Benjamin Waterhouse Posted May 23, 2007 Share Posted May 23, 2007 The story so far: Pierre Lauwers made a plea for the preservation of British organs, based on the idea that, to avoid the mistakes perpetrated on the continent, organs should be preserved for their unique qualities and characteristics. The discussion focused on the organs of Arthur Harrison as representing all that is best, or worst depending on your position, in British organbuilding. Somewhere along the line, someone made the point that organists should choose repertoire to suit the instrument they are playing. This was promptly dismissed on the grounds that any repertoire suited to an Arthur Harrison was bound to be second-rate. I think this is worth a separate discussion. The idea of quality in music (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven et al. at the top; everyone else in descending order thereafter) is familiar from music classes, but quickly leads to gridlock if applied too literally. In the field of organ music, it is especially dangerous since many of the "great" organ composers (Franck, Buxtehude, Widor) are considered second-rate in a wider context. In my experience, it is often the "minor" composers of a given era that provide the most period flavour. Since any organ recital is basically a tour of the past, it makes sense to find repertoire that will allow the organ to shine, even if this involves playing music outside the accepted canon. And even if it means playing transcriptions, if they are authentic to the period, since they can actually improve the "quality" level. It seems a little harsh to insist on quality while banning transcriptions. A hypothetical question: would you rather go to a recital to hear (for instance) Frank Bridge played on a Hope-Jones, or Bach played on a Willis/Harrison/NeoClassical Rebuild Co. with electro-penumatic action and 96 memory levels? Benjamin Waterhouse Quebec Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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