December 22, 2020--Good Christian Men Rejoice by Michael McCabe

in #secretsoforganplaying2 months ago (edited)

Today I recorded my postlude for Christmas morning Mass (Friday). It is a set of variations on the cheerful Christmas tune by the composer who is my immediate predecessor at Dowd Chapel. I am kind of hoping that he wrote it for this specific instrument as the stops that are called for are right within reach at each variation change--even though I used presets for this recording.

I like each variation in this set. The theme (in F major) is played on a Clarinet stop while accompanied by flutes chirping out somewhat dissonant chords above it. Variation one (in C major) is played by flutes accompanied by more flutes, but playing two note harmonies of 2nds. Variation 3 (back in F major) is a canon between a cornet and the clarinet again. I had a page turn in the middle of the canon, so the clarinet dropped out for a moment. This is accompanied by the pedals outlining the tonic (root of F major) and dominant (Fifth of F major--C) alternating. Variation 4 takes a dark turn (the composer marks the mood as "Sinister") into D minor. The Trumpet now gets to play the tune accompanied by quirky, bagpipe like blasts using flutes on the swell. Variation 5 (now in D major) slows everything down and is marked "Slow and Warm". I used a different cornet than I did in variation 3 for most of the melody and accompanied it with a string and celeste combination on the swell and the pedal. Variation 6 (the last one) suddenly allows everything to open up to end with a triumphal mood. The melody is now in the pedals (lots of 16' and 8' reeds) which is accompanied by a carillon or "bell-like" sound. I tried this variation on another organ in town that has a "chimes" stop--and it is really effective with the ringing bells sounding even after the last organ pipe stops speaking. Wonderful piece.


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