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Mander Organs
Pierre Lauwers

Herbert Howells

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We need to know the authentic, not to impone it everywhere at all,

but simply as a reference.

This reference we may not forget.

I like very much some Bach pieces by Virgil Fox.

But what if we knew only these?

The more we shall know about Bach, the more we

shall enjoy other ways of interpreting his music.

We just need backups!

Pierre

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An equal partnership ???
I'm wary of a one size fits all approach. As you say yourself, the important thing is to make music. But this really belongs to the thread we had a short while back about what exactly it is that constitutes the composer's composition. You can argue that, unless you play BWV544 exactly as Bach would have played it, it ceases to be BWV544 - because the composition is the sound, not the dots on the page. But you can also maintain that this is all rather a sterile argument!

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"Aren't organs just good bad or indifferent as musical instruments? Shouldn't we concern ourselves with how well they do the job they were built to do more than being in this style or that style."

 

(Quote)

 

This is of course a worthwile viewpoint.

But others are possible: the problem is: who will judge the good/bad/ugly?

 

Probably Clint Eastwood. However, pray continue....

 

The history shows this vary with time, so we need some care.

Norbert Dufourcq wanted to "better" all Cavaillé-Coll organs...

My viewpoint is: All organs styles are worth preservation, the job they

are asked for is second!

Now what is in a "style"? I agree this is questionnable, it will never fit

the reality.

And yes in french Néo-classique= eclectic (but pre 1978)

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

I would still hold to the view that it is dangerous to try to pigeon-hole any particular instrument (from any particular country).

 

Who is to say, for example, that you are correct in your declaration that ..."yes in french Néo-classique= eclectic (but pre 1978)"? I am not proposing to do any research at the moment (I have just got in from work and I am so hungry I am about to eat my jumper....)

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Hmmm. Then we are agreed - eclectic it is.

 

There is a wonderful hymn by Frederick Faber 'There's a wideness in God's mercy' which has the verses :

 

For the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind,

and the heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind.

But we make his love too narrow by false limits of our own;

and we magnify his strictness with a zeal he will not own.

 

This could apply to categorising organs into "styles".

 

Aren't organs just good bad or indifferent as musical instruments? Shouldn't we concern ourselves with how well they do the job they were built to do more than being in this style or that style.

 

We all have preferences, and mine would be that if we had 100 instruments preserved around the country for the perfect performance of the music of Herbert Howells that would probably be 97 or 98 too many. And I suspect that HH would have been one of the first to agree ... and, by the way, in terms of organ music Bach was his hero!

 

Absolutely, Mr. Lucas. Excellent points!

 

I agree that the ability to do the job which it is requred to do is more important than whether the instrument slavishly follows a particular style - or even whether it has a stylistic unity.

 

Worcester is a case in point. (Yes, I know - but no-one has mentioned it for weeks. I was going to try to give-up mentioning this one for Lent, but I am sorry, I am human - and weak - I just could not resist.)

 

Anyway, as I said, Worcester is a good example. On paper, it appeared to be a hotch-potch collection of pipework of varying degrees of eccentricity. Aurally, it was something quite different. Apart from the fact that, accompanimentally speaking, it did everything which I wished it to do, for the playing of pieces, improvisations and overall sound it was, in my opinion, superb. It appeared to have no style - unless one would allow 'Heinz'®.

 

Anyway, I am off grazing for a short while - be back soon.

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We need to know the authentic, not to impone it everywhere at all,

but simply as a reference.

Pierre

 

However, as others have said - this may well prove to be impossible. There just is not enough verified information, for example, about exactly how JSB would have played any particular piece - or, for that matter, whether he would have adjusted his performance to suit a particular instrument and the space to be filled.

 

I agree with those contributors who have reservations about so-called authenticity. Since, in many cases, this may be unattainable, surely a musical (and, of course, informed - insofar as is possible) performance is of far greater value than whether the organ was hand-blown, whether one eschewed the use of inter-departmental couplers or whether one had a strictly theoretical approach to registration.

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I'm wary of a one size fits all approach. As you say yourself, the important thing is to make music. But this really belongs to the thread we had a short while back about what exactly it is that constitutes the composer's composition. You can argue that, unless you play BWV544 exactly as Bach would have played it, it ceases to be BWV544 - because the composition is the sound, not the dots on the page. But you can also maintain that this is all rather a sterile argument!

 

I would certainly agree this is most likely to be a sterile argument because (1) we have , to my knowledge, no evidence that would not be ruled inadmissible as being hearsay, as to how Bach played BWV544, and even less as to whether how he did play it was how he wanted to play it , but was prevented from so doing by the fact that he was feeling a bit off-colour that day, part of the organ was playing up and could not be used etc etc!!! (2) different historians tell different stories, eg David Irvine has a somewhat different view of the holocaust from that held by many others. If this is true of events within living memory, then it is even more likely to be true of events for which eye witness testimony is no longer available.

 

I entirely endorse your reluctance to embrace a one size fits all approach so I doubt the views we actually hold are radically different. I am sorry if my initial posting did not make it sufficiently clear that I was not suggesting you personally were hung up on "authenticity". In my experience unswerving devotion to a particular point of view tends to be largely (but not exclusively) associated with the very youthful: experience of life normally leads to a greater appreciation of the necessity of compromise in many things in order to keep the show on the road to the best advantage of all.

 

Best wishes

 

BAC

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Reger = drunk - this is well-documented. I doubt that even his great friend Straube would have attempted to disabuse someone who thought this!

 

If you want him sober, take his op. 59 pieces (including the famous "Benedictus"). He wrote them in two weeks' time, one piece a day, taking the Sundays off. He was under close surveillance from his family then, who had only just saved him from drowning completely in Wiesbaden.

 

Another sober piece would be the op. 73 variations (I just love the Donald Joyce recording). He wrote them in Munich when he was forced to demonstrate

 

1) to his family that he could get along without them,

2) to his wife that he could make a living as a composer, even if she was protestant,

3) to himself that Munich was the place for him to be, him competing with the well-established cliques of the time.

 

Of course, he soon started drinking afterwards again. His wife used to clubber him with umbrellas for this.

 

Cheers,

Friedrich

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No offence taken, Brian! :unsure: As you say, I doubt our views are really very far apart. I would merely add that I don't think the impossibility of achieving an authentic performance should be taken as carte blanche for ignoring what we do know about how pieces would have been played. To do so is, I think, dishonest to both the music and the composer.

 

M. Pierre-Cochereau-Notre-Dame has got it right in his post above. These days early music performers are cagey about claiming to be authentic. Rather, everything is now HIP ("historically informed performance").

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If you want him sober, take his op. 59 pieces (including the famous "Benedictus"). He wrote them in two weeks' time, one piece a day, taking the Sundays off. He was under close surveillance from his family then, who had only just saved him from drowning completely in Wiesbaden.

 

Another sober piece would be the op. 73 variations (I just love the Donald Joyce recording). He wrote them in Munich when he was forced to demonstrate

 

1) to his family that he could get along without them,

2) to his wife that he could make a living as a composer, even if she was protestant,

3) to himself that Munich was the place for him to be, him competing with the well-established cliques of the time.

 

Of course, he soon started drinking afterwards again. His wife used to clubber him with umbrellas for this.

 

Cheers,

Friedrich

 

 

Fascinating, Friedrich!

 

But - his Wife!? Now that little fact had eluded me.

 

My favourite pieces (from Op. 59) are the Toccata and Fugue, in D minor/major (Nos. 5 and 6). I particularly like the final pedal entry of the Fugue. I am even currently recalling to mind an old LP of Hazel Davies (wife of and Assistant Organist to David Gedge at Brecon Cathedral) playing these two works at Bangor Cathedral. The final pedal entry - with the old Hill Contra Trombone (with one of the notes in the lowest octave 'off'!) thundering away, is just something to make your toes clench in your shoes - as you go "Phwaarrrrrr!!!" Bloody marvellous stuff.

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I do love constructive ambiguity. My favourite is the (apocryphal) reference: "You will indeed be fortunate if you can get this man to work for you."

 

BAC

 

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

 

 

:D

 

My personal favourite came from the lips of an old lady in the Yorkshire Dales.

 

Whenever I visited and then departed, she would always say the same thing:-

 

"It'll be nice to see yer back!"

 

I'm sure she was being completely sincere, but I precisely in what way, I remain unsure.

 

:unsure:

 

MM

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

:D

 

My personal favourite came from the lips of an old lady in the Yorkshire Dales.

 

Whenever I visited and then departed, she would always say the same thing:-

 

"It'll be nice to see yer back!"

 

I'm sure she was being completely sincere, but I precisely in what way, I remain unsure.

 

:unsure:

 

MM

 

You have to watch old ladies.

 

There is a sweet, innocent-looking octogenarian in our church congregation, who is very supportive of the music. She is also very supportive of my playing. In fact, she once sent me a Valentine's Day card. I cannot here describe what was on the front cover - suffice it to say that it concerned 'head' - but not in the vocal sense - well not aurally, at any rate.

 

Possibly the most unnerving part of the experience was that she clearly knew exactly what it was all about....

 

:D

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No offence taken, Brian!  :unsure:  As you say, I doubt our views are really very far apart. I would merely add that I don't think the impossibility of achieving an authentic performance should be taken as carte blanche for ignoring what we do know about how pieces would have been played. To do so is, I think, dishonest to both the music and the composer.

 

M. Pierre-Cochereau-Notre-Dame has got it right in his post above. These days early music performers are cagey about claiming to be authentic. Rather, everything is now HIP ("historically informed performance").

 

Je vous remerci, M'sieur.

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Possibly the most unnerving part of the experience was that she clearly knew exactly what it was all about....
You'll just have to stop telling her all those dodgy jokes!

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Fascinating, Friedrich!

 

But - his Wife!? Now that little fact had eluded me.

 

My favourite pieces (from Op. 59) are the Toccata and Fugue, in D minor/major (Nos. 5 and 6). I particularly like the final pedal entry of the Fugue. I am even currently recalling to mind an old LP of Hazel Davies (wife of and Assistant Organist to David Gedge at Brecon Cathedral) playing these two works at Bangor Cathedral. The final pedal entry - with the old Hill Contra Trombone (with one of the notes in the lowest octave 'off'!) thundering away, is just something to make your toes clench in your shoes - as you go "Phwaarrrrrr!!!" Bloody marvellous stuff.

 

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

 

 

Max Reger was quite a colourful character; not least because of his drinking and hyperactivity. It almost defies belief that he could teach, perform and write enormous works for all manner of genres.....definitely as greater figure as Bach, but not to all tastes, even though I adore much of his music.

 

Mrs.reger can be seen in the photographs contained in the last site below, and also the daughters they had.

 

She looks a bit of a battle-axe to my eyes!

 

Would anyone wish to awake next to this woman?

 

Nay, dare anyone fall asleep next to this woman?

 

http://www.jlittlewood.com/discuss/humour/reger.htm (defaced scores)

 

http://www.karadar.com/PhotoGallery/reger.html

 

http://www.maxreger.com/console.htm (Family photo)

 

http://www.maxreger.com/Gallery/Reg_Fam.htm (Reger photos, including family)

 

MM

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"It appeared to have no style"

 

(Quote)

 

Oh yes, tough!

Despite later additions, the typical Post-romantic organ.

A style isn't a stop-list only, the voicing counts at least

as much.

But "round and round", etc.

Pierre

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She looks a bit of a battle-axe to my eyes!

 

Would anyone wish to awake next to this woman?   

 

Nay, dare anyone fall asleep next to this woman?

Just remind me why it was he took to drink....

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A style isn't a stop-list only, the voicing counts at least

as much.

 

Pierre

 

Which is exactly the point I made, with reference to your comment regarding the organ in St. Alban's Cathedral!

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

Mrs.reger can be seen in the photographs contained in the last site below...

She looks a bit of a battle-axe to my eyes!

 

Would anyone wish to awake next to this woman?   

 

Nay, dare anyone fall asleep next to this woman?

 

MM

 

 

Oh my God.

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No offence taken, Brian!  :lol:  As you say, I doubt our views are really very far apart. I would merely add that I don't think the impossibility of achieving an authentic performance should be taken as carte blanche for ignoring what we do know about how pieces would have been played. To do so is, I think, dishonest to both the music and the composer.

 

M. Pierre-Cochereau-Notre-Dame has got it right in his post above. These days early music performers are cagey about claiming to be authentic. Rather, everything is now HIP ("historically informed performance").

 

Thank you. Most of the time I agree with you, but every so often I get the uncontrollable urge to listen to Virgil Fox or Carlo Curley or Lew Williams on the Organ Stop Pizza Wurlitzer or Kate von Tricht playing from Karl Straube's performing editions... Then I get all guilty and go back to Lionel Rogg or Helmut Walcha or Anton Heiler or Karl Richter or Peter Hurford. I suppose, if one takes a cooking analogy, some people always like their steak done the same way, others like to vary it, and some do not like steak at all.

 

Brian Childs

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Oh, I love it myself! And, yes, I can't help being wowed by the sheer panache of Bach played by a performer like Curley or Fox or, for that matter, Guillou - though personally in those cases I find myself admiring the sheer technical prowess rather than their taste.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
How did HH play Bach? That is very interesting!

Pierre

 

 

I never heard him play Bach on the organ, but if his piano perfromance was anything to go by, I would expect it to have been pretty heavily on the romantic side* (like Harold Darke - an almost exact contemporary) One day he told me that it was part of his regimen to play one of 'The 48' on his clavichord at home every morning. I cheekily asked for a demonstration one day and got one - from memory - on the little grand in his teaching room (in the basement of the RCM).

 

*Mind you, that was the way that he was brought up.

 

Hand registration? Emphatically yes, of course. If readers never saw 'one of the old school' accompanying psalms in the days of non-adjustable pistons they missed something. I used to hang around in the loft at Winchester Cathedral and marvel at Alwyn Surplice's psalm playing, many of you (older generation) will have simlar tales to tell of others from the same era. The stops would fairly fly in and out, descants here, solemn supportive chords (not necessairly the ones on the printed page) elsewhere when required.

 

I would have loved to have heard HH play the organ, but I'm not convinced that he was obsessed with it (as an instrument) as we all are. He enjoyed his 'stand-in' job at St.John's College Cambridge during the war, but I imagine that it was much more the choir work that he enjoyed - this may explain the torrent of new choral works starting around this period and continuing for years.

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