a fine performance of the Drupré "Variations sur un noël," and the delightful "Rumba for Organ and Percussion" by George Baker--yet another commission/premiere. This light-hearted pieces ends the program on a rousing, crowd-friendly note. Recommended." The American Organist Magazine, February 2019
HOUSTON (Rice University) "Dance-inspired works were the focus of Daryl Robinson's pre-convention recital on the visually and sonically imposing Fisk-Rosales organ at Rice University. Winner of both first and audience prizes at the 2012 AGO National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance (NYACOP), Robinson demonstrated his flawless technique and rhythmic verve in a program that opened with Heiller's Tanz Toccata and concluded with a newly commissioned Rumba for organ, percussion, and dancers by George Baker. Robinson coordinated his playing perfectly with the recorded sound in Robert Bates's audio-visual creation, Arizona Visions (1992). He performed Reger's arrangement of Bach's D-major Prelude and Fugue, BWV 874, with great expressivity, including rapid pedal runs that were astoundingly fluid. A highlight was Franck's Choral II, which Robinson adapted perfectly to the timbres of the Fisk organ, building in intensity to a riveting culmination of the passacaglia theme." The American Organist Magazine, September 2016
DALLAS (The Catholic Church of St. Monica) “The new four-manual organ, by the Little Rock firm Nichols & Simpson … was vividly displayed Friday night in a recital by Daryl Robinson. On Robinson’s program the organ was most at home in the first movement of Elgar’s Organ Sonata and the atmospheric impressionism of Siegfrid Karg-Elert’s Harmonies du soir and a Lullaby from Calvin Hampton’s Suite No. 2. In the Elgar, Robinson cycled through a kaleidoscope of registration changes worthy of Elgar’s brilliantly orchestrated symphonies. If you’ll pardon a mixed metaphor, rich steak-and-kidney-pie sonories alternated with an amazing variety of piquancies. The KargElert brought forth purring strings, warm flutes and an English horn stop. Pierre Cochereau’s Scherzo symphonique, transcribed by Jeremy Filsell from a recorded 1974 improvisation, was a showpiece of skipping iambs, great and small, dispatched with no hint of effort. If anyone still doubted Robinson’s first-class virtuosity, he dispelled any questions in a demonically brilliant account of “Tierces,” from British organist David Briggs’ 2005 Four Concert Etudes.” Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News, April 2015
CLEVELAND (Cleveland Museum of Art) “Daryl Robinson … played a very stylish Böhm prelude and fugue, with well-considered ornamentation and a tempo that sparkled, but was not so fast that the counterpoint was muddy. His performance of the Bach chorale prelude Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr, BWV 676, was a model of musical playing, brisk tempo and an excellent sense of pulse. His version of Heiller’s Tanz-Toccata enabled clarity in hearing the many meter changes and repeated notes. His was top-notch, mature playing.” Timothy Robson, ClevelandClassical.com, May 2012
Select Radio Broadcasts
Performance Today Sept. 8, 2023
In 2022, the Apollo Chamber Players commissioned a work by composer Wang Jie. Wang Jie, also trained as an organist, wrote the piece for the unusual combination of pipe organ and string quartet. On today's show, we'll hear the Apollo Chamber Players and organist Daryl Robinson play the world premiere of The Night When You See Again by Wang Jie.