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Reflections • Organ Music by Jennifer Bate

Reflections • Organ Music by Jennifer Bate-Organ-Organ Collection
ID: GMCD7209 (EAN: 795754720921)  | 1 CD | DDD
Publi: 2000
Guild GmbH
Organ Collection
BATE, Jennifer
BATE, Jennifer (organ)
Pour plus amples dtails:

Played by the composer on the organ of the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea
BATE, Jennifer (b. 1944) 
1. Toccata on a theme of Martin Shaw4:19
2. Introduction and Variations on an Old French Carol9:26
Four Reflections 
3. Reverie2:55
4. Norwegian Barcarole1:56
5. Cantilena2:38
6. Pastoral Palindrome2:24
Homage to 1685 
7. Moto perpetuo2:11
8. Gigue on a theme of Scarlatti2:05
9. Largo3:42
10. Postlude on a theme of Handel2:07
11. Il filatoio (The Spinning-wheel)2:02
12. Canone Inglese per la festa di Garbagna (An English Canon)3:11
13. Lament4:58
14. Variations on a Gregorian theme5:15


In 1972, a BBC producer requested a virtuoso encore for my live broadcast recital at Westminster Cathedral, as the programme was slightly short. My father encouraged me to write this, so I dedicated it to him. In 1980, it became my first published work, and I have a wonderful photo of Olivier Messiaen, score in hand, saying "So you are a composer, too..."!!

Shaw’s tune, Little Cornard, was written for the hymn, Hills of the North, rejoice. It is played first. The Toccata builds in a series of canons to a spectacular full organ finale.

Introduction and Variations on an old French carol

I devised an entertaining program, which is still very popular, called A Guide to the King of Instruments. This piece, written for the 1982 Nottingham Festival, is a miniature demonstration of the tonal resources.

The carol is presented first. In England, it is called Picardy, and sung to Let all mortal flesh keep silence.

Introduction: The tune, shared by Solo Clarinet and Pedal Grand Principal, is interrupted by shimmering strings and flute chord clusters.

Variation 1: The Gregorian plainchant, Victimae Paschali laudes, accompanies the carol. Both progress in canon and the Swell Waldhorn (bassoon) adds definition to the pedal part.
Variation 2: A quirky March flirts with phrases from the theme, now in the major.
Variation 3: Brief appearances of the tune on the pedals and the Great diapasons are overwhelmed by cascades of sparkling mixtures and mutations.
Variation 4: The floating melody is a variant of the carol, and the accompaniment is based on the last line. By coupling the Great 4´ Stopped Flute to the pedals, the left foot controls the bass line, while the right foot - high on the pedalboard - plays the complete carol.
Variation 5: The fugue subject, based on the carol, is augmented and inverted before the entire carol returns in canon with the fugue subject in stretto above it. The coda unites both in a dramatic climax.

Four Reflections

1. Reverie
2. Norwegian Barcarole
3. Cantilena
4. Pastoral Palindrome

Reverie is built on two themes: the first a delicate cantabile on flutes, and the other in rich low chords on the strings. Norwegian Barcarole, written while snow-bound on tour in Norway, combines three different rhythms. The basso ostinato (duple time) provides the rocking barcarole; a Norwegian hymn (compound duple time) forms the middle voice; above, a pattern of quavers (compound quadruple time) repeats three times. All converge frequently, so the piece sounds very simple! Cantilena presents a lyrical dialogue, passing in an unbroken line between soprano and tenor, accompanied by flutes. Pastoral Palindrome can literally be played forwards or backwards. A canon on flute and oboe plays gently over the drone bass. The piece is dedicated to my mother, who liked the effect and the logic.

Homage to 1685

1. Moto perpetuo
2. Gigue on a theme of Scarlatti
3. Largo
4. Postlude on a theme of Handel

Originally, this suite had six movements, each study posing different technical challenges. It won the prize, sponsored by The Carnegie Trust in 1985, for a composition to celebrate the tercentenary of the birth of Bach, Handel and Domenico Scarlatti.

The first movement was inspired by the unaccompanied suites of Bach. Although predominantly written in single notes, the harmonies are always implied. Here, the notes B flat, A, C, and B natural (which in German notation spell BACH) appear fleetingly twelve times. Scarlatti’s famous "Cat Fugue" for harpsichord has a subject that leaps up the keyboard. The Gigue starts contrapuntally with a running theme designed for fleet footwork. Mid-way, the Scarlatti theme joins in and the two are worked together. The slow movement features a distinctive melody, repeated and varied over a pizzicato bass. At one point, the right hand must play it on two keyboards simultaneously. The finale, on full organ, introduces Handel’s Air from Suite No. 5 in E ("The Harmonious Blacksmith") in long pedal notes. Rapid chords travel the entire keyboard, with the hands constantly crossing, before sharing the tune as well.

Il filatoio (The Spinning-wheel)

Italian friends commissioned this, and I composed it during one of my many South American tours. Flute, clarinet and schalmey (oboe) converse playfully, with a whirling accompaniment, representing the wheel.

Canone Inglese per la festa di Garbagna (An English Canon)

Several pieces are connected with my career in Italy. In 1973, Don Lino Tamburelli heard my Italian début recital and determined to restore the historic organ at his Parish Church in Garbagna. In 1996, we celebrated 20 years of my annual concerts there, so I wrote this for an encore. It combines the peal of their church bells with light-hearted references to the British national anthem.


In 1997, I was persuaded to finish this by a dear friend, little thinking that some months later, her family would receive it as a memorial gift. I wanted to create the mood using minimal resources in unusual ways. There may be up to 8 notes playing, but the texture is transparent. The stark opening intensifies as counter-themes enter, but the chords gradually become the accompaniment to a more optimistic melody. The coda reinforces the feeling of resignation.

Variations on a Gregorian theme (Conditor alme siderum)

I was asked to write a moderately difficult piece which could be played on any organ with two manuals and pedals. I chose to base it on this beautiful plainsong for Vespers, first Sunday in Advent.

Variation 1 - Musette: Theme in canon over a drone bass.
Variation 2 - Courante: Fast trio with the tune in the centre.
Variation 3 - Waltz: The theme in canon forms the accompaniment, while the Amen weaves above. The shifting rhythm of the pedal ostinato gives this waltz a distinct limp!
Variation 4 - Romance: Ethereal chords unite the tune in canon.
Variation 5 - March: A bold trio with the tune in the pedals.
Variation 6 - Sarabande: Headed ‘Homage to Percy Whitlock’, I deliberately imitated the way he wrote, for more variants of the plainchant and a last appearance of the theme, richly harmonised.


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