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Introduction, Variations and Fugue on an original theme, Op 73

composer
1903

 
The Introduction, Variations and Fugue on an Original Theme Op 73, in the unusual key of F sharp minor, was written in 1903 when Reger was living in Munich. Much of it is notable for its tone of melancholy lyricism, employing a chromaticism that is daring, almost impressionistic, whilst remaining thoughtful.

The Introduction itself falls into three sections: a mysterious, yearning succession of phrases, often built on the rising melodic figure of tonic, major second, perfect fourth (referred to below as ‘figure A’); a more vigorous, structured section in five-part counterpoint (with its own short pianissimo interlude); and a brief return to the brooding style of the opening.

The theme is andante, in a spacious 6/8 metre. The third bar reveals the source of the important rising figure from the Introduction while the semitonal shifts downwards to the 6-4 first on C natural and then on B are significant moments.

The Variations are as follows:

1. free contrapuntal ornamentation
2. scherzando exchanges
3. a light and chromatic toccata in D minor
4. a free harmonic paraphrase of the theme, moving back to F sharp minor
5. vigorous counterpoint with the theme in the pedals
6. a delicate moto perpetuo
7. a free fantasia built around the inversion of figure A
8. a toccata across three manuals, built around forms of figure A in the top and bottom parts
9. a free chordal toccata
10. a powerful fantasia built on a chromatic version of figure A, building to a formidable climax
11. a transitional variation obviously recalling the theme; mysterious exchanges lead, momentarily, to a cadence in F sharp major
12. an idyllic interlude, with translucent textures, in the Neapolitan G major, with figure A as an ostinato in the left hand
13. inversion of figure A in the pedals returns us abruptly to reality; extravagant bravura writing
14. a delicate return to the theme, now in the major, and an exquisitely lingering cadence

The Fugue is relatively short by Regerian standards, and often light and scherzando in style and texture. Nonethless, by the end it accumulates enough substance to absorb the weight of the preceding material; and the final cadence, resolving into a resplendent F sharp major, is majestic.

The Variations are as follows:

1. free contrapuntal ornamentation
2. scherzando exchanges
3. a light and chromatic toccata in D minor
4. a free harmonic paraphrase of the theme, moving back to F sharp minor
5. vigorous counterpoint with the theme in the pedals
6. a delicate moto perpetuo
7. a free fantasia built around the inversion of figure A
8. a toccata across three manuals, built around forms of figure A in the top and bottom parts
9. a free chordal toccata
10. a powerful fantasia built on a chromatic version of figure A, building to a formidable climax
11. a transitional variation obviously recalling the theme; mysterious exchanges lead, momentarily, to a cadence in F sharp major
12. an idyllic interlude, with translucent textures, in the Neapolitan G major, with figure A as an ostinato in the left hand
13. inversion of figure A in the pedals returns us abruptly to reality; extravagant bravura writing
14. a delicate return to the theme, now in the major, and an exquisitely lingering cadence

The Fugue is relatively short by Regerian standards, and often light and scherzando in style and texture. Nonethless, by the end it accumulates enough substance to absorb the weight of the preceding material; and the final cadence, resolving into a resplendent F sharp major, is majestic.

from notes by David Goode © 2013

Recordings

Reger: Organ Music
SIGCD329Download only

Details

Movement 1: Introduction
Track 1 on SIGCD329 CD1 [6'53] Download only
Movement 2: Variations
Track 2 on SIGCD329 CD1 [23'59] Download only
Movement 3: Fugue
Track 3 on SIGCD329 CD1 [5'17] Download only

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