Five Chorale Preludes was an important work for me, a kind of turning point: in it I began exploring three areas that have continued to shape my music ever since. First, I began writing overtly tonal music again, something I had done as a child and teenager. Second, I started exploring various uses of repetition as a structural element in music. And third, I stopped resisting the influence that “popular” music had always had on my musical thinking, and just wrote what I felt like writing.
The actual “chorales,” or hymn tunes, on which these preludes are based are treated in different ways in each prelude. The treatment ranges from a traditional “cantus firmus” in the second prelude, to a rather free distribution of the chorale notes in the first, fourth, and fifth preludes, to a very distilled, highly stylized presentation in the third prelude. The idea was to create a distinct mood in each prelude, while still incorporating the actual notes of the original chorales.
Five Chorale Preludes is dedicated to my friend, organist Donald Sutherland. The work was premiered by Kristie Born on February 8, 1985, in Leakin Hall, Peabody Conservatory.
This live concert recording was made on June 25, 1989, featuring pianist David Iskowitz:
I. "Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich"
II. "Christ lag in Todesbanden"
III."In dulci jubilo"
IV. "Das alte Jahr vergangen ist"
V. "In Dir ist Freude"