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Hello,

The hymn "Zu Bethlehem geboren" in Cologne Cathedral. Is this a Christmas hymn (could be, judging by the title) or one that can be sung at any time of year?

yes, it is a Christmas hymn, and, no, it can't be sung at any time of the year.

The text goes down to the gregorian chant "Puer natus est" which is the introitus of Christmas.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

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Two more from Cologne:

 

Firstly that well known piece by JS Bach - the Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, as played by Wilfried Boenig to the attendees of a Marketing Science Conference on 17-Jun-2010. Pity this doesn't have the whole piece and being there for that must have been great. However I would like to know what reed stops were used at 7:22.

 

Secondly, another clip with Wilfried Boenig but this time the piece is "Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir" (JS Bach BWV29 from 1731) from the Ratswahlkantate. Again, great sounding piece.

 

 

Enjoy.

Dave

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Secondly, another clip with Wilfried Boenig but this time the piece is "Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir" (JS Bach BWV29 from 1731) from the Ratswahlkantate. Again, great sounding piece.

 

 

Enjoy.

Dave

 

All those people talking. Still, I bet they shut up when the West Tubas came in at the end!

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All those people talking. Still, I bet they shut up when the West Tubas came in at the end!

 

Not so sure, they didn't struck me as impressive as eg. the Royals in St.Pauls, nice yes, but in a 'Oh stand up, it's the Queen' way ...

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Not so sure, they didn't struck me as impressive as eg. the Royals in St.Pauls, nice yes, but in a 'Oh stand up, it's the Queen' way ...

 

I suppose they're tubas rather than free-toned trumpets and, as PWH says, the recording's rather crap. Also, the Royal Trumpets at St Paul's are, in my opinion, exceptional.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

By way of an antidote to all the jolly tunes that we'll be playing over the next few weeks.

 

Don't forget that Schönberg's piece also has a

. One may find the "Variations on a recitative" not particularly appealing, but it is still a fascinating piece of music.

 

M

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I suppose they're tubas rather than free-toned trumpets and, as PWH says, the recording's rather crap. Also, the Royal Trumpets at St Paul's are, in my opinion, exceptional.

 

I've heard them in the Cologne Dom, they're ok, but found the (acoustic) 64' WAY more impressive ;-)

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I've heard them in the Cologne Dom, they're ok, but found the (acoustic) 64' WAY more impressive ;-)

 

I haven't heard the Vox Balaena 64' live, but I believe I may have heard it on a recording (yes, I know that defies all logic!) and I, too, thought it very impressive especially as the source (32' wooden Principal) isn't particularly large, is on a relatively low pressure, and there is no separate 21 1/3'.

 

As for the tubas, I agree. I wonder whether these were 'experimental' in a way, as Klais (and as far as I know no other German builders) have no real experience with such high pressure reeds as have firms such as Willis and others. They're not unpleasant (to me at least), but I'd rather they'd asked Manders to put in something like the Royal Trumpets at St Paul's!

 

On that point, I'd like to say that all the tubas at St Paul's are, in my opinion, the prime examples of 'party horns' that I have heard, and there is such a variety as well:

 

- the Willis tubas 8' and 4'

- the new Mander tubas in the dome section - 16' 8' 4' *

- the Trompette Militaire 8' discussed recently on this board which, of course, came from America, and

- the Royal Trumpets 16' 8' 4' I mentioned above.

 

* I haven't heard these live either, but I remember many years ago hearing their predecessors (by Willis). I can't even remember who the organist was on that occasion, but the naughty man began his recital with a chord played on these causing me to jump out of my skin.

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All those people talking. Still, I bet they shut up when the West Tubas came in at the end!

 

 

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

 

 

That wasn't applause at the end. That was the sound of 2,000 people clapping their hands over their ears. :P

 

Why is the organ so hideously out of tune?

 

MM

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featuring Mark Thallander (apologies if it has appeared here before). This is at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles.

 

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

 

 

Mark Thallander certainly didn't let the car accident end his organ-playing.

 

Wasn't he at the Crystal Cathedral then?

 

I remember hearing about it at the time with horror.

 

A courageous man who has overcome much.

 

MM

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  • 3 weeks later...

King's under Boris:

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

I love the way he beats time for the solo verse of "Once in Royal," and the boy completely ignores it.....quite rightly.

 

I'm sure it was perfect, but all that hooting and lifeless singing rather turns me off.

 

I feel sure that had I been there, I would have been bored until I fell asleep.

 

I'm not sure if the plural "a hill of ruffs" applies, considering the Harrison re-build under Boris Ord, but it amuses me, as do so many trivial things.

 

I think things must have been refreshingly better under Sir David Wilcocks.

 

MM

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I have a DVD which includes this 1954 carol service, the televised 2000 one and a lovely conversation between messrs Ledger, Willcocks and Cleobury. It's worth getting the DVD to hear this conversation. I also have a CD of Kings under Boris Ord singing Evensong to music by Stanford and Hadley. I cannot for the life of me understand why nostalgists claim that Kings under Ord was good; on this film of 1954 (the first Kings carol service ever to be televised) to me both the men and boys are awful. The solo boy in Once in Royal is Rodney Williams who ended up as senior lay clerk at Westminster Abbey and who was unnecessarily ridiculed in the autobiography of one of his colleagues there.

 

To me, Kings were at their best in the early Willcocks days but like all the choirs the sound has changed dramatically over the years and will continue to change. It's all a matter of personal taste and people will continue arguing about it until judgment day. The present choir seems to sing well in spite of their conductor's strange gesticulations..

 

Malcolm

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Having, at last, found the sign-in field, I have to say that, on listening again, I cannot recognise the comments above. The sheer sense of line in the singing in addition to the sense and proportion of every word from the choir is a lesson in choral unity. It is also wonderful to observe that less can be far more in conducting a well drilled choir.

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Re King's with Boris: I'm with MM this time. 'Once in Royal',,, incredible. I'd got bored before the fourth verse.

Moving on a bit... 'Up good christen folk' is quite lively, and 'Sing Lullaby' is as good as anyone could hope for.

The whole service lasts less than 45 minutes... now 90!!

 

Looking at the clothing, I suspect it was very very cold. Not good for virtuoso playing, to say the least.

Maybe the organist had a paraffin heater to keep his fingers warm?

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I'm sure it was perfect, but all that hooting and lifeless singing rather turns me off.

 

I feel sure that had I been there, I would have been bored until I fell asleep.

 

I'm not sure I feel that badly about it, but I know what you mean. The thing that struck me was that that the choir produced basically the same sound all the way through, quite a lovely sound (and even lovelier had the tuning been better), but all monochrome, rather restrained and rarely rising to anything resembling drama (heaven forbid such histrionics in church!) I suppose it's the musical equivalent of those people who believe that the scriptures should be read aloud in a flat tone without any hint of personal interpretation.

 

I think things must have been refreshingly better under Sir David Wilcocks.

 

Oh yes!

 

The present choir seems to sing well in spite of their conductor's strange gesticulations.

 

On a general point, I find it strange how few cathedral DoMs (at least among the ones I have seen) seem able to conduct with any proper technique -- which is strange because I would have thought they must all have been taught the rudiments of conducting as students. I guess the Three Choirs folk must be OK (I have never seen them). I have played for more than one choral director who apparently thinks it perfectly acceptable style to beat four down beats in a bar of 4/4 (or, sometimes, even 3/4!) and who then looks reproachingly at you when (as has happened once or twice), because of a vast ritenuto, you end up playing the last chord on the penultimate beat. And as for beating clearly and imparting expression at the same time, well forget it. As far as our cathedrals go, you'd think that, given the shortage of practice time (at least with the men), the DoMs would give some priority to conducting technique. Yet how often are singers taught to respond to a conductor in the way orchestral musicians routinely do? Never? So perhaps it's of little practical moment. Perhaps it's down to each choral unit living in its own little world where everyone understands each other's little foibles. If it works for them I suppose it is, as my revered teacher used to say, "sufficient unto the day" -- but proper conducting it ain't. I do currently have the honour of working on and off with two first rate choral conductors who really do know what they are doing -- but neither are mainstream cathedral musicians.

 

There is a school (the anti-histrionics one) that very strongly believes that conductors in church should be as inconspicuous as possible. They would approve of Sir William Henry Harris, who conducted with the minutest of hand movements. It seems his choir at St George's, Windsor, might not have agreed. On one occasion the legendary alto C. F. ("Simmy") Simkins remarked to his equally legendary colleague Freddie Hodgson, "Oh look, Freddie, he's brought his knitting!"

 

Personally I take the view that a choir's job is to make music and, to this end, a conductor's is to jolly well conduct. Properly.

 

On the other hand, I have written before about my own conducting "prowess" and have no intention of dredging up the embarrassing offence here.

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Talking of cathedral organists conducting, I rather like this account of S. S. Wesley conducting Mendelssohn's Piano concerto no.1 at the 1865 Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester:

 

"The music went on well enough in such accustomed hands as those of the pianist and the ‘leader,’ the Doctor’s beat being little regarded – a circumstance which did not appear to trouble him. Gradually Wesley’s face lightened and beamed. The music having hold of him, presently took entire possession. He swayed from side to side, he put down the baton, treated himself to a pinch of snuff with an air of exquisite enjoyment, and then sat motionless, listening. Meanwhile Blagrove conducted with his violin-bow."

 

Back to the King's video, I was most interested to see the young Nigel Rogers. I remember him as a member of Musica Reservata in the 1960s, during a concert of music by Dufay, singing blisteringly fast roulades in Resveillés vous with the most amazingly clear articulation. I've never heard anything like it before or since. And his rendition of Adieu, ces bons vins de Lannoy just reduced me to a glob of goo on the floor. I've got them both on vinyl somewhere.

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Talking of cathedral organists conducting, I rather like this account of S. S. Wesley conducting Mendelssohn's Piano concerto no.1 at the 1865 Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester:

 

 

"The music went on well enough in such accustomed hands as those of the pianist and the ‘leader,’ the Doctor’s beat being little regarded – a circumstance which did not appear to trouble him. Gradually Wesley’s face lightened and beamed. The music having hold of him, presently took entire possession. He swayed from side to side, he put down the baton, treated himself to a pinch of snuff with an air of exquisite enjoyment, and then sat motionless, listening. Meanwhile Blagrove conducted with his violin-bow."

 

Back to the King's video, I was most interested to see the young Nigel Rogers. I remember him as a member of Musica Reservata in the 1960s, during a concert of music by Dufay, singing blisteringly fast roulades in Resveillés vous with the most amazingly clear articulation. I've never heard anything like it before or since. And his rendition of Adieu, ces bons vins de Lannoy just reduced me to a glob of goo on the floor. I've got them both in vinyl somewhere.

 

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

 

 

Like so many of my generation, I have nothing but unbounded admiration for Dr Francis Jackson, both as an organist and a composer. However, when it came to choir-training, I suspect that he did it because he was obliged to do it.

 

I recall JSW telling me that at his best, FJ was one of the finest choir trainers he'd ever encountered, but that the best was very rare.

 

He got around the problem of conducting by means of the single expedient of conducting everything in circles....3/4, 4/4,6/8, 5/8. 11/12....nothing was a problem.

 

Then he would tell the choir to, "Follow the beat."

 

Pure genius!

 

I remember a carol service at York, when the choir assembled to the west of the great screen, and they sang an introit carol. FJ conucted in circles as always, but the whole thing rather fell apart for whatever reason. Amusingly, after it ended (after a fashion), FJ just kept on waving his hands in circles, but more in the manner of a farmer gathering together and driving errant geese. Still waving his hands, the choir quickly went through the screen and out of sight.

 

It's when you've sung in a choir with the likes of the late Martin How at the helm, you realise your own inadequacies. His conducting was as accurate as a Bisley marksman in the height of battle.

 

Some people have it, and some people don't.

 

I don't...........

 

On the subject of scriptural intonation in a flat monotone, I recall a prominent Anglican clergyman from my school-days, who would recite "He that hath ears to ear, let him hear" in such a way that it came out as, "He that hath years to year let him year."

 

 

 

 

MM

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"It's when you've sung in a choir with the likes of the late Martin How at the helm, you realise your own inadequacies."

 

Happily not yet "late"!

 

From Croydon Minster web site . . .

The music department is led by the Organist & Master of the Choristers, Andrew Cantrill. Andrew was previously Director of Music at Grimsby Parish Church (the only parish church in the country to have its own choir school); the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, New Zealand; and St Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, NY, USA. Andrew is assisted at the organ by Tom Little (Sub-Organist), Martin How (Organist Laureate) and by two organ scholars: Sophie Winter and David Warren.

 

RAC

 

 

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"It's when you've sung in a choir with the likes of the late Martin How at the helm, you realise your own inadequacies."

 

Happily not yet "late"!

 

From Croydon Minster web site . . .

The music department is led by the Organist & Master of the Choristers, Andrew Cantrill. Andrew was previously Director of Music at Grimsby Parish Church (the only parish church in the country to have its own choir school); the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, New Zealand; and St Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, NY, USA. Andrew is assisted at the organ by Tom Little (Sub-Organist), Martin How (Organist Laureate) and by two organ scholars: Sophie Winter and David Warren.

 

RAC

 

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

 

 

Oh dear!

 

I am genuinely delighted that Martin How is still with us.....a magnificent choir-trainer.

 

One should never assume, but I think I was perhaps 16 when Martin How conducted an RSCM festival, which must be 45 + years or so ago, and he must have been drawing towards middle age at the time.

 

I'm sure he will get over it, as I did, when Simon Lindley announced my death! :lol:

 

I was more concerned that no-one wrote an obituary. :(

 

MM

 

 

PS: I#ve discovered that Martin How was born in 1931; making him 80 years of age. So he must have been about 35 when I last saw him!

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