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Ecce jam noctis (No. 3, Five Preludes on Plainchant Melodies)

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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (01/19/19)
Composer: Willan, Healey
Sample Producer: Milan Digital Audio
Sample Set: Salisbury Cathedral Father Willis
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Mid-20th century
The Canadian Enclycolpedia says this about the "early" organ works of Healey Willan (1880-1968): With the music for organ one enters a different world. Here Willan was thoroughly at home and made a significant and lasting contribution. One work stands out: the monumental "Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue" of 1916. It represents the culmination of Willan's first period of organ composition, which started ca 1906 with a Fantasia on 'Ad coenam agni.' The Preludes and Fugues in C minor and B minor and the "Epilogue" are the other major works from this period. While not exploring the possibilities of the instrument as searchingly as his masterpiece, they are idiomatic and very typical of their time. They combine an innate Englishness (with a Stanfordian flavour) and a European chromaticism that can be found in Reger and Karg-Elert.

Born in England, Willan became organist-choirmaster of Toronto's largest church, St. Paul's, Bloor Street, but it was his royalties as a composer which allowed him to leave "low church" St. Paul's in 1921 and to become Precentor of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene (Toronto).

These works are dedicated "To Dr. Charles Peaker", a well-known English/Canadian organist, and student of Willan. "Ecce jam noctis" is the third of five pieces, published by Oxford University Press in 1951.

This work depicts the coming of a dawn, in a restrained, yet colorful and unique way. The "interludes" are played upon the Swell strings and Vox Humana, while the chant is played upon the 4' harmonic flute of the Solo, one octave lower.

Towards the end, the vox is removed, and the Swell flute is added, then subtracted, with the Swell sub-coupler and Pedal 32' added, then removed, and finally, only one 8' stop remains.

It's a beautiful, miniature tone poem, which I felt that the use of the Vox Humana added a unique effect to the outcome.

The score is attached below, as well as photos of Willan, Charles Peaker.

More Willan coming soon!
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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