Three Pastoral Scenes
for organ, violin, and bassoon
Craig Phillips

Composer Craig Phillips
Price $25 (U.S.) Released 8/2015
Use Recital, service music
Difficulty Moderately diff.
Catalog no. 160-935

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Phillips has written a number of effective pieces of chamber music involving organ. This suite employs the unusual combination of violin and bassoon with organ. The three short movements each have a different character: a bucolic andante grazioso first movement (perhaps depicting the gentle countryside), a warm and gently lyrical movement with a flowing texture (perhaps a brook scene), and a very energetic, rustic dance finale.
Score includes reproducible parts for instrumentalists.

"Each of Craig Phillips’ Three Pastoral Scenes evokes an aspect of the countryside, yet each has a unique character. Phillips exploits both the lyrical and energetic aspects of each instrument throughout these relatively compact works in ABA form. In each of them the development is thoughtful yet concise, the arrival of the recapitulation is clear, and the brief codas are particularly effective. Although I have not heard this work performed, I believe the combination of these three instruments would be most effective, especially as the different registers of the bassoon have such distinct timbres.

In the first movement, marked Andante grazioso, the organ largely acts in a supporting role, while the other two instruments play a duet—sometimes in unison, sometimes in imitation, sometimes trading phrases. The gently lilting melody of the A sections contrasts with the freer rising figures of the B section. This is lovely prelude material. If playing the three as a set, this opening piece sets up the soundworld and instrumentation of the triptych nicely. The second movement is particularly charming. In it the two solo instruments operate largely in dialogue, alternating phrases or holding a long note while the other instrument takes over. The right hand of the organ provides a flowing accompaniment of sixteenth notes in 12/8 time while the left hand plays a descending ostinato. In the B section this ostinato is briefly abandoned and then taken up again in long notes in the pedal. This would also make an elegant prelude. Incidentally, one could easily play all of the notes of this movement with two hands on the piano, increasing its versatility even more. The final movement is more extroverted, in the character of a “rustic dance” but including a number of toccata elements. The influence of fiddle music is certainly here, but so are contemporary harmonic elements.

Those who are familiar with Craig Phillips’ music will know that it is all of high quality. The violin and bassoon parts are included as a part of the bound score. This has the advantage that they cannot be lost or separated from the organ score, but the disadvantage is that one must photocopy the parts for the other instrumentalists. There is a separate organ score included for instances where there are separate organist and conductor. I warmly recommend this piece because of the unique combination of instruments and its easy melodic charm. The length of the individual pieces is practical for church, yet the three together make a satisfying set for a recital." --AAM Journal, March 2018



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