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gavotte

A moderately animated French dance in 4/4 time, beginning on the third beat. It often occurs in suites but may have an alternative or trio section, sometimes in the character of a musette.

Eric Blom

G/011

A sadly pedestrian description, surely, even with the suggestion that (as an optional element of a suite) the gavotte enjoys a daring level of informality and may or may not run to a trio.

The first gavotte I remember noticing was an entirely charming short piece by S.S. Wesley, included in an Oryx recording of historic organs which would now seems about as cumbersome as a bread-board. Many years later, and as an accidental bonus when trying to acquire a halfway decent performance of Mendelssohn's sixth organ sonata, I found it on CD: easier to carry, yes, but a dreadfully stodgy performance. And then Martine gave me a whole stack of manuals-only scores she'd invested in when she was thinking of learning, and voilà – the Wesley gavotte and its associated air.

It is such a pretty piece that I decided to transcribe it for De Schalmei. They liked it too, and Raymond – severely and thoroughly educated at the Lemmens Instituut – said "ah yes, a gavotte! very popular among fishermen, because you don't need much space to dance it. So after they'd thrown the nets out …" What a picture. Samuel Sebastian bewigged at the keyboard amidships while the bare feet of mariners in striped jerseys patter rhythmically on the scrubbed planking.


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