Author Topic: Organ masses  (Read 10020 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Organ masses
« Reply #60 on: October 23, 2018, 06:39:27 AM »

This recording by Richard Lester contains masses by three composers, but today I’m focusing only on the one by Andrea Gabrieli, the Missa de Beata Virgine, which is given in a liturgical performance comme il faut. The organ music is exceptional -  long pieces which are closely connected to the chant, IMO they really benefit from this sort of presentation. I don’t have the booklet. There’s a review on musicweb which says the organ is by Giovanni Pradella in Bergamo, but in fact a brochure from an organ festival in the city says it’s a restoration of a genuine renaissance instrument tuned 1/4 comma meantone, unless I’m misreading

This makes, along with Francesco Cera’s CD, two satisfying recordings of Andrea Gabrielli masses.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2018, 06:42:55 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Organ masses
« Reply #61 on: November 09, 2018, 06:42:23 AM »

Kei Koito plays the Nivers mass as if she thinks the music is more an object of cool headed aesthetic contemplation than an active force to move listeners. Up to now I’ve not found a way in, as it were.

Seeing this post again made me think of a comment that Benjamin Britten made

Quote from: Benjamin Britten on receiving the first Aspen Award, full text here
For a musical experience needs three human beings at least. It requires a composer, a performer, and a listener; and unless these three take part together there is no musical experience.

just because this time round I really enjoyed Kei Koito's performance of the Nivers mass, and I'm the only thing that could have changed. The austerity of it seemed to me very attractive, though it wouldn't be if you approach it with expectations of classicism or of music inspired by Frescobaldi. It's as if Nivers was born too late, his art in the mass at least is the art of the 17th century, not the 18th -- it reminds me of the way Egarr reads Froberger, or Goeke reads Titelouze, or Weir reads Roberday.

I think Nivers is a very fine composer, I would go even further than these comments of Willi Apel on this

Nivers is certainly not an extraordinary artistic personality, but he does not quite deserve the negative judgement applied to him by Pirro ("very mediocre") Frotscher ("hardly goes beyond mediocrity"), and others. Despite his obvious striving to please, he definitely keeps away from a too secular, song- or dance-like flavor, and though his pieces may no longer accord with today's ideas what is suitable for services, they nevertheless maintain dignity and a suitable posture. Quite apart from the question of suitability, most of them are interest* and quite attractive musically. Nivers avoids stereotyped turns or tiring repair tions, changes the length of the phrases, and occasionally inserts measures in 3/4 (as his contemporary Lully does). He writes lively melodies, gives sufficient consideration to the contrapuntal element, and last but not least observes a proper limitation of length. These features and others distinguish Nivers' organ pieces; it is regrettable that they can no longer be employed today.

Kei Koito on an excellent organ and excellently recorded, as always.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2018, 07:34:47 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Organ masses
« Reply #62 on: February 14, 2019, 05:28:13 AM »

The fundamentally anonymous organ here, an 18th century instrument originally, modified (but by no means disastrously) at Saorge in the Alpes Maritimes, is as impressive for its clarity and purity as the wonderful Antegnati organ that Francesco Cera used for his Andrea Gabrieli mass. In fact this recording by Muñoz has much in common with the Cera, both are very serious, both take their time, both are pretty well recorded (albeit the levels aren’t ideal, it’s a good workout for the subwoofers), and both are in my opinion rather satisfying. Despite a tendency on Muñoz’s part to treat the pulse like rails, to stay on the rails, this may well be the best Merulo mass recording I’ve heard - Muñoz seems to me a much more spiritual, more spacious, musician than Loreggian. I  haven’t yet heard the other Merulo recordings he made for Naxos, I’m looking forward to doing so.

The singing is vigorous, impressively so.

René Saorgin recorded a CD called Les Caractères de la Variation at Saorge, maybe the book has more info on the instrument, I don’t have the book.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 06:57:46 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Organ masses
« Reply #63 on: February 14, 2019, 10:26:01 PM »
Thanks for these posts. I will look into these at some point. I am drowning in music, so have suspended buying for a time. I was listening to the Francois Couperin masses (Marie-Claire Alain set) recently--while I'm writing a book actually. I can't decide which one I like better...
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Organ masses
« Reply #64 on: May 06, 2020, 09:26:21 AM »

Released in MArch, but I missed it

Grigny seen through the eyes of Deleuze  -- bliss! -- this is a recording made just for me. Having said that, what is said here seems totally vacuous

. . . The other aspect that seems to me to have been little addressed in
the end is Grigny’s relationship to time. As I see it, Grigny is one of
the first French composers to play with time at such a high degree
of mastery. Without recourse to Boulez’s vocabulary, inappropriate in this precise case, of ‘smooth time and space-time’, I am not far
from thinking that there is something of the same order in Nicolas
de Grigny. I have already spoken of the end of the Fugue à cinq from
the Gloria, but as an example it is sublime. Where does this unique
talent come from to dissolve form to this extent, letting time
evaporate like fumes from incense? Or, similarly, the ultimate Point
d’orgue sur les Grands Jeux (CD 2, tr. 24), which is hypnotizing in its
superposition of the immobile time of the two pedal notes and the
other, restless and headlong, of the keyboard formulas? I readily
confess my fascination for the Fugue à 5 from the Kyrie (CD 1, tr. 3) or
that of the Pange Lingua: this craft of merging from such a smooth
course of events, almost eternal or outside of a time frame, into a
scansion of motoric quavers, that cannot have left Bach indiferent
when he copied the Livre  . . . 

I have another disc with this organ, it is a goodie

Grigny writes for a large instrument from the end of the 17th century, in one of the largest cathedrals in the kingdom. His music
thus necessitates an instrument of considerable scope: the plein-jeu
should have an ample sonority, and the grand jeu may not be meagre, whilst the solo stops must be of a singing character and rich in
This is why I have chosen the organ in La Chaise-Dieu, a modern
organ by Michel Garnier (1995) . . .

Vellard knows what he is doing -- the whole project reminds me of that recording of music by Louis Marchand presented as a mass (Coudurier I think)

Finding the style and the timbre appropriate to the alternating of
plainchant with these monuments constituted by the hymns and
masses of Couperin or de Grigny is a true challenge.
At first sight, the forces that obtain here are unequal: on one side
a sumptuous, developed writing conveyed by the rich, colourful
sonoritiés of the French organ from the late 17th century, on the
other side simple plainchant melodies, brief, modal, sparsely ornamented, in a restricted ambitus.
One therefore needs to hit upon a timbral alloy – here four baritones and basses – that will yield a full, abundant sonority, rich in
harmonics, and an unfettered, flowing, well-honed vocality such as
may be heard in the organ’s récit movements . . .

and as in Coudurier's case, there is a kind of historical justification

Bringing together within a sole recording the Livre d’orgue by Grigny,
alternating with Nivers-inspired plainchant and four motets by
Lebègue, is not due to mere chance.
When Nicolas Lebègue welcomed to Paris the young Nicolas de
Grigny, born in Reims in 1672, the sixty-year-old was an acclaimed
composer and teacher, a famous harpsichordist and for more than
fifteen years had been ‘organist to the King’. He shared this charge
in the organ loft of the Royal Chapel with Thomelin, Buterne and
his friend Nivers, at whose wedding he was a witness.
History does not relate when Grigny moved to Paris; however, when
he was appointed organist at the Royal Abbey of Saint-Denis in
1693, he had probably spent several months already at his master’s
side. By then Lebègue had already published the full corpus of his
works; thus Grigny necessarily read his three livres d’orgue, his two
livres de clavecin and his collection of motets . . .
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