Partita Penultima Op24
Composed between June and July 2019, Partita Penultima in Bb
completes a project to supply suites in the three keys
which César Franck left undone in his ‘L’Organiste’.
Despite its Opus number, it thus comes between Partita Espressiva
in A Op.22 and Partita Narrativa in B Op.23.
There is a range of harmonic idioms, from diatonic to stark,
less tonal, via degrees of chromatic richness. One Scottish,
one Welsh and three Irish themes are incorporated, plus in the
sixth movement an ominous tremolo and a seven-note
motif of foreboding, which brings the work to its close.
First movement: the first eleven notes of Scottish
melody ‘The Caledonian Hunt’s Delight’ are heard
in inverted form
against whistful lefthand semiquavers; a brief middle section
brings more of the inverted melody in the bass, before the
first section returns.
Second movement: The Welsh melody ‘Ar Hyd y Nos’
is heard in canon, with the second voice inverting the theme.
The harmonies are dark and tortuous, but resolve at the end.
Third movement: Quasi recitativo, based on the Irish
tune ‘Gartan’, with expectant phrases and harmonies
Fourth movement: The most extrovert moment in this
Partita, this Toccata presents the melody ‘St Patrick’
sometimes quite chromatic harmonies and figuration.
Fifth movement: The third Irish theme ‘Slane’
comes in lyrical canon at the octave, contrasted with scherzo-like
Straying far into E major, the music returns to Bb minor.
Sixth movement: There is no melodic theme, but a seven-note
phrase of foreboding and a series of tremolo chords.
Shadows lengthen in this brief step outside time.
Seventh movement: Themes are combined, motifs reappear,
restless semiquavers roam over the keyboard, before the
return of the tremolo chords. In a jolt back into Bb major, the
Scottish melody is heard in its tenderest version, giving
rise to a momentary quote from the first movement’s opening,
before the sombre tremolos and ominous seven-note
motif reenter. In the bass, the Welsh melody is recalled, as the
seven-note motif drains away to the pensive conclusion.
If played on piano, judicious restating of some tied notes will
be necessary, particularly in the second movement.
This Partita can be played on a single-rank harmonium throughout.
On larger instruments the tone should be varied
as shown in the interpretation guidelines.
Duration: about 12 minutes
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