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Rah Wayne Marshall's Concert


Lausanne
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I have just returned from Wayne Marshall's concert on the Royal Albert Hall organ this evening and wondered if anyone else had been there. Was it just me or did most of the programme appear to be played at break neck speed? I expect variations in tempo from different organists, but when it becomes difficult to recognise the piece being played, I find it hard to appreciate the music.

 

There was certainly a great deal of technically superb playing, even if the 16' pedal pipes clearly were not impressed by being asked to repeat quicker than it takes them to sound in the first place. The sound of the instrument was very good, despite the poor acoustics. It must take a week or two to tune the whole thing.

 

There was a relatively high level of background noise, either a heating system or perhaps even the organ wind (surely dealt with in the recent restoration). We were sat at the other end of the Hall, so up close it will have been intrusive during the quieter pieces of music.

 

I was surprised to find that the next RAH organ concert is not until next summer, obviously one or two other things happen there in between.

 

I'm in London until Saturday, any suggestions for other concerts?

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I have just returned from Wayne Marshall's concert on the Royal Albert Hall organ this evening and wondered if anyone else had been there. Was it just me or did most of the programme appear to be played at break neck speed? I expect variations in tempo from different organists, but when it becomes difficult to recognise the piece being played, I find it hard to appreciate the music.

 

There was certainly a great deal of technically superb playing, even if the 16' pedal pipes clearly were not impressed by being asked to repeat quicker than it takes them to sound in the first place. The sound of the instrument was very good, despite the poor acoustics. It must take a week or two to tune the whole thing.

 

There was a relatively high level of background noise, either a heating system or perhaps even the organ wind (surely dealt with in the recent restoration). We were sat at the other end of the Hall, so up close it will have been intrusive during the quieter pieces of music.

 

I was surprised to find that the next RAH organ concert is not until next summer, obviously one or two other things happen there in between.

 

I'm in London until Saturday, any suggestions for other concerts?

[

 

 

 

You may like to consider the following:

 

Thursday 13.10 All Hallows by the Tower

Friday 12.30 St Stephen's Walbrook

 

A

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Guest Geoff McMahon

The noise at the recitals at the RAH comes from the very noisy projectors, either side of the organ, projecting onto the screens. The first time I heard that I thought the organ had developed its leaks again, but it hasn't.

 

John

 

There was a relatively high level of background noise, either a heating system or perhaps even the organ wind (surely dealt with in the recent restoration). We were sat at the other end of the Hall, so up close it will have been intrusive during the quieter pieces of music.
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The noise at the recitals at the RAH comes from the very noisy projectors, either side of the organ, projecting onto the screens. The first time I heard that I thought the organ had developed its leaks again, but it hasn't.

 

John

Thank you for clearing that up, I was sure it couldn't be the organ so soon after all your work. Those projectors just happen to produce a very convincing impression of organ wind eacaping left, right and centre!

 

Thanks Alistair for the concert suggestions, I'll aim to attend. I also know there is a web site lisiting London organ concerts, I was just too lazy to check it out.

 

DME

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I have just returned from Wayne Marshall's concert on the Royal Albert Hall organ this evening and wondered if anyone else had been there. Was it just me or did most of the programme appear to be played at break neck speed? I expect variations in tempo from different organists, but when it becomes difficult to recognise the piece being played, I find it hard to appreciate the music.

 

There was certainly a great deal of technically superb playing, even if the 16' pedal pipes clearly were not impressed by being asked to repeat quicker than it takes them to sound in the first place. The sound of the instrument was very good, despite the poor acoustics. It must take a week or two to tune the whole thing.

 

There was a relatively high level of background noise, either a heating system or perhaps even the organ wind (surely dealt with in the recent restoration). We were sat at the other end of the Hall, so up close it will have been intrusive during the quieter pieces of music.

 

I was surprised to find that the next RAH organ concert is not until next summer, obviously one or two other things happen there in between.

 

I'm in London until Saturday, any suggestions for other concerts?

----------------------------------------------------

 

I'm with you David. The programme was varied and entertaining on the whole but I've never heard the first and last movements of Widor 6 played at that speed. I also commented at the time to the people I was with that the pipes weren't having time to speak properly due to the speed of the playing. I like to be impressed by organists with amazing technique and there's nothing wrong with letting rip but at the expense of musicality then I'm not so sure.

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----------------------------------------------------

 

I'm with you David. The programme was varied and entertaining on the whole but I've never heard the first and last movements of Widor 6 played at that speed. I also commented at the time to the people I was with that the pipes weren't having time to speak properly due to the speed of the playing. I like to be impressed by organists with amazing technique and there's nothing wrong with letting rip but at the expense of musicality then I'm not so sure.

 

Are you saying you actually recognised it as Widor 6? I think Mr Marshall needs to get his accelerator pedal seen to.

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In my experience, Wayne Marshall always plays fast pieces at break neck speed. I'm afraid if he's on radio or TV I give it a miss, the music loses all feeling. A name to look for, by the way, is Raul Prieto Ramirez, organist at the Madrid Concert Hall, he played a recital at Victoria Hall, Hanley last Saturday and everyone was blown away. It was his first and only recital here but I'm sure we'll see him again. He played his whole programme from memory which included his own arrangemts of some apparently technically difficult Liszt pieces. It was extremely musical and enjoyable. Enter his name on Youtube and you'll see him playing a few pieces including some Liszt.

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Several years ago I went to a recital by Wayne Marshall at Reading Town Hall.

 

I couldn't stand the speed of everything and left at half time - I've never done this before or since.

 

He introduced one piece saying something like - "I think most people play this too slowly. I play it one in a bar." To me it sounded like one in a page! :blink:

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In my experience, Wayne Marshall always plays fast pieces at break neck speed. I'm afraid if he's on radio or TV I give it a miss, the music loses all feeling. A name to look for, by the way, is Raul Prieto Ramirez, organist at the Madrid Concert Hall, he played a recital at Victoria Hall, Hanley last Saturday and everyone was blown away. It was his first and only recital here but I'm sure we'll see him again. He played his whole programme from memory which included his own arrangemts of some apparently technically difficult Liszt pieces. It was extremely musical and enjoyable. Enter his name on Youtube and you'll see him playing a few pieces including some Liszt.

 

I normally manage to get to the Victoria Hall recitals, but last Saturday was an exception. Glad to hear it went down well.

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Or to quote Mr Snetzler: "Te devil! Te devil! He run over te keys like von cat. He vill not give my fifes room for to shpeak".

 

Performers trying to play faster than the organ can speak evidently isn't a new phenomenon. Nor presumably is the difference of opinion on how fast pieces ought to go.

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Or to quote Mr Snetzler: "Te devil! Te devil! He run over te keys like von cat. He vill not give my fifes room for to shpeak".

 

Performers trying to play faster than the organ can speak evidently isn't a new phenomenon. Nor presumably is the difference of opinion on how fast pieces ought to go.

 

Indeed. Included in my L.P. collection is a recording of the opening recital on the organ of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Amongst the tracks by other performers is a recording of Jeanne Demessieux playing Widor's Toccata about ten percent faster than most people are able to listen to it....

 

Not particularly edifying, either.

 

This said (well, written), I met Wayne Marshall a few years ago, beofre he was due to give a recital at a church in the area. I found him to be pleasant, friendly and entirely without the airs and graces which occasionally afflict top-class performers.

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Or to quote Mr Snetzler: "Te devil! Te devil! He run over te keys like von cat. He vill not give my fifes room for to shpeak".

 

Performers trying to play faster than the organ can speak evidently isn't a new phenomenon. Nor presumably is the difference of opinion on how fast pieces ought to go.

Did anyone else think that the Bach D major after choral evensong this week was pretty speedy?

I've just listened to the repeat, and yes, he did play it at quite a lick. But let's face it, this isn't JSB's finest piece, but played at a fairly fast pace it is entertaining. Why not? I thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

'Performers trying to play faster than the organ can speak evidently isn't a new phenomenon. Nor presumably is the difference of opinion on how fast pieces ought to go. ' (Nick Bennet's post)

 

I think there are bound to be differences of opinion regarding the speed to play a piece, although most pieces seem to have a 'natural' speed adopted by most players that suits to piece, and which is varied slightly from player to player, but only slightly. I can't explain it, it is just the speed that sounds right. There are, though, practical matters for musicians; the speed the instrument responds, or pipes speak, for one, acoustics for another - there is little point playing so fast that echoes swamp everything - and the ability of the player to clearly convey the spirit and rhythm of a piece. Classic FM often play a performance of the famous Litolf (spelling?) 'Scherzo' which is so fast that the 'twiddles' in the music are, to my ears at least, not played within the beat, but slightly after it. Totally unnecessary. Again, it isn't music's finest hour, but there is no need for such a rush. The older Moura Lympany performance is more gracefully done, and everything is in its place; to me, much to be prefered.

 

Regards to all

 

John

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----------------------------------------------------

 

I'm with you David. The programme was varied and entertaining on the whole but I've never heard the first and last movements of Widor 6 played at that speed. I also commented at the time to the people I was with that the pipes weren't having time to speak properly due to the speed of the playing. I like to be impressed by organists with amazing technique and there's nothing wrong with letting rip but at the expense of musicality then I'm not so sure.

One of my pet peeves, particularly when playing low on the manuals, is when players don't listen to whether the reeds are able to speak properly, sometimes because the same articulation is being used low in the range as is used higher in the range where the reeds speak more promptly.

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A former teacher of mine used to say he played quite a bit faster than he liked to hear pieces played. Is a difference between "playing speed" and "listening speed" common? - especially this way round!

I sometimes think that as a player I am playing at a good listening speed - until I listen to a recording of myself and hear that it appears faster or slower when listen to it whilst not playing than I believed whilst playing.

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So good to read this last comment. Rather like speaking, I sometimes think I am playing quite slowly and then when I hear a recording of it I am amazed how fast it is. There are, of course, reasons for this such as nerves, insufficient control of breathing, not listening properly &c., &c., but it is good to know I am not the only one who sometimes has this problem. I think/hope I have learned to look out for it now.

 

Some conductors seem to suffer from the same problem, almost certainly for the same reasons.

 

Malcolm

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A former teacher of mine used to say he played quite a bit faster than he liked to hear pieces played. Is a difference between "playing speed" and "listening speed" common? - especially this way round!

I know I often used to play faster than I thought I was playing and was sometimes quite shocked to hear a recording. I like to think I have long cured myself of this, but occasionally I still wonder.

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I also made the mistake of attending Wayne Marshall's recital. I should have known better, as I have heard him play before.

 

What I find very curious, is that my ears detect great musicality emanating from Mr Marshall. And this whilst I hear him, yet again, destroying the music by trying to prove how clever he is by playing so fast.

 

And then there are the full organ climaxes. Over and over and over again he goes for full organ. And frankly, as far as I am concerned, full organ at the RAH needs to be used sparingly. Maybe no more than twice in a recital. He would probably register a Bach Choral prelude to finish on the solo reeds.

 

If I were ever to meet Mr Marshall, I would suggest to him that he takes the 1st 10 mins of a recital to show how clever he is at playing at speed. He could do this on full organ. Then, turn his musicality back on and make sense of the music.

 

Alan

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. . .If I were ever to meet Mr Marshall, I would suggest to him that he takes the 1st 10 mins of a recital to show how clever he is at playing at speed. He could do this on full organ. Then, turn his musicality back on and make sense of the music.

 

Alan

 

He does rather have a disposition to be on the dismissive side.

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Did anyone else think that the Bach D major after choral evensong this week was pretty speedy?

 

I enjoyed the Bach D major but also the entire evensong. Do you think it was intended to be at that speed or was the need to take off like a rocket after the dismissal at 16:50 was because it had to be completed before 17:00? It is certainly exciting.

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Returning to the topic (well sort of!) of Wayne Marshall at the RAH, I was in London that day at Tate Britain (Turner and the Masters – well worth going) but having grown tired in the past of WM’s breakneck speeds, although undoubted technique, went to hear Nicholas Kynaston at Westminster Cathedral for the last of the 2009 Grand Organ Festival recitals.

 

I found the programme rather unsatisfactory. The Elgar Sonata showed off the instrument brilliantly but I thought some of the tempos a shade too fast. The second item was a NK transcription of Mendelssohn’s P & F in B minor for piano (why?).

 

The third and final item was Reger's Introduction and Variations on an original theme, Op 73. I don’t know the work other than by reputation (described by Martin Baker in his introduction as a monumental composition) and assume it is of great technical difficulty, but also very difficult for the listener. Unlike the Reger Chorale Fantasies (Hallelujah! Gott zu loben, Wachet Auf etc) where one can identify the choral and there is usually a decent fugue to come away humming I found it difficult to identify the 'original theme' and found the final fugue unmemorable. I came away asking myself why anyone would put in the undoubted effort to learn this piece which I suggest is only suitable for a very specialist audience.

Did anyone go and what did you think?

 

Incidentally the Westminster Cathedral 2010 festival starts on 28 April with David Briggs and continues monthly until 20 October 2010.

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I have just returned from Wayne Marshall's concert on the Royal Albert Hall organ this evening and wondered if anyone else had been there. Was it just me or did most of the programme appear to be played at break neck speed? I expect variations in tempo from different organists, but when it becomes difficult to recognise the piece being played, I find it hard to appreciate the music.

I seem to remember hearing him give a series of concerts on the radio (in place of 'The Organist Entertains'?) a few years ago. I recall one of his comments before launching into his next piece: "So-and-so was known as a virtuoso organist, but I bet he couldn't play as fast as me". That said it all about his playing, as far as I was concerned.

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