Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–1876), the outstanding church musician of Victorian England, was successively organist at the cathedrals of Hereford, Exeter, Winchester and Gloucester, and he spent seven years at Leeds Parish Church between the second and third of these appointments. Choral Song and Fugue
, written at Exeter, is the third of his first set of Three Pieces for Chamber Organ, both sets having been written for the organ at Killerton House, Broadclyst, Exeter, the home of Wesley’s pupil Lady Acland, to whom they are dedicated. It comprises a cheerful, tuneful first movement followed by a fugue in which all textbook notions of this daunting form are quickly swept aside: its headlong progress is eventually checked by the arrival of the remote key of C sharp major, and at this point Wesley engineers a return to the home key of C major which has an almost Beethovenian audacity.
from notes by Relf Clark © 2010