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Hovland Toccata


Nick Bennett
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I am currently learning the Toccata on "Nu La Oss Takke Gud" by Egil Hovland and if any of you play it perhaps you can help me out, because I don't entirely understand the notation.

 

What actual notes does he want us to play when he writes those clusters with large flat signs on the final page?

 

You might also like to comment on whether it's worth the effort. When I was looking through it in Brian Jordan's, another customer looked over my shoulder and said what a cracking piece it was, so I bought it.

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I am currently learning the Toccata on "Nu La Oss Takke Gud" by Egil Hovland and if any of you play it perhaps you can help me out, because I don't entirely understand the notation.

 

What actual notes does he want us to play when he writes those clusters with large flat signs on the final page?

 

You might also like to comment on whether it's worth the effort. When I was looking through it in Brian Jordan's, another customer looked over my shoulder and said what a cracking piece it was, so I bought it.

Don't know the piece, so can't help directly, but Christopher Herrick recorded it on 'Organ Fireworks' from Westminster Abbey on Hyperion, which must give a few clues. Send me a PM if you can't get hold of the recording.

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I am currently learning the Toccata on "Nu La Oss Takke Gud" by Egil Hovland and if any of you play it perhaps you can help me out, because I don't entirely understand the notation.

 

What actual notes does he want us to play when he writes those clusters with large flat signs on the final page?

 

You might also like to comment on whether it's worth the effort. When I was looking through it in Brian Jordan's, another customer looked over my shoulder and said what a cracking piece it was, so I bought it.

 

I just get my fingers on as many notes as possible, black and white, but below the right hand chords (due to the flat sign in front of the cluster)

I do think it's worth the effort, if only to play the outrageous harmonisation of the tune on the last page!!

It is one of those pieces that, once learnt, sounds better the faster it is though! :rolleyes:

 

Didn't the then Bishop of Birmingham and now York choose it as one of his Desert Island Discs?

 

P.

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A very nice piece, yes its totally worthwhile (If only to provide a viable alternative to Karg-Elert next Harvest)

 

From what i can remember without hunting the copy out, as long as you play a relevativly dissonant selection of notes inside the black blob section (including accidentals in that) then you've got a good hint of what the composers after. Perhaps though it is the sort of thing that can be worked out 'too much' and a quasi-improvised nature at this point can sound refreshing

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Yes, it's a cracker and always gets a good audience response. I played it a lot when I was younger but haven't looked at it for quite a few years now. This has inspired me to play it again before too long.

 

It is not actually that difficult once you have got the hang of the manual sequences. I learned the notes in a morning (and I am a very slow learner), although it took a few hours more to get it really neat and to programme the drama.

 

I found the hardest thing was getting the right relation between the semiquaver arpeggios followed by the fifths in sextuplets (if I have remembered this right). Careful attention with a metronome sorted this out.

 

On the last page, I interpret the black blocks as black note clusters played with the side of the left hand, the right hand playing actual white notes, the left hand playing a cluster of black notes in the same position on the keyboard so they follow one another up the scale.

 

I have been known to make the last left hand cluster more of a forearm smash on the keyboard, trying to cover as many black notes as possible ; an idea I got from watching Joanna Macgregor play as many notes as she could with her elbows in some avant garde piece.

 

If I may, I slightly disagree that this piece gets better the faster it goes ; for me, the excitement is in the contrasting pulse of the rhythmic cells, the harmonic movement, and the dramatic last page. I like to play the cluster runs like a steam engine gradually picking up speed out of the station. A headlong dash through the notes can just throw this all away.

 

Have fun !

 

M

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