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Toccata From Widor's 5th Symphonie


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#21 mjfarr3006

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 01:55 PM

No gasps of horror here, my friend. I just hope that your rehabilitation goes smoothly.

With great sympathy, from someone who had his knee ligaments snapped by an errant female skier last February, and still not right!

Good luck!

Thanks - greatly appreciated. And returned - the road to fitness is indeed long and hard.

Rgds,
MJF

#22 Guest_Cynic_*

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 03:50 PM

As to this, I always preferred the 1st movement, but the 2nd is quite fine too, and the 4th a very necessary "calm before the storm". However, I was never convinced by the 3rd, and never tried to learn it. Probably says more about my prejudices and pretensions than the music itself, but I always thought it just a little too much like merry-go-round calliope stuff.

Rgds,
MJF



I know exactly what you mean.

I may stir up disagreement by saying so, but I'm not convinced that any of the Widor Symphonies are strong in every movement. Maybe that is the point - they are 'taste of the times' and not so much Symphonies at all, but suites of pieces in related keys from which any contemporary player might have been expected to draw one or two pleasant items to learn and perform. When publishing these, was Widor sometimes being practical (in a sales sense) rather than pursuing High Art for Art's sake? I wonder.

#23 Guest_Cynic_*

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 03:51 PM

Whoops! [I was trying to add to my post above!]

I know exactly what you mean.

I may stir up disagreement by saying so, but I'm not convinced that any of the Widor Symphonies are strong in every movement. Maybe that is the point - they are 'taste of the times' and not so much Symphonies at all, but suites of pieces in related keys from which any contemporary player might have been expected to draw one or two pleasant items to learn and perform. When publishing these, was Widor sometimes being practical (in a sales sense) rather than pursuing High Art for Art's sake? I wonder.


I have seen some of Vierne's and Widor's concert programmes. It certainly seems to have been the practice of both men to play excerpts from their symphonies in preference to ever playing one through complete in any recital.

#24 Jonathan Lane

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 08:18 PM

Whoops! [I was trying to add to my post above!]
I have seen some of Vierne's and Widor's concert programmes. It certainly seems to have been the practice of both men to play excerpts from their symphonies in preference to ever playing one through complete in any recital.


I think the Vierne symphonies work much better as a whole than the Widor ones. I have never played all of any of the Widor symphonies, and in most cases I wouldn't even try to, with perhaps the exception of the 5th, where I think all the movements work to a greater or lesser extent. Further to an earlier comment on this thread, I quite like the third movement. :P

Jonathan

#25 john carter

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Posted 02 March 2008 - 10:31 PM

Further to an earlier comment on this thread, I quite like the third movement. :P

I always feel it would be a good piece for accompanying a silent film. A bit of menace, a chase or two and then a tender romantic scene to finish. Aaah!
JC

#26 Fiffaro

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 12:01 AM

I recently purchased Widor's Symphonie VI, A-R Editions, edited by John Near, part of the Recent Researches in the Music of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries series. The critical commentary is exemplary, and is surely required reading for any organist who would like to learn or play Widor's organ music. This edition would be my first choice for any future Widor purchase, and will eventually replace those that I already have. The only drawback is that they are not cheap, although the Organ Historical Trust has number 6 on special for USD 19 rather than USD 31.

However, I don't begrudge the money as for me to research the information that is in the critical commentary would cost far more - and I don't have the time. (Besides, it is a tax deduction!) Furthermore, I'd like to do my little bit to encourage serious research before publication, rather than paying companies for reproductions of out-of-copyright edition that I can photocopy cheaper from my local university library.

#27 MusingMuso

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 12:37 AM

For those who find 9 heavy reeds on a 32 stop instrument too loud, please do not read below! :P Content below may be disturbing to some . . . Government health warning: content below can seriously infect your audience.

(snip)

In all of these compositions there are :o a :unsure: full :angry: gamut :P of :) colours :D and :lol: emotions. Young people nowadays often miss depth, only finding it in the instant gratification of the bass vibrations of nightclubs, and seek thrill and colour absent from our :mellow: grey weather and grey lives :huh: . When I tried to exhort excellent performers here into beleiving that we can all have that Carlo Curley enthusiam within us, we just have to find it and project it from within ourselves, one member suggested that my style might risk someone asking me what hallucigonen I might be on . . . to which I replied "Who needs hallucinogens when life can be so real?"


==================================================


It has been mentioned often, but without CCTV and projector-screens, even the visual aspect has to be forsaken at many a venue, whereas I can never recall a piano concert played from inside a wooden enclosure with velvet curtains. This is a peculiarity of the instrument, and one which we have to work around, by going out to meet an audience face to face.

“Spot” and I have discussed privately some of the issues, and something of the psychology of “youth appeal,” but what occurs to me, is that in the Netherlands, no-one ever sees the organist play, the organs are seldom all that loud, yet there is a real enthusiasm and respect for the instrument. Interestingly, the biggest commercial centre, Rotterdam, is where you find the Spanish Chamades in abundance. Elsewhere, you find more modest sounds and the delights of Netherlands flutes.

I wonder…..just wonder…..if the hyperactivity of the UK, and the noise and bustle which attends it, are not the reason why people only respond to things which shout, bellow or roar louder than the rest?

It’s something which is also endemic in America, where people live fast lives in a noisy environment.

Is everyone so wound up all the time, that they are afraid of quieter things and positively terrified of silence?

I believe that these are important questions, which I don’t propose to try and answer. However, even the idea of a Netherlands version of someone like Carlo Curley would, I feel, be quite unimaginable. The same, I suspect, is also quite likely in other parts of Europe, where the pace of life is slower and the environment somewhat quieter.
It’s all about relatives, and one thing I recall being said to me by a specialist baroque lecturer, was the fact that the noisiest things by far, in that era, were the church organ and the blacksmith’s hammer.

I suspect that a lot of the more negative aspects shown towards the organ may well be due to ignorance, but I also suspect that they may also be due to the quite awful programming of many organ-recitals, which often seem to lack balance. Even an all Bach programme consisting of nothing but half-a-dozen Preludes and Fugues, would soon wear thin after the first two. Similarly, a programme of gunboat French symphonies or Messaien, would soon amount to overload, and lose all sense of drama.

One thing I always try to do is to inform people WHY I am playing what I am playing. People have taken the trouble to turn up, and I think they are quite interested to know why a performer chooses particular pieces of music, and what it means to them.

I recall Francis Jackson (a master programme-builder), saying that a good recital should always have an aperitif, a soup course, a main course, a frivolous sweet course and one or two good melodies, so as not to forget the old ladies. There is truth in this, because great drama only ever happens when the highest drama is exceptional rather than routine.
Bad blockbusters are those where the action never stops, and no-one ever eats a Chelsea Bun or sips tea whilst sat on the lawn.

I would like to feel that some people actually enjoy beauty as much as they do excitement. The two are not incompatible, as anyone who owns a Ferrari will tell you.

MM


PS: Please do no sully Brahms' name by associating him with Beethoven.

#28 mjfarr3006

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 01:07 AM

I may stir up disagreement by saying so, but I'm not convinced that any of the Widor Symphonies are strong in every movement. Maybe that is the point - they are 'taste of the times' and not so much Symphonies at all, but suites of pieces in related keys from which any contemporary player might have been expected to draw one or two pleasant items to learn and perform. When publishing these, was Widor sometimes being practical (in a sales sense) rather than pursuing High Art for Art's sake? I wonder.

Am I right in thinking it was Lefébure-Wély whom Widor succeeded at St. Sulpice? "Taste of the times", indeed - at least in the early opus numbers. I suspect that what we're seeing in the 1860s and 70s is a transition period, not only in Widor's output, but also in that of others - think of Théodore Dubois for example, or Franck's Final - from light secular music to more serious works, and perhaps also from "pick me as you need me" individual movements to larger scale integrated works. By the time we get to it (1895?), Widor's Gothique is for me a good "High Art" whole, with no movements that let it down. That said, it is so severe that I confess I'd have difficulty programming it as a complete work - I think the punters would be shifting in their seats, and perhaps vacating them entirely.

Rgds,
MJF

#29 mjfarr3006

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 01:54 AM

I think I may have just shot myself in the foot. Widor 5 seems to have been published around the mid-1880s, at the same time as 6 which of course includes that very banal final movement. So much for the "transitional" 60s-70s thesis!

Rgds,
MJF

#30 Guest_spottedmetal_*

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 02:55 PM

By the time we get to it (1895?), Widor's Gothique is for me a good "High Art" whole, with no movements that let it down. That said, it is so severe that I confess I'd have difficulty programming it as a complete work - I think the punters would be shifting in their seats, and perhaps vacating them entirely.

:P This is where one has to put the spinache in a main course with a chocolate dessert. In these days of shorter concentration spans, people need reward for the hard work of sitting there, but we should not bow to the dumbing down compromise of only including shorter or more accessible works.

I'm sorry to have to say that have not come across the Widor Gothique - is it really more difficult to listen to than the Reubke? This is exactly why it should be performed and performed in full.

In giving talks or guided tours, I believe that one can convey extremely boring material provided one is animated in doing so. The animation distracts the mind from boredom so that the real stuff can enter in . . . Perhaps programming concerts in terms of a good meal as MM muses is the way of doing so with the organ - but omissions can be as bad as presenting an Indian dish without the spice and without the pleasure of mango pulp to follow the heat. One needs the heat in order to appreciate the mango . . .

Perhaps the way of introducing the Gothique is to offer the audience the pleasure of the 5/5 toccata as an hors d'oeuvre or the devils on horseback before the dessert so putting the more intellectual work in context? If anyone wants to do the Gothique, I'm sure that I can find an audience . . .

Best wishes

Spot

#31 john carter

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 04:35 PM

I'm sorry to have to say that have not come across the Widor Gothique

Then you must do so! For me, it is Widor's finest. I first heard Dupré perform it when I was about thirteen and I had no need of anything sweet to reward me, it was totally spellbinding. There is no point in comparing it with Reubke - the two are entirely different propositions, like Marmite and Caviar if you wish to continue the food analogy. I happen to like both, but not at the same time. :P
JC

#32 guilmant

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 05:46 PM

I know exactly what you mean.

I may stir up disagreement by saying so, but I'm not convinced that any of the Widor Symphonies are strong in every movement. Maybe that is the point - they are 'taste of the times' and not so much Symphonies at all, but suites of pieces in related keys from which any contemporary player might have been expected to draw one or two pleasant items to learn and perform. When publishing these, was Widor sometimes being practical (in a sales sense) rather than pursuing High Art for Art's sake? I wonder.


I couldn't agree more. 4 has a couple of good movements, as does 8 (excellent finale, and that ravishing slow movement with the double pedalling, or is that 7). The one that I think works best as a whole, is 6, and I don't think that the last movement is that banal, as one previous contributor put it.

#33 giwro

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Posted 03 March 2008 - 07:51 PM

I'll add my plea here....

As much as we revere Vierne and Widor, there are MANY other composers of Symphonic Organ works - my research has discovered over 200 examples of the solo organ Symphony, I daresay most organists would be hard-pressed to name any other composers than Widor, Vierne and Dupré who have composed Symphonie(s) for organ.

Through the dint of hard work, the kindness of many colleagues and years of persistence, I've managed to locate many scores and recordings of these works, some of them, alas as yet unpublished.

What amazes me, is that often the "unknown" Symphonies are the most cohesive of the lot... it's almost as if Widor was able to sell based on his reputation, not on the overall quality or suitableness of the works when taken as a collection.

I agree the Vierne (and the Dupré 2nd Symphonie) "work" better as complete entities than most of the Widor, although (for me) Widor #9 and 10 (Gothique and Romane) are possibly 2 of my most favorite works, and I think they "work" very well indeed, and are quite cohesive.

I'm actually beginning to write down the results of my research now, and I'll share more (most likely in another thread specifically dedicated to the subject) as I work my way through the information I have gathered.

If anyone is interested in specific examples or further information, I'd be pleased to discuss,

Thanks

- G

Why are we satisfied, Classic FM style, in only hearing Widor 5/5? We NEVER (ordinarily) hear the other 4 movements and rarely hear anything of the other 7 symphonies. In performing exclusively the Widor Toccata we leave so much unheard and unappreciated.

The French symphonic writers and others of their ilk should be as well known as Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner - but are not because they wrote for the organ not the orchestra. These composers should be heard in their own right, and their music appreciated equally on its own merits, and outside the ecclesiastical context as it was not written for church, (certainly Vierne - wasn't this a cause of his early departure from his post?) but merely for an instrument that is normally found in a church. This excludes many audiences - people who won't go inside a church on principle and immigrants of other religions.

The organ and its repertoire are dying as a result, and not capturing the popular imagination.

In my (I'd prefer to use capital letters here but appreciate that others don't like my Ophicliede voicing - apologies) "Be it! Be there! Do it!" philosophy this is at the core of my putting on concerts - I wanted to do them outside - certainly in places where a physically big pipe organ would be impractical if not impossible so with the best possible toaster if necessary to introduce the repertoire to new audiences, and not dumbing down by just doing highlights - doing whole things in their completeness. So Symphonies and Suites have to be performed in full, please! Candidates for promotion - Guilmant, Pierne, Gigout, Boellmann, Widor, Vierne and I'm sure that there are more.
Spot



#34 mjfarr3006

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 01:29 PM

...

[I]t's almost as if Widor was able to sell based on his reputation, not on the overall quality or suitableness of the works when taken as a collection.

...

- G

The interesting thing, I think, is that in the end (or at least, given his very long life, in the middle) he chose not to. On the contrary, he stepped up to an entirely new level with the Gothique and Romane. And he moved from what is generally a very secular use of the organ to a religiously profound one. Was there some sort of spiritual turning point in his life in the decade from the mid-1880s?

Rgds,
MJF

#35 Guest_Cynic_*

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 06:06 PM

The interesting thing, I think, is that in the end (or at least, given his very long life, in the middle) he chose not to. On the contrary, he stepped up to an entirely new level with the Gothique and Romane. And he moved from what is generally a very secular use of the organ to a religiously profound one. Was there some sort of spiritual turning point in his life in the decade from the mid-1880s?

Rgds,
MJF


Or, did he realise that taste had changed and that his earlier material was (much of it) lightweight?

#36 piano82

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Posted 04 March 2008 - 07:25 PM

I have the UMP version of just the Toccata, and it has served well for several years. Mind you, most of the churches round here aren't big enough to warrant playing much more than the first page as the bride leaves. Plus they always ask for the 'weedoor'.

David

#37 acc

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 07:10 PM

.

#38 acc

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Posted 05 March 2008 - 07:14 PM

.

#39 giwro

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 02:40 PM

The interesting thing, I think, is that in the end (or at least, given his very long life, in the middle) he chose not to. On the contrary, he stepped up to an entirely new level with the Gothique and Romane. And he moved from what is generally a very secular use of the organ to a religiously profound one. Was there some sort of spiritual turning point in his life in the decade from the mid-1880s?


Or, did he realise that taste had changed and that his earlier material was (much of it) lightweight?


Actually, I think it was some of both....

I find that both Sym. 7 and 8 (both of which are infrequently performed) are much more cohesive than all that have come before. I also think that in addition to that "refining" of style Widor also chose to write 9 and 10 more intentionally in service to sacred music. The wonderful thing is, they still make wonderful concert works as well!

G

#40 Colin Pykett

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Posted 17 July 2015 - 10:25 AM

Not wishing to open a new topic, I decided to post this here, though there are several others dealing with it.  It contains some queries about which edition of 'the' toccata is best (assuming there is an answer to this question) and some interpretational points.  I'd like to clear these up, if only because one is asked to play the thing so often and I'd like to establish how I'm supposed to be rendering it, not that many would notice at the average wedding ...

 

I have always used the Hamelle edition dated 1929.  Is this regarded as good, bad or indifferent?

 

Next, as to speed, the crotchet=100 marking is frequently exceeded though I find it comfortable, and it also fits most acoustics in the sense of not allowing the notes to run too much into each other aurally.

 

Then, articulation.  On the first page and into the second, until the pedals come in the following is apparently prescribed:

 

The first chord of each quaver-pair is accented, with the corresponding pair of semiquavers in the right hand being slurred.  After bar 2 the slurs vanish though the accents do not.  Everything else is marked staccato.  But after the pedal entry this changes, everything becomes staccato without exception, and remains so thereafter.  Was this initial subtlety intended?  If so, it's surprising it isn't re-introduced in the pianissimo section on the Recit for manuals only (bar 33).

 

Virtually nothing can be gained by listening to recordings, partly because the usual distant mic-ing and thus the reverberation drowns out such minutiae.  However there is a recording by David Briggs at St Sernin where he adheres more or less to the written articulation before the pedal entry.  In fact his performance is light and bouncy to an extent seldom heard.  But thereafter the pedals cover much of the detail and I cannot tell what he's doing most of the time.

 

Maybe that's the answer - don't bother overmuch once the pedals start to dominate things?

 

CEP


"You can never know everything about something. But you can always know something about everything" - Amit Kumar

 

www.pykett.org.uk





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