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Proms 2008


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What a difference a day makes! I know I'm a silly, emotional old soul, but I had to resort to a box of tissues while watching and listening this evening. Three excellent peformances that I found very moving. Encore, encore!

JC

 

Hear, hear! Latry's L'Ascension was quite inspired. Intelligent, musical, beautifully paced and conjuring up some quite gorgeous sonorities. The final Prière du Christ had me holding on to my seat.

 

And the Saint-Saëns, too - heard, for once, without the organ blasting the orchestra off the platform in the final movement (the big entry is marked only f, I believe, as M Latry would have seen from the pocket score he was playing from) - an object lesson to all organists.

 

It's interesting that Mr Behalovek said he had to ask Wayne Marshall to restrain himself at rehearsal, just to give the BBCSO a chance. I can't imagine Mr Chung had to do the same with Olivier Latry.

 

Shame, though, on the Beeb, for failing to show the texts for either of the Messiaen pieces - perhaps they were afraid their religious content might offend some listeners.

 

JS

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Shame, though, on the Beeb, for failing to show the texts for either of the Messiaen pieces - perhaps they were afraid their religious content might offend some listeners.

 

JS

Oh but they did though, via the red button, together with an informative biography of Messiaen and information about the organ. Did anyone else swap to Radio 3 at the interval? They broadcast the pre-concert interview with Latry - extremely interesting stuff about his experiences of NDP and Messiaen (wish my French was as good as OL's English).

 

I too was moved to tears by the Messiaen (particularly Alleluias sereins). It was wonderful to forget we were listening to an organ; this was some of the most elegant, poetic and persuasive music-making I've heard in a long time. And all from memory. Wonderful.

 

But back to the organ... so good to hear someone taking informed, intelligent decisions about the registration: French Horn in Alleluias sereins; those sublime crescendi in mvts 2 and 4, adding progressively bigger strings to the left hand and gradually building up the fonds in the right hand (that's why you need 5 open diapasons on the Great!); and that incredible diminuendo right at the end. Blissful. I want to hear that at Wanamaker now!

 

The Saint-Saëns was electric (although the Final was borderline too fast for the woodwind) with very good balance between organ and orchestra. Wish I'd been there in person!

 

IFB

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Oh but they did though, via the red button, together with an informative biography of Messiaen and information about the organ.

 

But back to the organ... so good to hear someone taking informed, intelligent decisions about the registration: French Horn in Alleluias sereins; those sublime crescendi in mvts 2 and 4, adding progressively bigger strings to the left hand and gradually building up the fonds in the right hand (that's why you need 5 open diapasons on the Great!); and that incredible diminuendo right at the end. Blissful. I want to hear that at Wanamaker now!

 

IFB

 

Fair enough - it's only a minor quibble, but not everyone has this facility or wants the distraction of using it. My point was that, for the 'casual' viewer, coming to M's organ music for the first time, the texts might have been helpful in understanding this marvellous music, especially in view of Hazelwood's truncated préambule. If they can manage sub-titles for Richard Strauss, then perhaps they should do the same for Messiaen - and both pieces at that.

 

I also thought the final diminuendo was incredibly effective and wonderfully atmospheric. Am I right in thnking, however, it's not written into the score? A case, maybe, where a little artistic licence in interpretation turns out to be inspired.

 

JS

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The Saint-Saëns was electric (although the Final was borderline too fast for the woodwind) with very good balance between organ and orchestra. Wish I'd been there in person!

 

IFB

 

I was there - The key thing was not only the balance, but the perfect blend of the organ with the orchestra - no shrieking mixtures here! OL is a great performer and artist!

 

I think I should add that in the Messiaen orchestral piece, those of you who were not present missed an extraordinary way of bringing gongs to a climax! The half dozen or so percussionists of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France faced away from their gongs, which were hanging low down behind their backs, and with a backwards underarm action they proceeded to beat the gongs violently to a fortissimo! Maybe this is to conform to some EU health and safety directive for ones hearing, or perhaps just a French way of doing things?

 

Better not try to play the organ this way….

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I also thought the final diminuendo was incredibly effective and wonderfully atmospheric. Am I right in thnking, however, it's not written into the score? A case, maybe, where a little artistic licence in interpretation turns out to be inspired.

 

JS

 

It's not in the published score, but it's pencilled in in the composer's copy (now in the possession of Naji Hakim) from a recital at Ste. Clotilde. Also evident from this copy is the addition of the 32' flue for the last chord of the first movement, and the division of the dreaded Recit chords in the middle of 'Transports' between the Recit and the Positif (with no stops, just Recit coupled) - so much for those teachers who (I'm told) insist it should all be played on one manual!

 

Paul Walton

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Guest Cynic
It's not in the published score, but it's pencilled in in the composer's copy (now in the possession of Naji Hakim) from a recital at Ste. Clotilde. Also evident from this copy is the addition of the 32' flue for the last chord of the first movement, and the division of the dreaded Recit chords in the middle of 'Transports' between the Recit and the Positif (with no stops, just Recit coupled) - so much for those teachers who (I'm told) insist it should all be played on one manual!

 

Paul Walton

 

 

I remember watching Alan Harverson showing me how he played that particular passage - to those unfamiliar with the finer points of Transports de Joie, there are three passages of alternating three-note chords (mostly second inversions) the obvious way is for each hand to take an alternate chord, except for the fact that hands of any size are bound to repeatedly brush up against each other at high speed (semiquavers, allegro molto). I mention AH's method because I found it such a surprise. He had learned the whole thing with both hands together, in any given chord one hand would play two notes, the other one. Which had two would depend on convenience. I was most impressed with the smooth way this worked, only after (of course) learning it the other way myself!

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I remember watching Alan Harverson showing me how he played that particular passage - [snip] He had learned the whole thing with both hands together, in any given chord one hand would play two notes, the other one. Which had two would depend on convenience. I was most impressed with the smooth way this worked, only after (of course) learning it the other way myself!

Another pupil of 'Harvey' here. I didn't learn Transports with him, but it appears to work!

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as some one who does not like messian, and only has 2 tracks, out of hundreds of others, I actually found the performance quite enjoyable, probably as it was a "live" peformance, or it must be the advancing years having their toll :P

Peter

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Dieu Parmi Nous - not being an organist, nor ever having seen the score, how long should the final chord be held and why? I thought Mr Marshall held it too long, and although Latry's recording at Notre Dame is long it seems right. I heard him play it live one Christmas at N.D. and he could have held it for ever as far as I was concerned, the sheer emotion of it was tangible. I would be interested to hear any comments by performers here.

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Dieu Parmi Nous - not being an organist, nor ever having seen the score, how long should the final chord be held and why? I thought Mr Marshall held it too long, and although Latry's recording at Notre Dame is long it seems right. I heard him play it live one Christmas at N.D. and he could have held it for ever as far as I was concerned, the sheer emotion of it was tangible. I would be interested to hear any comments by performers here.

 

A simple solution may be to count the exact not value of the final chord related to the speed of the preceding two or three pedal notes.

 

This passage sounded absolutely overwhelming by John Scott on St.Paul's massive tutti (yes, with dome tuba's and royal trumpets!).

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Dieu Parmi Nous - not being an organist, nor ever having seen the score, how long should the final chord be held...

The final bar comprises a semibreve chord (tied in the manual part from the penultimate bar) - with fermata sign - marked Lent. For those with eyes to see and an understanding of Messiaen's intentions, the slow-down begins in the fourth bar from the end - marked Plus lent. There is also a r a l l m o l t o in the antepultimate bar, the the first half of which comprises semiquavers, and the second half, quavers. I also agree with Heva: relate the length of the final chord to the speed at which one plays the descending pedal motif in the previous bar.

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It's not in the published score, but it's pencilled in in the composer's copy (now in the possession of Naji Hakim) from a recital at Ste. Clotilde. Also evident from this copy is the addition of the 32' flue for the last chord of the first movement, and the division of the dreaded Recit chords in the middle of 'Transports' between the Recit and the Positif (with no stops, just Recit coupled) - so much for those teachers who (I'm told) insist it should all be played on one manual!

 

Paul Walton

 

I am interested to read this, since I use this method myself - except that I use the Swell and G.O. (the latter with all speaking stops off), because I find it easier to co-ordinate both hands more neatly when playing on adjacent claviers. Obviously, on most French organs, playing on the Récit and the Positif would equate to this.

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Sunday afternoon's 4pm prom is devoted to the organ, played by Wayne Marshall. I wonder if anyone has passed on to him some advice on tempi and the length of final chords? :lol:

 

The programme includes Demessieux, Dupré, Messiaen and Hakim with an improvisation by WM to end the prom.

 

P

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I have to say that WM's recital this afternoon was one of the most gripping I have heard in a very long while. No quirks, just superlative playing. Bravo!

 

Well said Vox. Great credit to the organ which coped wonderfully with the many demands made upon it.

A

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  • 9 months later...
I am interested to read this, since I use this method myself - except that I use the Swell and G.O. (the latter with all speaking stops off), because I find it easier to co-ordinate both hands more neatly when playing on adjacent claviers. Obviously, on most French organs, playing on the Récit and the Positif would equate to this.

 

Back for the yearly repeat of L'Ascension and a first try at using two manuals for the chords in Transports de joie. Interestingly, for me, I found that this was unnerving. When played on one manual, my hands just touch each other as they move from chord to chord, and I seem to have gotten used to that as the guide to how far to move each hand between chords.

 

I was also going to have a go at the suggestion further back in the thread about having two notes in one hand and one in the other for all the chords. A very original suggestion, but I've had a cold since Easter Sunday - five weeks ago - that has limited my practice time as I've been getting very tired after only a few hours of practice. It's a swine of a cold.

 

So, I'm still playing it the way I first learned as a fearless teenager. I'm sure I played it faster and more accurately then.

 

Now please excuse me while I put away my rose coloured memory...

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