Fantasia and Fugue on H-C-A-B (2022)
for Nicholas Quardokus
More than fifty years ago, I had the good fortune to listen to the young Simon Preston (1938-2022), nine years my senior, rehearsing and setting registrations for an upcoming recital the Liszt's Fantasie und Fuge über das Thema B-A-C-H. Many composers from our "Papa" Bach forward have used the four-note theme in a variety of ways, among them Brahms, Reger and into the 20th century with its "modernity," now a century behind this 21st.
Meeting Nick who was standing at the console of the four-manual Reuters at Grace, I spelled my name and he silently fingered the four-note them, so known to us all. We spoke a moment about the Liszt. For the quirkiness of taking the theme in the "retrograde," as twelve tone theorists like to say, this work is a fantasy and fugue on the reverse of the well known statement. Opening with the theme in octaves, the harmonization of it sets the first of the four notes as the fifth of the triad, and thereafter works out variants of it.
The fugue takes the four notes, combined with the orignal as the second part, for a subject with the theme emphasizing the fifth of the scale, this time in the minor. The subject then appears in other domains, and it restated in a variety of textures and variants.
12 pages, circa 9' 00" an MP3 demo is here:
The score 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.
Fantasia and Fugue on H-C-A-B