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BWV 564 ending

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I've just heard a performance of BWV 564 in which the player continued pleno all the way to the end, and augmented the last chord with a bottom C on the pedals. I thought it worked rather well, and am wondering if there's any justification for it in the sources.

 

I've found (http://www.analekta.com/en/album/?lagace-bernard-j-s-bach-toccata-adagio-and-fugue-in-c-major-bwv-564-and-other-early-works-vol-2.1263.html) a programme note by Bernard Lagace in which he says "We are accustomed to hearing a conclusion where the different voices gradually dwindle until the end where, with no longer any pedal, descending quavers are discretely punctuated by a final, short chord. I thought it interesting to use here a different version, as is found in one of the work's two sources, where the pedal holds the tonic low C until the last long chord, marked with a fermata", which is rather different to what I heard today.

 

Can anyone out there provide an authoritative answer?

 

Ian

 

 

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This needs someone conversant with all the early manuscript sources, which I am not - at all.

 

However, judging from that I see in the NBA and the new Breitkopf edition, I think the answer to your first question is that there is probably not. Organ music in Bach's time was usually written on two staves. The use of the pedal might be marked by the indication "Ped", but often it is not entirely clear what the pedal is to play and what it is not. A familiar example to anyone with the NBA will be In dulci jubilo BWV 729. I don't know whether any of the manuscript sources for the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue BWV 564 are on three staves, but both the editions I mentioned evidently used a two-stave manuscript for the copy text (judging from the incipits shown) and both give a manuals-only ending in its usual, familiar form. Being on two staves I assume there is nothing explicit in these manuscripts to preclude the pedals from playing the final bottom C. However, I note that this final C is reached on the last semiquaver of the preceding bar and is tied to the bottom note of the final chord. Thus, if the pedal is to be used, it must start on that final semiquaver, i.e. just before the chord in the manuals. Personally, this doesn't strike me as very Bachian, but I suppose it's a matter of opinion. I do not think that the pedal should enter in synchronisation with the manual chord, after the note has been played by the hand. If that were the intention then the manuscripts would surely show an extra quaver bottom C at that point, i.e. on the first beat of the final bar. The fact that there is only one, tied C, without any indication of it being reiterated on the manual chord should be taken at face value.

 

To answer your second paragraph, the "Commentary to EB 8804" downloadble here might help. What I gather from this is that the new Breitkopf text (which is not radically different from the NBA, save for a few accidentals and "tr" marks over the oscillating pedal demisemiquavers in the Toccata) is based on a manuscript now regarded as the most reliable available because it is now known to have been copied by a chap who did other copying work for Bach and who probably copied it from a Bach autograph, As mentioned above, it has the familiar, manuals-only ending. Judging from Breitkopf's Critical Comentary, the version with the long, held pedal C seems to come from a manuscript by Kellner, who wasn't a very trustworthy copyist. Kellner also gives the final semiquaver before the last manual chord as a bottom B.

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I've just heard a performance of BWV 564 in which the player continued pleno all the way to the end, and augmented the last chord with a bottom C on the pedals. I thought it worked rather well, and am wondering if there's any justification for it in the sources.

 

I've found (http://www.analekta.com/en/album/?lagace-bernard-j-s-bach-toccata-adagio-and-fugue-in-c-major-bwv-564-and-other-early-works-vol-2.1263.html) a programme note by Bernard Lagace in which he says "We are accustomed to hearing a conclusion where the different voices gradually dwindle until the end where, with no longer any pedal, descending quavers are discretely punctuated by a final, short chord. I thought it interesting to use here a different version, as is found in one of the work's two sources, where the pedal holds the tonic low C until the last long chord, marked with a fermata", which is rather different to what I heard today.

 

Can anyone out there provide an authoritative answer?

 

Ian

 

 

 

I am not sure about that - but I certainly do not like the way this performance ended:

. Aside from the Fugue being too fast for my taste, it just appears to stop - apparently for no other reason than that the performer has run out of printed notes. I much prefer Daniel Roth's interpretation at S. Sulpice - which is, as far as I know, only available on CD. However, I think that it is a superb rendition, and the Cliquot/Cavaillé-Coll masterpiece appears to me to be a perfect instrument for this music. (I have played 'Drop the Laser' with a few organ-minded colleagues, and no-one managed to guess that it was S. Sulpice. When I told them, most were fairly stunned - presumably finding it difficult to believe that this large, basically Romantic instrument could produce these types of sounds.)

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I can see (hear?) why you like this, pcnd5584. From the start, this is never going to be less than an extremely thoughtful account. As to be expected from the scholarly and amenable Maître Roth, it is also meticulously executed. With both Toccata and Fugue, I am in total (listening) sympathy.

 

I must, however, take issue with the end of the Adagio, which seems too Romantically-conceived for the present day (recording from 2000?). Shades of Thalben-Ball in his heyday ? Fonds d’orgue with Tremulant is the answer, for me.

 

Moreover, I am sure a more suitable registration could be located on this organ for the melodic filigree.

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I can see (hear?) why you like this, pcnd5584. From the start, this is never going to be less than an extremely thoughtful account. As to be expected from the scholarly and amenable Maître Roth, it is also meticulously executed. With both Toccata and Fugue, I am in total (listening) sympathy.

 

I must, however, take issue with the end of the Adagio, which seems too Romantically-conceived for the present day (recording from 2000?). Shades of Thalben-Ball in his heyday ? Fonds d’orgue with Tremulant is the answer, for me.

 

Moreover, I am sure a more suitable registration could be located on this organ for the melodic filigree.

 

I can appreciate your point, firstrees - although I confess that I am enough of a Philistine to go all trembly and excited at the build-up from 09:17, to the entry of the 32ft. Bombarde towards the end of the Adagio. I want to jump and shout - and it fair makes my toes clench in my shoes.... Yes, it is a bit Romantic - but Roth only lets his guard - and reserve - slip for 1':31" (including reverberation). And it is S. Sulpice, after all. It would have been a shame to have let that superb 32ft. reed just sit there....

 

However, in all seriousness, the ending works for me on Roth's recording. No fuss, or apparent truncation - just simple resolution.

 

Vox - thank you for finding this recording, It had simply not occurred to me to see if anyone had uploaded it to YouTube.

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St Sulpice is not a 'basically Romantic instrument'. Indeed, you almost contradicted yourself here by calling this a 'Cliquot/Cavaille-Coll masterpiece', which of course it is!

 

Approximately 40% of the pipework in this instrument is Clicquot. When Cavaille-Coll rebuilt this instrument he deliberately preserved the earlier pipework, with very little changes to the character of the 18th century work. He then provided his own additions, being careful that the overall nature of this pipework would not sit uncomfortably with the earlier work. Cavaille-Coll called this a 'merging of the old and new', essentially a synthesis of 18th and 19th Century pipework that is without doubt unequal in its mastery of construction and tonal beauty.

 

Consequently, a wide corpus of music may be played on this instrument with complete confidence. It is, in my opinion, a vastly superior instrument as that found in Notre Dame de Paris.

 

When I visited St Sulpice some years ago on a tour of the organ loft, I asked Daniel Roth if he could demonstrate the 18th century pipework of this instrument. The effect was quite stunning - I was listening to an 18th Century classical French organ in all its glory!

 

Here is some detail of the origins of the pipework, from the St Sulpice website:

 

http://stsulpice.com/Docs/specs.html

 

Not the best of recordings, but you may get an idea of some of the Clicquot heritage here:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dwy1jo07eZ8

 

 

I would certainly agree that it is now superior to that which stands in the west tribune at Nôtre-Dame.

 

However, whilst my description of the instrument being basically Romantic may not give the whole picture, you avoid the fact that it has one of the few amphitheatre-type consoles which Cavaillé-Coll provided for his largest instruments, which functions in the same way his large Romantic organs do - that is, with the soundboards divided and the reeds and upper-work controlled by ventils. Then there are the substantial number of ranks by Cavaillé-Coll - which certainly sound Romantic; (I have also been up in the loft and heard it from this vantage-point). Whilst Cavaillé-Coll may have shown rather more respect for the older material than did FHW here on occasion, nevertheless, the entire nucleus of a large Romantic organ, complete with the particular type of console (which partly dictates how one plays this instrument), is present.

 

In any case, if it is not 'basically Romantic' - what would you call it?. It is not eclectic or Baroque, nor is it neo-Classical. The occasions when I have heard it played, performers (including its renowned Titulaire) have made it sound Romantic, therefore I can see no harm in describing it thus.

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I wouldn't be too worried about the use of the 32' Bombarde at the end of the Adagio. It does contain some 18th century Clicquot pipework, and I have no doubt that JSB himself would have availed himself of these resources, if they had been available at the time!

 

We should never allow 'straight-jackets' to invade music. Rather, it is more a matter of personal taste. I found Daniel Roth's interpretation on that recording quite superb, and the use of the 32' reed quite appropriate.

 

Absolutely.

 

And very exciting, too.

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There is no need to split hairs over terminology. St Sulpice is obviously 'Romantic', but it is also substantially embedded in its 18th century heritage.

 

I have recorded this instrument 'live' now on several occasions, all with Daniel Roth playing, and it is astonishing. The G.O. reeds, for example, are without parallel - vicious, but exciting at the same time.

 

Quite honestly, I'm not sure what to call it, or label it. But whatever it is, it is a masterpiece!

 

I quite like the Orgue de Choeur in Notre Dame by the way. That is a surprisingly effective instrument, of only 30 stops. But each one seems to count for presence and beauty. As an example, this Communion postlude from approx 1:08 is really quite delightful:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4loSslesto&index=11&list=FLjznwvXiuRfOGQ80W36Ml2w

 

For the record, it was you who objected to my epithet 'Romantic' - so it is not I who was chopping bunnies....

 

However, i agree entirely with your description - I think that this is a wonderful instrument. But then, so it that at Rouen (S. Ouen, not the cathedral) and S. Sernin is fabulous.

 

The Orgue de Chœur at Nôtre-Dame is indeed, as you state, surprisingly effective - although I did miss the swell box. I once had to play for a choir's lunch-time recital on this instrument, including an improvised solo. I also found it to be reasonably versatile and quite exciting.

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I'm not sure if I 'objected' to your epithet 'Romantic', rather I was suggesting perhaps we should not view St Sulpice as 'basically' a Romantic instrument. And as I've suggested, I'm not sure if we can stick any label to this instrument. It is far too complicated for that.

 

I agree with you on St Ouen entirely. However, I've never really got on with St Sernin - the overall ensemble doesn't seem to gel with me, and I don't like the chamades - they are just too 'blatant' for my taste. I've never heard it 'live' though, only in recordings. And we know how unreliable they can be.

 

With regard to S. Sernin, it is a matter of regret that I have yet to hear this instrument live. I too have only heard it on a number of recordings. However, I must admit that I have always been bowled over by it. For my taste, it is the perfect Cavaillé-Coll tutti. I do like the chamades - although, having stood directly underneath those at Nôtre-Dame de Paris on a number of occasions, I am not sure exactly how closely they are modelled on those at S. Sernin. However, as you say, recordings can sometimes be notoriously unreliable.*

 

 

 

* However, I would suggest that there are instruments which are clearly recogniseable from recordings and broadcasts - one such is the Harrison instrument in Exeter Cathedral. This beautiful organ has a very distinctive tutti, for one thing. Whether it will sound the same after the present major redesigning is completed, remains to be seen. I would also maintain that I can tell the difference between recordings of the Willis instruments in Salisbury and Truro cathedrals - and not by simply relying on the difference between the acoustic ambiance of each building. Nor, for that matter, on the presence (or absence) of a 32ft. reed, Solo strings or similar ranks. Whether I could do so it Hereford were to be added to the mix, I am not sure, since I am less familiar with this instrument. Again, if the H&H G.O. quint Mixture were to be used, or the Hereford HWIII 32ft. reed, I could probably tell; otherwise, I am not sure.

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From a recording perspective, it is also interesting to observe how individual recording engineers may 'capture' the sound of an instrument in different ways. But however good or bad an instrument may be, a good one will always seems to shine through. Admittedly, I have one very good recording of St Sernin, performed by Daniel Chorzempa (Widor 5 & 10, Philips), and that really does sound quite thrilling. But most other recordings seem to fall down in one respect or another - I can't believe it's the fault of the building, but you may never know.

 

With respect to Exeter, that really is a beautiful instrument, so subtly balanced and a joy to sing with. I toured there in 1982 and I can still recall the lucid, almost delicate fluework. It never struck me that the organ needed a 32' reed - it just didn't seem to need it. I never felt that St Albans needed one either, but it has one now - and I don't like it!

 

S. Sernin - I believe that the interior of the building (possibly the Nave walls and arcade) had the hard plaster removed a few years ago - which cut down the reverberation period somewhat.

 

Exeter Cathedral, I agree - except for the 32ft. reed. Having previously had regular lessons on this instrument (from the age of fifteen), and played it on a fair number of occasions for services, I was delighted when the Pedal Trombone was extended downwards. I felt that this was one cathedral organ which desperately needed a 32ft. reed. Certainly listening to several recitals in the summer series some years ago, the absence was sorely felt - particularly with pieces which ended 'half-way up the pedal board' - such as Franck's Troisième Choral. In the rather dry acoustic, the Pedal Organ lacks weight - the Open Diapason (W) is an old FHW stop, and was never subjected to the 'Arthur Harrison treatment'. In fact, I recall being told that Harrisons discovered that the lowest sixteen notes of the Violone (32ft. and 16ft. unit) spoke on around 35mm pressure - which, if actually true, is incredibly low.

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I was delighted when the Pedal Trombone was extended downwards.

 

I might have been if the result hadn't sounded like a toneless rattle. Whatever the shortcomings of this organ - and IMNSHO they were insignificant enough to warrant not mucking around with the integrity of the instrument - this half-length extension simply did not fit. And added Octave 4' on the Great is way out of proportion too. There is no doubt that the organ struggles to accompany a packed cathedral but the nave division surely takes care of that. At least, I thought it did so perfectly satisfactorily when I was in this situation. Ideally, of course, one would have a second organ, but I am not sure where one could put it and in any case I suppose one has to be realistic.

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I might have been if the result hadn't sounded like a toneless rattle. Whatever the shortcomings of this organ - and IMNSHO they were insignificant enough to warrant not mucking around with the integrity of the instrument - this half-length extension simply did not fit. And added Octave 4' on the Great is way out of proportion too. There is no doubt that the organ struggles to accompany a packed cathedral but the nave division surely takes care of that. At least, I thought it did so perfectly satisfactorily when I was in this situation. Ideally, of course, one would have a second organ, but I am not sure where one could put it and in any case I suppose one has to be realistic.

 

Actually, I quite like the 32ft. reed - and do not consider it to be a toneless rattle. There is one note (B, I think), which is not as good as the rest of the stop. However, I regard it as definitely worth having - and far more musical than the Hele 'earthquake' at Winchester.. The 4ft. G.O. Octave (replacing the Dulciana) and moving the Solo Viole Octaviante up and retuning it were both my ideas - made to Paul Morgan years ago. Again, I disagree - to my ears, the G.O. Octave imparts more fullness to the chorus and helps the projection a little. In any case, I never saw anyone use the Dulciana - not even Lucian. The problem with the Nave division (as Paul would corroborate), is that, due to tuning and temperature discrepancies with the main organ, there are often occasions when it cannot be used - unless one does not mind a kind of giant céleste effect.

 

In fact, the addition of the G.O. Octave is more of a re-instatement since, prior to the 1965 H&H rebuild, the G.O. did possess such a rank - as well as a large Open Diapason (giving a total of three Open Diapason ranks in this department). Also, before 1965, the G.O. actually had fifteen slides - as opposed to the present total of fourteen. Presumably, at the 1965 rebuild, Harrisons decided to place to the new G.O. IV-rank mixture on two slides, making both draw simultaneously.

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I can appreciate your point, firstrees - although I confess that I am enough of a Philistine to go all trembly and excited at the build-up from 09:17, to the entry of the 32ft. Bombarde towards the end of the Adagio. I want to jump and shout - and it fair makes my toes clench in my shoes.... Yes, it is a bit Romantic - but Roth only lets his guard - and reserve - slip for 1':31" (including reverberation). And it is S. Sulpice, after all. It would have been a shame to have let that superb 32ft. reed just sit there....

 

However, in all seriousness, the ending works for me on Roth's recording. No fuss, or apparent truncation - just simple resolution.

 

Vox - thank you for finding this recording, It had simply not occurred to me to see if anyone had uploaded it to YouTube.

 

I just got around to listening to this (on headphones). I found the sound of the 32' Bombarde very impressive, especially as it is (I believe) on no more than 4" wind pressure. This just goes to show that high wind pressures are not essential to obtain loudness, even in reeds.

 

I suppose that the answer is that in order to have loudness along with smoothness (as in English organs compared to those of other European schools), higher pressures are necessary.

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I just got around to listening to this (on headphones). I found the sound of the 32' Bombarde very impressive, especially as it is (I believe) on no more than 4" wind pressure. This just goes to show that high wind pressures are not essential to obtain loudness, even in reeds.

 

I suppose that the answer is that in order to have loudness along with smoothness (as in English organs compared to those of other European schools), higher pressures are necessary.

 

And with that, thicker tongues - and weights - mostly either lead or felt loads. Them you have the FHW or Arthur Harrison Ophicleide. (There is not much to choose between either Truro or Crediton with regard to the Pedal ranks of this name.)

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