Jump to content
Mander Organs
Pierre Lauwers

Bach Organs

Recommended Posts

"What would you like me to explain, Pierre?"

(Quote)

 

1)- Why this Manual seems to have a french "Jeu de Tierce";

 

2)- Why this is not completely true.

 

I will be happy to be enlighted.

 

Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pierre, the answer is in post 21.

 

OK for Quinta and Tertia. But what about the 8' ?

 

(Andreas did not work in Bach's area). But I'm sure Pcnd will sort it out for us.

 

Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OK for Quinta and Tertia. But what about the 8' ?

 

(Andreas did not work in Bach's area). But I'm sure Pcnd will sort it out for us.

 

Pierre

 

Pierre, to be perfectly honest, I can do without your snide remarks. I left for work this morning at 07h20. It is now 23h07 and I am still working. I had a twenty minute break for lunch and about forty minutes for my evening meal (which included cooking it). Tomorrow will be no different, nor will the day after.... and so it goes.

 

Clearly we differ on how we like our Bach to be played. I have yet to see any written, verifiable evidence of some of the claims which you make. It is hardly my fault if Dr. William Sumner (who was a highly respected organ historian and a published author) was inaccurate over one detail I happened to quote - although, as a colleague pointed-out, your post stated that "J.N.Forkel reports that J S Bach, on the occasion of his journey to Potsdam and Berlin in 1747, was taken to all the Potsdam organs. All the instruments had been built by Silbermann’s pupil Joachim Wagner, whom Bach obviously knew." There is no explanation of how Bach 'obviously knew' Wagner. Neither I nor my colleague regard this as conclusive proof - particularly since (as I have already written) Forkel at one point described Bach's organ playing as if he had himself heard it - which was patently not the case.

 

Perhaps we should simply agree to differ - and discuss something else.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I shall post only facts and links here. I suggest we don't discuss opinions.

Well that didn't last long, did it? B)

 

But what about the 8' ?

Not too many of them in this organ are there? The thing that strikes one about this organ is that it is rather unlike either the Arnstadt or Weimar organs. Both those instruments lack independent upperwork ranks: Arnstadt has none; Weimar has only a 2' Waldflöte; generally the upperwork is supplied by compound ranks. Mülhausen has far more in the way of independent upperwork. Also, Bach's new Brustwerk has only one stop at each pitch (how inconveniently neo-Baroque of him!) He also says of the Viol da Gamba that is will accord nicely with the 4' Salicional - which is on another manual (could this be an example of him "drawing the stops in his own way"?) There is nothing here that suggests that Bach followed the trend of his fellow Thuringians in mixing 8' stops. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, but if he did you will have to look for evidence elsewhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ach, so....

 

Pcnd, if you have that long working days, maybe a good idea would be to delegate something?

I am busy in old papers since 6 A.M., and often up to midnight, before and after working.

Since two years I do not even "work"....And spent eight months in *interesting* archives.

This is so since 35 years.

As you certainly have seen on my forum, we are nine administrators there. I never say

anything in interpretation, liturgy, etc, concentrating on the history and the technical matters.

Each to his own thing !

 

I fully agree, Vox. The experiment is dead since day one; such topics are impossible here and now.

I suggest we stop it.

But I appreciated your postings !

(As for the 8', see its tuning...)

 

Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ach, so....

 

Pcnd, if you have that long working days, maybe a good idea would be to delegate something?

Pierre

 

Alas, this is quite impossible - I am not my own boss. If I were to work less, I should earn less - I can barely keep up with my outgoings as it is!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I won't continue this thread, but I found this (I had it but on paper):

 

http://www.organfocus.com/features/scholar...s/bicknell.php3

 

What a pity I won't discuss that matter with Mr Bicknell any more !

At least by closing this discussion with him, leaving him the last word,

he will still be somewhere with us.

 

Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forgive me (after a long day's work and 2 bottles of Doombar) but I don't understand this thread. How does a stoplist help anyone to understand the music of Bach? It is a matter of historical record that Bach was dismayed by some of the choirs at his disposal. Few 'Great' Composers had/have the luxury of the 'ideal' instrument, choir or orchestra at their disposal. Bach knew full well what was going on outside his hectic parochial world. He also encountered organs of different national schools and styles. He was surely as alive to a French Plein Jeu as he was to the tangy Dutch equivalent. Just what points are people trying to prove here...? Bach, like all music, I submit, sounds better on organs with 'Gravität' (though please note that word can also have an interpretative implication).

 

A discussion of whether the mixtures should or shouldn't have a tierce, or whether reeds should be in the manual chorus, seems to me irrelevant. Articulation, rhetoric and interpretation are what performers are ultimately interested in, in order to communicate with their audience effectively. Given that great music sounds great on a couple of flutes or on the Wanamaker organ, registration is surely pretty low on our list of priorities? Ultimately, a dull performance, bound by doctrine and lacking energy and understanding of the MUSIC, is simply dull.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So is it wrong to ponder the circumstances under which earlier musicians performed their music and how they would have expected it to sound? Shall we all go down this route then?

 

And yet again this insinuation that attention to historical matters perforce leads to a dull performance. Why else did you include "bound by doctrine" in your last sentence? Your statement is no less true without it. I wish people would get it into their heads that musicality and scholarship are two completely different things. The one does not compromise the other. A great performer is a great performer irrespective of whether (s)he has a focus on scholarship. I have met and heard scholars who are first-rate performers; I have also come across plenty of performers - a vast majority, I would say - who are not as nearly as musical as they like to think they are.

 

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I consider I know sod-all about Baroque scholarship, nor do I make any claims for myself as a performer - I am well aware of my limitations. But I am as capable as anyone of recognising a fine performance when I hear one. In fact I sometimes seem to hear fine performances where others cannot. I put it down to having less monochrome tastes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And yet again this insinuation that attention to historical matters perforce leads to a dull performance. Why else did you include "bound by doctrine" in your last sentence?

Apologies: no such insinuation intended - in fact I believe that an understanding of historical styles of performance is essential, if only so that you can then make a choice to ignore them. I was just surprised by how irate contributors were getting about, inter alia, tierce mixtures! Like you, I try to hear the best in performances, but I am always suspicious of dogma - "this is how Bach must be played" and the like. But that's me grinding my own axe, I suppose...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... A discussion of whether the mixtures should or shouldn't have a tierce, or whether reeds should be in the manual chorus, seems to me irrelevant. Articulation, rhetoric and interpretation are what performers are ultimately interested in, in order to communicate with their audience effectively. Given that great music sounds great on a couple of flutes or on the Wanamaker organ, registration is surely pretty low on our list of priorities? Ultimately, a dull performance, bound by doctrine and lacking energy and understanding of the MUSIC, is simply dull.

 

It may not surprise you to learn that I do not agree fully with this statement, Ian!

 

Articulation and interpretation - yes. (Incidentally, surely rhetoric applies to the written and spoken word; I am not sure how it would relate to a musical performance.) However, I would maintain that the art of registration is an integral part of interpretation.

 

I am not dogmatic, save that I like my Bach to sound 'beautiful' or 'good' - subjective terms, I realise. I would not dream of stating that Bach always has to be played in a certain way, with regard to either registration or interpretation. It depends on the type of organ, the acoustics of the building (and, for that matter, the nature of the space to be filled) and perhaps even how one approaches a given piece on a particular day. I do not always use the same registrations for Bach preludes and fugues (for example), but I approach each piece and instrument individually. In a recital last week I played the Concerto, in G major (after Johann Ernst, BWV 592) on what was basically a very Romantic organ, yet with careful choice of registration (something which I regard as very important), I was able to find sounds which I liked and which seemed to suit both the piece and that particular instrument.

 

I would agree that the music of Bach is able fully to withstand a host of interpretations on many different types of instrument. However, whilst there are many of his works which would sound 'great on a couple of flutes', I would not personally wish either to hear or to play one of the larger preludes and fugues on a Gedackt and a Nason Flute throughout. For me, this would be to rob the piece of its vitality.

 

Some years ago, I listened to a broadcast of some of Bach's organ music from an English cathedral. The performer was (and is) well-known as a superb musician. He also gave a commentary on his registrations before playing each work. However, what actually happened was that he played every prelude and fugue with a very similar registration. Whilst the pieces were technically faultless - and were played with a very musical articulation - I found the entire experience to be rather lifeless, even boring.

 

I cannot agree that registration is low down on the list of priorities. This would be similar to expecting a concert violonist to play using a Suzuki training instrument - or a flautist using a basic Yamaha model (with or without a carbon-fibre mouthpiece section). Whilst I do not doubt that they could make a good performance, the music would sound rather better if played on a much higher-quality instrument. It is possible that there would be, amongst the auditors, those who were also able to perceive the difference in tone-quality. I would suggest that the difference between one organ and another (and between a number of different registrations) is somewhat greater.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It may not surprise you to learn that I do not agree fully with this statement, Ian!

 

Articulation and interpretation - yes. (Incidentally, surely rhetoric applies to the written and spoken word; I am not sure how it would relate to a musical performance.) However, I would maintain that the art of registration is an integral part of interpretation.

 

I am not dogmatic, save that I like my Bach to sound 'beautiful' or 'good' - subjective terms, I realise. I would not dream of stating that Bach always has to be played in a certain way, with regard to either registration or interpretation. It depends on the type of organ, the acoustics of the building (and, for that matter, the nature of the space to be filled) and perhaps even how one approaches a given piece on a particular day. I do not always use the same registrations for Bach preludes and fugues (for example), but I approach each piece and instrument individually. In a recital last week I played the Concerto, in G major (after Johann Ernst, BWV 592) on what was basically a very Romantic organ, yet with careful choice of registration (something which I regard as very important), I was able to find sounds which I liked and which seemed to suit both the piece and that particular instrument.

 

I would agree that the music of Bach is able fully to withstand a host of interpretations on many different types of instrument. However, whilst there are many of his works which would sound 'great on a couple of flutes', I would not personally wish either to hear or to play one of the larger preludes and fugues on a Gedackt and a Nason Flute throughout. For me, this would be to rob the piece of its vitality.

 

Some years ago, I listened to a broadcast of some of Bach's organ music from an English cathedral. The performer was (and is) well-known as a superb musician. He also gave a commentary on his registrations before playing each work. However, what actually happened was that he played every prelude and fugue with a very similar registration. Whilst the pieces were technically faultless - and were played with a very musical articulation - I found the entire experience to be rather lifeless, even boring.

 

I cannot agree that registration is low down on the list of priorities. This would be similar to expecting a concert violonist to play using a Suzuki training instrument - or a flautist using a basic Yamaha model (with or without a carbon-fibre mouthpiece section). Whilst I do not doubt that they could make a good performance, the music would sound rather better if played on a much higher-quality instrument. It is possible that there would be, amongst the auditors, those who were also able to perceive the difference in tone-quality. I would suggest that the difference between one organ and another (and between a number of different registrations) is somewhat greater.

It appears, Sean, that we are in broad agreement! It's horses-for-courses at the end of the day, albeit informed by performance practice, scholarship, analysis of the music etc but including (since you question it), an appreciation of the centrality of rhetoric to Lutheran Baroque music - see, by way of random example http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa38...i_n9231900/pg_2 "Lutheran Germany...had a particular interest in rhetoric, namely that of a discipline most helpful in preaching the word...the understanding of the rhetoric of a text was expected of every musician, and that a rhetorically informed and intended realisation of the music was as important to the composer as it was to the performer."

 

But I don't avoid using the gorgeous new John Budgen Cornet/Sesquialtera when I play Bach plenum pieces at St Mary de Lode, Gloucester (the only mixture on the organ) or the Great Sesquialtera at Christ Church, Bristol, simply because they contain a tierce - indeed, as narrow scale Principals, they sound pretty "authentic", whatever that means! Likewise, I found uses for the Terzcimbal at Gloucester, besides cutting safety glass. Mind you, I really like the sound of the Trost chorus http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=OfvHDh3TZ8E particularly with the pedal mutations (back to the Theorbe/Notre-Dame threads!).

 

On to tastier things: do you know Daniel Roth's disc of Bach from St Sulpice (Motette CD 12321)? Sublime. He could have used the classical Plein Jeu choruses there, with gentle reeds on the pedal, but takes a rather more imaginative approach in that cavernous acoustic. In the detailed liners notes, he says: "With the crescendo in the direction of the high tones of the principal chorus and since the reeds stops in the bass are loud and lose their intensity with the high tones, the addition of soft reed stops to the principal chorus enables a good balance of intensity between the deep and high tones. In Saint Sulpice, the contralto and tenor parts are stressed by the basson 8' of the Grand Choeur, the baryton 8' of the positive, the basson/hautbois of the recit. The bass is emphasized in the pedal by the excellent basson 16'". Thus Roth abandons an isolated doctrinaire approach to registration, but in order to serve the aesthetic of the music and to make the polyphony clear. The results, to my ears, are very beautiful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... On to tastier things: do you know Daniel Roth's disc of Bach from St Sulpice (Motette CD 12321)? Sublime. He could have used the classical Plein Jeu choruses there, with gentle reeds on the pedal, but takes a rather more imaginative approach in that cavernous acoustic. In the detailed liners notes, he says: "With the crescendo in the direction of the high tones of the principal chorus and since the reeds stops in the bass are loud and lose their intensity with the high tones, the addition of soft reed stops to the principal chorus enables a good balance of intensity between the deep and high tones. In Saint Sulpice, the contralto and tenor parts are stressed by the basson 8' of the Grand Choeur, the baryton 8' of the positive, the basson/hautbois of the recit. The bass is emphasized in the pedal by the excellent basson 16'". Thus Roth abandons an isolated doctrinaire approach to registration, but in order to serve the aesthetic of the music and to make the polyphony clear. The results, to my ears, are very beautiful.

 

A brief reply, since I have to go out teaching again shortly.

 

Yes, I bought this disc a few years ago - it is indeed sublime. In fact, it is one of my favourite Bach CDs. I am particularly enamoured of the use of the 32p Bombarde at the end of the Adagio of the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue, in C.

 

I shall reply to your other points later!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In a recital last week I played the Concerto, in G major (after Johann Ernst, BWV 592) on what was basically a very Romantic organ, yet with careful choice of registration (something which I regard as very important), I was able to find sounds which I liked and which seemed to suit both the piece and that particular instrument.

The sounds - and the performance - were also warmly appreciated by the audience!

JC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The sounds - and the performance - were also warmly appreciated by the audience!

JC

 

Thank you for your kind comments, John.

 

It was good to meet you - if only briefly!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can scarcely believe that people can get so hyper about the pitches of a few ranks of organ-pipes!

 

The tierce (and for that matter the Septieme) is a perfectly acceptable pitch in organ-tone, and has been used in various ways over the centuries; even in the late baroque at 3.15ft pitch as part of the manual choruses; rather than as French-style solo elements.

 

As for which type of chorus is best (a quint chorus or a terzchor), then you only have to make the brief journey to Holland to enjoy a back-to-back comparison. Should you find yourself in the Aa-kerk, Groningen, you will hear possibly the finest quint choruses in existence, and in which reeds play no part except in the pedal. It matters little that it is by Arp Schnitger with later alterations....it works! However, I would suggest that the use of only unison and quint ranks is really only a part of the story, but if you want to hear every nuance of every comntrapuntal thread; this is the organ to hear.

 

We all know examples of romantic instruments, where new mixtures have been added with the most unmusical results, yet an organ-builder like John Compton could borrow pitches from here, there and everywhere; have as many as ten derived pitches sounding on just one draw-stop, (even including the odd aliquot from time to time), to produce something which is musically agreeable, if perhaps a little less than musically correct. (When all is said and done, this is merely doing much the same as what sub and super-octave couplers do, when the Swell to Mixture is added to the Great).

 

The secret of any chorus is to create musical blend, and anything else becomes like the character in Purcell's "Fairy Queen," who has a human top and a fairy's bottom, with all that that implied in Tudor England.

 

The fact that a Swell Mixture coupled to Great (up to 2ft) at unison and octave, is often a better sound than that which is labelled "Great Mixture," tells us something important about good Mixture registers.

 

Now sit back and enjoy the Aa-kerk Schnitger, if you will. Modestly blown, with minimal nicking, the plain-metal pipework

sings beautifully at any pitch. (The use of tin is restricted to the casework facade pipes in most of these showpiece instruments, because it was very expensive, and still is). Due to the fact that the pipes are left to speak fairly naturally, the harmonic content is rich. With 16ft, 8ft, 4ft and 2ft Principals drawn, the tonal effect is entirely satisfying, and adding the Mixtures (usually very large Mixtures) may add brightness and definition to the lowest keys, but at the opposite end, they merely re-inforce what is already there. Consequently, when these superlative Mixtures are drawn, the aural effect is one of added harmonic richness and intensity......almost dangerously so. What you will never hear is the "Nabokov" of the mythical Russian screech-owl, which would bring anything but good news to the choruswork. In fact, it is the absolute subtletly of the voicing which is so striking; the ear tickled and teased rather than heavily assaulted by a harmonic clenched-fist. Get down to the nitty-gritty of voicing technique, and what you actually find are rank upon rank of incredibly dull-sounding, but quite high-pitched pipes......and wait for it.....THE VERY ESSENCE OF THE COMPTON ORGAN CHORUS EFFECT.

 

Swell to Mixture with octave-coupler drawn, and coupled through to the Great, has much the same effect, because it is buried in a box and therefore sounds much more subtle as a result.

 

If Schnitger choruses and mixtures deliver harmonic intensity, then Haarlem delivers astounding richness; perhaps at the expense of ultimate clarity, but could anyone say that the richer, warmer, even romantic tones of Haarlem, with its towering tierce choruses, is any less an instrument for Bach? Of course not!

 

It may not be a great North German style instrument, but as a musical experience, it is just extraordinary.

 

These two organs are so very different, and if the Aa-kerk instrument is the one on which to hear the great Preludes and Fugues being played, then the warm intimacy of Haarlem, with its many, varied colours and solo effects, is definitely the one on which to hear played many of the Chorale Preludes, where the solo line is all important.

 

It may sound a crazy prospect, but I would liken the difference between just these two organs, as the same sort of difference between a harpsichord and a Steinway concert-grand, and we all know that Bach can be just as impressive when played on either one or the other!

 

The analogy goes further, for I would suggest that the absolute joy of Groningen is to experience, first-hand, the counterpoint in all its glory. With Haarlem, you just want to play the instrument expressively; no doubt because of the many singing, gentle, expressive tones; the warm flutes, the beautiful mutations and the superb non-imitative reeds. (Even if they do often sound like genuine baroque instruments).

 

I believe that the actual choice of instrument is secondary to the musical sensibilities of the performer. If there is one thing which really gets up my musical nose, it is the present-day tendency to present Bach's music as unyielding, pompous and even brutal. I despair of listening to Bach's double violin concerto thumped out as if it were a test-piece for wannabe violinists, where virtuosic speed and metronomic regularity instantly kill the melodic beauty, and instead, turn the concerted style into a sort of musical war zone. I hear performances of the Brandenburg Concerti so stomped out, that one may imagine Lully pounding a stick on the floor, with military precision. Then there are those barn-storming Cantata performances, where the choruses sing so aggressively and loudly, it is difficult to imagine where God fits into the equation at all. I do wish people would realise, that the heart-stopping moment in the St.Mathius Passion, (when the heavens are torn asunder), is something almost unique in Bach's writing, when high drama and musical theatre rudely gatecrash into church to interrupt the devotions.

 

I would suggest that for anyone who wants to know how Bach sounds best, they should first listen to the old recordings of the late and sadly lamented David Oistrach, the Russian violinst, who without being in the slightest way sentimental, made Bach sing rather than shout, and who showed us how to achieve beauty in contrapuntal line, rather than dwell on the cleverness of the counterpoint. Bach's sublime music should never be reduced to the level of political knock-about and point-scoring.

 

It's a curious thing, but it is to Holland that I turn every time when I want to hear Bach's organ-music; and I think I may know why. Not only are the organists of the Netherlands exceptionally academic and intellectual, they are also Netherlanders, who are perhaps "Sons of the soil and the sea." They are never loud, agrressive or pompous, and equally, they are not afraid to be assertive in a liberal and thoroughly reasonable sort of way. It is, I believe, that combination of high-minded intellect, and a certain humble, natural warmth, devoid of superficial sentimentality, which makes many of them such outstanding performers of baroque-music generally, and Bach's music in particular.

 

So perhaps we should not concentrate on this or that style of instrument, but instead, concentrate upon the quality of the music, the beautiful interplay of the lyrical-lines and the sheer humanity of it.

 

Does it matter what the stop-list includes, when something like the Gigue fugue or the "little" G minor can sound just a impressive on 8ft and 2ft Flutes, with a gentle 16ft bass and 8ft reed in the pedal?

 

Of course, if I want to hear the "Great" G minor, then the preferred organ of choice would be the magnificence of Haarlem, and for the Trio Sonatas, the almost startling clarity of Groningen.

 

We are so fortunate that no two organs every quite sound the same.....aren't we?

 

Is that the reason for Bach travelling around, enjoying trying out different instruments?

 

I like to think so!

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, all this is very interesting and a perfectly valid point of view, but might have been better in a thread of its own entitled "How I like my Bach to sound"; it's completely off topic here! However, it hardly matters since this thread sadly lost the plot at a very early stage. Of course, however much or little we like to think our Bach playing is influenced by historical awareness, at the end of the day we have as musicians to fall back on our subjective feelings. Some organists are perfectly happy for their Mendelssohn sonatas to sound like Wagner with lots of orchestral colour. Same with Bach. It all depends on what floats your boat.

 

I would suggest that for anyone who wants to know how Bach sounds best, they should first listen to the old recordings of the late and sadly lamented David Oistrach, the Russian violinst, who without being in the slightest way sentimental, made Bach sing rather than shout, and who showed us how to achieve beauty in contrapuntal line, rather than dwell on the cleverness of the counterpoint. Bach's sublime music should never be reduced to the level of political knock-about and point-scoring.

This is a case in point. I could hardly disagree more. I find Oistrach's Bach over-inflated, larger than life and anachronistic. In short, for me it is just inappropriate. It is, I grant you, less of a caricature than Horowitz's piano arrangements. My wife, who is a violinist, used to admire Oistrach's Bach immensely when she was young. I have always respected her tastes and have never sought to influence them, but over the years she has come round to my point of view, even though she knows nothing of scholarship and has no great sympathies with period instrument bands. We are not at all immune to the musicality in Oistrach's playing - he was a truly great player after all - but neither of us considers his style suited to Bach. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

 

For the record, I'm no lover of Manze either. I suppose I'm just difficult to please! :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, all this is very interesting and a perfectly valid point of view, but might have been better in a thread of its own entitled "How I like my Bach to sound"; it's completely off topic here! However, it hardly matters since this thread sadly lost the plot at a very early stage. Of course, however much or little we like to think our Bach playing is influenced by historical awareness, at the end of the day we have as musicians to fall back on our subjective feelings. Some organists are perfectly happy for their Mendelssohn sonatas to sound like Wagner with lots of orchestral colour. Same with Bach. It all depends on what floats your boat.

This is a case in point. I could hardly disagree more. I find Oistrach's Bach over-inflated, larger than life and anachronistic. In short, for me it is just inappropriate. It is, I grant you, less of a caricature than Horowitz's piano arrangements. My wife, who is a violinist, used to admire Oistrach's Bach immensely when she was young. I have always respected her tastes and have never sought to influence them, but over the years she has come round to my point of view, even though she knows nothing of scholarship and has no great sympathies with period instrument bands. We are not at all immune to the musicality in Oistrach's playing - he was a truly great player after all - but neither of us considers his style suited to Bach. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.

 

For the record, I'm no lover of Manze either. I suppose I'm just difficult to please! :blink:

 

 

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

 

 

I disagree that my reply is off-topic, since the essential point was that of variability in organs, and also the realisation that Bach (as with all composers), would not have composed with a specific sound or a specific organ in mind.

 

I haven't written much music, but when I have (or more likely, been forced to do), I cannot hear specific sounds in my head as I write down the notes. It is one thing recognising the sound of an instrument, but quite a different matter to "think" what it may sound like, merely by conjuring up something from deep within the imagination.

 

This is surely why Bach's music works on organs which he would never have known, and to pursue even the idea of a "Bach organ" is to constrain the music to some sort of false understanding of what Bach required, when the reality surely is, that the music has an almost timeless and unconstrained universality.

 

"Liebster Jesu" is still much the same, whether played on a baroque organ proper, or on a swell oboe with a salicional accompaniment!

 

The comments about David Oistrach made me think. It is such a long time ago that I listened to recordings of the great man, my own views may have changed with the passing of time. The trouble is, the recordings I have are all on reel-to-reel tape, and deeply buried.....somewhere.....so I cannot check it out instantly.

 

However, I think what impressed me about Oistrach was the lyrical beauty on the one hand, and the fact that he didn't dash off the double concerto like it was the 3.30 at Sandown Park. In fact, I think the recording was played by he and Menhuin, but my recollection may be hazy.

 

Anyway......they didn't rush it, and it wasn't just empty virtuosity.....that was my point.

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
However, I think what impressed me about Oistrach was the lyrical beauty on the one hand, and the ...

MM

 

...I prefer Kreisler... :blink::P:P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I disagree that my reply is off-topic, since the essential point was that of variability in organs, and also the realisation that Bach (as with all composers), would not have composed with a specific sound or a specific organ in mind.
Pierre's suggestion in his original post was that we stick to facts. Your point is not a fact, it is an opinion. It may be a perfectly valid one, but it is an opinion nonetheless and therefore strictly speaking off topic.

 

I have often found it useful to have merely a collection of raw data. It makes it easier to see the trees amongst the wood. Little hope of that on this forum though. :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
======================

I disagree that my reply is off-topic, since the essential point was that of variability in organs, and also the realisation that Bach (as with all composers), would not have composed with a specific sound or a specific organ in mind.

 

I haven't written much music, but when I have (or more likely, been forced to do), I cannot hear specific sounds in my head as I write down the notes. It is one thing recognising the sound of an instrument, but quite a different matter to "think" what it may sound like, merely by conjuring up something from deep within the imagination.

 

MM

 

Simply because you cannot hear specific sounds in your head when you compose is not a strong basis on which to surmise that also Bach either could not - or chose not to. Aside from the fact that your statement is virtually impossible to prove, I am not sure that it is accurate in the first place.

 

When I compose, I can hear specific sounds in my head - even those of a particular stop on a particular instrument. This comes, not from my imagination, but from the experience of playing (or hearing) the instrument, and subsequently recalling this memory. In a similar way, I am able to remember conversations, for example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Simply because you cannot hear specific sounds in your head when you compose is not a strong basis on which to surmise that also Bach either could not - or chose not to. Aside from the fact that your statement is virtually impossible to prove, I am not sure that it is accurate in the first place.

 

When I compose, I can hear specific sounds in my head - even those of a particular stop on a particular instrument. This comes, not from my imagination, but from the experience of playing (or hearing) the instrument, and subsequently recalling this memory. In a similar way, I am able to remember conversations, for example.

And even if we were to discount specific sounds that would still leave the sound world that Bach inhabited. It is on that basis that I view "original instrument" performances as more authentic than those using modern instruments, whilst accepting that a completely authentic performance is not only impossible but also not necessarily desirable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...