Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

The "legendary" Piet Van Egmond


jonadkins
 Share

Recommended Posts

Browsing through the organ CD's in my local-ish music store, I have been on more than one occasion come across an offering by the "Legendary" Piet Van Egmond, and have been infuriated by it each time! Surely if he were truly legendary, it would be superfluous to state this on the CD cover, and if he isn't, well, his CD label are lying!

 

Does anyone know the playing of this mystery organist? Am I doing him a disservice?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Browsing through the organ CD's in my local-ish music store, I have been on more than one occasion come across an offering by the "Legendary" Piet Van Egmond, and have been infuriated by it each time! Surely if he were truly legendary, it would be superfluous to state this on the CD cover, and if he isn't, well, his CD label are lying!

 

Does anyone know the playing of this mystery organist? Am I doing him a disservice?

 

 

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

 

 

You are indeed doing the late Piet van Egmond a very great disservice!

 

I can only summarise the CD insert as the best way to tell you something of Piet van Egmond, who died in 1982. (Born 1912)

His first organ concert took place when he was only 15, playing an all Bach programme, and during his long career, he held appointments at Haarlem and Apeldoorn, in addition to his initial work as organist to the Concertegebouw in Amsterdam.

 

He was a highly respected choral conductor and improviser, and founded the Amsterdam Oratorio Choir, which he made famous with the annual performnaces of the Bach St.Matthew Passion.

 

However, it was as a recitalist and broadcasting organist that Egmond made his international name, and visited England many times, with organ recitals at the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and many major venues. Internationally, he played in many top-notch venues such as Copenhagen, and made the first recordings (including the Reubke) on the new Klais organ of Cologne (Koln) Cathedral.

 

I suppose many people of the current generation will not have heard much about Piet van Egmond, but in his time, he was certainly a truly "legendary" performer and improviser; with an abundance of typical Netherlands thoroughness and intellectual insight.

 

As for the CD itself, much of it comes from old tapes and broadcasts, and in this important respect, it falls short of modern-day recording techniques and audio quality. However, for those who value recordings by the great organists of the past, it is worth obtaining.

 

MM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I have this CD.

 

Is it the one from Copenhagen Radio Concert Hall, RAH and Cologne Cathedral?

 

If so, the Reubke (from Cologne) has, I believe, a short section missing. According to the sleeve notes, this was because the recording engineer had to change over tapes (or something like that) during the live recital.

 

Despite the audio quality, which you (MM) say is short of modern-day standards, I still enjoy listening to it.

 

I have to admit, though, that I hadn't heard of him before either!

 

John

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... Internationally, he played in many top-notch venues such as Copenhagen, and made the first recordings (including the Reubke) on the new Klais organ of Cologne (Koln) Cathedral.

 

MM

 

Not unless he came back from the grave. The Klais (Nave) organ in Cologne Cathedral was installed in 1998. At least, I assume you refer to the Nave organ - the other instrument was installed in 1948 (as a three-clavier instrument), so could hardly be described as new, without causing confusion with the 1998 organ. The fourth clavier arrived in 1956 (together with other additions). Further work was carried out in 1984.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not unless he came back from the grave. The Klais (Nave) organ in Cologne Cathedral was installed in 1998. At least, I assume you refer to the Nave organ - the other instrument was installed in 1948 (as a three-clavier instrument), so could hardly be described as new, without causing confusion with the 1998 organ. The fourth clavier arrived in 1956 (together with other additions). Further work was carried out in 1984.

 

 

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

 

Mmmmmm.........the THEN new Klais organ.....1958.

 

MM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well - it would appear that I have done the late Piet van Egmond something of a disservice. The Cologne date query notwithstanding, I am now curious and willl try to get the CD - it would serve me right if it's already been snapped up!

 

Just because hyperbole is used a lot to disguise mediocrity these days, it is not always the case!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear all,

 

May I draw your attention to the Piet van Egmond url, which is the website of the Stichting Piet van Egmond Documentatiecentrum, a sort of Piet van Egmond Trust. One will find there a list of all cds (many of them on the Festivo label, several photographs and some downloads. More downloads to come soon!

 

I wrote a biography on Piet van Egmond which was launched in 2003, the result of 21 years of research. I only met Mr. Van Egmond once, shortly before a recital, in his declining years. The "magic" began when I heard old recordings of his transcriptions of Suppé's Dichter und Bauer Overture, Die Moldau by Smetana and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, played on the 1923 Steinmeyer organ at the former Prinsessekerk, Amsterdam. He played his transcriptions of orchestral, piano, opera and ballet music only in his weekly "Popular organ recitals" for radio broadcasts. On organ recitals he played just organ literature, apart from the usual arrangements of Handel's organ concertos. The biography is the result of archive research, many conversations with his widow, his former secretary, pupils, choir members, other musicians etc. etc.

 

Some English friends have asked me to produce a biography in English; unfortunately I hadn't got the time to finish it, but I'm still working on a short biography in English for the website. It would also be interesting to write about his strong connections with the English organ world. Already in 1935 he made his first trip to England with his fiancée and a vicar couple and had the opportunity to play in Westminster Abbey. In 1937 he must have done an audition for the BBC at Southwark Cathedral. In april 1959 he was invited by the BBC to play a recital for the BBC at St. Peter's Church, Eaton Square, London; a team of BBC producers had listened to his Cologne recordings and they were impressed. In 1960 he played two recitals for the BBC on the Royal Albert Hall organ; part of the recordings was issued in 1989 on Festivo FECD 115, the same on which the Reubke from Cologne can be heard (indeed with a 'gap' in the middle because the only existing tapes came from Mr. Van Egmond's own archive, and he had to change tapes during the broadcast because he recorded on 30 inch/sec. on a AEG AW-1 "Magnetophon"...)

 

Piet van Egmond was one of those versatile musicians who played both church and theatre organs (his late secretary always told me that he kept "the British organists" as an example), worked as a choral and orchestral conductor and played beautifully piano. The classical recitals in England were often combined with studio recordings on the BBC Möller organ at the Jubilee Chapel, London, with totally different repertoire. In fact, Holland was too small-minded for him. In this country, one could not play classical literature and play the theatre organ and play transcriptions. He often wasn't taken serious by his collegues, but admired by the public, especially because of his lengthy improvised fantasies on hymns at the end of his recitals and during the church service.

 

Please read David Baker's review in The Organ Nr. 341 (p. 56/57) on our latest CD Rhapsody in Blue to get an impression of his playing. Parts of tracks can be heard on the Festivo website.

 

You can mail me with any question about Piet van Egmond on Info.

 

Gerco Schaap (NL)

Secretary Stichting Piet van Egmond Documentatiecentrum

Vice President of the Percy Whitlock Trust

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I should, perhaps, mention that the 'gap' in the Reubke from Cologne is not noticeable on the CD (unless you are following the score)!

 

John

 

That is right. In the process of editing, early 1989, I asked the Dutch organist & choir conductor Dr. Thijs Kramer to listen carefully to the "loose ends" of the Reubke recording. He is a specialist in the Reubke Sonata and made the first Dutch gramophone recording of it. After an intensive hearing session, he showed the points where the exact edits could be made. During the mastering we made several edits before we found the ultimate crossfade, although digital (organ) editing was still in its infancy in those days.

Gerco Schaap

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...