Gaston Litaize’s teachers at the Paris Conservatoire included Marcel Dupré for the organ and Henri Büsser for composition. In 1936 he won the Rossini Prize with his cantata Fra Angelico
, and he took second prize in the Prix de Rome in 1938. His compositions, relatively few in number, display an admirable technique, coupling imaginative rhythmic invention with a refined harmonic palette. Taken from the Twelve Pieces
of 1939, the Variations sur un Noël angevin
use a tune from the Anjou region. There are six variations in all, mostly linked together and displaying a wide range of techniques. The second, in the minor mode, is a dance in compound time, while the third and fifth are trios. The harmony of the fourth is full of exotic chromatic colouring and the sixth, entitled ‘Variation Finale’, is an extended fantasia on motifs from the tune, ending in a blaze of B major.
from notes by Stephen Westrop © 1997