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But Marie-Claire Alain is on record as saying that this is nonsense. Can't give a reference for this, I'm afraid, but I distinctly remember reading it somewhere. She also said somewhere else (I think it may have been in a pair of articles she wrote for an ancient edition of The Diapason) that Jehan had a phenomenal left-hand technique.

 

This is indeed correct, VH. Jehan Alain was quite capable of playing the chords as written. However, I have heard a number of recitalists treat both lines 'impressionistically'.

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I once witnessed someone play this passage with the flat of his hand. This was before I knew about the "note cluster" theory and I was completely gobsmacked at the blatant cop-out. More to the point, it sounded stylistically quite out of character and totally unconvincing.

 

I know one should never condone playing wrong notes, but let's be pragmatic. Given the choice of (a) at least trying to play the right notes and failing miserably and (b ) copping out and playing clusters, the former produces the more musically acceptable effect. (In this piece.)

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From Marie-Claire Alain's notes to her LPs of the [more or less] complete works on the Erato label:

 

"Bernard Gavoty recalls the way Jehan told him the piece should be played:

 

...When you play this piece, you must create the impression of an ardent conjuration. Prayer is not a lament, but an overpowering tornado flattening everything in its way. It's also an obsession: you must fill men's ears with it - and God's ears too! If at the end you don't feel wrung out, it means you've neither understood it nor played it as I want it played. Keep to a tempo as fast as clarity will permit. Don't worry about the rapid chords in the left hand near the end. At the right speed that passage is unplayable. But rubato isn't out of the question, and it's really better to "botch" it a bit than play at a speed which would deform my Litanies."

 

Incidentally, has this recording (on the organ of the Basilique Saint-Christophe, Belfort) ever been released on CD?

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well, rather than get embroiled in a big row about some music I can't play, how's about my list of flashes:

 

Niels Gade - Tonestykker I - Mendelssohnesque but much livelier

 

Bridge - Allegro con spirito in Bb major (in the same set of pieces as the famous Adagio in E - rollocking good tune)

 

Flor Peeters - Concert Piece - you get a rest in the middle when it all gets soft and mushy for a minute - the outside sections aren't as hard as they sound

 

Eben - Moto ostinato - possibly overdone at one time, but I love it - you need a chamade for the last page really, but they are like fishes and chips so that's OK! (sorry Pierre...)

 

Guilmant - Scherzo Symphonique - wow

 

Reger - Scherzo op 65 - short but much under-rated and underplayed

 

Right, that's my entire repertoire...

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From Marie-Claire Alain's notes to her LPs of the [more or less] complete works on the Erato label

 

Incidentally, has this recording (on the organ of the Basilique Saint-Christophe, Belfort) ever been released on CD?

 

Indeed, Erato Ultima 3984-26996-2.

 

In some ways, I prefer it to her later recordings.

 

JC

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Niels Gade - Tonestykker I - Mendelssohnesque but much livelier

I second the above wholeheartedly (but we've been here before).

 

If you fancy an English toccata you could try:

 

Howells: Paean (needs working out, but not really that difficult)

Murrill: Carillon (perhaps a bit tricky)

Whitlock: Toccata from the Plymouth Suite - I don't play this, but I'm assured it's not difficult.

 

The first two require - dare I say it - a Tuba or other solo reed, but the Howells survives without one.

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                                                                                                                              a Tuba

 

 

Get thee from me, foul creature.

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Folks! Thanks for the information. Mr. Coram, exactly the kind of thing I am looking for. There is so much rep. beyond the tried and true and I thank folks for listing it. Keep up the good work. I will condense the whole thing at the end. (see my next thread for pre-flash suggestions)

WM

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I've just had another look at this. The chord that really causes me the most trouble is the first inversion of B flat and, particularly, hitting the F (for which I use my second finger - which in theory shouldn't be problematical!) Otherwise it's the fourth finger that needs care - not so much the little finger. Your mileage may vary!

 

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

 

I actually learned how to get those left hand notes right, so to speak, but then I forgot them again.

 

It was then that I realised I had wasted a week of my life, and we were back to tone-clusters!

 

However, in the meantime, the "knowledge" had been passed on to a pupil, who must have had big hands or something, because he learned to do it and proudly trotted off to Oundle (I think) to impress people.

 

It's an interesting piece, because it actually works very well even on the baroque organ I play; partly due to the reedy sound of a quite powerful Sequialtera and a good pedal reed.

 

I played it the Sunday after 9/11, and I vividly recall that, for once, there was complete silence after it; following which everyone shuffled quietly away without a word.

 

It is, I believe, one of the greatest short works in the entire organ repertoire....and hey....it's FRENCH!!!!!

 

(I actually adore Alain's and Durufle's music, to be honest).

 

MM

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Eben - Moto ostinato
From Musica Dominicalis? Now personally I'd call that flippin' difficult. Put it this way: I've just bought it and I'm not going to learn it just by sight reading it through two or three times. I'm quite sure it's doable if you devote the time to practising it - but you're not going to get quick results. I've a feeling this one is going to get filed in the "I'll get round to learning it some day" draw.

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From Musica Dominicalis? Now personally I'd call that flippin' difficult. Put it this way: I've just bought it and I'm not going to learn it just by sight reading it through two or three times. I'm quite sure it's doable if you devote the time to practising it - but you're not going to get quick results. I've a feeling this one is going to get filed in the "I'll get round to learning it some day" draw.

 

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

 

Moto Ostinato - Musica Dominicalis - aka: Sunday Music (Petr Eben)

 

I'm still trying to get to grips with it. I have to start now for next year......that's the way it is with me.

 

I wouldn't say it is technically all that difficult, but it's quite tricky to second-guess the notes, which makes it a bit slow to learn. It's a very effective piece though, even if some of the pedal flourishes are very difficult to play accurately. Quite a lot of top organists get confused with those dancing chords at the end, and "almost" get them wrong.

 

And there we go.....people liking some Czech music for a change!

 

:):):)

 

MM

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Have a look at some short pieces by June Nixon, published by Mayhew. Sorry - mind blank - oh yes - there's one in a book called Couple the Tuba and the other might be in a volume called Fiesta - need to check. What about Percy Fletcher's Fesitval Toccata - very easy but grand sounding on a large instrument. Gordon Jacon Festival Flourish is another arresting but short piece. I don't think anyone has mentioned Bach or Buxtehude - most of the Bach Preludes and Fugues are pretty exciting - try to C major in 9/8 or the G major with the arpeggio start - the huge three part Buxtehude G minor piece is wonderful along with many of the preludes and fugues. The Franck A minor Chorale is a good piece - long, but fiery in places with a huge and very satisfying ending.

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In case it helps, my pennyworth on playing the ending of Litanies.

 

I have found that it helps to aim for the top chord (ie the third chord in the sequence) of each phrase. If you can get that one right, then the rest shake themselves into position.

 

Keep the hand very soft at all times - as soon as you get the slightest tension, you are lost.

 

Also, although one should aim to get the notes right, don't get hung up on them. I find it more helpful to feel the shape of my hand in my mind a split second before the chord, and then play into the shape, rather than trying to hit each individual note with each individual finger.

 

I have found this technique of playing to the shape of the hand, and visualising the shape of the hand a split second before playing, very helpful in similar awkward pieces such as Transport de joie or the Durufle Veni Creator.

 

Having said that, this is one of those pieces I have never had the courage to play in concert. Good luck !

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Eben - Moto ostinato - possibly overdone at one time, but I love it - you need a chamade for the last page really, but they are like fishes and chips so that's OK!  (sorry Pierre...)

 

Right, that's my entire repertoire...

 

Oh great! Now you have irritated both of us.

 

:)

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Murrill: Carillon (perhaps a bit tricky)

 

You will also need to amend the rhythm as printed (unless a recent edition has corrected the mistakes of previous editions). Murrill (or his editor) managed to confuse the unit values on at least two triplet beats. There is also another mistake, but it is now 23h05 and I have been working since about 08h....

 

The first two require - dare I say it - a Tuba or other solo reed, but the Howells survives without one.

 

BLEAH.

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All these comments on the chords in Alain's Litanies are enormously cheering.

 

I'm currently trying to learn the piece, and can mostly fumble through until there... at which point I have given up in despair every time until now. I shall practice with renewed vigour tomorrow. (If not accuracy.)

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All these comments on the chords in Alain's Litanies are enormously cheering.

 

I'm currently trying to learn the piece, and can mostly fumble through until there... at which point I have given up in despair every time until now. I shall practice with renewed vigour tomorrow. (If not accuracy.)

 

I'd sightread through it a few times over the last 25 years with the same despair as you, Richard. Yesterday, as a result of reading this thread, I went through it again and took the trouble to read the lefthand chords carefully. Apart from noticing a couple of missing accidentals, I found that after 3 or 4 slow readings the chords began to feel more comfortable, less surprising! I think I'll be able to play it quite well in a couple of weeks if I keep at it!

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

 

Moto Ostinato - Musica Dominicalis - aka: Sunday Music (Petr Eben)

 

<snip>

 

Quite a lot of top organists get confused with those dancing chords at the end, and "almost" get them wrong.

Is this one of the passages that got revised when Eben changed the suite's name? I ask because I have a video of DGW playing it on some Scandinavian organ and it looks and sounds very much as though she plays two quavers on each manual, yet the score I has gives two semiquavers-plus-quaver for the chords on man. III.

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Is this one of the passages that got revised when Eben changed the suite's name? I ask because I have a video of DGW playing it on some Scandinavian organ and it looks and sounds very much as though she plays two quavers on each manual, yet the score I has gives two semiquavers-plus-quaver for the chords on man. III.

 

In my copy there are semiquavers but the second is in the tenor octave only so the RH would be moving in quavers only. Is this what you meant?

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Is this one of the passages that got revised when Eben changed the suite's name? I ask because I have a video of DGW playing it on some Scandinavian organ and it looks and sounds very much as though she plays two quavers on each manual, yet the score I has gives two semiquavers-plus-quaver for the chords on man. III.

 

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

 

My edition is the 2002 Barenreiter, Praha, which I think must be the latest one.

 

In this edition, it is marked (prior to the simile mark) I + II for two quavers, then two semi-quavers plus a quaver on III + I, then back to I + II to two quaver plus two quavers over the barline, then back to III + I as before etc etc etc.

 

I think the "problem" people have with this, is possibly the fact that the alternating chord sequences switch back to "ff" for the last beat of each successive bar, and there is a tendency to think of this as a "strong" beat, when in fact, it aint not.

 

Perhaps the only way of dealing with it is to think of the first two staccato marking as "fully detached" and the next two as almost "semi-detached," which should give a sort of sforzando "pulse" where it matters most.

 

Of course, being "stupid like a chicken" :) I have yet to decide what order the manuals are in the Czech Republic! (You'd think I'd know, wouldn't you?) Then again, Eben may have written it over here, so all the theories may amount to nothing.

 

My gut instinct is to play I + II as Swell + Great, and the III + I as Swell, (or Swell + Choir), since the pedal notes co-incide with the I + II markings for the manuals.

 

Why did I choose music?

 

MM

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In my copy there are semiquavers but the second is in the tenor octave only so the RH would be moving in quavers only.  Is this what you meant?

 

 

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

 

The 2002 edition has those second semi-quaver chords in the tenor octave.

 

MM

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In my copy there are semiquavers but the second is in the tenor octave only so the RH would be moving in quavers only.  Is this what you meant?

Yes, that's how it appears in my copy. But it doesn't seem to be what DGW played. She seems to play the first chord on the top manual with both hands simultaneously rather than staggered (i.e. as semiquavers). Mind you she plays the piece with wonderful drive and energy and maybe my tired old eyes just can't keep up! The music is visible in the video, but not quite clear enough to make out.

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Guest Roffensis
The Widor 5th Symphony Toccata is popular with the masses.  They appear to prefer it to other far better pieces.  Over played and over rated yet still immensely popular.  :ph34r:

 

 

What about some nice Nicholas de Grigny??

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