Concerto for Portatif Organ and Strings (2006)
for Solo Portatif Organ and String Orchestra
Nancy Granert, organ; Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra; Robert Mealy, leader/director
Duration: 14 min.
Dedication: for Nancy Granert
Commission: Commissioned by the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, Robert Mealy, director
Publisher: Musik Fabrik
Concerto for Portatif Organ and Strings (2006) was commissioned by the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra and its director, Robert Mealy. The work is dedicated to organist Nancy Granert, for whom the solo part was written. The work was commissioned in celebration of the von Clemm Chamber Organ at The Memorial Church, Harvard University, built in 2006 by Klop Organ Builders.
As with many of my works, relationships between old and new musical concepts are explored. In this piece, musical aspects of the Baroque organ concerto tradition (and Baroque style string playing) co-exist with more contemporary musical elements. In particular, the directness of expression found in many Baroque concertante works is present throughout. Musical material is shared between the movements in a motivic fashion.
The title of the first movement, Collage, is used in the sense of “something made or put together using whatever materials happen to be available.” Thus, the musical material for the movement is of varying characters; these elements are assembled together in ways that allow them to comment on and inform each other. Some of these musical elements include: a traditional “overture” texture, a Basse de Trompette texture (with an organ reed stop in the left hand) common in French Baroque organ music, and the French keyboard toccata style.
The second movement, Elegia, is dark and searching in tone. It begins with a rageful roar before quieting down to introduce its basic musical material—a simple “lament” theme in a folk-inflected style. This material is used for further explorations, building to passionate climaxes. Finally, the opening music returns, but this time with a whisper. The movement winds down to a sad conclusion.
After the soul-searching of the second movement, the third movement, Rondeau, is sprightly and energetic. The basic material is a set of Baroque and Classical-style figurations (with a few American gospel inflections thrown in), firmly grounded in G major. After minor diversions, the original material continues to return and ends the work with unfettered joy.