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Naughty But Nice


Vox Humana
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A guilty thought came to me this evening - not for the first time. I was playing through Thalben Ball's Edwardia (in the "Hovingham Sketches" volume). The chromaticism is the ultimate in treacle (and in D flat major, of course), but it's ever so well done. I really shouldn't like it, but I do!

 

GTB's piece inhabits the same slushy sound world as Sidney Campbell's Lento from his Canterbury Improvisations, which carries an apologetic note reading something like "one who improvises every day may perhaps be permitted the occasional excursion into this type of harmony". (Occasional? When it came to improvising it was the harmonic style Campbell preferred above all others!) Campbell asks for 8 ft stops on all manuals to be coupled together, the idea being that by juggling the different swell boxes you can get a wealth of subtle variations in the tone colour and volume. I've no idea whether GTB expected his piece to be registered in the same way, but it suits it down to the ground. The lugubrious harmony demands a lugubrious registration!

 

Both pieces go for atmosphere over content and, really, they are rather tasteless (though taste is a matter of fashion and they may be thought less offensive today than they were 30 years ago).

 

What pieces do you secretly like that you know in your heart of hearts you really shouldn't?

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What pieces do you secretly like that you know in your heart of hearts you really shouldn't?

Gooood question indeed. In general, my answer would be Rachmaninov's 2nd piano concerto (I always feel a bit dirty after having listened to it). I don't know of any organ work that has the same high-level combination of artful meanness, appallingly plain harmony and theme construction, refined vulgarity and an overall appeal to the lowest instincts.

 

Of course, there is the motto to the Whitlock sonata "On hearing the second Rachmaninov in spring", but I am not sure if he means the piano concerto or the symphony. And the sonata I find much more interesting than both.

 

Ah -- I know! Elgar's transcription of Bach's the C-Minor Fantasia and Fugue. Admittedly orchestral music, but also a tasteless abuse of a very dignified organ work. As well as sheer diabolical fun.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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In general, my answer would be Rachmaninov's 2nd piano concerto (I always feel a bit dirty after having listened to it).

 

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

 

 

I just love transcribing Ketelby's "In a monastery garden" even though I hate gardening and have many bad habits.

 

Of course, there's always Lemare's "Andantino (no.1)" for those of a particularly strong disposition.

 

:blink:

 

MM

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Gooood question indeed. In general, my answer would be Rachmaninov's 2nd piano concerto (I always feel a bit dirty after having listened to it). I don't know of any organ work that has the same high-level combination of artful meanness, appallingly plain harmony and theme construction, refined vulgarity and an overall appeal to the lowest instincts.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

But 'Rach 2' is wonderful - and serious - music! Surely you are joking? (With reference to the 'appalingly plain harmony' and 'refined vulgarity'.)

:blink:

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A little while back I was asked to play `In a Monastery Garden' as a request before Evensong. I happen to have a couple of orchestral bird whistles and with the help of two of the choir was able to give an effective performance to the extent that our then elderly Churchwarden, who had suffered from birds getting into the (sorry - his!) church in the past and had taken great precautions to stop them, spent some considerable time after the service looking for real birds until I realised what he was up to and put him right.

 

I did not have time to find a suitable piece of scaffold pole for the tolling bell `bell'.

 

FF

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