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Piano concertos with organ transcriptions of orchestral parts?


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As per thread title, I wonder if any piano concertos have had the orchestral parts reduced to solo organ score and if there are any recordings of piano concertos using just piano and organ in place of the orchestra? I doubt I'll achieve it in this year's resolutions but my bucket list includes learning to play the piano part of a piano concerto. As my living room has an organ with MIDI playback and a grand piano my imagination is running riot at the thought of accompanying myself one day. Any suggestions for organ reductions would be most welcome!

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I believe that  quite a few piano concerti have been transcribed for two pianos   I would have thought that for anything up to and including Brahms, an organist with enough skill to play the piano transcription  of the orchestral  parts would be able to rearrange it effectively on the organ  - much as they might do so when accompanying  a romantic choral piece from the vocal score. 

The following is quite interesting 

 

 

 

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Remarkable that Paul Morley should post the clip of the Rachmaninov No 2 Concerto.  Until recently I had custody of the archives of my local Organists’ Association which included a report from the 1920s of the première performance in Winchester of a Rachmaninov Concerto (not certain which one) played by John Albert Sowerbutts, piano and Dr (later Sir) George Dyson, organ.

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Many thanks - I've looked through a few double piano versions and thought that would probably be the most straightforward option though if there are any published organ versions it would be less work. Playing music scored for piano on the organ often needs some degree of reworking.

 

But what a lovely effect as borne out with the performances above! The Rachmaninov except above (thanks Paul) is gorgeous - and then comes that tuba at 6'37! Organs and pianos are so rarely scored together (off the top of my head I can only immediately think of the Saint-Saens concerto).

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1 hour ago, Contrabombarde said:

pianos are so rarely scored together (off the top of my head I can only immediately think of the Saint-Saens concerto

Flor Peeters' Op 74 is a "Concerto for Organ and Piano". Years ago, I lived in hope of finding a pianist who would play it with me but it never happened - and now it's much too late!

Ian

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I once came across a report in one of our local rags, dating from around the 1920s or '30s, of a performance of a Beethoven piano concerto (the 'Emperor', I think). It took place in a local church. The piano soloist was accompanied by a small string band and an organist, the latter playing an arrangement of the woodwind and brass parts. Apparently it sounded very effective - although one might have to consider the possibility that that description merely drew a kind veil over a combination of teeth-grindingly sour cat guts and fat Hele flutes.

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I have a vague memory that Anthony Halliday and Iain Simcock performed Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto (the Emperor) at Westminster Cathedral many years ago with the piano at floor level beneath the west end organ gallery.  The seating was turned round so the audience was facing the performers.  I cannot recall who arranged the orchestral parts for organ.

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1 hour ago, Vox Humana said:

...  ... Apparently it sounded very effective - although one might have to consider the possibility that that description merely drew a kind veil over a combination of teeth-grindingly sour cat guts and fat Hele flutes.

The Sowerbutts/ Dyson performance wasn’t in Winchester Cathedral which, at that time, possessed the ultimate Hele ‘fat flute’ - this was the Great “Doppel Flute” discarded much later in the major H&H 1986/88 rebuild.  Tim Byram-Wigfield showed me one of the pipes, 2’ I think, which he kept as a souvenir trophy.  It was of wood and, to the best of my recollection, square or possibly slightly rectangular in section (I think not triangular, although I can’t now be certain), with two mouths of course.  To my layman’s eyes it looked well-made, but Tim related with a kind of shudder that this stop alone “could fill the cathedral with a flood of sound”.   Martin Neary, with James Lancelot and Tim, decided that it didn’t qualify to stay after the rebuild, and of the added Hele ranks, only the Pedal Bombardes and the Swell Violin Diapason survived.

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12 hours ago, Contrabombarde said:

Many thanks - I've looked through a few double piano versions and thought that would probably be the most straightforward option though if there are any published organ versions it would be less work. Playing music scored for piano on the organ often needs some degree of reworking.

 

As you would be reproducing the organ part on an instrument which can be controlled via MIDI, I suppose you could just let the organ 'do its own thing' while you yourself play along with it on the piano.  The organ would quite happily be able to read its own score regardless of technical difficulty if you have it in a Sibelius, Musescore, etc type of format.  However I do have tongue firmly in cheek when suggesting this, as I realise it would completely remove you, as a professional musician, from making virtually any stylistic  input to the organ side of the performance!  In the worst case it would just tick along at an invariant, mechanical and thoroughly unmusical pace.  Having said that, there would be ways to ameliorate it as you no doubt know, such as using the 'click track' method whereby you first generate an acceptable MIDI performance on the organ including things like rubato, etc (thus also including a tempo map along with the clicks), with the resulting recorded MIDI stream then played back as 'clicks' into headphones which you wear while you subsequently add the piano part to the mix.  It's a standard technique used by recording studios for laying down both pop and classical multitrack mixes, which is one reason why everybody (including the conductor) is often seen wearing cans in studio recording sessions.

I realise that your musical freedoms could be heavily constrained if you go this route, but on the other hand, I wonder how many of those who subsequently listen to the final recorded product would realise how it was achieved?  It could sound pretty convincing nonetheless, just as so many studio-generated recordings do.

I'm not really adding much to what you suggested in your original post, except to suggest that the organ could play an 'impossibly difficult' score if you provided it with the appropriate MIDI input format.

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Hi

This post has reminded me of a couple of broadcasts on BBC radio 3, in the days when there were regular organ broadcasts.  I recorded a couple of programmes off air - first on 27th  Feb 1984, a broadcast from Leeds Town Hall with Simon Lindley & Keith Swallow - music for piano & organ by Flor Peters.  Included his Suite Modale Op 43, Aria Op51 & Concerto for organ & piano Op 74.

The 2nd recording dates from 29/1/99 and was part of a short series "Organ & Friends" with David Hill & Stephen Coombes.  I didn't note the programme on the cassette insert for this one.

I also have a CD which I bought several years ago of organ & piano repertoire.  My CD's are upstairs, and currently inaccessible as I have breathing problems (2nd chest infection of the season)  and I can't remember any details.

On a slightly broader front, there is a body of repertoire for Harmonium & Piano, including works by Cesar Frank, Kerg-Elart & Leferrbe-Wely IIRC.  The Scott brothers and others have recorded some of this - but once again, my CD's are currently inaccessible.

For those so inclined, there's also a body of works from the Evangelical church tradition - mainly hymn arrangements for piano & organ,  and the 2 instruments are often used together to accompany hymns & choral works.

Every Blessing

Tony

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55 minutes ago, Tony Newnham said:

On a slightly broader front, there is a body of repertoire for Harmonium & Piano, including works by Cesar Frank, Kerg-Elart & Leferrbe-Wely IIRC. 

Not forgetting (though not solo) Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle.

Paul

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Tony Newnham’s post reminds me of a splendid concert at Leeds Town Hall on 2nd October 2017, marking the 100th birthday of Francis Jackson that day.  The performers were Darius Battiwalla, Simon Lindley and John Scott-Whiteley.

The programme included Francis Jackson’s Eclogue” for Organ and Piano (composed for the 1987 International Congress of Organists in Cambridge and dedicated to Philip Ledger) played by Darius Battiwalla, piano and Simon Lindley, organ.  I remember that there was a thunder-storm - it didn’t mar the performance, but at one point Darius Battiwalla looked enquiringly heavenwards!

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A couple of years ago I played in a performance of Wagner's Parsifal at Bedford Park. The orchestral parts had been arranged for piano, and string quartet, with the organ taking the brass and woodwind parts. I say arranged, I got an annotated vocal score which was a bit of a challenge, but the recording sounds good and it seemed to go down well. Certainly it was a thrill to take part in.

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  • 1 month later...

For all the transcriptionistas out there, THIS is how to do it!
One console.....a few different instruments....one heck of a technique.

You could also listen to this while eating a Pizza, but I digress,
 

 

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On 09/01/2020 at 10:25, Rowland Wateridge said:

Tony Newnham’s post reminds me of a splendid concert at Leeds Town Hall on 2nd October 2017, marking the 100th birthday of Francis Jackson that day.  The performers were Darius Battiwalla, Simon Lindley and John Scott-Whiteley.

The programme included Francis Jackson’s Eclogue” for Organ and Piano (composed for the 1987 International Congress of Organists in Cambridge and dedicated to Philip Ledger) played by Darius Battiwalla, piano and Simon Lindley, organ.  I remember that there was a thunder-storm - it didn’t mar the performance, but at one point Darius Battiwalla looked enquiringly heavenwards!

I also recall a recital by Jane Parker-Smith at Leeds Town Hall, during a massive storm.

Simon Lindley greeted me at the door and said, "Sorry about the heavy wind obbligato!"

MM

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I've just reminded myself.....if that is possible..... that there is a rather nice Piano/Organ concerto thingy, written by Flor Peeters, which I've never heard live. It was recorded many moons ago by Ron Perrin and his wife Mary (piano)....probably at Ripon when he was there.  I think I've got the LP somewhere.

It isn't in the stratosphere technique wise, and it's well worth looking at it.  I have the music as well........somewhere.    😕

 

MM                                                         

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When I was at college I auditioned to perform the Jongen Symphonie Concertante  with the college orchestra, but they wouldn't hear an audition unless the orchestra part was played on the piano, and there was no reduction available, or full score available to buy.   So I had to make my own transcription of the orchestra part for piano - which I subsequently improved and typeset properly.  I'm very happy to make it available free of charge to anyone who wants it.  (And it is a great piece - there's a good recording with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Murray on the Ruffatti organ, for anyone who doesn't know it).   

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