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Variations on a theme of Haydn, Op 56a

composer
1873

 
Lionel Rogg takes Lemare as a model in his transcription of Brahms’s Variations on a theme by Haydn, though the organ he writes for is in many ways different from that of Lemare: while Lemare’s instrument was rich in colourful stops but probably had only one properly developed principal chorus (on the Great), and that based on an Open Diapason of massive scale, Rogg’s arrangement is for the modern pan-European eclectic organ, with strong choruses, an independent pedal division and probably only one enclosed department. It is a measure of the Grand Organ’s strength that both approaches work equally well—though I have not been able to resist the addition of a few details from the orchestral score which are absent in Rogg’s transcription. The theme turns out not to be by Haydn at all, but an anonymous chorale entitled St Antoni. The variations are a tour around Brahms’s vast repertoire of compositional devices and styles, from the grave, cantabile variation 4, through the hemiola-peppered scherzo variation 5, to the delicate siciliano variation 7. Instead of the fugal finale one might expect from a master of that genre, Brahms opts for steadily intensifying repetitions of the theme: a passacaglia like the finale of his Fourth Symphony.

from notes by Robert Quinney © 2006

Recordings

Brahms: Symphonies Nos 1 & 2
Studio Master: LSO0733Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
The Organ of Westminster Cathedral
SIGCD089Download only

Details

No 01 Thema: Chorale St Antoni: Andante
No 02 Variation 1: Poco più animato
No 03 Variation 2: Più vivace
No 04 Variation 3: Con moto
No 05 Variation 4: Andante con moto
No 06 Variation 5: Vivace
No 07 Variation 6: Vivace
No 08 Variation 7: Grazioso
No 09 Variation 8: Presto non troppo
No 10 Finale: Andante

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