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Mander Organs
Martin Cooke

Mushel Toccata

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I have played this piece for years. It was a favourite of Harry Gabb's and it popped up a lot on a Saturday afternoon at St Paul's when he used to be in charge. I remember him playing it to the choristers at the end of a Saturday afternoon practice, on the piano. One of us was pressed into playing the pedal part.

 

Anyway, what's the 'business' about the little coda section that some performers stitch on to the end of the OUP printed version. I am sure that HG developed a habit of doing this, and didn't Noel Rawsthorne also do it on the old Toccata LP of his? Is this how it appears in the other published version of this piece... am I correct in thinking it is the last of Three Pieces?... AND... if so, what are the other pieces like?

 

[Am I alone in feeling slight irritation that when posting a genuine thought or query, answers or follow-ups are frequently completely off-topic? - I fully expect responses to this genuine query to go off on a ramble covering every other Toccata known to man, and really, I'd just love to know the answers to the above!!]

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Keep it on topic, you say?

 

OK....lousy ending; needs something better. Rawsthorne's was better than Mushel's: mine is better than Rawsthorne's.

 

First "discovered" by Noel Rawsthorne, the anecdote is that he played it in front of a large audience but with the disapproval of the communist authorities.

 

Now the interesting, off topic part:-

 

Born, I think, in the Ukraine, Mushel ended up at the Moscow Conservertoire. Eventually sent to Tashkent in Uzbekistan, where his job was to introduce main-stream Russian music and teach the locals. He taught at the Tashkent Conservatory. (Tashkent is the half-way point between Moscow and Bejing in China....think "Long way." "Big mountains" "Muslim people.")

 

It was all part of the communist, cultural integration, and composers were expected to absorb the "music of the people," which in the case of Tashkent, probably meant music derived from Persia.

 

The Toccata is, in effect, a Cossack Dance.

 

Mushel wrote an opera or two, piano music and various other bits and pieces. He gave us a good (unfinished) Toccata, and board member Ben Saunders (Leeds Cathedral), has, or is about to, record all his organ music.

 

I may have files of other pieces, but I will have to dig a bit.

 

I can let you have my "improved" ending to the Toccata if you don't mind rushing about on the pedals a bit at the end, but I don't know where it is at the moment...

 

Ideas for off-topic ramble: The influences of Persian music on Western culture. The integration of Indian music into Hungarian culture, via the Roma Gypsies.

The introduction of the organ into Western society via the Islamic world. Tuvan throat singing for the parish choir.

 

MM

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Perhaps its just me, but I've played it a few times now in services and I don't mind the ending at all.

 

Its not one for the purists, but it makes a jolly ending to a festive service.

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Perhaps its just me, but I've played it a few times now in services and I don't mind the ending at all.

 

Its not one for the purists, but it makes a jolly ending to a festive service.

 

 

OK, but it ends abruptly.

 

I haven't the music at home, but what I do is to repeat the opening bars, (as Rawsthorne did), for about three or four bars, and then jump to that pregnant discord, and hold it, (the one after which the hands run down in octaves; which I think needs to be transposed as a G augmented something or other), during which I use a pedal run Ab,G,F,Eb, Db,C, Bb,Ab,G,F,Eb,Dd and a final C below a resolution of the augemented chord. It's exactly what this Toccata needs. Doing that, you're actually still using Mushel's notes and motifs....just improving things a bit.

 

Incidentally, it's not a Toccata at all.....more like a Tarantella, were it Italian.

 

MM

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There are at least two versions printed. I think that in Oxford's 'Modern Organ Music' came first, and that was edited and tidied up by Rawsthorne. Some years later, there was at least one collection, and I think a series, of Russian music, which also included the Toccata, in a rather modified form. So one might hear either version, or a combination of both.

 

I read that Mushel struggled to get his music with Usbek influence accepted, and that he accosted Rawsthorne and pressed the manuscript into his hands, the latter subsequently making a playing version.

 

As one of the worst offenders when it comes to getting off topic, I apologise, but can't promise much in the way of reform....

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Martin,

If you search the name 'Mushel' in the forum category 'The Organ and Its Music, you should come across quite a lot of discussion from early 2006, which may be of interest.

 

I think there is more...but probably in an off-topic discussion !!

 

H

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There are three organ works by Mushel: The Uzbekistan Suite, the Samarkand Suite and the Six Pieces. There are also a couple of pieces for organ and other instruments. The Toccata is the middle movement of the Uzbekistan Suite, which is in the order of Aria, Toccata and Fugue. Personally I don't think when played in the context of the entire Suite, the Toccata requires any augmentation as its slightly sudden ending forms a launchpad for a musical response, which is the fugue. The same device is used of course in many Preludes (Toccatas) and Fugues by other composers. My own choice is to play it from the original Russian edition which is very significantly different from the OUP version. Noel Rawsthorne says he never actually met Mushel or was presented with a manuscript by the composer, but its a very nice story that has become folklore. Some have likened it to a Cossack dance. Personally I'm not so sure as audiences unfamiliar with the work and not given programme notes prompting them with an interpretation of what they are hearing have said that they hear a Stalinist five year plan and the happy workers turning the wheels of Soviet production! One might guess therefore that the Toccata was one of the pieces actually approved of by the authorities and hence allowed to be published in Russia and Germany. The other organ works are so different in style by contrast: far more lyrical with an almost whimsical quality.

 

I hope this is of help.

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Thank you very much. This is interesting. I take it, then, that the original Russian edition does not include the glissando, pace post #15 in the thread I linked to above. Do you happen to know, please, how the original Russian edition compares with the version published by Peters?

 

What a shame a reliable version of the complete suite is not readily available over here.

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Neither the Peters or Russian editions contain any glissandos! The Russian edition has a little more guidance in the way of registration and manual changes, and is unique in having the final fugue as well as Aria and Toccata. I agree it is a pity neither of the two suites are available as they are great music for audiences.

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Does this mean, then, that because of the unavailability of the Russian edition, the Peters version is better than OUP?

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Hi,

I would like to point out that according to the Peters' online catalogue the only organ music composed by Mushel can be found in Peters' Anthology of Russian and Eastern European Organ Music of the 20th Century, which only appears to contain the Aria and Fugue from the Suite. The original Russian edition of the whole Suite can, however, be obtained from the Sikorski Publishers in Hamburg. If you buy the score from Bodensee-Musikversand, it will cost you 16 EUR.

 

M

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The original Russian edition of the whole Suite can, however, be obtained from the Sikorski Publishers in Hamburg. If you buy the score from Bodensee-Musikversand, it will cost you 16 EUR.

 

I am sure that many here will be grateful for SlovOrg's information about getting hold of a Russian edition of Mushel's Toccata. The Sikorski link, however, leads to a publication comprising Prelude, Toccata and Finale (the Samarkand Suite?). The Bodensee link though lists the movements of the Uzbekistan Suite (from which the Toccata comes) and seems to be a safer bet.

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I am sure that many here will be grateful for SlovOrg's information about getting hold of a Russian edition of Mushel's Toccata. The Sikorski link, however, leads to a publication comprising Prelude, Toccata and Finale (the Samarkand Suite?). The Bodensee link though lists the movements of the Uzbekistan Suite (from which the Toccata comes) and seems to be a safer bet.

 

Sorry - I saw Suite and failed to notice that the Toccata was surrounded by two "false" movements. The correct link is here.

 

M

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The correct link is here.

 

Perhaps I am going senile. I feel sure that when I first looked at this link it advertised the whole suite - as does the Bodensee-Musikversand link given above. However, looking at the Sikorski page now, I see that it is advertising only the Aria and Toccata. Can anyone clarify please? Is it possible to find the fugue anywhere?

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Perhaps I am going senile. I feel sure that when I first looked at this link it advertised the whole suite - as does the Bodensee-Musikversand link given above. However, looking at the Sikorski page now, I see that it is advertising only the Aria and Toccata. Can anyone clarify please? Is it possible to find the fugue anywhere?

 

No, you most certainly aren’t ;-)

As far as I can recall the "correct" link has always mentioned only Aria and Toccata - which was probably the reason why I provided a link to Mushel’s (other) Organ Suite in the first place. I find it highly unlikely - despite only two movements being named - that the fugue would be missing here; I’m pretty sure the sheet music from Bodensee-Musikversand and the Suite on Uzbek Themes on the Sikorski website are the same thing. Unfortunately, however, I don’t have the printed score to confirm this.

 

M

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