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Vox Humana

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  1. Vox Humana

    Room 101

    I don’t like the Reubke either, but, as my teacher would have said, that’s my problem, not Reubke’s. I just dislike heavy Austro-German Romanticism as a genre – a result of having had a friend at the RCM who used to drag me to hear Wagner operas and Bruckner symphonies (amongst other things; I got my own back by dragging him to David Munrow’s gigs). I have much more time for the ‘classical’ German Romantics like Schumann and Brahms. At least the Reubke is a very fine work, which is more than I can bring myself to say about the bulk of Liszt, whose music is a triumph of effect over substance (pace some gems among the softer piano pieces). Yet Liszt, Wagner, Bruckner, Mahler and the rest of them are exceedingly popular with many concert goers, so I hesitate to consign any of them to room 101. If I were to make an exception it would be Liszt’s grotesquely bombastic and vacuous piffle on BACH.
  2. Having a couple of offspring who are avid festival-goers, I am fairly certain that the added-value is in the party atmosphere, the communal dancing and the sense of tribeship, the last being a bonding factor in some other pursuits, such as birding. I have not noticed this degree of cameraderie amongst classical musicians. Cliquiness, yes (and certainly amongst organists); broader cameraderie, no. How often after a concert/recital will an audience member approach a complete stranger and start chatting about what they have heard and seen?
  3. Here is the NPOR specification and this exactly is as I remember it. I played the organ fairly regularly until I left the IoW in 1967 and, although at the distance of half a century my memory may be faulty, I don't remember being denied access because of work being carried out. Certainly, when I last played it in a concert in 1973 the specification was still the same. I would imagine that Walker's workmanship was of high standard, but artistically I thought it a very unrewarding instrument, to be honest. It was tonally designed to emphasise 8' pitch at the expense of all others and the Tromba unit was oily-smooth and suffocating. As I mentioned above, all the non-unison pitches on the Choir are extended.
  4. That one dates back to Sir John Goss. See page 30 here.
  5. Yes, that is a good example and, as you say, there are others. Howells is an interesting case. Most of his organ music is quite obviously orchestral in concept, even late works like the Epilogue and Rhapsody no.4 (cf. the Concerto for String Orchestra). Yet a large, cathedral (or similar) acoustic seems built into more than a few of these pieces and it is hard to imagine them retaining their true impact as orchestral works in a concert hall. In any event, the Paean is absolutely organistic in texture. Sorry. This has nothing to do with York so I shall stop hijacking the thread.
  6. There are, though I wouldn't agree. Willan, probably. Duruflé, some of it could - and, like the Requiem, it might sound more colourful, but I find it hard to imagine the P&F, Veni Creator variations and Toccata sounding more convincing orchestrated. They are true organ music, surely? Franck and Vierne, I think fall into the same category. Much of the latter's output I find truly organistic. You can orchestrate anything, as Beecham tried to prove, in the same way that you can arrange anything for the organ. It's more a question of which medium makes the music sound best - though I suppose it does reduce to a matter of opinion in the end.
  7. I don't do organ DVDs because, quite frankly, I'm not committed enough to the instrument, but it seems to me that the problem with the traditional British organ is that it hasn't generated any really great music that justifies the medium. Such decent music as has been written for it sounds - or would sound - infinitely more convincing when orchestrated. The obvious candidate is the Elgar Sonata, but it would be equally true of Whitlock, all of whose output would benefit immensely from orchestration. There probably are odd exceptions to my sweeping statement, but I can't think of them offhand. I shall now duck for cover, but please remember that, 'sending the boys round' is against government guidelines.
  8. I have often thought that. BWV 29 usually fails dismally on that score. Not so the NBS performance.
  9. I absolutely agree with this. Cutting the third bar makes the recap so mundane. It's supposed to be a crescendo, starting from pp where the triplets kick in, through Pos+Récit, then GPR, then a molto cresc with the swell box to lead back to D major where the Positif anches kick in for two bars - and only then the final whack of full organ as the theme returns (and some decent Pedal reeds will continue the effect of the crescendo). When it's done properly the effect is marvellous. The trouble is, on most British organs the lack of a proper Positif equivalent, with suitable reeds, may render this effect difficult to achieve. You need artillery in reserve after the box is open. Maybe you can add the Great reeds progressively (8' first, then 16' + 4'?), but if you can't produce the effect of a door opening onto a blaze of sunlight, it won't work properly. Incidentally, I love Chorzempa's speed for this. Just right! A good old rollick (as opposed to a headlong race) makes the theme so much more 'catchy' and hummable. (IMO, obviously.)
  10. Talking of which, I remember this organ being quite fun, despite all the 'prepared for' stops. Both organ and owner are long gone, alas. The console is now at Kingsteignton in Devon and so, I believe, is the Positive pipework.
  11. https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Vintage-Early-1900s-Booklet-Colston-Hall-Organs-Past-Present-w-Photos/124054746126?hash=item1ce23d340e:g:U0wAAOSwLl5eJcpB
  12. Thank you. That makes sense. I still find it hard to believe that the stop ever went anywhere near a Cavaillé-Coll workshop though. You can hear it here (with the Lieblich Gedackt + Tremulant) at 2:40. Personally, I think it sounds horrible.
  13. The last organ I regularly presided at boasted a Gedackt Flute and a Spindle Flöte, as well as the ubiquitous Lieblich Bourdon (not to mention a 'Prinzipal' that was actually a Dulciana!)
  14. How much of that is because the instrument is really just a glorified extension organ?
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