Have you been in a situation when your chosen registration doesn't have a good balance between the parts when you play on different manuals?
This morning I and Ausra went to practice on the organ at the M.K. Ciurlionis National School of Art where we will participate in a concert of musician families next Friday. We will be performing Adagio by Beethoven for organ with four hands. Ausra took the Secondo Part (the bass) and I played the Primo Part (the treble).
This organ has 10 stops on two manuals and pedals with Flute 8', Octave 4', and Mixture on the 1st manual, and Flutes 8' and 4', Principal 2', Fifth 1 1/3', and Krummhorn 8' on the 2nd manual and Flutes 16' and 8' on the pedals.
Adagio by Beethoven is a sweet, gentle, and slow piece. Here's what we tried:
1. We started with both manuals coupled and used Flutes 8' and 4' on the 2nd manual (Secondo) and Flute 8' on the 1st manual (Primo). This proved to be not enough gravity for Secondo. But in general it might work, if we couldn't find any other solutions which would be more convincing.
2. Then we switched manuals but now the Primo was too weak.
3. Then we added the Octave 4' on the 1st manual (Primo on the 1st and Secondo on the 2nd). Now the Primo was too loud.
4. Then we removed the manual coupler. Still the Primo was too loud.
5. Then I played the left hand of the Primo part on the second manual and everything else on the 1st manual. It was a little better.
6. Then we tried this registration: Primo: Flute 4' and Principal 2' played one octave lower on the 2nd manual. Secondo: Flute 8' and Octave 4' on the 1st manual. Manuals were uncoupled. This version was quite convincing.
7. Finally, we decided to add Flute 8' to the mix on the 2nd manual and still play one octave lower the Secondo part. Keeping in mind that the concert hall will probably be full of listeners on the concert day, this additional boost in gravity will be the best choice.
In church acoustics we usually would play this piece with some kind of combination of 8' stops on two manuals. But here in a very dry space we wanted a fuller sound.
So if you are in a situation like we were this morning, you can try quite a few options (some of them not so obvious right away) in order to find the right balance for your piece. As you can see, sometimes it takes a little more time to make the best of the otherwise not-so colorful organ.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.