Author Topic: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ and "must buy" CDs  (Read 13755 times)

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organforumadmin

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Hi!

Looking at forum stats today, Giorgio Questa has surfaced as someone people are searching for. It appears that some recordings that Giorgio Questa did have turned up. He was a genuis and the CDs are significantly going to be worth buying.

Best wishes

Forum Admin


http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/Dynamic/CDS687





http://www.dynamic.it/e_scheda.php?pid=831

Product Code: CDS687/
Title: From Frescobaldi to Brahms
Price: 27.60 €
Performer: Giorgio Questa, organ
Media: 4 CDs
A UNIQUE INSTRUMENT:
The organ that Giorgio Questa used to play is a rather singular instrument: it can be assembled and taken apart in just a few hours and is easily transported. In this sense it is a little like the old ”portative” organ, though, despite its apparently small dimensions, its phonic structure is that of a common Italian organ of the sixteenth century.
The instrument is entirely in wood and completely mechanical. Giorgio Questa built it himself, piece by piece, following the same craftsman methods as the old master organ builders. It consists of 491 pipes in pine and chestnut. The keyboard, to which a pedalboard is added has four octaves.
Its stops (Principal in pine, Octave, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-second, Fiffaro/Cornetta, Night Horn in VIII, Wood Flute in XII, Twenty-sixth, Twentyninth) are the ones that are typical of Italian organ art in the classical period. Two small accessories, ”passero e passera” imitate birdsong, following ancient organ traditions.
The squirrel tail reminds us of the ancient ”fox tail” that overhangs the organist, with the curious addition of a lever inscribed ”noli me tangere”. A pulley pedal enables free combination of the stops.

BIOGRAPHY
Giorgio Questa was born in Genoa to a family of musicians and was given his first lessons in music by his father. He studied the piano with Nicolay Klepikoff, and dedicated himself to chamber music. At the same time he became interested in vocal polyphony and in the organ-building art.
In 1966, at the ”Internationale Zomeracademie voor Organisten” in Haarlem, Holland, he took part in a course held by Maria-Claire Alain on French organ music, and completed the construction of his mechanical organ with wooden pipes, fruit of his fascination with the art of Italian organ building in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Travelling with his instrument, Giorgio Questa played in Italy and in Europe, in recitals and as a soloist with symphonic orchestras (Bucharest, Florence, Ljubljana, Madrid, Mainingen, Turin and Trieste) and with chamber ensembles (the Camerata Accademica of the Mozarteum in Salzburg, I Solisti Veneti, the Mainzer Kammerorchester, the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester) and with conductors like Igor Markevitch, Karl Münchingerk, John Pritchard and Sàndor Vegh.
After hearing him perform, Igor Markevitch invited him to play Haydn’s Organ Concerto in C major (1756) with the Orquesta de RTV Española at the Teatro Real in Madrid.
He made recordings for Dynamic and held courses on the performance of Italian fifteenth and sixteenth-century organ music (in particular Frescobaldi) at the Conservatories of Fontainebleau (where Nadia Boulanger invited him five years in a row) and of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Città del Castello and at the AMOR in Assisi.
His artistic and musical evolution was determined by his encounters with Nadia Boulanger, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Igor Markevitch, Michael Noble, Sándor Vegh and Narciso Yepes.
Questa played exclusively on organs with mechanical transmission and his performances were based essentially on autograph manuscripts and original prints.
Formerly president of the Commission for the safeguard of artistic organs in Liguria, he died in his native town on 11 June 2010.

”My dear friend Questa... Certainly the organ is a masterpiece, but you are a masterpiece too!... I have just come back from Paris where I spoke about you with Nadia Boulanger... one of the people alive today who knows most about music... an extraordinary personality...”
(from: letters by Igor Markevitch)

”Dear Mr Questa... A miracle!... I did not dare believe that you would come to Fontainebleau this summer... Your forthcoming presence at Fontainebleau lends a very precise character to the whole session... I give great importance to your presence... a real joy, this music favoured by such a pure instrument...”
”[...] You are most eagerly awaited in Paris, I can’t wait to talk to you about what links us so deeply: Frescobaldi, performance of his music, your instrument, the way you play, your dreams, in a word music and you, you and music...”
”Dear Giorgio... You have gone but you have not left Fontainebleau, because we hold on to your presence as something precious... Your presence is still alive in the School and in my heart... You have left such a strong memory, made such an impression at Fontainebleau!... We are still talking about you, what you are and what you do have a special place in my memories...”
”Frescobaldi’s works fascinate me... It would be a real joy if once again you could bring back to life these works that are all too often left in silence... This truly beautiful sound and the light cast on such a great musician thanks to you... Know that from now on you will always be present at Fontainebleau.”
(from: letters by Nadia Boulanger)
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 11:51:48 AM by organforumadmin »

dragonser

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2011, 09:52:57 PM »
Hi,
I'm not familiar with all the Stops listed, is a night horn in V111  a mixture stop ? and is a wood flute in X11  also a mixture.
sorry if the question is obvious, but I find some organ terms obscure.
[ but that can sometimes make things more interesting ! ]

regards Peter B
 


Hi!
  Its stops (Principal in pine, Octave, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-second, Fiffaro/Cornetta, Night Horn in VIII, Wood Flute in XII, Twenty-sixth, Twentyninth) are the ones that are typical of Italian organ art in the classical period.


 
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 11:36:22 AM by organforumadmin »

David Pinnegar

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2011, 10:46:35 PM »
I'm not familiar with all the Stops listed, is a night horn in V111  a mixture stop ? and is a wood flute in X11  also a mixture.

Hi!

I'd imagine Nachthorn or Cor de Nuit 8ft and Nasard 12th might have been the source of these translations.

A Fiffaro/Cornetta is mentioned:
http://www.eccher.it/gb/Gli-strumenti/
and there is a picture of the instrument on
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Questa
Sadly Google Translate is having difficulties accessing the page :-(

I'm having difficulties tracking down the Fiffero but it's mentioned on
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elenco_di_registri_per_organo
and I think it's a tremulating stop of some sort

It seems odd to link it with the Cornetta which I assume is a regular Cornet and googling this shows up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXhjdktU6mo which is an excellent and charming performance.

However, perhaps it's a detuned, thus beating reed, so Fiffaro/Cornetta in the nature of a Trombacini detuned as a sort of Vox Humana

Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 11:36:42 AM by organforumadmin »
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

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Re: Mad Organists
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2011, 12:09:38 PM »
[Forum Admin - negative comment removed see http://www.organmatters.com/index.php/topic,819.0.html ]

Dear Xxxxx

I think, with the greatest of respect, that Giorgio Questa deserves a kinder view. [Forum Admin - response to negative comment removed see http://www.organmatters.com/index.php/topic,819.0.html ]
To his friends, this was one of the tragic funny stories that immortalises his sense and desire of perfection of art and the set of four CDs should be a most extraordinary experience for this reason.

If I may be at the risk of repeating something I have written elsewhere in the "Awkward Corner" The difference between madness and genius is wafer thin, the perception of which depends only on how closely the actions of the mad or the genius are perceived to accord with the observer's perception of reality.

Giorgio was, among the few privileged to know him personally, considered to have been one of the greatest musicians who ever lived, his reputation limited only by his own reclusivity and eccentricities. Apparently as he did not like plastic he would not store cassette tapes (as these were the times within which he lived) on a shelf in cases but instead in paper envelopes strung up upon washinglines across his rooms. He was obviously near impossible to live with, I beleive had terrible problems with his personal life and ended up tragically in a mental institution.

But none of this tragic affliction of madness detracted from his art and the genius is worthy of celebration.

Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 02:13:08 AM by organforumadmin »
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

dragonser

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Re: Mad Organists
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2011, 05:22:28 PM »
Hi,
thanks for the additional info.
regards Peter B

P.s. if only I had learnt Italian then I would understand the web page ! but the photo looks intriguing



I'm not familiar with all the Stops listed, is a night horn in V111  a mixture stop ? and is a wood flute in X11  also a mixture.

Hi!

I'd imagine Nachthorn or Cor de Nuit 8ft and Nasard 12th might have been the source of these translations.

A Fiffaro/Cornetta is mentioned:
http://www.eccher.it/gb/Gli-strumenti/
and there is a picture of the instrument on
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Questa
Sadly Google Translate is having difficulties accessing the page :-(

I'm having difficulties tracking down the Fiffero but it's mentioned on
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elenco_di_registri_per_organo
and I think it's a tremulating stop of some sort
 

David P

David Pinnegar

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Re: Mad Organists
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2011, 12:24:50 AM »

[Forum Admin - intervening post removed]

[Forum Admin - negative comment removed see http://www.organmatters.com/index.php/topic,819.0.html ]

:-) Giorgio was loved by all who met him and his known eccentricities endeared him all the more to his friends despite reaching a point to which they were a most terrible affliction in his life, to the sadness of all.

Here was a man who lived solely for art, a rare specie and the recordings that have survived are all the more interesting and important.

It is sometimes said that the organ is so unmusical, all notes sounding unfeelingly the same volume and the only control being in quantum leaps between ranks, that one has to be on an autistic spectrum to be able to create art out of it. I'm sure that we all know a musician or two who communicates more deeply through his or her music and instrument in some sort of compensation for less communicative abilities in what other people might call the real world. Giorgio was certainly one of these and by all accounts his music communicates all the more thereby.


[Forum Admin - discussion about continental frogs]

Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 02:17:51 AM by organforumadmin »
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2011, 12:09:47 PM »

[Forum Admin - response to post removed ]

Dear Xxxxx

Those were the days of the generation of Italians who "did" national service and many an Italian musician of this generation will entertain over dinner with stories of his days as a carabinieri.


[Forum Admin - comment about different context of the time removed ]

The world has changed very fast . . . but Questa's music is immortal. So I have ordered the discs and will be thinking of the frogs and their wives wondering why their husbands weren't sexy that year.

[Forum Admin - comments about organ widows removed ]

Isn't there an organist anywhere who isn't obsessive about the instrument?

All for the love of the organ . . . !

Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 11:37:06 AM by organforumadmin »

David Pinnegar

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2011, 01:44:23 PM »
[Forum Admin - comment removed]

:-)

Giorgio Questa even used to sleep with his organ! :-)

Joking apart, he was so devoted to his art rather than promotion that he could refuse a concert in a prestigious place and prefer to do a concert in somewhere thought to be totally insignificant because he preferred the atmosphere. Apparently also, if he was asked to do a concert somewhere and was not allowed to sleep next to his organ at the venue, he would refuse the concert. The organ was part of his being and he could not be separated from it.

Perhaps this thread should be reentitled "Was Giorgio Questa the Maddest of Organists?"

The discs have just arrived in the post and the programme notes are fascinating. They show the organ as set up, with its packing cases in the background - nine of them, I suppose one for each rank of pipes.

All the pipes were wooden - even the very smallest - and must have been extraordinarily difficult to make and to voice. It had been constructed by 1968 when the music critic Leonardo Pinzauti, who contributed to the programme notes, first met him. As to his greatness, as a conductor he would stand in for Toscanini, Serafin, Gui and De Sabata at La Scala . . .

Upon hearing the recordings one is aware by reason of different levels of background noise that they derive from multiple sessions - so the recordings which he destroyed on account of the final owl hoot are not the ones to have surfaced for these CDs. I'm not sure that one should not turn up the level of treble on some of them . . . but nevertheless they are original recordings of an acknowledged master working philologically from original manuscripts working to meticulous detail and so are an invaluable guide to the music and its performance.

Apparently the reason for his stringing cassettes on lines across the room was that he did not like plastic. Accordingly all cassettes were contained in paper envelopes, each meticulously annotated with the content of the cassette and full timings, and strung up on near invisible string, probably fishing line. He built a house in the middle of a wood next to the lake which contained just two rooms which were apparently so full, including at least three grand pianos as well as his organ, that one could hardly get into them . . .

In due course I will try to post photos of Giorgio and the organ . . .

Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 11:37:30 AM by organforumadmin »
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ - "must buy" CD
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2011, 06:58:35 PM »
Hi!

Photos of Maestro Questa:



I note that since filling in more details about this mad genius musician, which are so extreme by any measure as to be hopefully both serious and entertaining, my "karma" rating has dropped two points. . .

It would be sociable for people who receive negative scores to know why . . . - the fact that Moderators of this forum haven't got away without negative points says either that they, and I, must be doing something wrong - or otherwise right by way of offering challenging views.

No doubt someone jealous of Maestro Questa's art, ingenuity and dedication to excellence will ascribe more negative points to me.

The CD set is an authoritative corpus of performance.

Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 11:39:09 AM by organforumadmin »
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2011, 02:40:41 AM »
The thread above had been extended beyond the original issues of Mad Organist into extraneous directions derogatory to the late Maestro Questa which were felt by a member to extend the thread unnecessarily and, on account of this, the posting raising the extraneous issue and subsequent responses have been removed.


Members tempted to make derogatory comments might find http://www.organmatters.com/index.php/topic,819.0.html of interest.



This thread continues from http://www.organmatters.com/index.php/topic,476.0.html inspired by stories of him:
Quote
Apocryphally he took his organ to a redundant church in the middle of a   wood by a lake to do a recording session. He was as obsessively   perfectionist about everything and he took great care in everything, the   quality of the equipment, the microphones etc . . .
The   recording session had a problem: the lake adjacent was home to frogs.   They croaked and croaked loudly. Of course this not only annoyed him but   ruined the recording. Apparently they croak particularly in spring to   attract mates. Accordingly, Giorgio went to the local chemist and   ordered a particularly large quantity of Potassium Bromide (reputedly used in tea for similar purposes by the British Army). Reputedly he   put it in the lake . . . and the frogs stopped croaking.

The   recording went well after that. Very well apparently . . . until the   very last note. Working late into the silence of the night he had not   banked on the final hazard - an owl hooted. Sadly on account of this he   destroyed the whole recording.


On another occasion, there is a   monastery near Genova where concerts are held in the summer, but it's   only accessible by boat . . . Giorgio was booked to play there and the   audience turned up . . . but there was a problem. Realising that his   precious organ would have to go on the boat, and that there was no other   way, he refused to allow the organ to be loaded onto the boat . . . in   case the boat was sunk by sharks.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2011, 12:26:07 PM by organforumadmin »

pcnd5584

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ - "must buy" CD
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2011, 11:20:44 PM »
...I note that since filling in more details about this mad genius musician, which are so extreme by any measure as to be hopefully both serious and entertaining, my "karma" rating has dropped two points. . .

It would be sociable for people who receive negative scores to know why . . . - the fact that Moderators of this forum haven't got away without negative points says either that they, and I, must be doing something wrong - or otherwise right by way of offering challenging views. ...

Best wishes

David P

I have also thought this - although I am fairly certain that I know the point of origin of my negative points. Consequently, I am not expecting an explanation any time soon....


Pierre Cochereau rocked, man

David Pinnegar

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ - "must buy" CD
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2011, 12:51:03 PM »


Hi!

This photograph is particularly interesting for it shows by the length of the pipes the extent to which unequal temperament may be built into the instrument . . .

Best wishes

David P
« Last Edit: July 31, 2011, 08:20:18 PM by David Pinnegar »
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Brian Daniels

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ and "must buy" CDs
« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2011, 01:02:10 PM »
David,

Without seeing close hand it is more likely that the irregular lengths are due to manufacturing issues as tuning variations of the kind experienced in various temperaments can be accommodated within the tolerance of the tuning device; particularly shading.

Regards.

Brian D.

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ and "must buy" CDs
« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2011, 01:45:14 PM »
Not only that the necessity in some cases of staggering the mouth height to prevent undesired interactions (especially with mixtures) may mean the dimension between the foot and chest will undoubtedly alter the appearance of the lengths at the top of the pipe...

Eric
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David Pinnegar

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ and "must buy" CDs
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2011, 03:33:21 PM »
Hi!

One should be careful about making any assumptions here as Giorgio was not one to suffer any sort of imperfection nor inaccuracy. All the pipes are wood, none of metal, and on first hand account, they would have been unglued and taken to pieces for adjustment and then reglued back together, painstakingly.

Another point of interest is the smallest ranks which do not appear to break back. In enquiring about the Italian pyramide de ripieno, I was told by non-Italian organ builders that the upper ranks broke back but these 26 and 29 ranks, from what we can see, don't appear to do so. A first hand account describes the instrument at times as almost ear splittingly piercing. The recordings are interestingly different to assess as a result but convey an atmosphere sublime.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Brian Daniels

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ and "must buy" CDs
« Reply #15 on: July 31, 2011, 03:58:43 PM »
For example the third pipe on the extreme left has its actual length appearing to be disproportionate with respect to its neighbours.
This can be for an obvious variety of reasons. It is quite impossible to deduce aspects of temperament by the appearance of the pipe heights however 'supreme' the maker may be. It is impossible to make a rank of pipes to critical exact lengths as we all know well.

BD

David Pinnegar

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ and "must buy" CDs
« Reply #16 on: July 31, 2011, 06:57:59 PM »
This can be for an obvious variety of reasons. It is quite impossible to deduce aspects of temperament by the appearance of the pipe heights however 'supreme' the maker may be. It is impossible to make a rank of pipes to critical exact lengths as we all know well.

When given the Sprague chamber organ for Hammerwood I had been very concerned to preserve any evidence of temperament. It needed repairs to the bellows and Paul Rayner Brown of Wood Brown very kindly restored them for me. Mentioning the issue of temperament he told me that he could recognise from the shape presented by a rank whether it had been built to equal or an unequal temperament. From first appearances it would seem from the photograph that he was right.

Of course it was this aspect of the permanence of tuning where pipes are built or cut to length that caused me to raise the alarm bells on the conversion of the Mander organ at Cranleigh to unequal temperament.

In due course I'll look at the photograph of the Questa instrument more closely for further clues or possibly if feasible post a higher resolution extract from the photo here.

Questa was perfectionist to the point of the ultimate obsessive.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Brian Daniels

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ and "must buy" CDs
« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2011, 07:27:56 PM »
Best of luck with that and it would be interesting to learn which temperament you think this one belongs to.
Unfortunately the laws of physics will outgun perfectionism every time.

BD

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ and "must buy" CDs
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2011, 08:43:14 PM »
Best of luck with that and it would be interesting to learn which temperament you think this one belongs to.
Unfortunately the laws of physics will outgun perfectionism every time.

Dear Brian

Of course. Uneven lengths may well result in uneven tuning  ;) I don't understand why anyone would take exception to such a statement . . .

It's difficult to observe from an indistinct small photo and I'm still assessing the recordings. An excellent excuse to take a trip to Genoa sometime . . . Piano untuning will probably take me there before long . . .

Pointing out the correlation of an unevenness in pipelengths with unequal tuning appeared to be a valid observation in the light of an experienced organ-builder's comment on such an issue in relation to an 1856 instrument which would have been likely to have been built in an unequal temperament before being "slidered".

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

David Pinnegar

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Re: Genius Maestro Giorgio Questa and his Organ - "must buy" CD
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2011, 06:19:47 PM »

This photograph is particularly interesting for it shows by the length of the pipes the extent to which unequal temperament may be built into the instrument . . .

I have just received first hand information that Giorgio Questa tuned his pianos himself and used unequal temperaments on his piano. This suggests that the uneven pipe lengths do actually indicate an instrument built to an unequal temperament.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

 


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