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Reflection on 'The Passion Chorale'

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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (03/13/18)
Composer: Ratcliffe, Desmond
Sample Producer: Lavender Audio
Sample Set: Hereford Cathedral Willis Organ
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Modern
Desmond Ratcliffe’s (1917-2001) first music teacher was his father William Ratcliffe who was a composer and organist at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, London. The young boy used to go to the church with his father to hear him practise and sometimes Queen Mary would wander into the back of the church to listen. He learnt the piano and organ and after the early death of his father became a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, where he started to compose. He went on to be educated at Kingston Grammar School and was organist at a local church in Twickenham. He gained entrance to the Royal Academy of Music to study composition. Unfortunately the Second World War interrupted his studies when he had to go into the Army. When the war ended he took up his studies again at the Academy gaining many prizes. He went to work at Novello & Co Ltd in the Reader’s Room under the eye of Walter Emery the leading Bach scholar of his time. He was trained by Emery to become an excellent proof reader and music editor while he continued to compose choral and organ music and make many arrangements.

"Reflection on 'The Passion Chorale'" is the fourth in the volume of "Festal Voluntaries for Lent," published by Novello in 1956.

The work is effective and quite "personal." The feelings of fear, sorrow, and abandonment are present, and the harmonic language and writing are quite "modern" to be sure.

Ratcliffe sets the famous melody by Johann Leo Hassler (1564-1612) in a way the will remind some listeners of the music of another English composer, Kenneth Leighton. This piece was written before Leighton became "big time," so, to claim that there is influence is probably not correct.

The Orchestral Oboe of the Solo makes for a haunting and penetrating solo voice, and the strings balance it nicely at the start and finish, with the 32' Open Wood coming on the last note to conclude the effect.

The score, a photo of Ratcliffe & a likeness of Hassler are attached.

Healey Willan to come.
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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