|February 3, 2021|
Roger Sayer will be peforming online live-streamed on the Church’s YouTube Channel
JS Bach (1685-1750)
Toccata in F BWV 540
Prelude and ‘fiddle’ Fugue in D minor BWV 539
Francis Jackson (1917 -)
Toccata, Chorale and Fugue op 16
The Toccata in F was written in either Leipzig or Weimar, and is an extended work of eye-watering counterpoint. It opens with a canon above a tonic pedal point, followed by a brilliant pedal solo, before the canon is reiterated with variations in C minor. The two canons move the harmony from the tonic key of F to the dominant, and the remainder of the movement is a brilliant concerto, full of imitation, dazzling and adventurous harmonies, and virtuosic writing which present Bach at his most daring.
Bach wrote his Prelude and Fugue in D minor, BWV 539, around 1720. It is likely that he had not intended these to be paired. The short Prelude is for manuals alone, whilst the Fugue was recycled from the Violin Sonata in G minor, BWV 1000. It shows Bach as the master of transcription as well as composition.
The Toccata, Chorale, and Fugue by Francis Jackson (b. 1917) was completed in 1955 and is ‘affectionately dedicated to Dr Healey Willan’, an English-born composer who settled in Canada.
Toccata, Chorale and Fugue is a virtuoso work that explores a vast range of colour and dynamics on the organ. Much is made of the fiery theme, heard as an introduction before the Toccata (although without the dotted rhythm), and the Toccata itself is vibrant and spirited, and full of modal harmony.
The Chorale is built up from an upward leap of a seventh and part of the Toccata theme. It opens with a recapitulation of the Toccata’s powerful introduction before settling into a lyrical reinterpretation of the Toccata’s semiquavers and dotted rhythms.
The Fugue is built on a characterful independent subject, but soon the introduction of semiquavers from the Toccata take hold and there is no restraining all the other themes from the Toccata and Introduction, which dash forward in contrapuntal tumult.
Roger Sayer is at the forefront of British choral and organ music. He joined Temple Church in 2013 and has since created an impressive portfolio of concert, recordings and broadcasts. In addition to conducting, he is in demand both as a recitalist and accompanist at home and internationally and his work has also extended into the film world, with his most recent performance as organ soloist for Hans Zimmer’s Oscar nominated score for the motion picture Interstellar.