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Chorale metamorphosis Op11

Composer's note

Written in 1996 and revised in 2005-6, this extended work is based on two themes which eventually combine, rather in the spirit of Franck’s Chorales. However, here the musical language is influenced not only by French sources, but also by Spanish, English and German traditions of several centuries. Pause, rests and silence are very important elements in this piece.

After an introduction, the first theme, a Genevan Psalm tune, enters softly. A little Fugue follows, in rather French fashion, played on three distinct tone colours, its subject anticipating the second theme. This leads to a triple canonic presentation of the Genevan first theme. Mysterious chords and melodic scraps, originally heard in the introduction, reappear on Voix Céleste and Flute, creating a sense of expectation. Those same chords now become the sustained accompaniment of the second theme: a decorated solo Cornet melody. The centre, or pivotal point of this work is marked by a Recitative passage, building to a climax, then melting away to a stream of semiquavers. The ensuing Scherzo-like section is a mirror-image of the Cornet melody: with flowing sextuplets outlining the original version. On a 2 ft stop, the Pedal hints at every alternate line of the Genevan tune: thus, both themes are outlined simultaneously. After two interjections, the Scherzo gives way to a return of the Fugue, now in more Germanic style. As before, the triple canon follows, but here in combination with the second theme, declaimed by the Pedal on reeds. Borrowing material from the Recitative, the restless Pedals resound beneath reiterations of the Genevan tune. Semiquavers from the Scherzo form a Toccata-like texture, and material from earlier sections returns here to bring the work to its stirring close on an open fifth.

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Duration: about 18'30"