I completed my Organ Concerto on June 23, 2014. Composed for organist Paul Jacobs, to whom it is dedicated, the work was commissioned by a consortium of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the National Symphony Orchestra.
Devising a structure for each of my works is always at the head of my to-do list each time I begin to plan a new piece. Often in my symphonies and concerti I have chosen a form other than the "standard" one (i.e., four movements for symphonies, three for concerti). This is not due to any sense of dissatisfaction for those standard forms but rather reflects my desire to try new things.
However, sometimes those standard forms seem to be just the right ones, and that is the case with my Organ Concerto: a fast first movement, a slow second movement, and a fast finale. There is no programmatic content in this work, though of course I am always trying to express emotional states. In this concerto, as in so many of my scores, the language ranges from a consonant one to a more dissonant one, though I hope that the dissonance level is never so high that it prevents me from pivoting convincingly into a more tonal harmonic world.
Certainly the concerto is intended to show off what the organ — and, of course, the soloist — are capable of. It lasts approximately twenty minutes.
© 2016 by Christopher Rouse
These program notes can be reproduced free of charge with the following credit:
Reprinted by kind permission of Christopher Rouse
"The piece is three movements and roughly 20 minutes, though it has the feel of one long, rollicking finale, in which Mr. Rouse repeatedly subverts centuries-old clichés of the organ repertory."
"Nothing could be more rousing than Rouse's new concerto." "...arresting somber beauty."
"Christopher Rouse is one of the most engaging symphonic composers working in the United States at present."
"...some of the composer's most satisfying music, but not for typical reasons."
"The devastating Lento, a brief oasis of repose between the fast outer movements, has a somber, tortured beauty."
"...the bracing third movement in compound metre, which started with a jagged fugue-like subject in quick notes and, abetted by Jacobs's wizardry, gathered fury to become a fiendish, manic gigue."
"In the manner of Charles Ives, Rouse could build a massive cataclysm of sound about a third of the way through that abruptly fell off a cliff into a pianissimo passage."