Alec Rowley (1892-1958) was a pupil of Frederick Corder at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He was a composer, organist and pianist, who taught composition at Trinity College in London. He broadcast frequently in piano duet repertoire with Edgar Moy, and his name was known to many through his writing and through the many educational pieces that he wrote, staple fare for many a beginner or amateur player. His more demanding work as a composer has been unfairly neglected. Rowleys Piano Concerto No.1, scored for piano, strings, and percussion, was first performed in 1938. He was for many years the organist of St Alban's Church, Teddington and was a contributor to 'The Rotunda', the house magazine of Henry Willis & Sons Ltd.
"Five Improvisations" were published by Novello in 1948. Each of the works deals with a particular "mood", which is inspired the verse of a specific psalm, cited at the beginning of the piece. While I was playing these works, I could not help but feel shades of Percy Whitlock's "psalm pieces", although the harmonic language is definitely that of Rowley. His use of "regular" harmonies in distincive ways is noteworthy. For instance, in the "Solemn Prelude," he shifts between the tonalities of F Minor & A Minor with great effect. There is also the blending of modal harmonies with highly chromatic ones.
The second of the "Five Improvisations" is "Consolation." It is dedicated to Henry Coates (b. c. 1855) and organist of Bradford Cathedral. It is a pleasing work, calm and flowing, 3/4 time, and in the key of E-flat major. The Cor Anglais of the Solo is used as the solo stop. Highly chormatic, a fairly large climax is reached before the "refreshing-feeling" of the opening is resumed.
The psalm verse quoted in this work is: "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, yet shalt thou refresh me." (Psalm 138, verse 7)