Chromatic Passacaglia and Fugue on a Theme of Cox - (1996)
The theme of this chromatic work is stated at the outset. While working in a production of Tannhäuser, I met Graham Cox, and Australian working in Germany. He had been an organist, as well as pianist and all-around musician. During our rehearsals, I had learned of his organ skills and offered to compose a piece based on a theme he would create. He agonized over "his" theme for a longer period of time that it took me to compose the work, as he spent much effort trying to think out the harmonic possibilities in advance of my composing this score. He had set for himself the goal of writing a twelve-note row with harmonic implications, and had come up with this eight note theme. When Graham completed it, the theme immediately hinted to me at the setting which it demanded, and I set to work to sketch it at once.
A passacaglia form was one way to show off the theme repetitively, rather than extend or make a lengthy development which might obscure the original. As a result, the passacaglia restates the theme in several ways with episodic moments to further examine the tonal foundations of it. The lowered supertonic region is enforced by the theme itself, and so remains a feature of the work's cadential points.
The fugue is a rhythmic interpretation of the passacaglia's theme, now made more metrical so as to move the music forward with standard Baroque ornamentation.
After the fugue texture builds to a mighty climax as shown below, a simple restatement of the theme harmonized as in the passacaglia ends the work in a pianissimo.
MP3 file [ circa 8' 40" ]
The score for Chromatic Passacaglia and Fugue on a Theme of Cox is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this organ score.
Chromatic Passacaglia and Fugue on a Theme of Cox