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Saraband In Modo Elegiaco, (Six Pieces, No. 5)

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Widor - 10 Symphonies

Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (10/05/12)
Composer: Howells, Herbert
Sample Producer: Lavender Audio
Sample Set: Hereford Cathedral Willis Organ
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Late Romantic / Modern
This is the 5th of the "Six Pieces" of Herbert Howells (1892-1983)

PLRT's suggestion prompted me to give this one a go... ;-)

To remind myself, I looked up the definition of a saraband: Originally a some-what erotic dance with a Spanish influence, it was danced in both S. America and Spain during the 16th century. It developed a more dignified form when it became popular in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. It is in triple time, with the accent falling on the second beat.

Howells’ use of an archaic dance-form reveals his interest in Tudor and Elizabethan music, though of course everything about the piece beyond this is utterly his own.

"Saraband In modo elegiaco" was finished on the 16th September 1945. A few days earlier was the tenth anniversary of his son, Michael’s death, and no doubt this intense and moving work was influenced heavily by both this and the carnage of the World War II.

The "Spanish influence" weighs heavily in this work, which begins with the organ's darkest colors, and ends in a thunderous C major. To me, it doesn't feel like victory. It feels more a grandiose culmination of the tragedy.

An interesting note on the registration of the opening: Hereford has a remarkable pair of soft 16' stops on the Swell - the Gamba and the Dulzian. These both add considerable weight, but are so gentle with the box closed that the almost disappear. This is perfect for the opening.

Next comes the exotic Orchestral Oboe of the Solo, playing in an "eastern sounding melody", and the piece begins to build.

It feels sort of like the funeral procession of a Spanish princess, or some such thing, but perhaps I have no idea what I'm talking about...

I was going to do this on Salisbury, but the unique stops of the Swell and size of the 32' Bombarde made my choose Hereford... ;-)
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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