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Marie-Claire Alain at Holy Trinity

Thursday night, I walked a couple of blocks to Holy Trinity Church, the bold quasi-Gothic spire of which is part of the view from the window to my right. In 1987, the church inaugurated a new Rieger pipe organ, situated at ground level in the right transept, with a console visible to about half the nave and all of the left transept. Being able to see the organist makes organ recitals a good deal more interesting, if less mystical.

And what I learned, or figured out, or finally realized, on Thursday night, was that you can be a petite ginger-haired septuagenarian and make the instrument roar without breaking a sweat. I have never seen so relaxed a performing musician as Dr Alain. Her hands played with the same feathery motions regardless of the sounds they were called upon to produce. A similarly disengaged-seeming pianist would probably be hospitalized for observation.

I must confess to the surprise of discovering that Dr Alain is still alive, much less ...

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