Hyperion Records

Variations on a theme of Herbert Howells, Op 87
Howells's 'Lambert Clavichord'

'Organ Fireworks, Vol. 4' (CDA66605)
Organ Fireworks, Vol. 4
Track 6 on CDA66605 [11'06] Archive Service

Variations on a theme of Herbert Howells, Op 87
Derek Bourgeois was a lecturer in the music faculty of Bristol University before becoming director of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. As a composer he is an accomplished symphonist and has a particular affinity with brass instruments. He was a composition pupil of Herbert Howells whose church and organ music claim a firm place in the repertoire of the Anglican cathedral tradition and who was born not far from Bourgeois’ home in the Forest of Dean. When Bourgeois was commissioned by the composer William Mathias to write an organ work for the 1984 North Wales Festival, Howells had recently died, so Bourgeois composed these variations in homage. The theme of the four variations is taken from the Elizabethan pastiche ‘De la Mare’s Pavane’, part of a collection which Howells called Lambert’s Clavichord.

The first variation is a dynamic exercise in rhythm, and the second a siciliano. The third variation has the solemnity appropriate to an act of homage, but the fourth (‘very jolly’) is a modern Mephisto waltz, of Bacchanalian irreverence, which attempts to quote on the pedals a tune which proves to be a close relative of the pavane, namely ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’. Decorum is restored with a toccata-style finale, although the gentle clavichord theme ends the work, transformed into a vehicle grand enough to carry the weight of full organ.

from notes by Ian Carson © 1992

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA66605 track 6
Recording date
28 February 1992
Recording venue
St Bartholomew's Church, New York, USA
Recording producer
Paul Spicer
Recording engineer
Christopher Greenleaf
Hyperion usage
  1. Organ Fireworks, Vol. 4 (CDA66605)
    Disc 1 Track 6
    Release date: July 1992
    Deletion date: October 2012
    Archive Service
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