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Prelude and Fugue on a theme of Vittoria


In his published oeuvre Britten focused almost exclusively on writing for musicians to play together in ensembles. As a performer he devoted much time to his work with tenor Peter Pears, and the composer’s Aldeburgh Festival appearances included duets with fellow-pianist Richter and accompanying cellist Rostropovich. The Prelude and Fugue on a theme of Vittoria is one of Britten’s rare forays into solo writing; it was the only organ solo by him published during his lifetime. Written in 1946, at the behest of Walter Hussey, this work has none of the fun of Rejoice in the Lamb. The work’s seriousness is rooted in the plainsong-like melody from the motet Ecce sacerdos magnos, which appears initially as a bold opening statement on the pedals and then in a more demure manner as the theme forms the brooding fugue. The work has had a mixed reception, but the accusation that the composer wrote it in bed one morning before getting up for breakfast seems a little unkind and is certainly untrue. The piece really needs a rather large organ to capture the variety of colours and moods evoked by the composer.

from notes by Simon Whalley © 2013


Mealor & Britten: … the flowers have their angels
Studio Master: SIGCD366Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


Track 16 on SIGCD366 [5'04] Download only

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD366 track 16

Recording date
1 April 2013
Recording venue
Keble College Chapel, Oxford, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Adrian Lucas
Recording engineer
Adrian Lucas & Iain Smith
Hyperion usage
  1. Mealor & Britten: … the flowers have their angels (SIGCD366)
    Disc 1 Track 16
    Release date: November 2013
    Download only
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