Guest Cynic Posted June 10, 2007 Share Posted June 10, 2007 I have occasionally hinted on this forum that I am not averse to organs sounding slightly less than perfectly in tune - e.g. divisions slightly adrift from each other. I am against the principle of fluework being completely re-tuned every time the tuner comes, just for the purpose of adapting to a change of weather etc. etc. Well...... for me, all this extra resonance and warmth definitely adds a richness that is absent when everything has been gone through with a fine tooth comb immediately before the performance. However, all of us have limits! I would, for instance, refrain from using a solo stop (assuming there is any choice left to me) in a recital if the out-of-tune notes occur in an obvious way. This is (for me) worse than an inadequate solo singer who may miss top G the first time, but makes a better stab of it as the piece goes on. With a solo stop out-of-tune, a listener has no option but to hear the same offensive note regularly repeated - this becomes an experience quite alien to the music if one knows the piece, sitting nervously expecting the rogue pitch to come round again. Having said all this, this week I have been enjoying (for the most part) the 5-CD reissue Orgues et Organistes Francais du XXieme Siecle which includes first-rate musical performances by players whom we usually only know as composers. Two or three are a revelation - for musicality on this showing IMHO there is nobody to better Andre Marchal, and for virtuosity - would you believe Viscomte Leonce de Saint-Martin? Now....organ after organ, on these CDs the tuning can best be described as a caricature of approximate pitch. The fluework is usually respectable, but reeds sound as if they haven't been touched in decades, let alone during the week of the (expensive and rare) recording session. Considering that it need not take more than 10 minutes to check through a reed stop in a well-laid out instrument, this makes me wonder - why didn't these performers seem to mind? How come these sounds didn't set their teeth on edge as much as they did mine? I'd better not name the place, but this week I also attended a live recital on a famous U.K. organ. The recital was superb - musical to a degree, exciting and (much rarer) the choice of music was exactly right from every standpoint. There were things I had not heard, coupled with pieces that this instrument does to perfection. Why do I bring this up? Stop after stop, there would be rogue notes - at first, I thought the performer had chosen his stops poorly, but then it became apparent that he was using different combinations and equivalent notes were still well adrift everywhere (mostly near the top of the compass). Fluework does not randomly go well out-of-tune. In very dry weather, stopped flutes sometimes slip a bit, but otherwise, even with major changes of atmospheric conditions/temeratures, a decently tuned organ will not have odd notes, scattered about randomly between the various stops, that are unbearably 'out'. Not even acute laziness on the tuner's part will explain this - and in this case I am sure we can rule out sniffer dogs patrolling before a security-critical visit..... Your opinions/hypotheses are invited! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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