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When to bring in pedal - Couperin mass


davidh
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The "Dialogue sur la Voix humaine", couplet 6 of the Messe pour les Convents (Qui tollis peccata mundi) is almost entirely playable on the manuals alone. The exceptions arise in the last few bars when there is at least one stretch, if not two, that would be possible only for exceptionally large hands, so most people would find the pedals necessary.

 

The final section is marked "Les 2 mains sur la Voix humaine". It seems logical to take the lowest voice on the pedals from the start of the section, but the tremblement in the fourth bar doesn't seems likely on the old French pedal boards.

 

Presuming that the lowest voice is to be played on the pedals, what would be a suitable registration?

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The "Dialogue sur la Voix humaine", couplet 6 of the Messe pour les Convents (Qui tollis peccata mundi) is almost entirely playable on the manuals alone. The exceptions arise in the last few bars when there is at least one stretch, if not two, that would be possible only for exceptionally large hands, so most people would find the pedals necessary.

 

The final section is marked "Les 2 mains sur la Voix humaine". It seems logical to take the lowest voice on the pedals from the start of the section, but the tremblement in the fourth bar doesn't seems likely on the old French pedal boards.

 

Presuming that the lowest voice is to be played on the pedals, what would be a suitable registration?

 

Would the lowest voice really be played on the pedals when the instruction is to have both hands on the Voix humaine? I would use only a manual to pedal coupler in order to negotiate the stretches, and would play as much of the section as possible on the manuals (Voix humaine) - including, of course, the tremblement.

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Would the lowest voice really be played on the pedals when the instruction is to have both hands on the voix humaine? I would use only a manual to pedal coupler in order to negotiate the stretches, and would play as much of the section as possible on the manuals (voix humaine) - including, of course, the tremblement.

 

I've seen French players of 'note' (Isoir etc.) do similar things when the need arises - also doubling the bass line to add gravitas when appropriate in Grands Jeux movements. It seems to me a little like the use of notes inegales - when pressed for a hard and fast rule most authorities who actually play the repertoire seem just to shrug and say do whatever whenever as long as the basic conventions are kept in mind and the music sounds musical!

 

A

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I don't have the score to hand, so please make allowances for any lapse of memory.

 

The keys of 17/18th century French organs were narrower than modern ones, enabling wider stretches. In this case, I seem to recall that the stretch is too far even for this- is it an octave and a 5th ?

 

In a few places in the Couperin Masses, therefore, I have always wondered if the transcription/editing has been completely accurate.

 

Manual to pedal coupler is, of course, a solution. As for the tremblement, one's sword would surely rattle against the bench (!).

 

It would be wonderful to have informed comment from our French colleagues, some of whom will even have the privilege of playing regularly on historical instruments, on which this repertoire was conceived.

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The stretch on some keyboards does work - just, if modern hands are large! I have tried in vain to find any details about when the coupler from G-O to Ped came into being, but the music of Boyvin suggests strongly to me that this might have first happened with his collaboration with Robert Clicquot when the storm damaged Titelouze organ in Rouen Cathedral was replaced. I have examples to give if any folk are interested. But I think in the Couvent Messe of Couperin the pedals were used as the organ for which he wrote seems not to have had an independent pedal division and a permanent (possibly) coupling to the main keyboard seems quite likely. Therefore these stretches were performed using the feet. On the other hand the Messe Paroisse demands a full pedal division.

But organ and room must surely dictate how best to perform any work so that a convincing reading can be given. Every place is unique I suggest.

 

All the best,

N

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The stretch on some keyboards does work - just, if modern hands are large! I have tried in vain to find any details about when the coupler from G-O to Ped came into being, but the music of Boyvin suggests strongly to me that this might have first happened with his collaboration with Robert Clicquot when the storm damaged Titelouze organ in Rouen Cathedral was replaced. I have examples to give if any folk are interested. But I think in the Couvent Messe of Couperin the pedals were used as the organ for which he wrote seems not to have had an independent pedal division and a permanent (possibly) coupling to the main keyboard seems quite likely. Therefore these stretches were performed using the feet. On the other hand the Messe Paroisse demands a full pedal division.

But organ and room must surely dictate how best to perform any work so that a convincing reading can be given. Every place is unique I suggest.

 

All the best,

N

 

======================

 

 

It's not often I grope in the dark, but as I write, I am groping.

 

It's amazing to think that Couperin's organ music was virtually unknown prior to 1955, but when it surfaced, the greatest interest was generated in America and then Canada.

 

One thing is fairly clear. The pedal division of all French organs of the period, was conceived at 8ft pitch, as a Cantus Firmus division.

 

The missing link between the "old" style known to Couperin, and the "new" style of Cliquot, say, at Poitiers, I have also never found in terms of a manual-pedal coupler, but such a coupler is so obviously musically desirable and entirely in keeping with the music.

 

I had the misfortune to attempt harpsichord studies, but I just never really got to grips with the French repertoire at all. Everything I played seemed inegales to my ears. However, in my desperate bid for illumination, I did stumble across the American/Canadian/French connection. Perhaps it is natural that a French-Canadian connection should throw up a great scholar/performer or two, and the name of Kenneth Gilbert (pronounced Quy-bert, I understand) certainly springs to mind.

 

I would suggest that almost everything I learned, or failed to learn, could be attributed to Gilbert, and as a teacher, he had one or two notable pupils who recorded the organ masses. That I think, would be my "starter for ten" and I'll try and have a bit of dig around. I', not over-optimistic, but at least we might learn how the greatly erudite get around the problem.

 

My own instinct is to suggest that if one has manual to pedal couplers, flaunt them!

 

MM

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======================

 

It's amazing to think that Couperin's organ music was virtually unknown prior to 1955, but when it surfaced, the greatest interest was generated in America and then Canada.

 

MM

 

What Mendelssohn was to Bach, Guilmant was to François Couperin (and a host of others). I would therefore not say that it was virtually unknown prior to 1955**. The French editions from the 19th century show a wonderful degree of scholarship and adherence to the original - except in the matter of suggested registration. The old Baroque organs had been ruined by the likes of Cavaillé-Coll (only after a few decades!) and so to play these new editions (which are still mostly found in the Kalmus Catalogue at most respectable prices), the Symphonic organ alternatives were provided. Was all somewhat similar to Higgs & Hill and the first Novello Bach editions in the same century in London?

 

** Don't forget that Ravel published (Durrand) his Tombeau de Couperin in 1918.

 

I shall later give the examples where I suggest the Pedal coupler first comes into use for the usage in specific pieces. Thé calls first.

 

All the best,

N

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Jacques Boyvin went from Paris (almost certainly) to become the organist in 1674 of Rouen Cathedral. He didn't have an organ for a number of years as the one that Titelouze had presided over was destroyed. The new one was constructed by the Royal Parisian builder - Robert Clicquot (1645–1719). In 1689 the first collection of his works was published. They show extraordinary flair and beauty and lie quite unjustly neglected by most players. They have remarkable Duos, Trios and Quartets. There are the usual movements for the Mixture and for the Reed choruses. Also there are some excellent examples of the Echo which require at different times Plein jeu, Cromorne and Cornet registrations. This demands an extensive instrument (and one costing much money as a goodly number of stops are hidden in the bowels of the instrument just to provide baroque titivation). There are also the ususal movements that demand a fulsome pedal department for Basso and for Cantus firmus use. There also are occasions when there is double pedalling. However, there lurks some tell-tale signs of how to use the Grand-orgue in some movements in a totally new way.

 

For example, in the first collection of Suites, that in the Sixiesme (Church) Ton, there are found 2 movements that demand the pedals to play the same registration coupled to the Grand-orgue. The Trio a 3 Clauiers begins with a dotted subject in the Bass (for a 16ft Jeu using the Grand Tierce I suggest). There is an ornament to be played. Howver, when the other two upper parts come in the Bass line becomes simple and straightforward. It is impossible to play stylishly the dotted rhythm and ornament using the French-style pedal board. Furthermore, in the same Suite there is is a Fugue-quatuor where the same ornamentation appears when it is possible to play it with the left hand on the keyboard before the same sound returns to the pedalboard.

Using the coupler (without pedal stops) makes the playing of these gems much more easy and musical. I suggest that all these pieces demonstrated the new organ by Robert Clicquot completely.

 

François-Henri Clicquot (1732–1790) who built Poitiers Cathedral, Notre Dame and St Sulpice in Paris (to name a tiny few) often is mistaken for Robert who was his genius grandfather. There was another generation of organ builders between them.

 

All best wishes,

Nigel

 

PS The use of a manual registration solely on the Pedal surely suggests the thought behind the Resonance department of some French instruments.

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IIRC the registrations as suggested by Guilmant (at bottom of page) are aimed at the 'modern' organs of the time, the ACC's, NOT the french classical.

I think in the Couperin edition there is a note about this, but cannot check it, since my copy has gone awol.

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In a few places in the Couperin Masses, therefore, I have always wondered if the transcription/editing has been completely accurate.

I have the Brunold (l'Oiseau-Lyre) edition of 1949, but am led to understand that the new l'Oiseau-Lyre (edited by Gilbert & Moroney) is probably the most authoritative. There is some useful information here.

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IIRC the registrations as suggested by Guilmant (at bottom of page) are aimed at the 'modern' organs of the time, the ACC's, NOT the french classical.

As I said:-

The old Baroque organs had been ruined by the likes of Cavaillé-Coll (only after a few decades!) and so to play these new editions (which are still mostly found in the Kalmus Catalogue at most respectable prices), the Symphonic organ alternatives were provided.

 

N

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As I said:-

The old Baroque organs had been ruined by the likes of Cavaillé-Coll (only after a few decades!) and so to play these new editions (which are still mostly found in the Kalmus Catalogue at most respectable prices), the Symphonic organ alternatives were provided.

 

N

Years ago I played some pieces by Boyvin, mentioned above, but have not seen my copy for ages - probably lost. So your mention of his name sparked some renewed interest. What do you make of this one though...

 

http://www.loumy.org/B/Boyvin_Grand_Prelude.pdf

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Years ago I played some pieces by Boyvin, mentioned above, but have not seen my copy for ages - probably lost. So your mention of his name sparked some renewed interest. What do you make of this one though...

 

http://www.loumy.org/B/Boyvin_Grand_Prelude.pdf

There's more at

http://icking-music-archive.org/ByComposer/Boyvin.php

 

As for the piece quoted above, it's the first that I have seen where the pedal part goes as high as f and as low as the A (below the usual bottom C).

 

My thanks to all who have replied to my original request, which I had thought was a simple question that would only puzzle an amateur like myself - there was no one "right" answer and the responses have been much more interesting than I expected.

 

David

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As for the piece quoted above, it's the first that I have seen where the pedal part goes as high as f and as low as the A (below the usual bottom C).

 

David

 

Grands Jeux of Couperin and Boyvin is a video with not such brilliant sound - but showing the organ in my French village which is just ideal for this earlier Baroque music. The Pedal is up to top F and the bottom c# (which is not used in music of this time) plays the A below (into the 32ft octave of the 16ft Bombarde) and activates all the reed stops on the pedal for a lower A - hence the comment concerning the range. This note (a ravalament) provide those spectacular cadences in the premier Ton. Corrette's Magnificat displays the sound in the final movement as well as the wonderful typical registrations of the period. This organ is the reason why I live in the village!

 

All best wishes,

Nigel

 

PS

Saint-Antoine Abbaye, other sounds. More Boyvin.

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What Mendelssohn was to Bach, Guilmant was to François Couperin (and a host of others). I would therefore not say that it was virtually unknown prior to 1955**. The French editions from the 19th century show a wonderful degree of scholarship and adherence to the original - except in the matter of suggested registration. The old Baroque organs had been ruined by the likes of Cavaillé-Coll (only after a few decades!) and so to play these new editions (which are still mostly found in the Kalmus Catalogue at most respectable prices), the Symphonic organ alternatives were provided. Was all somewhat similar to Higgs & Hill and the first Novello Bach editions in the same century in London?

 

** Don't forget that Ravel published (Durrand) his Tombeau de Couperin in 1918.

 

I shall later give the examples where I suggest the Pedal coupler first comes into use for the usage in specific pieces. Thé calls first.

 

All the best,

N

 

 

================================

 

 

I had forgotten that I actually have some Guilmant editions from the 19th century....fascinating, to say the least.

 

I think that the 1955 date I quoted has an American bias; from whence much of my information comes. Certainly, that was the start of the great Boston/Harvard push towards early-music scholarship, which threw up some remarkable scholars and performers, including E Power Biggs.

 

Guilmant was, of course, the figurehead for the French academic establishment; unlike Saint-Seans, who wasn't. We should also mention the academic work of Flor Peeters, and his attempt to capture the spirit of early-music. The same is also true of Biggs and others, such as Dolmetsch, Ralph Kirkpatrick and Wili Apel.

 

As for the Mendelssohn/Bach connection, I always smile at this, because Bach never really went out of fashion. The Czeckoslovakian composer Carl Ferdinan Seger, (a noted organist in the 18th century), re-arranged many of Bach's works for short-compass instruments, and continued to play them even while Mozart was showing off his full blown classical style in Prague. The history books always seem to ignore this, but of course, Mendelssohn was at the heart of a very conscious revival of Bach's works, and that is probably more historically significant on a pan European scale.

 

From what Nigel has written, I can now see why I never really comprehended early French organ-music, because I was ignorant of the organs. It shows the importance of proper organ research as a part of academic study.

 

Beyond this, I probably can't contribute much the discussion, but it is proving interesting.

 

MM

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================================

From what Nigel has written, I can now see why I never really comprehended early French organ-music, because I was ignorant of the organs. It shows the importance of proper organ research as a part of academic study.

 

 

MM

 

Where do I send my petite facture?!

 

(This is one of the glories of this site. May it forever continue in the spirit in which it was founded.)

 

N

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