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Prelude (Two Compositions, No. 1)

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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (01/12/19)
Composer: Titcomb, Everett
Sample Producer: Lavender Audio
Sample Set: Hereford Cathedral Willis Organ
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Mid-20th century
The music of Everett Titcomb (1884-1968) occupies a unique niche in the catalogue of sacred organ and choral works by 20th-century Anglican composers in the United States. His compositional voice was clearly influenced by the Bostonian giants of his youth (Eugene Thayer, Dudley Buck, George Chadwick, Horatio Parker--who's mother once had Titcomb as a border) as well as his affinity for French music; yet at the same time his work is informed by his vast knowledge and understanding of plainchant and the polyphonic style of the 15th and 16th century Italians. An Anglo-Catholic who spent fifty years nearly to the day (1910-1960) as organist and choirmaster at Boston's Church of St. John the Evangelist in Bowdoin Street, his best organ works are based on plainchant tunes making them of more value to the Roman Catholic organist of the time than to the majority of Episcopalian ones and some of his best polyphony is in the form of Latin motets which while used at St. John's and other Anglo-Catholic parishes were perfectly at home sung at a Roman Mass.

Titcomb tends to be known for a handful of works which are quite popular with volunteer church choirs while his better work goes largely unplayed, unsung, and unheard.

Almost all of Titcomb's output are for liturgical use, but these pieces, "Two Compositions" are not, and are dedicated: "To Virgil Fox". They were published in 1942, so, they are before Virgil's "big days."

The first in the pair, "Prelude" is a wonderful blending of tonal and modal harmonies. The flow is like plainsong, but the material is freely composed. The effects of contrast are subtle, and the result is a deeply spiritual outcome, even if it was not composed for "church use." (I'm guessing that!) The color is dark but not somber, and while I avoided the strings until the end, I figured Fox would have used them, so, on they come, along with the 32' Open! :-)

The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Titcomb and one of the organ he played.
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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