Opus 1289

Suite circulaire (2018)

for Organ

  • Praeludium
  • Ricercare
  • Toccata

Erik Simmons, organ

Duration: 14 min.

Dedication: for Elisa Williams Bickers

Publisher: Zimbel Press/Subito Music Corp.

Performance materials available from the publisher.

Suite circulaire (2018) for organ is dedicated to Elisa Williams Bickers. The music takes a free, contemporary approach to the historical genre of “circulating” (or modulating) compositions, where the basic material moves through a variety of keys before returning “home” again. The goal is not simply to play a modulation “game,” but rather to construct a true musical discourse where the varied keys are an essential part of the concept.

The first movement, Praeludium, is bright in character. Besides moving through varied keys, the movement is also animated with various looping patterns that provide another link to the circulating concept.

The second movement, Ricercare, takes its content very literally from the title, which means “to search out.” Instead of being a proto-fugue, like many ricercares from the late Renaissance or early Baroque, the music “searches” through the keys by means of a wandering melody and a modulating accompaniment.

The third movement, Toccata, is slightly manic in character. The syncopated theme heard at the start animates the movement as it moves through both tonal, modal, and bitonal/modal harmonies before reaching an excited conclusion.

(When the suite is performed on an organ tuned in an unequal, circulating temperament, there is an additional “circular” effect provided by the quite varied key colors that are heard as the material moves through them.)