Five Preludes on Plainchant Melodies By Healey Willan

Five Preludes on Plainchant Melodies By Healey Willan
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Price: $25.95
Product ID : SY029
Weight: 0.31 lbs
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Music of Healey Willan

20 pgs., 8.5" x 11"

Gregorian chant greatly influenced the compositional style of Healey Willan’s church music. Willan's adoption of the flowing, eminently "singable" style of Gregorian chant is seen in his later counterpoint and melodic material. 

This impression is especially strong in the “Five Preludes on Plainsong Melodies” for organ. 
Healey Willan's "Five Preludes on Plainchant Melodies" (HWC 157) includes these movements:

1. "Aeterna Christi munera," from Guidetti’s Directorium Chori. (1582). Matins Office Hymn for Apostles and Evangelists

2. "Christe, Redemptor omnium," Matins Office Hymn for Christmas Day

3. "Ecce jam noctis," Lauds Office Hymn for Sundays

4. "Ave maris stella," Vesper Office Hymn for BVM.  

5. "Urbs Hierusalem beata," [Urbs beata Jerusalem]. Processional. Matins and Vesper Office Hymn for Dedication Festival.  

Dedicated to Dr. Charles Peaker, the eminent Canadian organist at St. Paul’s, Toronto.

"Aeterna Christi munera" is a festive movement full of energy in which contrapuntal passages precede the statement of each plainsong phrase in massive chords. Willan was renowned for improvised postludes after High Mass on liturgical feast days, and this music gives us an excellent reminder of his fecund imagination on these occasions.

In "Christe, Redemptor omnium," the plainsong appears in the tenor part of this gentle meditation. The composer asks that it reflect the natural rhythmic freedom of the original.

With "Ecce jam noctis," interludes of a mystic stillness alternate with the harmonized melody played on a singing flute stop. The coda is one of Willan’s finest excursions into the chromatic world of Wagnerian modulation.

The prelude "Ave maris stella" perfectly captures the timeless stillness of liturgical worship, high-church style. Undulating quavers float above the tenor plainsong.

Subtitled "Processional, Urbs Jerusalem beata," this final movement evokes the grand liturgical processions of St. Mary Magdalene during Willan's time. Willan was accustomed to extend the festival hymns with lavish improvisations. Here rolling chromatic harmonies support the melody, given out in long notes on the powerful Tuba stop.

In the "Five Preludes on Plainchant Melodies," there is no disguising Willan’s true love of Gregorian plainsong melodies which so nourished his work in church music. It is to be recalled that Healey Willan was founding director of the Gregorian Association of Toronto from 1950 to 1964.


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