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Jeremy Jones

What Is The Right Repertoire For Recitals?

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Nimbus Records "Christmas from Lichfield" NI 5496.

 

Played by Andy Lumsden, one word, FANTASTIC.

 

I've got it somewhere, David - I'll lend it to you.

 

It's pretty good on the CD, but I've heard him play it live a couple of times, including at the re-opening recital, and it's a totally different experience.

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

Actually Nick, five minutes of Wagner is more than enough for me!

 

I once went to a "Ring Cycle" performance in Leeds. I even had early nights before hand. It didn't prevent me from being woken up by people trampling on my feet on the way to the interval-bar.

 

Messaien has much the same effect, whilst the music of Howells causes me to endure fits of apoplexy and projectile vomitting.

 

Now....about my lunch-time at Halifax next June....decisions, decisions!

 

What do I do?  Improvised variations on "Three blind mice" or more serious stuff?

 

I may abandon, or at least seriously modify my idea of an Eastern European programme, on the basis that I can't get hold of the one big work I have been looking for, by Klement Slavicky, and in any event, it would take me ages to learn even if I got it tomorrow.

 

However, it occured to me that Reubke was technically from East Germany, I believe, so that could possibly substitute, rather than the somewhat overplayed Liszt BACH. (Hungarian)

 

The rest of the programme could be lighter fayre, going back to a couple of delightful 15th century ditties by "Jan of Lublin" (Poland), maybe a little Fugue by Carl Ferdinand Seger, (Czechoslovakia) on a strangely whole-tone theme taken from a Czech Christmas Carol, using the opening notes (in equal measures) C,D,E,F#,G#,G#G#, and an equally delightful short fugue in D minor. Then a bit of gravity with the Kodaly "Preludium" (hungarian) a bit of light relief with a classical work by Brixi, (Czechoslovakia) and then the big "rebuke" for those of a less than nervous disposition, or who don't have a CAMRA event looming the same afternoon.

 

Answers on a post-card, or better still perhaps, a "Mander Organs Discussion Board" organ-recital advisory panel? (MODBORAP?)

 

We could even lay on special buses, but Philip Tordoff would almost certainly insist on some clapped out Roe-bodied AEC from around 1940, complete with sliding door, slippery leather upholstery and bone-rattling cart springs.

MM

 

 

The Reubke hasn't been played at a Halifax recital for a long time. And lunchtime recitals do tend to be far too bitty for my taste - 10 or 12 items is not unusual. The one given by Robert Sudall, which included the Durufle Suite Op. 5 was much more my cup of tea. I like what you are suggesting. Whether it will frighten the horses is another matter.

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If I had to choose one work that really sums up Christmas and the celebration of Christ's birth, it would have to be Pierre Cochereau's Sortie sur Adeste Fideles. A wonderful piece to end a Christmas recital, one that is likely to have the audience walking on air as they file out.

 

 

I have just remembered a piece that is as mind-blowing as the Cochereau:

 

the Fugue from the Fantasy on the Chorale 'Wachet auf', by Reger. I am intending to play this after our Carol Service this year. It sounds good on our organ - perhaps just a little pedal-light in the thickest sections.

 

However, the real problem I have is with the Sortie for the Advent Candlelight Service - I just cannot decide what to do. The choices are all JSB.

 

I have often played the Prelude and Fugue, in C minor (BWV 546) - this to me has just the right 'feel' (although purists are unlikely to warm to the way in which I perform the Fugue).

 

Last year, I played the G minor Fantasia and Fugue (BWV 542). I have played the Wedge (BWV 548) recently - and, in any case, the Fugue meanders; I do not particularly like it as I prefer a tighter construction.

 

The 'Dorian' (BWV 538) is good - I particularly like the Fugue.

 

However, I was wondering about the B minor Prelude and Fugue (BWV 544). One consideration is the key. Our organ as yet has no 32p rank and so any piece which ends on a B does not always sound particularly satisfying. One possibility is that, after lunch, I go into the organ and swap the BBB boot and resonator of the Trombone (wood) with those of the CCC note - and then attempt to tune the note down a semitone. Possible problems are: the acoustic pull of the resonator will result in either a very quiet note or a waspish buzz. Or, it will not tune low enough - and will be unstable.

 

Any suggestions, please?

 

(Oh, by the way, the Passacaglia is not on the menu - neither is the A minor. Well, I just have not got around to learning them yet - I got side-tracked by Cochereau about ten years ago....)

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Any suggestions, please?

 

 

We're talking advent yes??

 

i've no idea how quick you are at learning things but:

 

Bach F Major (bwv 540)

 

Andrew Carter - Toccata on Veni Emmanuel .. its not fantastically difficult if french toccatas are your thing to play, its very much that style. Thats what im playing this year.

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We're talking advent yes??

 

i've no idea how quick you are at learning things but:

 

Bach F Major (bwv 540)

 

Andrew Carter - Toccata on Veni Emmanuel .. its not fantastically difficult if french toccatas are your thing to play, its very much that style. Thats what im playing this year.

 

David, thank you for your suggestion - I did consider the F major (it needs to be very long). However, I have got it into my head that the piece should be in a minor key, saving the really cheery, triumphant stuff for the Carol Service, Messe de Minuit - and Christmas Day.

 

Am I wrong?

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I - perhaps just a little pedal-light in the thickest sections.

 

I have often played the Prelude and Fugue, in C minor (BWV 546) - this to me has just the right 'feel' (although purists are unlikely to warm to the way in which I perform the Fugue).

 

 

The 'Dorian' (BWV 538) is good - I particularly like the Fugue.

 

 

Just out of curiosity how are the purists (no apostrophe!) likely to react to the way you play the 'Dorian' fugue ? Fortunately I entirely fail to qualify as a purist since my favourite recorded performance of this work - well the one I listen to most frequently - is that of Heathcote Statham at Norwich on Great Cathedral Organ Series 12. Inauthentic it may be but it certainly works for me !

 

BAC

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I know that to liturgists Advent is a subdued season - purple, no Gloria and all that - but it's also a time of expectancy and, to my mind at least, is far from being penitential like Lent. So personally I would favour something in a major key, but of a serious bent.

 

BWV 540 sounds good to me.

Maybe BWV 547 (but I refuse to play the prelude as a riotous dance)

Franck Choral in E?

That old warhorse from Musica Dominicalis?

Vierne Hymne au Soleil?

First movement of the Elgar sonata?

 

If you really want something in a minor key, how about Nun komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 661?

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I know that to liturgists Advent is a subdued season - purple, no Gloria and all that - but it's also a time of expectancy and, to my mind at least, is far from being penitential like Lent. So personally I would favour something in a major key, but of a serious bent.

 

BWV 540 sounds good to me.

Maybe BWV 547 (but I refuse to play the prelude as a riotous dance)

Franck Choral in E?

That old warhorse from Musica Dominicalis?

Vierne Hymne au Soleil?

First movement of the Elgar sonata?

 

If you really want something in a minor key, how about Nun komm der Heiden Heiland BWV 661?

 

Thank you, Vox. I like the Franck - I had forgotten about this. Also BWV 547. However, if there are any purists in the building, they will either commit ritual suicide - or it will be Chamades at Dawn!

 

Pardon my ignorance, but which old warhorse from Musica Dominicalis, please? Do you refer to the Eben (Sunday Music)?

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Just out of curiosity how are the purists (no apostrophe!) likely to react to the way you play the 'Dorian' fugue ?

 

BAC

 

OK, well, I often play both the 'Dorian' and the C minor (BWV 546) fugues in the same manner.

 

Using the Novello edition, (it was cheap and I happen to like the layout), I commence on all the 8p foundations, with Pedal 16p and 8p flues (all seven) with all unison couplers. On page 71, line 2 and bar 5, I add the Swell Principal 4p. At line 4 bar 1 I add the Swell Fifteenth. On page 72, line 1 bar 5 I add Swell Twelfth and Mixture (22-26-29) and add the Principal and Fifteenth to the G.O. On the Pedal Organ, I add the Fifteenth(4p). At line 3 bar 9, I increase Pedal and G.O. to Mixtures (19-22-26-29), also adding the Pedal 5 1/3 and Nachthorn (2p) and the Quintatön 16p on the G.O. On page 73, line 1 bar 2, I add Swell reeds at 8p and 4p (including the Hautboy). At line 1 bar 7, I add the Positive Principal (4p - huge), the Blockflute (2p) and the Crumhorn (French shallots - excellent chorus and solo reed). At line 2 bar 8, I add the Swell Double Trumpet. At line 3 bar 1, I add Full Pedal (reeds at 16p, 16p, 8p, 4p and 2p) and G. O. (plus Twelfth, Sesquialtera 12-17, Trumpet and Clarion). At line 4 bar 4, I add the full Positive (Quint 2 2/3, Tierce, Larigot, Sifflute 1p and Cymbal 29-33-36). At this point, I restrain myself and refrain from adding either the Chamades or any of the octave couplers - purists would be proud of me.

 

Well, you did ask....

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But John, the fact that you wouldn't want to sit through an hour and a half of Messiaen doesn't mean that nobody should be given the opportunity to do so if that's what they like, which is what Jeremy seems to be suggesting.

 

Agreed. But unless I've misunderstood the situation, the starting point was that the gentleman in question seldom if ever plays anything but contemporary repertoire. Even for a universtiy that is a bit much, isn't it? Surely even academic types still appreciate JSB and the rest? So although for a specific recital 'sugar' may be inappropriate, I agree, over a series some swetness would be welcomed, surely?

 

Regards to all

 

John.

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Pah!  All sqeaks.  Where's the reduction to nice sonorous unisons and doubles only for the last line?

 

Paul

 

 

Aghh! No - it is a rich and thrilling sound! In fact, due to the spacing of the final chord, with this registration, there is a fairly good 32p effect.

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Aghh! No - it is a rich and thrilling sound! In fact, due to the spacing of the final chord, with this registration, there is a fairly good 32p effect.

I jest. But you would need to do more to upset this not-quite-purist. ;)

 

Paul

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I know that to liturgists Advent is a subdued season - purple, no Gloria and all that - but it's also a time of expectancy and, to my mind at least, is far from being penitential like Lent. So personally I would favour something in a major key, but of a serious bent.

Bit of a tangent, admittedly, but earlier this week I took delivery of 2 choral CDs, one of Christmas music, the other Advent, both sung by two of our finest cathedral choirs. Without thinking, I played the Christmas CD first. After listening to both, I couldn't help feeling what a downer Advent is. Vox suggests there should be a sense of expectancy, but all I felt was: bread now, jam later. ;)

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"Crumhorn (French shallots - excellent chorus and solo reed)"

(Quote)

 

Really?

 

The french Cromorne (in german: Krumhorn, not the same stop) is never a chorus reed, though Dom Bédos accepts it to be used in the Grand-jeu if there is no Trompette on the Positif.

 

Pierre

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"Crumhorn (French shallots - excellent chorus and solo reed)"

(Quote)

 

Really?

 

The french Cromorne (in german: Krumhorn, not the same stop) is never a chorus reed, though Dom Bédos  accepts it to be used in the Grand-jeu if there is no Trompette on the Positif.

 

Pierre

 

 

I know, Pierre! The mystery is, it functions really well as both. The Positive (as you will see) has neither Trumpet or Clarion (even I do not treat the Chamade as a normal chorus reed) and so the Crumhorn* is pressed into service as both chorus and solo stop.

 

You heard it used as such many times on the CD!

 

 

* The spellings are legion, as you no doubt know. This one has French shallots ( I have seen them many times) and probably should be labelled 'Cromorne'. However, at the time, Walkers were being adventurous with their rebuilds. They provided similar stops at several other places - and several other spellings, too!

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Hmm... I think we've had some of these repertoire discussions before.

 

Being able to hear a profound and substantial work in a relatively modern (1935!) idiom at one sitting (La Nativite) is one of the highlights of my Christmas! To my mind, organ recitals suffer from offering suites of miniatures. It's quite rare to get a complete Bach recital, or even a Vierne or Widor symphony at one sitting, and a far more satisfying experience: a broader emotional curve; fewer 'quick thrill' climaxes.

 

But then, I love Wagner. Tristan in Munich last November was one of the (musical) highlights of my life...

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It's quite rare to get a complete Bach recital, or even a Vierne or Widor symphony at one sitting

Less common, I'm sure, but I suspect it might depend on where you live. Down here the recitals on our local foghorn are a mixture. We have had "lollipop" programmes, but recent recitalists have also given us a Vierne symphony, the Elgar sonata and the big Healy Willian. Personally I like this variety of approach.

 

As for all-Bach recitals I know Roger Sayer at Rochester has just done a whole series featuring the complete works and I see their organ scholar is doing a couple of Vierne symphonies on Sunday week. http://www.rochestercathedral.org/music/co...ts-recitals.asp

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Hmm... I think we've had some of these repertoire discussions before.

 

Being able to hear a profound and substantial work in a relatively modern (1935!) idiom at one sitting (La Nativite) is one of the highlights of my Christmas! To my mind, organ recitals suffer from offering suites of miniatures. It's quite rare to get a complete Bach recital, or even a Vierne or Widor symphony at one sitting, and a far more satisfying experience: a broader emotional curve; fewer 'quick thrill' climaxes.

 

But then, I love Wagner. Tristan in Munich last November was one of the (musical) highlights of my life...

 

A man after my own heart, methinks. I'll bet you prefer slower tempi too - am I right?

 

In answer to John, yes, I agree that nothing but contemporary works for a whole season seems rather extreme. However, it has just struck me that when we talk about sugaring the pill, people won't all agree as to whether particular works are "sugar" or "pill". And this brings me round to what Goldsmith says.

 

I know a lot of people who would class a complete Vierne symphony or (the horror!) the whole of the Reubke or "Ad Nos" as frightening the horses. In fact, a 45 minute recital with only three works on the programme is considered to be "rather King's College" (said with a curl of the lip) in some quarters! MusingMuso will be considered "brave" to offer a programme of works by Eastern Eurpoean composers nobody has heard of, followed by the Reubke. But I also know there will be some in the audience who think it is a teriffic programme - and one of them will just have finished sitting his GCSE's by 23rd June! So go for it!

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
A man after my own heart, methinks.  I'll bet you prefer slower tempi too - am I right?

 

In answer to John, yes, I agree that nothing but contemporary works for a whole season seems rather extreme.  However, it has just struck me that when we talk about sugaring the pill, people won't all agree as to whether particular works are "sugar" or "pill".  And this brings me round to what Goldsmith says. 

 

I know a lot of people who would class a complete Vierne symphony or (the horror!) the whole of the Reubke or "Ad Nos" as frightening the horses.  In fact, a 45 minute recital with only three works on the programme is considered to be "rather King's College" (said with a curl of the lip) in some quarters!  MusingMuso will be considered "brave" to offer a programme of works by Eastern Eurpoean composers nobody has heard of, followed by the Reubke.  But I also know there will be some in the audience who think it is a teriffic programme - and one of them will just have finished sitting his GCSE's by 23rd June!  So go for it!

 

 

I think the real question is this. What right has any player to expect other people to sit through a programme in which he/she plays (without break) the hardest pieces in his/her repertoire?

 

Though it is fun to watch a premier pianist playing Liszt's Transcendental Studies, or a violinist playing Paganini, they don't give us this at every recital for the very best reason: great music is not there simply to display talent... music is more than that.

 

This is not to say that I disapprove of a cathedral organist playing the complete Nativite cycle in the Christmas season. If there's an audience that will enjoy this, it's a good idea. I have, however, met people who have been to such performances not knowing what to expect and found it rather alarming. This has to do with poor pre-recital publicity or lack of sufficient explanation at the event itself. A well-designed poster will provide some slight insight into the fact that such an evening is not your average 'organ recital'.

 

My answer to your question is:

Pieces should be chosen with

1. the occasion in mind,

2. the audience in mind,

3. the organ in mind and

last of all whether they give an opportunity for showing off.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
If you take a peek at organrecitals.com you will find that our hallowed cathedrals and abbeys are being as original as ever this Christmas in wheeling out the default Christmas repertoire, i.e. Messiaen's La Nativite du Seigneur. Sitting through the whole of this work is not my idea of fun..................

 

 

 

Why not combine the Messiaen with choral works? Such as this:

 

La vierge et l'enfant

Hymn à la Vierge (Pierre VILLETTE)

Les bergers

Quem vidistis pastores dicite (Francis POULENC)

Desseins eternels

O Sacrum convivium (O.M.)

Le verbe

Que j'aime ce divin enfant (Jehan ALAIN)

Les enfants de Dieu

O magnum mysterium (Francis POULENC)

 

Interval

 

Les Anges

Hodie Christus natus est (Francis POULENC)

Jesus accept la souffrance

Tota pulchra es (Maurice DURUFLE)

Les Mages

Ubi caritas (Maurice DURUFLE)

Dieu parmi nous

 

This would for me, make a fine devotional evening. Choir would create an added attraction and the whole, a musical experience with purpose. It also gives No 1 the opportunity to play La Nativité and the Assistant to conduct the unaccompanied choir for a change.

 

Just a seasonal thought and

With best wishes,

Nigel

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