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Mander Organs
Tony Yearsley

Brahms Deck thyself, o my soul

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I have been listening to Virgil Fox's Masterclass on the web - most instructive and amusing. A lady student plays this Brahms chorale, melody with a swell reed and all the accompaniment on the great. My recent Novello version shares the accompaniment between both hands as there are impossible stretches for the LH. Another student at the end asks whether it is possible to use pedals for the accompaniment, which Fox dismisses as not easy. Is there another version where the bass is modified? It would not seem possible to solve the problem by 'thumbing down'

The 1969 recording is very unclear with the accompaniment at very low volume.

Any solutions?

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I'm not sure how desirable it is to "solo out" the chorale in this prelude; Brahms was capable of making his intentions quite clear in this set of pieces. It would probably be easier to play the chorale c.f. on the pedals on a 4' if playing the bass on the pedals is too difficult.

 

Possibly amusing anecdote: I once started this piece in Eb by accident. If I'd done it on purpose I would have probably been ok but on this occasion I was in all sorts of trouble.

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I seem to remember once seeing a Peters/Hinrichsen edition of this piece (a different publication from the complete set of 11) arranged with the melody given to a 4' pedal stop. However, if Brahms had wanted that he would surely have written the melody on a pedal staff, as he did in the second Herzlich tut mich verlangen. If he had wanted the solo in the right hand I would have expected him to mark it explicitly, as he did in O Traurigkeit where uses different dynamic makings for the solo and the accompaniment. I think he marked what he wanted and was probably aiming for sound that was gentle, uniform and serene.

 

Incidentally I haven't looked up the Fox masterclass, but it seems perverse to dismiss the use of pedals as not easy. I've just tried it and didn't find it difficult at all. Even the brief F sharp major arpeggio can be played legato with alternate feet without a problem (although that might depend on the size of your sharps and your shoes). At any rate, using a pedal coupler is a doddle compared to trying to solo the tune and play everything else on the next manual down.

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Hi

 

The Novello edition of the Chorale Preludes has this as manuals only, and specifies one manual throughout. The melody seems to be in the treble. I've played it a few times over the years and I don't recall any issues, other than some slightly large stretches, in playing it on 1 manual with appropriate registration.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Many thanks for the advice. There are a number of you tube performances, all played on one manual. In most cases the melody comes through very clearly with appropriate registation so I will be sticking to that.

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