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The phrase "orchestra in a box" sounds like the slippery slope to playing arrangements of orchestral music instead of the organ's proper repertoire. Arrangements generally disappoint: one hears the original orchestration in ones mind's ear and wishes one's actual ear were hearing it, too. One might marvel at the skill of the performer and the transcriber - but I do feel that is something only other organists will appreciate. Sorry, I'm on my transcriptions hobby horse again - but I do feel passionately about it!

How do you feel about Bach's transcriptions of Vivaldi orchestral works for the organ, Nick?

 

And, conversely, what about orchestrations of music originally for, say, solo piano, quite often by the original composer?

 

There was a time before the gramophone and the radio when the only way most people got to hear orchestral music was by way of arrangements for organ and piano duet.

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I must confess to preferring the term 'concert'. I think the words 'organ' and 'recital' in one sentence can summon up the picture of a dusty old organist playing obscure, atonal music in the punters' minds.

 

Nevertheless, if your child said it, you would feel obliged to correct him or her, in the same way you would if they had said "tennis bat" or referred to eating a cup of tea.

 

Obscure atonal music? I wish!! Mind you, there was plenty of that at St Albans last week, in among, and cracking pieces they were too. Very few dusty old organists though - except in the audience, where there were lots :D

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If you'll pardon me being a net nanny for a moment, there are one or two points to appreciate that might help you.

 

1. You have to log in before you are able to reply.

2. The "reply" button at the bottom of each post is the one to click when you want to quote a reply in your own post (as I have done above). Whichever post you want to reply to, you click the "reply" button for that post. A window will appear containing the quoted text. You then just add your own comments below it in the same window and post your reply.

3. The "Fast reply" button is for when you want to post something without quoting a previous post.

 

Hope this helps.

 

I think I know what I was doing wrong. Many thanks for your help. We live and learn !

Colin Richell

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I fail to see how one person can give a concert, which the OED defines to be "a musical performance in which several performers take part".

 

This makes sense. Surely a concert is given by a number of performers working together, in concert, as defined above? Such a concert may contain items by a 'solo' performer, who is generally referred to as a soloist.

 

My Oxford Dictionary defines "Recital" in several different contexts, the musical one being "instrumental musical performance by, or of the works of, one man."

 

Unfortunately this still seems to leave us with another ambiguity. Does it mean either "instrumental musical performance by one performer," (of works by one or more composers), or "instrumental musical performance of the works of one composer," (possibly by more than one performer), or both?

 

Personally I have always assumed that a recital would be given by a recitalist, (singular), and that a concert would be given by a group, referred to by a collective term such as choir, orchestra, etc. I cannot recall ever hearing a 'concert' equivalent of the singular term recitalist. (I can think of one, but have no desire to inflict it on the members of this board.)

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I suspect what we have here is the difference between those of us who are technically correct and knowledgable, and the issue of how being so appears to the general public who are much less likely to be either bothered about what is technically correct, and are probably far less knowledgable. One recital/concert will be different to another and will appeal to different people, some of whom will care what it's called and will care about being correct, and others will not actually give a fuff, being more interested in the music, venue, performance etc.

 

I suspect the increasing use of concert may be a marketing ploy by concert hall publicists, note that we also have recital halls too, in order to attract people to hear the organ in the way they would come to hear an orchestra. I don't think it has anything to do with musical content, although something popular and accessible would be more likely to be the order of the day, but merely a way of trying to get people in to hear the organ. The organ world is often seen as very insular, and I think they are trying to get over this.

 

I can live with being technically incorrect, after all I know whether I am right or not, if it means people get to come and listen to good performances, on good instruments, and to increase accessibility to the organ.

 

AJS

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I wouldn't worry about the exact definition of the words "recital" and "concert". After all "Concerto" implies several performers, yet Bach's Italian Concerto is for only one. And song recitals generally involve a singer and an accompanist. I also seem to remember string quartets giving recitals. I'm reminded of a friend who got a job giving solo piano recitals on a cruise ship; he was asked to play light music and he responded "Could I play serious music if I introduce it in a light way?". His Victor Borge-ish spiel kept the management happy and the punters interested enough to stay. If calling a recital a concert brings in a few more, possibly younger, punters I can't see any harm.

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If calling a recital a concert brings in a few more, possibly younger, punters I can't see any harm.

 

And is there any firm evidence that it does?

 

The harm done includes:

 

1. It impoverishes the language by making two words which previously had two slightly different shades of meaning mean the same thing.

 

2. It serves to distinguish organists from "proper musicians", who don't seem to have this hang-up about the word "recital".

 

3. It makes the speaker or writer appear to be unable to use his own language properly, which diminishes his authority in the eyes of his listeners or readers.

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To be honest, I wonder whether all this is symptomatic of the organ crying out for an identity in a world that has scant interest in it.

 

Taking Nick's second point above, pianists, orchestral instrumentalists and the like know where they stand. To them the word "recital" has no negative connotations. It denotes "proper" classical music played by "proper" classical musicians for those with a serious interest in it. Entertainment is through edification, not cheap amusement.

 

The organ, on the other hand, has an honourable foot in both camps. However, in terms of solo entertainment it probably has more of a pedigree in the field of light entertainment. After all, as has been pointed out many times on this forum (including above, I think) before the days of mass media, it was one of the chief means of bringing music to the public. In those days people went to organ recitals for fun, much as they might an end-of-the-pier show. Around the middle of the last century determined efforts began to be made to try to raise the status of the organ so that people would regard it on the same footing as any other serious classical instrument. So we were all encouraged to restrict ourselves to genuine organ repertoire and then only pieces that could stand shoulder to shoulder with mainstream music. Transcriptions, being "impure", were decidedly infra dig. For better or worse, that movement seems to have been abandoned as a lost cause and many have inclined again to the days of the town hall recital type of entertainment where transcriptions are again all the rage. I suspect that the general punter actually prefers this - but the general punter doesn't seem to include many serious classical musicans who by and large continue to regard the organ as a curiosity.

 

Then again, how many organists have been of equal stature to the finest performers in mainstream classical music? Some there certainly have been - and still are - but what of the general level? Do we do ourselves justice? I tend to think we have no reason whatsoever to beat ourselves up, but sometimes I wonder. Older forumites who used to take the Musical Times when it came free with the RCO subscription may remember a certain critic back in the 1970s who had the job of reviewing London organ recitals. No organist, it seemed, was immune from his scorn. Even the top names were lambasted. Praise was very rare. I happened to meet this critic at a conference. He explained that he did not see why he should apply a lesser standard of criticism to organists than he would to any other classical performance and he simply found most organists severely wanting musically. Fair enough, I thought, but unfortunately he then promptly proceeded to shoot himself in the foot by admitting that he hated organs. It was hard to give his reviews any credit after that.

 

I have often suspected that these reviews suited the Musical Times down to the ground. They were clearly intent on reducing the organ content in their issues with a view to ditching it altogether - which they did as soon as the RCO lost patience and severed their connections with it.

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The organ, on the other hand, has an honourable foot in both camps. However, in terms of solo entertainment it probably has more of a pedigree in the field of light entertainment. After all, as has been pointed out many times on this forum (including above, I think) before the days of mass media, it was one of the chief means of bringing music to the public. In those days people went to organ recitals for fun, much as they might an end-of-the-pier show. Around the middle of the last century determined efforts began to be made to try to raise the status of the organ so that people would regard it on the same footing as any other serious classical instrument. So we were all encouraged to restrict ourselves to genuine organ repertoire and then only pieces that could stand shoulder to shoulder with mainstream music. Transcriptions, being "impure", were decidedly infra dig. For better or worse, that movement seems to have been abandoned as a lost cause and many have inclined again to the days of the town hall recital type of entertainment where transcriptions are again all the rage. I suspect that the general punter actually prefers this - but the general punter doesn't seem to include many serious classical musicans who by and large continue to regard the organ as a curiosity.

 

Check this out - look at the 'Music' section - contrast Bach with his own 'Cathedral Music' and the folk based extracts - and all from a former Chartres prizewinner and pupil of M-C A. Staggering technique too. I like it a lot!

 

A

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Recital by Malcolm Kemp on Saturday 1st August at 2.30 pm in St Mary's Church, Rock Gardens, Brighton. Admission free with tea and biscuits at half time.

 

Music by JSB (Great C minor) John Stanley (arr. H Coleman), Handel, Bossi,

Mendelssohn (Sonata 6) and Durufle (Fugue on Soissons bells)

 

Malcolm

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Although not a recital, on Saturday 12 September Andrew Fletcher is demonstrating the the organ in Birmingham Town Hall as part of the Artsfest Weekend. The time for this is 4.30pm to 5.15pm and is preceded from 3pm by Ex Cathedra singing early choral music. I think that these items will be of interest to any local(ish) members. Mrs Handsoff and I will almost certainly be going along.

 

Admission is free.

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Check this out - look at the 'Music' section - contrast Bach with his own 'Cathedral Music' and the folk based extracts - and all from a former Chartres prizewinner and pupil of M-C A. Staggering technique too. I like it a lot!

 

A

Thanks for this, most enlightening.

 

You all know my current fervour for transcriptions, but not even I had thought Bolero was possible. I'd be interested to hear what the start of it sounds like, much easier to do the loud bit at the end, which is all he has on the web clip.

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Justason is playing at the Three Choirs Festival on Monday, August 10th.

 

13:00, Holy Trinity Church, 166 Whitecross Rd, Hereford, HR4 0DH

 

J S Bach Selections from Clavierubung III

Prelude in Eb BWV 552i

Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam BWV 684

Aus Tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir BWV 686

"St. Anne" Fugue BWV 552ii

César Franck Prelude, Fugue et Variation

Herbert Howells Psalm Prelude no. 1, set 1

Maurice Duruflé Choral Varie sur "Veni Creator Spiritus"

 

£5

 

Cameras and screen are threatened.

 

http://www.3choirs.org/2009-hereford/progr...ence-thain.html

 

Best wishes

 

J

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To be honest, I wonder whether all this is symptomatic of the organ crying out for an identity in a world that has scant interest in it.

 

In my view, the organ will find its identity by taking its repertoire seriously, being itself and not trying to be something else. Especially it should not try to be an orchestra - competing with the orchestra on the orchestra's own ground is just asking for defeat.

 

Is it the world or just the UK that has scant interest in the organ? There is plenty of interest in the organ in Germany - the weekly recitals in Cologne Cathedral are full and standing.

 

Taking Nick's second point above, pianists, orchestral instrumentalists and the like know where they stand. To them the word "recital" has no negative connotations. It denotes "proper" classical music played by "proper" classical musicians for those with a serious interest in it. Entertainment is through edification, not cheap amusement.

 

Of course it does! That's because pianists play proper classical music in their recitals. Isn't there a lesson for us here?

 

The organ, on the other hand, has an honourable foot in both camps. However, in terms of solo entertainment it probably has more of a pedigree in the field of light entertainment. After all, as has been pointed out many times on this forum (including above, I think) before the days of mass media, it was one of the chief means of bringing music to the public. In those days people went to organ recitals for fun, much as they might an end-of-the-pier show. Around the middle of the last century determined efforts began to be made to try to raise the status of the organ so that people would regard it on the same footing as any other serious classical instrument. So we were all encouraged to restrict ourselves to genuine organ repertoire and then only pieces that could stand shoulder to shoulder with mainstream music. Transcriptions, being "impure", were decidedly infra dig. For better or worse, that movement seems to have been abandoned as a lost cause and many have inclined again to the days of the town hall recital type of entertainment where transcriptions are again all the rage. I suspect that the general punter actually prefers this - but the general punter doesn't seem to include many serious classical musicans who by and large continue to regard the organ as a curiosity.

 

The piano has an even greater pedigree in light entertainment, does it not? That cannot be the root cause of the organ's image problem. Where the organ is taken seriously, serious classical musicians turn up to hear it. I am thinking for example of St Albans a couple of weeks ago.

 

Why do many serious classical musicians continue to regard the organ as a curiosity? Because we present it as such! As evidence of this I quote post #287:

 

Although not a recital, on Saturday 12 September Andrew Fletcher is demonstrating the the organ in Birmingham Town Hall as part of the Artsfest Weekend. The time for this is 4.30pm to 5.15pm and is preceded from 3pm by Ex Cathedra singing early choral music.

 

Isn't this treating the organ as a curiosity? By contrast, Ex Cathedra will be performing some proper repertoire - and possibly some quite recondite stuff, too, by the sound of it. They will not be "demonstrating the human voice"; nor did I notice the Britten-Pears Ensemble demonstrating a variety of stringed and woodwind instruments.

 

Then again, how many organists have been of equal stature to the finest performers in mainstream classical music? Some there certainly have been - and still are - but what of the general level? Do we do ourselves justice?

 

Exactly the same could be said of pianists or violinists. Possibly the difference is that, whereas almost all piano recitals are given by professionals, a good proportion of organ recitals are given by amateurs. Don't get me wrong: I think it is wonderful that amateur organists have such opportunities to perform. I just worry about how we come over to the audience, especially where in the same recital series rank amateurs such as myself may give one recital, to be followed the next week by the likes of Paul Derrett or Tom Winpenny. An amateur may give an excellent recital, of course - or they may be barely adequate.

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Isn't this treating the organ as a curiosity? By contrast, Ex Cathedra will be performing some proper repertoire - and possibly some quite recondite stuff, too, by the sound of it. They will not be "demonstrating the human voice"; nor did I notice the Britten-Pears Ensemble demonstrating a variety of stringed and woodwind instruments.

 

Possibly, but it will draw the pipe organ to the attention of those who may otherwise never hear one. Carlo Curley's concerts fall, for me, into the same bracket and he has done much to raise the organ's profile. If just one or two of those present are inspired to learn to play or to even gain a love for the proper repertoire, and I can think of few better than Andrew to pass on his enthusiasm for the instrument, then the exercise will have succeeded. The real purpose of the event, though, is to give the people of Birmingham an opportunity to hear the exceptional qualities of their (for it is a municipal instrument funded by tax-payers) organ. Low-brow and undignified as events such as this may appear to some, I enjoy hearing an organ well played whatever the circumstance and have every intention of attending to better appreciate this marvellous organ and thus gain more when I go to "proper" concerts there.

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I agree with Handsoff regarding Carlo Curley. He makes organ music entertaining and you can see that he enjoys himself when he is playing unlike some recitalists who appear to want to be somewhere else.

Carlo brought thousands to Ally Pally in the 1980's most of who probably didn't even know that they were not listening to a real pipe organ, but his light classical programme and personality suited the audience who returned again and again wanting more. .

Personally I don't like the heavy stuff, but I wonder whether recitalists study their audience or do they play what they want to play?. A request programme might be an idea for some concerts. would that work ?

Colin Richell.

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Justason is playing at the Three Choirs Festival on Monday, August 10th.

 

13:00, Holy Trinity Church, 166 Whitecross Rd, Hereford, HR4 0DH

 

J S Bach Selections from Clavierubung III

Prelude in Eb BWV 552i

Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam BWV 684

Aus Tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir BWV 686

"St. Anne" Fugue BWV 552ii

César Franck Prelude, Fugue et Variation

Herbert Howells Psalm Prelude no. 1, set 1

Maurice Duruflé Choral Varie sur "Veni Creator Spiritus"

 

£5

 

Cameras and screen are threatened.

 

 

 

http://www.3choirs.org/2009-hereford/progr...ence-thain.html

 

Best wishes

 

J

 

Great to see Justason doing so well. All this and lacrosse too! Has he ever thought of signing up to this forum? I'm an old fogey whose university days are long gone but it would be informative,and I'm sure entertaining, to have some insights from the younger organist and musical student life generally.

 

P

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I agree with Handsoff regarding Carlo Curley. He makes organ music entertaining and you can see that he enjoys himself when he is playing unlike some recitalists who appear to want to be somewhere else.

Carlo brought thousands to Ally Pally in the 1980's most of who probably didn't even know that they were not listening to a real pipe organ, but his light classical programme and personality suited the audience who returned again and again wanting more. .

Personally I don't like the heavy stuff, but I wonder whether recitalists study their audience or do they play what they want to play?. A request programme might be an idea for some concerts. would that work ?

Colin Richell.

 

Not if you are trying to bring in people who don't know any organ music yet!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Tomorrow evening at York Minster

Organ Recital by David Sanger (President of The Royal College of Organists).

Including Mendelssohn's Prelude & fugue in C Minor

and music by Bach, Saint-Saens, Vierne, Karg-Elert and

Martin (Passacaille)

be there or be square, as the ex's son used to say :lol:

Peter

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Next Saturday (5th September) at Worcester Cathedral: Roy Massey, 6.30pm, £10

 

You might have read elsewhere on these pages that Barry Jordan is unable to travel to the UK in time to play next Saturday, but we're delighted that Roy Massey has agreed to take his place.

 

Programme:

 

Guilmant - March on a theme of Handel

Haydn, Handel and Beethoven - Three pieces for musical clocks

Bach - Prelude and Fugue in D

Franck - Prelude, Fugue and Variation

Handel - Concerto in D minor (2nd Set)

Elgar - Minuet (Severn Suite)

Guilmant - Sonata no. 5 in C minor

 

See you all there! The concert starts at 6.30pm after evensong (which is at 5.30pm).

 

Best Bank Holiday wishes to you all,

 

Christopher Allsop

Assistant Organist, Worcester Cathedral

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  • 2 weeks later...
Would it be a good idea for forum members to advertise here recitals they are giving in the near future so that others in their area (or even beyond) could come along to offer support and maybe even raise a glass or two afterwards? Just a thought.....

 

Peter

 

St John the Evangelist

RC Church, Duncan Terrace Islington, London N1 8AL

 

2009 Organ Series

‘B. A. C. H.’

 

 

James O’Donnell

(Organist & Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey)

 

Saturday 26th September at 7.30pm

 

L Marchand

Grand Dialogue in C

(3ème Livre d’Orgue,1696)

 

J S Bach

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland BWV 659

O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig BWV 656

Jesus Christus, unser Heiland BWV 665

 

R Schumann

Fugue I from Sechs Fugen über den Namen Bach Op 60

 

F Liszt

Prelude and fugue on the name BACH

 

L Vierne

Clair de lune

 

J Alain

Deuxième fantaisie

 

M Duruflé

Toccata (from Suite, Op 5)

 

Buses: 4, 19, 30, 38, 43, 56, 73, 205

Angel Northern Line

Admission free, retiring collection

 

Gallery Organ by J W Walker & Sons 1963

(BIOS certificated)

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