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Martin Cooke

Can we all try a bit harder?

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58 minutes ago, Martin Cooke said:

I don't think the Peeters was worthy of Grade 8 - more 6, I would have thought.

I'm fairly sure I remember it being on the grade 4 syllabus around 50 years ago.

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I remember about fifty years ago thinking that "Exurgat Deus" from the "Laudate Dominum" suite was the last word in flashy modern organ music (a performance by Rodney Tomkins, then teaching me at Colchester Royal Grammar School, on the marvellous organ at Walsingham still comes to mind).  Since then, I've played the whole suite from time to time and certain movements rather a lot. "Meditation" was definitely on the Ass Board list for one of the lower grades - I remember a chorister at Belfast playing it.

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The other Hurford pieces to look out for are the Chorale Preludes - all of them have their uses - and you can't always say that. 

I had a number of enquiries after the service today about the Rebecca Groom te Velde Minuet and Trio based on The Three Kings. It is in the Epiphany volume in the OUP Hymn Settings for Organists series. My other contributions today included the Buxtehude Chorale Fantasia on Wie schön leuchtet (from OUP Christmas Album) and an arrangement of the Cornelius originally published by Basil Ramsay. And then, as the concluding voluntary I played the Postlude on Was Lebet by Chris Tambling (from the Epiphany album mentioned above.)

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On 06/12/2018 at 11:23, Damian Beasley-Suffolk said:

OK, try this one ....

"Things I wish hadn't been removed from my/an organ."

On the morning of my dear late mother-in-law's funeral, several years ago, there was a power cut in the whole village, Witton Park in County Durham (a former Category D village for all you amateur historians). Naturally, the organ had no wind. Perhaps it was a cunning plan from a higher power to keep me away from playing it, we shall never know.

 

This is hardly a contribution of any significance, more a feeble response to the plea for increased participation, but Damian's post reminded me of an occasion when during a recital I was giving in St Luke's,  Redcliffe Square, I was in the middle of the Prelude, Adagio and Fugue when a similar interruption of electrical supply caused instant blackness and a plangent moan from the windchsest. I don't remember the date but it was the evening it was announced that Tommy Trinder had been elected Chairman of Fulham Football Club. Must have been early 'sixties.

It has to be little wonder that I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday when my head is stuffed with such trivia.

 

 

On 06/12/2018 at 11:23, Damian Beasley-Suffolk said:

 

 

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On 06/01/2019 at 17:29, Martin Cooke said:

The other Hurford pieces to look out for are the Chorale Preludes - all of them have their uses - and you can't always say that. 

I had a number of enquiries after the service today about the Rebecca Groom te Velde Minuet and Trio based on The Three Kings. It is in the Epiphany volume in the OUP Hymn Settings for Organists series. My other contributions today included the Buxtehude Chorale Fantasia on Wie schön leuchtet (from OUP Christmas Album) and an arrangement of the Cornelius originally published by Basil Ramsay. And then, as the concluding voluntary I played the Postlude on Was Lebet by Chris Tambling (from the Epiphany album mentioned above.)

Martin, I know none of these pieces other than the Buxtehude, but I am interested in knowing how you generated the Umlaut. I'm really too old for these technical things but feel I should try.

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On a PC you can type any character if you know its value in the Unicode table (and it will appear if your font contains it); but of course remembering enough codes is rather a problem - there are about 110,000 at present!  Standard instructions for umlauts on PC or Mac are summarised on this page:

http://www.nthuleen.com/teach/misc/typingumlauts.html

However, on my PCs I use a small program called WizKey which uses simple mnemonic combinations to get a wide range of characters used in European languages; the idea is similar to how the Norsk Data terminals I used in the mid-1980s worked, though that used a special key:

https://antibody-software.com/web/software/software/wizkey-makes-it-easy-to-type-accented-and-other-special-unicode-characters/

On British (not American) PC keyboards it is handy to know that acute accents can be typed simply by holding the "Alt Gr" key while typing the vowel concerned.

But sometimes I just Google the word without the accent and copy and paste from a search result that has the accents in!

Paul

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There are a few short cuts for producing accented characters, especially in MS Word.  I find the easiest solution is a Windows accessory called "Character Map", which seems to be available on all PC's.  That allows you to copy & paste all manner of special characters, and will show aa code for many.

Every Blessing

Tony

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Using an iPad it’s even easier.  Holding any letter character on the on-screen keyboard brings up all the accents and symbols one can possibly need, e.g., for e or E there are seven options including é in Dupré and for u or U five options including the Umlaut in Orgelbüchlein.    Having pressed the character, whether upper or lower case, you simply slide your finger to the accent or symbol you want to get the result instantly - but there must be continuous contact with the screen.  It won’t work with two separate touches.  When you are used to it, it is simplicity itself.

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5 hours ago, Tony Newnham said:

There are a few short cuts for producing accented characters, especially in MS Word.  I find the easiest solution is a Windows accessory called "Character Map", which seems to be available on all PC's.  That allows you to copy & paste all manner of special characters, and will show aa code for many.

Every Blessing

Tony

I have this pinned to my tool bar, where it takes next to no room and is easy to access. I find it useful, although I have memorised the ASCII codes for the most common characters and find that method the quickest of all, if limited by what passes for my memory..

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9 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

I have this pinned to my tool bar, where it takes next to no room and is easy to access. I find it useful, although I have memorised the ASCII codes for the most common characters and find that method the quickest of all, if limited by what passes for my memory..

Yes, I also use Character Map, although there are a large number of 'pages' to search through in order to find exactly what you want.

I have changed settings in MS Word so that the button to the left of the number 1 button (I don't know what it's called!) can type ö by pressing it alone,  ü by using shift and the (unnamed) button, and ä by using Alt Gr along with the button.  Very useful and time-saving if you use the characters regularly.

Of course, other alternative characters are just as easy to set up using word options/proofing/auto correct/replace text as you type.  I suppose you could set up as many characters you want in this way, providing that you have a suitable number of keys that you don't regularly use.  Yes it sounds a little complicated, but it isn't really!

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2 hours ago, John Robinson said:

 

  Yes it sounds a little complicated, but it isn't really!

Not at all sure I believe you but I shall give it all a try.

Thank you all for your contributions. I may have to venture into the street,  accost a passing twelve year old (which might get me onto more trouble!) and enlist his support.in tackling the problem.  I can manage the baser functions of computerised activities but the more sophisticated stuff usually is quite beyond me. I suspect it might be a function of my age - after all, I have heard the Goss-Custard brothers!

I hope the benefits of your tuition will become evident in future posts. If you see "Orgelbuechlein", you'll know I'm still struggling! 😎

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I can’t go back as far as the Goss-Custards, but I met and heard Sir William Harris at St George’s Windsor in about 1957 - a memorable experience - and he explained and demonstrated the former Rothwell dual consoles which could be played together using different registrations.  Sir William’s playing of the Franck Choral No 3 in A Minor remains with me to this day as one of the most beautiful performances of that work I have ever heard.  I also attended what was claimed to be the last appearance in England by Marcel Dupré at the Royal Albert Hall - some years later, in the 1970s I think, and, later still, a private demonstration of the Royal Festival Hall organ by Ralph Downes who, at the time, said it would be his final appearance there.  On that occasion a friend and I accompanied RD inside the organ and admired the sumptuous and immaculate H&H finishing of absolutely everything.  From a small cupboard RD produced two copies of ‘Baroque Tricks’ which he inscribed and signed for both of us.

The only qualification to these ‘final’ appearances is that I have heard people saying the same - on other occasions!

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I remember Vaughan Williams attending a service I was singing in at Oxford.  I was singing on Dec at the time, and he sat next to the choir on Can, so I had a good view of him.

Age need not be an impediment to using computers effectively.

Paul

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On 16/02/2019 at 11:18, Rowland Wateridge said:

I can’t go back as far as the Goss-Custards, but I met and heard Sir William Harris at St George’s Windsor in about 1957 - a memorable experience - and he explained and demonstrated the former Rothwell dual consoles which could be played together using different registrations.  Sir William’s playing of the Franck Choral No 3 in A Minor remains with me to this day as one of the most beautiful performances of that work I have ever heard.  I also attended what was claimed to be the last appearance in England by Marcel Dupré at the Royal Albert Hall - some years later, in the 1970s I think, and, later still, a private demonstration of the Royal Festival Hall organ by Ralph Downes who, at the time, said it would be his final appearance there.  On that occasion a friend and I accompanied RD inside the organ and admired the sumptuous and immaculate H&H finishing of absolutely everything.  From a small cupboard RD produced two copies of ‘Baroque Tricks’ which he inscribed and signed for both of us.

The only qualification to these ‘final’ appearances is that I have heard people saying the same - on other occasions!

Ah - the a minor!  I once made an embarrassingly ham-fisted rendition of this on Diane Bish's Ruffatti in Fort Lauderdale. It was painful. In fact, it was excruciating!  Frankly, I have never really understood the piece; the toccata-like passages are interesting but for much of the time the work does not seem to have a direction or destination. Of course, this isn't my type of organ nor my musical preference, (although I do like the E major. Nr.1?) so perhaps my views are a bit unbalanced. Anyway, five decks is overkill for me.

H&H have always made nice instruments in my experience of them. I have always found them satisfyingly comfortable to play. Marcel Dupre I never saw. Never rubbed shoulders with the greats. Only claim to fame was as a page-turner for Fernando Germani's practice before a recital at St Alban's. He never understood the British convention of not applauding in church. Of course, that's changed now. Along with so much else!  Sic transit and all that.

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On the contrary, the A minor has a deeply spiritual meaning and a final destination.  

The best explanation I have come across was from programme notes by the late Felix Aprahamian.  I guess there are other purely musical ones which I leave to musicologists.  

The A minor was, according to Felix Aprahamian, literally César Franck’s musical “will and testament” and “he corrected the proofs on his death bed”.  It is a depiction of the life of man starting from birth; the opening well conveys the drama and pain of childbirth which eventually resolves.  The middle section starting with the solo trompette, moving to the tenor, is the transition to adulthood and ‘serene’ approaching old age.  The bold pedal entries, 16’ and 32’ are almost the end of life, followed by the agitated death throes (or, perhaps, Purgatory).  Then the final page leading to the destination, “the soul winging its way to Heaven”, according to Felix Aprahamian, and, when the final chords resolve, its arrival there.

I don’t know whether others think this fanciful, but I find it totally convincing.  I recall once, at St Albans, Bernard Lagacé saying in a masterclass that this piece had to be approached and performed with reverence.  I don’t recall Felix Aprahamian’s exact words, but he considered Franck’s Trois Chorals to be the summit of French Romantic organ music.

It’s rather stating the obvious, but to work the A minor has to be played with all of the above in mind.  The central section, in particular, has to be played spaciously.  Sixty years later I still remember the sheer beauty of the way this was played by Sir William Harris.  Many years afterwards I discussed this with Lionel Dakers who remarked on Sir William’s lyrical and poetic playing.

But one final cautionary note.  I have heard a noted organist who specialises in the French schools rattle off the A minor at speed - a kind of virtuosic gallop - and it loses all meaning.  Anyone hearing that performance for the first time would have no idea what the music - and its message - are really about. 

Apologies for the length of this, which might sound a bit like a sermon!  I would be interested to hear the views of others.

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One of the greatest performances (to my ears) of the Belgian Franck’s A minor Chorale is by a Dutch organist, on a French organ in Spain, recorded in 1990 by an English label (with the booklet printed in Germany): Piet Kee (on Chandos) on the 1863 Cavaillé-Coll of the Basilica of Santa María del Coro, San Sebastian.

There must be more than a whiff of incense - in fact, at times you can almost see it here wafting up from the pipes - and utter belief in one's redemption. 

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On 16/02/2019 at 07:18, Rowland Wateridge said:

  I also attended what was claimed to be the last appearance in England by Marcel Dupré at the Royal Albert Hall - some years later, in the 1970s I think,

I was at that concert in the Albert Hall, too.  Carlo Curley, Nicholas Kynaston (Carillon de Westminster, complete with bells!), Christopher Dearnley, Jane Parker Smith, Reginald Foort and Marcel Dupre, if memory serves me. Dupre was very rickety by then and his BWV 565 was rather a mess, but his extemporization was amazing.  It may have been his last public performance anywhere because I think he died shortly afterwards.  I remember being impressed by Reginald Foort - one of the great theatre organists but equally adept in the "straight" repertoire. 

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I think this must be a case of there having been more than one “final appearance” by Dupré at the RAH!  But they must have taken place around the same time as, sadly, his death occurred very soon afterwards.

The concert I attended was somewhat “down-market” compared with yours: no Carlo Curley, Nicolas Kynaston, Christpher Dearnley or Jane Parker-Smith present.  It was, essentially an evening of light/ popular music played by various performers on electronic organs (I guess that these pre-dated digitals), hosted by Robin Richmond who wore a tartan dinner jacket.  But the climax of the evening was the appearance of Marcel and Madame Dupré, both elegantly attired in full evening dress, who came walking slowly from a box at the rear of the hall, MD then climbing the stairs to the organ to an accompaniment played by Charles Blackmore (FRCO) - a kind of dignified triumphal march which I think he improvised, and which MD acknowledged with a gracious wave.

The Maître’s performance on the RAH organ was (again) BWV 565, which he played very fast.  He was then given a theme by Robin Richmond for improvisation, which turned out to be “The British Grenadiers” - in truth an uninspiring choice for the player and the occasion.

In all honesty, the RAH organ didn't sound very well that evening, but it was an historic occasion.  My only regret was the choice of subject for the improvisation.  

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15 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

On the contrary, the A minor has a deeply spiritual meaning and a final destination.  

The best explanation I have come across was from programme notes by the late Felix Aprahamian.  I guess there are other purely musical ones which I leave to musicologists.  

The A minor was, according to Felix Aprahamian, literally César Franck’s musical “will and testament” and “he corrected the proofs on his death bed”.  It is a depiction of the life of man starting from birth; the opening well conveys the drama and pain of childbirth which eventually resolves.  The middle section starting with the solo trompette, moving to the tenor, is the transition to adulthood and ‘serene’ approaching old age.  The bold pedal entries, 16’ and 32’ are almost the end of life, followed by the agitated death throes (or, perhaps, Purgatory).  Then the final page leading to the destination, “the soul winging its way to Heaven”, according to Felix Aprahamian, and, when the final chords resolve, its arrival there.

I don’t know whether others think this fanciful, but I find it totally convincing.  I recall once, at St Albans, Bernard Lagacé saying in a masterclass that this piece had to be approached and performed with reverence.  I don’t recall Felix Aprahamian’s exact words, but he considered Franck’s Trois Chorals to be the summit of French Romantic organ music.

It’s rather stating the obvious, but to work the A minor has to be played with all of the above in mind.  The central section, in particular, has to be played spaciously.  Sixty years later I still remember the sheer beauty of the way this was played by Sir William Harris.  Many years afterwards I discussed this with Lionel Dakers who remarked on Sir William’s lyrical and poetic playing.

But one final cautionary note.  I have heard a noted organist who specialises in the French schools rattle off the A minor at speed - a kind of virtuosic gallop - and it loses all meaning.  Anyone hearing that performance for the first time would have no idea what the music - and its message - are really about. 

Apologies for the length of this, which might sound a bit like a sermon!  I would be interested to hear the views of others.

Rowland, thank you.  I have been quite unaware of the "programmic" nature of this piece. Seen in the light of your comprehensive explanation, the work might be seen to gain dimensions of which I was unaware. Les Trois Chorals well may be the apogee of the French Romantic genre but I have to confess to a general lack of interest and practical experience in this repertoire, so I'm obliged to you for the insight. However, in my view, these and similar works - and I'm sure it's not my imagination - are best realised on Cavaillee-Colls. There seems to be an affinity here..  

And;  In all honesty, the RAH organ didn't sound very well that evening, but it was an historic occasion.  My only regret was the choice of subject for the improvisation. I would have added the inclusion of 565. To me that ranks with the Four Seasons!

David, I did not know that Reginald Foort was a "straight" performer - I heard him a couple of times at Blackpool and thought him well deserving of his excellent reputation. 

John,  There must be more than a whiff of incense - in fact, at times you can almost see it here wafting up from the pipes - and utter belief in one's redemption.  Best played on Henry's finest at Truro then!

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Well, we don’t have the luxury of many Cavaillé-Coll organs in England to hear live performance of the Trois Chorals on them.  There has been discussion on other threads about the future of the C-C organs at Manchester Town Hall and the Parr Hall, Warrington.  Manchester is playable, and Jonathan Scott has made memorable recordings there.  Unless I am mistaken, Paisley Abbey has substantial C-C pipework, restored under the direction of Ralph Downes, and the French Church, Notre Dame, Leicester Square in London certainly has some.  Farnborough Abbey in Hampshire has a most remarkable organ - much debated whether Cavaillé-Coll or Mutin - but certainly the authentic instrument for this repertoire.  (To further enhance the French authenticity, the organ stands directly above the Imperial Mausoleum containing the tombs of Emperor Napoleon III, his wife the Empress Eugénie and their son Prince Louis.  Recitals during Summer on the first Sunday of the month.)

But I’m going to make a plug for the English organ.  The performance by Sir William Harris which I experienced at St George’s Windsor, over 60 years ago, was life-changing for me.  That was on the ‘old’ organ, about as English as you could get, but a superlative interpretation.  Under the direction of his successor Sidney Campbell, the organ was rebuilt by H&H with definite French sympathies, and SC made a memorable recording of the first Choral (which you like).  Someone, I forget who, told me that SC scoured the length and breadth of France to locate the ‘best’ vox humana (I suppose that should read “voix humaine”), and H&H were instructed to produce an exact replica for Windsor! 

Our ‘Vox Humana’ may know more.   

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Of course!  A ‘senior moment’!  I should have checked.  I’m now unsure whether Robin Richmond’s dinner jacket was tartan - possibly plum red.  It rather stood out, and the contrast with MD resplendent in white tie and tails and Madame Dupré in full length evening gown could hardly have been greater.  This I am not sure of, but think MD wore a sash or some other insignia, and Madame was presented with a bouquet.

It’s intriguing that David Drinkell’s experience was a different occasion.  Mine was definitely ‘billed’ as MD’s final appearance at the RAH, but, as I said in an earlier post, there have been instances of more than one happening.

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22 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

 Under the direction of his successor Sidney Campbell, the organ was rebuilt by H&H with definite French sympathies, and SC made a memorable recording of the first Choral (which you like).  Someone, I forget who, told me that SC scoured the length and breadth of France to locate the ‘best’ vox humana (I suppose that should read “voix humaine”), and H&H were instructed to produce an exact replica for Windsor! 

Our ‘Vox Humana’ may know more.   

The Windsor organ has lots of sympathies! It is an eclectic one that attempts to cater for most schools and does so superbly (if, inevitably, with compromised ‘authenticity’). The Choir Organ has a ‘Chaire’ division (not called that), whose fairly mild diapasons and flutes and parpy Trumpet are good for the English Baroque and earlier repertoires, and a neo-Baroque Positiv division (also not called that) with chiffy flutes etc. for the German/Danish/Dutch stuff. The Great reeds and Solo 8' Orchestral Trumpet are English, whereas the Pedal Trombone unit (32'–4'), Swell chorus reeds and Solo 4’ Orchestral Clarion are French in tone (or so it is said, although surely the Swell Oboe is English?) The Trombones, Orchestral Clarion and the Choir Krummhorn actually have French shallots. One of the clever things about this was that you could choose whether full organ sounded English or French.

 As for the Vox Humana, SSC did specifically want it to sound French and there were rumours along the lines you heard, but he never said anything to me about personally searching for one. In fact, what actually happened was even more unusual, as Roger Judd found out while researching his book on the Windsor organs. In 1893 Harrison & Harrison built a new organ for a congregational church in Keighley. They agreed with the church that the specification would include a Vox Humana made and voiced in Paris by Cavaillé-Coll. This is mentioned both in a letter from the church to H&H and in the opening recital programme. In 1964 the church was earmarked for development and H&H bought their organ back. Some of the pipework was used at Windsor and this included the Vox Humana rank. However… RJ remarks that neither Mark Venning nor Peter Hopps think that the Windsor Vox Humana has Cavaillé-Coll pipework. I have to say that it never sounded particularly French to me: I just thought the Vox, Lieblich and Tremulant sounded perfectly horrible! But at least I had enough sense of self-preservation to keep my mouth shut at the time.

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Well, I don’t want to appear to be monopolising this thread, but your mention of the Chaire case brought back another memory of my visit to the organ loft at St George’s, Windsor circa 1957.  Among many other things, Sir William Harris told us that for the annual Order of the Garter service the pipes in the Chaire case were temporarily removed.  I don’t now recall his explanation of the reason for this.  He seemed to look on it as only a minor irritant.

This was, of course, when the organ was in its Walker/ Rothwell incarnation with the Rothwell double consoles.  Sir William demonstrated for us the unusual pistons and the duplicated stop keys between the manuals.  Both consoles had a bench incorporating a central swivel chair - also surely unique.  

Richard Greening, Assistant Organist (later Organist of Lichfield Cathedral), was also present on that occasion.  I believe he was preceded at Windsor by Lionel Dakers and followed by Clement McWilliam.

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