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Scherzo from"Suite pour orgue"

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Uploaded by: PLRT (02/10/22)
Composer: Alain, Jehan
Sample Producer: OrganArt Media
Sample Set: 1925 G.F. Steinmeyer, Berlin, Germany
Software: Hauptwerk VI
Genre: Modern
This scherzo is the second part of Jehan Alain’s “Suite pour orgue”, which won the composition prize awarded by the association “Les Amis de l’Orgue” in 1936. For the first two parts of the Suite (Introduction et variations – scherzo), Alain re-used a previous composition for strings quintet, and added a newly composed choral as third movement.

The scherzo is most unusual, first for its mood which is alternately mysterious, dark, panting, sometimes wild, far from the light and joking mood of most scherzos. There are not many scherzos where the main theme is indicated “Allegro pesante” or – afterwards - “subitement plus lent et très pesant” (suddenly slower and very weighty).

Unusual also by its form. Although the usual form is scherzo – trio – scherzo, this piece begins and concludes by the trio and has 5 parts :

0:00 trio as a dialogue between the REC and POS flutes, in a mysterious atmosphere
1:09 scherzo
2:06 trio on the clarinet above an ostinato on flutes
2:37 scherzo, with a crescendo and accelerando from 2:58 which leads to the main theme re-exposed fortissimo in long values at 3:39
4:12 trio on voix celeste above a pedal ostinato.

And last, unusual by the countless changes in mood, in articulation marks and in tempo (for the main theme exposition, I followed the tempo indicated by Marie-Claire Alain in the last Leduc edition). There are a good deal of bars with the indication “Céder (eg slacken)” for the first beats and “A tempo” for the last beat or last two beats of the bar, and again for the next bar.

It’s IMHO quite a fascinating piece, alone in its species and atmosphere, and - as often with Alain’s music - with a surprise at each corner of the street. A pity it is so rarely played (almost never in live concerts, I guess first posting on CCH).
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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