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Bach Preludes And Fugues - Speed Relationships

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In today's Bach performances, many "notes are lost", we cannot

simply hear them; they are lost, like in Liszt's fast passages -and there

these notes are really meant as a kind of "flying dust", a halo, and not

really there to be distinctly heard from the previous or the next one-.

We may reasonnably assume it is not so that Bach "viewed" his P&Fs...

 

My point is this:

 

1)- Take the most dense passage of the piece, where the texture ist

the richest.

 

2)- Have it played on one of those heavy-toned, colorfull Trost or Wagner organs,

which, had they not those crisp attacks, would be exactly as "muddy"

as a late-romantic organ.

 

3)-Search for the fastest possible tempo there which still allows a listener

in the nave to distinguish all the parts.

 

Then you may imagine you get something credible. And, again, I shall eat

the hat I do not have if we do not end up with something about two times slower compared

with today's customary Bach playing (ta-ti-tu-tatititatatutatiti-ta-ti-tu-tatitititata...)

 

Pierre

 

I agree with everything Pierre is saying here ... but if you're playing on a neo-classical organ with a light action in a dry acoustic, you need to judge the tempo to work on the organ and room you're in. I wouldn't dream of playing Bach fast at the Vater/Muller organ at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam but at the Turner Sims with a 1970s Peter Collins and little reverberation, I would have to play much faster if the music wasn't to get turgid. That's not to say so fast that the music detail is lost, just quick enough that it has forward movement.

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I've been following this thread with interest, but also with some dismay. I accept that some people need speedometers and road-signs, while others, who may be much more natural drivers "just know" by a combination of instinct and experience, and never need to even look at a speedometer.

 

This is really what this whole discussion is about, but without specific points of reference.

 

The discussion was initially about the relative speed of Preludes AND Fugues, but then we get divereted discussing the St Anne triple fugue, which I have not the slightest doubt in suggesting, should have the same basic pulse throughout if it is all to come together as an enjoined, musical item. This implies that the opening subject would be played VERY slowly, and as Nigel so rightly suggests, the 12/8 grows out of the 6/4. I would suggest that it has to match exactly, the speed of the initial fugue subject which returns magnificently in the final section.

 

Of all the Bach Fugues, this is the one which can most ramble and fall apart, or in the event that the subject is played too fast, race along, out of control, like the faller in the 2.30 at Towcester.

 

Just diverting ever so slightly to embrace the slightly wider issue of tempi, I felt really drawn to destroying the radio in a Volvo truck the other day, when Classic FM ended the night with the Vivaldi Concerto we know as the Bach/Vivaldi Concert in A minor; but in its original form. It was not just slightly brisk, it was DOUBLE the speed we would normally play it at, as if Vivaldi was some sort of hair-tearing maniac or sadistic taskmaster. It was like Liszt on amphetamines!

 

I listen with increasing despair to many contemporary performances of Baroque music, in which all elegance, control and musical beauty have been abandoned to showmanship and empty virtuosity.

 

Rant over, let’s try and look (listen?) to the relationships between the tempi of Preludes and Fugues, or not, as the case may be.

 

I would suggest, rightly or wrongly, that if you were to condense almost ANY Bach work to block harmony, you would end up with a slow, majestic German Chorale of sorts.

 

Was this not surely the underpin of Bach’s musical language?

 

It was the common language of the age, which people would know at church, sing at home and hum when they tended the crops or made bread. It was an age in which people made haste slowly, as sons and daughters of the soil. I would suggest that the difference is much the same as that found in the pace of something like “Eastenders” and in Flora Thompson’s “Lark Rise to Candleford.” Both of these creations are about observations of the contemporary life familiar to each of the writers, but they could not be more different in either style or pace. Flora Thompson relished elegance, whilst "Eastenders" has not the slightest.

 

Before looking at relative speeds, I would just mention two things. Easily the finest performance of the St.Anne Fugue I ever heard, was played at Leeds PC, in a totally dead acoustic, by Francis Jackson. Consistently paced throughout, he used legato as the main means of articulation, so that even the slightest detachment took on great significance. The 6/4 section flowed elegantly, but the 12/8 positively swaggered around the church like a drunken man swaying a flagon of ale. Only twice since then, (1969), have I heard Bach move me quite so much, and on both occasions, it has been in the Netherlands.

 

The other revelation was to hear the “Gigue” Fugue (possibly not Bach?), played at Groningen with astounding suavety. This was not sailors riotously kicking pewter off oak table tops, but rather, gentile ladies smiling self-consciously as they kicked up an occasional ankle to reveal white-socks and buckle-shoes.

 

Go play the old organs, and you soon realise that it is the relationship between them, and the acoustic into which they speak, which dictates the pace. They are the best teacher of all, and if you start off the blocks like an Olympic hurdler, you fall flat on your face at the first bar-line.

 

So this would be my first observation. Never be afraid to let Bach’s music sing the hymns of faith which underpin it; slowly and majestically. Never sacrifice beauty to excitement, because the excitement grows out of the musical beauty of the tapestery and the intricate weave of the counterpoint. Brutal, self-obsessed “Eastenders” Bach starts with staccato, but “Lark rise to Candleford” Bach starts with the gentle legato of daily prayer, thoughtful rhetoric and sublime intention.

 

Unfortunately, I do not have two things to hand. Firstly, I do not have the BWV numbers, and secondly, I do not know where I have put my metronome!

 

So much for the bad news; the goods news being that I have the 3rd volume of the Bach organ-works before me, in the shape of the Widor/Schweitzer edition of the “Weimar” works.

 

Looking at these, I noticed something immediately. The “Weimar” C major is the first up, and I immediately noticed (possibly for the first time!) that the Prelude is in common-time, and the fugue in split common-time. I looked next at the 9/8 Prelude and Fugue (with the fugue in split common-time), then the C-minor, then the “Wedge” and finally, (enough being enough), the “St Anne”.

 

Having hummed over the openings of each, much to the cat’s delight and surprise, I would suggest that the ideal tempi are almost exactly based on the same underlying pulse for both the Preludes and the Fugues of each pairing. The “Dorian” is as good an example as any, where each minim of the fugue subject corresponds, I would suggest, to each group of four semi-quavers in the Prelude. In other words, there appears to be a strict 1:2 relationship which seems to me, to be exactly right for just about all of these works.

 

Is that true of earlier works, though?

 

Take the D major (the one with the opening pedal scale passage), which shows such an influence of the showman Buxtehude, and the Stylus Fantasticus approach in the episodic rhythms and contrasts of the opening Prelude.

 

Well, I would suggest that the answer is in the affirmative, because if you play the opening Prelude pedal passage, and then follow it immediately with the theme of the fugue, the two are, I would suggest, identically paced.

 

I do not need to know, or even care, whether there is historical “evidence” for all this. As Nigel suggests so eloquently, the music starts by listening to what works and sounds right, which is what musicians are supposed to do. It should never be about mere formulae or historical precedent; whether assumed or actual.

 

You can even go as late as Reger to find the same sort of thing. In my favourite Reger work, “Hellelujah! Gott zu loben!” it is possible to hum the underlying chorale theme, at exactly the same pace throughout the work, and even when the counterpoint seems to cloud the issue. That chorale pace dominates the entire work, as I believe it does with the bulk of Bach’s organ-music.

 

However, don’t believe what truck-drivers tell you. Instead, you can take comfort from the words of either Schweitzer or Widor (Schweitzer probably).

 

“Are modern musicians so lost to all sense for solemn grandeur that they are unable to discover it, even when it confronts them in the creations of a period long past?”

 

Is it not the difference between (parody alert):-

 

“If I may beg your pardon Sir, I must regretfully take my leave of you, for the weather is most inclement, and the horseman waiting upon me outdoors will be in the greatest of discomfort.”

 

and:-

 

“Sorry mate…gotta scarper…taxi waiting!”

 

MM

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I agree with everything Pierre is saying here ... but if you're playing on a neo-classical organ with a light action in a dry acoustic, you need to judge the tempo to work on the organ and room you're in. I wouldn't dream of playing Bach fast at the Vater/Muller organ at the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam but at the Turner Sims with a 1970s Peter Collins and little reverberation, I would have to play much faster if the music wasn't to get turgid. That's not to say so fast that the music detail is lost, just quick enough that it has forward movement.

 

 

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

 

 

An interesting reply, since the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, has a surprisingly dry acoustic, but a certain acoustic "warmth" due to the amount of wood within. (This was the organ made famous by Gustav Leonhardt, with the only sign in the Netherlands which read, "No smoking at the console" during his tenure).

 

We come back to modern concert halls, and the mid-frequency gobbling-up of warm-tone; leaving us with all top and bottom.

 

I know Colin is right, and I also know that Francis Jackson managed very "grand" Bach at Leeds PC, with barely any acoustic at all.

 

It's all a lot more complex than we care to imagine, I suspect, but I would suggest that when "warmth" is denied us, all that is left is rhythm and drive.

 

MM

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In today's Bach performances, many "notes are lost", we cannot

simply hear them; they are lost, like in Liszt's fast passages....

 

3)-Search for the fastest possible tempo there which still allows a listener

in the nave to distinguish all the parts.

 

I shall eat

the hat I do not have if we do not end up with something about two times slower compared

with today's customary Bach playing (ta-ti-tu-tatititatatutatiti-ta-ti-tu-tatitititata...)

 

 

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

 

 

So very true Pierre!

 

I'm still seething with anger over the Vivaldi Concerto I heard. It was the musical equivalent of Lewis Hamilton going for the lap record of the M25 during the rush-hour.....completely out of place and of no value whatsoever.

 

MM

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Whether or not strict tempo relationships were implied depends on what the composer expected when he wrote the piece, so of course historical grounds come into it. What I think you are really saying is that you wouldn't let the composer's wishes compromise the way you wish to respond to the music. Now if so, that's fair enough. I think we all do this, simply because, with the best will in the world, I don't see how we can avoid it; it's just a matter of degree. But it would be better to admit openly what we're doing. I think we ought to be careful about projecting our views back onto the composers - it ain't honest and won't promote understanding.

 

 

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

 

It didn't do Virgil Fox any harm!

 

He knew what Bach really wanted, and he wasn't afraid to play it that way.

 

:lol::)

 

MM

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

 

 

An interesting reply, since the Oude Kerk, Amsterdam, has a surprisingly dry acoustic, but a certain acoustic "warmth" due to the amount of wood within. (This was the organ made famous by Gustav Leonhardt, with the only sign in the Netherlands which read, "No smoking at the console" during his tenure).

 

We come back to modern concert halls, and the mid-frequency gobbling-up of warm-tone; leaving us with all top and bottom.

 

I know Colin is right, and I also know that Francis Jackson managed very "grand" Bach at Leeds PC, with barely any acoustic at all.

 

It's all a lot more complex than we care to imagine, I suspect, but I would suggest that when "warmth" is denied us, all that is left is rhythm and drive.

 

MM

Yes, I know what you're trying to say r.e. "grand" Bach in dry acoustics. The right rhythm and drive are the keys...

 

Oude Kerk is not that dry... it's regarded as one of the best church acoustics in the Netherlands. The echo lasts for several seconds but it is a surprisingly clear and direct acoustic - it's really magical. One of the few acoustics I would describe as "beautiful".

 

However, the organ (which I adore) has quite a dark and heavy sound - it certainly encourages a broad and grand approach to music, with real commitment to every note and musical detail. I also love the heavy, deeeep touch of this organ - nothing can be rushed on it. You can rush Haarlem if you want but Oude Kerk will stop you straight away. People who try to to rush on this organ will hate it and think it's unplayable. I really hope nothing happens to it during the restoration.

 

I've heard the latest fashion in Bach orchestral playing is towards a more considered tempo - at last. Soon those ridiculous virtuosi tempi will seem rather passe... thankfully

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Yes, I know what you're trying to say r.e. "grand" Bach in dry acoustics. The right rhythm and drive are the keys...

 

Oude Kerk is not that dry... it's regarded as one of the best church acoustics in the Netherlands. The echo lasts for several seconds but it is a surprisingly clear and direct acoustic - it's really magical. One of the few acoustics I would describe as "beautiful".

 

However, the organ (which I adore) has quite a dark and heavy sound - it certainly encourages a broad and grand approach to music, with real commitment to every note and musical detail. I also love the heavy, deeeep touch of this organ - nothing can be rushed on it. You can rush Haarlem if you want but Oude Kerk will stop you straight away. People who try to to rush on this organ will hate it and think it's unplayable. I really hope nothing happens to it during the restoration.

 

I've heard the latest fashion in Bach orchestral playing is towards a more considered tempo - at last. Soon those ridiculous virtuosi tempi will seem rather passe... thankfully

 

 

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

 

 

 

Aaaaaaaaaaagh!

 

Terrible error alert.....I was thinking of the Waalsekerk!

 

I've never heard the organ at the Oude Kerk, or for that matter, been inside it. When I frequented Amsterdam more than I tend to do these days, (I learned better), it was always under wraps and closed to the public.

 

Muller organs have quite a dark, solid, bold tone, which is how you know that the Bavo-orgel is nothing like it was before.

 

MM

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But that requires us to accept that that is what Bach intended! And I don't see much proof (if any) that it is what he would have wished. But I'm happy to be proved wrong.....

But it was you who claimed that "there are no strict tempi relations implied", so how do you know this if you don't know what Bach (or failing that, his contemporaries) intended? I was merely pointing out that you can't claim that historical grounds are irrelevant in understanding what was meant or not meant at a particular point in history.

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

 

 

 

Aaaaaaaaaaagh!

 

Terrible error alert.....I was thinking of the Waalsekerk!

 

I've never heard the organ at the Oude Kerk, or for that matter, been inside it. When I frequented Amsterdam more than I tend to do these days, (I learned better), it was always under wraps and closed to the public.

 

Muller organs have quite a dark, solid, bold tone, which is how you know that the Bavo-orgel is nothing like it was before.

 

MM

That's OK. Waalsekerk is wonderful... was thinking I had no idea Gustav Leonhardt was organist of Oude Kerk! But yes, it's quite a small place...

 

Oude kerk is in the middle of the red-light district. It's quite often locked - it's rather incongrous having the oldest stone building in Amsterdan with many ancient gems inside - real high-art - and girls in windows in the next street... but do get in if you can!! (Into what, I hear you ask...) Fantastic stained glass windows, the Ahrend choir organ inhabiting the Sweelinck case is quite nice but the West-end organ is really something special.

 

They still cherish the organ at the Waalsekerk. Jacques van O. takes very good care - when I saw him, he was very worried about Ton Koopman coming to give a recital at the Waalsekerk - he was worried what damage the organ might sustain...

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That's OK. Waalsekerk is wonderful... was thinking I had no idea Gustav Leonhardt was organist of Oude Kerk! But yes, it's quite a small place...

 

Oude kerk is in the middle of the red-light district. It's quite often locked - it's rather incongrous having the oldest stone building in Amsterdan with many ancient gems inside - real high-art - and girls in windows in the next street... but do get in if you can!! (Into what, I hear you ask...) Fantastic stained glass windows, the Ahrend choir organ inhabiting the Sweelinck case is quite nice but the West-end organ is really something special.

 

They still cherish the organ at the Waalsekerk. Jacques van O. takes very good care - when I saw him, he was very worried about Ton Koopman coming to give a recital at the Waalsekerk - he was worried what damage the organ might sustain...

 

 

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

 

Oh dear! Another terrible error on my part.

 

I have indeed been to the Oude Kerk and played the Ahrend orgel in the Sweelinck case. That's quite a gem of "old style" modern voicing. For reasons which now escape me, we were unable to play the West End instrument.

 

The church I was thinking of, was the one in the Dom Square almost next to the palace, into which I have never ventured.

 

Is that the Nieuw Kerk by any chance?

 

I shall have to go to Amsterdam again. I usually avoid the place in the summer months, and tend to go elsewhere such as Rotterdam (where I always stay),Groningen, Zwolle, Appeldorn, Doesburg, Sneek, Alkmaar, Haarlem etc.

 

I thought the lady window-dressers were a bit lazy, myself. They should get some work done, and not sit around on chairs.

I'm not sure I approve of their uniforms.

 

MM

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

 

I quite like the Gloria myself.

 

:)

 

MM

 

Now, what about speed relationships between movements in that? :lol:

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

 

It didn't do Virgil Fox any harm!

 

He knew what Bach really wanted, and he wasn't afraid to play it that way.

 

 

 

MM

 

He did?

 

I would be interested to read evidence of this, MM.

 

He may have had strong opinions and a superb technique - this is not, however, quite the same as your claim.

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He did?

 

I would be interested to read evidence of this, MM.

 

He may have had strong opinions and a superb technique - this is not, however, quite the same as your claim.

 

Don't worry, PCND. I think MM had his tongue firmly in his cheek!

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That's OK. Waalsekerk is wonderful... was thinking I had no idea Gustav Leonhardt was organist of Oude Kerk! But yes, it's quite a small place...

 

Oude kerk is in the middle of the red-light district. It's quite often locked - it's rather incongrous having the oldest stone building in Amsterdan with many ancient gems inside - real high-art - and girls in windows in the next street... but do get in if you can!! (Into what, I hear you ask...) Fantastic stained glass windows, the Ahrend choir organ inhabiting the Sweelinck case is quite nice but the West-end organ is really something special.

The Oude Kerk is indeed a beautiful building - which has been open every time I have desired to visit its spacious interior. Although it is a few years since I have played this instrument, my recollection of it is a little different to those views expressed by two or three contributors.

 

It is possible that it is far from original in sound. I was told by the organist (who had been practising on the Ahrend organ) that it had been 'restored' in the nineteenth century - and somewhat altered tonally, a number of Romantic ranks having been substituted for older stops. The sound is indeed 'dark'. However, I would not wish to state that this is more like older Dutch organs, since the restoration may have altered the tonal effect of the instrument.

 

I have to say that I found it to be rather disappointing. I remember it sounding quite unlike any other Dutch organ which I have heard or played. The action (which was uneven) and the pipe-work clearly needed careful restoration.

 

Therefore, I wonder exactly how authentic this instrument can claim to be. It would be interesting to see documentation of any alterations which may have been made - assuming that the information which I was given was accurate.

 

 

To be honest, I still preferred it to the Ahrend.

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In today's Bach performances, many "notes are lost", we cannot

simply hear them; they are lost, like in Liszt's fast passages -and there

these notes are really meant as a kind of "flying dust", a halo, and not

really there to be distinctly heard from the previous or the next one-.

We may reasonnably assume it is not so that Bach "viewed" his P&Fs...

 

My point is this:

 

1)- Take the most dense passage of the piece, where the texture ist

the richest.

 

2)- Have it played on one of those heavy-toned, colorfull Trost or Wagner organs,

which, had they not those crisp attacks, would be exactly as "muddy"

as a late-romantic organ.

 

3)-Search for the fastest possible tempo there which still allows a listener

in the nave to distinguish all the parts.

 

Then you may imagine you get something credible. And, again, I shall eat

the hat I do not have if we do not end up with something about two times slower compared

with today's customary Bach playing (ta-ti-tu-tatititatatutatiti-ta-ti-tu-tatitititata...)

 

Pierre

 

Pierre, you make generalisations, here.

 

I have recordings of DJB playing Bach at Gloucester Cathedral, in which it is possible clearly to distinguish the inner parts - and this in a resonant acoustic.

 

I would be interested to hear a recording of Bach played on a colourful and heavy-toned organ by either Trost or Wagner. It seems to me to be unlikely that Bach's music would be more clear on a heavy-toned organ. Furthermore, unless I have mis-understood the implication of your statement, a 'colourful' organ could actually be a hindrance in performing, for example, some of the great preludes and fugues by Bach.*

 

However, I would agree that some contemporary performances of Bach's organ music have resulted in musicality and clarity being greatly subservient to speed and perceived 'excitement'.

 

 

 

* To take but one example on an English organ: A few years ago I heard Bach's Prelude and Fugue, in G major (BWV 541) played on the organ of Truro Cathedral. Although the performer did (at least) not appear to use the G.O. tierce mixture for much of the piece, the texture was not particularly clear. With the G.O. foundations speaking on 175mm pressure and the Pedal flue-work including a heavy-toned open wood rank, it is difficult to see how the player could have achieved any real clarity.

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Pierre, you make generalisations, here.

 

I have recordings of DJB playing Bach at Gloucester Cathedral, in which it is possible clearly to distinguish the inner parts - and this in a resonant acoustic.

 

I would be interested to hear a recording of Bach played on a colourful and heavy-toned organ by either Trost or Wagner. It seems to me to be unlikely that Bach's music would be more clear on a heavy-toned organ. Furthermore, unless I have mis-understood the implication of your statement, a 'colourful' organ could actually be a hindrance in performing, for example, some of the great preludes and fugues by Bach.

 

However, I would agree that some contemporary performances of Bach's organ music have resulted in musicality and clarity being greatly subservient to speed and perceived 'excitement'.

 

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

 

 

I think, with all respect, that you have misunderstood what Pierre was suggesting.

 

He was, I "think," making the case for slower performances of Bach, and that a rushed performance, even on some of the old organs Bach knew, would have been either impossible or incomprehensible.

 

That's how I understood his post, but I hope that I am not wrong.

 

MM

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

I think, with all respect, that you have misunderstood what Pierre was suggesting.

 

He was, I "think," making the case for slower performances of Bach, and that a rushed performance, even on some of the old organs Bach knew, would have been either impossible or incomprehensible.

 

That's how I understood his post, but I hope that I am not wrong.

 

MM

 

I am not convinced, MM.

 

Certainly Pierre makes a strong point with regard to speeds - in this I agree with him. As you have also observed, it is simply not possible to play Bach's music at very fast speeds on many older instruments with mechanical action. However, in the light of a number of his earlier posts on a similar subject, I think that he is also seeking to suggest that a Trost (or a Walcker) organ would render the music with a greater clarity than perhaps an instrument with bright, transparent quint mixtures - which Pierre dislikes in Bach's music.

 

In any case, the recordings by DJB, whilst being utterly musical, are not particularly slow - yet all is clear; I would suggest that this is due partly to the articulation of the performer - but also in part to the clarity of the voicing of this particular instrument.

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The Oude Kerk is indeed a beautiful building - which has been open every time I have desired to visit its spacious interior. Although it is a few years since I have played this instrument, my recollection of it is a little different to those views expressed by two or three contributors.

 

It is possible that it is far from original in sound. I was told by the organist (who had been practising on the Ahrend organ) that it had been 'restored' in the nineteenth century - and somewhat altered tonally, a number of Romantic ranks having been substituted for older stops. The sound is indeed 'dark'. However, I would not wish to state that this is more like older Dutch organs, since the restoration may have altered the tonal effect of the instrument.

 

I have to say that I found it to be rather disappointing. I remember it sounding quite unlike any other Dutch organ which I have heard or played. The action (which was uneven) and the pipe-work clearly needed careful restoration.

 

Therefore, I wonder exactly how authentic this instrument can claim to be. It would be interesting to see documentation of any alterations which may have been made - assuming that the information which I was given was accurate.

 

 

To be honest, I still preferred it to the Ahrend.

 

 

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

 

 

When I went to the Ouder Kerk, my host was Haite van der Schaaf of Amsterdam, who used to visit the UK and has made recording; notably on the organ of St.Lauren's, Rotterdam.

 

I remember now why we didn't go to the West End organ.

 

He said that it had been badly modified in the 19th century, and was not an organ he wished to present as typical of the 18th century. (They get very uptight about this in the Netherlands; hence the continuing crossed-swords over Haarlem, and the incredibly long-running saga of the organ in the Aa-kerk, Groningen).

 

In the Netherlands, there was a move towards a "darker" and perhaps "broader" tone, which is very apparent in some of the early to mid 19th century organs around Groningen, and also in the organs built by Batz. They are still totally unenclosed for the most part, and have the usual classical layout as a general rule, but the voicing is quite different and not unattractive. Such organs are probably ideal for the music of Mendelssohn or Rheinberger. Certainly, the reeds became smoother, and the tierces became more prominent than before.

 

Fortunately, there were not too many disasters in 19th century re-builds, but a number of new organs built during the romantic period are much less happy instruments; falling uncomfortably between old and almost new, but never quite matching what the Germans and French were doing.

 

The notable exception, which I admire greatly, is that large four-manual instrument in the RC Basilica, Haarlem, which I think "pcnd" has played. It's a splendid synthesis of Low Countries and France, and not totally removed from what Anneseens were doing in Beligium.

 

As for the Muller in the Oudekerk, it would be as well to remember that the organ in Waalsekerk, originally built by the same organ-builder, is very, very bright in tone, and this is what one expects but does not find.

 

I would have to check, but the other big Muller is that at Massluis (?), which is quite a splendid sound, and has one of only a very few 32ft reeds in the Netherlands.

 

I'll see if I can find the web-site, which has a number of mp3 clips on it.

 

MM

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I am not convinced, MM.

 

Certainly Pierre makes a strong point with regard to speeds - in this I agree with him. As you have also observed, it is simply not possible to play Bach's music at very fast speeds on many older instruments with mechanical action. However, in the light of a number of his earlier posts on a similar subject, I think that he is also seeking to suggest that a Trost (or a Walcker) organ would render the music with a greater clarity than perhaps an instrument with bright, transparent quint mixtures - which Pierre dislikes in Bach's music.

 

In any case, the recordings by DJB, whilst being utterly musical, are not particularly slow - yet all is clear; I would suggest that this is due partly to the articulation of the performer - but also in part to the clarity of the voicing of this particular instrument.

 

 

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

 

 

Call Pierre back to the bar to explain himself; then we can buy him a drink.

 

MM

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

When I went to the Ouder Kerk, my host was Haite van der Schaaf of Amsterdam, who used to visit the UK and has made recording; notably on the organ of St.Lauren's, Rotterdam.

 

I remember now why we didn't go to the West End organ.

 

He said that it had been badly modified in the 19th century, and was not an organ he wished to present as typical of the 18th century. (They get very uptight about this in the Netherlands; hence the continuing crossed-swords over Haarlem, and the incredibly long-running saga of the organ in the Aa-kerk, Groningen).

 

In the Netherlands, there was a move towards a "darker" and perhaps "broader" tone, which is very apparent in some of the early to mid 19th century organs around Groningen, and also in the organs built by Batz. They are still totally unenclosed for the most part, and have the usual classical layout as a general rule, but the voicing is quite different and not unattractive. Such organs are probably ideal for the music of Mendelssohn or Rheinberger. Certainly, the reeds became smoother, and the tierces became more prominent than before.

 

Fortunately, there were not too many disasters in 19th century re-builds, but a number of new organs built during the romantic period are much less happy instruments; falling uncomfortably between old and almost new, but never quite matching what the Germans and French were doing.

 

The notable exception, which I admire greatly, is that large four-manual instrument in the RC Basilica, Haarlem, which I think "pcnd" has played. It's a splendid synthesis of Low Countries and France, and not totally removed from what Anneseens were doing in Beligium.

 

As for the Muller in the Oudekerk, it would be as well to remember that the organ in Waalsekerk, originally built by the same organ-builder, is very, very bright in tone, and this is what one expects but does not find.

 

I would have to check, but the other big Muller is that at Massluis (?), which is quite a splendid sound, and has one of only a very few 32ft reeds in the Netherlands.

 

I'll see if I can find the web-site, which has a number of mp3 clips on it.

 

MM

 

Thank you for this, MM.

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

Call Pierre back to the bar to explain himself; then we can buy him a drink.

 

MM

 

Fair enough. If I have mis-understood Pierre I shall be happy to buy him a (virtual) drink....

 

B)

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Thank you for this, MM.

 

 

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

 

 

Premature......I've gone mad!

 

The Massluis orgel was never by Muller. It is by Garrels.

 

However, here for your delight, are a couple of links which includes, amusingly but seriously, romantic music played on what is an essentially baroque instrument, including Thalben-Ball's "Elegy."

 

The second link is to Gustav Leonhardt and the organ (with a lot of Muller in it) at the Waalsekerk.

 

I think you will hear the great difference between two very different style of organ-building, even though they are of similar vintage.

 

 

For the first link, you will need to click on the "multimedia" tab.

 

http://www.garrelsorgelmaassluis.nl/start.htm

 

http://www.waalsekerk-amsterdam.nl/orgel.htm

 

MM

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"he is also seeking to suggest that a Trost (or a Walcker) organ would render the music with a greater clarity than perhaps an instrument with bright, transparent quint mixtures - which Pierre dislikes in Bach's music."

(Quote)

 

-Wagner, not Walcker; and Joachim, not Richard.... B)

 

-My point is simply those provincial baroque organs, made first for

the church service, are typically what Bach had. And when

you hear Bach's music on it, it thrives like Howell's on an H&H.,

I mean, it makes sense at once.

 

-Likes and dislikes aren't my business. What I like is to discover

facts.

 

-Single malt wann ééch gelieft.

 

Pierre

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