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Mander Organs

Changing tastes


Philip

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In an attempt to spark off some debate...

 

I wonder how many of us find there are pieces or even composers which/whom we can't seem to understand or enjoy at all until there is a sudden moment where things click into place and it all makes sense.

 

For example, some while ago I wrote on this board something (which I think sounds a bit silly now) about how all Howells music sounds the same. The Gloucester Service previously did absolutely nothing for me (as compared to the St Paul's which I found had instant appeal) but I heard it live again towards the end of last year and I found for some reason that I loved it and now think its absolutely marvellous. I think perhaps of Howells writing for the Cathedral which was his home, the one he loved, and something of that seems to come through in the music. Yet there are still Howells pieces that I can't work out - 'Like as the hart' seems to be among his most popular but I've still to find inspiration from it. I love the Collegium Regale Te Deum which is superb but the Jubilate does nothing for me. Regardless, I seem to be turning into something of a Howells fan!

 

I'm trying to think of parallels in the world of organ music, but personally I can't right now. Doubtless there are works that have instant appeal but others that probably reward more repeated listening.

 

So, what music (choral or organ) do contributors find they have similar experiences with of things suddenly clicking into place, and is there a rationale behind why this happens?

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So, what music (choral or organ) do contributors find they have similar experiences with of things suddenly clicking into place, and is there a rationale behind why this happens?

 

I for one could never understand or enjoy Messiaen, it just seemed a perpetual "messy" blotch of notes and dischords.

 

Until one night in King's College Cambridge, where Gillian Weir concluded a recital with a blast of "Dieu parmi nous".

 

Need I attempt to explain further how the epiphany was triggered, or have I said enough already?

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Jennifer Bate playing Dieu Parmi Nous live at Lincoln Cathedral, Jeremy Fillsell's Vierne Symphonies CDs and David M Patrick's CD of Duruflé at Coventry Cathedral.

 

A

 

PS 'Not managed at all with Reger yet!

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Are you already ready for things like this ?

Huh! I, for one, am not. Whoever is playing should, once in a while, administer some punishing slap to his or her feet which seem pretty much to march along as they like, even if it means random parallels with the soprano. Besides, I have a suspicion that this kind of organist's yarn was put away with about 150 years ago, and with some reason, too.

 

Certainly a nice instrument, however.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Hello,

 

 

you wanted to know more about the organ. Built in 1910 by Link the organ is located at the Evangelische Pauluskirche Ulm.

 

Cheers

tiratutti

 

THANKS !!!!

Of course, a Link organ is a Rolls-Royce. I do not mind the playing, what I hear here is a splendid

balance, while, in such organs, the right hand is often engulfed by the basses.

 

Pierre

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In an attempt to spark off some debate...

 

I wonder how many of us find there are pieces or even composers which/whom we can't seem to understand or enjoy at all until there is a sudden moment where things click into place and it all makes sense.

 

For example, some while ago I wrote on this board something (which I think sounds a bit silly now) about how all Howells music sounds the same. The Gloucester Service previously did absolutely nothing for me (as compared to the St Paul's which I found had instant appeal) but I heard it live again towards the end of last year and I found for some reason that I loved it and now think its absolutely marvellous. I think perhaps of Howells writing for the Cathedral which was his home, the one he loved, and something of that seems to come through in the music. Yet there are still Howells pieces that I can't work out - 'Like as the hart' seems to be among his most popular but I've still to find inspiration from it. I love the Collegium Regale Te Deum which is superb but the Jubilate does nothing for me. Regardless, I seem to be turning into something of a Howells fan!

 

I'm trying to think of parallels in the world of organ music, but personally I can't right now. Doubtless there are works that have instant appeal but others that probably reward more repeated listening.

 

So, what music (choral or organ) do contributors find they have similar experiences with of things suddenly clicking into place, and is there a rationale behind why this happens?

 

 

It is also noticeable how the music of 'Left Foot-Welly' became acceptable and popular once David Sanger had recorded it at Exeter College! And I like it very much as well.

 

CP

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There seems to be anumber of Victorian organist composers who have come up for 'reassassment' in recent years. People seem to be performing more Stainer again now (the Jubilant March is quite fine really) as well as people like Brewer and Harwood, who outside of 'the' two canticle settings and occasional anthems (oh how glorious etc) didn't seem to get much of a look in until a few years ago.

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This is a very interesting subject, and I can think of lots of ways in which it has informed my tastes over the years, and not just in music.

 

Sometimes it has been a landmark performance that has 'opened the doors'. Sometimes it is just one's tastes changing with maturity. Sometimes someone else's enthusiasm can help release something in me.

 

Let me give some examples of all of these.

 

In music, I never used to see what all the fuss was about over Mozart, until in quick succession I heard a performance of the Clarinet Quintet which, literally, left me shaking with tears and laughter all at the same time, and read Hesse's Steppenwolf which depicts in literary terms the icy, unearthly perfection of the last minutes of Don Giovanni. From those two moments I was hooked.

 

Often, as I say, someone's enthusiasm for a piece can unlock a piece in my mind. This is one reason why I find Desert Island Discs (when on form) such a revealing programme. Often a snippet of music with a penetrating insight can lead into a world which was otherwise, or previously, closed. Several times I have had to rush out and buy a CD after hearing it in this way, and it is single handedly responsible for opening me to the musical glory of (amongst others) Frank Sinatra, and if only for that has my undying gratitude.

 

A common experience I have had, sadly, is that unimaginative performances in my youth has left me with a poor impression of pieces that I now love dearly. I had to grind through one of the '48' for my Grade 6 piano that left me thinking that the Well Tempered Clavier was simply ... grade 6 exam fodder. A few years ago I picked up Angela Hewitt's new recording of the 48 and now listen to it endlessly. How could I have been so stupid as not to realise what marvellous music this is ?

 

But then, my experience of Bach has, if I am honest, been rather like this. When I was a student, learning the organ, I enjoyed Bach but it was not central to my musical experience either as a performer or listener. I said that I enjoyed Bach because I felt I had to say that as a 'serious organist' but my heart wasn't really in it. However, over the years I have sunk deeper and deeper into Bach and now I would put him above any other composer. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, and as I often say myself, 'when it comes to music, there is Bach, and everything else is stamp collecting'.

 

There was no one turning point in my appreciation of Bach, although having said that, playing continuo for the St John Passion was very important in moving Bach from my head to my heart.

 

I view Messiah in a similar light, having taken part in far too many well - meaning but dull performances as a young musician. One day I heard a really excellent professional performance. I went along merely to be polite, but was gripped and moved from the first note to the last.

 

A good example of a landmark performance for me was hearing Madame Durufle (on CD) play the Franck Fantaisie in A - a piece I had heard several times before, without for the life of me being able to understand why anyone would bother with the time spent in learning the notes. She really opened the piece up to my ears and heart, and I now love it dearly, and went through a phase of playing it a lot.

 

In fact, Franck is probably the best example of a composer who has suffered from my fickleness. When I first heard his music I loved it. As I grew older, I rejected it as shapeless and corny, but with the years I have come back to it, to love it more deeply than my first, inexperienced love, and I am sure I will love it for ever more. I think this is due simply to how the ageing process has affected me ; I am not sure I have grown any wiser with the years, but my corners have been rubbed off, and I am more open to naked emotion, even if it tends towards sentimentality, than I allowed myself as a rather severe young man. This is an interesting trajectory I have heard described by others (including David Sanger in relation to Franck) ; of loving a piece, falling out of love, but then falling back in love more deeply.

 

In the same way, with the years I have grown more tolerant of pieces that I thought, sniffily, were too popular to be any good, or too popular for me to bother with. The Suite Gothique comes firmly into this category. Perhaps I despised the fact that it was such a warhorse, which was terribly snobbish of me in retrospect, but on learning it again a few years ago, I came to admire so much about it ; accessability, tunefulness, elegant craftsmanship, satisfying to play, and warmly received by the audience (another damning indictment of a piece to my priggish teenage ears).

 

Outside music, my experience of literature is very much the same. At university (where I read English) I detested, above all, Dickens and Henry James whereas now (surprise, surprise) I read both authors more or less cyclically.

 

So, many factors at work here, but I suspect the greatest is simply the passing of the years and the realisation that the masterpieces are masterpieces for a very good reason and are bigger, thankfully, than my ego.

 

Of course, another interesting and related subject might be those pieces that hit you for six when you first hear them, and never lose that impact. If you would kindly step forward Herr Julius Reubke ....

 

Regards to all

M

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This is a very interesting subject, and I can think of lots of ways in which it has informed my tastes over the years, and not just in music.

 

M

 

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

 

 

On the subject of Bach, I think the most eloquent comment is also the shortest, when the question arose on QI, "What was sent into space with the Apollo Mission?" (This included music)

 

"Was it Bach?" Asked one of the panelists.

 

As quick as a flash, Stephen Fry replied, "No! That would just be showing off!" :lol::lol:

 

MM

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On the subject of Bach, I think the most eloquent comment is also the shortest, when the question arose on QI, "What was sent into space with the Apollo Mission?" (This included music)

 

"Was it Bach?" Asked one of the panelists.

 

As quick as a flash, Stephen Fry replied, "No! That would just be showing off!" :lol::lol:

I think Fry was quoting Carl Sagan and the space mission was the Voyager probe(s).

 

EDITED TO ADD:

According to this site the quote was by biologist Lewis Thomas: “I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach . . . but that would be boasting.”

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<edited>.

I had to grind through one of the '48' for my Grade 6 piano that left me thinking that the Well Tempered Clavier was simply ... grade 6 exam fodder. A few years ago I picked up Angela Hewitt's new recording of the 48 and now listen to it endlessly. How could I have been so stupid as not to realise what marvellous music this is ?

 

But then, my experience of Bach has, if I am honest, been rather like this. When I was a student, learning the organ, I enjoyed Bach but it was not central to my musical experience either as a performer or listener. I said that I enjoyed Bach because I felt I had to say that as a 'serious organist' but my heart wasn't really in it. However, over the years I have sunk deeper and deeper into Bach and now I would put him above any other composer. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, and as I often say myself, 'when it comes to music, there is Bach, and everything else is stamp collecting'.

<etc>

I completely agree; when I was 18 he just seemed extraodinarily 'heavy', theoretical and hard going. I now regard JSB as the most stunning composer/player/liturgist combination ever. It has taken years for me to realise how incredibly carefully/artfully (in the best sense)/musically his compositions has been crafted. I'm now trying to give my choristers/pupils a better introduction (both as appreciation and as inspiration) than I got by concentrating on intent rather than technique - where would you start and whY?

 

mgp

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I posted this on FB, where it got quite a number of "likes" from the continent,

but also the US:

 

 

(I had a dozen cassettes with such things in my company cars. They

had to be replaced each year because of wear. The cassettes, not the cars).

 

Pierre

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I think Fry was quoting Carl Sagan and the space mission was the Voyager probe(s).

 

EDITED TO ADD:

According to this site the quote was by biologist Lewis Thomas: “I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach . . . but that would be boasting.”

 

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

 

Thanks for putting me right.....I should have listened more closely. It's a good line nevertheless.

 

MM

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I did things completely the wrong way around, and in a way, I'm very glad that I did. Music was something we did at school, and with a particularly fine school-choir, I was immersed in Handel, Mozart, Purcell and enough Bach to inspire me. Due to the fact that my parents had a shop which just couldn't compete with the new supermarkets then springing up around the country, things were difficult for them, and they gave up the struggle owing quite a lot to suppliers. When my piano teacher suddenly expired after only 12 months of lessons, in an act of uncharacteristic charity, I didn't badger them for a new teacher; knowing that it was an expense they could ill-afford. So I started to teach myself, having learned most of the major scales and three minor ones.....arpeggios would have to wait for another day.

 

Then I wandered into a church when I was 11 years of age, and heard an organ for the first time. The curate beckoned me up to the console,let me dabble for a bit, and then asked if I could sing. My rather spectacular treble voice was enough to secure an immediate place in the church choir; whereupon I started to teach myself the organ; thus throwing the more conventional approach to the wind.

 

Now I mention this for a particular reason, because being self taught, and being a good singer at an early age, (I'm rubbish now), I was always seeking out the elegant line, the good melody and the memorable phrase. So to me, Bach was THE outstanding lyricist....top part, bottom part and all those wonderfully intrictae inner parts. I knew it was special, but I didn't even understand what counterpoint meant.....I just liked what it did.

 

So my method was bizzare in a way, but actually closer to the Kodaly method than it was to conventonal musical education. Things may have been slow, but everything I learned came first from the heart and then went to the head. The interesting thing is, that as my skills developed, I always sought to copy the lyrical qualities of one line when playing the contrapuntal imitations and inversions.

 

What did this mean?

 

Well,it meant that I had to find ways of doing it, and the only way to do it properly, was to work out and then apply the appropriate finger techniques.

 

So from the heart and from the lyrical qualities of Bach's counterpoint, came the heady appreciation of what he had written

 

So I totally adored Bach's music at the age of twelve, even though it often frustrated me.

 

Now something quite remarkable followed this, in that I recognised the weakness in much (but not all) French organ-music, and if Vierne could be exciting, it was never because of the counterpoint. Much as I enjoyed listening to certain French repertoire, I was extremely picky when it came to learning any of it, and that hasn't changed to this day.

 

Skipping forward to the ripe old age of 15, I was "blessed" (to quote the American use of the word) in hearing my first ever performance of Reger. Not any old Tom, Dick or Harry.....this was Fernando Germani live in concert, and, (as they say), it just "blew me away."

 

I was not listening to the extremes of chromatic harmony, or the intensity of it all. Instead, I was listening to the counterpoint, and narvelling at the way Reger could incorporate a chorale in the midst of it all.(I now know that he started with the chorale,and created the themes and counter-themes around it right at the start of the compositional process).

 

At the same time, I was discerning enough to know that Mendelssohn's organ-music was in division 2, Saint-Saens'organ-music showy but fragile of construction and Herbert Howells ill-disciplined and meandering. I also knew that the finest British organ-work was by Healey Willan, when all around me were promoting the Gloucester school of good musical taste.

 

I still like much of Reger's music, though I suspect that in reaching for the contrapuntal last word in some of the more monumenatl works, clarity of purpose was sacrificed to academic cleverness and marred by Reger's unstable constitution.

 

So rather than growing to love certain things and perhaps falling out with them later, I seem to have known what I liked at a very early age and stuck to it as I've got older.

 

I suspect that this is unusual.

 

MM

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Thanks to contributors above for their most interesting thoughts.

 

I suppose another area in which my tastes have moved is in hymns (and worship generally). When I was growing up I enjoyed Kendrick and a lot of the other modern-style songs (they use 'Songs of Fellowship') and even helped to lead what our church called 'informal' worship, as well as going to Spring Harvest half a dozen times. Having moved to University and now being at a church which solely uses the organ, my tastes have very much switched towards the traditional (I don't dislike some modern 'songs' - 'Be still' for example - but I couldn't live on them and many I find uninspiring). By that final visit to Spring Harvest I began to realise that my heart wasn't quite in it anymore.

 

When I was growing up, the whole idea of Choral Evensong and of the sheer lack of participation would have been quite alien to my idea of church, but gradually I've grown to love it and to appreciate it for what it is and I now actively seek to take in services when I can - if I'm in a Cathedral city I will check to see what is on that evening. I find our Parish Eucharist to be a bit busy and noisy and now think that Evensong at a Cathedral is probably about as good as Anglican worship gets. I realise some probably won't agree, but there is such a rich variety of music and to hear it well sung in some of the fabulous buildings this country possesses I find very special and is certainly something we musn't lose. I suppose a growing appreciation of Howells (for example) is linked in to this somewhat.

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Ah, Howells -a case!- Halas the recording quality is very bad, but here is a video posted yesterday:

 

 

 

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

 

Well thank God for that. I don't have to feel guilty for not clicking on the link. :lol::lol:

 

MM

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