Paraphrase I

Organ (1967)

Paraphrase I was written for a chamber organ designed by Grant, Degens and Bradbeer and I gave the premiere in Pershore Abbey on 8 October 1967. The first broadcast was given by Simon Preston on 4 August 1971. However, it works very well on larger instruments.

The sections of Paraphrase I are: 1. Florid manuals over the first theme in the pedals; 2. A decorative melody over the main theme in staccato chords; 3. Canons on the manuals over a moving pedal, both with the first theme; 4. The second theme in a 2ft pedal over canons with the main theme in inversion; 5. The second theme above the first in a kind of boogie bass; 6. A two-part invention with the main theme in retrograde; 7. The second theme as a slow waltz (homage to Erik Satie); 8. Florid decoration over the main theme straight and inverted in a double pedal part; 9. A slow fugal build-up based on the second theme leading to - 10. A repeat of the opening section plus a final C.

The starting point of this piece was my ATB motet ‘John’ (1963) to a poem by Thomas Blackburn, first sung by the chapel choir of the College of St Mark and St John. I remember conducting it in St Paul’s Cathedral with the College choir and – such was the echo – wondering why they had continued singing even after I had cut off the last chord. PD

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