Jump to content
Mander Organs
MusingMuso

Music To Avoid Treading In

Recommended Posts

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

 

WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

My beloved "Four Sketches?"

 

You can hear me playing the F-minor one on "Organs & Organists online" at Halifax PC.....sorry about the pregnant moment as I tried to get a pneumatic piston to spring into life at the time of the recital.

 

Schumann was a GREAT COMPOSER you know.

 

:angry:

 

MM

 

Horses for courses; they bore me rigid, unlike the BACH Fugues. And my beloved Marcel Dupre. :P

 

As to the GREAT COMPOSER thing, I just added a note to my original post. Perhaps we can agree on Reger and Hindemith though, and I could try to win you over with talk of dismal Guilmant...? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On a related note, I've recently been watching a DVD about Cochereau's life, which is very good, but the most interesting thing for me is the opening, which shows a number of newspaper headlines and TV bulletins about PC's death.

 

To my mind, here in the UK, the only way an organist would get on the TV news would be to do with charges of paedophilia. I appreciate that there's 20+ years between PC's death and the present day, but I don't recall ever seeing TV reports of famous organists dying. Is the culture that different in France with regards to the organ, or was PC just *so* famous?

The last two points - the culture in France at the time was different. Also, PC was famous - and in debt. When he died he left personal debts estimated at around FF 1,000,000.

 

:angry:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
=====================

 

Well, this is the French for you!

 

They take harmony to such extremes of dissonance because they can't be bothered to write fugues, and in the unlikely event that they start one, it usually degenerates into a toccata after about the third entry of the subject.

 

MM

 

No - MM! I cannot let that one pass!

 

Apart from Dupré, who wrote several quite well-constructed fugues (only one of which, as far as I can remember 'degenerates into a toccata'), there was also Saint-Saëns - who wrote two sets of three.

 

I am sure that I can think of some more - just not at the moment, since I am about to resume teaching again. Pupils! Tsk! Tsk!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

William Bolcom's Gospel Preludes are my number 1 avoidable pieces (for now) - had to learn one for Erfurt. Ridiculous waste of ink ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The last two points - the culture in France at the time was different. Also, PC was famous - and in debt. When he died he left personal debts estimated at around FF 1,000,000.

 

:angry:

 

 

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

 

That's quite a bit of cash to owe, though no Robert Maxwell, who owed £3,000,000,000 when the "flotation" was announced.

 

For some strange reason, I was always under the impression that Cocherau was well-off and travelled to and from Paris to his home somewhere else....or is this pure fantasy?

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
====================

 

For some strange reason, I was always under the impression that Cocherau was well-off and travelled to and from Paris to his home somewhere else....or is this pure fantasy?

 

 

I haven't got right through the dvd yet, but I believe he was head of the Nice Conservatoire and organist at Notre Dame.

 

Being able to *appear* rich, and actually being massively in debt doesn't seem to be that rare a feat... Perhaps his improvisation skills weren't restricted to the organ console?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No - MM! I cannot let that one pass!

 

Apart from Dupré, who wrote several quite well-constructed fugues (only one of which, as far as I can remember 'degenerates into a toccata'), there was also Saint-Saëns - who wrote two sets of three.

 

 

 

Umm, well, they don't turn into toccatas, but they aren't really very good fugues, are they? On the other hand, they don't have to be. The fugue is not something that really adapts very well to the romantic style, in my opinion. I adore the schumann fugues, but mostly because they don't always try to be particularly strict. And the Dupré fugues sound as though they are being improvised, which means that the the counterpoint is of the pseudo variety....... as for the Reger fugues, well........ those at the end of the Choralfantasies always have subjects you can whistle as soon as you hear the chorale tune.

 

Anyone else had the feeling, that once you've learned the first big Reger, all the rest is EXACTLY THE SAME, consequently quite easy really? Not that I'd put Reger anywhere near the top of my "Music to heave to" list. Actually, I know longer really dislike much music that actively; when I was a student I rather disliked all music between Machaut and Bartok. But that was when I was a composition major. What I still really hate is Bruckner, but he didn't really write any organ music. I tend not to go to recitals where people play music by anyone called Fischer.

 

This is quite a good thread, isn't it?

 

Cheers

Barry

 

PS The SP story I'd heard in quite a few guises already, too, oh 20 years ago now I should think. It was supposed to have been a member of the Oxford Choral Society then. Probably an urban legend, but a good one. Wouldn't surprise me if he'd put it about himself, actually. Yonks ago I was playing in the competition in Dublin (got eliminatedin the first round, together with Jeremy Filsell - not a bad thing to happen in Dublin, one could then concentrate on other things, like the beer) , and SP, who I knew from Cape Town days, was on the jury. The World Cup was on, and Ireland was playing Rumania; we ended up having a few in a roughish pub down the hill from Christ Church while the match was bein broadcast on the telly. The glasses being empty, Simon offered to fetch a few more. The barman was a little unfriendly; because, he said, Simon was obviously not Irish, he must "probably be a bloody Rumanian". Became the slogan of the week: "Simon Preston and other well-known Rumanian organists". Now there, incidentally, is also someone who gets "bums on seats", especially in the colonies......... the ex-organist of Westminster Abbey is of course an excellent thing to be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
when I was a student I rather disliked all music between Machaut and Bartok. But that was when I was a composition major.

 

:angry: Not so very much left to like back then ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think you may be on the right lines in that I doubt very much that it was Jane W.

 

I heard this story about the same time as you - I remember exactly where, when (well the year anyway) and who told me and it predates Jane W's time at the Abbey. This makes it very unlikely, if not impossible, to be she who said it. (Also we are great friends from our time together at college, and I would be very surprised if a) she ever stumbled over her words and :angry: lost her cool enough to say that!)

 

I seem to remember that the person who was alleged to have said it was not an organist, but my memory may be faulty or even my informant may have exagerated her part in all this.

 

Doesn't stop it being a good line to have used though!

 

Interesting - I was told the story by a previous Assistant at the Abbey. To be honest, I have less trouble believing that it was JP-S, too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Interesting - I was told the story by a previous Assistant at the Abbey. To be honest, I have less trouble believing that it was JP-S, too!

I had it on the sworn authority of a former no 3 of SP's at the Abbey that it was Catherine Ennis!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Umm, well, they don't turn into toccatas, but they aren't really very good fugues, are they? On the other hand, they don't have to be. The fugue is not something that really adapts very well to the romantic style, in my opinion. I adore the schumann fugues, but mostly because they don't always try to be particularly strict. And the Dupré fugues sound as though they are being improvised, which means that the the counterpoint is of the pseudo variety...

 

That is rather a put-down! Particularly since Dupré was famous as a superb improvisor in contrapuntal stlye. There are documented cases of him improvising a strict Ricercare with six different tone-colours simultaneously, on his house-organ in Meudon.

 

Personally, I think that they are quite well-constructed. I can find little that is 'pseudo' about the counterpint. Dupré was well-known for being able strictly to reproduce the counter-subject accurately. Vierne comments on this in his memoirs, saying something to the effect of "Dupré was the first pupil I taught who was able to remember a counter-subject and treat it effectively". (I cannot remember the exact quote and I am currently at school.)

 

In any case, I thought that Bach was also well-known as an improvisor (including being able to improvise strict fugues). I had understood that it was entirely possible that several of his written compositions had begun life as improvisations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Young Marcel D. has taken a few yellow cards in this thread, hasn't he? I was going to say that I quite like his works, but when I thought about it, I realised that I like his early works, and some from his middle years - nothing really after the A flat Prelude and Fugue (which I love).

 

Even then, there are some works in his "good" period I just can't get into, and one that leaves me absolutely cold - the Carillon. I haven't yet come across anyone who can, for my taste, render it even remotely listenable. I gave up trying to make anything of it years and years ago.

 

Which gets me to what I was going to mention: that some of the French composers seem to have written far too much. As if they were under a compulsion to publish. (Or to accept commissions?) The good gent I just mentioned was surely one. Joseph Bonnet was another one who produced a few gems, but quite a number of duds. And Jean Langlais. No gems for me in his oeuvre, just duds. (Oh dear, haven't I given enough offence by now?)

 

But no, a parting shot. Not another Frenchman, but now as English a chap as ever drew breath. I came across a while ago some old pieces by William Faulkes, and to say I found them a waste of the publisher's art scarcely hints at it. And I gather he wrote lots ... and lots ... all in much the same soppy vein. Well, I suspect he wrote something worth the effort. But how does one find it in a pharmacy full of musical sleeping pills?

 

Rgds

MJF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That is rather a put-down! Particularly since Dupré was famous as a superb improvisor in contrapuntal stlye. There are documented cases of him improvising a strict Ricercare with six different tone-colours simultaneously, on his house-organ in Meudon.

 

Personally, I think that they are quite well-constructed. I can find little that is 'pseudo' about the counterpint. Dupré was well-known for being able strictly to reproduce the counter-subject accurately. Vierne comments on this in his memoirs, saying something to the effect of "Dupré was the first pupil I taught who was able to remember a counter-subject and treat it effectively". (I cannot remember the exact quote and I am currently at school.)

 

In any case, I thought that Bach was also well-known as an improvisor (including being able to improvise strict fugues). I had understood that it was entirely possible that several of his written compositions had begun life as improvisations.

 

Oh come on, let me be a little mischievous........ and I'm not even one of those who doesn't like Dupré. But I don't think you can really call the B major fugue contrapuntalist's counterpoint, can you? The subjects and countersubjects are often constructed, like Reger's, very much from a harmonic point of view, something that one is also taught to do when improvising in this sort of style. So the counterpoint is not very linear in nature. I am not casting any doubt on Dupré's ability to improvise a fugue, nor is he alone in this.

 

I had not heard that any of Bach's compositions had begun life as improvisations, except for the "Musical Offering". But of course we do not actually know whether what he wrote down is really what he played - I personally would rather doubt this. It seems to me that the ability to remember a half-hour improvisation would be a rather different one from actually making the improvisation as such - and would even tend to support the notion that there was a "formula" in play. In Bach's case, I would rather doubt this. But one only has to play enough of Dupré's music to learn the formulae, and reproducing them is what French improvisation has been about, ever since then. Nearly all French organists, and others who have studied in France, can do it well, although not all with the flair or orignality of Cochereau or Latry or Frederic Blanc.

 

Cheers

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Anyone else had the feeling, that once you've learned the first big Reger, all the rest is EXACTLY THE SAME, consequently quite easy really?

 

What I still really hate is Bruckner, but he didn't really write any organ music. This is quite a good thread, isn't it?

 

Cheers

Barry

 

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

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a volunteer for the "Bach" three-part inventions by Reger.

 

When do expect them to be ready Barry, or should that be "twinkle-toes?" :angry:

 

Seriously, this is a good thread....unexpectedly so, because it reveals just how different organists are in their musical tastes and interests.

 

To answer "pcnd," I should have lifted Dupre out of the "French problem" because he could be quite contrapuntal. Nevertheless, doesn't the Choral (Dorian) and Fugue end up with a Toccata of some sort? (It's many years since I heard Graham Steed play it).

 

We musn't leave out the excellent counterpoint of Widor in some of his works, the Guilmant works such as the 1st Symphony, the "March on a theme of Handel" and, of course, the Durufle "Alain" work, as well as the Saint-Saens mentioned.

 

I do like Durufle and that fabulous "Pastorale" by Ducasse, but I cannot help but think, that when it came to romantic fugal writing, the Belgian, Josef Jongen could show the French a thing or two.

 

On the subject of "Organ works to avoid treading in" I'd forgotten about this incredibly boring "Variations on a Recitative" by Schoenberg.

 

I wonder if Barry knows the three Bruckner organ-works played by Mark Quarmby on the organ of Sydney Town Hall? I quite like them personally, but I'm a hopeless enthusiast for German romantic and former Eastern Bloc modern and contemporary works.

 

They can be heard played on the following URL, and what a sound it is!

 

http://www.ohta.org.au/Sydney_conf/SYDNEYTOWNHALL.html

 

On the latter subject, I wonder if anyone realises that Weidermann, who taught Jiri Ropek (that's with the various bits and bobs on the Jiri......prounounced Yiray Ropeck) actually wrote 340 works, but almost NOTHING was ever published because he was Moravian and out of favour with the communists. They have an awful lot to answer for, but slowly, the music is coming to light. Ropeck says he one of the most inspiring organists he ever heard.

 

Perhaps we should open yet another thread entitled, "Organ music we may like to tread in if only we could get our hands on it first."

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Young Marcel D. has taken a few yellow cards in this thread, hasn't he?  I was going to say that I quite like his works, but when I thought about it, I realised that I like his early works, and some from his middle years - nothing really after the A flat Prelude and Fugue (which I love).

 

Even then, there are some works in his "good" period I just can't get into, and one that leaves me absolutely cold - the Carillon.  I haven't yet come across anyone who can, for my taste, render it even remotely listenable.  I gave up trying to make anything of it years and years ago.

 

Which gets me to what I was going to mention: that some of the French composers seem to have written far too much.  As if they were under a compulsion to publish.  (Or to accept commissions?)  The good gent I just mentioned was surely one.  Joseph Bonnet was another one who produced a few gems, but quite a number of duds.  And Jean Langlais.  No gems for me in his oeuvre, just duds.  (Oh dear, haven't I given enough offence by now?)

 

But no, a parting shot.  Not another Frenchman, but now as English a chap as ever drew breath.  I came across a while ago some old pieces by William Faulkes, and to say I found them a waste of the publisher's art scarcely hints at it.  And I gather he wrote lots ... and lots ...  all in much the same soppy vein.  Well, I suspect he wrote something worth the effort.  But how does one find it in a pharmacy full of musical sleeping pills?

 

Rgds

MJF

The Langlais 5 Meditations sur L'Apocalypse are good stuff I think; and L'Annonciation, from the same set as the much more often played La Nativite, is also very fine. Did he accept too many US commissions, maybe?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And Jean Langlais.  No gems for me in his oeuvre, just duds.  (Oh dear, haven't I given enough offence by now?)

 

Rgds

MJF

 

No offence - just a difference of taste, which is what this thread is all about. But there are some gems I think - what about the 4th movement (Communion) of the Suite Medieval, or No.1 of Huit Pieces Modales? Both are beautifully crafted miniatures.

 

Some of the bigger stuff is a bit angular, but I do love the Te Deum..............

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have to say give me Chopin and a nice piano any day over Mendelssohn's organ sonatas. Mendelssohn said "as music, I abhor it" of Chopin - well, guess what? I listen to Mendelssohn and think it's quite nice but by the time you've learnt to play it and sorted out the fiddly movements in sonatas III and IV, you may as well not have bothered. However, I quite like Rondo Capricioso and Variations Serious on the piano but they're no match for a Chopin Ballade.

 

I must be honest, I find Dupre rather dry and uninvolving musicially, althought the loud stuff is exciting. I like the G minor prelude and fugue, though and few other bits and pieces.

 

I was just thinking that while the organ has Bach (as does the violin and clavier), we don't really have a Beethoven or a Chopin who took the music on and really is one of (note: not sits with) the musical greats. Perhaps part of it has to do with the accessibility of the instrument - very few composers had an organ in their house and until the latter part of the 19th century, you had to find people to raise the wind, etc... so it isn't really an instrument you could sit down at and fiddle with ideas late into the night.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What I still really hate is Bruckner, but he didn't really write any organ music.

 

 

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

 

Just for the record, I only discovered the existence of the Bruckner organ-works recently. The list appears to be fairly modest, as follows:-

 

 

Four Preludes in E flat (1836)

Prelude in E flat (1837)

Prelude in d (c. 1846)

Postlude in d (c. 1852)

Fugue in d (1861)

Prelude & Fugue in c (1847)

Prelude in C (?)

 

I wouldn't say they're bad compositions, but they are a bit "on your knees" aren't they?

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No offence - just a difference of taste, which is what this thread is all about. But there are some gems I think - what about the 4th movement (Communion) of the Suite Medieval, or No.1 of Huit Pieces Modales? Both are beautifully crafted miniatures.

 

Some of the bigger stuff is a bit angular, but I do love the Te Deum..............

While I really can't stand the Te Deum. I'm afraid phrases of plainsong interspersed with a series of loud chords, then more plainsong, then more chords really doesn't do it for me. I am constantly waiting for it to finish and get frustrated and impatient when I hear more loud chords. It doesn't really go anywhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
While I really can't stand the Te Deum. I'm afraid phrases of plainsong interspersed with a series of loud chords, then more plainsong, then more chords really doesn't do it for me. I am constantly waiting for it to finish and get frustrated and impatient when I hear more loud chords. It doesn't really go anywhere.

 

Each to their own Colin :angry: What about the quieter stuff I mentioned?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Langlais 5 Meditations sur L'Apocalypse are good stuff I think; and L'Annonciation, from the same set as the much more often played La Nativite, is also very fine. Did he accept too many US commissions, maybe?

 

Oh - sorry, I cannot get on with these, either. My apologies, Stephen; particularly since I believe that you recorded them!

 

Then there is Easthorpe Martin's Evensong. Now this may have been tongue-in-cheek, although I do not think so, but I find it absolutely execrable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Each to their own Colin :angry:  What about the quieter stuff I mentioned?

I've heard a few of the smaller pieces (can't remember which ones) and I've generally like it. There was one piece I heard that I really liked - I asked the organist what it was and I've now forgotton. It was quite low and dark in texture, with a lot of repeated chords and a lot of brooding energy. It was electric!

 

So I keep an open mind about Langlais, Te Deum aside...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
====================

 

That's quite a bit of cash to owe, though no Robert Maxwell, who owed £3,000,000,000 when the "flotation" was announced.

 

For some strange reason, I was always under the impression that Cocherau was well-off and travelled to and from Paris to his home somewhere else....or is this pure fantasy?

 

MM

 

No - he often flew - or drove!

 

His parents were quite wealthy. He was very generous, but did not live within his means. What may not be generally known, is how badly the Titulaire of the national cathedral of France was actually paid. Basically, as Cochereau said !It keeps me supplied with Gitanes."

 

Even now, the situation is little better. I doubt that any of the three present Titulaires would thank me for posting their salaries here; suffice it to say that they are paid little more than PC received - even allowing for inflation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I remember a time in the mid 80's, I was unemployed for a few weeks, so to fill time in I used to go to the library in Durham City and get out the organ lp's. All sounded ok until I played one by a french chappy called Messien, I am so sorry, but I could not get by head round it at all, and even now I find it very difficult to "get into". Am I alone?? :angry:

Peter

 

Probably only in terms of having the courage to voice what others think in secret.Owning up to not liking Messiaen (= Messien yes?) is on a par with admitting to having the pox or leprosy(in the days before modern treaments were available). Instant reduction in circle of friends prepared to own up to knowing you. But as you have put your head above the parapet I will join you by admitting that there is much of his music I can no longer be bothered to listen to. We may even have quite distinguished company. I have never heard Francis Jackson play any of his music in public and I am fairly certain he has never recorded any of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've heard a few of the smaller pieces (can't remember which ones) and I've generally like it. There was one piece I heard that I really liked - I asked the organist what it was and I've now forgotton. It was quite low and dark in texture, with a lot of repeated chords and a lot of brooding energy. It was electric!

 

So I keep an open mind about Langlais, Te Deum aside...

 

Possibly Mors Et Resurrectio, from Trois Paraphrases Gregoriennes? (Yes, the same volume as the Te Deum!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...