Prelude and Fugue on Wynne’s Theme
Both pieces are modelled on the eponymous theme, written by the composer Chen Zhangyi for his wife Wynne Fung. Starting with ethereal chords, the blocks of sound in the prelude are soon supplemented with a recitative-like melody, played on another manual with more strident registration. After an initial climax that dies away, a second climax builds to its true denouement: an enunciation of the theme for the listener’s benefit. In the fugue, this theme is played in the pedal, covered by constantly flowing semiquavers (derived from the fugue subject) that adopt a feeling similar to a perpetuo moto. After a short sojourn that recalls the musical style of the prelude, the fugue builds up towards a conclusion - crowned by two iterations of the sinuous fugue subject in the pedal - before dying away slowly, with the end marked by a tranquil chord. One source of inspiration for this piece was Maurice Duruflé’s Prélude et fugue sur le nom d'Alain, which was written in memory of his good friend Jehan Alain. Duruflé’s prélude ends with an ‘Alain theme’ (really a quotation from Alain’s Litanies), while his fugue subject is based on Alain’s name.
The work was premiered in August 2017 at the Victoria Concert Hall, played by its composer with both Chen and Fung in the audience. It received its American premiere later in October that year, when the composer played it at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, in New York, NY.