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Widor - A life Beyond the Toccata


Jim Treloar
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This is the title of a new book by John R. Near, published by the University of Rochester (U.S.). A hefty volume, nearly 600 pages including a 50 page list of his works (did you know he wrote that much?) and correspondingly expensive, but looks to me the last word on his life and work. I'm part way through it. Enter the title in Amazon if interested, I was promised delivery in 1 to 2 months but it arrived within 5 days of my order so obviously have it stock.

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This is the title of a new book by John R. Near, published by the University of Rochester (U.S.). A hefty volume, nearly 600 pages including a 50 page list of his works (did you know he wrote that much?) and correspondingly expensive, but looks to me the last word on his life and work. I'm part way through it. Enter the title in Amazon if interested, I was promised delivery in 1 to 2 months but it arrived within 5 days of my order so obviously have it stock.

It would seem to be a more substantial undertaking than Andrew Thomson's useful 116-page biography (OUP 1987). And yes, he was very prolific in music outside the organloft (including operas) - on which point, Stanford's 2nd Piano Concerto in C minor seems worth investigating, on the strength of last Saturday's CD Review on BBC Radio 3. Its debt to Rachmaninov's C minor concerto is unmistakeable.

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Stanford's 2nd Piano Concerto in C minor seems worth investigating, on the strength of last Saturday's CD Review on BBC Radio 3. Its debt to Rachmaninov's C minor concerto is unmistakeable.

This is a piece which I have known since about 1990, when it appeared on Chandos played by Margaret Fingerhut. The Concert Variations included on the same disc are also worth exploring.

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Totally agree on the Stanford, great piece. Doesn't it predate the Rachmaninov though?

 

I have a disc with some Widor chamber music on it, I think a Piano Trio, very fine piece, and holds its own well with contemporary French chamber music.

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I began my life as a 'cellist only wandering to the organ when I got fed up of listening to bad playing on a Sunday!!

 

Widor wrote a wealth of music other than organ music including a number of works for 'cello. The Concerto, which dates from 1882, is the largest of these works and is particularly fine. There is also a Sonata, some earlier pieces for 'cello and piano and a Suite, written in 1912.

 

Harold Truscott lent me the score of the Concerto and I still have a copy of it. I learnt it in my twenties but have never performed it in public. However I have played both the Sonata and the Suite publically. His 'cello parts tend to be quite virtuosic - high in the register, whilst the piano parts are often thick and difficult.

 

I, too, have recordings of the Bb Piano Trio and the D min. Quintet.

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No, it dates from 1911. The Rach is from 1900/1.

I see from the Proms Archive (http://bbc.co.uk/proms/archive) that there was a performance of it in 2008 -- not sure how I missed that one, normally I would be at a concert like that in a flash.

Apologies, I stand corrected! I wonder if there is any evidence that Stanford heard the Rachmaninov? I suppose there is every chance he will have done. Does anyone have the Dibble/Stanford book? Does it mention it?

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  • 1 month later...

I've got my copy now. How blissful it is to wallow in accounts of the giants of an age. For example how Cavaille Coll, with Widor's help, demonstrated a new organ to Listz, and how they were subsequently invited by Listz to Erhard's salon to listen to him play the piano.... How Tournemire and Vierne thought lessons with Widor were going to be more demanding than with Franck... What Widor said to Dupre... The St Sulpice organ.... It's Paradise for me! :wub::P:rolleyes:

 

Perhaps Prince Charles could be introduced to French Romantic organ music and Cavaille Coll organs, then we could have an hour and a half follow on to his entertaining BBC4 programme on Parry. :P

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