Just a quick reminder about the poll we are having where we would like to know your opinion about our new Secrets of Organ Playing Contest. If you haven't voted, please do so by the end of this week in this post.
Also we'd like to congratulations to Nancy and Lev who recently took advantage of 50% Christmas discount of Total Organist. We're sure they will advance faster in organ playing than on their own!
And now let's go to the podcast for today.
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 362 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent sent by John, and he writes:
I'm lucky that a former pupil will be playing organ voluntaries for me (i) at Midnight Mass (Widor - Toccata) and (ii) at the Carol Service (Joie et clarite - Messiaen). He's just 17 and has won a place at Chetham's school of music in Manchester.
I shall re-learn Dupre's Prelude and Fugue in B major in the New Year. I studied it during my student days, but as you know, it needs constant performance to keep it up to scratch. An enlightened wedding couple have asked me for Mullet's Carillon-Sortie later in the year.
A project for 2019 will be to write some short pieces for manuals only as a homage to Vierne's 24 Pieces. I adore Vierne's music and think him a much better composer than Widor. I am at present writing a S. John Passion for a village choir to sing - simple chorus parts, but a good [tricky] evangelist solo line.
I shall also learn later in 2019 Bach's "Komm Gott" fantasia, a piece I have never played and hopefully it will be ready for Pentecost.
I'll send you the church Spring term's music list when it is finally drafted.
Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year,
V: So, Ausra, John is quite advanced in organ playing and also probably in composition, if he is composing Saint John’s passion.
A: Definitely, he’s very advanced, because the pieces he mentioned that on his list are really difficult to play.
V: One thing that I found interesting is Dupré’s “Prelude and Fugue in B major”, and he will be planning to relearn it in this new year!
A: It will take some time! I remember I did that piece; It’s not an easy piece—especially the fugue. The prelude is quite comfortable, but the fugue, you have to put some effort into it, because the subject, the theme of this fugue has quite wide leaps and a very fast tempo, and to play it all legato, it’s quite a challenge.
V: Mhm. I also played this piece many years ago.
A: Did you?
V: As a student, I think.
A: No, I don’t think you did.
V: I think I played all three of them.
A: Really? When? Was it in the United States? Because, I cannot remember you playing any of these pieces.
V: Maybe I was dreaming about them.
A: Maybe you are getting old, because I know that I have played B major in the Academy of Music.
V: Maybe you are getting old!
A: During my first year of masters studies.
V: Maybe I played it with Pamela, no?
A: All three of them? But how come I don’t remember it at all?
V: You were focused on other pieces?
A: I don’t think so.
V: What were you playing with Pamela?
A: For my recital?
A: Bach’s “C major Toccata”, “Adagio and Fugue”, then Reger’s “Fantasie 135B” (“Fantasie and Fugue,” of course), then I did Franck’s “B minor Chorale”, and a piece called “Walpurgisnacht,” from Petr Eben’s “Faust.”
V: “Walpurgis Night,” right?
V: So, you see, maybe you were so focused on your repertoire that you didn’t pay attention to what I was playing! Is that possible?
A: I don’t think so, because at that time, you, I believe, played Reger’s “Ein’ Feste Burg.” I don’t think it would be suited to play together with Dupré’s “Three Preludes.”
V: But, I think I played them all.
A: Maybe you did, I don’t know.
A: Not in a life with me!
V: In another life!
V: Interesting. I remember those Carillon sounds in B major prelude by Dupré.
A: It was beautiful when I played it. I just felt that I’m standing in front of Notre Dame de Paris. Somehow this piece reminded me of this place.
V: But you didn’t choose this piece for your Notre Dame recital.
A: Maybe we wouldn’t have picked it anyway, so...
V: Yeah, as you say, Fugue is more advanced. The theme is sort of tricky to handle in the pedals. Or not?
A: Yes, it is, and that is what I was talking about.
V: Mhm.. Dupré knew how to write fugues, I think, very well.
A: And somehow, I don’t know… everybody says that third one, “Prelude and Fugue” is the hardest one.
V: “G minor”?
A: Yes. But then, I sight read it, I found that B major is harder.
V: Maybe because of the tempo!
A: Because of the Fugue.
V: Maybe because of the tempo, “G minor” seems very virtuosic. And then the fugue expands into maybe a scherzo like motion towards the end. Maybe that’s what frightens people.
A: True, but as we once heard in the Oberlin Conference, where one lady performed all three of them…
V: All three of them! We will not mention her name….
A: And she switched the B major and G minor places, so she played G minor first, and she left the B major for the end, and she screwed up totally in the B major one. Although, the entire performance was quite sloppy.
V: And she was apologizing before even playing!
A: Before playing, yes. So, I guess if you are not ready and something is wrong, you’d better cancel your recital.
V: We heard also a very very sloppy performance of Bach’s Klavier Übung part 3.
A: That’s right.
V: Also will not mention who played it, out of respect.
A: But these were high professionals, and they have played them extremely well before, so…
V: They are internationally renown organ players. Virtuosos.
A: So I guess if you are not ready, you just need to cancel.
V: Another thing that stuck from John’s message is that an enlightened wedding couple asked him to perform Mulet’s “Carillon Sortie” later in the year…. Do you know if any weddings that are played when a wedding couple would ask such a piece besides Widor Toccata…. Widor Tocatta is possible, right? But in Lithuania, it’s not even probably known very well. But “Carillon” by Henry Mulet would be even very remote choice.
A: Oh yes! But it shows that that couple really knows things about organ music, about organ repertoire, so….
V: I hope that John will enjoy this piece a lot.
A: But I wonder how much they are willing to pay for him to do this piece, too, because probably it’s not something that’s very common in every organists repertoire.
V: But once he learns it, he can play it for recitals in another occasion.
A: That’s true.
V: Re-purpose. Recycle. He says that he likes Vierne’s music better than Widor’s. Do you agree…
A: Well, actually, he formulates that…. In a different question, he thinks that Vierne is a better composer than Widor. And personally, I like Vierne’s music much better, but I would never say that Vierne is a better composer than Widor, because who are we that we would say such a thing?
V: It’s difficult to judge, right?
A: Yes, you just can say based on your personal taste that you prefer one composer’s music and not another’s, because they are very different, and I like Vierne much better, and I wanted to find out, to understand, why I prefer Vierne above Widor, and I realized that Vierne’s forms of musical compositions are very classical and easy to understand. And that’s why, probably, he’s my favorite.
V: But on the other hand, the forms of Widor sort of are much more free and flexible and spontaneous. Doesn’t it mean that he was more creative than Vierne?
A: Well, it’s hard to tell.
V: From that point of view. Not looking at the harmonies. Probably the harmonies are stronger.
A: Vierne’s harmonies are much more complex and much more complicated, and really, much more advanced than Widor’s.
V: True. Well, I guess it’s a personal preference of people, right?
A: But anyway, I think they were both great composers and left a significant input for the organ world.
V: And one would not exist without the other, probably.
A: I think so, yes, because somehow they are always mentioned together, of course, because they both wrote organ symphonies.
V: Right. So, let’s wish John a great new year, and a very creative and passionate new year, that he would continue to create and work on his projects and wish him success.
V: And everyone else, please send us more of your questions; we love helping you grow. And remember, 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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