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John Scott's Prom


jonadkins
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Just to say how much I enjoyed John Scott's Buxtehude at the proms on Monday, both in terms of interpretation and regisration. For me, Buxtehude is not the first composer's name that springs to mind when the RAH organ is mentioned, but Scott carried it off marvellously, managing to get a surprising transparency from the instrument, something which I thought would be difficult.

 

Did anyone else hear it?

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Guest Barry Oakley
Just to say how much I enjoyed John Scott's Buxtehude at the proms on Monday, both in terms of interpretation and regisration. For me, Buxtehude is not the first composer's name that springs to mind when the RAH organ is mentioned, but Scott carried it off marvellously, managing to get a surprising transparency from the instrument, something which I thought would be difficult.

 

Did anyone else hear it?

 

Yes, I did, Jon. As always, it came straight from the heart. IMHO John Scott is the UK's most outstanding organist and on a world-class scale he's right there at the top.

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Yes, I did, Jon. As always, it came straight from the heart. IMHO John Scott is the UK's most outstanding organist and on a world-class scale he's right there at the top.

 

 

Agree wholeheartedly. His recital at St Paul's a few years back that included 'Ad Nos' was the best recital that I have ever attended. I wonder if he will be invited to re-open the St Paul's organ after irs refurbishment?

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Agree wholeheartedly. His recital at St Paul's a few years back that included 'Ad Nos' was the best recital that I have ever attended. I wonder if he will be invited to re-open the St Paul's organ after irs refurbishment?

 

His Dupré CD from St Pauls is one of my most listened to of all - as good as some of the perfomances from St Ouen, Toulouse etc.

 

AJJ

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Guest Barry Oakley
His Dupré CD from St Pauls is one of my most listened to of all - as good as some of the perfomances from St Ouen, Toulouse etc.

 

AJJ

 

They are (there are two) very much favourites of mine, Alastair, and are frequently aired.

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Just to say how much I enjoyed John Scott's Buxtehude at the proms on Monday, both in terms of interpretation and regisration. For me, Buxtehude is not the first composer's name that springs to mind when the RAH organ is mentioned, but Scott carried it off marvellously, managing to get a surprising transparency from the instrument, something which I thought would be difficult.

 

Did anyone else hear it?

 

Hi

 

Yes, I heard it (on headphones via DAB) - horoughly enjoyed it. Because of the relatively low data rate that "listen again" uses, classical music via the system can be problematic - there was a strange distortion on the listen again broadcast of "The Organist Enteratins" the other week as well. When I can I prefer to record anything that I can't hear live.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Just to say how much I enjoyed John Scott's Buxtehude at the proms on Monday, both in terms of interpretation and regisration. For me, Buxtehude is not the first composer's name that springs to mind when the RAH organ is mentioned, but Scott carried it off marvellously, managing to get a surprising transparency from the instrument, something which I thought would be difficult.

 

Did anyone else hear it?

 

 

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

 

 

Maybe it is just me, but I was distinctly underwhelmed by the Buxtehude.

 

I just thought it was the wrong organist, playing the wrong organ and the wrong music, as I sat stone-faced listening to it.

 

I was reminded of another well-known organist who shall remain nameless, playing the Bruhns G major on an organ which should have been perfect for the role. The notes, as ever, were faultless, but there was just no empathy with the music, or any real understanding of the "fantastic style," which should be about abrupt changes of emotion, rather than just alterations to the timing and registration. That recording was not even in the same artistic league as the recording I most like, played on the largely Schnitger organ of the Aa- kerk, Groningen by Peter Westerbrink; a name which I feel sure will be instantly recognised internationally.

 

With the death of Luciano Pavorotti, I was reminded of something said of him, (by whom I do not know), and which seems so absolutely right about music and musicians generally.

 

"Pavarotti was never the most accomplished vocal technician, but he WAS the greatest singer in the world."

 

That's because it came from the soul.

 

Buxtehude was a bit of a wild man who liked to party, and most British organists are not. Perhaps that is the bit that is frequently missing!

 

Sorry!

 

:blink:

 

MM

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

Maybe it is just me, but I was distinctly underwhelmed by the Buxtehude.

 

I just thought it was the wrong organist, playing the wrong organ and the wrong music, as I sat stone-faced listening to it.

 

I was reminded of another well-known organist who shall remain nameless, playing the Bruhns G major on an organ which should have been perfect for the role. The notes, as ever, were faultless, but there was just no empathy with the music, or any real understanding of the "fantastic style," which should be about abrupt changes of emotion, rather than just alterations to the timing and registration. That recording was not even in the same artistic league as the recording I most like, played on the largely Schnitger organ of the Aa- kerk, Groningen by Peter Westerbrink; a name which I feel sure will be instantly recognised internationally.

 

With the death of Luciano Pavorotti, I was reminded of something said of him, (by whom I do not know), and which seems so absolutely right about music and musicians generally.

 

"Pavarotti was never the most accomplished vocal technician, but he WAS the greatest singer in the world."

 

That's because it came from the soul.

 

Buxtehude was a bit of a wild man who liked to party, and most British organists are not. Perhaps that is the bit that is frequently missing!

 

Sorry!

 

:blink:

 

MM

 

No, don't apologise MM. I forget whether it was Flanders or Swann who said "chacun a son gout"

 

You're right about the Stylus Phantasticus thing though. I remember being stunned by the Bruhns e minor Prelude (the longer one) the first time I heard it. Is the recording you mention at Groningen still available?

 

ps Not sure about the British organists/party animals comment: Many is the time I've thought "To hell with it" and had a SECOND cup of Earl Grey tea...

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MusingMuso

You were not alone on this. Whilst listening to the RAH concert I just didn't enjoy it at all even though I am a Buxtehude fan. I just felt that it was the wrong organ. I read the earlier comments and thought that it must be me, I must have missed something, so I am relieved to see a sympathetic comment. Back to my CDs of Buxtehude on Arp Schnitger and the like.

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Have to agree with MM on this

 

Heard John Scott playing Reubke amongst others there last year, and it was superb

 

We all know equally that John Scott is possibly the best British Organist active (though maybe TT and Simon Preston run him close)

 

But Buxtehude doesn't sit well on that organ.. far more suited to romantic works with broad sweeping registrations needed.

 

What a shame it was the only organ prom this year - surely one dedicated recital each year isn't too mcuh to ask

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No, don't apologise MM. I forget whether it was Flanders or Swann who said "chacun a son gout"

 

You're right about the Stylus Phantasticus thing though. I remember being stunned by the Bruhns e minor Prelude (the longer one) the first time I heard it. Is the recording you mention at Groningen still available?

 

ps Not sure about the British organists/party animals comment: Many is the time I've thought "To hell with it" and had a SECOND cup of Earl Grey tea...

 

 

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

 

 

The recording will still be available, I feel sure, because it is the work of the "Stichting Groningen Orgelland," and was first released in 1990 I believe. I bought my copy in 2005; so quite a long run.

 

The atual label is "Syncoop Produkties," and the CD number is SYNCOOP 5751 CD114

 

If this fails, the address to write to (or telephone) is:-

 

Stichting Groningen Orgelland

Slot Assumburgpad 54

3123 RR Schiedam

Netherlands

 

Tel: (Netherlands) 010-4707439

 

I don't think it will come cheap, because it is a triple CD set, but for those who would treasure an anthology of Netherlands organs covering the period 1550-1820 or so, it is a marvellous set, and quite a revelation, which demonstrates just how small the changes were during that considerable period.

 

The booklet is a mine of information about the region and the instruments, and especially about Schnitger and his followers.

 

It is worth getting just for the two tracks recorded on the stupendous Aa-kerk organ, with its wonderfully scintillating chorus-work and those rather special reeds with what sounds like leathered shallots.

 

Apart from the best G major Bruhns I've ever heard, there is a wonderful performance, also by Peter Westerbrink, of the Bach CP on "Christus, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam" BWV684.

 

The two tracks are an object lesson in how to play baroque music on a baroque organ.

 

My verdict:- 10 out of 10

 

 

MM

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Have to agree with MM on this

 

Heard John Scott playing Reubke amongst others there last year, and it was superb

 

We all know equally that John Scott is possibly the best British Organist active (though maybe TT and Simon Preston run him close)

 

But Buxtehude doesn't sit well on that organ.. far more suited to romantic works with broad sweeping registrations needed.

 

What a shame it was the only organ prom this year - surely one dedicated recital each year isn't too mcuh to ask

 

 

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

 

 

I hope no-one thinks that I do not have enormous respect for John Scott, who is after all, a native Yorkshireman!

 

I have some wonderful recordings of him playing romantic music, and I've heard him play modern music wonderfully in the flesh. However, I just feel that a more involved Buxtehude/Bruhns/Baroque specialist could easily have been found to present the music, and there are many such performers in Germany and Holland.

 

 

MM

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

I hope no-one thinks that I do not have enormous respect for John Scott, who is after all, a native Yorkshireman!

 

I have some wonderful recordings of him playing romantic music, and I've heard him play modern music wonderfully in the flesh. However, I just feel that a more involved Buxtehude/Bruhns/Baroque specialist could easily have been found to present the music, and there are many such performers in Germany and Holland.

MM

I suspect the reason he was chosen to play this programme was that he has recently presented the entire works of Buxtehude at St Thomas New York. There are some details and downloads to be found here http://www.saintthomaschurch.org/stream-Bux.html (could not manage to turn this into a link!)

 

Whilst accepting that the RAH organ is not suitable for Buxtehude, the concert was an opportunity for many who would probably not go near an organ recital to experience a selection of Buxtehude's music in this anniiversary year.

 

Like others I found the BBC Listen Again service very poor for music, although I have found it possible to get improved quality in the early hours of the morning.

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John Scott’s presentation of Buxtehude at St Paul’s a while back was very convincing. I attended all the concerts and the performances were superb. Judicious use of the Great/North Choir divisions with Swell reeds to Pedal were also reasonably convincing from a technical viewpoint.

 

The only organ Prom devoted to Buxtehude is strange though. I would really like to hear some Widor or Vierne on this organ. Instead we continue to have a diet of orchestral transcriptions and, well, Baroque organ music.

 

Isn’t this all rather strange?

 

 

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

 

 

Frankly, I think it is quite perverse!

 

Elgar year, and all his contemporaries so perfectly suited to the instrument. Much as I do not go all fuzzy when I hear the Elgar sonata, you'd have thought wouldn't you, that a really good performance of it would have reminded people that he was an organist?

 

Have they trotted out any of the Elgar for brass-band?

 

I suppose they will deny that the best brass bands such as "Black Dyke" are the equal of the best orchestras; possibly because, as amateur musicians (sound of hysterical laughter), they are probably more professional than those who are paid to do music for a living.

 

With an organ like the RAH, what we really want to hear are things like the Jongen, the Peeters, the Saint-Seans, the Dupre "Calvary in Paris" and anything else which can blow the roof off. I think the orchestral people are a bit scared of that organ to be honest.

 

Knowing the current climate, it probably comes down to a health & safety issue.

 

MM

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"With an organ like the RAH, what we really want to hear are things like the Jongen, the Peeters, the Saint-Seans, the Dupre "Calvary in Paris" and anything else which can blow the roof off. I think the orchestral people are a bit scared of that organ to be honest.

 

Knowing the current climate, it probably comes down to a health & safety issue."

 

 

I did hear the Saint-Saens at the Organ Gala, put on by Raymond Gubbay a couple of months ago, with John Birch playing. I had the widest grin in the place especially at the end because it was just SO over the top. The organ was so loud that the orchestra couldn't be heard at all and the cymbal crashes sounded like a cat sneezing.

 

So I'm not really surprised if orchestra people are a bit scared of it!

 

Peter

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Guest Barry Williams
"With an organ like the RAH, what we really want to hear are things like the Jongen, the Peeters, the Saint-Seans, the Dupre "Calvary in Paris" and anything else which can blow the roof off. I think the orchestral people are a bit scared of that organ to be honest.

 

Knowing the current climate, it probably comes down to a health & safety issue."

I did hear the Saint-Saens at the Organ Gala, put on by Raymond Gubbay a couple of months ago, with John Birch playing. I had the widest grin in the place especially at the end because it was just SO over the top. The organ was so loud that the orchestra couldn't be heard at all and the cymbal crashes sounded like a cat sneezing.

 

So I'm not really surprised if orchestra people are a bit scared of it!

 

Peter

 

My recollection of the score of Saint-Saens' third Symphony is that the organ part is marked, at the outset of the final movment, merely 'forte'. Few performances are less than ffff.

 

Barry Williams

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

Maybe it is just me, but I was distinctly underwhelmed by the Buxtehude.

 

I just thought it was the wrong organist, playing the wrong organ and the wrong music, as I sat stone-faced listening to it.

 

I was reminded of another well-known organist who shall remain nameless, playing the Bruhns G major on an organ which should have been perfect for the role. The notes, as ever, were faultless, but there was just no empathy with the music, or any real understanding of the "fantastic style," which should be about abrupt changes of emotion, rather than just alterations to the timing and registration. That recording was not even in the same artistic league as the recording I most like, played on the largely Schnitger organ of the Aa- kerk, Groningen by Peter Westerbrink; a name which I feel sure will be instantly recognised internationally.

 

With the death of Luciano Pavorotti, I was reminded of something said of him, (by whom I do not know), and which seems so absolutely right about music and musicians generally.

 

"Pavarotti was never the most accomplished vocal technician, but he WAS the greatest singer in the world."

 

That's because it came from the soul.

 

Buxtehude was a bit of a wild man who liked to party, and most British organists are not. Perhaps that is the bit that is frequently missing!

 

Sorry!

 

:P

 

MM

 

 

As far as I know, 'stylus phantasticus' is a form of composition where the composer is 'free' of any pre-defined form/methods, not nessecarily 'about abrupt changes of emotion'.

Kerala J. Snyder writes interesting things about it in her (newest edition) Buxtehude book.

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I would like to hear Nicolas Kynaston repeat some of his recordings from earlier now the organ is on a good state. It seems to me that his choices of repertoire were better than some over the last year or so - and I am afraid I include some aspects of the recent recordings here.

 

AJJ

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Instead we continue to have a diet of orchestral transcriptions and, well, Baroque organ music.

 

Isn't this all rather strange?

Maybe a whole programme of Baroque organ music is, but there is nothing odd about playing orchestral transcriptions on it. I recently came across John Stainer's programme for the opening of the Father Willis at the Guildhall, Plymouth in 1878:

 

Sonata no.2 - Mendelssohn

Slow Movement in E Flat - Schubert, arr. Prout (from string 4tte op.123)

Minuet and Air with Variations - Handel (arr. from one of the oboe concertos)

Adagio in D - Spohr (arr. from a string 4tte)

Toccata in D minor - Bach (from the programme notes this was evidently BWV 565, including the fugue)

Andante in F from a Symphony - Haydn

March in D - Mendelssohn (the "Cornelius March")

Pastorale - Corelli, arr. E. J. Hopkins (from 8th concerto for strings)

Variations on "God Save the Queen" - A. Hesse

 

As well as being organist of St Paul's, Stainer was at this time also organist to the RAH Choral Society and was famous for his performance of orchestral accompaniments.

 

I have seen other programmes from around this time and they are not dissimilar, so I suppose this must be the sort of stuff Father Willis organs were designed to play.

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