Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 358 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Paul and he writes:
“Thank you Vidas. That pedal harpsichord is 3 meters long and takes up a lot of my living room. How would you rate the "Fanfare" by Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens for difficulty? Thank you again for such quick responses. You provide much valuable information.
V: And you know Ausra it was my response to his question, I think he sent Dorian Toccata performed on the pedal harpsichord which is located in his living room. Very interesting instrument. I see if I dig up this video that he sent and put into the description of this conversation, into the transcript, so that people could click and watch. And this was Dorian Toccata for Halloween I think, he was dressed in a Halloween costume, maybe Dracula or something very scary, but it was actually very funny and in a good way funny so this is a 3 meters long pedal harpsichord.
A: Well I have a question. Do pedals take so much space?
V: Probably because the strings are double probably length, 16’ length.
A: But pedal itself.
V: Pedal itself, no, it’s just like a regular harpsichord.
A: Oh, OK, because I thought the pedal itself was 3 meters long and I thought how long legs should you have or how you had move on the bench in order to play such a pedal.
V: You know Dracula has long legs.
A: I know.
V: How long is your car, Imprezza?
A: I don’t know. I've never measured it.
V: Probably 5 meters or more.
A: So long? Maybe less.
V: Less, probably less.
A: I think less.
V: So it’s like a little bit longer than your car, imagine. That’s a long instrument but very fine instrument, I was impressed.
V: Maybe Paul can write the history of this instrument, how he got it, who built it, and his experiences with playing it.
A: Yes, I’m really looking forward to hearing it.
V: Because you know that might be an option for people who want an instrument at home. A lot of people are amazed with digital organs at home and their simulations virtual organs.
A: Now it’s a digital, yeah so…
V: Umm-hmm. So people play pedal clavichords, right? Some people play pipe organs with 2 stops like we do and Paul and others have pedal harpsichords. Why not? So he asks about Fanfare by Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens. It’s a very famous piece like a toccata and it is in that red method book that we have too.
V: One of the easier pieces but festive sounding pieces.
A: Yes, I think it’s very nice because of that. You don’t have to put so much into it but you get a nice result.
V: And it has lots of repetition.
A: We all need pieces like that in our repertoire list.
A: Just in order to be ready anytime.
V: And for people who don’t improvise, this is particularly useful because you can stop in many places of this fanfare.
A: True. In general I like Lemmens music because most of his pieces, he was known as organ teacher and he wrote a lot of repertoire for beginning organists and sometimes when I am talking about beginners and beginners’ repertoire we are thinking about really primitive sounding pieces but it’s not the case with Lemmens. I think his music is very musical and very nice.
V: His method books start with very easy trios like 4 or 8 measures long.
A: True, but they are beautiful. They are beautiful pieces actually.
V: But then they expand into complete etudes or other pieces.
A: I think it’s a real talent how to do things simple but beautiful at the same time. I think he was a real master of that.
V: You know one day I was practicing my pieces from the collection of Juozas Naujalis, he wrote trios and preludes and Priere and fughette. I’m playing Priere now and G Major Prelude, this will be part of my recital at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris next summer, so I was amazed started to say those trios, I never actually explored these pieces, they have three voices just like Lemmens trios have but they also are very, very beautiful, chromatic, maybe a little bit too much for beginners to start with because of intricate lines and length a little bit, longer than 8 measures to start with, but still once you get this kind of skill to play three lines maybe after two, three months you can actually easily tackle these tasks so Lemmens is like that too. Alright, and Paul asks how would we rate, what is the degree of difficulty of the Fanfare, beginner, basic level, intermediate level, advanced level, what’s your rating Ausra?
A: Maybe basic.
V: You read my mind.
A: Ha! That’s because I’m living with you for so many years and we have the same education.
V: Maybe that’s because I am living with you for that many years.
A: Of course.
V: For how many years?
A: Well, I believe for almost 22.
V: 22. For how many years are you playing the organ?
A: 24 probably.
V: Really? And we are living for 22 years.
A: Almost 22.
V: Umm. So that’s a long time, two decades.
A: Time to split up, don’t you think so?
V: I think every marriage has some weak points every seven years so we had ours after 7, 14, and 21 years, now it’s a golden age. (Laughs.)
A: I don’t remember all those times, so…
V: So everything is fine now.
A: Yes, as always.
V: Seven more years, or six. OK guys, that’s about Lemmens. It’s interesting what other pieces would you recommend to play to Paul if he can play basic level Fanfare by Lemmens.
A: I don’t know what his wishes are and what he is inclined to play.
V: On the pedal harpsichord at home.
A: Well if he is good at playing Dorian Toccata which I think is quite advanced piece…
V: He is good. It is more advanced than Fanfare by Lemmens.
A: Definitely by no means, it’s more advanced piece, so he could do any other piece by Bach.
V: Maybe Dorian Fugue.
A: Yes that would be a good step. It’s always harder to play fugues than toccatas.
V: It’s so canonic and polyphonic, it takes a lot of time and I think Jeremy from our team of transcribers and also who is on the Total Organist, he plays Dorian Toccata right now and Fugue and he always at the end of the day describes his progress with his organ playing activities and other activities that he does on BaseCamp and it’s very interesting to observe how he progresses because at first he couldn’t play the toccata, now he can even play the fugue a little bit slower than normal but he advances and each day his skill increases. That’s the beauty of communication on BaseCamp.
A: That’s wonderful. I just thought about C Major Toccata by J. S. Bach. I think it might be fine for Paul to play on his pedal harpsichord because it has that long and nice pedal solo.
V: Oh yeah. You mean the Toccata, Adagio, and Fugue.
A: That’s right so I’m meaning toccata right now but of course if it’s a little bit too hard he could work on Adagio, it’s a beautiful piece.
V: F Major Toccata probably a bit too difficult?
A: Mmm. Yes, probably too.
V: But if he can play Dorian Toccata I don’t see particular difficulty of mastering F Major too, in time, not right now, but maybe in a few months.
A: Yes, but if he would start to work on F Major Toccata then I would say he has to start playing cadences first in that particular case because they are quite tricky.
V: And also trio sections.
A: That’s right.
V: Wonderful. So if Paul is listening please write to us what other pieces would you like to learn or not only pieces but maybe categories of music maybe, styles of music, romantic, baroque, maybe schools of musical compositions, which country you are interested in, maybe which composer, and we can provide some feedback from our own experience of course. OK, thank you guys, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: 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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