Purcelliana (1999)

with financial support of the Fonds voor de Scheppende Toonkunst
first performance: September 28-01, Westerkerk, Amsterdam
Michael Quinn/Chiel-Jan van Hofwegen – organ (4 hands/4 feet)
Jos van der Kooij – organ

The composition consists of original harpsichord pieces by Henry Purcell and variations on them. The variations should be played on one organ by two players (quatre mains/quatre pieds). The Purcell pieces, which form an integral part of the composition and consequently cannot be left out, could be played either by one of the two organ players or by a third player on a second organ e.g. portative organ.

Variation 1 (ROUND O) and 6 (MARCH) are based on the technique of ‘compression’, what in Purcell’s music happens after each other, happens in the variations at the same time.

In variation 2 (JIGG) the intervals of Purcell’s melody are augmented with one or more octaves, which changes its character considerably.

Variation 3 (AIR) focuses on a simple rhythmic figure taken from the original.

In variation 4 (GROUND) a number of ‘scrambled’, melodic motifs from the original are placed above an unchanging harmonic base.

In variation 5 (THE QUEEN’S DOLOUR) Purcell’s music doesn’t change harmonically and rhythmically. Nevertheless the addition of unusual, mostly chromatic grace notes gradually affects the original in such a way that in the end it cannot be recognised anymore.