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With respect to the stop changes in the D minor concerto, if people wish to use this as evidence for manual changes in preludes and fugues, the onus is on them to demonstrate that the evidence in a concerto is applicable to a different musical form.

 

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

 

Well, it IS evidence, unlike the assertion that the contrary opinion has muscological credence.

 

Of course, there is a kind of further circumstantial evidence in the episodic nature of Buxtehude's organ-works.

 

How would one play the Bruhns E-minor?

 

Full pleno throughout?

 

Perhaps we might usefully discuss what is wrong with the performance of the "little" G Minor Fugue as I quoted as a link in one of the previous posts.

 

http://www.kfki.hu/~/zlehel/zene/

 

Let's see where that takes us!

 

:lol:

 

MM

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How would one play the Bruhns E-minor?

 

Full pleno throughout?

There is some evidence for stop changes between discrete sections of this rhapsodic, sectional, North German type of prelude and fugue. And I think you could fairly argue that you could apply this to the early Bach A minor BWV 551 which is so very Buxtehudian.

 

But I think I'm going to bow out of this thread here. I've said more than enough on the topic and it's sounding as if I've some sort of axe to grind, which I really haven't.

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Oh dear. You disappoint me: that sounds like a closed mind.

 

Not at all - if you heard how I occasionally interpret the C major (547), for example, you would probably wish I did have a closed mind....

 

I go along with you to the extent that I don't suppose either that Bach intended it to be performed thus (but of course I don't know that). But I do find it broadens my musical appreciation to look for varying interpretations. I wouldn't play the quiet version in public though.

 

Unfortunately you failed to make this point in your original post!

 

As a point of study, I would actually agree with you - in order clearly to hear exactly what is happening in a particular work, practising it quietly can be extremely useful.

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I have never even hear of this - what on earth is it?

 

However, I have heard a recording of Tibetan monks singing so low, that they managed to produce harmonics (and therefore to sing more than one not at a time).

It sounds like a feeble goat bleating, rather like the bleating of a fractional length reed from a neo-baroque organ, circa 1972. I haven't heard your recording of Tibetan Monks singing - I must rush out and get the CD to see how it compares against my recordings of russian basses...

 

There is quite an interesting recording of Philippe Léfébvre playing this work at N.-D. - before the rebuild. At one point, he cuts down to just 4p Prestant and Flûte - and very effective it is, too.

Yes, I can well believe it. One of my favourite recordings of this piece is Lionel Rogg at Arlesheim. He gets down to a 4' flute at one stage too and changes manuals quite a bit in the fugue. And very effective it is, too.

 

Then there was the time at Exeter Cathedral, in one of the celebrity summer evening organ recitals, where Graham Steed commenced playing the Passacaglia on the Pedal Bourdon and Octave (Wood) - it sounded as if an ancient Old English Sheepdog was trying to sing along....

 

.... then there was this time at bandcamp?? ....

 

Oh dear, must have been hillarious. (has someone got a chainsaw - I feel a need for one right now). It just shows that it's necessary to listen to the musical effect and play the music for how it sounds out of that organ, rather than how it should sound just by pulling out the right looking stops.

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I agree, MM. Particularly in the case of the B minor - the Prelude is comparatively long. I once played it on fonds 8p and 4p on the GO (as: GPR) and got seriously bored. The next time I played it, I tried it (arguably more conventionally) on choruses up to and including mixtures - again with no changes of clavier. I was still slightly bored. I prefer it best when I change claviers for the pedal-less episodes. I took the trouble carefully to work-out exactly where I should return to playing on the GO before I started. In fact, there are places where it is possible to return to the GO without disruption - often one hand returns before another, but I found that this actually enhanced the effect [unquote]

 

 

If you look at the manuscript of BWV 544 - one of the few P&Fs to have survived in JSB's handwriting - it's clear that in bar 17 (the start of the episode) he deliberately amended the beaming so that the first semiquaver in the "alto" line is joined to the second (actually 2 demisemiquavers). This suggests that he did not want a change of manual. At the parallel passage in bar 43, Bach does this automatically, ie. an unbroken beam. (Vol 5 of the NBA makes this clear). See Stauffer & May 'J S Bach as Organist', p. 206 for a better explanation.

 

Apart from the "Dorian" and the Eb Preludes, I'm not aware of any indications of manual changes in the P&Fs. Whether that means JSB intended the rest to be played on a single manual throughout - who knows?

 

As for changes in registration in the course of the piece, I'm sure Bach did that sort of thing. There's plenty of circumstantial evidence of 18-cent organists using page turners and it seems highly unlikely they didn't act as registrants as well. I'd be prepared to bet Bach got someone to hoik on the 32 Posaune for the last pedal entry in the big fugues, just for the sheer fun of it.

 

JS

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I have never even hear of this - what on earth is it? (Tuvan throat-singing)

 

However, I have heard a recording of Tibetan monks singing so low, that they managed to produce harmonics (and therefore to sing more than one not at a time).

 

 

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

 

I'm sorry not to respond immediately, but it's taken me a little time to find the details.

 

For some peculiar reason, all around the Arctic Circle, there are different types of throat-singing, but the Tuvan throat-singing is by far the most fascinating.

 

Essentially, the technique is to sing a very low note and then control the harmonics using muscle control in the throat and mouth; thus producing a drone and a melody at the same time. The Tuvan people of Mongolia have developed this into high-art, to the extent that they can imitate the sound of mountain winds and horses rushing past.

 

Thus, there is a rich repertoire of sounds which range from "harmonic" melodies to effects such as clucking sounds and hissing sounds.Most remarkable of all is the flute-like quality of very high notes which can be developed in the nostrils as harmonics of the drone-note.

 

It's a very serious art, and quite unique.

 

The BBC, in their World Music series, did a whole programme on one of the more famous Tuvan singing ensembles, and it is to be found in the sound-archives as follows:-

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/womad2005/huun_huur.shtml

 

However, if anyone wants to be totally "wowed" by this technique, allow the programme to download, and if using Real Player, scroll on to 29m 45 secs, where the solo Tuvan voice is heard in its' purest form. I was absolutely stunned when I first heard this programme, and I can assure anyone that they don't sing like this in the Anglican Tradition .....yet !!

 

For a more detailed look at the technique, I would recommend the following site from "Scientific American":-

 

http://www.sciam.com/print_version.cfm?art...B81809EC588EF21

 

Enjoy!

 

Keep in mind the distinctly underwhelming sound of the 32ft Sordun at Worksop Priory.....that's the 32ft CCC reed that you can pop into your pocket !!

 

:lol:

 

MM

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

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/womad2005/huun_huur.shtml

 

However, if anyone wants to be totally "wowed" by this technique, allow the programme to download, and if using Real Player, scroll on to 29m 45 secs

 

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

 

 

SORRY!

 

That should have been 23min 45secs into the programme

 

MM

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If you look at the manuscript of BWV 544 - one of the few P&Fs to have survived in JSB's handwriting - it's clear that in bar 17 (the start of the episode) he deliberately amended the beaming so that the first semiquaver in the "alto" line is joined to the second (actually 2 demisemiquavers).  This suggests that he did not want a change of manual.  At the parallel passage in bar 43, Bach does this automatically, ie. an unbroken beam.  (Vol 5 of the NBA makes this clear).  See Stauffer & May 'J S Bach as Organist', p. 206 for a better explanation.

 

I would dearly like to examine the manuscript of this! Unfortunately, I do not know where I may find a copy. (Assuming that the original is inaccessible to the general public.)

 

As for changes in registration in the course of the piece, I'm sure Bach did that sort of thing.  There's plenty of circumstantial evidence of 18-cent organists using page turners and it seems highly unlikely they didn't act as registrants as well.  I'd be prepared to bet Bach got someone to hoik on the 32 Posaune for the last pedal entry in the big fugues, just for the sheer fun of it.

 

JS

 

I am sure that you are correct in this assumption. I did read somewhere that he loved to try out 32p reeds. Certainly, the only instrument with such a stop, over which he had tenure, was that at Mülhausen.

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If you look at the manuscript of BWV 544 - one of the few P&Fs to have survived in JSB's handwriting - it's clear that in bar 17 (the start of the episode) he deliberately amended the beaming so that the first semiquaver in the "alto" line is joined to the second (actually 2 demisemiquavers).  This suggests that he did not want a change of manual.  At the parallel passage in bar 43, Bach does this automatically, ie. an unbroken beam.  (Vol 5 of the NBA makes this clear).  See Stauffer & May 'J S Bach as Organist', p. 206 for a better explanation.

 

Apart from the "Dorian" and the Eb Preludes, I'm not aware of any indications of manual changes in the P&Fs.  Whether that means JSB intended the rest to be played on a single manual throughout - who knows?

 

As for changes in registration in the course of the piece, I'm sure Bach did that sort of thing.  There's plenty of circumstantial evidence of 18-cent organists using page turners and it seems highly unlikely they didn't act as registrants as well.  I'd be prepared to bet Bach got someone to hoik on the 32 Posaune for the last pedal entry in the big fugues, just for the sheer fun of it.

 

JS

 

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

 

I suppose we could discuss this forever and get nowhere, which is what makes Bach-interpretation such a living and rewarding art.

 

Each to his own, and whilst I would never play Bach in the way that the German Romantics did, I do enjoy the almost Stokowskian approach to performing the great organ-works.

 

Now I confess utter and complete ignorance about THAT D-minor Toccata & Fugue, which many suggest is not by Bach at all. I'm sure we've all played it from time to time.

 

Does anyone know the source of the manuscript, and more particularly, are the "echo" sections marked out on that? (I honestly have never cared to investigate this).

 

Of one thing I am sure, everyone plays those echo sections incorrectly IMHO.

 

Quite independently of a certain very well known organist, I arrived at the same conclusion, and we therefore play these echo sections starting "off the beat" so to speak. It's the only way that the opening rhythm of the Fugue subject is maintained throughout, and IMHO (and presumably his), starting the echoes ON the beat, totally destroys the harmonic rhythm of the whole fugue.

 

It's a classic example of how the written manuscript can mislead, because when it is played in the way I and the other chap play it, there is a seamless consistency which, on listening to it after recording it, is much more satisfying.

 

MM

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Sorry, Brian, but I don't really agree.

 

 

That is of course your undisputed right. And of course a courtroom setting is different from the process of academic research but I was not intending to suggest otherwise.Only that iF "legal" terms like "evidence" and "proof" are employed it is important to be clear that they are not interchangeable, but rather evidence is the raw material from which proof may be constructed if you can assemble enough of it

 

There's a difference between musicology and a court of law. In the latter you start with a result - a case to be proven or dismissed - and assess how well the evidence stacks up for or against it. Musicology, on the other hand, starts with the evidence and sees where it leads. Admittedly it can all too easily end up like a court when PhDs find their pet theories under attack and set about defending them, but ideally it shouldn't be like that. Unlike a court it doesn't have to reach a decision on anything

 

But  it often does , surely ? Courts in one sense have it much easier because their task is not to seek the truth but on the other hand their decisions can produce immediate consequences in people's lives so their is some responsibility thereBecause you cannot prove anything from an absence of evidence (and the dog not barking in the night is not an absence of evidence).

 

This is undoubtedly true but I did not claim that you could. I stated that the absence of something was as capable of being evidence as the presence of something, which I believe to be correct. As I have been at pains to point out evidence is not the same as proof which requires a context

 

In any case, you misunderstand where I am coming from. I did not craft my argument around an assumption that anyone has to prove anything. I simply discussed the evidence as I see it and the direction in which it seems to me to lead. With respect to the stop changes in the D minor concerto, if people wish to use this as evidence for manual changes in preludes and fugues, the onus is on them to demonstrate that the evidence in a concerto is applicable to a different musical form

 

I am not sure that I do, although it may well be the case. I fully accept you did not start out with any consciousassumptions but what about subconscious ones. Coming to a subject with an open mind is not the same thing as coming to it with an empty mind . We all run our lives on the basis of assumptions and understandings that are so ingrained in our habits of thought that we are hardly aware of them. In my case the assumption is that everything is permissible which is not expressly forbidden because that has been the traditional common law stance: you do not have to show you have been given a right to do something  ; someone else has to show that what you are doing has been forbidden. Coming with that background I apply the same assumption to the issue of manual changes in preludes and fugues - allowed unless and until shown to be forbidden. From what you write above it would appear your frame of reference is the alternative (continental) view that in order to do something you need to be able to point to something which authorises you to do it. It is a perfectly valid approach; just a different one

 

Well I for one have never argued this. I'm a great believer in trying to think outside the box. Very occasionally I will play the P&F in G major BWV541 reflectively on a single 8ft flute, in much the same way that I would play some of the "48". Try it: it can be made to work and gives you a whole new slant on the piece.

 

No. As I have said several times recently, I am very far from dictating how one should play anything. If people want to change manuals in Bach, or even use the swell box, that's their choice and if they can produce a good musical performance, I hope I am flexible enough to appreciate it as such. But I do think we all need to be more honest about admitting that the result may not actually have much to do with Bach. But then, it's possible that no one's "Bach" has all that much to do with Bach and it's merely a matter of how distant it is

 

I fully expect you are. I am going to follow your example and bow out of this thread because I also have no particular axe to grind and can enjoy JSBs music presented in a myriad of ways from the solemnity of Rogg to the flamboyance of Carlo Curley or Kevin Bowyer doing his late 20th century Edwardian Bach Recital bit I am basically perfectly content for people to perform the music in the way that seems to them most appropriate, leaving it to JSB himself in the hereafter to discuss any shortcomings in particular performances from his point of view. There will, after all, be plenty of time

 

Isn't the problem really that we like to imagine we are playing Bach so that we seek to legitimise what we do by making him in our own image?

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... I did read somewhere that he loved to try out 32p reeds. Certainly, the only instrument with such a stop, over which he had tenure, was that at Mülhausen.

Not quite, I'm afraid. For the rebuilding of the Mühlhausen organ, Bach specified to add a 32-foot Untersatz, i. e. Bourdon. He also had the organbuilder make new and larger resonators for the 16-foot Posaune in the pedal (and kept the 2-foot Kornett reed). However, Bach left for Weimar before the work at Mühlhausen was completed.

 

The stoplist that was specified by him, btw, was quite peculiar in some respects (e. g. he had the Great Trumpet removed in favour of a 16-foot Fagott), and I wonder if any of you would be pleased if he found himself having to play even an all-Bach programme on such an instrument. Bach's rebuilding proposal, alsong with his stoplist, is on OSIRIS at

 

http://www.wu-wien.ac.at/ftp/pub/earlym-l/organs/

 

Look for the file wender.st-blasius.muhlhausen.-.de.1709

 

When Bach started at Weimar in 1708, the organ in the Schlosskirche was rebuilt (at his wish?) with new soundboards and a new pedal Subbass, the pitch of which is uncertain; it might have been a 32-foot stop. Again no 32-foot reed. Here again the stoplist -- or at least the first extant one, dating from 1739 -- is quite strange, with Quintadenas 16' and 4' but no reed on the Great, a Trumpet in the Positive-like Unterwerk which has a four-rank (or -foot?) Sesquialtera as its only mixture, and the pedal with flues only up to 8-foot.

 

Bach knew and played organs with 32-foot reeds, e. g. the Contius at the Marktkirche, Halle, the Hildebrandt at Naumburg, and the Trost at Altenburg. But the Nekrolog still tells the truth about him having never had "a quite large and quite good organ at his disposal".

 

Bst,

Friedrich

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I would dearly like to examine the manuscript of this! Unfortunately, I do not know where I may find a copy. (Assuming that the original is inaccessible to the general public.)

I am sure that you are correct in this assumption. I did read somewhere that he loved to try out 32p reeds. Certainly, the only instrument with such a stop, over which he had tenure, was that at Mülhausen.

 

I should have said that the relevant bars of the manuscript are printed in Stauffer & May's book. According to Peter Williams, Bach made a fair copy which is now in private possession. I'm pretty certain a facsimile copy has been published, but is now out-of-print.

 

The other organ with a 32ft reed associated with JSB is, of course, St Wenzel, Naumburg, for which he acted effectively as consultant with Hildebrandt. He spent 5 days there in September 1746 for the inauguration celebrations. I suspect he thoroughly enjoyed himself.

 

The original stop was lost, but Eule provided a historical copy in the recent reconstruction, based on surviving pipes from the 16ft rank. It has wooden resonators and is full length: the sound is pretty cataclysmic in the church. The whole organ, in fact, is amazing - a wonderfully colourful, coherent sound and, for my money, more impressive than the roughly contemporary Silbermann organs at Freiberg and Dresden.

 

The American organist Robert Clarke has recorded most of the big P&Fs plus a variety of CPs on a double CD (Calcante CD041) - both playing and sound are truly magisterial: one of the best Bach CDs I've come across.

 

JS

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In my case the assumption is that everything is permissible which is not expressly forbidden because that has been the traditional common law stance:

 

I'm afraid that it seems to work the other way around nowadays in the field of musical performance; beware of doing anything which is not compulsory. As Jerome K. Jerome knew, that is a very German way of seeing things (everything not forbidden is compulsory, everything not compulsory is forbidden).....

 

I personally tend not to change manuals during Bach fugues. It doesn't seem to make much difference whether he did or not, really; there might have been a number of different reasons for having a number of different manuals other than hopping around between them, one of them simply being to have the choice of playing big fugues on any one of them. The Dorian doesn't prove a point one way or the other; it is clearly conceived as a dialogue which is unusual or even unique amongst the works. And the episodes on the subsidiary manual are not pedalless. The concerti (not just the d minor, the a minor also has directions for manual changes, as does the first - but not the last - movement of the G Major), and, if memory serves, also the whole of the C - where more than just manual changes, or possibly more manuals than just two - seem to be necessary.

 

I think that the term "organo pleno" leads to some muddled thinking, because it is so unclear what it actually means. I often wonder if it doesn't simply indicate that some sort of pleno on one manual is all that is needed for the piece, as it often simply turns up as an alternative to "a 2. manuale" or whatever. There has been a lot of talk about the b minor, a piece which has the potential to sound anything from tragic to stormy but which is often ruined from the first note on by mixtures which don't support the playing of single notes as high as this one........breaking to 16' pitch already by then and having no 16' principal to support them.

 

It is surprising that noone has drawn the analogy to Bach's orchestral writing until now. When not using concerto-like forms, there tend to be no real changes in instrumental colour within single movements, at any rate none that would be similar to a manual change. Multi-sectional works are a different case; that might even apply to the E-flat, where I think you could make a very good case for using three manuals.

 

I am normally a fairly conservative Bach player but I no longer attempt to play pieces like the passacaglia on one plenum. I once heard my teacher Martin Haselböck do it in the Augustinerkirche in Vienna and it was spectacular, but dogmatic, or even perhaps very cowardly - or brave? I wonder. It certainly makes the piece much more difficult, not only musically but technically too, because there are a number of places which simply work much more easily on two manuals. The same applies to other sectional pieces like the D major (even the fugue, perhaps, which is rather concerto-like and not "Proper" polyphony at all), TAF etc.

 

Somebody mentioned "big 4 manual" instruments but I am not aware of any 4 deckers in Bach's environment. The north German instruments had a different purpose and the music of the Hanseatic composers IS plainly conceived for a kaleidoscopic performance. Playing these pieces on one manual is plainly wrong!

 

Incidentally, Bach never went to Kiel (where I used to live), which was a much less glamourous city than Lübeck or Hamburg; his contact to Italian music arose through the Weimarer Prince, who studied in Amsterdam, then the absolute centre of music printing and trading in Europe.

 

Cheers

Barry

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Incidentally, Bach never went to Kiel (where I used to live), which was a much less glamourous city than Lübeck or Hamburg; his contact to Italian music arose through the Weimarer Prince, who studied in Amsterdam, then the absolute centre of music printing and trading in Europe.

 

Cheers

Barry

 

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

 

I'm not quite sure if I could find the details after about 25 years, but I seem to recall that during the baroque period Kiel had a very extensive library of music, including Italian works.

 

Italian musicians were also very active in the courts of the surrounding area, so there was great interest in their native style of composition.

 

If I suggested that Bach went to Kiel, this was not what I intended to mean.

 

I seem to recall the name Prof.Taylor of Newcastle University, possibly 25 or more years ago, writing about the Bach/Italian/North German connection.

 

I'm afraid that I cannot really shed further light on this.

 

MM

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...It is surprising that noone has drawn the analogy to Bach's orchestral writing until now. When not using concerto-like forms, there tend to be no real changes in instrumental colour within single movements, at any rate none that would be similar to a manual change. Multi-sectional works are a different case; that might even apply to the E-flat, where I think you could make a very good case for using three manuals. ...

 

Cheers

Barry

 

This may be because it could be viewed as a red herring.

 

Given that the instrumental players who were performing Bach's music were unlikely to have offered their services without remuneration, I expect that Bach wished to ensure that he (or whoever was paying) obtained value for money. Of course, it is not particularly sound business practice to engage musicians for an event in which, for a fair proportion of the time, various of their number are sitting around doing nothing - except waiting for their next cue.

 

Therefore, it could just as easily be argued that there is little change in the orchestral texture for this reason.

 

(I shall not attempt to open the can of worms which is the question of adequate recompense with regard to trumpeters, Handel and a certain Messiah.)

 

Incidentally, to clarify an earlier point which you made - I mentioned pedal-less episodes with regard to the B minor Prelude, not the Dorian Toccata - which is entirely correct.

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This may be because it could be viewed as a red herring.

 

Given that the instrumental players who were performing Bach's music were unlikely to have offered their services without remuneration, I expect that Bach wished to ensure that he (or whoever was paying) obtained value for money. Of course, it is not particularly sound business practice to engage musicians for an event in which, for a fair proportion of the time, various of their number are sitting around doing nothing - except waiting for their next cue.

Like the trumpeter in Brandenburg 1 remaining silent throughout the middle movement?

 

At Cõthen I believe the prince employed his own musicians, though I daresay pairs of itinerant brass players turned up from time to time. The court band were essentially servants - they weren't professional prima donnas in a position to demand this or that.

 

For at least his first seven years at Leipzig Bach had to perform his Cantatas with only St Thomas School students and civic musicians (all unpaid), with help from time to time from university students, usually no more than two at a time (who were remunerated for their trouble). There is no impression here of demanding professional performers - in fact we know that Bach did not consider the standard of performance up to scratch. The cantatas do not employ every instrument in every movement. There is variety of scoring. So why don't we see such variety within a single movement?

 

Barry's point seems perfectly valid to me.

 

Sorry - I know I said I'd stay out of this...

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Like the trumpeter in Brandenburg 1 remaining silent throughout the middle movement?

 

At Cõthen I believe the prince employed his own musicians, though I daresay pairs of itinerant brass players turned up from time to time. The court band were essentially servants - they weren't professional prima donnas in a position to demand this or that.

 

For at least his first seven years at Leipzig Bach had to perform his Cantatas with only St Thomas School students and civic musicians (all unpaid), with help from time to time from university students, usually no more than  two at a time (who were remunerated for their trouble). There is no impression here of demanding professional performers - in fact we know that Bach did not consider the standard of performance up to scratch.  The cantatas do not employ every instrument in every movement. There is variety of scoring. So why don't we see such variety within a single movement?

 

Barry's point seems perfectly valid to me.

 

Sorry - I know I said I'd stay out of this...

 

It might be worth recording yourself playing an entire movement on one clavier, without any change in registration. I have found that listening to a recording of my playing is quite different to listening to it as I play. There are many things which sound different, albeit slightly, when one is able to step back and listen without the distraction of actually playing.

 

If you do try this, say by recording yourself playing the B minor Prelude (or even the C minor), on a chorus up to mixture (for the sake of argument), I would be interested to know if your interest is maintained throughout the movement. Of course, one would need to approach such an exercise in an open frame of mind. Tomorrow night, I shall try to find time to do the same.

 

From the feedback which I received after playing JSB on my own instrument the general consensus was that people found that the clavier and registration changes actually enhanced the experience for them.

 

What it may all boil down to is: for whom are we playing? Are we playing for ourselves and our own tastes - or are we attempting, insofar as we are able, to communicate to others a love of some of the most sublime music ever written?

 

I do know that many of those who have attended recitals which I have given care not one whit for percieved historical accuracy, or current trends - they generally wish to hear beautiful (and sometimes exciting) music well-played on an instrument that is at once clear yet rich. Whether or not I succeed, only they can decide.

 

I would not presume to dictate how anyone should play the music of Sebastian Bach, but I think that we are in danger of missing the real crux of the matter. Personally I think that Bach's music is superb - I want others to think so, too. Cochereau recognised this many years ago - and played accordingly, in order that he might communicate his passion for the music to as many as possible. As François Carbou said, "without this lout [as many of the younger generation of French organists regarded Cochereau], they would be playing to empty chairs."

 

When I have had to listen to a performance which is supposedly historically accurate, whilst technically flawless, I have to confess that it has usually sounded dull and lifeless, to my ears.

 

If this sounds pompous or arrogant, please be assured that this was not my intention - I found it difficult to articulate my thoughts on this subject, without resorting to long explanations.

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As François Carbou said, "without this lout [as many of the younger generation of French organists regarded Cochereau], they would be playing to empty chairs."

And I've spent the last 20-odd years since Cochereau's passing, believing that he'd been revered universally. I know we're getting a little off-topic, pcnd, but would you mind expanding on this?

 

By the way, I haven't got a huge number of Cochereau recordings, but those I have are played with very great flair indeed, and up to repeated listening.

 

Rgds,

MJF

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It might be worth recording yourself playing an entire movement on one clavier, without any change in registration. I have found that listening to a recording of my playing is quite different to listening to it as I play. There are many things which sound different, albeit slightly, when one is able to step back and listen without the distraction of actually playing.
Oh I know. When I was younger I regularly used to hump a reel-to reel tape recorder around with me and, more recently, I’ve got a few live voluntaries on CDs (not to mention a floppy disc drive on my IIP boopatron too). As you say, it’s very revealing to hear yourself play.

 

If you do try this, say by recording yourself playing the B minor Prelude (or even the C minor), on a chorus up to mixture (for the sake of argument), I would be interested to know if your interest is maintained throughout the movement.
Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't - it depends on how well I play! But when there's a problem it doesn't seem to be with the registration, but with the interpretation (speeds, articulation, phrasing, shaping and so on). If you choose to play a piece on one registration then naturally it imposes extra demands on the player to hold the musical interest - which in itself is a useful exercise. Harpsichordists have to do this (since their stops only give them limited tonal variety) and if they can do it, organists should be able to.

 

However, all this depends on there being a reasonably incisive diapason chorus that can handle this approach effectively. When I was young I made the mistake of playing the Toccata in F at Canterbury Cathedral on the Gt diapason chorus (based, if I remember correctly, on the OD 2 - and I think I may have coupled a Swell reed or two to the Pedal). The critic found the result too lightweight for the building. I have to admit he was right and these days I would certainly beef it up.

 

Where I live there's a very large and uncompromisingly Romantic organ that is used for recitals. There is no way under the sun in which it can be made to sound remotely like a Baroque instrument, even in the softer stuff. Many cathedral organists have played big Bach pieces on it. Some have used a single registration, others two manuals. Neither approach works satisfactorily, but the two-manual one sounds frankly ludicrous because the choruses are too different and the manual changes do a violence to the music. You might think variety of tone colour would be more necessary on a Romantic organ than a classically-voiced one, but it doesn't work here. The only really effective performance I've heard was one of the "great" C minor where the organist played on the Great throughout, starting each movement on the diapason chorus and doing a gradual crescendo to the end, including the addition of full Swell and gradually opening the sell box.

 

Tomorrow night, I shall try to find time to do the same.
I'd be interested to know the results. But, as I've hinted (and depending on how you play them), you might find that you need to rethink the piece(s) in order to get them to work on a single registration.

 

I do know that many of those who have attended recitals which I have given care not one whit for percieved historical accuracy, or current trends - they generally wish to hear beautiful (and sometimes exciting) music well-played on an instrument that is at once clear yet rich.
Sadly, I have to agree that you're spot on here. The musical taste of the average recital-goer is not that discerning. Most (alas, not all) organists apart, they are less interested in the music than the sound it makes. Where I live the majority of organists are "reluctant organists" who would never claim to be musicians. Their taste - and I daresay that of other recital-goers here - seems to be predominantly for music with a "good tune" (or, failing that, flashy virtuosity) and I'm sure several of them find Bach too cerebral and "spiky". You'd probably need to adopt a Curleyesque approach to Bach to win them over, but for better or worse (worse, no doubt), I can't bring myself to be such a showman.
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Where I live there's a very large and uncompromisingly Romantic organ that is used for recitals.

 

It would not happen to be a four-clavier R&D - built new after WWII, divided either side of a three-aisled church (also rebuilt after the war) and with a stop-list which includes a 32p Contra Trombone on the Pedal Organ and a Flûte Bouchée Harmonique and a French Horn on the Solo, by any chance?

 

You'd probably need to adopt a Curleyesque approach to Bach to win them over, but for better or worse (worse, no doubt), I can't bring myself to be such a showman.

 

No - I agree - neither could I. All that flapping around in a cape....

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