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Last night I watched a DVD of Jos Van Der Kooy playing the fine 1738 Muller organ in St Bavokerk, Haarlem.

 

Repertoire included Mozart K608, Reger T & F in Dmoll Op59 and concluded with Daan Manneke's Pneoo

 

Each of these pieces required two registrants who were occupied almost continually with stop and coupler changes. At one point the RH registrant was sat on the bench in order to operate two coupler hitch-down pedals. In the final piece the LH registrant switches the wind off briefly, whilst large chord clusters struck with the fist and forearm exhausted the wind supply. The wind is switched on again and the piece concludes thunderously. During this vicious attack the tripod-mounted camera vibrates considerably, indicating that the whole gallery structure has moved (! hmmmmm) which I would personally find alarming, given the status of this instrument.

 

HOWEVER my question is : when does a solo organ piece become a duet/trio/team effort ? Should repertoire that cannot be played unassisted be regarded as suitable for that particular instrument. Page-turning excepted, of course...

 

H

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It's a bit like deciding whether a book has been co-authored or whether help given merely merits a credit in the list of acknowledgments. I suppose it's a matter of judgement that depends on the amount of help given.

 

I don't see why a piece that requires assistants should be regarded as unsuitable for the instrument. I cannot think of any intrinsic reason why the players of an organ duet should both have to play the keyboards; but maybe substantial help by registrants should be duly acknowledged.

 

Is anyone here brave/clever enough to play Luciano Berio's Fa-si? This is quite the most impossible piece of organ music I have ever seen. It is written mostly in demisemiquavers replete with syncopations, sprawled, spider-like across up to five staves, with metronome changes every bar. It is specifically scored for a player and two registrants (who are required to hold down chords¹ and perform "stop tremolos" by quickly alternating two registers). The whole thing makes your head hurt just looking at it. How anyone could possibly get their head round it I can't imagine, but I've heard it on the radio and it actually sounds very effective.

 

¹ Come to think of it, perhaps Berio had sustainers in mind - or pencils.

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Guest Cynic
Last night I watched a DVD of Jos Van Der Kooy playing the fine 1738 Muller organ in St Bavokerk, Haarlem.

 

Repertoire included Mozart K608, Reger T & F in Dmoll Op59 and concluded with Daan Manneke's Pneoo

 

Each of these pieces required two registrants who were occupied almost continually with stop and coupler changes. At one point the RH registrant was sat on the bench in order to operate two coupler hitch-down pedals. In the final piece the LH registrant switches the wind off briefly, whilst large chord clusters struck with the fist and forearm exhausted the wind supply. The wind is switched on again and the piece concludes thunderously. During this vicious attack the tripod-mounted camera vibrates considerably, indicating that the whole gallery structure has moved (! hmmmmm) which I would personally find alarming, given the status of this instrument.

 

HOWEVER my question is : when does a solo organ piece become a duet/trio/team effort ? Should repertoire that cannot be played unassisted be regarded as suitable for that particular instrument. Page-turning excepted, of course...

 

H

 

1. There is a very long tradition of console assistants in Holland and Germany. This is always my answer to those people who still insist that, for instance, the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor must be played with the same registration throughout 'because Bach did not have pistons'. He did have several manuals, and he did have intelligent and able company in the organ loft!

 

2. If you're going to 'have a go' at a number of famous players because they cannot play their big show works without one or two helpers on hand, I know some contenders you may be thinking of! Before we all moan, however, we must reflect that they do get results, and these results are undoubtedly worth having!

 

I'm against anything that limits the experiences our audiences are offered. The pipe organ needs all the friends that it can get.

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1. There is a very long tradition of console assistants in Holland and Germany. This is always my answer to those people who still insist that, for instance, the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor must be played with the same registration throughout 'because Bach did not have pistons'. He did have several manuals, and he did have intelligent and able company in the organ loft!

 

Quite right. There is recorded evidence of "Registranten" in 17th Germany and the tradition still continues, often in families, and is even used in improvised pieces. I recall a Dutch organist playing an extended improvisation with the assistance of his two sons. I'm not quite sure how they managed it - maybe it was a combination of preparation, familiarity, telepathy, nods, winks - but very effective it was too.

 

People have commented before about Anton Heiller's incomparably magnificent, barn-storming recording of the Reger Wachet auf! on the Marcussen Ruedigerorgel in the Neuer Dom in Linz - all done with a lot of sweat and the help of two very busy stop-pullers.

 

A propos the Passacaglia - another argument against the once fashionable practice of playing the whole thing in organo pleno throughout is surely the fact that the poor old bellows-treader(s) could never have kept going for the 15-16 minutes the piece take to play. But then there are those who say it's a harpsichord piece.....

 

JS

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2. If you're going to 'have a go' at a number of famous players because they cannot play their big show works without one or two helpers on hand, I know some contenders you may be thinking of! Before we all moan, however, we must reflect that they do get results, and these results are undoubtedly worth having!

 

I wasn't 'having a go' at famous players - just curious to know what other people felt about choosing repertoire in sympathy with the instrument at hand.

 

H

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1. There is a very long tradition of console assistants in Holland and Germany. This is always my answer to those people who still insist that, for instance, the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor must be played with the same registration throughout 'because Bach did not have pistons'. He did have several manuals, and he did have intelligent and able company in the organ loft!

 

2. If you're going to 'have a go' at a number of famous players because they cannot play their big show works without one or two helpers on hand, I know some contenders you may be thinking of! Before we all moan, however, we must reflect that they do get results, and these results are undoubtedly worth having!

 

I'm against anything that limits the experiences our audiences are offered. The pipe organ needs all the friends that it can get.

 

 

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

 

This is indeed very true Paul, and I always like to remind people that musical education in Bach's day was not via the academies, universities and bodies such as the RCO. The usual way was to have articled pupils, who were "apprenticed" (for lack of a better term) to an orgelmeister/kappelmeister, and part of that training would involve being in the organ loft acting as registrand and page-turner, trimmer of candles and manuscript copyist in the days before Xerox.

 

Is there a finer training, I wonder?

 

It was a system which produced an almost universally high-quality of musical output, during the baroque period, right across the WHOLE of Europe: the organ being the "king" of instruments, and not a poor relation.

 

I have good reason to believe that this tradition continues in the Netherlands, for at every notable organ in that fair country, you will find not one or two, but sometimes a whole cache of young enthusiasts; anything from 10 to 20 years of age. It is still very much a social scene, and one which still carries respectability in the artistic community.

 

It is perhaps no accident that in the early days of the early-music movement, the musicians of the Netherlands were among the first to show us how it should be done, and they still do.

 

MM

 

 

 

People have commented before about Anton Heiller's incomparably magnificent, barn-storming recording of the Reger Wachet auf! on the Marcussen Ruedigerorgel in the Neuer Dom in Linz - all done with a lot of sweat and the help of two very busy stop-pullers.

 

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

 

I have a copy of that recording, and now that Germani is no longer with us, the only living performer who achieved something similar with Reger, was Simon Preston at the Festival Hall, of which I also have a recording.

 

It's the sort of thing that you only come across a few times in a whole lifetime, but at least I can claim to have been awed as a boy, by Germani playing Reger (as well as the very great Dr Melville Cook).

 

MM

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I wasn't 'having a go' at famous players - just curious to know what other people felt about choosing repertoire in sympathy with the instrument at hand.

 

H

 

The repertoire may be entirely in sympathy. That's just what happened in all ages except ours. From Bach to Cocherau, registrants were pretty much standard. It is only comparatively recently that we have done without. I picked up a CD (can't remember where or what) the other day which named the registrants below the organist on the back cover. We have run out of pistons at Romsey again and so the organ scholar today played Mendelssohn I while I darted around providing the necessary noises - it worked fine and probably in many ways better, more interesting and more accurate than trying to set a limited number of pistons.

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People have commented before about Anton Heiller's incomparably magnificent, barn-storming recording of the Reger Wachet auf! on the Marcussen Ruedigerorgel in the Neuer Dom in Linz - all done with a lot of sweat and the help of two very busy stop-pullers.

 

 

JS

 

One of them may well have been me - it was this superb recording which inspired me to learn this great piece. I know of no better recording. The organ in the Neuer Dom, Linz sounds magnificent under his (their?) hands.

 

I have mixed thoughts regarding registrants. Personally, I dislike other people acting as registrants when I am playing. It also greatly increases the amount of time needed for practice. However, since I have not given a recital at Sint Bavokerk, Haarlem - or Linz Cathedral, for that matter, I am not sure what I would do under such circumstances.

 

I do have a recording of Jos Van Der Kooy playing mostly Romanitc music at Sint Bavo. He makes the organ sound like a vintage Hill - in other words, superb. I presume that he had registrants on both sides (as does Daniel Roth at S. Sulpice, as far as I know).

 

Out of interest, I would be interested to know what he would do if one or both of his registrants failed to attend shortly befere a major recital. Asking for a page-turner from the audience is all well and good (I have resorted to this myself on one occasion), but asking for registrants is pointless - unless they had previously acted in such capacity before. I would be uneasy about having to rely on two people not to be unwell, or to be stuck in traffic, for example.

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Out of interest, I would be interested to know what he would do if one or both of his registrants failed to attend shortly befere a major recital. Asking for a page-turner from the audience is all well and good (I have resorted to this myself on one occasion), but asking for registrants is pointless - unless they had previously acted in such capacity before. I would be uneasy about having to rely on two people not to be unwell, or to be stuck in traffic, for example.

 

 

It happened to me in 1984, at a recital given by Matthias Eisenberg on the big new IVP Scuke at the Gewandhaus, Leipzig.

 

"Können Sie registrieren?" he asked, to which I foolishly replied, "Ja, gerne".

 

The piece was the Bach Passacaglia and the music was spattered with numbers referring to the 100-odd illuminated stop lozenges arranged like lift buttons on the LH jamb. I managed to keep up with all the kaleidoscopic stop changes - he was showing off the new instrument, after all - until the big Neapolitan sixth half-close near the end of the Fugue where he wanted about a dozen more stops added, including the battery of chamades 16-8-5 1/3-4. With fingers poised spider-fashion over the wretched plastic tablets, I leaned forward a microsecond too soon and clipped the end of the chord before he lifted his hands from the keys.

 

He was quite sweet about it and went to to give a 15-minute pyrotechnic improvisation on God save the Queen, as I stood by watching, fascinated by the fact that he played throughout in ballet shoes.

 

JS

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But then there are those who say it's a harpsichord piece.....

... who have no other reason but a doubtful one-liner from Forkel and a remark in Griepenkerl's preface to the first Peters volume. I think this is such great writing for the organ, and the piece sounds so comparably unsuccessful on the harpsichord, that the answer to that question is given by the music itself. Peter Williams states that, probably, neither Forkel nor Griepenkerl hardly ever heard the instruments they hinted at.

 

There is some hearsay about Bach's music around that dies very, very hard. For example that the 'cello suites are really by Anna Magdalena (who as a copyist was not very reliable to begin with), that BWV 565 was really a piece for violin solo (Peter Williams merely suggests this and immediately discusses why it is improbable), that the Art of the Fugue was meant for the eye rather than for the ear (even though it just sounds so good on harpsichord or an early fortepiano, much better than in any other "realisation", and the early version, along with the sketch for the assumedly concluding fugue, was written on two staves), or the Passacaglia-for-harpsichord bit.

 

I guess all this comes with the music itself dying hard, and continuing to fascinate, which in turn is a good thing.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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This is an interesting question.

 

Around 12 years ago I gave a series of performances of Tournemire's 'Seven Words of Christ on the Cross'. The seven movements play for around 50 minutes and entail kaleidoscopic changes of registration.

 

The first performance was given by Tournemire at Saint Clotilde, and if I remember rightly, Langlais assisted with the registration.

 

I gave some performances on modern organs with multi - level capture systems so I could handle all of the changes myself.

 

I gave some performances on organs with limited playing aids, in which case my page turner helped with a few stops.

 

However, I gave one performance in Holland at St Servuus Church, Maastricht. The organ here is wonderful, only enhanced by the magnificent acoustic, but has no playing aids at all. The organ stops are the size of cricket balls and are ranged in one line on either side of the console and over the players' head. From the design of the organ it is clear that it is intended to play French symphonic music (which it does fabulously well) although there are no aids, such as ventils, which Tournemire would have enjoyed.

 

I was assisted by a young student whose agility and speed in changing stops defied belief. In a flash he would change stops dotted around the keyboards, and even help with hitch down couplers above the pedals. After my initial amazement subsided, I just left it up to him in complete confidence that he would do whatever was needed. At the end of the performance he was given his own applause, in which I joined warmly, and his own fee, richly deserved.

 

In answer to the original question, it seems to me that all of the performances on all of the organs were mine. My octopus - armed assistant gave a different, but equally dazzling performance, but it was not the performance of the music per se. It did, however, assist in the realisation of my performance, if such a distinction needs to be made.

 

When you play the organ, music and machine are intimately related, but they are not indivisible in the way that the dancer cannot be separated from the dance.

 

Two footnotes.

 

As a schoolboy I also found the Anton Heiller Reger performance little short of a mystical revelation which I cannot get out of my head even now, having not heard it for some 30 years. And earlier this year I heard Jos Van der Kooy play Pneoo at Southwark Cathedral in the London Organ Day - he showed his DVD performance earlier in the day, and went on to give a dazzling performance on the Southwark Organ in his afternoon recital, with his registrant only pulling out the occasional stop where there were just no fingers or toes left to reach a piston.

 

M

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This is an interesting question.

 

Around 12 years ago I gave a series of performances of Tournemire's 'Seven Words of Christ on the Cross'. The seven movements play for around 50 minutes and entail kaleidoscopic changes of registration.

 

The first performance was given by Tournemire at Saint Clotilde, and if I remember rightly, Langlais assisted with the registration.

 

I gave some performances on modern organs with multi - level capture systems so I could handle all of the changes myself.

 

I gave some performances on organs with limited playing aids, in which case my page turner helped with a few stops.

 

However, I gave one performance in Holland at St Servuus Church, Maastricht. The organ here is wonderful, only enhanced by the magnificent acoustic, but has no playing aids at all. The organ stops are the size of cricket balls and are ranged in one line on either side of the console and over the players' head. From the design of the organ it is clear that it is intended to play French symphonic music (which it does fabulously well) although there are no aids, such as ventils, which Tournemire would have enjoyed.

 

I was assisted by a young student whose agility and speed in changing stops defied belief. In a flash he would change stops dotted around the keyboards, and even help with hitch down couplers above the pedals. After my initial amazement subsided, I just left it up to him in complete confidence that he would do whatever was needed. At the end of the performance he was given his own applause, in which I joined warmly, and his own fee, richly deserved.

 

In answer to the original question, it seems to me that all of the performances on all of the organs were mine. My octopus - armed assistant gave a different, but equally dazzling performance, but it was not the performance of the music per se. It did, however, assist in the realisation of my performance, if such a distinction needs to be made.

 

When you play the organ, music and machine are intimately related, but they are not indivisible in the way that the dancer cannot be separated from the dance.

 

Two footnotes.

 

As a schoolboy I also found the Anton Heiller Reger performance little short of a mystical revelation which I cannot get out of my head even now, having not heard it for some 30 years. And earlier this year I heard Jos Van der Kooy play Pneoo at Southwark Cathedral in the London Organ Day - he showed his DVD performance earlier in the day, and went on to give a dazzling performance on the Southwark Organ in his afternoon recital, with his registrant only pulling out the occasional stop where there were just no fingers or toes left to reach a piston.

 

M

 

Thank you - this was fascinating!

 

I wish that someone would release the Reger/Heiller on CD. I would also be grateful for details of the Jos Van Der Kooy DVD from a member, please.

 

I did once have to accompany a concert (i.e., non-liturgical) performance of Langlais' Messe Solennelle in a fairly large church in Normandy. The organ was superb - but the only usable registration aid (the couplers were by toe piston) was a Tutti Général. I also only had a quick run-through with the choir, followed by about ten minutes' practise on the organ. This was due to the fact that my boss seemed to be much more concerned that a soprano soloist got to rehearse some other items for the same concert. I suppose that I could take it as a compliment; however, at the time, I was concerned that all should go well. Fortunately, it did. Afterwards, I was given several large drinks by my grateful boss.

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I wish that someone would release the Reger/Heiller on CD. I would also be grateful for details of the Jos Van Der Kooy DVD from a member, please.

 

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

 

 

The following is possibly the right link for obtaining the DVD's in the UK.

 

http://www.crotchet.co.uk/dvd-series-instrumental.html

 

Alternatively, you could possibly order direct from the organist's web site. Just search under Jos van der Kooy.

 

MM

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I wish that someone would release the Reger/Heiller on CD. I would also be grateful for details of the Jos Van Der Kooy DVD from a member, please.

 

 

Could someone track down which label & record number the Heiller/Linz performance was issued on? It might be worth lobbying the record company, assuming, of course, it's still in business.

 

JS

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Could someone track down which label & record number the Heiller/Linz performance was issued on? It might be worth lobbying the record company, assuming, of course, it's still in business.

 

JS

 

 

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

 

On the face of it, it would appear that the Anton Heiller recording at Linz may well have been a release on the excellent Erato label.

 

I have found a link (in frogspeak) which suggests that it is still available.

 

http://www.france-orgue.fr/disque/index.ph...;ins=Linz%20Dom

 

I would say to anyone, that if you never buy a disc again in 2007, this is an absolute must hear. It is a performance on which every superlative has been heaped, but even they do not do it justice.

 

MM

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

 

On the face of it, it would appear that the Anton Heiller recording at Linz may well have been a release on the excellent Erato label.

 

I have found a link (in frogspeak) which suggests that it is still available.

 

http://www.france-orgue.fr/disque/index.ph...;ins=Linz%20Dom

 

I would say to anyone, that if you never buy a disc again in 2007, this is an absolute must hear. It is a performance on which every superlative has been heaped, but even they do not do it justice.

 

MM

 

Many thanks. The link you refer to seems to be a search engine for vinyl records and CDs. It lists Heiller's Reger recordings as vinyl discs issued in 1972. Erato itself was taken over by Warner Brothers in 1992. I'm not sure where one goes from here.

 

JS

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Many thanks. The link you refer to seems to be a search engine for vinyl records and CDs. It lists Heiller's Reger recordings as vinyl discs issued in 1972. Erato itself was taken over by Warner Brothers in 1992. I'm not sure where one goes from here.

 

JS

 

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

 

Ah! Sorry about that!

 

I was being very sloppy, obviously.....I shall search more.

 

MM

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Thanks to all thos who have provided details of the DVD - and (almost!) of a CD....

 

MM - just for a moment I got quite excited. If anyone does manage to trace a re-issue of the Heiller/ Linz Dom?Reger: Wachet auf! on CD (or vinyl), I would be delighted to hear from you.

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Last night I watched a DVD of Jos Van Der Kooy playing the fine 1738 Muller organ in St Bavokerk, Haarlem.

 

Repertoire included Mozart K608, Reger T & F in Dmoll Op59 and concluded with Daan Manneke's Pneoo

 

Each of these pieces required two registrants who were occupied almost continually with stop and coupler changes. At one point the RH registrant was sat on the bench in order to operate two coupler hitch-down pedals. In the final piece the LH registrant switches the wind off briefly, whilst large chord clusters struck with the fist and forearm exhausted the wind supply. The wind is switched on again and the piece concludes thunderously. During this vicious attack the tripod-mounted camera vibrates considerably, indicating that the whole gallery structure has moved (! hmmmmm) which I would personally find alarming, given the status of this instrument.

 

HOWEVER my question is : when does a solo organ piece become a duet/trio/team effort ? Should repertoire that cannot be played unassisted be regarded as suitable for that particular instrument. Page-turning excepted, of course...

 

H

Some years ago Kevin Bowyer played Riff-Raff at Oundle with two registrants. It was abundantly clear that KB had planned registrations in a way that used the registrants in a measured (and visually interesting) way. They rightly got applause at the end but seems to me that KB made it possible by thinking out what they did and how it would look over TV screens. the result was visually and musically stretching - surely a good result??

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Many thanks. The link you refer to seems to be a search engine for vinyl records and CDs. It lists Heiller's Reger recordings as vinyl discs issued in 1972. Erato itself was taken over by Warner Brothers in 1992. I'm not sure where one goes from here.

 

JS

 

 

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

 

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to discover more about Heiller performing at Linsz.

 

However, the Organ Historical Society in America (OHS catalogue) lists what are described as "Legendary performances" given by Heiller at Harvard University, on the big Fisk instrument. (Not a bad instrument....I played it once).

 

Maybe these would be a good alternative, but I suspect that the original Erato LP's would turn up from time to time at the specialist stores or on e-bay/Amazon.

 

For some strange reason, I actually have a recording of this. It would probably have been broadcast by the BBC, but I would have to check the tape.

 

I recall that I was deeply impressed by what I heard.

 

MM

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On 17/01/2007 at 02:28, MusingMuso said:

 

 

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

 

On the face of it, it would appear that the Anton Heiller recording at Linz may well have been a release on the excellent Erato label.

 

I have found a link (in frogspeak) which suggests that it is still available.

 

http://www.france-orgue.fr/disque/index.ph...;ins=Linz%20Dom

 

I would say to anyone, that if you never buy a disc again in 2007, this is an absolute must hear. It is a performance on which every superlative has been heaped, but even they do not do it justice.

 

MM

I was made aware, by Christa Rumsey, who translated Peter Planyavsky's biography of Heiller, that there is a project underway to remaster this recording and to release it on CD. I understand that the mastertapes have been obtained and copyright taken care of. At the time of writing this, the fund raising effort to cover the costs is short of its target (4,200 Euro) by 250 Euros.

More information can be obtained at:

https://www.leetchi.com/c/anton-heiller-cd-edition

David

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