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MusingMuso

The Greatest Organ-work That Isn't By Bach?

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I feel that it is much easier to find instruments from British manufacturers for Reger's music than some organists may think- a turn of the century Norman & Beard of sufficient size for a start. I too have experienced Sauers, Walckers and Steinmeyers (pre-war) in their native land. All the unenclosed 8' registers go together with a wonderful homogenity (although a slightly different effect) which you can replicate on a Norman & Beard or a builder like Wadsworth for instance. With assisted (or able sole) registration changes that are imaginative and frequent, works like Melodia Opus 59 nr 11, Canzona in Eb and the Six pieces written around 1916, of which 'Passion' is a very approachable piece, work extremely well on period English organs. Has anyone in England heard a loud Reger work on a late 19th Century Foster and Andrews instrument with balanced Mixture choruses on Great & Swell in a sympathetic acoustic? You can certainly enjoy that experience in Australia-Goulbourn Cathedral in NSW for instance. Foster and Andrews link to Schulze.

 

I believe the smaller scale works of Reger work best and are more approachable to the majority of organist in their technical demands. And the collection of easier chorale preludes are very approachable-unless the constant chromaticism palls on you. I would certainly put Reger ahead of Rheinberger. But please don't write off Karg-Elert's 'Pastels' until you hear the Fagius recording from Arhaus Cathedral-BIS label. That organ has the resources to project them.

 

It is an interesting comparison to view the sombre works of Reger with the first set of Psalm Preludes by Howells.

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"believe the smaller scale works of Reger work best and are more approachable to the majority of organist in their technical demands. And the collection of easier chorale preludes are very approachable-unless the constant chromaticism palls on you. I would certainly put Reger ahead of Rheinberger. But please don't write off Karg-Elert's 'Pastels' until you hear the Fagius recording from Arhaus Cathedral-BIS label. That organ has the resources to project them.

 

It is an interesting comparison to view the sombre works of Reger with the first set of Psalm Preludes by Howells."

 

(Quote)

 

Yes!

Sigfrid Karg-Elert is one of the most underrated composers today, along with some else

and some organs...

Interestingly, it seems the little organs by Sauer (say round 20 stops) are an exception with Reger in that they permit -permitted? We still have Ronsdorf- a fair amount of his work to be played, a thing you cannot do with other builder's organs that have not at least 35 stops.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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

 

 

 

It is an interesting comparison to view the sombre works of Reger with the first set of Psalm Preludes by Howells.

 

 

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I would probably prefer to be a human-cannonball in a circus, but the last time I took a leafy musical-ramble down Gloucester way (about 30 years ago when I knew no better) I was rather struck by the sheer self-indulgence.

 

I know Herbert Howells suffered, and I know about the family-tragedy which so overwhelmed him, but then, he lived in a particularly tragic world as a younger-man. Perhaps we can never know or fully understand the grief which he, and others of his generation endured. I also feel sure that this finds reflection in the music of the era.

 

Music has this capacity, as we all know and understand, and whether we are cowering beneath the Cross with Bach's "St Matthew Passion" or somersaulting

through the air as we fly the Walton "Spitfire P & F," we are emotionally transported and spiritually transcended; no matter how transitory the experience may be.

 

Reger may have been rude, arrogant, alcoholic, manic-depressive, enormously gifted and a deeply flawed human-being with a tragic, self-destructive fault-line running through his nature, but yet, in his music, there is the constant struggle which searched for salvation and release from the pain of his own existence; an endless repitition of Lutheran hymnody combined with wildly excessive intellectual endeavour. Buried within the music there is often to be found moments of great tenderness.

 

Reger was not just the fluttering bird in a glass case, he was the fluttering bird in a glass-case into which chloroform had been dropped, and he knew that death would be his only release. With his excessive smoking, self-imposed work schedule, obesity and alcoholism, Reger knew he would not live long, and said as much.

 

Art, if it is truly art, will always reflect the spirit of the age in which it is created, and it is when we look at the personality of Reger and the same self-destructive energy of a collapsing Germany, that we see this in the sharpest profile. Reger's music was the last gasp of a romanticism which had finally run its course, and which, like the old order in Europe, could do nothing to prevent the certainty of autumnal decay and the savage winter which follows.

 

Does the music of Reger still speak to us to-day?

 

I think it does, but sometimes, I wish it didn't.

 

MM

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Wow!

I'm impressed with this. Why don't you write an article for Organists Review on Reger- it would certainly stir our consciousness. Yes- there is a very deep essence in Reger. I believe Karg-Elert had a challenging personality and life-style too. The essence of German composers of this period really interests me-you are so correct to allude to the destructive psyche.

 

We need more understandings like these to assist us to perform the music rather than superficial discussion on this or that organ register.

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Wow!

I'm impressed with this. Why don't you write an article for Organists Review on Reger- it would certainly stir our consciousness. Yes- there is a very deep essence in Reger. I believe Karg-Elert had a challenging personality and life-style too. The essence of German composers of this period really interests me-you are so correct to allude to the destructive psyche.

 

We need more understandings like these to assist us to perform the music rather than superficial discussion on this or that organ register.

 

Both go togheter, tough!

This said, must the composers "pay" for what others did with weapons?

The shortcut leaves me with mixed feelings.

About the catastrophe the 20th century actually was Nietzsche had already

understand and warned us by advance; he was a german, he that warned

against "übermenschen".

One may see the whole stuff the reverse way: the two WWs actually killed

the romanticism.

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Wow!

I'm impressed with this. Why don't you write an article for Organists Review on Reger- it would certainly stir our consciousness. Yes- there is a very deep essence in Reger. I believe Karg-Elert had a challenging personality and life-style too. The essence of German composers of this period really interests me-you are so correct to allude to the destructive psyche.

 

We need more understandings like these to assist us to perform the music rather than superficial discussion on this or that organ register.

 

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My first reaction, as always, was to grin from ear to ear when I considered the utterly inncoent-sounding suggestion "why don't you write an article?"

 

An image immediately sprang to mind, of 1,000,000 cats in the garden, each with different markings, personalities and eye-colours, and then the interesting thought that it would probably be easier to catalogue them than to write about Reger!

 

I've often wondered how long it would take to play all the Reger organ-works one after the other. I think Bach's organ-music accounts for about 22 hours of playing-time, thereabouts. I suspect that Reger would be measured in days or even weeks.

He was, without a shadow of doubt, the most prolific organ-composer of all time.

 

Actually, if I can ever find it, I have the most extraordinarily fine article about Reger, which appeared many years ago in the American organ magazine, "The Diapason."

 

One American description of Reger which caught my eye and made me smile (again), was the following, which has that American ability to add just the right tag-line:-

 

"Reger used every major and minor chord know to diatonic harmony....and then some!"

 

In any event, I have never quite recovered from what an enormously gifted American academic once said to me. Here was a man with four Master's degrees (before the age of 26) who spoke 14 languages fluently and who had, and presumably still has, the largest, personal working-library I've ever seen. Although not a musician, his knowledge of music-history would have knocked spots off the combined knowledge of all my own tutors.

 

He said, and I quote exactly:-

 

"I'm really jealous of you! You FEEL things so deeply, yet when you write about music, I can't understand a word of it. That's why you should stick to playing music, and leave the clever stuff to bum academics like me!"

 

On the basis that my confidence never fully recovered from this fatal-blow, I therefore decline to respond to Michael's kind suggestion.

 

:(

 

MM

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