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The Carol Voluntary is a light-hearted piece with a serious side, melding eight different carols (at the last count) with unexpected results. It was first written for Tranchell's friend David Isitt (later The Reverend) in 1948, then revised in 1964.
Tim Harper (Assistant Director of Music, Ripon Cathedral) gave its first known performance on 21st December 2015 in the Ripon Christmas Organ Recital.
He notes "it has a chameleon-like nature, very serious in the 6/8 section before exploring various lighter moods; therefore it can be a challenge to communicate the whole work to an audience unfamiliar with PAT's oeuvre. It is also worth warning them how rapidly one tune overtakes another. But then the chaise-longue While Shepherds watched, the Benedicamus/Adeste/While Shepherds counterpoint, and harmonies as Shepherds in the fields abiding morphs into Good King Wenceslas are all too good to miss. Though possibly not an ideal voluntary, it is a distinctive piece for the right point in a Christmas recital."
There has been some uncertainty over the origin of the melody that appears in the 6/8 section ("Solo (oboe tone)" below). Geoffrey Webber thinks it "is surely a minore twist on Joseph lieber Joseph mein / Resonent in laudibus, returned to the major at the end (though as a 9-7!)."
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