Mr. Bach’s Bottle-bank , which lasts about five minutes, was written in July 2004 as light relief and an organic limbering-up exercise while I was working on a much larger work for organ – the two-book cycle Stations of the Cross. It consists of six light-hearted and environmentally friendly variations on that great British tune, Ten green bottles. The theme appears in C major, and the first five variations slide downwards through the semitones, often overlapping each other. By the sixth variation we have descended to the depths of C sharp minor; this variation acts as a resounding and thunderously clichéd coda to the previous five. After a short and profoundly tragic reprise of part of the original tune (still in C sharp minor) we return to our happy home of C major for a five-part fugue in the manner of JS Bach – but with a wildly vulgar peroration and a suitably silly coda.
Mr. Bach’s Bottle-bank was first performed by Kevin Bowyer on July 27th 2005 at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.