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Schumann - 6 Fuges On The Name Bach


Peter Clark
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I have the Bretkopf edition of these, edited and with a preface by Wolfgang Dallmann. His aim, assuming a 3-manual intrument with "electrical registration" and modern playing aids (the publication date is 1974) is a "realisation in sound which is ideally appropriate to the expressive content of the work, yet which agrees with the somewhat restrained sound of the romantic organ..." and goes on to say that you could probably play them on a "fully mechanical" organ (with regsitration assistants) or even, heaven forbid, a 2-manual instrument.

 

That's before you get to the music itself which is to my mind somewhat overburdened with registration suggestions, fingering and footing suggestions and an unnecessary number of manual changes. There is also a problem with loss of continuity when the pedal continues or concludes a line begun the the manual and vice versa , since a 16' registration is indicated for the pedal (though coupled) and 8 and 4 for the manual (see eg Fugue 1 bars 7-9, Fugue 3 bars 17-18).

 

I would welcome members' thoughts on this topic.

 

Thanks

 

Peter

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I think the most important thing to do when performing this sort of music is to orchestrate it for the instrument you are performing on. I have a fine recording of these pieces from the Royal Albert Hall by Simon Preston (which is on Signum) from which i think one can learn a lot. I recommend you get hold of it. One could play them in an academic manner, but i don't think this would do them justice - in my opinion these fugues are one of the most significant works written for the organ in Germany during this period, unlike the Canons and Sketches, which are pedal piano pieces.

 

Hope that's of use.

 

Simon

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In my humble opinion, the Schumann Fugues on BACH are extremely fine pieces of music - all 6 of them. When Schumann completed them, he commented that he felt they should long outlive all his other works the longest. Of course, he had yet to write Dicterliebe and a few other masterpieces but I find these pieces seem to appeal to non-organists more than organists themselves.

 

I too have the Breitkopf/Dallmann edition and find the editorial intervention in this edition distracting. I would strongly recommend getting another edition and making your own decisions about the performance of these pieces.

 

Henle Verlag do a very good edition - it is well laid-out, beautifully printed and well bound with sensible page turns. It is a scholarly urtext which presents Schumann's original intentions faithfully, without the extraneous suggestions of a second editor. The edition also includes the Canons and Sketches in a handy-sized and reasonably priced edition.

 

When you compare the two editions, you'll find the Dallmann edition lays out some of the manual parts for the pedals and assumes the pedal stops to be silenced where the pedals help out the hands, only to be brought back on for the real pedal entries Schumann wrote. This is the function of the rather unusual "-Pd kb" and "+pd kb" markings in the Dallmann edition. This, and Dallmann's other numerous suggestions, quickly erodes the authority of this edition and makes it harder to play these pieces - especially if one cannot silence the pedal stops easily on one's organ. However, my biggest gripe with the Dallmann edition is his abandonment and removal of Schumann's (arguably curious) slurring - and, even worse - the alteration and removal of some of the notes.

 

There are a couple of interesting books on Schumann and his study of Bach - see the following:

 

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=LngJVVs...ues&f=false

 

http://www.henle.de/index.cfm?open=01

 

I seem to play these pieces just fine on a 2 manual mechanical action organ with mechanical stop action.

 

I like this performance of the first fugue by Peter Sykes (recording of a live concert) on a Richards, Fowkes and Co. organ on PipeDreams - go to 11:30 on part II. This performance sparked my interest in these pieces. I wish Peter Sykes would hurry up and record the rest of them - I'm still waiting for a recording of these fugues that really does them justice.

http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/2008/0801/

(btw, listen to the acoustic this organ is in - it's incredible this organ sounds as as good as it does - it's absolutely unbelievable).

 

Best wishes

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I use Peters edition, which is very starightforward, and allows you to annotate to taste and needs appropriately.

 

I would too agree thy are some of the finest pieces from the period and would argue that all organists should at least play one of them, even if they don't particularly like Romantic music. Needless to say, I don't play them all!!

 

Jonathan :huh:

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I have the 1881 Breitkopf edition to hand here, edited by Clara Schumann, no less. There are no suggestions at all as to registration. In fugue I, the pedal doesn't enter until bar 12 - so no attempt to move the manual parts to the pedals. Lovely clear layout, too.

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I have the 1881 Breitkopf edition to hand here, edited by Clara Schumann, no less. There are no suggestions at all as to registration. In fugue I, the pedal doesn't enter until bar 12 - so no attempt to move the manual parts to the pedals. Lovely clear layout, too.

 

Hopefully an accurate edition then, but we all know what MC Alain did with Jehan's organ works!

 

Clear layout is always good though. :rolleyes:

 

Jonathan

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I have the 1881 Breitkopf edition to hand here, edited by Clara Schumann, no less. There are no suggestions at all as to registration. In fugue I, the pedal doesn't enter until bar 12 - so no attempt to move the manual parts to the pedals. Lovely clear layout, too.

 

Thanks for this. IMSLP have the Clara Schumann edition which is a model of clarity and common sense!

 

Peter

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I think the most important thing to do when performing this sort of music is to orchestrate it for the instrument you are performing on. I have a fine recording of these pieces from the Royal Albert Hall by Simon Preston (which is on Signum) from which i think one can learn a lot. I recommend you get hold of it. One could play them in an academic manner, but i don't think this would do them justice - in my opinion these fugues are one of the most significant works written for the organ in Germany during this period, unlike the Canons and Sketches, which are pedal piano pieces.

 

Hope that's of use.

 

Simon

I used to think these pieces weren't worth bothering with. Then I heard Simon Preston play them at the RFH in the recital series just before the refurbishment, and discovered that I'd been wrong. They're not easy, though!

 

Ian

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