Chorale and Variations

Chorale and Variations was commissioned by Thierry Patel of the Ecole Intercommunale de Gaillon-Aubevoye, France, and premiered by their concert band, with the composer conducting, on 3rd May 2003.
 
As the title suggests, the piece comprises a set of variations on an original chorale, which is presented at the start. Set firmly in C minor, the chorale uses the dark middle and lower sections of the band and is extended with minor variations until a pause leads to the first real variation, marked Vivo.
 
This is a moto perpetuo, featuring repeated eighth notes which initially form the main melodic interest and then an accompaniment to a lyrical theme in the tenor register.
 
The second variation, Andante, opens boldly and introduces a solo clarinet, which plays a metrical variation on the chorale tune. The brass build to a full band climax and elements of the chorale bring this variation to a close.
 
The final variation opens with quiet, nervous energy until its main theme (based on the opening notes of the chorale) is introduced. This reaches a climax and leads to a second florid theme in the low clarinets, which is to play an important part later in the work. The chorale makes a brief appearance until the main theme reappears. This leads to a triumphant final augmented statement of the chorale theme, decorated by the florid clarinet theme in the upper woodwinds.