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Mel Bonis (21 January 1858 - 18 March 1937) was prolific composer, leaving us nearly thirty pieces for the organ, and hundreds for other instruments.  Bonis studied for a time at the Paris Conservatoire with César Franck and Ernest Guiraud, earning a premier prix in harmony and a deuxième prix in accompaniment, but she was not encouraged to continue after she married.  Although her formal education ended prematurely, her extant correspondence reveal that she kept in communication with many organists and musicians of her day.  She did not work professionally as an organist, but she had access to the Cavaillé-Coll organ at Notre-Dame d’Étretat near her husband’s summer home, as well as the organ of Saint-Pierre-Saint-Paul in Sarcelles, next to their family home.  Her works were published in collections such as the 1912 L’Organiste Parroissial and the 1912 edition of Les Maîtres Contemporains de l’Orgue.  The Quasi Andante is a tranquil musical miniature with phrase lengths that expand for the first half of the piece and then contract.  Each phrase floridly ornaments a melodic descent of increasing range.  In the penultimate phrase this structure is inverted, and the melody soars to the highest point of the piece. 

Mel Bonis (1858–1937)

Quasi Andante, Opus 152, 1928

Recorded on the Lively-Fulcher at St. Patrick's Catholic Church,

Washington, D.C.

26 April 2016

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