Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start Episode 182, of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. This question was sent by Robert. He writes:
Hello from America (Illinois). My name is Robert and I am learning Clerambault - Basse et Dessus de Trompette. I am using Trumpet for the Basse (Swell) and a Cornet for the Dessus (Choir) against Soft Stops on the Great. A few questions: How fast do you play this? I listened to a few recordings and it was sometimes played so fast that it was un-musical. At the end, it has a marking "Ensemble" what does this mean? Do you couple the Swell and Choir to the Great and finish with both hands on The Great? Or, are there other options?
Thanks so much for your work.
V: Excellent. So this was a question about Clerambault. We’re looking now at the score, and this piece is from the first Organ Book by Clerambault, 1st Suite, and it’s called Basse et Dessus de Trompette ou de Cornet Separe (forgive my French) En Dialogue, basically in dialogue. So what does it mean, Ausra, in dialogue?
A: It means that the trumpet is dialoguing, with the cornet.
V: Right. Sometimes solo is for the left hand of the trumpet, sometimes the right hand plays with the cornier.
A: Yes. Actually it’s very common, you know, writing style in French.
V: Mmm, hmm.
A: This type of composition when you have the dialogue between two reeds played on two different manuals.
V: But not reed because cornet is,
A: Yes, yes, but, but,
V: It reminds of reed.
A: It reminds of the reeds. Yes, cornier is a combination of principle stops.
V: Or Flutes.
A: Or Flutes of various pitch.
V: Which ones? 8’
A: 8’, 4’,
V: 3’ first, a fifth, right?
A: 2 & 2/3
V: And then, 2’ as you say, and then a tierce.
A: That’s right.
V: So five ranks—cornet.
A: And sometimes you have to, you know, just add a single stop because you have a cornier already in your organ. But sometimes if you don’t have a cornet stop, you have to, make it from different stops.
V: Right. So in your case, if you have an organ with cornier stop, you can easily use it, right? But if you don’t you can combine different flutes.
V: Make it from the flute combination.
V: Here the meter is 6/8, right? And the moving, the main, uh, unit of smallest rhythmical value is 16th note.
A: 16th note.
V: So it’s quite a lively piece.
A: Yes. But you know as Robert said, where he listened to some recordings that played very fast and he didn’t like it, so I don’t think it should be so fast that you could not hear what is going on. You still has to be able to control things, and to hear what you are doing. I would think that, you know, tempo mark Gayement is not only the indication of a fast tempo but it’s more like a character mark. So as long, you know, as you playing it joyfully, I think it’s, it’s fine.
V: It doesn’t have to be,
V: Presto, prestissimo.
V: Mmm, hmm.
A: Of course it should it should be not a slow tempo, fast tempo, but still not, you know, sort of in a reasonable sense.
V: Sometimes the trumpets, French trumpets are very very strong in the bass. And that’s why they have dialogue in the bass for the left hand in the trumpet, on the trumpet stop. But some organs from the modern day, they have more power in the treble.
A: That’s true.
V: Can, can we adapt, somehow to reinforce the, the bass stop?
A: Well maybe you could add something to the trumpet. That’s a possibility but you need to be careful and listen how it sounds.
V: Mmm, hmm.
A: But also you know, talking about tempo again; you have to be able to, you know, to articulate. I think it’s very important when you are playing on the reeds, that you would keep articulating.
V: Actually, yeah. That’s a good idea. It doesn’t say anything about articulation. Even though we’re looking at the score from the 19th century from the Guilmant edition. And were he was quite honest about his work and he didn’t have any, or two many unnecessary additions of his own, right? And at least he wrote them in parenthesis, with asterisks, and you can read about that. His registrations suggestions for example. You know clearly that it’s not original from Clerambault’s time but from Guilmant’s mind, right? All those manual indications are in parenthesis too. So he didn’t write legato anyway, slurs, which is nice.
A: Yes. Very nice.
V: Even though it was in 19th Century. We could say in Germany, like maybe beginning of the 20th Century Karl Straube would write everything with legato, right? Even though Baroque chorales, and now days if you play from that score you could think ‘oh maybe baroque composers wrote legato slurs’, right? If you are not reading carefully.
A: Well, Straube allowed himself lots of things, you know. He always dictated Max Reger how he should write. And kept editing his work.
V: True. So at the end of this piece, one, two three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, maybe, yeah, the last couple of lines, the last episode, is written ensemble. And Robert is asking what does it mean. It simply means, Ausra, what?
A: Yes, actually, here is that spot where, you know, trumpet and cornier comes together. So don’t play those two voices on one manual. You still have to keep manuals separate.
V: Do you mean that you need the three manual organ for that? For that piece?
A: Well, it would be the easiest way to play it, on the three manuals.
V: Unless you have an assistant who can change from flutes, soft flutes to cornier.
V: Or to the trumpet.
A: Otherwise you would have to, you know, play it on a three manual organ.
V: Mmm, hmm. I don’t know if Robert has three manual or two manual instrument.
A: But even if you have two manual instrument, if you have pistons, you can registrate it yourself.
V: Let’s see, well yes, because every change of the C to, of the cornier to the trumpet, is marked by the cadence, by the stop of the texture, so you could at this moment press the piston.
A: Yes, but that last episode, it just means that you know, you have trumpet in one hand and cornier in another hand. And you play them on different manuals.
V: And since cornier was a descant stop, it wouldn’t play in the bass register. You have to play it with the right hand, basically.
A: Yes, and that’s how it’s written in the score.
V: Mmm, hmm. Excellent! We hope this is useful to you, guys. This is fantastic piece to learn, if you have never played Clerambault, right?
A: Or any French classical music.
V: Mmm, hmm. Like Couperin, De Grigny, Raison, Dumage I could keep going with the names but my French isn’t good.
A: But it seems that you enjoy it.
V: Yeah. I like listening to my voice. (Laughs).
A: I hope our listeners too, like your voice.
V: If the don’t they could just read the transcriptions.
V: Excellent! Please send us more of your questions. We love reading about your organ practice experiences of any kind, funny, frustrating, challenging, so we could help you, right Ausra?
A: Yes, that’s right.
V: Okay, guys. Don’t forget to practice, now. And we’re going to play today in the church, our duets too. Because when you practice…
A: Miracles happen!
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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