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Music Review - The Organ The Organ

Dan Locklair: The Aeolian Sonata; Celebration; Phoenix - Fanfare & Processional

Dan Locklair: The Aeolian Sonata; Celebration; Phoenix - Fanfare & Processional (organ, brass & percussion). Subito Music (Available through Boosey & Hawkes)

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The three works here are for players with a well-developed technique. Surety in manual and pedal technique is essential, as is a good sense of rhythm and a refined understanding of articulation. They are also of interest from a compositional point of view: particularly in terms of modality and its melodic and harmonic exploration. The Sonata was commissioned by Duke University Chapel to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of their Aeolian organ, the last to be built by that company before it merged with Skinner. Naturally, much is made of the Aeolian mode, though the Mixolydian is used to generate material in the second movement; both modes are brought together in the third and last movement. Central to the composition is the chorale 'Aus tiefer Not', which is most poignant as the Sonata also 'pays tribute to the American people in the aftermath of 2001 September 11th'. A transposed Lydian mode provides the main intervallic material in Celebration. This is an effective set of variations in which the melody appears whole towards the end of the piece. A large organ is required to make this a truly impressive piece, but, for less-advanced players on smaller organs, it would in any case provide good study material for improving the negotiation of changing metres, the nurturing of incisive articulation, and the development of double-pedalling. Phoenix comprises a fanfare and a processional, though these may be played separately. The length of the work is flexible and it would provide thrilling music in an accessible modern style for a large church service or ceremonial occasion. The processional section is available as an organ solo (Ricordi, distributed by Hal Leonard).