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Fantasia & Fugue in G minor

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Perhaps this has been discussed before? I have recently "converted" from using my Novello version of Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, a piece I have not played for some time. Now I am using the Barenreiter edition, which for weary eyes certainly is a luxury with clear and uncluttered pages, amongst other advantages. There are of course some passages notated differently from the Novello - but the one I cannot absorb is the G major chord that ends the Fantasia. Novello has a minor chord. I am aware that there are those who believe in the idea of minor key works of this time ending on major chords, but I cannot make this "fit" mentally into what has preceded it - it doesn't even offer my ears a sense of radiance after the chromatic tension it follows! So major or minor - what do others think ?

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Perhaps this has been discussed before? I have recently "converted" from using my Novello version of Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, a piece I have not played for some time. Now I am using the Barenreiter edition, which for weary eyes certainly is a luxury with clear and uncluttered pages, amongst other advantages. There are of course some passages notated differently from the Novello - but the one I cannot absorb is the G major chord that ends the Fantasia. Novello has a minor chord. I am aware that there are those who believe in the idea of minor key works of this time ending on major chords, but I cannot make this "fit" mentally into what has preceded it - it doesn't even offer my ears a sense of radiance after the chromatic tension it follows! So major or minor - what do others think ?

I agree, if you're going to follow straight through (so to speak) with the fugue, then it makes sense to go Minor. Mind you I prefer the tension in the minor at the end anyway! Major just seems too easy a let off after all that chromaticism!

My 2cents...

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I agree also - hearing the last chord as a major chord always comes as a surprise to me, and not in a good way. It's such a serious piece, and so solemn in mood, I just don't see how it could end major so abruptly. I often wonder whether a splatter of ink on an autograph score is the cause of some of the odd accidentals occasionally found in Barenreiter.

 

If you have your score at hand... I'd like to suggest a correction at bar 77 of the fugue. Beat two, in the pedal line has the notes C,D,C,D. I find this clunky to play, and it doesn't match the same musical idea as the right hand two bars earlier. I suggest changing those notes to C,E flat, D , C. The result sounds much superior in my view - I wonder what the Novello edition says?

 

In the Fantasia - I've heard a few organists treat bars 31 to 35 as a crescendo, adding stops throughout this passage at suitable times, achieving the plenum by bar 36. The result can be quite effective, but I'm sot so sure I like it... What do you folks do?

 

On the subject of Barenreiter vs Novello... during my student days it was a sin to turn up at class with a Novello score. At least the other students regarded it that way... But actually I admire the practicalities of the Novello edition and I think it has much going for it as the performers score. I admire the scholarlyness of Barenreiter, but I occasionally find it horribly impratical for page turns and layout of notes between the hands. The Barenreiter is what I have (having been told not to buy anything else...) so that is what I use. I have a few cast off Novello's too.

 

When I was a student, I found the whole Bach repertoire quite overwhelming, too much information to take in - I didn't know where to start... It took me a long time to pluck up the courage to play Bach seriously - and then I started with a piece far too hard for me. I persevered and got there in the end!

 

I recently picked up a copy of a CH Trevor book - I can't remember the exact title and probably long out of print, but it was obviously a Book of Bach for students, starting with easier pieces, and ending with a prelude and fugue. All the pieces in the book were better known works, all well worth playing and useful service music. Presumably people here will agree with me that this kind of edition makes the prospects of learning this wonderful repertoire a bit less daunting for organ students? Is there any chance someone may publish a similar book in the future? I feel a bit more guidance is needed when it comes to learning Bach for most students (and it would help the teacher too...) Barenreiter offers almost nothing to the student player except for the notes, and I think it is only really good for the advanced player.

 

Sermon over... ;-)

 

CD

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I recently picked up a copy of a CH Trevor book - I can't remember the exact title and probably long out of print, but it was obviously a Book of Bach for students, starting with easier pieces, and ending with a prelude and fugue. All the pieces in the book were better known works, all well worth playing and useful service music. Presumably people here will agree with me that this kind of edition makes the prospects of learning this wonderful repertoire a bit less daunting for organ students? Is there any chance someone may publish a similar book in the future? I feel a bit more guidance is needed when it comes to learning Bach for most students (and it would help the teacher too...) Barenreiter offers almost nothing to the student player except for the notes, and I think it is only really good for the advanced player.

 

Sermon over... ;-)

 

CD

 

 

A.M Henderson edited 'The Student's Bach' - or something like that. It was a really excellent introduction, although very dated as to registration, even when I first encountered it.

 

Regarding the Great G minor - I might just possibly end on a major chord if not playing the Fugue, but more likely not. I would probably end the Passacaglia on a major chord if not playing the fugue.

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A.M Henderson edited 'The Student's Bach' - or something like that. It was a really excellent introduction, although very dated as to registration, even when I first encountered it.

 

Regarding the Great G minor - I might just possibly end on a major chord if not playing the Fugue, but more likely not. I would probably end the Passacaglia on a major chord if not playing the fugue.

Personally, I would not play the Passacaglia without the fugue.

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Personally, I would not play the Passacaglia without the fugue.

 

Neither would I as a rule, or any of the other preludes and fugues, etc. But circumstances can dictate practice. For example, if I felt that the 9:15 service needed the Passacaglia to finish it off, but I had to be downstairs to rehearse the choir for the 11:00 service, I might leave off the fugue. Again, I quite often play the Passacaglia after funerals. The church would normally have emptied before I got to the fugue. I might carry on for my own satisfaction, or AMDG, but I wouldn't feel guilty about stopping at the end of the Passacaglia. Similarly, I sometimes play the St. Anne Fugue after funerals, although in other circumstances I wouldn't trot it out without the Prelude.

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Neither would I as a rule, or any of the other preludes and fugues, etc. But circumstances can dictate practice. For example, if I felt that the 9:15 service needed the Passacaglia to finish it off, but I had to be downstairs to rehearse the choir for the 11:00 service, I might leave off the fugue. Again, I quite often play the Passacaglia after funerals. The church would normally have emptied before I got to the fugue. I might carry on for my own satisfaction, or AMDG, but I wouldn't feel guilty about stopping at the end of the Passacaglia. Similarly, I sometimes play the St. Anne Fugue after funerals, although in other circumstances I wouldn't trot it out without the Prelude.

I feel much easier about playing the St Anne Fugue without the Prelude. I too am used to playing to an empty church by the time my voluntary finishes. However, I am very happy to report that recently two or three parishioners have taken to sitting quietly to the end and then giving me a round of applause! Whatever one's views are in the subject of applause it is wonderful to know that the effort that goes into practising these pieces is appreciated, even if by a few.

Last time I decided to play the Prelude and Fugue in d sharp minor by Otto Olsson the prelude recieved such a good round of applause that I decided to postpone the fugue until the following week.

I think that those pieces that I prefer not to play incomplete I save for those special occasions. I often play the Bach Toccata in F without the fugue. Equally, I think that the Fugue in F makes a good alternative to your choice of the St Anne Fugue for funerals. Incidentally, I am often, not surprisingly asked to play the St Anne on Trinity Sunday!

I love the Mendelssohn Sonatas. These are ideal for taking an odd movement as a final voluntary. I often use the slow movements when I need something quieter during the Mass itself. In the end, good taste and liturgical practice must prevail.

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A.M Henderson edited 'The Student's Bach' - or something like that. It was a really excellent introduction, although very dated as to registration, even when I first encountered it.

 

Regarding the Great G minor - I might just possibly end on a major chord if not playing the Fugue, but more likely not. I would probably end the Passacaglia on a major chord if not playing the fugue.

 

It's 'Introduction to Bach', and my very battered copy is my constant companion - very useful selection of pieces for services, from simple chorales to the five part C minor Fantasia. I think it's still in print, but I'm not sure. Registration suggestions are, though, not very useful as observed elsewhere.

 

Regards to all.

 

John

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Perhaps this has been discussed before? I have recently "converted" from using my Novello version of Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, a piece I have not played for some time. Now I am using the Barenreiter edition, which for weary eyes certainly is a luxury with clear and uncluttered pages, amongst other advantages. There are of course some passages notated differently from the Novello - but the one I cannot absorb is the G major chord that ends the Fantasia. Novello has a minor chord. I am aware that there are those who believe in the idea of minor key works of this time ending on major chords, but I cannot make this "fit" mentally into what has preceded it - it doesn't even offer my ears a sense of radiance after the chromatic tension it follows! So major or minor - what do others think ?

 

I forgot to say - in my book, end in the minor for the Fantasia, and I think the major for the Fugue, though I can see arguments for either way. I just wish I could play it!!

 

John.

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I forgot to say - in my book, end in the minor for the Fantasia, and I think the major for the Fugue, though I can see arguments for either way. I just wish I could play it!!

 

John.

 

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

 

 

Never mind, there's a whole lifetime to get around to it! :wacko:

 

When you do, I wouldn't worry about a major or a minor chord at the end. Just learn it as well as Balint Karosi, the young Hungarian organist.

 

The following clip is just a marvel of immaculate control and what a feat of memory. Brisk, but perfect....a real "wow" performance.

 

 

MM

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Strangely out of synch with current opinion, but OMG, what a powerful performance the following is from the late Andre Marchal at St Moustache.

 

 

 

MM

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Strangely out of synch with current opinion, but OMG, what a powerful performance the following is from the late Andre Marchal at St Moustache.

 

 

 

MM

 

Concerning the Fantasia - I don't believe you really do admire it MM - you surely like this one best and I'm sure you handle bars 31 to 35 in just the same way, or perhaps a few more ornaments?? :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

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Concerning the Fantasia - I don't believe you really do admire it MM - you surely like this one best and I'm sure you handle bars 31 to 35 in just the same way, or perhaps a few more ornaments?? :rolleyes::rolleyes:

 

 

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I never quite know how to handle or what to make of Ton Koopman' s performances......BUT...... he has the research and academic clout to back it up. I don't think Ton ever does anything which isn't perceived as stylistically correct according to baroque practices, and yet, I still question much of what he does on an instinctive basis.

 

The Fantasia is not too far far fetched I find, and when it comes to the repeated, (and very accurately mirrored and fingered) leading note trills, I do something similar but sometimes make mistakes when I forget what planet I'm on. :(

 

I get quite compositional with the 9/8 C major P & F......mine has no protracted silences, and the ornamentation is very "fantasticus" indeed at that point....it cries out for it.

 

I actually find myself liking both the Fantasia and the Fugue from Ton Koopman, but 'aye' wouldn't want to play it quite so flambouyantly or intricately.

 

I respect it, because if nothing else, it makes me sit up and take note. Sometimes, a performance like this actually inspires a creative approach.

 

Just to make you quite ill, I spent a couple of hours on the organ of the Waalsekerk some years ago, all to myself. :rolleyes:

 

It was the ONLY organ in the Netherlands with a "No smoking" sign, (so far as I am aware), at that time. I guess Gustav Leonhardt didn't approve of the habit.

 

The extraordinary thing about the Marchal performance at Ste.Moustache, is the slargando tempo, coupled to the most amazing sense of drama and colourful registration.

 

MM

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I never quite know how to handle or what to make of Ton Koopman' s performances......BUT...... he has the research and academic clout to back it up. I don't think Ton ever does anything which isn't perceived as stylistically correct according to baroque practices

Really? I'm not sure the man isn't a charlatan. I can't find it now, but some time ago someone posted a link of him playing an English Baroque voluntary, which showed a complete and utter ignorance of the contemporary performance advice which was posted in another thread recently. His rendition was about as historically uninformed as you could possibly get. Is there any reason to suppose his performances of other repertoire are any better informed? That is not to say that his playing isn't musical and original. I happen to think that it is intensely so, on both counts - but you have to treat it on its own terms by not worrying about what the composer may or may not have intended and accepting it as a very personal (and contemporary) re-invention of the music. You can't accuse him of being boring and that's surely something we all strive for. Personally I hate his playing, but that's just me.

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

 

 

Never mind, there's a whole lifetime to get around to it! :rolleyes:

 

When you do, I wouldn't worry about a major or a minor chord at the end. Just learn it as well as Balint Karosi, the young Hungarian organist.

 

The following clip is just a marvel of immaculate control and what a feat of memory. Brisk, but perfect....a real "wow" performance.

 

 

MM

 

 

I thought it was on the slow side - now you've got me worried.....

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

 

 

Never mind, there's a whole lifetime to get around to it! :rolleyes:

 

When you do, I wouldn't worry about a major or a minor chord at the end. Just learn it as well as Balint Karosi, the young Hungarian organist.

 

The following clip is just a marvel of immaculate control and what a feat of memory. Brisk, but perfect....a real "wow" performance.

 

 

MM

 

Interesting performance and all from memory. Returning to the very first question posed about editions - he is certainly not playing the notes as they appear in my urtext/Barenreiter edition! In fact, the notes sound just like those from the Novello version. So having come to terms with whether or not to play a major a minor chord . . . exactly how much of an urtext is supposed to be used?!! It seems that most of the youtube performances use very sensible versions of the music - inlcuding a correction to a couple of pedal notes mentioned earlier by Biggestalk.

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Interesting performance and all from memory. Returning to the very first question posed about editions - he is certainly not playing the notes as they appear in my urtext/Barenreiter edition! In fact, the notes sound just like those from the Novello version. So having come to terms with whether or not to play a major a minor chord . . . exactly how much of an urtext is supposed to be used?!! It seems that most of the youtube performances use very sensible versions of the music - inlcuding a correction to a couple of pedal notes mentioned earlier by Biggestalk.

My (limited) experience is that many Dutch/German scholars have long held the view that Walter Emery got most decisions about notes correct and encourage students to study the Novello editions - albeit with a major 'health warning' about the registration/phrasing.

 

On the specific question of this thread, I am always left feeling uncomfortable with Tierces de Picardie at any and every cadence as a convention - I have to believe JSB would have written one if he'd wanted one as he does at the end of BWV 548/i.

 

On a similar vein how many people play the major 3rd as the final chord of Brahms Op 122/10 as printed by Henle as a 'Urtext'?

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My (limited) experience is that many Dutch/German scholars have long held the view that Walter Emery got most decisions about notes correct and encourage students to study the Novello editions - albeit with a major 'health warning' about the registration/phrasing.

 

On the specific question of this thread, I am always left feeling uncomfortable with Tierces de Picardie at any and every cadence as a convention - I have to believe JSB would have written one if he'd wanted one as he does at the end of BWV 548/i.

 

On a similar vein how many people play the major 3rd as the final chord of Brahms Op 122/10 as printed by Henle as a 'Urtext'?

 

I agree - I think the Emery editions are mostly sensible, certainly from a musical point of view - and yes, a health warning is often needed. (Although Kevin Bowyer once put out a CD of 'Edwardian Bach' which was rather fun, but would have sent the Baroque boys hissing into their sifflotes!). Listening again to the Koopman version of the F and F, I was struck by the intense rhythmic propulsion of his performance. Following it straight away with the performance by Karosi (mentioned by MM), I found the young Karosi's performance to be far less brilliant than when I first listened. In fact it seemed very ordinary or 'normal' by comparison, whilst obviously an excellent performance (and from memory!).

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I agree - I think the Emery editions are mostly sensible, certainly from a musical point of view - and yes, a health warning is often needed. (Although Kevin Bowyer once put out a CD of 'Edwardian Bach' which was rather fun, but would have sent the Baroque boys hissing into their sifflotes!). Listening again to the Koopman version of the F and F, I was struck by the intense rhythmic propulsion of his performance. Following it straight away with the performance by Karosi (mentioned by MM), I found the young Karosi's performance to be far less brilliant than when I first listened. In fact it seemed very ordinary or 'normal' by comparison, whilst obviously an excellent performance (and from memory!).

 

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

 

 

I suspect that it is the extraordinary nature of Ton Koopman's performances which separate him from the mainstream, and anything else will automatically sound ordinary.

 

Something I can reveal from maybe 30 years ago, came from a conversation I had with Monica Hugget, (the violinist), who regularly played with Ton Koopman. She said that Ton Koopman was a great "worrier," and often asked people if they thought his ornmentation "excessive" or distracting.

 

I think that reveals a very genuine desire to be creative AND authentic at the same time, but I'm not sure that I am sufficiently qualified to know for certain.

 

The world needs people like Ton Koopman, just as a previous generation needed Glenn Gould. They do the same things as everyone else, but in their own particular style. Virgil Fox was another, but of course, he re-invented everything in his own image.

 

The fact is, the printed score is not a reliable guide, (especially with baroque music), and artistry was as much about improvised ornamentation, creative space, drama and elastic timing, as it was about getting the notes right.

 

I'm not sure that Ton Koopman has the last word in interpretation, but I'm glad he's around so that we can consider the possibilities and creative alternatives.

 

If I enjoy his G-minor F & F, I absolutely HATE his B minor P & F..........so many mixed feelings.

 

MM

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