organ and piano

Passacaglia, quasi una fantasia; Meccanico Eccentrico, quasi una fantasia; Toccata, quasi una fantasia

Unquestionably difficult to perform, the complex opening movement “Passacaglia, quasi una fantasia” combines three transforming grounds in the organ with free, fantasy-like scalar variations in the piano. In a trio texture of constantly shifting alignments, the organ’s three grounds accelerate independently until reaching both their fastest speeds and a strategic unison at the movement’s approximate midpoint (the “first convergence”); this process is then reversed with the three grounds decelerating independently until reaching a second strategic unison (the “second convergence”) to begin the brief, concluding coda.

Based on motivic repetition, expansion and contraction, the intentionally bizarre “Meccanico Eccentrico, quasi una fantasia” engages a curious meshing of mechanical characters, ever-changing yet oddly predictable in their apparent struggle to cooperate.

Beginning a narrative whose overall simplicity cannot be disguised, “Toccata, quasi una fantasia” opens by juxtaposing slow-moving background activity in the organ part with simultaneous rapid foreground activity in the piano part. After a subtle yet persistent increase in activity, the organ part inevitably assumes foreground prominence, emerging fully in the form of a defiant cadenza at the movement’s climax. Inspired (and no quitter), the piano part accompanies this cadenza with its own gusts of bravado and intensity. The storm quickly subsides, and (just as you knew would happen) the instruments resume their original roles to end the movement much as it began.

Music for Organ and Piano was commissioned through The Canada Council for the Arts by organist Marnie Giesbrecht and pianist Joachim Segger.

  • Recording: CD: Arktos 20039/40