The organ

Discussion in 'Comedy & Tragedy' started by AdamSmith, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Now that I have your attention. :D

    @whipped guy rightly suggested I stop suborning other threads to insinuate my fixation on the King of Instruments (I swear autocorrect inserted the foregoing capitalization).

    So, herewith, this thread. What moved me to do it was this clip of Michel Chapuis performing a section of Couperin's Messe a l'usage des Paroisses a l'orgue de Dole.

    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
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  2. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Here is possibly the definitive performance of Franck's Final, by the great Jeanne Demessieux, of whom more anon:

  3. MassageGuy

    MassageGuy Lord

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  4. body2body

    body2body Baron

    In the Harpsichord thread early this year, mssrs AdamSmith, Gallahadesquire, and Whipped Guy, had stirred an interest in the organ in me. I noticed that Salonen would be conducting the L A Phil in a concert of French works, among them would be the the Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Timpani by Francis Poulenc. I got to hear the huge Disney Hall organ in this incredible work, which received its premiere in 1939 on the Cavaille-Col organ in the mansion of the Princesse de Polignac ( who had commissioned the work). The soloist was Maurice Duruffle. This recording was made in 1961 in the Church of Saint Mont with Georges Pretre conducting. You can follow the score if you wish.
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  5. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

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  6. whipped guy

    whipped guy Regent

    I absolutely love the sound of the organ and orchestra. I submit one of my favorites: The Concerto Hoboken VIII no. 1 by Haydn.

    There are 8 authentic solo keyboard concerti by Haydn plus the double concerto for keyboard and violin. The concerto in question was definitely composed for the organ in 1756. However, it circulated as designated for the "cembalo" aka harpsichord as well. Of the remaining concerti several others were intended for the organ based on the range and the type of writing. Interestingly none of the Haydn keyboard concerti have a part for the pedal as such most were probably most often played on the harpsichord. The two exceptions being the later more large scale concerti in G VIII:4 and D VIII:11 which were routinely played on both the harpsichord and fortepiano in Haydn's day with the D major probably intended for the piano, but designated for both piano and harpsichord for marketing reasons.

    I have chosen the version with the more colorful larger orchestration as opposed to simply strings. As such the orchestra blends better with the organ. The first version is on original instruments the second on modern instruments, but gives a view of the organist playing. In any event, the the organist makes his very modern instrument sound HIP (historically informed) with his choice of registrations.

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  7. Rudynate

    Rudynate Count

    This is a perfect thread to post my question.

    I love organ music, but don't have a well-developed ear. The organ at St. Mary's Cathedral and the Symphony Organ at Davies Hall here in SF were both designed and built by Ruffati Brothers in Italy and are generally considered to be very fine organs. When you look at comments on Youtube videos featuring these organs, all the organ buffs talk about the crappy sound of Ruffati organs: loud, blaring, no refinement, this register or that is weak, etc. etc.

    What do you think? Is it that the Ruffati organs are a particular style that not everyone likes, or are they really just crappy organs? I do notice that the Symphony Organ at Davies has kind of a bright, muscular sound, which actually appeals to me, but what do I know?
  8. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco


    For balance, possibly the string-orchestra version would have been accompanied by a chamber or portativ organ rather than a big beast?

    That thought prompted me to locate this dissertation on free-reed organs -- harmoniums, seraphines (in which air is sucked rather than blown across the reeds :rolleyes: ), et al.:

    Much more information than the subject merits, really. :D
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  9. whipped guy

    whipped guy Regent

    It was thought that the Haydn concerto was intended for part of a church service which is why I chose the heavier orchestration. In any event, it is the only concerto specifically designated as being for organ. There are examples on YouTube of the string version with what is probably a portativ.

    Since you mention the harmonium which was popular in France in the 19th Century here is the original chamber version of the Kyrie from Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle in it's original version for two pianos and harmonium composed in Paris in 1863. A full choir is usually employed even though only 12 singers are specifically mentioned in the autograph score with the 4 soloists chosen from the choir. It was eventually revised for full orchestra, organ, choir, and soloists. I prefer the weird sound of the harmonium along with the two pianos.

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  10. whipped guy

    whipped guy Regent

    I just located the harmonium solo from the above mentioned Messe...

    (Previously I could only locate the piano version as the two options are given in the score. However this does not look like a harmonium to me. Perhaps @AdamSmith can enlighten us! It seems very large, but I am not the expert!)

    Addendum: I just read Herr Smith's link about Free-Reed instruments so I guess it qualifies! Also the Petite Messe Solennelle is mentioned in the article.
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
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  11. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    So to get this chestnut out of the way early. :rolleyes:

    Saint-Saens' Organ Symphony.

    When first performed, one critic exclaimed (ejaculated :p ) "Voici le Beethoven de la France!"

    Well, yes, exactly. :cool:

    This is the best performance I know, Munch leading the BSO, the organist one Berg Zamkochian.

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2017
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  12. whipped guy

    whipped guy Regent

    I was saving this piece for you!!! ;). No way was I going to post it! Also the Charles Munch recording is the ideal choice! Kudos! First, Munch was Alsatian French and had the French repertory in his blood. In addition, the recording is a classic example of an RCA Living Stereo recording that was recorded in three channels to offer a better two channel stereo mix. There was no fiddling with dials and highlighting of instruments as later became the fashion. Just a simple three microphone setup. It's funny how the early simple techniques often seem to give the best results. It was considered an audiophile recording in its day and while not state of the art today it holds up quite well with its natural perspective. Plus, the engineers were working in Boston's Symphony Hall and were intimately familiar with its fine acoustics. Still, the key to success is Munch.

    I recall as a child hearing that Munch's successor in Boston Erich Leinsdorf would give the BSO the Germsnic roots that were necessary for the meat of the classical repertory. However, at what price??? Nowadays there seems to be a blending of styles and the French rep seems to have suffered the most.
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  13. body2body

    body2body Baron

    I have always loved the Saint-Saens 3rd Symphony ( which he called "symphonie avec orgue). I first heard it with Bernstein conducting the New York Phil in 1976 at Avery Fisher ( which does not have a proper organ) but it was still wonderful. The funny thing about Saint-Saens is that everyone loves his music, but he doesn't seem to get much respect. I heard Thibaudet play the 5th Piano Concerto a couple of years ago, and after the concert, everyone was wondering why the piece wasn't performed more frequently. During his lifetime he and his works were famous and popular. Near the end of his life he said in an interview that he thought he would be remembered " at the top of the second rank" of composers. He resisted the new, and famously carried on a vitriolic feud with Debussy.
    The Munch recording is wonderful, I still have a cherished RCA Red Label recording of the complete Daphnis and Chloe
    With Munch and the Boston Symphony. Nowadays if you want to hear a conductor who understands the French repertoire go to a concert conducted by Stephane Denève. He is a wonderful conductor in the French style.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
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  14. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    P.S. On a third read, that source seems heavy on words but suspect on the information content. Several things I vaguely recall from elsewhere don't entirely accord with it. I will seek for better info. (Or not, as the subject hardly merits the effort. :D )
  15. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Very grateful for all that background on the Munch/BSO recording. I still have my vinyl of that but did not know its technical detail.

    Re: Leinsdorf, insofar as he has/had adherents, it mystifies me. He seemed technically competent but no more than, to my ear and sensibility.
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  16. whipped guy

    whipped guy Regent

    Well I only did a second read and I think that the terminology regarding the different types of instruments is suspect and confusing. Let's just say that the instrument shown in the video of the Messe was probably similar to what was used at the first performance. The piece was written for the dedication of a private chapel. I'm sure the chapel was equipped with such an instrument and that's why it was used for color in addition to the two pianos. Yes, two pianos, but a times only one is used as in the video if two are not available. The arrangement is not authentic from what I gather, but was made for practicality. In the score it is said that the keyboard solo can be played either as a piano solo or on harmonium. I would guess that if a smaller harmonium were used the keyboard would not be able to encompass all the notes in the score.

    Of course there is the orchestral version and it is interesting to see how all was translated to a full orchestra. Incidentally the instrumental solo is mostly given to the organ. It is obvious from the contrapuntal nature of the piece that Rossini had studied his Bach over the years.

    Amusingly this is what he wrote in the score after its completion:

    "Dear Lord, here it is finished, this poor little mass. Have I just written sacred music, or rather, sacrilegious music? I was born for opera buffa, as you well know. Not much technique, a little bit of heart, that’s all. Blessings to you and grant me Paradise."

    Funny as a twelve year old child hearing that Leinsdorf would be an improvement over Munch colored my opinion of both their work for a while. Now I have come to see Leinsdorf as nothing special. If anything a bit bombastic and Germanic where it would not seem appropriate.

    PS: To the above post... As a kid I would listen to the rebroadcast of the BSO concert from the previous day on a Saturday night. That is if I were not at my grandparents house watching wrestling! In the days when it was real!!! ;)
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
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  17. "I'm cumming! I'M CUMMING!" Tom ejaculated.
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  18. Years ago, I became friends with an organist named William self.He was ancient at the time, and a good ol' boy. He had also been a student of Maurice Durufle, who was known in particular for his improvisations.

    Subsequently, Mme. Durufle came to a local college to play a Recital. Her Bach was a little iffy, but her French Romantic playing was out of this world. She ended the concert with an improvisation on Picardy ["Let all mortal flesh keep silence"], which, after wandering Round on the manuals for awhile, finally wound up in C Major. It's really quite breathtaking in a major key!

    Stolen from another post:

    I happened to be in Paris for the re-dedication of the organ at St. Eustache, in Les Halles, in 1989. Trying to obtain a ticket to this event, and throwing custom to the wind, I attempted to cash in on a couple of acquaintances. I know Bill Self, organist of St. Thomas 5th Ave, from his days in Worcester, and knew he was a protoge' of M. Durufle, of Requiem fame.

    When I arrived, I phoned Mme. Duruffle, and pronouced myself as a friend of her husband's protoge, William Self. A lovely 15 minute conversation occurred, during which I enquired about entry to the recital. "Oh, it is IMPOSSIBLE to get a ticket!" she exclaimed. "Even I cannot get a ticket!" We signed off with well wishes shortly thereafter.

    The day of the Recital, there were about 5,000 people in Les Halles, sitting and waiting. There was a 30-40' screen against the south transept, and the BIGGEST pile of speakers I've ever seen. I assume, if you're going to re-produce organ music, your speakers have to be BIG. It was a lovely recital, although the sitting organist, Jean Guillou, has a tendency to voice things at 4' and 16', leaving the 8' to fend for themselves. When the Thurifer offered the Thurible to someone .... I couldn't tell if it was a politico or a religico ... it was all shown on the screen, and met with GALES of laughter.
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  19. whipped guy

    whipped guy Regent

    Sorry to be obsessed with this piece, but here is the Wickipedia analysis of the Preludio Religioso from the Petite Messe Solennelle. It is just that Rossini is not usually associated with anything contrapuntal. However, he specifically visited Mendelssohn to learn more about Bach as it was the younger German composed who was mainly responsible for reviving Bach in the 19th Century. Later Rossini had a subscription for the complete works of Bach and looked forward to each volume as it was received.

    Preludio Religioso
    For the liturgical offertory, Rossini inserted an instrumental piece he had composed before, a combination of prelude and fugue. The prelude, sixteen measures of 4/4 Andante maestoso ([​IMG] = 92), is written for piano and asks for dynamics ranging from double forte to double piano una corda. It announces at the same time the F♯ tonality, and the modulating character of the movement, by chords borrowed from distant keys. The solemn rhythmic style ([​IMG] [​IMG].. [​IMG]) will not recur until the four-measure postlude of the fugue.[13]

    Fugue subject, (17–21)
    Rossini indicates that the fugue (without the postlude explicitly written for piano) may be played equally on piano or harmonium. In 3/4, Andantino mosso ([​IMG] = 76) with a regular rhythm of eighth notes, the fugue has a theme in the form of a turn like the BACH motif, which has the same chromatic opening as the famous subject of the Fantasy and Fugue on the Theme B-A-C-H by Franz Liszt. Rossini proves both his inventiveness (particularly at the level of management of the tonality, which frequently evolves into distant keys) and his impressive capacity for mastering the contradictions.[13]

    The structure begins classically with a fugue with the exposition of the subject successively in the three voices at a pianodynamic. The turn motif in F♯ minor is repeated four times at the interval of a rising third (C♯ , E♯ , G♯ , and B♯), followed by a development by a sequence of arpeggios in descending thirds. The melodic line proceeds to the dominant to accompany the exposition of the subject in the second voice, with a series of eighth notes arranged in a constant interval of a third or a sixth with the subject. This arrangement repeats itself during the exposition of the subject in the third voice in F♯minor.[13]

    A long episode of 29 measures follows, where the modulations are legion. For example, a sequence based on the three first notes of the turn theme is repeated eight times in a row starting in measure 47. Numerous dynamics are marked in the score: piano, forte, crescendo and decrescendo. This episode ends with the dynamic double forte decrescendo on a perfect cadence of G♯ (D♯ dominant seventh → G♯ major), repeated twice identically. The G♯ major chord becomes the dominant of the key of the second exposition.[13]

    The second exposition of the subject begins at measure 70 in the left hand, in C♯ minor, then in the right hand in G♯ minor at measure 78. The same 29 episodic measures as before are heard, but transposed, then extended by 26 measures of new development, always using numerous sequences.[13]

    A full measure of rest (measure 140) precedes a cadence in F♯ minor, then F♯ major, of which the A♯ transforms into the tonic of the key B♭ minor for the postlude, then the dominant of the cadence in E♭ minor, followed by an E♭ major chord, and concluding without transition on an F♯ major chord.[13]

    Rossini wrote a brief instrumental passage, probably to establish the key of C major and the mood for the following Sanctus.[15] The Ritornello and the Sanctus which follows are in effect in the same key of C major (both in 6/8).[43]

    Here is the piece played on the organ from the orchestrated version:

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  20. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
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