www.signumrecords.com/catalogue/sigcd080/index.htm

Duration: ca 14 minutes

United Music Publishers Limited 2005

 

This work is featured on a Signum worldwide release of choral and solo organ music by Francis Pott {SIGCD 080} performed by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, under its Director of Music, Judy Martin, with Tristan Russcher, organ.  Click the Signum link to hear an excerpt.

 

 

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Composer's Note

Reviews

 

Composer's Note

This work pays an affectionate general homage to two major figures in twentieth century French organ music, Jehan Alain [1911-40] and Maurice Duruflé [1902-86]. Although stylistic affinities are probably momentary and certainly of an incidental nature, the presence of Alain may perhaps be detected in the melodic shape which forms a secondary episode in the Toccata. This bears a passing resemblance to the germinal motif in Alain’s celebrated Litanies, a work to which overt reference is made here in the Fugue’s final chord (familiar to most devotees of the organ repertoire). Duruflé is evoked, perhaps at greater length, in the rhythmic and melodic contours of the Fugue, which amounts –at least in its early stages –to a kind of deliberate but approximate echo of his own in the Prélude et Fugue sur le Nom d’Alain. The secondary episode of the Toccata carries a faint suggestion also of the In Paradisum plainchant, and hence also of the final movement in Duruflé’s Requiem. However, the more general rhythmic character of the Introduction, Toccata & Fugue has its roots in many other musical places, some of them centuries older. Structurally it is relatively simple. The Introduction presents material which recurs at later stages in the design, -most notably between the Toccata and the Fugue and towards the very end. The Toccata is based upon free use of additive rhythms, but adheres ostensibly to sonata principle in presenting a secondary melodic paragraph and then a form of development. After the climax of this, however, the recapitulation is attenuated and inconclusive, leading to a reflective passage before the Fugue. The Fugue deliberately hints at the sectional design of Duruflé’s. Its subject is an inversion of the Toccata’s secondary theme, but is not restored to that earlier form until a new section of the Fugue begins with running semiquavers. This passage therefore serves as a recapitulation previously denied in the Toccata. It leads to a recurrence of the Toccata’s additive rhythms and chordal figurations before the Introduction reasserts itself in the closing stages. The Toccata and the Fugue are thus indivisible, and could not be performed separately even were they not linked by continuous music.

The Fugue features free use of ‘stretto’ with and without augmentation, including a final, free canonic statement of the subject simultaneously in its original and inverted forms.

© Francis Pott, 2004

 

Reviews

Organist' Review, February. 2006

This is important music and will be a good starting point for serious players wishing to make inroads into this unique voice

Kevin Bowyer

Church Music Quarterly, 2005
O Sing Unto the Lord a New Song, Jesu the Very Thought of Thee, A Meditation

[These] balance homophony and polyphony in a manner reminiscent of the finest sixteenth century anthems but in an entirely contemporary language. The close imitations and springy rhythms of O Sing unto the Lord escape the tyranny of the barline without causing metrical difficulties for the singers. Response to the words is precise to the point of word-painting, as in the solemnity of ‘for he is come to judge the earth’ and the antiphony describing ‘a psalm of thanksgiving’. There is a similar sure touch of harmonic effect at ‘and in thy presence rest’ in Jesu, the Very Thought of Thee.  A Meditation selects perfectly appropriate words from Thomas Traherne for a service of baptism and sets them with sensitivity but without a trace of sentimentality.

Choir and Organ *****

First comes the word and here we have a composer who has an implicit understanding and love of the text, which manifests itself throughout his music. Judy Martin is a choral director who has a perfect understanding of this relationship. She draws from the mixed-voice choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, in beautifully expressive and finely honed performances. This elegant and individual music gains its own momentum as it builds toward each climax. Choral works include the Mass in five parts, Turn our Captivity, A Remembrance and O Lord, support us all the day long. The composer's organ writing is represented by his stunning Introduction, Toccata and Fugue, which is given a first-rate performance by the cathedral's young Australian organist Tristan Russcher. Highly Recommended.

Shirley Ratcliffe

The Times, May 2006 ****

The music of Francis Pott is rapidly gaining attention for its silky lines and sensitivity. The items that give the album its title, Meditations and Remembrances, are settings of the 17th-century thinker Thomas Traherne. One senses Pott's pleasure at painting the word "love" with such glowing warmth in A Meditation. He is well served by a beautifully tuned choir. The Osanna in the Five-Part Mass is light and crisp and Psalm 126 ends with the sort of melismatic Amen for which the Church was once reprimanded.

Rick Jones

 

 

 

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