Listen: Pealing Fire

Performed By: John Gouwens, carillon

Solo carillon

Duration: 5 minutes

Commissioned By:
The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America Associated with the Johan Franco Composition Fund Committee

June 7, 2004 by John Gouwens, carillonneur, at the 62nd Congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America at the Memorial Chapel of the Culver Academies in Culver, IN

Available From:
Libby Larsen Publishing

Composer's Notes:
Pealing Fire opens joyously, with many scalewise patterns and repeated tolling of the bourdon bell. A sudden shift up a tritone (from C to F#) leads to the first appearance of the Veni creator. A playful, syncopated section in 3/4 time features a three-voice texture in which each voice has a span of just a few pitches, with a slightly variable order. A series of brilliant arpeggios, in which the theme is only hinted at, leads to a return of some of the opening material from the piece. A short section of more swinging bell patterns, in this case with contrary motion between the bass and soprano voices, leads to a more straightforward presentation of Veni creator, culminating in a bright, deliberately very free, descending flourish (with the indication “Wild Tintinnabulation!” in the music). The central section of the piece features a more lyric presentation of the chant, set in a gentle waltz rhythm. A more extensive section of additional ringing patterns ensues. Of particular note is the slow bass pattern of G-D-F, which beings slowly with just two, then all three notes, moving to a steady tempo, then gradually slowing down, clearly evocative of swinging bells coasting gradually to a stop. Above this, the Veni creator chant is presented almost in its entirety, accompanied by fragments of itself as well as other ringing patterns. The opening few measures of the piece then return, followed by the arpeggios and flourish from the first section of the piece. A short chant-like phrase and another arpeggiated figure, this time disappearing into the distance as it rises to the high range of the carillon, brings the piece to its sparkling conclusion.
— John Gouwens