Fancies and Fugues on a Jig of Purcell - (2011)
theme is drawn from Purcell's suite for The Gordian Knot Unty'd, Z.
597, composed for string ensemble with cembalo for a play which is
apparently now lost. The suite is subtitled, "A collection of ayres,
compos'd for the theatre, 1691." As with Purcell and his many contemporaries
whose catches I have used in organ works, the tone is one of a certain
musical playfulness. Indeed the jig (alternatively "jigg") was used to break
with dramatic works, ending with jocularity and often played by clowns and
comedians of an ensemble. It was often a form of improvisation using a
popular tune as entertainment for an audience.
Purcell's jig theme is stated in only slight modification at the opening,
playing off dynamic levels one against another. The original is of two
extended phrases, each repeated once at a brilliant tempo.
first of the contrapuntal episodes draws on the opening phrase's pitches in
a compact little fugue. After only a first six notes, the "answer" to the
first variation on the jig tune is decorative in both the melodic line and
some of the accompaniment as well.
second contrapuntal episode employs the opening pitches from the second
portion of the jig theme, simple and scalar.
second variation on the theme places the theme in the left hand, with
decorations above it and a disjunct bass line beneath.
third variation places a decorated theme in the top voice, with playful
accompaniment beneath in the manner of an arietta.
fourth variation frames the jig theme, again decorated, within the relative
variation ends with a cadence in the relative minor, with a fifth variation
also remaining in that tonal region.
After a cadence in E major, the sixth variation returns without
harmonic bridge or ritardando between the sections directly back to G
major with dotted rhythms and altered harmonic underpinning.
sixth variations leads by segue into a fugue subject based on the opening of
the jig tune, the quarter becoming the dotted quarter in a metrical
modulation. The fugue subject moves through a number of tonal regions
related by Purcell's original harmonies.
cadenza-like gesture returns to the opening of the theme in full organ to
The entire work is here,
an MP3 file [ circa 8' 45" ]
The score for Fancies and Fugues on a Jig of Purcell 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.
Fancies and Fugues on a Jig of Purcell