Lunchtime Organ Recital (Live-stream)

February 24, 2021
1:15 pm
Roger Sayer OrganPrelude and Fugue in C minor, BWV 546, J. S. BachChoral from Symphonie 2 op 20, Louis Vierne

‘Nimrod’, Edward Elgar arr. Alan Ridout

Prelude and Fugue in G minor no 3 op 7, Marcel Dupré

This service will be live-streamed on the Church’s YouTube Channel.

Programme Notes

Prelude and Fugue in C minor, BWV 546, J. S. Bach

The Prelude and Fugue in C minor is a strong and stately work, understood to have been composed as two separate pieces, several years apart. The Prelude, which dates from Bach’s time in Leipzig (1723-50), is a showcase of massive, intricate ritornello-concerto construction. After the initial dialogue, the piece soon overflows with a flurry of running triplets, intertwined with a looming second theme. Fragments of the opening material occur throughout and finally reappear complete as a majestic ‘da capo’, a principle Bach showed a particular interest in around 1730.

The Fugue is believed to have been written during Bach’s time in Weimar (1707-17) and was added to the Prelude during his time in Leipzig. Some believe the movement may have been partially or fully composed by Kellner.

Choral from Symphonie 2 op 20, Louis Vierne 

Of all Vierne’s six symphonies, it was the second that drew admiration from his contemporary Claude Debussy. This choral is the second movement of five, and features a simple but beautiful original theme. The first section alternates between solo pedal, and gentle chorus, and is followed by an agitato 6/8 section, which echoes the dark, brooding energy of the Allegro first movement. The choral appears again in a brief largo section, before the music resumes its climb towards the final entry. Here Vierne rhythmically augments the tune, but keeps the music moving with a thrilling moto perpetuoso accompaniment which moves from the manuals to the pedals, gradually slowing to a majestic plagal cadence.

‘Nimrod’, Edward Elgar arr. Alan Ridout Nimrod is the 9th variation of Elgar’s most celebrated work, the Enigma Variations, with each variation being a musical sketch of one of his circle of close acquaintances. This variation is named for Elgar’s friend Augustus Jaeger – ‘jaeger’ being the German word for ‘hunter’ – which inspired the title ‘Nimrod’. (Nimrod was a biblical figure in the Old Testament who was described as ‘a mighty hunter’.) The music’s slow, thoughtful pace tells the story of Elgar’s decision to give up composing, and Jaeger’s encouragement and support, which inspired him to continue. Despite moments of tension, its overriding sentiment is one of stoic triumph.Perhaps it’s due to the fact that the piece is always played at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday that this music captures – maybe more than even his celebrated Pomp and Circumstance Marches – the essence of Britishness.

Prelude and Fugue in G minor no 3 op 7, Marcel Dupré

In 2021 the organ world commemorates the 50th anniversary of the death of Marcel Dupré.Dupré was, without doubt, a formidable performer and prolific composer, holding the esteemed position of Organist at the church of Saint Sulpice, Paris, following the death of Widor.His Trois Préludes et Fugues, Op 7, were written in the summer of 1914, the year in which he won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome, but they were not published until after the war. They are memorial works, each dedicated to the memory of a French organist, and the third, in G minor, is dedicated to Joseph Boulnois, who was Organist of St-Louis d’Antin. Notwithstanding its fearful technical difficulties, it is among the best-known and most popular of Dupré’s works. In the Prelude, a plainsong-like theme emerges dreamily from the flutes. The subject of the virtuosic Fugue encapsulates the composer’s name in speech-rhythm. The Prelude’s plainsong-like theme reappears, first on the pedals, where it unobtrusively underpins the manuals’ incessant activity, and towards the movement’s end, where it heroically surmounts massive chords whose terrific momentum derives from the pedals’ rendering of the subject. The final page, in which the notes hurtle towards the magnificent final cadence, places this among the most memorable of all fugues for organ.