Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start episode 446 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. And this question was sent by John. He writes:
“Hi Vidas and Ausra,
How are you today? Soon I would like to start learning Noel X by Daquin as we discussed a few months ago. Could you please give some guidance and teaching on these points?
How to play the French trills in this piece? Please spell out exactly what notes to play.
When to play pedals, and do you double the left hand in this case?
How to play the fast arpeggios in the left hand accurately especially on page 4?
What registration would you use on a small two manual English style organ?
I hope if I start learning soon then I can have it ready by Christmas this year! I really enjoy listening to you play this piece in your Christmas Concert at St Johns I think in 2016. I have read your podcast SOPP346 which has some great advice!
I hope you have a great day!
Take care, God bless,
V: So, John starts his question by asking how are we today. How are you today, Ausra?
A: I’m fine.
V: What does it mean?
A: It means that I am fine.
V: Excellent. And how am I today?
A: I don’t know.
V: So ask me!
A: How are you today?
V: I am excellent, today. And do you know why?
A: I know why, but I don’t think everybody would have to know why!
V: Because, I played two concerts this week. One was on, I think, Wednesday, for a group of Canadian tourists, and I also played, yesterday evening, part of the concert together with the Finnish choir in our church. I supplied two improvisations for them.
A: And you will play tomorrow in Kėdainiai.
V: Yes. Kėdainiai is, basically, right in the center of Lithuania. Medium sized town, which has at least two churches, and two historical organs. And I will be playing organ improvisations as part of the opening of the exhibition of one of the most famous painters in Lithuania. Aloyzas Stasiulevičius is his name. So anyway, John is working on Noel X by Daquin, and is wondering about the French trills. Ok? What is the main feature of French trills? How do you start? From the main note, or from the upper note?
A: If we are talking about trills, then you start on the upper note. If we are talking about mordents, then you start on the main note and play with the lower note. Basically, the same rules apply for French Baroque music as for J. S. Bach. I think we have talked about it a number of times, that Bach played his ornaments according to French tradition. Don’t you agree?
V: Of course. Yes. Obviously. Obviously, French trills need to be played most of the time from the upper note, and in this piece, yes, we have so many French trills, and I think that we can discuss a little bit of mordents, too, because there are some mordents playing on the main note, but then adding the lower note, and coming back to the main note. So, let’s say on page 4, the first measure is the mordent on the note C. So, I wrote C-B-C with 2-1-2. Or in the second line, second system of that same page and second measure is the note E with mordent, so E-D-E, 3-2-3. You see? But there are trills, like in the third system on that page, so this means we play from the upper note.
A: That’s right.
V: It’s written on the note A, so we start from the note B. B-A-B-A. Probably 4 notes.
A: And for a place like this, actually, you could do even a double trill, longer. That’s like in the D minor Toccata, for example, some organists play only one repercussion, but some do two repercussions.
V: There is an interesting trill on the same page where both hands have to play a trill for more than two measures.
A: How would you play it? Would you play it exactly rhythmically?
A: I thought so. I also wouldn’t play it rhythmically, so how would you play it?
V: Well, before we play the trill, I have to tell a little bit what’s happening before that trill, right? Before the trill, we have at least one measure of both hands playing in parallel thirds right here, and even a half measure before. So, in 16th notes, it’s a fast passage. Basically, it’s a diminution on the minor and major third. The left hand plays from the beginning of that measure B, and the right hand plays D. Right? So the hands move up and down in parallel thirds. And then in the next measure it lands on the same minor third, B-D. But it’s a long trill. And I’m wondering whether we should play it from the upper note or not, because the trill actually starts a half measure before: D-E-D-E-D-E-D-E
A: So you have to just continue and accelerate the tempo
V: Absolutely. Yes, starting from the…..
A: And then of course slow down at the end of it.
V: Starting from the main note, I think, in this case,
A: Yes, in this case yes!
V: because it’s a continuation of the same trill, which was spelled out a half measure before, and then you have to accelerate, as Ausra says, and then slow down. How would this make sense? Okay…
A: But the best thing, I think, is to listen to recordings of this.
V: Obviously yeah. If John listened to our rec...to my recording…. Haha, I said “to our recording,” as a duet, it would be funny. I would play the right hand and you would play the left hand!
A: Yes, very tricky!
[This conversation continues in the next podcast episode. Stay tuned...]
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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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