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Langlais: Pasticcio


Vox Humana
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I have a pupil doing this for grade 5. Surely the marked tempo of crotchet = 116 is too slow, considering it is a cod-Renaissance piece? All the performances on YouTube are faster (some are too fast IMO). All the pieces in Langlais's Organ Book seem designed to be approachable by relatively modest players as opposed to virtuosi and I wonder whether perhaps Langlais kept the tempo marking down with this in mind. Is there any record of how he played it himself?

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As a school boy in the early 60's I heard Langlais play this during a recital at St. Mary Magdalene Paddington. Apart from the magnificent church I remember three things. How short Langlais was and that he sat on the very edge of the bench and I expected him to slip off at any moment. How quickly he changed the registration by hand - even though the Compton organ had luminous stop touches!!! And the Pasticcio!! - a sort of medieval knights in armour pastiche. I rushed out and bought the Organ Book of ten pieces. I religiously checked score markings and I have two ticks against the metronome mark! Now I think maybe it is a bit slow, but they were written as simple pieces. And I would say that playing the repeated quaver chords cleanly at 116 is challenging enough for grade 5.

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Thank you, both, for your help. Most helpful. I must say that crotchet = 180 seems a lot faster than the piece actually needs! But I did rather suspect that Langlais might have played it like that.

 

Douglas is quite right about the challenge of playing the chords cleanly. It is a particular issue for my pupil, who was a "mature" starter a few years ago and finds finger control more of an uphill battle than most. I am not proposing to impose any particular speed on him, so long as it is not slower than marked. Ultimately it will be more a matter of finding the speed at which he can most comfortably give the most musical performance.

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