Jehan Alain

Variations sur un thème de Clément Janequin, for organ, JA 118 (AWV 99)

    Description by James Reel

    In a book of old French songs, Alain found a theme attributed to Janequin that fascinated him with its oscillation of F and F sharp at its cadences. The theme turned out not to be by Janequin at all, but by some anonymous sixteenth century composer (it's a love song, "L'Espoir que j'ai d'acquérir votre grace," that appeared in a 1529 collection edited by Pierre Attaignant). Nevertheless, Alain used it as the basis of a tribute to Janequin, employing registrations and a style of writing not too far removed from the sixteenth century norm. The piece falls into three main parts. In the first, the theme is initially laid out with few alterations from Alain, the simple harmony closely hews to the original and Alain invents only a sketchy countermelody for the left hand. Upon the theme's repeat, though, the left-hand melody creates a more sour, modern harmony. The second section is a very simple fugato based on the theme's rising-and-falling first phrase. The final and most extensive section focuses on the rhythm of the theme's last two bars, which propels the music through several distant keys before allowing the work to settle into a serene and noble conclusion.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Raven Records OAR 967
    2015 Erato 550570
    2015 Ligia LIDI 0104282
    2012 Editions Hortus HOR 092
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94233
    2011 Simax 1314
    2010 Decca
    2009 JAV Recordings JAV178
    2007 Erato / Erato Disques 4699287
    2006 Motette 11311
    2006 Challenge Records 72048
    2005 Querstand 9811
    2001 Naïve 4879
    2001 Erato 80214
    1998 Nimbus 5551
    1997 Naxos 553632
    1997 York Ambisonic YORKCD 112
    1996 Gallo 851
    1996 RBW Records CD 009
    1996 Amphion 139
    1995 BIS 7
    1995 Gallo 683
    Meridian Records 84282
    Erato
    Erato
    Ligia 010424512
    REM 311152