In January 2019 I received the ALCM diploma in Composition. One of the compositions of the submitted portfolio for this examination in Composition was Sortie in F major, an Organ work I wrote in 2018. Alongside the portfolio of compositions I also submitted programme notes and recordings of the works. In this blog both the programme note and the recording of Sortie in F major for Organ.
This composition owes a lot to French Romantic Organ works such as the well-known Sorties written by composer Lefébure-Wély, though the approach is more contemporary in style. The intention was to write something more original while at the same time respecting this particular brand of the Romantic Organ Repertoire. Therefore this piece contains a Neoclassical influence, though moving in a slightly different direction as the approach is not based on Baroque or Classical traditions but more on Romantic traditions, making this more of a Neoromantic work. At some points in the music there are hints of the Romantic traditions, for example the obvious dominant 13th chord in the perfect cadence in bar 9/10, halfway through the A section of this piece which is written in Binary Form. Throughout the A section there is a strong sense of the tonic key of F major. At the start of the B section (bar 17) a new motif is introduced which at first appears to be in F major but it is the start of a sudden modulation into A flat major (bar 18). This could be seen as use of a more extreme modulation owing something to the Romantic Period. As this figure in bar 17 started on the tonic of F, it recurs in bar 18 now on A flat. Again this is used to modulate as we continue in the key in F minor. The F minor statement however is brief. In bar 20 this motif from bars 17/18/19 comes back in a modified version in the pedal and it prepares the listener for a series of secondary dominants which continue until bar 25 on arrival in the key of C minor. At this point C minor is sustained for the whole phrase with a Tierce de Picardie presented in bar 28, and with the C major chord now enriched into a C major 7th chord, i.e. the dominant 7th in the key of F major, the tonic key of the piece. From bar 29 onwards there is a build up towards the end, in which a strong relationship is heard between the tonic key and the relative minor key. Within a small number of bars perfect cadences are used at the end of some short motifs, either in the tonic key or in the relative minor key, but the rhythm prevents any sense that these perfect cadences might represent the end of the piece, but rather that these perfect cadences are building towards a climax: In bar 38 there is a return to the chromatic idea (as used at the beginning) which ends in the use of a secondary dominant in C major, rather than a perfect cadence in the tonic key, before progressing to the Coda in F major, where strong chords are played above the tonic pedal line, again avoiding a perfect cadence at this grand finale of the piece where all tension is now released. In the Coda there is a further broad reference to a well-known Romantic Organ piece: the Finale of the Toccata from the 5th Symphony for Organ by the French composer Widor also employs large chords, the main difference being that in this piece not the pedal but the right hand is playing the tonic pedal point. Registrations throughout the piece are selected to colour the internal structure of the piece as well as accenting the modulations, phrasing and structure.
Recorded in July 2018 with Organist Reinier Korver in the Hervormde Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church) in Ameide (NL)