Jump to content
Mander Organs
Vox Humana

Recitals On Unfamiliar Organs

Recommended Posts

I don't suppose that I really belong to the real addressees either, but I have experienced a number of them, including Gillian Weir and Simon Preston, from whom I adopted the rule " at least 1 hour for every 10 minutes of the programme". I regard this as professional. I want  9 hours of practice before a full length recital. I also expect it of those whom I invite to play here, so we pay a decent fee ( not less than 500 Euros) and two nights accomodation; the recitals are Fridays at 8.30 pm, and the cathedral is available for practice Thursday evening from 6.30 until Friday 10 am, without a break if necessary (no curfews here), and again on Friday from 3 pm; no further tours are scheduled from this time, although the cathedral is open until 6. Absolute quiet from 6 till 7.30, and then there might even be time for that green salad.

 

On the downside, we do rather hope that the organist will have a glass of wine with the groundlings in the Cloisters afterwards. It can get late.

 

Cheers

Barry

Excellent terms and conditions for a recitalist Barry - over here alas it's often a different story...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Excellent terms and conditions for a recitalist Barry - over here alas it's often a different story...

 

Over here too, I'm afraid. However - bad working conditions mean shoddy concerts, to which no-one of any discernment would want to go. Perhaps one of the reasons many series are slowly dying or being killed off, whereas ours is growing slowly but surely.

 

Cheers

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
snip ...

 

For a start, any playing louder than mp had to be over by 11am to make way for the tourist traffic and income to be gained from them.

 

snip ...

 

We used to have a verger who was the bane of visiting recitalists' lives. In fact, she could be relied upon to be the subject of half an hour's animated discussion in the pub after the recital.

 

In particular, she insisted on nothing above mp if she was in the church - which she often was until 10 pm or beyond.

 

Now, as it happens, the person to blame for this is none other than our friend Andrew Lucas! Apparently, whilst she was the verger at St Vedast's, he made the mistake of telling her it was possible to practice the organ with no stops drawn at all. Such is the authority of Mr Lucas on these matters that she would entertain no opinion to the contrary, no matter how eminent the person expressing it.

 

I forget which cathedral organist it was who told her to bugger off when she told him to keep the noise down whilst he was preparing for a recital.

 

We don't have a verger any more. It's safe in there now. But there isn't as much to talk about afterwards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We used to have a verger who was the bane of visiting recitalists' lives.
Vergers can be the very devil. I believe the dean and chapter at Windsor once got a complaint from Watkins Shaw after a verger had tried to usher him out of the chapel after an Evensong before the voluntary had finished.

 

The vergers at Exeter, in contrast, seem excellent. One of them even knows a bit about organs, though he's not a player.

 

The ones at Rochester are very accommodating too. They do seem to prefer you to go in early, before too many people are about, and ask you not to make more noise than you have to, but it's understandable - full organ there is pretty damned devasating! The only time I had any problem there was when a Russian iconographer was painting their wonderful new fesco in the north aisle. I pulled out the Final from Vierne 1 which I was doing for a voluntary. I got halfway down the second page before he sent a verger up to complain!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Over here too, I'm afraid. However - bad working conditions mean shoddy concerts, to which no-one of any discernment would want to go. Perhaps one of the reasons many series are slowly dying or being killed off, whereas ours is growing slowly but surely.

 

Cheers

Barry

Barry - They can mean shoddy concerts - it all depends on the ability of the player in question to transcend the difficulties, I think. Best S

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We used to have a verger who was the bane of visiting recitalists' lives.  In fact, she could be relied upon to be the subject of half an hour's animated discussion in the pub after the recital.

 

In particular, she insisted on nothing above mp if she was in the church - which she often was until 10 pm or beyond.

 

Now, as it happens, the person to blame for this is none other than our friend Andrew Lucas!   Apparently, whilst she was the verger at St Vedast's, he made the mistake of telling her it was possible to practice the organ with no stops drawn at all.  Such is the authority of Mr Lucas on these matters that she would entertain no opinion to the contrary, no matter how eminent the person expressing it.

 

I forget which cathedral organist it was who told her to bugger off when she told him to keep the noise down whilst he was preparing for a recital.

 

We don't have a verger any more.  It's safe in there now.  But there isn't as much to talk about afterwards.

 

Oh - I'm awfully sorry!

 

I don't recall that at all, though I have a vague recollection of a lady verger there being as mad as a mongoose ... she certainly didn't get the better of me, because I'd been there longer. But then at St Vedasts a Stopt diapafon was more than enough to practise on.

 

I think she was exaggerating. And anyway, I wish I had the alleged authority over certain virgers in my present place of employment!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Let's get this straight: anyone who can play anything by Dupré of Duruflé is a virtuoso in my books!

 

nah, thats not true! I played the Veni Creator choral variations during a service the other week (choral, plainsong, theme, plainsong etc) and they're not that bad at all really to play. And actually I think the Dupre G minor is a lot easier than it looks; having performed it at the cathedral with just 2 weeks practise and I'm faaaaaar from being a virtuoso!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nah, thats not true! I played the Veni Creator choral variations during a service the other week (choral, plainsong, theme, plainsong etc) and they're not that bad at all really to play. And actually I think the Dupre G minor is a lot easier than it looks; having performed it at the cathedral with just 2 weeks practise and I'm faaaaaar from being a virtuoso!!

 

I'm not sure but I think I saw the Dupré G minor on the list of pieces for AB Grade 7. Can that be right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The vergers at Exeter, in contrast, seem excellent. One of them even knows a bit about organs, though he's not a player.

 

:o A non-player knowing abit about organs, surely not. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
nah, thats not true! I played the Veni Creator choral variations during a service the other week (choral, plainsong, theme, plainsong etc) and they're not that bad at all really to play. And actually I think the Dupre G minor is a lot easier than it looks; having performed it at the cathedral with just 2 weeks practise and I'm faaaaaar from being a virtuoso!!

 

 

I would agree with Vox Humana who made the original broad generalisation. If you'd played the Prelude, Adagio and Chorale complete, that would definitely qualify as a virtuoso work. But what's the problem, why be self-deprecating? You're a serious performer with ambitions, dedicating time to building up repertoire - what would qualify you as a virtuoso is a capacity to 'bring any seriously difficult work off'. From that standpoint and compared to the vast majority of players I'm sure you already qualify. If anyone put that in a newspaper review of one of your concerts, you wouldn't write to complain, would you?

 

Just to be argumentative: There is one Durufle work (much ignored) that is quite playable by those outside the virtuoso class - Prelude sur L'Introit de l'Epiphanie. A lovely piece it is too.

 

As to the Associated Board syllabus, this has often looked ridiculously advanced to me. I suppose they have to find pieces at the top end of difficulty that are genuinely comparable between instruments. The one thing that does makes sense is that they rarely put down lengthy items. I look forward to seeing the big Reger Fantasies and Jean Berveiller's Cadence down for Grade 6 in the future.

 

I remember when I took ARCO I had to re-learn 'Wachet Auf!' (Bach's Schubler chorale prelude) which was also down in that year's syllabus for ABRSM Grade 6. Mind you, the RCO wanted it note-perfect.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I would agree with Vox Humana who made the original broad generalisation.  If you'd played the Prelude, Adagio and Chorale complete, that would definitely qualify as a virtuoso work.  But what's the problem, why be self-deprecating?  You're a serious performer with ambitions, dedicating time to building up repertoire - what would qualify you as a virtuoso is a capacity to 'bring any seriously difficult work off'. From that standpoint and compared to the vast majority of players I'm sure you already qualify.  If anyone put that in a newspaper review of one of your concerts, you wouldn't write to complain, would you?

 

Just to be argumentative: There is one Durufle work (much ignored) that is quite playable by those outside the virtuoso class - Prelude sur L'Introit de l'Epiphanie.  A lovely piece it is too.

 

As to the Associated Board syllabus, this has often looked ridiculously advanced to me. I suppose they have to find pieces at the top end of difficulty that are genuinely comparable between instruments. The one thing that does makes sense is that they rarely put down lengthy items.  I look forward to seeing the big Reger Fantasies and Jean Berveiller's Cadence down for Grade 6 in the future.

 

I remember when I took ARCO I had to re-learn 'Wachet Auf!' (Bach's Schubler chorale prelude) which was also down in that year's syllabus for ABRSM Grade 6.  Mind you, the RCO wanted it note-perfect.

Paul - coudn't agree more about AB syllabus. BWV 593 is currently down for Grade 8 - as it is for FRCO. One of the harder Schublers appears at Grade 7. Not that long ago Weinen Klagen was down for Grade 8....crazy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I remember when I took ARCO I had to re-learn 'Wachet Auf!' (Bach's Schubler chorale prelude) which was also down in that year's syllabus for ABRSM Grade 6.  Mind you, the RCO wanted it note-perfect.

 

And phrased properly and articulated. I recently discovered a tape that was made of me playing the Allabreve when I was about 15. It was so dull - just a collection of legato notes, with no attempt to understand the music.

 

I'm considering taking the ARCO next year. The Bach List looks remarkably straightforward - Trio in D minor (583), Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, C major fugue (545), A major Prelude (536) (amongst others).

 

Just how fussy are the examiners? I note that they're fussy about editions - Novello not allowed, for example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No, you can use Novello if you want to - the only editions not allowed are those shown in bold type in the syllabus............

 

Ah - I have the online/PDF version of the syllabus which says "Attention is drawn to the rubric concerning Pieces, Editions and Copyright on p. 5". I've downloaded all the other syllabi, and still can't find a page 5 !

 

I don't espcially want to use Novello - but I do have the compete set ; a gift from a relative. Shame really, 'cos I prefer Breitkopf :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ah - I have the online/PDF version of the syllabus which says "Attention is drawn to the rubric concerning Pieces, Editions and Copyright on p. 5". I've downloaded all the other syllabi, and still can't find a page 5 !

 

It just draws attention to the fact that the editions shown are the recommended ones, and that candidates are strongly advised to select one from those shown. I don't have the Breitkopf edition - I use Barenreiter these days.

 

I have fond memories of organ lessons with the late Alan Harverson at the RAM in the early 80's. He was a very fine teacher, and was a great fan of the Barenreiter editions of JSB's music. Being an impoverished student, Novello was all I could manage. I would spend ages proudly backing each volume in clear plastic, and I can remember my total bewilderment when Alan would apply bucketfuls of Tippex to my pristine volumes, and then scribble down notes in black biro. :P

 

But I'm so grateful now!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nah, thats not true! I played the Veni Creator choral variations during a service the other week (choral, plainsong, theme, plainsong etc) and they're not that bad at all really to play. And actually I think the Dupre G minor is a lot easier than it looks; having performed it at the cathedral with just 2 weeks practise and I'm faaaaaar from being a virtuoso!!

Just what is a 'virtuoso' anyway?

 

I was listening last night to Colin Walsh's new Lincoln recording of Widor V and VI, and what really made me sit up was just how measured was his performance of the infamous Toccata, coming in at a stately 6 mins 56 secs. I have also heard Colin perform live other works by Franck, Gigout, Widor, Vierne where his tempi have been, compared to most others, also on the slow side.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just what is a 'virtuoso' anyway?

 

I was listening last night to Colin Walsh's new Lincoln recording of Widor V and VI, and what really made me sit up was just how measured was his performance of the infamous Toccata, coming in at a stately 6 mins 56 secs. I have also heard Colin perform live other works by Franck, Gigout, Widor, Vierne where his tempi have been, compared to most others, also on the slow side.

 

I really like the Widor V at a sedate pace. I've got a Peter Hurford recording at 6:26, which is really well articulated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that we are going off topic chaps.

 

Always a pleasure to hear Dupre or Durufle in a recital. Maybe its a fluke of programming but some works just seem to come round more often than others.

 

At Westminster Cathedral, you might hear the Durufle Op5 Prelude four times in a year but you have more chance of seeing the Cardinal running down the aisle naked than hearing anything by Howells at a Sunday afternoon recital. Likewise, its now over 20 years since I heard Leighton's hymn tune preludes and that was at a recital, in the prescence of the composer, by John Langdon in Dunfermline Abbey.

 

I have to say though that, as a non player, I am unstinting in my admiration for players who with minimum rehearsal time sound, in recital, as if they have been playing the instrument for years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just what is a 'virtuoso' anyway?

 

I was listening last night to Colin Walsh's new Lincoln recording of Widor V and VI, and what really made me sit up was just how measured was his performance of the infamous Toccata, coming in at a stately 6 mins 56 secs. I have also heard Colin perform live other works by Franck, Gigout, Widor, Vierne where his tempi have been, compared to most others, also on the slow side.

 

A friend of mine likes to take the Vierne 1st symphony final as fast as he can, this enables him to run his foot down the pedal board in the last few bars rather playing what’s written, it’s over before you register that it’s not quite correct.

 

As a non-player (hanging my head in shame) I like a more sedate tempo to allow the music to “breath”. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
:o A non-player knowing abit about organs, surely not.  :o
Well, I know that there are plenty of people who like organs, but don't play themselves, but I was surprised to hear a verger telling me about which notes on which manuals didn't work, the sluggishness of the action, not to worry if the power gave out during the service 'cause he could fix it, etc, etc. This was before the recent rebuild, of course. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A friend of mine likes to take the Vierne 1st symphony final as fast as he can, this enables him to run his foot down the pedal board in the last few bars rather playing what’s written, it’s over before you register that it’s not quite correct.
I have a real problem with speed merchants and the Final from Vierne 1 is a classic example (another is Mulet's Carillon-Sortie). It seems that almost everyone these days feels bound to take French toccatas as fast as they can in order to impress people with their technique (which it does). Up to a point (at which the law of diminishing returns sets in) speed increases excitement, but where excitement is driven by speed it's going to be at the expense of grandeur. Excitement is not the only emotion in music! There's a happy balance to be struck and it's not really too difficult since excitement has as much to do with rhythm and sense of forward progression as sheer speed.

 

With the Vierne Final I always aim for a jaunty, aimiably rollicking, but singable speed that will send people away humming the tune. The last time I played it as a voluntary was at Rochester (it must have been the same weekend the Russian iconographer sent the verger up to complain!) At the end the chap who'd been turning the pages for me, and who in a previous life had been a cathedral assistant, complimented me on the "good speed". It made my day!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just to be argumentative: There is one Durufle work (much ignored) that is quite playable by those outside the virtuoso class - Prelude sur L'Introit de l'Epiphanie.  A lovely piece it is too.

And another: the Chant Donné (Hommage à Jean Gallon). One of my absolute favourites.

 

I'm certainly no virtuoso - just an overgrown pianist turned parish organist, and not a particularly great one at that! - but have managed the final variation from the Veni Creator, and the Soissons Carillon, in recent months.

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...