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Mander Organs
David Drinkell

Alain's Ballade en mode phrygien

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The version of Jehan Alain's 'Ballade en mode phrygien' available on IMSLP is the Leduc edition and gives registration: Recit Hautbois, Positif Bourdon 8 Flute 4, Pedale Soubasse, with the chordal middle section on Voix Humaine.  After this, Cromhorne instead of Hautbois for a few bars. 

There's a performance on YouTube of this version:

 

However, there's another performance (same player and instrument) using the Barenreiter edition. the registration is completely differen:t Right hand: Gross Nazard+Bourdon 8'; Left hand: Gambe, Flute octaviante 4, Plein Jeu. The middle section: Bourdon 8'+Flute 4'. There is also Flute Harmonique 8' on G.O. with Positif coupled to it for the last 6 notes of that section (Lento), played with the right hand.

Any opinions on which, if either, is "right"? 

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The newer edition looks as if the registration advice comes from the Alain organ now at Neufchâtel. No time to peruse further but I have a recent article on this organ and its restoration that might add light to the subject. It is too large to attach here but please pm with an email address and I can send!

A

 

 

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Thanks, will do!  An interesting point is that the Barenreiter edition specifies Gros Nazard, which would be 5 1/3. Thus, with a 4' Flute one would get two notes a fifth apart.  The same thing is found in 'Le Jardin suspendu' and the effect is much different from that which a normal Nazard registration would provide. 

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Wasn't the Leduc edition edited by Marie-Claire, based on what she believed her brother intended? According to the critical commentary in the Bärenreiter edition,  the MS used for the 1943 Leduc edition doesn't have any registration directions. Since 1943, three more MSS of the piece have come to light, one of which was used as the copy text for the Bärenreiter version and it's one or more of these "new" MSS that specifies the registration.

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Both versions sound well, and I could imagine different occasions, instruments, audiences, etc, where one might be more suitable than the other.  I'm playing the piece at a lunch-time concert here in Fredericton Cathedral on Friday, having cooked up a registration scheme which I think accords with the instructions in Barenreiter.

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