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The Organist's World Cup

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Well I see that a spot of nationalism and xenophobia seems to be creeping into the discussions elsewhere on the board.

 

I began to wonder if organists don't fall into two distinct camps; those who are pro-French and those who are not.

 

I don't recall ever hearing a Dutchman trying improvise like a Frenchman, or a German organist who could ever play English music. English organists rarely play anything written after 1940, but in Hungary, they don't seem to have an appetite for anything much else.

 

The Americans (bless 'em) just soak up everything on the menu, but place great emphasis on contortional virtuosity, as one might expect from a nation of showmen/entertainers. Truly a nation of "borrowers" in more ways than one, but did they ever contribute anything really worthwhile?

 

The French seem to specialise in half-fugues.....the sort that get going, but fall apart after the third entry and degenerate into yet another toccata. When all else fails, they just draw the artillery, lean on the keys and make an awful lot of noise. At other times, they seem to spend ages wafting around on celestes; the whole thing held together by snippets of barely recognisable plainsong, ALWAYS played on a Harmonic Flute.

 

France for the organist's world cup, say you?

 

MM

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The French seem to specialise in half-fugues.....the sort that get going, but fall apart after the third entry and degenerate into yet another toccata.
Oh come! If I didn't know you better I'd say you are trolling. :huh: No one wrote Fugues better than Bach; even Mozart didn't improve on his achievement. It's hardly surprising that the form would seek to re-invent itself to an extent. There's no inherent reason why toccata-like figuration in a fugue should necessarily be a degeneration - it could be a development, especially if it is a back-reference to the material of the prelude. What's crucial is the musical argument - and, as I'm sure you'll agree, this doesn't need to be in the form of a Prout-like textbook fugue (when did Bach ever write on of those?)

 

I consider the Dupré G minor one of the best modern fugues in existence and you can hardly accuse that of degenerating into a toccata. I don't know of a more electrifying use of stretto. If I have a criticism of it, it's that the continued use of the theme from the prelude, which is a weak theme, lacking any individuality; I wonder how many listeners would realise what is going on without looking at the score. It comes into its own a bit when used in diminution and in inversion (when it cross relates nicely to the latter half of the fugue subject). Clever piece in my view.

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Oh come! If I didn't know you better I'd say you are trolling.  :huh:  No one wrote Fugues better than Bach; even Mozart didn't improve on his achievement. It's hardly surprising that the form would seek to re-invent itself to an extent. There's no inherent reason why toccata-like figuration in a fugue should necessarily be a degeneration - it could be a development, especially if it is a back-reference to the material of the prelude. What's crucial is the musical argument - and, as I'm sure you'll agree, this doesn't need to be in the form of a Prout-like textbook fugue (when did Bach ever write on of those?)

 

I consider the Dupré G minor one of the best modern fugues in existence and you can hardly accuse that of degenerating into a toccata. I don't know of a more electrifying use of stretto. If I have a criticism of it, it's that the continued use of the theme from the prelude, which is a weak theme, lacking any individuality; I wonder how many listeners would realise what is going on without looking at the score. It comes into its own a bit when used in diminution and in inversion (when it cross relates nicely to the latter half of the fugue subject). Clever piece in my view.

 

 

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

 

Score thus far:-

 

France 1 Germany 500

 

 

:huh:

 

MM

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Guest Lee Blick

Well perhaps if we are likening the recent England's myopic performance in the World Cup to the world of organ music, may I suggest anything by John Stanley.

 

I reckon the Wayne Rooney equivalent would be Kenneth Leighton's 'Paen'. Especially those final 'ball crunching' chords at the end. :huh:

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500? If we're confining ourselves to organ fugues that's a bit optimistic isn't it? Buxtehude's obviously out - except for the one or two that don't degenerate into toccatas. :huh: And if you cut out the ones that merely amble on, amiably repeating the subject without doing anything meaningful to it in the way of musical argument that cuts out most of the rest. What do Pachelbel's do other than provide ear candy?

 

But then the fugue isn't the be all and end all of organ music, is it? I happen to think there's a wealth of Renaissance counterpoint that is of high quality and Titelouze for one is inferior to no German. But even contrapuntal music isn't the be-all and end-all of organ music. The organ may be a contrapuntal instrument par excellence, but, above all, it is a sustaining instrument. What Germans have taken advantage of this in the way that Messaien did?

 

And what about the organs? The French could teach the Germans a thing or two about colour. In my view a Cliquot has more vivid colours than a Schnitger or a Silbermann of equivalent size. As for Romantic instruments, well... Take what I believe is a fairly typical example - the Fulda organ used by Rübsam in his Rheinberger series. It makes a very fine sound. But it only has one sound; everything sounds more or less the same, whatever the dynamic level. Give me a good French instrument any time.

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indeed. All that Italian renannaisance organ music is due for a bit of a revival ... will it beat the teutonic qualities of the Germans on their home ground of counterpoint ... find out this evening.

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Oh come! If I didn't know you better I'd say you are trolling.  :D  No one wrote Fugues better than Bach; even Mozart didn't improve on his achievement. It's hardly surprising that the form would seek to re-invent itself to an extent. There's no inherent reason why toccata-like figuration in a fugue should necessarily be a degeneration - it could be a development, especially if it is a back-reference to the material of the prelude. What's crucial is the musical argument - and, as I'm sure you'll agree, this doesn't need to be in the form of a Prout-like textbook fugue (when did Bach ever write on of those?)

 

I consider the Dupré G minor one of the best modern fugues in existence and you can hardly accuse that of degenerating into a toccata. I don't know of a more electrifying use of stretto. If I have a criticism of it, it's that the continued use of the theme from the prelude, which is a weak theme, lacking any individuality; I wonder how many listeners would realise what is going on without looking at the score. It comes into its own a bit when used in diminution and in inversion (when it cross relates nicely to the latter half of the fugue subject). Clever piece in my view.

 

Indeed, VH.

 

What about Saint-Saëns? I have mentioned his two sets of Three Preludes and Fugues before, but MM conveniently fails to notice! Yes, there are only six of them, but they are well-written, musical - and have the possible advantage of not turning chrysalis-like into a loud toccata.

 

There are also the two sets of Three Preludes and Fugues (not just the G minor) by Dupré - they are exceedingly well-written, musical, etc, etc....

 

Cochereau has improvised a few very fine fugues - some of which are available on recordings in some form or other and some of which have also been transcribed. For example, his Tryptique Symphonique - the middle section is a fully worked-out fugue, with a superb sense of tension.

 

I think that France just scored a few more....

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500? If we're confining ourselves to organ fugues that's a bit optimistic isn't it? Buxtehude's obviously out - except for the one or two that don't degenerate into toccatas.  :D And if you cut out the ones that merely amble on, amiably repeating the subject without doing anything meaningful to it in the way of musical argument that cuts out most of the rest. What do Pachelbel's do other than provide ear candy?

 

But then the fugue isn't the be all and end all of organ music, is it? I happen to think there's a wealth of Renaissance counterpoint that is of high quality and Titelouze for one is inferior to no German. But even contrapuntal music isn't the be-all and end-all of organ music. The organ may be a contrapuntal instrument par excellence, but, above all, it is a sustaining instrument. What Germans have taken advantage of this in the way that Messaien did?

 

And what about the organs? The French could teach the Germans a thing or two about colour. In my view a Cliquot has more vivid colours than a Schnitger or a Silbermann of equivalent size. As for Romantic instruments, well... Take what I believe is a fairly typical example - the Fulda organ used by Rübsam in his Rheinberger series. It makes a very fine sound. But it only has one sound; everything sounds more or less the same, whatever the dynamic level. Give me a good French instrument any time.

 

Heh! Heh! VH - we got 'em beat....

 

German organs ? - pshaw! German Sausage.... Teutonic stodge and crescendo pedals ...

 

(... he said, generalising again....)

 

B)

 

:P

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Reading the comments here, I think we do not even need to

compete; the belgian organ wins.

Nor french lightheartness, nor german sausage, nor english

"music-box" or muddy-tubby-dull-whatever, nor "Polder model"

after the dutch (etc, we may continue this after the longish catalogue

of organ preconceptions), it stands between all these extremes and so

represents the organ at its best, from the Renaissance Niehoff school in Liège

to Kerkhoff trough Forceville, Le Picard, the Lorets, Van Bever and Schyven.

 

J'AI DIT!!! :D

 

Pierre

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Reading the comments here, I think we do not even need to

compete; the belgian organ wins.

Nor french lightheartness, nor german sausage, nor english

"music-box" or muddy-tubby-dull-whatever, nor "Polder model"

after the dutch (etc, we may continue this after the longish catalogue

of organ preconceptions), it stands between all these extremes and so

represents the organ at its best, from the Renaissance Niehoff school in Liège

to Kerkhoff trough Forceville, Le Picard, the Lorets, Van Bever and Schyven.

 

J'AI DIT!!! :D

 

Pierre

 

Variety is the spice of life!

Let's have them all....

but the best method to have continental-sounding organs over here is to have

1. the correct national school of builder build them for us (Aubertin etc.) and not (for example) Rieger from Austria to build 'French' as in Oxford or Marylebone! or

2. we could import organs that the continentals don't want! This scheme has certainly happened with other European countries wanting English organs - they find a sound and genuine example and deal with it sympathetically.

3. To properly look after the ones that were imported here many years ago.

 

What sort of advert for us is The Parr Hall, Warrington? A genuine (not much spoiled) Cavaille-Coll still looking for a proper home, apparently. People moan about the slight changes made by HW to this instrument, but compare what the French themselves have done to several Cavaille-Colls - probably the worst example: Ste Clotilde! How about Schulze jobs and what happened at St.Peter's Hindley? You want the real thing? - we had it!

 

I look forward to the proper restoration of Manchester Town Hall (still a lot of C-C there!) - not to more imports of fake 'French' organs.

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Variety is the spice of life! 

Let's have them all....

but the best method to have continental-sounding organs over here is to have

1. the correct national school of builder build them for us (Aubertin etc.) and not (for example) Rieger from Austria to build 'French' as in Oxford or Marylebone!    or

2. we could import organs that the continentals don't want!  This scheme has certainly happened with other European countries wanting English organs - they find a sound and genuine example and deal with it sympathetically.

3. To properly look after the ones that were imported here many years ago.

 

What sort of advert for us is The Parr Hall, Warrington? A genuine (not much spoiled) Cavaille-Coll still looking for a  proper home, apparently.  People moan about the slight changes made by HW to this instrument, but compare what the French themselves have done to several Cavaille-Colls - probably the worst example: Ste Clotilde!  How about Schulze jobs and what happened at St.Peter's Hindley? You want the real thing? - we had it!

 

I look forward to the proper restoration of Manchester Town Hall (still a lot of C-C there!) - not to more imports of fake 'French' organs.

 

Some good points, Paul!

 

Now here you have the perfect answer for the RCO thread - install the RCO in Warrington and also solve the problem of the Cavaillé-Coll organ needing a new home.... Might still be a bit of a problem with some staff wastage, though.

 

Incidentally, I thought that the Manchester Town Hall organ was all Cavaillé-Coll....

 

:D

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Well I see that a spot of nationalism and xenophobia seems to be creeping into the discussions elsewhere on the board.

 

I began to wonder if organists don't fall into two distinct camps; those who are pro-French and those who are not.

 

The French seem to specialise in half-fugues.....the sort that get going, but fall apart after the third entry and degenerate into yet another toccata. When all else fails, they just draw the artillery, lean on the keys and make an awful lot of noise. At other times, they seem to spend ages wafting around on celestes; the whole thing held together by snippets of barely recognisable plainsong, ALWAYS played on a Harmonic Flute.

 

France for the organist's world cup, say you?

 

MM

 

At one extreme their music sounds like thin gruel and at the other like china cabinets being pushed over the edge of the gallery with the occasional depth charge thrown in for good measure.

 

My money's on Germany with undefeatable blockbusters such as Hallelujah, Gott zu loben, bleibe meine Seelenfreud! played 'mit vollem Werk' on the 105-stop Sauer at Berlin Cathedral.

 

JS

 

PS - Talking of victory & defeat, does any one know or play (or has ever heard played) Reger's Opus 145 No 7 'Siegesfeier', which combines 'Nun danket' and 'Deutschland über alles' (maestoso, marcatissimo & fortissimo) and written in 1916 in anticipation of German victory in WW1?

 

A strange work - for many years Breitkopf published Opus 145 as 6 rather than 7 pieces.

 

PPS - "Reger is a composer who's name sounds the same backwards and forwards: the same may be said of his music" - quite by an American criticI I expect many have heard before.

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What sort of advert for us is The Parr Hall, Warrington? A genuine (not much spoiled) Cavaille-Coll still looking for a  proper home, apparently.  People moan about the slight changes made by HW to this instrument, but compare what the French themselves have done to several Cavaille-Colls - probably the worst example: Ste Clotilde!  How about Schulze jobs and what happened at St.Peter's Hindley? You want the real thing? - we had it!

 

Indeed - but this was solely down to the influence of Tournemire.

 

Apparently, he deeply regretted allowing the Ste. Clothilde organ to be 'ruined' - of course, by then it was too late.

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At one extreme their music sounds like thin gruel and at the other like china cabinets being pushed over the edge of the gallery with the occasional depth charge thrown in for good measure.

 

My money's on Germany with undefeatable blockbusters such as Hallelujah, Gott zu loben, bleibe meine Seelenfreud! played  'mit vollem Werk' on the 105-stop Sauer at Berlin Cathedral.

 

JS

 

PS - Talking of victory & defeat, does any one know or play (or has ever heard played) Reger's Opus 145 No 7 'Siegesfeier', which combines 'Nun danket' and 'Deutschland über alles' (maestoso, marcatissimo & fortissimo) and written in 1916 in anticipation of German victory in WW1?

 

A strange work - for many years Breitkopf published Opus 145 as 6 rather than 7 pieces.

 

PPS - "Reger is a composer who's name sounds the same backwards and forwards: the same may be said of his music" - quite by an American criticI I expect many have heard before.

 

Well, I cannot agree with you about French music, John - it does also form a large part of the repertiore.

 

However, I do really like the music of Reger. There is also a fantastic recording of Reger's Fantasy on the Chorale 'Wachet Auf!' - played by someone who I cannot now recall, on the organ of Linz Cathedral - the performance and sound are first-rate.

 

I have an old recording (LP) of Brian Runnett playing the Seven Pieces Op. 145 (including Siegesfeier) at Norwich Cathedral - and very fine it is too.

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Well, I cannot agree with you about French music, John - it does also form a large part of the repertiore.

 

However, I do really like the music of Reger. There is also a fantastic recording of Reger's Fantasy on the Chorale 'Wachet Auf!' - played by someone who I cannot now recall, on the organ of Linz Cathedral - the performance and sound are first-rate.

 

I have an old recording (LP) of Brian Runnett playing the Seven Pieces Op. 145 (including Siegesfeier) at Norwich Cathedral - and very fine it is too.

 

The francophobia was just a bit of fun - where would we be without Franck, Vierne & Widor etc, even with their many longueurs?

 

Yes, Anton Heiller's Reger at Linz was a true landmark - an absolutely thrilling, barnstorming performance. It was Reger played 'with balls' and an object lesson in how to make this composer sound totally convincing. I wish it could be re-issued on CD.

 

I believe it was Brian Runnett who 'rediscovered' Siegesfeier and recorded it more or less as a 'dare'. Roger Judd has recorded all Seven Pieces more recently at St George's, Windsor on the Herald label.

 

JS

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Well, I cannot agree with you about French music, John - it does also form a large part of the repertiore.

 

However, I do really like the music of Reger. There is also a fantastic recording of Reger's Fantasy on the Chorale 'Wachet Auf!' - played by someone who I cannot now recall, on the organ of Linz Cathedral - the performance and sound are first-rate.

 

I have an old recording (LP) of Brian Runnett playing the Seven Pieces Op. 145 (including Siegesfeier) at Norwich Cathedral - and very fine it is too.

 

 

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

 

Oh dear! Reger had slipped my mind temporarily.

 

France 1 Germany 987

 

:D

 

 

MM

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

 

Oh dear!  Reger had slipped my mind temporarily.

 

France 1  Germany 987

 

:D

MM

 

But you are forgetting Pierre Cochereau - which of course takes the score for France to an incredible 1,000,000.........

 

So, hard luck, MM!

 

:P

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But you are forgetting Pierre Cochereau - which of course takes the score for France to an incredible 1,000,000.........

 

So, hard luck, MM!

 

:P

 

 

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

 

That is a foul of the worst kind!

 

Did the man write them down? No!

 

He would be too busy eating fine foods, drinking fine wines, flying around in aeroplanes and notching up debts

 

As usual, it was up to the English to bail France out.

 

Still, he WAS very good as my CD of him proves.

 

(OMG! Just forget I wrote that last bit! I bought it purely for research purposes!)

 

:D

 

MM

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He would be too busy eating fine foods, drinking fine wines, flying around in aeroplanes and notching up debts

 

As usual, it was up to the English to bail France out.

That's offside. If PC managed to give us all that and indulge in fine food, wines aeroplanes and debts, then he is certainly fit to stand alongside Bach (who admittedly didn't have the questionable advantage of aeroplanes). Where PC scores is in leaving some of his improvisations for posterity. We've no guarantee that JSB did. France still has the ball.

 

Still, he WAS very good as my CD of him proves. 

 

(OMG!  Just forget I wrote that last bit! I bought it purely for research purposes!)

 

:D

Ah! Own goal!

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But you are forgetting Pierre Cochereau - which of course takes the score for France to an incredible 1,000,000.........

 

So, hard luck, MM!

 

:P

That is such an over-reaction - are you Thierry Henry in disguise? There is clearly only one way to punish such cynicism and that is to flourish a red card!

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But you are forgetting Pierre Cochereau - which of course takes the score for France to an incredible 1,000,000.........

 

 

 

Hang on chaps! The game is never over till it's over.

 

The England coach still has the Psalm Preludes on the bench.

 

He could play those!!! :P

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The England coach still has the Psalm Preludes on the bench.

He could play those!!! :P

Theo-retically the England manager could play the Psalm Preludes, but it should be recalled that he picked them solely on the recommendation of a blind Frenchman without ever having heard or let alone played them. But lets not kid ourselves - we all know they are going to remain unused on the bench.

 

No, what England really needs is a new manager with some Symphonie-Passion to Sortie out the mess left behind by the turnip/swede (sorry - not very good on my veg) and really give it some Wely.

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