The Organ

Francis Jackson: Sonata no. 5 in C minor for Organ

Francis Jackson: Sonata no. 5 in C minor for Organ. Banks

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This piece was written to honour the centenary of the birth of Percy Whitlock and was first performed by the composer in St. Stephen's Church, Bournemouth on 5th May 2003. It is a substantial yet approachable work in 4 movements, Moderato, Scherzetto, Canzona (larghetto) and Allegro and would well repay adequate study by performers looking for a large scale, modern work by a leading British composer. The first movement in 6/8 begins with a striking motif based on a falling minor third, this quickly leads to passages in which long quaver movement phrases are progressively moved through the clefs ending up on the pedals. Further development takes place with considerable rhythmic and melodic variety but always maintaining clarity and accessibility. The second movement in 2/4 is imaginative and playful and would require careful registration particularly in the pedal line to avoid it being obscured. Nevertheless, I suspect that the composer's note about 'Choir Flutes 8, 4, 2' need not be followed rigidly if a similarly bright sound perhaps a small Principal, is all that is available.

The third movement beginning in 9/8 is reflective, occasionally tinged with melancholy giving opportunities to exploit the softer colours and the dynamic range of the organ.The last movement takes the falling third motif from the first and builds it into a solid framework of minim chords in the left hand later relieved by changes of tempo with semiquaver figures.

Throughout, the work uses changes of time signature to aid rhythmic interest. A good performance would need strict adherence to these and careful thought about the resulting changes in movement to preserve overall unity. A most engaging work which deserves a wide audience and suitable for players of diploma standard and beyond.