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Wedding Music Again


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In a moment of complete and utter insanity I recently agreed to play for a wedding. The good news is that the couple like classical music.

 

I have been contacted by a solo soprano who has been invited to sing an item of her own choice. She would like to try something a bit different from the usual warhorses and wondered whether I had ideas. I am suggesting Alessandro Grandi's O quam tu pulchra es which is suitably sensual and which I think (hope) will be right up her street. However, I am afraid the bride and groom might just feel that the words are just a bit OTT (especially the bit about having teeth like a flock of sheep!) and I'm stuck for other ideas. What would you suggest?

 

Two considerations are that the soprano has quite a pure, boy-like voice and the organ is a Goetze & Gwynn eighteenth-century copy tuned to Thomas Young temperament. So anything deeply Romantic in six flats is probably not going to be a good idea.

 

For my part, I would prefer to stick to genuine pieces for voice and organ - or at least to avoid rearranging piano reductions of orchestral accompaniments.

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In a moment of complete and utter insanity I recently agreed to play for a wedding. The good news is that the couple like classical music.

 

I have been contacted by a solo soprano who has been invited to sing an item of her own choice. She would like to try something a bit different from the usual warhorses and wondered whether I had ideas. I am suggesting Alessandro Grandi's O quam tu pulchra es which is suitably sensual and which I think (hope) will be right up her street. However, I am afraid the bride and groom might just feel that the words are just a bit OTT (especially the bit about having teeth like a flock of sheep!) and I'm stuck for other ideas. What would you suggest?

 

Two considerations are that the soprano has quite a pure, boy-like voice and the organ is a Goetze & Gwynn eighteenth-century copy tuned to Thomas Young temperament. So anything deeply Romantic in six flats is probably not going to be a good idea.

 

For my part, I would prefer to stick to genuine pieces for voice and organ - or at least to avoid rearranging piano reductions of orchestral accompaniments.

 

 

Everyone likes Handel!

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In a moment of complete and utter insanity I recently agreed to play for a wedding. The good news is that the couple like classical music.

 

I have been contacted by a solo soprano who has been invited to sing an item of her own choice. She would like to try something a bit different from the usual warhorses and wondered whether I had ideas. I am suggesting Alessandro Grandi's O quam tu pulchra es which is suitably sensual and which I think (hope) will be right up her street. However, I am afraid the bride and groom might just feel that the words are just a bit OTT (especially the bit about having teeth like a flock of sheep!) and I'm stuck for other ideas. What would you suggest?

 

Two considerations are that the soprano has quite a pure, boy-like voice and the organ is a Goetze & Gwynn eighteenth-century copy tuned to Thomas Young temperament. So anything deeply Romantic in six flats is probably not going to be a good idea.

 

For my part, I would prefer to stick to genuine pieces for voice and organ - or at least to avoid rearranging piano reductions of orchestral accompaniments.

Just off the top of my head, what about one of the Handel "German" arias? I think there are some with an obbligato flute and basso continuo which work very well on the organ alone.

 

A Purcell song? I think there are 3 settings of "If Music Be The Food Of Love". Sweeter Than Roses is amazing.

 

Sounds like a lovely wedding.

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If the Grandi is performed in Latin, nobody in the congregation will have a clue about the words except for what you print as a translation - paraphrase, or just print a note to the effect that it's from Song of Songs and describes a man's love for his betrothed (which will cause everybody to assume it's too risqué to translate).

 

You can tell the happy couple that sheep and goats were symbols of wealth at the time time the words were written and you somehow don't think it appropriate to update to "your eyes are like a fleet of BMWs"...

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How about some Monteverdi? There are numerous songs out there with lute accompaniment that can be easily adapted for organ if you're prepared to realise a bit of figured bass. Not long ago, I came across an exquisite song "Si dolce è'l tormento" - although my Italian is very poor and I can't say whether or not the whole text would be suitable for a wedding...

 

I have to say, though - I'd be surprised if the couple don't like the Grandi. It's an excellent suggestion!

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A Purcell song? I think there are 3 settings of "If Music Be The Food Of Love". Sweeter Than Roses is amazing.

Just remembered that I have a facsimile of Orpheus Britannicus, so dug it out and found one of the settings of "If music" and "Sweeter than roses". Great stuff indeed, though I'm not altogether sure about singing in church about the eroticism of kissing! Probably no worse than the Song of Songs though. (Is it true that the SoS was originally just an erotic poem that had an allegorical interpretation foisted on it by the early church?)

 

Sounds like a lovely wedding.

I think it might well be: the groom has booked a local chamber choir too!

 

Question is: will the Widor work in unequal temperament on a Richard Bridge soundalike with tracker action? It's really not the most suitable organ for it. Karg-Elert's Nun danket was also mentioned - it might be the better option. Given that the happy couple would probably prefer to go out to something joyful from the Romantic period or later, what would you play? Organ spec is here.

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I think that the Laudate Dominum from Vesparae Solennes de Confessore KV 339 is always most suitable. The simple works by Fauré, outside the ubiquitous Requiem (eg: Ave Maria op. 69, Ave Verum op. 65) can be most effective also.

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Just remembered that I have a facsimile of Orpheus Britannicus, so dug it out and found one of the settings of "If music" and "Sweeter than roses". Great stuff indeed, though I'm not altogether sure about singing in church about the eroticism of kissing! Probably no worse than the Song of Songs though. (Is it true that the SoS was originally just an erotic poem that had an allegorical interpretation foisted on it by the early church?)

 

 

I think it might well be: the groom has booked a local chamber choir too!

 

Question is: will the Widor work in unequal temperament on a Richard Bridge soundalike with tracker action? It's really not the most suitable organ for it. Karg-Elert's Nun danket was also mentioned - it might be the better option. Given that the happy couple would probably prefer to go out to something joyful from the Romantic period or later, what would you play? Organ spec is here.

 

 

Fanfare by Lemmens or Carillon Sortie - Mulet would fit the bill perhaps.

If your music does not have to be Romantic, Allegro Giocoso (Water Music) - Handel would be perfect IMHO.

 

Choosing an item for your soloist should not be a problem for you. In my experience, the protocol has always been: the singer brings something they actually have and know, preferably in two legal copies one of which ought to be in the key they actually like.

 

PS Having re-read the information, this occasion sounds pretty pretentious and (possibly) along the lines of the 'competitive spending' weddings over which I have moaned before. If so, nothing that has ever been performed at a wedding before will do. You'll have to really dig deep to find something sufficiently impressive and recherche for them! Something only recently unearthed in an American library would seem to be called for, or (of course) something specially composed, preferably to a text by Sir Andrew Motion. [Thinks: what a superbly appropriate surname this gentleman has!]

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Fanfare by Lemmens or Carillon Sortie - Mulet would fit the bill perhaps.

If your music does not have to be Romantic, Allegro Giocoso (Water Music) - Handel would be perfect IMHO.

Thanks. These are all excellent suggestions. I had actually wondered about the Mulet myself, though I would have to hand-register it and I'm not sure how practical that would be on this organ - for me at any rate. I probably won't have a page-turner to help out.

 

Choosing an item for your soloist should not be a problem for you. In my experience, the protocol has always been: the singer brings something they actually have and know, preferably in two legal copies one of which ought to be in the key they actually like.

Well, yes. The lady and I know each other well enough and it just a friendly enquiry, not a case of passing the buck. Anyway, she tells me she loves the Grandi, so pending the happy couple's approval, I think we're home and dry on that score.

 

PS Having re-read the information, this occasion sounds pretty pretentious and (possibly) along the lines of the 'competitive spending' weddings over which I have moaned before. If so, nothing that has ever been performed at a wedding before will do. You'll have to really dig deep to find something sufficiently impressive and recherche for them! Something only recently unearthed in an American library would seem to be called for, or (of course) something specially composed, preferably to a text by Sir Andrew Motion. [Thinks: what a superbly appropriate surname this gentleman has!]

Hmm, I think I have probably made it sound worse than it will be. I should perhaps have explained that the groom is a tenor in the chamber choir he has booked. If you like music and have a choir ready at hand, wouldn't you ask them to do the honours? Also, when I asked whether the event was being videoed, he looked at me in disbelief and said, "Good God, no. Why on earth would one want to do that?" He'd just better be as good as his word, that's all. :huh:

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Guest Echo Gamba

I saw the spec of this instrument a while ago on G & G's website, and it looks rather good. Is the Swell Cornet a chorus mixture or basically a 12/17 sesquialtera?

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As far as I remember it is a 12.17 stop voiced as a Cornet, not as a Sesquialtera, and it can be used in chorus.

 

Please excuse my ignorance! How different is the voicing between these two stops and in what way? I had thought that it would be more likely that a sesquialtera could be used in chorus than a cornet.

 

Stephen Barber

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I'm no organ builder, so I'm sure the following can be refined, but...

 

The Cornet is composed of wide-scale ranks which consequently have a rather flutey quality, the aim being to give the effect of a reedy fundamental sound rather than the sound of an overtly compound stop. In English Baroque organs the Cornet was a solo stop, but for proof that it could be effective as a chorus stop as well, look no further than, on the one hand, the French Baroque organ (where its function was to boost the weak trebles of the Trompettes) and, on the other, the Swell at St Paul's Cathedral.*

 

The Sesquialtera is composed of narrow-scale ranks of Principal tone. The effect is still reedy, but far more incisive and acid. It is an invaluable colourant as a solo stop, but in English Baroque organs it was essentially a chorus mixture.

 

* Correct me if my distant memory is playing tricks, but I am quite sure that the St Paul's Cornet really is a Cornet and not just a standard Fr Willis tierce mixture under different name.

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Guest Echo Gamba

I rather like Goetze & Gwynne's use on some of their instruments of mixtures that can be used with or without a Tierce rank. I believe this is done by a "double-draw" system......?

 

There is a chamber organ near me (not on NPOR - must rectify that) that I play once a month that has a divided Sesquialtera bass / Cornet treble. One can play a Cornet solo from middle C up using the Cornet with the diapason chorus, or with the Sesquialtera as a chorus mixture - VERY reedy tang.

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I'm no organ builder, so I'm sure the following can be refined, but...

 

The Cornet is composed of wide-scale ranks which consequently have a rather flutey quality, the aim being to give the effect of a reedy fundamental sound rather than the sound of an overtly compound stop. In English Baroque organs the Cornet was a solo stop, but for proof that it could be effective as a chorus stop as well, look no further than, on the one hand, the French Baroque organ (where its function was to boost the weak trebles of the Trompettes) and, on the other, the Swell at St Paul's Cathedral.*

 

The Sesquialtera is composed of narrow-scale ranks of Principal tone. The effect is still reedy, but far more incisive and acid. It is an invaluable colourant as a solo stop, but in English Baroque organs it was essentially a chorus mixture.

 

* Correct me if my distant memory is playing tricks, but I am quite sure that the St Paul's Cornet really is a Cornet and not just a standard Fr Willis tierce mixture under different name.

 

Thank you for that. I know about the French use of the cornet as a chorus stop. I had thought that you were saying (in post 14) that because the stop was voiced as a cornet it could be used as a chorus stop, whereas if it had been voiced as a sesquialtera it couldn't be. On re-reading your post I see that I was inferring something that you hadn't written.

 

I thought that the St Paul's cornet was just a tierce mixture but since I'd forgotten it was called a cornet my memory is obviously not that reliable!

 

Stephen Barber

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snip

 

I thought that the St Paul's cornet was just a tierce mixture but since I'd forgotten it was called a cornet my memory is obviously not that reliable!

 

Stephen Barber

 

 

I can confirm: the St.Paul's Cathedral Swell Cornet is just as Stephen describes, a chorus mixture (including a Tierce rank).

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