Author Topic: Organs that train our ears  (Read 23541 times)

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Pierre Lauwers

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Organs that train our ears
« on: December 24, 2011, 12:52:02 PM »
I have had one chance, that is, having be able to hear many ancient organs.
Among them, it is often the "little things", often not in a pristine state, that have
much to tell.
I believe the art of voicing emerged in Italy during the Renaissance period. There are ancient
organs there like this one (A Renaissance organ originally, but rebuilt during the baroque period)
that deserve a very carefully listening, despite its modest look:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N2OmQZkKU8&feature=share&noredirect=1

(It was restored recently. I might come later with off-tune, scary ones !)

Best wishes,
Pierre

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2011, 02:09:16 PM »
A 1927 Conacher that deserves quite carefull listening:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNKOXG4ucuI

A Gustav Heinze "Octopod" -nothing above 4'- pneumatic action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVkeM9LNxgM
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 02:12:55 PM by Pierre Lauwers »

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2011, 10:57:48 PM »
Organ by Carlo Marzoli, 1926:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPHQgKacrM0&feature=feedwll

The Ripieno of this little post-romantic gem should remember the ones who know Arthur Harrison's work
of something else.

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #3 on: December 25, 2011, 10:25:26 PM »
The foundations and Oboe of the last (Italian) organ sound very much like the little Cavaillé-Coll at Farnborough Abbey - most interesting! Such a full-blooded sound for a quite small organ, too.

The uploader of the Conacher video is a member of this forum - Rob, if you're reading this, any chance of getting a recording of the Conacher without ciphering?  ;)

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2011, 11:18:49 AM »
As I said, some surprises are to be expected here. Cyphers are, among others, things
that happen with organs when you visit them in Situ, and so it will be here.
The Marzoli organ, like a Cavaillé-Coll sometimes ? Well, the wind pressure is
54 milimètres throughout, thus about the half....


Here is another special case: We hear here à 8' Principale from the Domenico di Lorenzo da Lucca organ -1509 -1521 in the
Basilica SS Annunziata , Firenze:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUf2YhuurzA

Note how the speech presents a clear, precise articulation, paired with mellowness. This is something
unique.

Best wishes,
Pierre
« Last Edit: December 26, 2011, 11:23:34 AM by Pierre Lauwers »

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2011, 02:46:25 PM »
The next is one of my "pet" organs, the kind of which I traveled 700 kilometres for
on a Moped (Like Worcester, Aa-kerk Groningen, Saint-Maximin-la sainte Baume...),
and certainly the best I know for Bach.

The work is too-well known, but listen to this with the volume up, and enjoy the incredible colours,
with tierces round your head:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8A07eFGB-c

Joachim Wagner was even grandest than the other Wagner.....

It might now be interesting to compare those coulors with those here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQ-SzGu-OQk&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL


....more than 150 years later....
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 04:43:20 PM by Pierre Lauwers »

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2011, 04:18:41 PM »
What a wonderful organ! The performance begins much too fast for my liking but it's good otherwise. Meanwhile, after much trawling, I found a collection of pictures of the church on the Wikimedia Commons and noticed that there is a large first-floor loft on the North side of the chancel... knowing how the Germans are developing a taste for English Romantic organs, and seeing as we seem to be getting rid of them... hmm, wonder if they might be interested in acquiring the Charterhouse H&H? It'd make an interesting and useful foil to the J. Wagner organ...

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2011, 07:59:55 AM »
The Angermünde church would be quite richly equipped then ! Why not ?

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2011, 08:18:56 PM »
Another pilgrinage: The Trost organ of Grossgöttern, Thuringia.
Played by an excellent organist, and a good quality recording with it:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xblxas_cd-promo-helga-schauerte-integrale_music

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2012, 12:51:58 PM »
An absolute gem, but you must be prepared to listen to it like an organ you visist in Situ
in a forgotten area: the condition of the organ is bad, and the last tuning must have occured
some years ago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsGwuCJztNQ&feature=share

The organ was built 1904 by Wegenstein, an austrian builder who established himself
towards 1880 in Timisoara.

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2012, 10:13:18 PM »
Some days ago we talked about Mixtures, and corroborating ones.
Here is an example of a 16th century organ which exemplifies to the extreme
wath "corroborating" is all about. The blend is so achieved that the result is
nothing short of a wall of sound -a true chorus-:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MiLj-ySrgI&feature=autoplay&list=ULdzHibGRyNME&playnext=1

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2012, 07:49:00 AM »
A disturbing organ, a disturbing sound; had it been in the western part of Germany,
be sure it would have been demolished up to the last nail. But Fakt ist, this is what
J-S Bach had in his ears as a tone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44LT3A5x4qA

.....And to modern ears, it sounds off-tune, so that we need to re-educate ourselves
if we want to hear Bach in his true colors. Alternatively, we can imagine "Bach never
played organs he liked save while in the North" etc.

Best wishes,
Pierre

MusingMuso

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2012, 11:35:32 AM »
A disturbing organ, a disturbing sound; had it been in the western part of Germany,
be sure it would have been demolished up to the last nail. But Fakt ist, this is what
J-S Bach had in his ears as a tone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44LT3A5x4qA

.....And to modern ears, it sounds off-tune, so that we need to re-educate ourselves
if we want to hear Bach in his true colors. Alternatively, we can imagine "Bach never
played organs he liked save while in the North" etc.

Best wishes,
Pierre

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



J S Bach must have really hated this one then!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccwGb0_1R7A&feature=related


MM

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2012, 12:24:21 PM »
Not really, he was content to criticize its tonal finish.
But again: the Mixture of this organ are modern. And they do sound
strangely modern, with very little blend, as if you could draw them alone....

MusingMuso

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2012, 03:07:17 PM »
It sounds very good to me, but then, I'm only an organist who plays Bach's music.

MM

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2012, 07:08:59 AM »
It sounds very good to me, but then, I'm only an organist who plays Bach's music.

MM

Indeed it is "good", i.e. a beautiful organ that pleases our ears. This is one thing.
Here is an example of an excellent modern chorus up to Mixture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dl8Mpt8oJNA

This is a completely endorsed, recognized as a neo-classical job by its -excellent- builder,
Bernard Dargassies of France.
And we like it -myself included- as an art creation of our time. We like to hear Bach played
that way on that kind of organ.
But our taste is one thing, the reality is another one; no ancient organ ever sounded that way.
To our modern ears, they are rather rough, bizzarely tuned, incredibly colorfull, awkward, strangely
voiced and regulated. We need a training to be able to listen to them, like you cannot jump into
a 1913 Rolls-Royce without some help if you only drove modern cars previously.

We need first to forget about our habits, tastes and training. Listen and see like a child, our critical
sense set to "OFF"; enter another world, another logic. We see that "Mixtur", that "Scharff" knob
(whose orthograph may vary widely!); but what does stay behind it ? Something you do not expect,
this is the only thing you can take for granted.
And then the adventure starts, bringing you towards new horizons !

Best wishes,
Pierre

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2012, 11:39:28 AM »
Back to the reality !

A 1736 organ:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM77Wa2zXlU&feature=channel&list=UL

Traversflöte (open, 8'), Viola di Gamba, Gemshorn; those organs had all such things - the first
the neo-baroque period condemned-. And a little Principal chorus afterwards, in the next
video which follows. Expect nothing like in the previous post.

Best wishes,
Pierre

MusingMuso

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2012, 01:01:35 PM »


We need first to forget about our habits, tastes and training. Listen and see like a child, our critical
sense set to "OFF"; enter another world, another logic. We see that "Mixtur", that "Scharff" knob
(whose orthograph may vary widely!); but what does stay behind it ? Something you do not expect,
this is the only thing you can take for granted.
And then the adventure starts, bringing you towards new horizons !

Best wishes,
Pierre


It is the MUSIC which should train our ear; not organs.

The fact that Bach’s organ-music readily transcribes to the pedal harpsichord, the synthesiser (Moog), the Swingle Singers, Piano (eg: Busoni), Orchestra (Stokowski etc) and even the Bayern Accordian, furnishes us with a clue as to the nature of the music. It simply needs an instrument or combination of instruments which have a certain tonal integrity and vertical sonority, without need of special effects, specific colours or the musical equivalent to big guns. In a word; contrapuntal, or a dialogue among equals.

I can’t help but think that Trost was a bit of a lunatic, but that’s a personal view perhaps. What has yet to be revealed is what the organs Bach played regularly actually sounded like, and as we don’t know and never will, it’s a bit of a futile exercise.

Every organ is different, but the best share that sense of tonal integrity and vertical sonority, which we understand as “choruswork.”

I’ve heard excellent Bach played on many diverse instruments....Hull City Hall, the Bavokerk, Alkmaar, Zwolle, Groningen, Blackburn Cathedral, St Bart’s  Armley, Leeds Parish Church, Harvard (Busch Hall), the Walckers at Doesburg and Methuen (Boston, Mass), Hudderfield University....the list is large.

Some  of these organs pre-date Bach, others immediately post-date Bach; some are “classical” while others are more “romantic.” None of them lack choruswork, vitality, nobility  or musical integrity.

What I do know, is that when I hear an organ with hugely prominent tierces, fairly unattractive reeds, experimental labial stops and a chorus ensemble which just doesn’t work, it isn’t my ear which needs re-training. My ear knows only too well that the organ is the work of a tonal amateur.

Indeed, the Trost “experiment” cannot, I believe, be considered a success. It has all the unfortunate side-effects of an instrument built to provide specific novelty sounds, which finds a certain resonance in the master-works of Robert Hope-Jones, where tonal integrity was sacrificed on the altar of mismatched solo colours, extreme gravity and colossal basses.


Were I the organist at Walterhausen, I think I would have to install a very violent tremulant and a revolving statue of Marlene Dietrich; playing nothing but excerpts from Johnny Kander’s “Cabaret.”

MM

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2012, 09:39:24 PM »
I think we might probably have understood that you do not like Trost organs, dear MM.
It is your right !
But this kind of sound was not really Trost's experiment, as there are many others organs in Thuringia
that share precisely this style -by the way, did you notice the last one above was not a Trost ?-
So you like Bach's music, but not the organs he heard and played 99% of his life's time.
It is certainly not a problem, but it should be held in mind !
(Perhaps Bach would have liked Wurlitzers after all, who knows ?)

Best wishes,
Pierre

pcnd5584

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2012, 10:03:09 PM »
A disturbing organ, a disturbing sound; had it been in the western part of Germany,
be sure it would have been demolished up to the last nail. But Fakt ist, this is what
J-S Bach had in his ears as a tone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44LT3A5x4qA

.....And to modern ears, it sounds off-tune, so that we need to re-educate ourselves
if we want to hear Bach in his true colors. Alternatively, we can imagine "Bach never
played organs he liked save while in the North" etc.

Best wishes,
Pierre

I have to admit I did indeed find this disturbing. Not simply the tuning, temperament or the continuous tierces - but also the fact that the chorale melody was virtually indistinguishable. I am sorry, but I cannot believe that this was the sound which Bach had in mind when he wrote this piece.

I much prefer the recording from Nôtre-Dame de Paris, by Philippe  Léfébvre (and a third hand for the cantus firmus), recorded before the organ was rebuilt. It is a truly wonderful sound *. Personally, I do not think that this piece works with just one player - either the chorale tune (in the upper pedal part) is not prominent enough - or the lower pedal part is too prominent. Even with a pedal divide facility it would not wokr, since one would have to change the divide point in a number of places whilst playing.



* The counterpoint was played on the plenum with a gentle sub-unison rank, with the chorale being played in octaves on the Boisseau chamades, with the addition of a smaller chorus, including a high-pitched Cymbale. This description may appear odd, but the sound is both majestic and thrilling - and a world away from the confused reedy jangle of the recording above.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 10:28:33 PM by pcnd5584 »
Pierre Cochereau rocked, man

 


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