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Mander Organs
Peter Clark

Liszt Ad Nos

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I agree wholeheartedly with Vox Humana regarding tempo. When learning a new piece I usually feel the need,  after I have learnt the notes,  to listen to as many different recordings as I can, something which is now quite straightforward with a subscription to a service like Apple Music.

I am nearly always surprised by the range of tempos. In a few cases, a piece may be played by the fastest player at almost twice the speed of the slowest. I often wonder if it was actually possible to play Bach at the tempi adopted by many current performers, given the accounts in 18th century literature of the heaviness and stiffness of the action of many organs then. 

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19 hours ago, Zimbelstern said:

I agree wholeheartedly with Vox Humana regarding tempo. When learning a new piece I usually feel the need,  after I have learnt the notes,  to listen to as many different recordings as I can, something which is now quite straightforward with a subscription to a service like Apple Music.

I am nearly always surprised by the range of tempos. In a few cases, a piece may be played by the fastest player at almost twice the speed of the slowest. I often wonder if it was actually possible to play Bach at the tempi adopted by many current performers, given the accounts in 18th century literature of the heaviness and stiffness of the action of many organs then. 

I recall playing an old Smith organ in the Netherlands, which was harder work than my grandmother's mangle. Most are nothing like as bad, but the depth of key touch seems to be one of the limiting factors with many old instruments.

MM

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Connecting two elements of this discussion together - Johannes Geffert has done some research into accounts of Mendelssohn's organ playing by his contemporaries.  One of them relates that if he had assistants available he would request frequent changes of registration - even within phrases.  If that's true of a relatively conservative Romantic composer, surely Liszt would have been even more likely to have wanted frequent changes of colour if it were possible.  Of course that's potentially a dangerous road to go down, but as Liszt above almost all composers valued virtuosity and technical difficulty in performance, it's hard not to find his organ music a bit technically 'safe' compared to the piano music, and perhaps to conclude that bolder/ more frequent use of the pedals (like Straube in the Peters edition) is legitimate.   Anyway I've put it into a recital in November so maybe I should be careful what I say!

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