Village Organist’s Piece (unfinished) for organ (ca1941, Britten aged 27)
Dedication not known
Background and Critical Reception
Completed by Colin Matthews, the Village Organist’s Piece is an almost complete mystery – and survives in just the one recording, made by Timothy Bond and included on Decca’s box set of the complete works.
So rare is the piece that I could find no mention of it anywhere, with the barest of entries in the Britten Thematic Catalogue. Its authenticity, however, is not in doubt – and it is valuable as it broadens Britten’s organ works on record to a rather measly four.
Britten organ pieces are collector’s items, his entire output reduced to a Prelude and Fugue, another Prelude, a Voluntary and this little piece. If only he had known an organist that he specifically wanted to write for! One wonders what a Suite for Organ might have sounded like.
Back in the real world, the Village Organist’s Piece, rather like the Prelude on They Walk Alone, is elusive and just a little bit disquieting. Like that piece it heads for C major, and is initially sonorous, but there are added notes that jar with the relative safety, and the harmonic movements start to take on a mind of their own.
Timothy Bond (organ) (Regent Records)
The only recording available is available as part of a disc of Twentieth Century Organ Music by Timothy Bond on Regent Records It is also buried in the heart of Decca’s Britten – The Complete Works. Bond’s registration choices lead to a warm sound, but the piercing melody voice invokes a shiver.
No links available
Also written in 1941: Milhaud – Piano Concerto No.2, Op.225
Next up: The ash grove