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Vox Humana

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  1. Vox Humana

    Manchester Town Hall

    Perhaps there's no alternative, but this sounds like the thin end of the wedge. Will it ever be reinstated, I wonder?
  2. Vox Humana

    Blind Listening Experiment

    A couple of issues spring to mind here. It is certainly true that a pipe organ can last 100 years. There are one or two Hele organs I know that, for all their artistic shortcomings, were built like tanks (as was the norm with Hele's) and are still just about managing to function despite having had no serious investment since they were originally built. Amazing, really. However, if a pipe organ is to last 100 years it needs building/renovating and maintaining by a top quality firm with all the investment that this implies. Entrusting instruments to what I will politely call jobbing locals who tailor the work to the budget available seems mostly to be a false economy - or even no economy at all. A church local to me (who were soundly advised, but who chose a different route because they "knew best") recently spent £20k having their organ restored. The work was botched and, quite seriously, the organ emerged in no better musical condition than it was before, although the Swell is now electrified and has octave and sub-octave couplers. Well, whoopee. 100 years? It didn't even manage two months! It is far from the only local church in this position and I have no doubt at all that this scenario has been repeated up and down the country. And what if a church does invest £100k plus in restoring their organ properly? The restored instrument may last 100 years, but will the church? At the current rate of decline in church attendance, I would be surprised if any church is viable a century from now, except for the Oxbridge colleges, most cathedrals and maybe a few major city-centre churches. All the churches and Christians I know are committed to being optimistic about the future, but I would be very surprised if concerns about long-term continuity do not influence the thinking of those who hold the purse strings when it comes to financing organs. Short-termism is bound to favour the cheaper option. I actually suspect that this is the root of the problem. And, let's face it, when it comes to sound quality, even many discriminating musicians are now happy to put up with the convenience of recorded music in mp3 format rather than the superior CD quality - let alone vinyl.
  3. Vox Humana

    New Bach Edition from Breitkopf

    I'd not noticed a size change with the NBA either, though I've not seen any recent printings. All my NBA volumes are blue, but what did change was the covers and the colour tone. The earliest volumes I bought had dark blue PVC covers, but Bärenreiter later abandoned these for lighter blue ones of card.
  4. Vox Humana

    New Bach Edition from Breitkopf

    That's "shrinkflation" for you. My ancient Novello set of Bach suffered from the same phenomenon, thus undergoing the same fate as Rowntrees Fruit Gums, tins of Quality Street and countless other products. Still, I suppose we should be thankful that they didn't go the Toberlone route and perdiodically miss out chunks of pages.
  5. Vox Humana

    Basil Ramsey (C&O)

    Obituary in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jul/24/basil-ramsey-obituary
  6. Vox Humana

    Flamboyant showpieces

    It's a bit of a devil to play though! I have to say that I love all five of Dallier's Cinq Invocations., which make a great alternative to Vierne's impressionism. No. 2, O clemens, O pia, is within even a modest player's grasp, very atmospheric and worth anyone's time. Vierne mentioned Dallier briefly in his memoirs, but clearly didn't like him. As for flamboyant pieces, this one is great fun but fiendishly difficult. This performance is super, but there's an even more jaw-dropping one by Roger Sayer at the Rochester Cathedral organ on a CD from Regent.
  7. Vox Humana

    Flamboyant showpieces

    OOTH, I am aware that you probably have an interest in the second performance, but I have to say that, personally, I find Kerry Beaumont's speed much more musical. What creates excitement is rhythm, impetus and élan/panache, not speed. Although there is such a thing as taking a piece too slowly, speed is not crucial to musical excitement. In fact, sometimes it can actually destroy it. One should always play principally for those who are not already acquainted with the music and it's worth remembering that such people may not be very quick on the uptake. People need time to assimilate what's going on musically. The faster you play, the less you may communicate.
  8. Vox Humana

    New Bach Edition from Breitkopf

    Just for the record, the Breitkopf edition does indeed allocate the inverted mordant to the left hand.
  9. Vox Humana

    New Bach Edition from Breitkopf

    Ah, thank you. I did wonder whether this was the case.
  10. Vox Humana

    New Bach Edition from Breitkopf

    Yes, this is quite true. If I understand events correctly (but, as ever, I'm open to correction), vols 1-8 of the Bärenreiter edition were a practical edition of the organ works included the NBA and the three subsequent volumes were to all intents and purposes afterthoughts, partly in order to present organists with reliable versions of pieces that had been included in previous editions and pieces whose authorship had been reassessed and, in the case of the Neumeister chorales because they were a later "discovery" (as you say) - although I remember reading a comment somewhere to the effect that several Bach scholars claimed to be aware of the Neumeister chorales before Wilhelm Krumbach began to perform them, but had not seriously considered them authentic. Thus the happy compartmentalisation of these pieces came about by accident rather than design. With the latest Breitkopf volumes I just wonder whether less critical players, who don't read beyond the dots on the page, might uncritically accept as authentic pieces whose authorship is rather doubtful - but I guess no edition has been free of that danger. It seems, from the online blurb, that with these last two volumes Breitkopf has abandoned the practice of including variant versions and dubious pieces on CD in favour of presenting them online instead. The CDs were nothing if not temperamental, at least in my DVD drive, but they enabled me to store all the files on my hard drive where they are very convenient to consult or print. I would be sorry if Breitkopf have not seen this policy through to the end. In any event, it is good that all this supplementary information is being made available online as well, effectively making the pdf files freely downloadable. For those who have not yet investigated these I would particularly commend the doubtful trio arrangements for vol. 5. It took me a little while to suss how the EdiromOnline pages work. Basically, locate the volume number in the grey pull-down menu in the top left-hand corner and the individual pieces from the pull-down menu just to the right of that: https://www.breitkopf.com/bach-edirom/
  11. Vox Humana

    New Bach Edition from Breitkopf

    With the appearance of the final two volumes, containing the chorale preludes and partitas, the Breitkopf edition is at long last complete. I haven't done a detailed comparison, but I don't think that anyone who has the full, 11-volume Bärenreiter NBA ((i.e. the original 8 volumes + supplements) will find much, if anything, new here other than the chorale fantasia Wo Gott der Herr BWV 1128, which is a fairly recent discovery. https://www.breitkopf.com/work/8795/complete-organ-works-breitkopf-urtext Viewing the online versions of the Breitkopf volumes I must say I'm not keen on the layout, in which all the chorales are presented in alphabetical order, irrespective of the authenticity. They inevitably give the impression of a dog's breakfast. The Bärenreiter volumes, which divide the chorale compositions into (a) those pieces of undoubted or reasonably secure authorship, (b) the Neumeister chorales (whose authorship is still disputed) and (c) the rest, is much neater.
  12. Vox Humana

    List of beautiful English Organs

    I thought this tended to be just on selected Swell stops, not throughout the whole division? I have only limited experience of US organs though, so I'm quite probably wrong.
  13. Vox Humana

    Couperin organ Masses

    This came up here recently. For the Messe des paroisses, the chants seem to be those here (use the arrows on the right to scroll back and forth). The Messe pour les couvents doesn't seem to be plainsong based and I think the intended chant is uncertain. In the previous thread it was stated that the new edition of the masses due to be published soon by Cantando Musikkforlag will include the plainsongs, the Messe pour les couvents using the plainsong of the Messe de Ste. Cecile by Paul D'Amance.
  14. Vox Humana

    Composing SATB

    OOTH, it would be good to hear more about what you have in mind. As John Furse suggests, the first task is to select the text you want to set (or, indeed, whether the piece is going to be wordless) and then decide the general idiom in which you want to set it. Maybe you have a firm idea of the style you want to develop, perhaps not. If you have any ambition of becoming a professional composer, widely known, performed and respected, you will need to find a modern and individual idiom, much as John Furse describes. The modern musical world doesn't have much time for composers who merely imitate existing styles that have already been well served by first rate composers. But at this stage, so what? It doesn't matter. I would resist being pushed into writing music that feels in any way dishonest. When I began to compose in my teens I had no idea what style I wanted to develop. I mucked about with several, including atonality. It took me a few years to come to the rather obvious conclusion (for me) that any artificial agenda was pointless and that I needed to be writing music that was true to myself - music that expressed what I felt I needed to express in whatever way I needed to express it. What resulted is probably far too derivative to earn much respect elsewhere and it's one reason why I don't call myself a composer, but it doesn't bother me. Perhaps I'm being naive, but I'm inclined to think that if a composer really has anything individual to say (which I don't), that individuality will find a way of expressing itself, whatever the composer's style. This has been true throughout musical history and I don't see why it should be any different now. All this is just my personal opinion and it is very likely an exceptional one in that I've never cared less about recognition or self-promotion (with the result that my pieces are not always very practical for average performers). I agree with Zimbelstern that universities are probably best suited to those who wish to be academic musicians. For a talented practical musician there really is no environment more exhilarating than a top conservatoire, simply because of the supreme level of talent in its various forms with which you are surrounded on a daily basis. It really does give you a perspective on music making that you won't get elsewhere to the same degree. Several students at the RCM when I was there went on to become international stars. Which environment would be of more use to a composer I can't say. I would hazard a guess that analysis might feature prominently in a university. For me at the RCM (where composition wasn't my primary study) it didn't that much. I did have a lot of attention paid to honing the grammar of my musical language, but it was all down to the individual teacher.
  15. Vox Humana

    Composing SATB

    As I have mentioned before, this was very common at the major London music conservatoires (and quite possibly the minor ones too) when I was a student. For obvious reasons, they all liked to be able to boast "big names" as tutors in their prospectuses, but the bigger the name, the more likely they were to be away on gigs. I would be very surprised if this didn't still occur. My daughter has said exactly this. She recently completed a post-graduate course in landscape architecture at a university, a course with a very high drop-out rate because of its intensity. In her second year the support and guidance she received from her tutor was virtually non-existent and it caused her untold stress. How she ever managed to obtain a 'first' while simultaneously earning a living from self-employment I'll never know; she certainly doesn't believe that she received value for money.