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WM was interviewed on R3's "In Tune" last Friday and a recording of him playing The Finale from Widor V (what else...) was aired. Dreadful. It was played so fast that the rh arpeggios might as well have been chords. What a waste of Coventry Cathedral's finest. He also played an improvisation on the studio piano. Dreadful. Anodyne and aimless.

 

I recorded his Prom on Sunday but doubt that I shall ever bother to play it.

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WM was interviewed on R3's "In Tune" last Friday and a recording of him playing The Finale from Widor V (what else...) was aired. Dreadful. It was played so fast that the rh arpeggios might as well have been chords. What a waste of Coventry Cathedral's finest. He also played an improvisation on the studio piano. Dreadful. Anodyne and aimless.

 

I recorded his Prom on Sunday but doubt that I shall ever bother to play it.

 

Hi

 

The Lemare transcriptions from the Proms weren't too bad - although I was doing something else at the same time and not listening critically. My first thought was that he'd slowed down somewhat! The improvisations didn't really register - I had to deal with a phone call!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

The Lemare transcriptions from the Proms weren't too bad - although I was doing something else at the same time and not listening critically. My first thought was that he'd slowed down somewhat! The improvisations didn't really register - I had to deal with a phone call!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

 

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

 

Carlo Curley can hold a conversation while PLAYING the organ. Lewis Hamilton can talk to his Race Manager at 200mph, and I knew a School Secretary who could talk, type with one hand and reach into the filing cabinet at the same time. (The lady gets the prize!)

 

I don't think you're trying hard enough! :o

 

MM

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

Carlo Curley can hold a conversation while PLAYING the organ. Lewis Hamilton can talk to his Race Manager at 200mph, and I knew a School Secretary who could talk, type with one hand and reach into the filing cabinet at the same time. (The lady gets the prize!)

 

I don't think you're trying hard enough! :o

:lol:

 

Apparently Prokoviev could read a novel, practise the piano and listen to the radio/tv all at the same time.

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Hi

 

The Lemare transcriptions from the Proms weren't too bad - although I was doing something else at the same time and not listening critically. My first thought was that he'd slowed down somewhat! The improvisations didn't really register - I had to deal with a phone call!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

I've just listened to some of it. The Lemare was OK but WM afterwards said that, in essence, it was too difficult for him and that his partner had to pick out the main theme of Tannhauser for him. Short thumbs or wide gaps between the manuals?

 

I sat through about 10 minutes of the improvisation on themes from Tristan & Isolde and could stand no more. Unremittingly dull just about sums it up for me.

 

We all know that the BBC top brass has an allergy to organ music and that any organ music they deign to give us in the Proms is to fill a gap in the afternoon schedule to mark some anniversary or other - Messiaen last year and Wagner this time and both from a performer who could, frankly, be bettered by any number of artists.

 

I just wish that the BBC could be persuaded to timetable a proper organ concert in the Proms with something from the C17 up to today. Anyone on here could come up with a crowd pleasing programme without resorting to lollipops and those toccatas and also suggest a list of performers who would play the works sympathetically and musically. The RAH organ is a tremendous resource and deserves to be better used than it currently is.

 

P

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Ignoring the state of the organ I think this is appalling and I can't understand why this gentleman is so lauded.

 

One hardly knows what to say or think about this. The word shocking comes to mind. Having never heard this much lauded player until now, is this performance typical of his usual standard ? Perhaps an attack of nerves caused him to play faster than he was able and to so mis-represent the composer's intent. False notes notwithstanding, he is very free with the score, at least as I know it.

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This is a bit off topic as it has nothing whatsoever to do with the organ - except that I can't help feeling that there are quite a few of us who could benefit from being as involved in our music as this young chap:

http://video.tiscali.it/canali/Musica/54767.html

 

 

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

 

 

Neither has this got anything to do with the organ but for sheer musical entertainment, just astonishing.

 

Stay with this to the end and be amazed.

 

 

:o

 

They don't make 'em like that anymore.

 

And how about this for superb?

 

:o

 

MM

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Here is a nice 19th century organ in the Netherlands, at the Oude Kerk, Delft.

 

More importantly, this is a rather fine work, which appears in two clips. It is a set of variations by the late Cor Kee, and in the second clip there is the most exquisite "Adagio" which, on its' own, would make a delightful piece in a recital; such is the quality of the harmony and the beauty of the melody.

 

 

 

 

I am genuinely pleased to have discovered this. Is it in print I wonder?

 

MM

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Concerning Virgil Fox, I have contemplated posting the following on this thread, and have now decided to put my head above the parapet, and am quite expecting to be shot down for having "bad taste". For a really moving performance, see http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=JSbNgX1_-SA. I think that most people will have the same initial negative reaction as I had. However, upon subsequent listenings, I've really grown to appreciate this, especially considering the circumstances of its performance. I think it displays a really fine sense of musicianship, and a really skillful organist, and I've gone back to listen to it several times.

 

Don't apologise. In 1959 I was playing at a Presbyterian church in Vancouver, B.C. A newly-arrived minister said "We'll get Fox here". I had my doubts and said "we couldn't afford him and he wouldn't play on this awful instrument" I was wrong on one count and right on the other. He only charged $200 but did say he'd never had to work so hard on a worn-out console. Needless to say he slotted in the Middelschulte Perpetuum Mobile based on the 'Wedge' Fugue subject, culminating in three-part chords for two feet alone. A YouTube recording, made in Japan at the time when his cancer was advancing is still available. (Do a search for it). The restlessness of the audience during his speech is worth noting. (They had no conception of the artistry involved which they would see and hear in a few minutes time; but he won them over).

 

I note that Saturday August 14th a a Bach Prom Day and that Fox's arrangement of 'Come Sweet Death' is being played. Try it.

 

Good wishes David Rogers, Somerset

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Concerning Virgil Fox, I have contemplated posting the following on this thread, and have now decided to put my head above the parapet, and am quite expecting to be shot down for having "bad taste". For a really moving performance, see http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=JSbNgX1_-SA. I think that most people will have the same initial negative reaction as I had. However, upon subsequent listenings, I've really grown to appreciate this, especially considering the circumstances of its performance. I think it displays a really fine sense of musicianship, and a really skillful organist, and I've gone back to listen to it several times.

 

Don't apologise. In 1959 I was playing at a Presbyterian church in Vancouver, B.C. A newly-arrived minister said "We'll get Fox here". I had my doubts and said "we couldn't afford him and he wouldn't play on this awful instrument" I was wrong on one count and right on the other. He only charged $200 but did say he'd never had to work so hard on a worn-out console. Needless to say he slotted in the Middelschulte Perpetuum Mobile based on the 'Wedge' Fugue subject, culminating in three-part chords for two feet alone. A YouTube recording, made in Japan at the time when his cancer was advancing is still available. (Do a search for it). The restlessness of the audience during his speech is worth noting. (They had no conception of the artistry involved which they would see and hear in a few minutes time; but he won them over).

 

I note that Saturday August 14th a a Bach Prom Day and that Fox's arrangement of 'Come Sweet Death' is being played. Try it.

 

Good wishes David Rogers, Somerset

 

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

 

 

Perhaps I may be in a minority of one, (now two apparently), in admiring what Fox did, but I would never play almost anything the way he did; even assuming that I had the technique to play some of the things he tackled.

 

I know that our friend Frank Fowler once described Fox as a "communicator," and there is no doubt but that he connected and communicated with his audiences and (literally) his camp followers. To many, (especially young people), he was and remained an inspiration; among them a number of quite outstanding present-day organists. (Carlo Curley perhaps being the one we know best).

 

It is, of course, impossible to sum up the man in a few words or even a few lines, but the essence of Fox may well be found in the words of his principal tutor, Middelschulte, who said something to the effect that, "the job of a musician is to "touch the hearts of people", and to achieve this is to achieve something."

 

It's easy to make sweeping statements, but the world of Fox was really the world of technicolor blockbusters, the success of military endeavours, the optimism of a scientific and technological age, American supremacy, unlimited resources and a country riding high on the crest of a wave. As I've stated previously; from Model T Ford to the Moon and back, in just a couple of generations.....a staggering human and technological achievement by any standards.

 

Look at the organs Fox played. Lightning fast electric actions, multiple enclosed divisions, organs scattered in the far corners and galleries of churches, big chamades, massive pedal reeds, heavy pressures and a mass of foundation tone. Even the organ blowers were big pieces of industrial-scale equipment.

 

 

That was just the RH organ-chamber blowers.....225HP in action!

 

These mighty behemoths were essentially orchestral in nature; offering an unrivalled pallet of expressive registers and a quite earthshaking tutti. With big show-organs in some of the basket-ball stadia, civic halls, countless cinemas and even theme parks and private homes; the orchestral organ had both a big following and many skilled exponents of the art. It was, without doubt, principally an age of style and orchestral effect.

 

Fox was not alone, but he was probably the greater showman of them all, but we must never forget the likes of Clarence Eddy, the great showmen of the cinemas and Englishmen abroad like Edwin Lemare. It had its parallel in England of course, but never to quite the same degree, and perhaps the most famous exponents of the showman style were George Pattman with his touring pipe-organ, George Thalben-Ball, Goss-Custard (I forget which one), and the unusual talents of Reginald Foorte and Quentin Maclean; the latter two of the more famous theatre/cinema organists. Even to-day, we have an organist like David Briggs, who can fairly entertain with orchestral transcriptions and showy improvisations.

 

The $6,000,000 question is whether Virgil Fox represented "poor taste" or not, and each must judge according to their own musical values, but I can state with confidence that Virgil Fox was a supreme technician with an extraordinary ability to "touch the hearts" of his listeners with a quite extraordinary grasp of the enormous instruments over which he presided. In referring to questions of "musical taste," perhaps it works both ways. Is the organist who prostitutes the art of orchestral music, by playing symphonic transcriptions, any better or worse than an organist who plays baroque organ-music symphonically?

 

The latter possibly contains more musical honesty than the former.

 

Even in his own lifetime, Fox had his critics, and the polarities of divided opinion centered around the virtuoso, showman style of Fox and his adherents, and the extraordinary scholarship and historical research based in the NE American area. This included Harvard and Yale Universities, which attracted some of the greatest and most authoritative minds of the age, such as Ralph Kirkpatrick and Wili Apel, as well as the English-born organist Edward Power-Biggs. E Power-Biggs became the champion of the new "historically informed" approach to early-music organ performance in America; personally funding first a neo-classical (electric action) organ built by G Donald-Harrison, and later, an all mechanical-action instrument by Dirk Flentrop, which we know as the Busch-Reisenger organ at Harvard. In many ways, this instrument typifies the extraordinary success and endeavours of the early-music movement, which started in earnest with Karl Dolmetsch, inspired thorough and extensive research in America, (and elsewhere), and led to our appreciation for performances which are "historically informed."

 

It says something, that 30 after his death, Virgil Fox still divides opinion. I suspect that Fox would be proud of the fact that even now, his recordings "still touch the hearts of listeners"...........some to deride and pity, and other to revere a powerful performing style.

 

Virgil Fox wrote:-

 

"There is current in our land (and several European countries) at this moment a kind of nitpicking worship of historic impotence. They say that Bach must not be interpreted and that he must have no emotion, that his notes speak for themselves. You want to know what that is? Pure unadulterated rot! Bach has the red blood. He has the communion with the people. He has all of this amazing spirit. And imagine that you could put all the music on one side of the agenda with his great interpretation and great feeling and put the greatest man of all right up on top of a dusty shelf underneath some glass case in a museum and say that he must not be interpreted! They're full of you-know-what and they're so untalented that they have to hide behind this thing because they couldn't get in the house of music any other way!"

 

I wonder why my heart-beat rose when I first read the above?

 

I guess Virgil Fox was "touching my heart" from beyond the grave.

 

Listen for yourselves to this "Red blooded organist."

 

http://www.publicradio.org/tools/media/pla...pedreams?ext=rm

 

MM

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Perhaps I may be in a minority of one, (now two apparently), in admiring what Fox did, but I would never play almost anything the way he did; even assuming that I had the technique to play some of the things he tackled.

That makes three of us, MM.

 

I must confess that I find

incredibly moving. Probably my favourite recording of VF on YouTube, in fact.

 

I also find the clip which David Rogers recommends to be quite moving upon several repeated hearings over the last year or so, although I was originally quite appalled by it. However, the rather sentimental story given by some of those who have commented on the clip doesn't quite fit the facts, as a little research will reveal. But, in my humble opinion, it's quite a moving performance if one is able to suspend one's idea of 'good taste' for about seven minutes or so. However, I do wish the soprano had been gagged!

 

As for playing in VF's style, I think that there are times when it's quite appropriate. I play his arrangement of 'Come, Sweet Death' entirely in his style, and can't envisage any other way of performing it. Audiences seem to love it too! I grew up with a recording of him playing BWV 532 in his own rather unique style and find that most other performances of this rather weak work pall into insignificance in comparison (excepting a superb performance by Simon Preston at Exeter Cathedral 20 years or so ago which had me pinned to the pew), and find that this style of performance goes down well with audiences and keeps them interested in a work which is rather more fun playing than hearing. Indeed, I took a bit of a risk when I finished my FTCL recital a few years ago with this work performed - unashamedly! - in the style of VF, and had both examiners (one of whom is well known in our circle) rise to their feet and applaud vigorously at the end. Thank goodness they weren't 'purists' - that group so vociferously loathed by VF! And thank goodness that they were evidently blind to my probable various technical weaknesses too! :o

 

VF - despite all his 'defects' of taste - managed to bring in people to hear the organ who would have otherwise shied away from an organ recital, and got them to want to come again. The organ world needs more like him and I, for one, am happy to try my humble best to do likewise.

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Here is what sounds like an arrangement of Flight of the Bumblebees for our favourite instrument: The Vuvuzela!

 

 

I hear it will be on a new CD to come out shortly named 'Vuvuzela Mood' :o

I can't stand these people who take liberties with the score. There are no dynamic variations marked there! Bloody artists. :angry:

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Here is what sounds like an arrangement of Flight of the Bumblebees for our favourite instrument: The Vuvuzela!

 

 

I hear it will be on a new CD to come out shortly named 'Vuvuzela Mood' :o

 

 

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

 

 

I've heard that P D Q Bach is writing a Double Concerto for Aardvark and Vuvuzela with rythmic counterpoint, dedicated to David and Victoria Beckham. Victoria Beckham will be principal Vuvuzelist, and she hopes to be able to blow a horn in time for the next world cup. The Aardvark part will be more complex, and for the moment, Beckham and the composer are kicking a few ideas around.

 

MM

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Heinz Wunderlich in a Reger fugue on the Berliner Dom

Sauer organ:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMM7x3qUm34

 

Floppy pneumatic action, muddy tones ?

Hear for yourselves ! :rolleyes:

 

Pierre

 

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

 

 

This I find fascinating, because I can recall Heinz Wunderlich from around 1970 or so, when some of his German concerts were broadcast on Radio 3. The one that most sticks in my memory was a magnificent broadcast from the Meistersangerhalle in Nuremburg (Steinmeyer organ?), when he performed (as might be expected), a big Reger work or two.

 

He must be around 90 years of age now, which begs me to ask when this recording was made?

 

Perhaps I have got it all wrong, but what condition was the organ in if this is an old recording?

 

Lest we forget, this was the church which was badly affected by blast from an allied bomb, and lost much of the dome when a bomb hit it and set it alight. I don'#t know the full history, but didn't the organ remain exposed to the elements for a very long time?

 

Am I also correct in believing that the Saeur organ has been completely renovated recently?

 

As for those "dull" tones, they sound marvellous to my ears.

 

Thanks for posting this Pierre.

 

MM

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Hello,

He must be around 90 years of age now, which begs me to ask when this recording was made?

Wunderlich was born 1919.

I'm not sure if the sound is that of the Sauer organ at Berlin Dom. Wunderlich recorded in 1989 at St. Michael, Schwäbisch Hall, Reger op. 57. The CD from Berlin Dome is from 1999 and contains op. 46, op. 59/9 and op. 127. No op. 57. Two possibilities: the attribute Berlin Dome is not correct or the recording is older than 1989.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

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Hello,

 

Wunderlich was born 1919.

I'm not sure if the sound is that of the Sauer organ at Berlin Dom. Wunderlich recorded in 1989 at St. Michael, Schwäbisch Hall, Reger op. 57. The CD from Berlin Dome is from 1999 and contains op. 46, op. 59/9 and op. 127. No op. 57. Two possibilities: the attribute Berlin Dome is not correct or the recording is older than 1989.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

 

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

 

 

Thanks for that, which further deepens my suspicions. It wouldn't be the first time that an attribution is wrong, and it is so annoying. However, the YouTube poster "Stefano" has many other recordings on YouTube, and they all seem to be acurately described.

 

The mystery deepens, even if it good to hear a big German Romantic organ in full flight, wherever it may be.

 

MM

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

 

 

Thanks for that, which further deepens my suspicions. It wouldn't be the first time that an attribution is wrong, and it is so annoying. However, the YouTube poster "Stefano" has many other recordings on YouTube, and they all seem to be acurately described.

 

The mystery deepens, even if it good to hear a big German Romantic organ in full flight, wherever it may be.

 

MM

 

Hello!

 

This recording was indeed made by Heinz Wunderlich at the Tzschöckel-organ at Schwäbisch Hall. The recording is available at organum classics.

 

Regards

Karsten

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