This is the continuation of SOPP446.
Vidas: So anyway, let’s take a look at the remaining of the question—when to play pedals—right?
Ausra: Is it necessary to add pedals?
A: What do you think about it?
V: No. Especially on English organs—they don’t have much pedal stops I think.
A: Because I don’t think that Noel’s were intended for to be played with pedals too.
V: Well maybe…
A: Maybe sometimes at the end of cadences.
V: When you play the Grand Jeux right? It’s actually in parenthesis. The Guilmant edition has in parenthesis, pedal sign. So whenever you have large chords, you could add, but it’s…
A: It’s optional.
V: It’s optional, completely optional, because sometimes the chords are not in four voices but in three voices. And if you play the pedals instead of the left hand, then what do you do with the left hand?
A: Well, would you double it?
V: Yeah probably double. And sometimes even one octave lower, I would think, if you need more gravity. That’s how I would do it. Fast arpeggios is a problem in this Noel, right Ausra?
V: It doesn’t start fast, because it starts with chords, but it gradually speeds up. At first in quarter notes, then in eighth notes, then in triplets, and then in sixteenth notes.
A: That’s what happens in most of the these variations, especially in the baroque variations, that you start with slower note values then everything becomes quite fast.
A: Because of smaller note values. We can see this since the time of Sweelinck.
A: So basically what you actually have to do with playing piece like this [is] you have to choose your tempo wisely. So you need basically to see what can you, how fast can you play in the hardest spot of the piece and accordingly that spot you need to pick up the opening tempo.
V: Mmm-hmm. I think the left hand makes big trouble with those arpeggios, and, well, you have to improve you left hand technique then.
V: Maybe try our left hand training course.
A: And it’s very useful to play piece like Noel on the piano. I think it might help a lot. Because obviously, it’s well suited for piano, for developing organ technique, especially in the spots like this.
V: Trying to speed up the tempo is a good idea to start in very small fragments. Basically stopping every two notes, then every four notes, every eight notes—talking about the left hand.
A: Yes, and the trouble with the spot like this is that some of the people would simply play it very mechanically like an etude. And I don’t think that’s right attitude. Because some of those notes in the left hand are more important than others, and you really need to find what the melody is telling you to do. Because not each of those notes is equally important.
A: And you need to shape it like that.
V: Right. So in this Noel, John is also wondering about the registration on English organs. And the main idea is sometimes those big chords to be played with the Grand Orgue registration, and variations in two parts to be played sometimes in Cornier registration and also in Krummhorn registration. English organs don’t necessarily have those stops…
A: But do they have some reeds?
V: Some reeds and some Cornet sounds would be possible to find. For example, obviously if you need Cornet, you could collect flutes of 8, 4, 2, 2 2/3 and 1 3/5. That would be a Cornet. If you need a Krummhorn, but English sound would not maybe have, but maybe have Clarinet, right?
A: That might work, yes.
V: It depends on what you have. If you don’t have Clarinet at all, if you don’t have reeds at all, it might be the case too. Well, what to do then. What would you do?
A: Well, now I’m wondering if it’s worth playing piece that if you could not reproduce registration that can warrant it. But I think that even registration of flute and principles would work nicely for this kind of music.
V: Yes. Imagine playing this variation on our piano at home. Wouldn’t it be nice! It would sound nice. Even though our piano is out of tune.
A: Well it would sound obviously different, but…
V: Yeah, it would be a different piece. So if you are transferring to a different type of organ, it would sound differently. That’s okay I believe.
A: True. Except that I’m thinking what about voicing, when you have such a fast running notes in the left hand. Because some organs are just scaled in such a way that left hand is not audible so clearly.
V: True! True, true, true! They’re not suited for fast passages. So maybe use higher pitched principles—maybe 4’ principle.
A: That’s what I thought about a spot like this. And again, if we are talking that fast arpeggios, you really need to lean down on the strong beats of the places like this because otherwise you might lose the control. And leaning on the strong beat might help to control yourself better.
V: Excellent! So we hope this conversation was useful, not only to John but to anyone who wants to try something French for Christmas next year. And this is, this piece has some tricky passages. It’s a wise idea to start earlier.
A: True. And to start learning from those hard spots.
V: Exactly. Not from the beginning but from the fast running passages. Alright guys, we hope this is, this conversation will spark a new set of questions from you. We always love helping you grow, so keep sending us your feedback. And also John finishes his question by saying, ‘I hope you have a great day!’ So what are we doing today, Ausra?
A: We are going to Ikea.
V: Ikea, right. And we are buying there?
A: A bed, but I don’t think you are going to care because of the bed. You are going because of the Swedish meatballs.
V: Yes! Whenever we go to Ikea, I always imagine I would be eating Swedish meatballs. (Laughs.) I hope they will have it today. Alright, guys, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: I think today we also, later, after we get back, we will practice organ duets for our upcoming organ recital in Denmark this summer. So, I also hope that you can practice some organ music today. Because when you practice…
V: 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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