December 23, 2020--Postlude on Mendelssohn by Sir David Wilcocks

One of my perennial favorites, this piece has been in my Christmas repertoire for over a decade. The plan is to use it on Christmas Eve for postlude this year.

This is a concert closer in a Toccata style based on the hymn tune also known as "Hark the Herald Angels Sing. After a brief harmonically shifting introduction (which goes through three keys relatively quickly!), the main section begins. The Toccata figurations simply outline the chord for each note in the melody with the melody in the upper most part being held against the fast figurations. The pedal adds some contrapuntal interest here and there, a bit like running commentary. The melody is heard in it's entirety. An interlude occurs that plays with fragments of the hymn tune incorporated into it. There is a gradual build up during the interlude, both in volume and harmonic uncertainty, before the hymn tune is heard once again, this time in the pedals with full reed chorus blaring forth. The Toccata style of figuration continues in the manuals, however, with a countermelody or descant above it. It seems to me that it is at least in part based on Willcocks own famous descant for this famous piece. The work concludes with a series of harmonic changes over a tonic (key of the piece--G major) pedal and a brief coda that borrows from the opening 5 pitches of the hymn. Fun piece to play, and probably a little too fast....


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