FMPNmBnr14

Seven Variations  on  a  French Noel   
           [A la venue de Noel ]  
1.      Adagio
2.      Adagio, animato
3.      Adagio risoluto
4.      Larghetto, espressivo
5.      Adagio risoluto 
6.      Fugato, cantabile
7.      Adagio cantabile

for
Organ   (10 pages)

Notes

          Seven Variations on a  Noel   [A la venue de Noel ]  is modeled after some of the less familiar repertoire of Franck's two volumes entitled L’Organiste. These variations are conceived as a set of miniatures in the French Romantic tradition of  pieces written for harmonium or for choir organ (l'orgue du choeur). Franck's Prelude, Fugue, et Variation also figures prominently in the design of Sept Variations, as becomes apparent in the fugato and seventh variation.
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        The source melody and theme, “A la venue de Noel,” has been restructured into repeated phrases [ab ab cc], an element that holds constant in all but the fourth and sixth variations. Following a gentle and introspective first statement, the second variation makes use of bold and animated imitation between contrapuntal voices.  In the third variation, the carol migrates between the bass (pedal) and soprano lines.  The fourth movement presents the tune in a slow moving canon (at the interval of a fifth) between the tenor and bass lines, with an ornamental filigree accompaniment shared in duet between treble voices. The fifth variation is similar to the third, but with a repeat of the carol’s final phrase in the alto voice.
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      The Fugato features paired overlapping statements of its two-phrase subject in stretto. Repetitions of a four-note motif — one that has been an accompanimental building block throughout the variations — provide a counter-subject to accompany the fugue’s subject as it moves from one voice to another, toward a final appearance in the pedal. The seventh movement displays elaborative elements reminiscent of Franck's variation (mentioned above), with a flowing current of sixteenth notes to accompany the carol. Following intensified development and a dramatic pause, an extended coda reprises the opening variation's introspective mood, waxes briefly but grandly with curiously Elgarian eloquence, then settles into a gently pastoral conclusion.

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