Author Topic: Favourite organists, just for fun!  (Read 13726 times)

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Holditch

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Favourite organists, just for fun!
« on: December 29, 2011, 12:16:27 PM »
I thought this would be an interesting topic, who are people’s favourite organists?

When I mention the word favourite, it doesn’t necessarily mean best, so a basic reason for choosing that person would be interesting too. The performer can be dead or alive, local or internationally renowned 

Here are my top five (with a rather French bias!)

1: Marie Claire Alain: Her performances breathe life into the music she plays, her musicality and understanding of expression is masterful.

2: Marcel Dupre : His performance of Widor Symphony 9 at Saint Suplice was a wake up call for me when I first heard it. It sent shivers down my spine unlike any other music I had ever heard.

3: Jean Pierre Leguay : Liszt and Leguay are a perfect match, he makes the organ at Notre Dame Paris shine to its full potential

4: Thomas Trotter: A seasoned all round performer, whose performances inspire and delight

5: Cameron Carpenter: A bit of a political hot potato is Cameron, this is potentially why he is in my top five. You either love or hate his style and attitude, but in my opinion the organ world needs mavericks like him. His technique whilst not necessarily totally musical, is a wonder to watch


remember its just for fun!

Marc
Dubois is driving me mad! must practice practice practice

David Pinnegar

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2011, 01:36:27 PM »
Dear Marc

How could you possibly include number 5? I am deliberately not mentioning his name as I aim to forget deliberately the names of people I dislike, even more easily nowadays even forgetting the names of people I do like!

However, among favourite organists for me must include
6. Pierre Bardon at St Maximin, who can, like all of us I suppose, play rather pedantically in my opinion but suddenly take off in a stroke of GENIUS. The recording of the Bach D Minor on YouTube at St Maximin is testimony to that . . . and his nephew
7. Philippe Bardon who is both a brilliant tutor and a performer and enthusiast for his instrument par extraordinaire, (YouTube "Happy Birthday St Maximin" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4oPdHmJjnE ), even if he does play Mendelssohn 3 adventurously on the same instrument in a manner in which Sean Tucker would not approve -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhF17YdpQn0 - it was a performance that sent shivers down the spine.
8. Sean Tucker, whose CD http://www.organanoraks.com/pcndcd1.html is one of the most enjoyable discs in the organ library
9. Jeremy Filsell - a true adventurer with registration and impeccable attention to detail http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9usBggyS5Nk - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD9FFPhyRd4 - and for something rather different http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GyFn7Wmps8
10. Hugh Potton - an underappreciated genius who has the most phenonomal memory, performs everything from memory and at a concert combines a very audience friendly selection of repertoire . . .

I have not yet heard
11. Paul Carr, although there are members here who rave about him . . . and it would be great to see him telling us more about his concerts in the concerts section of this forum . . .

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

revtonynewnham

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2011, 03:56:56 PM »
Hi

I would also not mention Marc's no.5  He may have the technical proficiency - there's no question of that, but the music does not communicate - it's all show - and that can be off putting to people new to the organ.  I took my wife to her first organ recital when we were on honeymoon, many years ago.  The organist then was a "show off" - all technique and nothing else, and it's only in very recent years that she's been near another recital.

I would add to the list Nigel Spooner.  He's an organist who deserves to be better known.  These days he's a freelance musician, and among other things, sometimes plays for the BBC Morning Service on Radio 4.  His recent recitals in Bradford Cathedral have been among the best I've attended.  (I first met him many years ago when he had the fun of teaching my eldest son Chemistry).

Thomas Murray must also rank in the top group - his organ control in big symphonic works is second to none.

Anne Page - especially for Harmonium works, and the early English repertoire - and of course, Francis Jackson, who I heard live for the first time about 3 years ago.

Every Blessing

Tony

Barrie Davis

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2011, 07:14:58 PM »
Hi

Well here goes:

Carlo Curley
Carole Williams
Thomas Trotter
Francis Jackson
Roy Massey
Thomas Trotter
Nigel Ogden .....YES
There are so many, Paul Carr is good as a recitalist, up and coming.

Best wishes

Barrie

David Pinnegar

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2011, 08:29:08 PM »
Carlo Curley
Carole Williams
Thomas Trotter
Francis Jackson
Roy Massey
Thomas Trotter
Nigel Ogden .....YES
There are so many, Paul Carr is good as a recitalist, up and coming.

:-) Yes - some names there that one cannot leave out - although if given the choice nowadays between going to hear Carlo or Carole, I'd choose the Welsh lady any day. Whilst Carlo inspired a whole generation, in my personal opinion and experience, his willingness to not require exactitude out of the electronic instruments he likes to play means that I'd probably prefer to stay at home and listen to a pipe organ on my own hifi system rather than the one that happens to be at a venue where he is playing . . . If an electronic is in use, it must be startlingly good and nothing short of exceptional will do . . . and when I took my boys to a Carlo concert in Sussex, the single manual pipe organ played by Keith Hearnshaw (another for the list!) knocked Carlo's Electronium into the shadows . . .

Certainly Olivier Vernet with all his flashing lights in Monaco will certainly be worth going to hear . . . my sons thoroughly enjoyed his opening recital.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2011, 02:23:47 AM »
(1) Hans Fagius - a man who contrives to keep his staggering virtuosity under tasteful control, and is utterly devoid of pretension and ego. One of the loveliest people it has ever been my privilege to meet.
(2) Francis Jackson - ditto (and repeat ad nauseam). He's placed 2nd simply because his age is now getting the better of him a little - at his recital last summer at St Martin's Brighton there were several stumbles - although he'd worked hard to get up to a lofty loft, then was dealing with what I'm told is the world's heaviest tracker action in a very tall organ...
(3) David Sanger R. I. P. - a man whose musicianship was matched only by his modesty and charm. A very sad loss. If only he'd had more self-confidence.
(4) Dame Gillian Weir - I don't ALWAYS like her playing (her Dieu Parmi Nous at S.Ouen for the BBC back in the 80s, which is on YouTube, is gruesome) but it's usually very good. She's been a great ambassador for the organ down the years, and is unfailingly lovely to everyone who attends her recitals. Back in October '10 I went to her reinauguration of the St Michael's Cornhill organ, spoke to her afterwards and she remembered me (instantly) from her Messiaen Neuf Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte-Trinité at Westminster Abbey in the summer of '06, when I was just fifteen and looked quite different! She also has this air of regal grace about her (not in any way pretentious or egotistical, though!)... If ever anyone was deserving of the title 'Queen of organists', it's her!
(5) Nathan Laube - I rate him higher than any of the more 'orchestral' players like Prof Murray, Thomas Heywood etc. Stunning virtuoso, stunning technique (every bit the equal of Cameron Carpenter), but always tasteful. An imaginative, persuasive and inventive transcriber and player of said transcriptions too. Lastly, an absolutely lovely person who denies every word I've just said, views himself as a mere child on the shoulders of giants. I prefer to view him as arguable the leading organist of the new generation of players.
(6) My good friend Lawrence Thain - a truly stunning player, currently resident in San Francisco, where he plays at Grace Cathedral. He was previously organ scholar at New College, Oxford, then before that at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. It remains to be seen what he will do professionally in the long term, but I believe very firmly that he will become one of the greatest players of his generation, regardless of how much he is heard.

Yes, I know, that's six, not five - but I felt I couldn't leave out either Lawrence or the late David Sanger, so decided to make the latter a sort of honorary mention.

Once Francis Jackson dies there'll be room for another on that list - in that case I shall name the Spaniard Óscar Candendo Zabala, organist in the Basque city of Donostia (also known as San Sebastian), in which and in the vicinity of which are many organs by Cavaillé-Coll, including some very notable, large, unaltered instruments. I first met Óscar when I was just short of four years old, but I've never forgotten the memory of hearing him play Franck on the organ of Santa Maria del Coro in Donostia/SS, which is all but identical to St Clothilde as it was in Franck's time. It seems others agree: the great Montserrat Torrent said the following to my father. "Oh! Óscar! He plays like a dream!".

You may notice the absence of French organists. This is not an accident. I don't rate those I've heard (M-CA included - I've got her complete Bach, listened to once, has since spent years gathering dust). I find Latry soulless. Recent graduates of the Paris Conservatoire have not impressed. I think Thierry Escaich's performance at the Proms this year was a disaster and what else I've heard of him has been little better. Escaich, like one then-new graduate of the Paris Conservatoire I met a few years ago and heard on the Ewell Willis, seems not to understand English organs at all (TE thinks he can use Willis or H&H Tubas as chorus reeds), and, because he doesn't understand them, is rather dismissive of them. The young graduate (whose name I forget) had the arrogant smirk wiped off his face when he heard a certain lady (Mr Pinnegar and others probably know to whom I refer, but I recall being asked not to mention her) playing Messiaen's Méditation VI (from the Neuf Méditations sur le Mystère de la Sainte-Trinité) on the said magnificent Willis, which can be made to sound very French. I also don't rate Daniel Roth: I find his improvisations tedious (the same applies to Escaich). I have his complete Franck on CD: his rubato is truly nauseating.

To be fair, there are several French players whom I admire but have not heard enough to either include in or dismiss from this selection: among them Michel Chapuis and Michel Bouvard, the latter of whom taught Nathan Laube in Toulouse last year - indeed, Laube was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study with him. I have yet to hear a note from Messrs Bardon et Bardon, except for David's videos, upon which I do not think it is fair to judge them (although I think trying to play Mendelssohn at S.Maximin is lunacy!). I am just getting into Georges Delvallée's complete Tournemire l'Orgue Mystique, but this music is entirely unfamiliar to me so, again, I feel unable to comment. I have also heard a little of a player called Julian Bret on YouTube - his recordings of Tournemire, Duruflé and Alain at S.Ouen are most impressive. However, I have only heard a little of him so, again, I don't think it's fair to judge just yet. However, capable as he undoubtedly is, I think he could become one of the greats. One to watch.

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2011, 02:28:45 AM »
Oh, and if we're to get into light music, Richard Hills is nothing short of superb. He is an FRCO (and, incidentally, was taught by David Sanger), has been in various positions in various prominent churches (including organ scholar at Westminster Abbey), so I'd like to hear him on a 'straight' organ, but as far as I'm concerned there is no-one this side of the pond who can play a Wurlitzer like he can. For those who have not had the privilege of hearing him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWClq1Pr7hM

It's just as well I'm not an organist - watching that would be enough to make me give up and weep tears of bitter envy!
« Last Edit: December 30, 2011, 02:35:09 AM by AnOrganCornucopia »

David Pinnegar

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2011, 11:18:08 AM »
To be fair, there are several French players whom I admire but have not heard enough to either include in or dismiss from this selection: among them Michel Chapuis and Michel Bouvard, the latter of whom taught Nathan Laube in Toulouse last year - indeed, Laube was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study with him. I have yet to hear a note from Messrs Bardon et Bardon, except for David's videos, upon which I do not think it is fair to judge them (although I think trying to play Mendelssohn at S.Maximin is lunacy!).

:-) Mendelssohn at St Maximin is fun . . . great fun, not serious, but serious fun and experiencing in the flesh rather than in recording, sent shivers down the spine. The instrument might not be meant for it, but doing it enables the instrument to breathe and to breathe that terror and respect that Napoleon's troops felt when the then organist played the Marseillaise on it upon their entry intent on destroying it. The instrument has a history, a true story to tell, and playing Mendlessohn on it with the spirit and fire of which it's capable enables us to understdand that story better.

Chapius understands the French organ, and in indeed the French repertoire like none other. Based upon the combination of harmonics and voicing, registration is a science, and the interpretation of performance from the vague indications of Baroque scoring is an art. Pierre Bardon, for whom one has to have respect in having played St Maximin since 1961 (!!!), has a great knowledge of the instrument. The instrument covers for him when he's not feeling greatly inspired . . . but the moments of inspiration are worth waiting for. Philippe is a leading player, and teacher. He knows every nuance available from the Isnard and similarly his scholarship of the Baroque and following repertoire is second to none. Anyone bothering to go on the annual courses at St Maximin finds themselves deeply privileged by his tutorship.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Barrie Davis

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2011, 07:15:51 PM »
Dont let us forget Keith Hearnshaw FRCO who not only promotes visual productions of recitals but is a superb recitalist.

Barrie

David Pinnegar

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2011, 12:46:33 AM »
Recent graduates of the Paris Conservatoire have not impressed. I think Thierry Escaich's performance at the Proms this year was a disaster and what else I've heard of him has been little better.

I heard Thierry Escaich at Monaco a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed his recital and, as luck would have it, this evening on Radio 3 the BBC re-broadcast his proms performance. A disaster? No- certainly not. Excellent and exemplary extemporisation which was very exciting and a well rounded programme. Some french flavour to registrations, especially at the beginning gave a nice colour to the performance and the audience applauded with great enthusiasm.

No doubt you would not have liked some things on offer at Zurich, including "Orgel und Elektronik" which I recorded and made a visual accompaniment for on YouTube, but just because you don't happen to like something doesn't make it or the performer "a disaster". Far from it. Escaich at the proms was original and refreshing.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2011, 05:46:51 AM »
Barrie: thanks for mentioning Keith Hearnshaw. I'm not sure he'd make my superleague but he's very good and has done much vital work in promoting the organ. He needs more presence on YouTube, though... based on the one thing I've seen, I could listen to him play the Wylde Green Willis III (which sounds magnificent) all day long...

David:
I'm sorry to disagree but I thought that, of the written works Escaich played, the majority were mangled almost beyond recognition. I found them absolutely grim to the point of nausea, both in tempo and registration. His improvisation was interesting inasmuch as it was extremely loud (for the most part), very long and contained lots of notes. Beyond that, I failed to find anything interesting in it. I thought it utterly vacuous, narcissistic and show-offish. Throughout the improvisation I could not detect any thematic material, only torrents of millions of semiquavers. I wouldn't travel a mile to hear Escaich (even if I lived a mile from one of the world's greatest organs), less still an hour's travel into London to hear him making un petit déjeuner d'un cochon of handling a big English organ.

Referring also to M.Chapuis, this is how to improvise, in my opinion (all on the fabulous organ of St Ouen, Rouen):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqWwUt7B9nU (French Toccata-style - notice how late he brings on les bombardes spectaculaires and how much more impact they have as a result)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtcM5Q4Kf5g ("Grand Jeu Classique")
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J70-Kbvf_9A (on Bach on Lutheran chorale)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiMnLsJK-qk (ditto)

Notice also how he keeps the first two short and sweet, and the latter two longer only because of the much slower tempi (again, rather rare to find these days!).

I don't usually care for him but David Briggs' Old Macdonald improv is truly staggering - and he does something I wish all improvisers would do all the time, which is to state the theme clearly at the beginning! He also handles the Gloucester organ (which I am told sounds better and more exciting in recordings than it does in the building) with an ease that many struggle to match.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbvfP_XrNiM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFn9laaUeL4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L1VscJ8QzQ

It's a pity that a recent recital of his which I attended, on a truly stupendous organ, was (with the exception of a good Franck A Minor Choral), dismal from start to finish, including a tedious 4-movement improvised symphony utterly devoid of the genius clearly evident in the videos above. Ironically, the Franck managed to be the one bit worth going to hear even though the swell-box linkage broke mid-way through! Other than the eagle-eyed few who managed to spot (on the big video screen) that he wasn't using the swell pedal any more, we were none the wiser.

I shall be going to hear Olivier Latry playing the same organ on March 16th. I shall report back! I recommend that anyone in the South-East tries to make it to this recital - and indeed any other on that organ.

MusingMuso

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2012, 06:46:30 PM »
I shall refrain from drawing up a list of favourtite organists; though Francis Jackson was always my absolute favourite as a youngster.

Instead, I would draw the attention of 'organmutterers' to the remarkable talents of young Hungarian organists, who really deserve to be at the high-end of almost any list......(Liszt?)

I posted details of Hungary's most talented on another forum, but the following link should give some indication of the quality to which I refer.

Marvel at both the piano technique and the organ technique, as well as the musicianship and commitment:-

http://www.kiralycsaba.com/audio.htm



MM

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2012, 07:19:45 PM »
Hello Colin! Welcome to the forum...

MusingMuso

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2012, 10:56:00 PM »
Thank you for the welcome.  I hope I may contribute a few things of interest, and I note that this particular discussion forum also includes things electronic, as well as people interested in electrical/electronic organ history, which fits well with my on-going research into John Compton and the significance of the company he founded.



rh1306

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2012, 11:42:22 PM »
A difficult choice, but my personal all-time favourites are, in order of preference:
1) Carlo Curley
2) Virgil Fox
3) Sir George Thalben-Ball
4) Gordon Phillips
5) Margaret Cobb

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2012, 02:42:18 AM »
Carlo - interesting. I'm told that he's marvellous company, but he has been quite patchy as a player! He's certainly phenomenally capable and, at his best in the right context (in terms of repertoire and organ), probably sans pareil, but he definitely gave some recitals which left a deal to be desired. I seem to recall him admitting in a recent interview that he'd taken on too many bookings and a somewhat cavalier attitude towards practice.

Fox - not to everyone's taste but certainly a stunning player, in possession of a much deeper musicianship than the chap whose name David was trying to forget...

GTB - his old 1920s and 1930s recordings still withstand the test of time. I can certainly understand why Carlo admired him so much.

I don't know the other two at all, I'm afraid!

David Drinkell

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2012, 07:01:51 AM »
George Thalben Ball, Francis Jackson, Allan Wicks, Michel Chapuis, Nigel Ogden, Carlo Curley (can play as well as anyone, never mind the razzmatazz, and a thoroughly nice guy, too).

Yanka Hekimova is one of the most remarkable palyers I've ever heard.

Carol Williams makes me go weak at the knees even before she plays a note.....
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 07:04:04 AM by David Drinkell »

Barrie Davis

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2012, 09:17:45 AM »
She does have the same effect on me David!!!!!! A very versatile player as well.
I would also add Paul Derrett to the list.
Welcome to the board MusingMuso

Best wishes

Barrie

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2012, 09:46:10 AM »
Oddly, Carol Williams does nothing for me visually or musically. I'm sure she's very good but somehow she doesn't move me - and yes, I am both male and straight...

MusingMuso

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Re: Favourite organists, just for fun!
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2012, 02:09:19 PM »
For those of a straight, male disposition, might I suggest the following?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjFN5P0m6UE

  :P

 


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