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Franck Choral No 2


Dulciana

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I apologise for shamelessly taking advantage of your collective knowledge and experience, but I'm just starting out with this piece, and a few questions are immediately obvious.

 

The first is a few impossible (for me) stretches: I don't have a small hand, but there are a few I couldn't manage. Presumably one has to juggle the notes around and sacrifice the voice-leading at points for keeping the harmony. Does anyone have any particular/clever solutions, particularly in bars 20 and 35 for a start? The second thing is those occasions in which the pedal line is duplicated in the left hand. From what I know of the St. Clotilde instrument, there was no recit to pedal coupler, and so presumably this explains the doubling; in the presence of a swell to pedal coupler, surely this doubling could be omitted? Thirdly, in the absence of a Voix Humaine, the celeste is probably the best bet, but it isn't right: what do people use?

 

Any other pointers?

 

Thanks.

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I apologise for shamelessly taking advantage of your collective knowledge and experience, but I'm just starting out with this piece, and a few questions are immediately obvious.

 

The first is a few impossible (for me) stretches: I don't have a small hand, but there are a few I couldn't manage. Presumably one has to juggle the notes around and sacrifice the voice-leading at points for keeping the harmony. Does anyone have any particular/clever solutions, particularly in bars 20 and 35 for a start? The second thing is those occasions in which the pedal line is duplicated in the left hand. From what I know of the St. Clotilde instrument, there was no recit to pedal coupler, and so presumably this explains the doubling; in the presence of a swell to pedal coupler, surely this doubling could be omitted? Thirdly, in the absence of a Voix Humaine, the celeste is probably the best bet, but it isn't right: what do people use?

 

Any other pointers?

 

Thanks.

 

With regard to the first point: have a registrant remove all pedal stops (and the Tirasse G.O.) from b. 17 until b.32. Then play the lowest left-hand notes in b. 20 and 35 with your feet, redistributing the other parts as convenient.

 

There was indeed no Tirasse Récit on the organ at Ste. Clothilde. Drawing Tirasse Récit (or Swell to Pedal) and omitting the doubled notes will produce the same effect.

 

The third point: if you have an Hautbois (or Oboe) - and preferably a 4ft. Flute and Treumlant - I would use the following: Hautbois, Céleste, 4ft. Flute and Tremulant. On my instrument, this gives a fairly acceptable Voix Humaine. Using an undulant and the mild string (or Viole de Gambe) with which it beats is not nearly the same effect.

 

Clearly the effect will vary on other instruments. In the absence of a 4ft. Flute on the Swell, it may be possible to couple the Swell to the Choir Organ (if you have one) and use a 4ft. Flute on this department, for example.

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Guest Cynic
I apologise for shamelessly taking advantage of your collective knowledge and experience, but I'm just starting out with this piece, and a few questions are immediately obvious.

 

The first is a few impossible (for me) stretches: I don't have a small hand, but there are a few I couldn't manage. Presumably one has to juggle the notes around and sacrifice the voice-leading at points for keeping the harmony. Does anyone have any particular/clever solutions, particularly in bars 20 and 35 for a start? The second thing is those occasions in which the pedal line is duplicated in the left hand. From what I know of the St. Clotilde instrument, there was no recit to pedal coupler, and so presumably this explains the doubling; in the presence of a swell to pedal coupler, surely this doubling could be omitted? Thirdly, in the absence of a Voix Humaine, the celeste is probably the best bet, but it isn't right: what do people use?

 

Any other pointers?

 

Thanks.

 

No need to apologise for asking for opinions. That is what this forum is for!

Enjoy Chorale no.2 - is it worth any amount of work - IMHO one of the top ten organ pieces ever written (if one excludes about 150 which are all by JSB).

 

Bar 20: I agree, this is absolutely impossible for small hands as it stands. It's difficult for large ones!

I'd suggest you place the D in the middle of the LH chord rather than an octave higher in the RH. I supposed you could play all the LH up an octave, but this would spoil it IMHO.

 

Bar 35: probably the same solution, i.e. the LH plays a three-note chord.

The truth is, your listeners would have to be very sharp indeed to spot such alterations which remain in the spirit of the thing! A pianist (of course) would merely stick the sustain pedal down and spread the chords. It is not certain that Franck ever tried these pieces out; mind you, I believe there is a tradition that he did have large hands.

 

Yes, if you've drawn the Sw/Ped, there are several places where the lowest note in the LH could be omitted.

 

Re. Vox Humana: sometimes Celeste and Violin Diapason gives a better approximation, even Flute (no String) and Celeste. Celestes and 4' flute perhaps... I have heard it done with Oboe and strings, but the Oboe would have to be very soft. UK taste would totally approve a decent pair of celestes at such points. To be honest, more or less anywhere outside France some characteristic colours will be missing. I heard a very good Widor 6 on Monday, but missed a proper Harmonic Flute solo. Even though it was on a substantial instrument (Beverley Minster) all the player seemed to have to choose from were a variety of stopped 8's, none of which had the characteristic bloom, fullness or purity of tone.

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Any other pointers?

 

A wonderful piece!

 

However, like many others by Cesar Franck, it does contain some very awkward moments.

I would identify these and start working on them first; very, very slowly.

In the section from 206 to 221 (the passage just before the long F# pedal point) the semiquavers are by far the most awkward, start learning this section now and memorise the falling patterns.

I have heard many performances come unstuck at this point, indeed I attended an opening rectial a few weeks ago in which the young organist who is the assistant at one of our premier Cathedrals and a 'rising star' blemished an otherwise flawless recital at this point.

 

Good luck,

DT

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At risk of telling many great, great grandmothers how to suck eggs I would add that it is rare that a whole passage is difficult. Usually, in my experience, the real difficulty is restricted to just one bar, or even just two chords. The art is to pinpoint exactly what and where the difficulty is, precisely, isolate it and practice it very slowy until it is secure and you can put it back into context. That way you will save time and learn the piece more thoroughly and more quickly.

 

As I have probably got the smallest hands in the entire universe I have no qualms about helping out the bass part by using the pedals with no stops drawn. The opening to the Franck First Chorale is an ideal and obvious example.

 

Malcolm

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Guest Stanley Monkhouse

As a substitue Voix Humaine on the organ of St Martin, Sherwood, I have used 16 Gamba plus 4 Lieblich Flute up an octave. It sounded surprisingly good, people said. At Hertford College Oxford, I used 8 Gamba and 4 Flute - also quite effective. No tremulants on either organ, and I don't like to use celestes too much.

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As a substitue Voix Humaine on the organ of St Martin, Sherwood, I have used 16 Gamba plus 4 Lieblich Flute up an octave. It sounded surprisingly good, people said. At Hertford College Oxford, I used 8 Gamba and 4 Flute - also quite effective. No tremulants on either organ, and I don't like to use celestes too much.

 

I agree, Gamba (salicional, viola da gamba or even a dulciana) with soft 4' flute works well in the absence of a Vox

Alternatively I have even used odd things like 8' Oboe and Nazard 2-2/3' or even a Salicional and Nazard 2-2/3'. Sometimes things that look absolutely ridiculous on paper actually work really well!

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Thanks to everyone for their advice so far. I'll have to have a play about with combinations as suggested on the swell organ when I have a chance, to see whether I can come up with a passable Voix Humaine (no such problems on the toaster at home as I have one!). The more I look at this wonderful piece the more difficulties become apparent: it will take a bit of work, but should be ultimately satisfying, I think.

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In the section from 206 to 221 (the passage just before the long F# pedal point).....

Forgive me, but I'm slightly confused: Are the bar numbers the same in all editions?

In mine (Peters Edition, ed. Otto Barblan) the G minor section starts at bar 148, the F# pedal point to which I think you are referring starts at bar 246, and the whole piece contains 288 bars. Can somebody clarify, please? Thanks in advance.

Fortunately, I am able to practice regularly on the Ducroquet Cavaille-Coll of Aix Cathedral, so it's fairly easy to use Franck's given registrations. :)

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Forgive me, but I'm slightly confused: Are the bar numbers the same in all editions?

In mine (Peters Edition, ed. Otto Barblan) the G minor section starts at bar 148, the F# pedal point to which I think you are referring starts at bar 246, and the whole piece contains 288 bars. Can somebody clarify, please? Thanks in advance.

As I said to the wife last night as I reached for the bottle, "Who's counting?" :) The worst bit in the semiquavers that precede the pedal point is the four bars of descending figures accompanied by short chords in LH and pedal on the first and second beats. When I was learning it I found the difficulty level fairly uniform throughout. Other bits I had to work at were:

 

1. The rising LH and pedal chords where the RH first moves to the GO (not difficult to play, but difficult to throw off with ease; good balance vital here);

 

2. The semiquaver passages that follow the chorale shortly after this. It wasn't so much the semiquavers as some of the accompanying notes that made this feel messy!

 

3. The semiquavers at the largamente con fantasia. Can't understand why I found this bit tricky; it isn't difficult. Just one of those things, I guess. The three upward runs at the end are easy if you let the left hand take the first note of the second beat in each bar.

 

Your mileage may vary!

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Forgive me, but I'm slightly confused: Are the bar numbers the same in all editions?

In mine (Peters Edition, ed. Otto Barblan) the G minor section starts at bar 148, the F# pedal point to which I think you are referring starts at bar 246, and the whole piece contains 288 bars. Can somebody clarify, please? Thanks in advance.

Fortunately, I am able to practice regularly on the Ducroquet Cavaille-Coll of Aix Cathedral, so it's fairly easy to use Franck's given registrations. ;)

 

:)

Erm, yeah, sorry about that, I sort of miscounted.

However, the passage I mean is that prior to bar 246, as Vox Humana put it:

'The worst bit in the semiquavers that precede the pedal point is the four bars of descending figures accompanied by short chords in LH and pedal on the first and second beats.'

 

At present I am trying to put the finishing touches to 'Grande Piece Symphonique' which I have found quite a bit harder to learn than the rest of Franck's works for organ. It's not that the piece has any particular technical difficulties, it's just that my brain doesn't seem capable of working in F# major with a lot of accidentals and double sharps thrown in for good measure. :(

 

DT

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Guest Cynic
snip

 

At present I am trying to put the finishing touches to 'Grande Piece Symphonique' which I have found quite a bit harder to learn than the rest of Franck's works for organ. It's not that the piece has any particular technical difficulties, it's just that my brain doesn't seem capable of working in F# major with a lot of accidentals and double sharps thrown in for good measure. :)

 

DT

 

 

If you have had no problem learning GPS, I'm sure Choral no.2 will present no particular difficulty. In my book GPS is the hardest work Franck wrote for the organ. That F sharp section is difficult, and so are the last two pages, especially where the melody is in the Alto, played by the LH along with too many other notes for comfort!

 

If you hate the double sharps, wait until you get to Priere! Mind you, that at least is not going allegro at the time.

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That F sharp section is difficult, and so are the last two pages, especially where the melody is in the Alto, played by the LH along with too many other notes for comfort!

 

If you hate the double sharps, wait until you get to Priere! Mind you, that at least is not going allegro at the time.

 

Glad someone of your stature finds this difficult, I was beginning to think that early Alzheimer's was setting in!

 

I haven't had a look at Priere yet but am very fond of it. When I've done that and Final I've got the lot under my belt.

 

DT

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With regard to the first point: have a registrant remove all pedal stops (and the Tirasse G.O.) from b. 17 until b.32. Then play the lowest left-hand notes in b. 20 and 35 with your feet, redistributing the other parts as convenient.

 

There was indeed no Tirasse Récit on the organ at Ste. Clothilde. Drawing Tirasse Récit (or Swell to Pedal) and omitting the doubled notes will produce the same effect.

 

I find the same little trick helpful in the First Choral too - the opening section has some equally nasty stretches in the context of quite a thick texture...

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Guest Roffensis
I apologise for shamelessly taking advantage of your collective knowledge and experience, but I'm just starting out with this piece, and a few questions are immediately obvious.

 

The first is a few impossible (for me) stretches: I don't have a small hand, but there are a few I couldn't manage. Presumably one has to juggle the notes around and sacrifice the voice-leading at points for keeping the harmony. Does anyone have any particular/clever solutions, particularly in bars 20 and 35 for a start? The second thing is those occasions in which the pedal line is duplicated in the left hand. From what I know of the St. Clotilde instrument, there was no recit to pedal coupler, and so presumably this explains the doubling; in the presence of a swell to pedal coupler, surely this doubling could be omitted? Thirdly, in the absence of a Voix Humaine, the celeste is probably the best bet, but it isn't right: what do people use?

 

Any other pointers?

 

Thanks.

 

Oboe? Used with a tremulant, it often can work?

 

R

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