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Francis Pott - Christus


andyorgan
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Self explanatory really. What I'd like to know is, are there any movements (one, or more) of the two hours that work well by themselves in isolation (ie as a voluntary, or recital piece), or does one need the whole thing for effect and unity? I know one forum member here has reviewed a recording of the work, and might perhaps be able to offer advice?

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  • 1 month later...

I spent a morning with David Goode going through this piece and watching open mouthed as he played parts of it - it is the most insanely difficult thing I've ever seen - it makes Messiaen look easy. DG talked about how it took him months to learn, how he had to practice it - sometimes just 3 or 4 notes at a time getting them right before adding subsequent notes and how, several weeks before practice time, he still had the difficult parts of it only up to half speed... I have tremendous respect for anyone who can play it - it is a monumental feat.

 

I'd suggest talking to someone who can play it about what would be good to tackle - David Goode, Robert Quinney and I wonder if Kevin Bowyer plays it? The Battle in Heaven movement between Good & Evil is tremedously exciting - maybe that would work? I think it's about 35 minutes so it may be a bit long on Easter Sunday morning.

 

A good stepping stone might be the Francis Pott Toccata?

 

If flippancy is allowed on these pages: One thing DG pointed out was the similarities between Christus and the music in the film trilogy "Lord of the Rings" - especially the D maj - B flat major - C maj - Dmaj progression used to signify the coming of the good guys...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm glad this has been resurrected. My enthusiasm for the piece (along with much Vierne) came from Jeremy Filsell, who I believe is the only one to have recorded it all. I may be wrong?

 

Is it as insanely difficult as the forty minute, nine-voice Sorajbi fugue in one of his organ symphonies?

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"I'm glad this has been resurrected. My enthusiasm for the piece (along with much Vierne) came from Jeremy Filsell, who I believe is the only one to have recorded it all. I may be wrong?"

 

I agree. I think it's a fantastic piece. I think Jeremy Filsell is the only one to have recorded it.

 

"Is it as insanely difficult as the forty minute, nine-voice Sorajbi fugue in one of his organ symphonies?"

 

Yes. Maybe even harder. But there are quite a lot of stretches of Christus that are "sightreadable" (to quote David Goode...)

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I have indeed played Christus; in fact I learnt and played it at the same time as David Goode, in spring 2001. We compared notes at the time, and had both had the disconcerting experience of thinking we were sight-reading a page, only to discover some fingering lower down!

 

The outer movements of the five can be played alone; they last c. 35 and 45 minutes respectively, and are both very challenging technically (the final 'Resurrectio' movement in particular). I have also played the central movement, which is the most narrative of the five, on its own - but in the context of a specific recital series focussed on the Passion.

 

Guilmant, if you find Christus a little daunting (!) I suggest investigating Francis's 'Empyrean' Rhapsody (UMP), which is about 10 minutes long and very satisfying to play. The Toccata (Fand Music Press, and there is a recording of it somewhere in the Hyperion catalogue) is also a marvellous piece, useful for festal occasions and recitals. All music by Francis Pott is difficult to play!

 

Jeremy Filsell's recording of Christus is the only one currently available (on Signum, recorded at St Peter's Eaton Square), but a recording was made (largely at the premiere in 1991) for Priory by Iain Simcock on the Grand Organ of Westminster Cathedral. That is the Christus instrument par excellence.

 

Performances of Christus are few and far between, for obvious reasons. I'm hoping to play it more than once next year, however. Having learnt it it seems a shame (and extremely inefficient) not to perform it more than once!

 

Robert Quinney

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..................... The Toccata (Fand Music Press, and there is a recording of it somewhere in the Hyperion catalogue) is also a marvellous piece, useful for festal occasions and recitals. All music by Francis Pott is difficult to play!

 

Robert Quinney

 

 

The above performance is at the end of a superb Westminster Abbey CD and the piece is played by RJHQ himself - quite stunningly as is all the rest of the accompaniment. I think that this is possibly the same CD that contains a recording of the Finzi God is Gone Up that nearly caused me to crash my car on the A303 when the reeds came in at the start!

 

A

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Agree with AJJ, Robert you really should be more bold in saying that it was your recording! That, along with the rest of the discs in that series that you and James O'Donnell have done at Westminster in recent years are, in my humble opinion, among the very best choral discs to have been released in recent years.

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  • 1 year later...
Self explanatory really. What I'd like to know is, are there any movements (one, or more) of the two hours that work well by themselves in isolation (ie as a voluntary, or recital piece), or does one need the whole thing for effect and unity? I know one forum member here has reviewed a recording of the work, and might perhaps be able to offer advice?

Not news of Christus, but of a performance of its choral (sort of) equivalent, The Cloud of Unknowing: http://www.eatonsquareconcerts.org.uk/?id=...erts#2011-04-07

 

Vasari Singers (dir Jeremy Backhouse), James Gilchrist, and me, at St Peter's, Eaton Square, London SW1, on Thursday 7 April at 7.30pm. I'm learning the piece at the moment, and it more than repays the considerable effort one puts in! Interested readers who are unable to attend the concert might like to know of the fine recording of the work, on Signum, with James Gilchrist, the Vasaris, and Jeremy Filsell playing stupendously on the Marcussen organ of Tonbridge School.

 

As promised, I'll post information of Christus performances as they are arranged. Nothing yet, but I'm open to suggestions...

 

Best wishes

Robert Quinney

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