Prelude et Choral fugue  on
Conditor Alme Siderum

for  Organ
(6 pages of music)


Prelude et Choral Fugue sur le chant gregorien, Conditor alme siderum, offers multiple treatments of an anonymous 7th century plainchant melody originally paired with an Advent Vespers text.  In the course of Pope Urban VIII's revisions of the Roman Breviary in 1632, many hymns were greatly revised, and Conditor alme siderum was no exception. The original text has since been restored. The plainchant tune has undergone similar adaptations to accomodate an ever-changing tide of revisions, translations and tastes; the version cited in these two settings is drawn from various 20th century Anglican sources.

    Prelude  is  a  loosely imitative motet  setting  in  which  the  four  phrases of  the  chant are sounded in augmentation in the soprano over points of imitation in lower voices.  Choral Fugue opens each successive exposition of the four chant phrases with a declamatory statement of the tune appears in its original time values in the left hand,  accompanied in the right hand by bold chords moving in parallel motion stating the melody in augmentation, all over a sustained tonic pedalpoint. Each of the four declamations is cadenced by points of imitation between voices, followed in turn by a contrastingly light and dancing three-voice fugato treatment of consecutive phrases of chant. A brief and dramatic coda returns to the declamatory opening textures of Choral Fugue, ringing out with boldly imitative ‘Amens.’

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