Introduction, Toccata & Fugueforces: Organ
published by: United Music Publishers
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.
United Music Publishers:
This company published three works by Francis Pott:
Christus – Passion Symphony for organ in five movements [3 volumes]
Introduction, Toccata & Fugue.
In 2014 United Music Publishers Ltd was declared insolvent. Two of its partners, Roland and Katie Wood, bought many of its copyrights, also much of its stock and hire material. However, under terms of the original contract, copyright in the works above by Francis Pott reverted to the composer.
The company founded by Roland and Katie Wood trades as United Music Publishing Ltd: www.ump.co.uk . Since it owns remaining copies of the works listed above, it is exercising its legitimate right to sell the remainder. At such time as these run out, there will be no further published scores for sale. United Music Publishing has rejected an offer by Edition Peters to buy the original print files of the works (which would have led to their being made available by Peters alongside the rest of Francis Pott’s catalogue for organ).
Since copyright in the listed works has reverted to the composer, performance royalties associated with them is claimed 100% by him and not by United Music Publishing. Similarly, any permissions arising from use of the music are to be negotiated with Francis Pott.
This work pays, in the words of the composer, ‘an affectionate general homage’ to Jehan Alain and Maurice Duruflé and their presence is certainly felt in many ways, not least in the structure of the fugue whose bipartite nature recalls that in Duruflé’s own Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d’Alain. But this is the most superficial resemblance. The general melodic shapes throughout the work, as well as figuration and certain instances of harmonic tension can be traced back to prototypes in the works of bother the earlier composers (and, as Francis Pott so rightly points out, to their own prototypes in still earlier music). However, all these elements are subsumed easily in the character of Pott’s own musical personality. He is a composer of rare intellectual force and technical control and the result here is unmistakably Francis Pott, with the shades of Alain and Duruflé commenting quietly in the background rather than any pastiche or compendium. The music seems to kneel before Alain once: the final chord is a transposition of that which concludes Litanies.
It would be foolish to suggest that this music is easy to play. Of course it is not, and has no reason to be, but the texture is rarely as complex as that often found in Pott’s [Organ Symphony] Christus. The music is generally quite transparent, vital and comfortable under the fingers. Only in the closing stages of the fugue do the technical demands stiffen. I make the duration about 14 minutes, not too daunting for those who are overawed by the longer movements of Christus. For structural reasons the movements are not playable separately.
This is important music and will be a good starting point for serious players wishing to make inroads into this unique voice.
Kevin Bowyer, Organists’ Review, February 2006
Francis Pott’s Introduction, Toccata & Fugue, as the composer’s helpful prefatory note emphasises, draws chiefly on the tradition of Alain and Duruflé. Its stylistic and thematic allusions are fittingly subtle, and Pott’s customary mastery of structure is everywhere in evidence; this is much more than a simple triptych. Few composers currently writing for the organ have Pott’s command of the relationship between the detail and the whole, or achieve such satisfying formal elegance. This is beautifully crafted and unashamedly demanding music – not only in the technical sense – and really should be investigated by everyone who cares about the organ as an instrument for serious music-making.
Stephen Farr, Choir & Organ, July/August, 2005
The composer’s organ writing is represented by his stunning Introduction, Toccata and Fugue, which is given a first-rate performance by the young Australian organist Tristan Russcher. Highly Recommended.
Shirley Ratcliffe, Choir and Organ, reviewing the recorded performance on Signum SIGCD 080, 2006