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Organ Comcertos And Other Things


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We often overlook the extended repertoire of the organ, which has been much more than a solo or accompaniment instrument over the centuries.

 

In my blissful ignorance, I was surprised to discover that the "Concert Piece" by Flor Peeters, actually belongs to his organ-concerto. It was splendidly broadcast in full on Radio 3 this last week, at about 3am, when I was trundling down the M1.

 

I also admire the Peeters concerto for organ & piano, which I have never heard performed live, but of which I have the solo score.

 

Of course, everyone knows about the Handel, Hindemith and Poulenc, and I recently mentioned the splendid (incomplete?) Robert Mimra triple-concerto, but there must be so many others of which I, and presumably many of us, remain unaware.

 

A relatively recent discovery were the excellent Brixi (Cz) organ-concertos.

 

It would be a great help if people could mention works which include other combinations of instruments, because things like Corelli and Purcell are relatively easy to perform, without having to get a bus company in to transport the band.

 

MM

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We often overlook the extended repertoire of the organ, which has been much more than a solo or accompaniment instrument over the centuries.

 

<snip>

 

It would be a great help if people could mention works which include other combinations of instruments, because things like Corelli and Purcell are relatively easy to perform, without having to get a bus company in to transport the band.

 

Hmmm....

 

In addition to collecting Organ Symphonies, I also collect organ concerti :unsure:

 

Surprisingly, there are a number of fine concerti out there, most of them are rarely heard... I'll mention a few of my favorite concerti composers:

 

- Dan Gawthrop (a fine tuneful concerto written by one of my collegues here in the USA)

- Günter Raphael (a fine late romantic/early 20thC concerto - ends with a Fugue on "Ein Feste Burg"

- Harald Genzmer (neo-hindemithean, lots of fun)

- Alfredo Casella (early 20thC, nice melodies)

- Leo Sowerby (wrote 2 or 3 - the early one sounds a lot like Gershwin harmony-wise - I heard it at Disney hall at the 2004 AGO Convention on the Glatter-Götz french-fry organ :blink: )

 

I'll list more as they come to mind...

 

***

 

As for organ and other instruments, the 20thC Germans wrote a RAFT of works for organ and solo instrument. When I've got a free moment, I'll list some of my favorites.

 

Cheers,

 

-G

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Hmmm....

 

In addition to collecting Organ Symphonies, I also collect organ concerti :unsure:

 

Surprisingly, there are a number of fine concerti out there, most of them are rarely heard... I'll mention a few of my favorite concerti composers:

 

- Dan Gawthrop (a fine tuneful concerto written by one of my collegues here in the USA)

- Günter Raphael (a fine late romantic/early 20thC concerto - ends with a Fugue on "Ein Feste Burg"

- Harald Genzmer (neo-hindemithean, lots of fun)

- Alfredo Casella (early 20thC, nice melodies)

- Leo Sowerby (wrote 2 or 3 - the early one sounds a lot like Gershwin harmony-wise - I heard it at Disney hall at the 2004 AGO Convention on the Glatter-Götz french-fry organ :blink: )

 

I'll list more as they come to mind...

 

***

 

As for organ and other instruments, the 20thC Germans wrote a RAFT of works for organ and solo instrument. When I've got a free moment, I'll list some of my favorites.

 

Cheers,

 

-G

 

The Casella is indeed a nice thing, but needs large orchestra. What about Anton Heiller's 'Organ Concerto? I do not know the size of the orchestra neede. But he also wrote a concerto for positive organ, harpsichord and chamber orchestra (all Doblinger edition).

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Guest Barry Williams
The Casella is indeed a nice thing, but needs large orchestra. What about Anton Heiller's 'Organ Concerto? I do not know the size of the orchestra neede. But he also wrote a concerto for positive organ, harpsichord and chamber orchestra (all Doblinger edition).

 

 

There are two very pleasing organ concerti by Rheinberger and a magnificent Concert Piece for organ, brass, strings and timpani by Stanford. I heard the latter played at the RAM in a private rendition over thirty years ago, but have never seen a published version.

 

There are six Stanley concerti (alternative for harpsichord). Charles Avison wrote several fine concerti, also with the harpsichord as an alternative solo instrument.

 

Dupre wrote a concerto in E minor that seems to have been forgotten. Has anyone heard it performed please?

 

Barry Williams

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Dupre wrote a concerto in E minor that seems to have been forgotten. Has anyone heard it performed please?
I'm getting a sense of déja-vue: haven't we done this topic before?

 

Not heard the Dupré concerto, but Radio 3 broadcast his Symphony in G minor for org & orch two of three years ago. One strictly for Dupré afficionados, I think.

 

Other organ symphonies are the Jongen and Guilmant's arrangements of his 1st and 8th (?) sonatas (and Saint-Saëns of course).

 

Arne wrote some pleasant concertos.

 

Kenneth Leighton wrote a concerto which was broadcast once. Very astringent, I remember, and not one to wow the masses.

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Dupre wrote a concerto in E minor that seems to have been forgotten. Has anyone heard it performed please?

Barry Williams

 

I've not heard it performed LIVE, but I have 2 very nice recordings... it is a striking piece. Speaking of Dupré, one must not forget his works for Organ with cello, and the organ/string Trio and Quartet. Nice stuff, and rarely heard these days. Also, he wrote a wonderful Symphonie for Organ and Orchestra (Michael Murray did a nice recording of it at RAH with LSO/Ling IIRC)

 

There is also the Whitlock Symphony for O+O, which hangs together pretty well - Francis Jackson recorded it (along with his charming concerto, albeit using 2 different organs for the respective pieces). Eben wrote 2 concerti - they are a bit acerbic, but one MUST hear his Symphonia Gregoriana for O+O... it is a grand, sweeping (dare I say even romantic?) piece.

 

I've heard the Heiller mentioned earlier above - it takes some dedication to listen to it, but it has its rewarding moments.

 

As this discussion unfolds, more concerti come to mind - I'll post more as I remember <chuckle>. Also, if there is sufficient interest, I do have recording details for most of these that I can share.

 

Cheers,

 

-G

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Guest Barry Williams
I've not heard it performed LIVE, but I have 2 very nice recordings... it is a striking piece. Speaking of Dupré, one must not forget his works for Organ with cello, and the organ/string Trio and Quartet. Nice stuff, and rarely heard these days. Also, he wrote a wonderful Symphonie for Organ and Orchestra (Michael Murray did a nice recording of it at RAH with LSO/Ling IIRC)

 

There is also the Whitlock Symphony for O+O, which hangs together pretty well - Francis Jackson recorded it (along with his charming concerto, albeit using 2 different organs for the respective pieces). Eben wrote 2 concerti - they are a bit acerbic, but one MUST hear his Symphonia Gregoriana for O+O... it is a grand, sweeping (dare I say even romantic?) piece.

 

I've heard the Heiller mentioned earlier above - it takes some dedication to listen to it, but it has its rewarding moments.

 

As this discussion unfolds, more concerti come to mind - I'll post more as I remember <chuckle>. Also, if there is sufficient interest, I do have recording details for most of these that I can share.

 

Cheers,

 

-G

 

 

I have just remembered that Charles Wesley wrote six concerti for organ. There used to be copies in the BBC Music Library.

 

Barry Williams

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Dupre wrote a concerto in E minor that seems to have been forgotten. Has anyone heard it performed please?

 

Barry Williams

 

It was on the program of the organ competition of Graz (Austria) in September 06. Seems to exist in an organ & piano reduction, too (authorized?), as this was compulsory programme for the competition round. this version might be a challenge for two gifted players... The winner had to perform it with orchestra for the awarding ceremony. I did not hear it, but did not hear any (positive) remarks during the preparation of the competition (though I was in the area in those days...).

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Guest Barry Williams
It was on the program of the organ competition of Graz (Austria) in September 06. Seems to exist in an organ & piano reduction, too (authorized?), as this was compulsory programme for the competition round. this version might be a challenge for two gifted players... The winner had to perform it with orchestra for the awarding ceremony. I did not hear it, but did not hear any (positive) remarks during the preparation of the competition (though I was in the area in those days...).

 

 

The piano and organ version of the E minor Concerto is Dupre's own.

 

Barry Williams

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Other organ symphonies are ... Guilmant's arrangements of his 1st and 8th (?) sonatas

 

Yes, 1 & 8. But which came first: the sym or the son? The second symphony (sonata 8) feels more like an orchestral piece originally - the texture/material the opening of the first movement is a clear indicator - it's not particularly idiomatic to an organ solo.

 

Prof. Tracey's recordings on Chandos are very nice, if a little brisk !

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Many years ago I heard a an organ concerto by Charles Chaynes. I thought it was fabulous, and am amazed and disappointed that I have never heard it again. It was similar to the Poulenc concerto in style, and I seem to recall seeing it in the UMP catalogue. I believe Marie Claire Alain used to have it in her repertoire ; I would love to hear it again if anyone knows of a recording or forthcoming performance.

 

M

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Guest Cynic
Vox mentioned it briefly but I think the Jongen Symphonie Concertante is a cracking piece.

 

J

 

 

Most empatically: Yes.

Why is this not heard far, far more often?

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Most empatically: Yes.

Why is this not heard far, far more often?

 

Does anyone know a decent recording? - I've got Jean Guillou in the USA on the Meyerson Hall Fisk - good sound but a bit of an idiosyncratic interpretation.

 

AJJ

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This is both encouraging and discouraging.

 

Encouraging, in that there is obviously a substantial repertoire, but deeply discouraging that it is rarely heard due to Mozart and Beethoven overkill (so to speak).

 

This is why I asked about smaller works, because the answer must surely come from us, in bringing such rarely heard/unknown or simply overlooked repertoire to public attention.

 

MM

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The Casella is indeed a nice thing, but needs large orchestra. What about Anton Heiller's 'Organ Concerto? I do not know the size of the orchestra neede. But he also wrote a concerto for positive organ, harpsichord and chamber orchestra (all Doblinger edition).

 

Charly,

 

I played the Heiller for my Konzertexamen. The Hochschule was not pleased, it cost a fortune. It needs flocks of oboes (4, if I remember correctly) and lots of other wind - and a very good conductor. The last movement particularly is a cracker though.

 

The Jongen will be played at the dedicatory concert of the new organ here (18th May 2008, attendance compulsory.....) soloist Martin Haselböck, conducted by me.

 

There's a recording by Pierre Pincemaille, organ sounds excellent, orchestral playing seriously scrappy.

 

Cheers

Barry

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Time to post the Virgil Fox link again, I think. I had not realised that all four movements are available online. They are here. The correct order is:

 

Allegro molto

Divertimento

Lento misterioso

Toccata

 

Incidentally: does anyone agree that there are definite hints of Vaughan Williams in this piece. The end of the divertimento in particular is pure VW.

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Does anyone know a decent recording? - I've got Jean Guillou in the USA on the Meyerson Hall Fisk - good sound but a bit of an idiosyncratic interpretation.

 

AJJ

 

My favorite recording is one that Michael Murray made with Edo De Waart and the San Francisco Symphony on the big Rufatti (Telarc CD - still available, IIRC)... it seems that this particular Rufatti has a more warm and full sound than some of their other instruments I've heard. The orchestra is top-drawer, as is the conducting and the playing.

 

I'd love to hear the work on a big C-C or Schyven... I daresay that would be more idiomatic.

 

Cheers,

 

-G

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Many years ago I heard a an organ concerto by Charles Chaynes. I thought it was fabulous, and am amazed and disappointed that I have never heard it again. It was similar to the Poulenc concerto in style, and I seem to recall seeing it in the UMP catalogue. I believe Marie Claire Alain used to have it in her repertoire ; I would love to hear it again if anyone knows of a recording or forthcoming performance.

 

M

 

 

The organ score is still available - I've searched in vain for a recording...

I'd love to hear it also.

 

-G

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In my ignorance I thought these clips would be great for someone I know who is preparing to play it. So I downloaded them and made a DVD.

 

He wasn't very complimentary. He started with the toccata. After that he gave the lento a go and then gave up. Specifically, and as far as I could understand his objections were as follows:

 

Sometimes what you see being played is not what you hear being played. He couldn't account for this. He said it wasn't a synch issue but that sometimes the music would stay at a tempo but the performance would speed up (or vice versa).

 

Sometimes what is played is not at all what Jongen wrote, but is being made up.

 

He thought some of the mannerisms were impractical. He didn't like the gesturing generally but everyone is entitled to their style. What he didn't appreciate were unnecessary gestures that made it impossible to play what the composer intended.

 

And he didn't like, at the end of the lento, the decision to play one handed so the other hand could be used to take off stops.

 

All in all he found it 'tacky'.

 

But he thought the strings, and especially the violins were good.

 

J

 

 

 

Time to post the Virgil Fox link again, I think. I had not realised that all four movements are available online. They are here. The correct order is:

 

Allegro molto

Divertimento

Lento misterioso

Toccata

 

Incidentally: does anyone agree that there are definite hints of Vaughan Williams in this piece. The end of the divertimento in particular is pure VW.

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Charly,

 

I played the Heiller for my Konzertexamen. The Hochschule was not pleased, it cost a fortune. It needs flocks of oboes (4, if I remember correctly) and lots of other wind - and a very good conductor. The last movement particularly is a cracker though.

 

4 oboes and more... is that due to the dedication to short-cup reeds of those Orgelbewegung people? :lol:

 

The Jongen will be played at the dedicatory concert of the new organ here (18th May 2008, attendance compulsory.....) soloist Martin Haselböck, conducted by me.

This should make it's way into my calendar! Thanks, Barry

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4 oboes and more... is that due to the dedication to short-cup reeds of those Orgelbewegung people? :lol:

This should make it's way into my calendar! Thanks, Barry

 

Charly,

I checked my score and found that I had exaggerated - it's only 3 (or actually 2 plus english horn). 2 Flutes, 2 clarinets, 2 Bassons, Timps and strings.

 

Cheers

Barry

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My favorite recording is one that Michael Murray made with Edo De Waart and the San Francisco Symphony on the big Rufatti (Telarc CD - still available, IIRC)... it seems that this particular Rufatti has a more warm and full sound than some of their other instruments I've heard. The orchestra is top-drawer, as is the conducting and the playing.

I've recently conducted this piece in Symphony Hall, Birmingham with the CBSO and Thomas Trotter playing the Klais...it's a great piece indeed. My recording is from Ingolstadt and is a splendid performance...but listen very carefully to spot the bar (in the first movement, if I recall) which has a beat missing....there's a challenge!!

 

Adrian

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In my ignorance I thought these clips would be great for someone I know who is preparing to play it. So I downloaded them and made a DVD.

 

He wasn't very complimentary. He started with the toccata. After that he gave the lento a go and then gave up. Specifically, and as far as I could understand his objections were as follows:

 

Sometimes what you see being played is not what you hear being played. He couldn't account for this. He said it wasn't a synch issue but that sometimes the music would stay at a tempo but the performance would speed up (or vice versa).

 

Sometimes what is played is not at all what Jongen wrote, but is being made up.

 

He thought some of the mannerisms were impractical. He didn't like the gesturing generally but everyone is entitled to their style. What he didn't appreciate were unnecessary gestures that made it impossible to play what the composer intended.

 

And he didn't like, at the end of the lento, the decision to play one handed so the other hand could be used to take off stops.

 

All in all he found it 'tacky'.

 

But he thought the strings, and especially the violins were good.

 

J

 

 

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

 

 

Tacky?

 

Well, I'm very pleased that Paul Durrett liked it, Wayne Marshall chose Virgil Fox playing this work as one of his "Desert Island Discs" and respected record critics site the Fox recordings as some of the most exciting and musical.

 

It is very easy to delude ourselves into thinking that accuracy takes precedence above all other things, but in fact, many great performances are not 100% accurate......especially so with Reger, for instance.

 

The Jongen is a wonderful display of Belgian Impressionism, where accuracy can be sacrificed to some extent, if the music benefits by it.

 

It's fine pretending to be a critic, but unless one understands a few things, any criticism can very easily amount to musical misrpresentation.

 

I don't play the Jongen, and I've never seen the music, but even with that handicap, I know that there is a "cultural divide" at work here. Jongen would be thinking in terms of a French/Belgian symphonic instrument, with ventil controls, which made certain changes of registration possible with foot control only.

The Synfonie Concertante was written by a Belgian (Jongen), but was actually earmarked for one organ in particular: the Wanamaker Organ, Philadelphia, which had (if they ever worked properly in those days), a vast array of thumb and toe pistons, and something like 750 stop keys.....a huge and impressive instrument.

 

Jongen was due to play the premiere, but in fact, was prevented from doing so.

 

On the other hand, Virgil Fox made the first recording in Paris.

 

Those who teach the organ professionally, and those who are serious students of the organ, often get bogged-down by the notes; which is how it should be, because accuracy is discipline in itself. However, there are perfectly good reasons why people change tempi, alter specific registrations and even change notes around with some degree of artistic licence, and Fox was quite happy to do all of them, if it served his particular sensibilities as an organ "colourist" and "stylist."

 

Like it or loathe it, Fox was part of that American/Germanic romantic school, which placed "colour" and "style" at the high-end of their priorities; often to the detrement of absolute accuracy....perhaps even an impressionistic art in itself, like "Art Nouveau" por "Art Deco."

 

Now, if Fox played things with one hand, where two would be written, then it would be for a purpose. You can be sure that the purposes were those of musical expression and changes of colour.....like a poster artist painting an ocean-going liner for a "Cunard" publicity campaign....beautiful and dynamic of line, but certainly not accurate as a piece of draughtsmanship.

 

Lawrence may also benefit from knowing that Virgil Fox transcribed the Jongen "SC" for solo-organ, but never actually wrote it down so far as I am aware. What he DID do, was create an impression of the whole, by working in the important orchestral queues and dialogue, and modifying the organ-part in such a way that this was possible. (I actually have a recording of him playing the Toccata as a solo organ item).

 

Make no mistake, Virgil Fox knew how to play accurately, and his technique was nothing short of phenomenal, but as a stylist, he was never afraid to re-create things, whether it was Bach, Jongen or the just "Greensleeves."

 

To do that convincingly and with style, takes a remarkable degree of musicianship, which he had in abundance, but for anyone wanting the organ equivalent of puritan "political correctness," forget it.

 

So instead of judging Fox by the concepts of to-day, you must always try to judge him as you would the "Art Deco" poster-artists who painted for "Cunard." The emphasis is on the sense of movement and the gracefulness of the visual lines. Virgil Fox was doing the same musically.

 

Make no mistake, the Jongen, as performed by Virgil Fox, is a "Wow" performance, and this is why so many great performers and critics like it so much, and place it among their favourite recordings.

 

MM

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Hi MM

 

Whilst looking for something else I stumbled across the original Virgil Fox thread, and I see this debate has been had before. Enough was said there. If I'd known about it at the time I wouldn't have posted the above as it doesn't add anything new.

 

Best wishes

 

J

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