2 questions: bells and organ

Started by Ciel_Rouge, July 15, 2008, 02:51:58 PM

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Ciel_Rouge

I have gradually become familiar with the beauty and richness of typical symphonic instruments, however I am largely under-educated in the field of the organ. I would like to ask for some recommendations. I suppose one would instantly suggest Bach yet surprisingly enough some of his most "popular" pieces are not exactly to my liking - perhaps partly because of poor performance or sound quality of the things I have occasionally listened to. The one piece that I do like and one which sort of defines a part of my organ taste is BWV 549. I like it when the organ is filled with a distinct, dance-like melody. I also like it when dark, deeper tones are added but they have to be somewhat complex and original - the most frequent earth-shattering one-time push does not do the trick for me - I like it more when dark tones round up some high-register melody. I stumbled upon Schmidt and I guess I like him too. On the other hand, I do not like when the sound of larger pipes becomes sort of detached from the smaller pipes and turns into a kind of a random "rubbish". I suppose my taste would favor some early 20th century composers but I generally prefer complex, non-typical works. I am sure there are plenty of organ-fans out here who could suggest the best introductory pieces for an organ-novice like me.

Secondly, I discovered a strong preference for bells, especially "Die Pummerin" with its drone-like yet complex "background" sound. I suppose such bells are sometimes used in musical pieces as instruments. I recall Symponie Fantastique as such, but my preference does not have any regional bias - it may be bell-augmented sound from any part of the world. I am looking forward to your recommendations.

J.Z. Herrenberg

Quote from: James on July 15, 2008, 04:40:50 PM
And Messiaen; La Nativité du Seigneur & La Banquet Celeste performed by Jennifer Bate (great place to start)

Seconded. My first introduction to Messiaen's organ music.
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

pjme

#2
I think that you will enjoy the music of Jehan Alain ( brother of Marie Claire) . His "Litanies" has become a kind of "classic ", combining sheer joy and clever invention in a short but brazing work. Czech composer Petr Eben is another composer who wrote important organ works ( several solo works, two concerti, choral works with organ).
More adventurous are Maurizio Kagel's "Rrrrr" 8 ( very strange...)pieces for organ  . ( "Nightingales with a cold" is one of them).
Thierry Escaich is a French composer/organist. interesting compositions in an "accessible" style & language. He wrote two organconcerti, soloworks, religious/choral works and a fascinating piece for organ and piano : Choral's dream.

Many composers have been fascinated by the sound of bells - all through the ages!
listen to Janacek's "Taras Bulba" for a great combination of orchestra,organ and bells( in the last movement).
And, yes I had to look up "Die Pummerin" : Vienna's largest bell - the Stefansdom!




P.





pjme

#3
BTW, it isn't entirely clear to me, Ciel, what you are looking for? !
Orchestral works that use "Pummerin-like" bells?
Bells of that size are just too large to use in a concerthall... But churchbells in various sizes are used ( even if the composer indicated "tubular bells / campane etc) in the score :



Penderecki's symph. nr 7
Chostakovitch nr 11
Moussorgski/Ravel Pictures ( depending on the conductors choice),.... Prokofiev, Moussorgsky, Britten, Mahler,Hindemith , Boulez
Wagner's Parsifal bells have -even today- an interesting story : http://www.festspiele.de/bayreuth/nachrichten/news/30_1607/details_32.htm (alas, only German)

Bellplates are another possibility



Ciel_Rouge

pjme,

Thank you for a very interesting article. I can indeed read German as well and it was extremely inspiring. It turns out that Die Alte Pummerin at 22 tonnes and diameter of 3 meters with the H sound was actually smaller than the imaginary bell corresponding to Wagner's idea which would have to be 70 tonnes and 7 meters in diameter. I imagined the real bells would be substituted with other "inventions". However, certain pieces sung by Russian Orthodox Church monks contain introductory bell sounds - I would like to find out more about those as well. Also, they use many bells at a time pulled by different strings simultanously...

I also liked some of the modern organ pieces. However, they are still atonal (or whatever it is called - I am still a beginner after all) and what I meant were "melodies" like in BWV549, and perhaps also some darker shades etc. I suppose I would also enjoy other baroque composers and maybe some romantic ones, but I would like to ask for any directions towards those. The idea is that the sound of the organ stays organized and does not turn into a "sound salad". I suppose that would be my direction for enjoying organ music - thank you for the modern suggestions, I am however still completely clueless about baroque or romantic composers.

jochanaan

Try Poulenc's Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings.  The harmony is completely tonal, but Poulenc's approach is unique. :D (Too bad you don't like atonal music; I was going to recommend Varèse's Ecuatorial. ;D)
Imagination + discipline = creativity

Symphonien

I'm not very familiar with that much organ music, but György Ligeti's Volumina, and the Two Studies for Organ (Coulée and Harmonies) are fascinating pieces with some amazing sonorities, if you like that sort of thing.

pjme

Hi Ciel, it definitely is NOT Bach...but I loved every overblown & gloriously pompous minute of Strauss' Festliches Präludium  as performed at the First Night of the Proms! ( check the BBC)

Yet, I suppose a "leaner" music is what you are looking for. Try Frescobaldi , Buxtehude...Händel's organconcerti !

Peter

Joe Barron

If you are searching for bells, the one piece that comes immediately to mind is "From the Steeples and Mountains" by Charles Ives, a four-minute piece scored for bells and brass. The title says it all --- an evocation of church bells ringing among the mountains, heard from difference distances and directions. A majestic work.

prémont

Quote from: pjme on July 22, 2008, 09:57:19 AM

Yet, I suppose a "leaner" music is what you are looking for. Try Frescobaldi , Buxtehude...Händel's organconcerti !

I think Frescobaldis organ music (e.g. Fiori Musicali, many of the Toccatas from the first and second collection and the early Ricarcari) is too difficult to access for a newcomer. Some Spanish organ music (e.g. Cabanilles) might be better.
Any so-called free choice is only a choice between the available options.

pjme

Well, imagine a newcomer's first acquaintance with Ives' From the steeples and the mountains.....! :o or :D
I have a feeling that Ciel Rouge can find out for himself what appeals to him. Frescobaldi, Cabanilles,Schütz , Mahler, Janacek or Messiaen.....what a wealth, what treasures and strange ,wonderful soundworlds!

I hope Ciel will come back and let us know what he discovered!

Peter 0:)

Ciel_Rouge

Thank you for your concern, I am still around  ;D The Steeples were indeed not exactly my cup of tea. However, not because of me being a newcomer but rather regarding my yet to be developed appreciation of atonal music. Perhaps I have sometimes come close to it while listening to Holst and Sibelius, but I guess this is still a long way to go. I am also doing research on the composers you suggested and I believe it is sometimes the matter of finding the right piece as I dislike many of Bach's organ pieces but I also found a couple I like. It is also a matter of performance. I will keep on trying and keep you posted.

pjme

Music with bells I like  :) - a mixed bag of styles & historic periods...

Schlage doch, gewünschte Stunde
Cantata BWV 53
Funeral Cantata

Something of an oddity, the single movement cantata BWV 53 is now considered of uncertain provenance and it has been suggested that the work may be by G.M. Hoffman (thought also to be responsible for BWV 189). The work remains in Anhang II of the BWV (reserved for those works whose attribution is still uncertain). Listening to the cantata, some of its thematic material is suggestive of Bach but the accompanying bells would be unique amongst Bach's surviving output!

For a reference on this work, see Glöckner, Beiträge zur Bachfurschung, 8, p 55. The only recordings that I know of are those of Rene Jacob's on Harmonia Mundi HMT 790 1273 and Robin Blaze on Hyperion CDA 67079. Perhaps not worth a special detour but if you like the couplings (other solo cantatas by Bach in the former case and German baroque church music in the latter) this may swing you in favour.

Copyright © Simon Crouch, 1999.

Gordon Crosse : Oratorio/cantata "Changes" ( sopr.,bar,children's choir,mixed choir, orchestra).Available on the Lyrita Label.
Modern music ( written 1966) but not avant garde. Britten comes to mind. In the first part texts from bells are used and the orchestra glitters with tubular bells, glockenspiel and celesta.

Roy Harris : symphony nr 8 "San Francisco"
Maurice Ravel / Percy Grainger : La vallée des cloches for percussion ensemble
Benjamin Britten : Cantata academica ( sopr, alto, tenor bar.,pianosolo ,chorus & orch.) A festive paean to the city of Basle .The bells ring out in the finale.
R.V.Williams : symphony nr 8 ( last mov), cantata Hodie ( last mov)
Charles Ives : symphony nr 3 The camp meeting ( last movement) Very lovely and totaly different from 'From the steeples..."
Jennifer Higdon : Concerto for orchestra : first mov.
Maurice Ravel : the little -but totaly magical - prelude to l'Heure Espagnole
and much, much more....
P.



jochanaan

Quote from: Ciel_Rouge on August 06, 2008, 03:32:12 PM
...Perhaps I have sometimes come close to it while listening to Holst and Sibelius, but I guess this is still a long way to go...
Indeed.  Sibelius stays well within late-Romantic tonal bounds, and while Holst pushes the boundaries sometimes, he still uses traditional triadic harmonies for the most part.  Neither one of them produced anything like what Schoenberg or Webern or Varèse wrote.
Imagination + discipline = creativity

Ciel_Rouge

Continuing the subject of the organ and my way to appreciating atonal music, I learned today that Scriabin composed his Prometheus: The Poem of Fire for a so called colour organ. I listened to the piece on YouTube and I actually like it. I also like Le Banquet Celeste by Messiaen. How would you evaluate my progress in atonality? Is there any hope?

pjme

But there is always hope! Just continue and discover. Listen. Go to concerts -if you can - that is always the best way to "absorb" music. Don't forget to read.

Bonne chance!

Peter :)

jochanaan

Quote from: Ciel_Rouge on August 25, 2008, 11:14:40 AM
Continuing the subject of the organ and my way to appreciating atonal music, I learned today that Scriabin composed his Prometheus: The Poem of Fire for a so called colour organ. I listened to the piece on YouTube and I actually like it. I also like Le Banquet Celeste by Messiaen. How would you evaluate my progress in atonality? Is there any hope?
I don't know Le Banquet Celeste, but if it's like other Messian, it's pretty radical.  And Prometheus is definitely "advanced" harmony.  But neither piece is atonal by strict definitions, so you still have a way to go.  Still, I wouldn't worry.  A lot of fine, sensitive, intelligent music fans can't deal with full atonality. :)
Imagination + discipline = creativity

J.Z. Herrenberg

Quote from: jochanaan on August 25, 2008, 02:23:16 PM
I don't know Le Banquet Celeste, but if it's like other Messian, it's pretty radical.  And Prometheus is definitely "advanced" harmony.  But neither piece is atonal by strict definitions, so you still have a way to go.  Still, I wouldn't worry.  A lot of fine, sensitive, intelligent music fans can't deal with full atonality. :)

I am no Messiaen expert, but I happen to know Le Banquet Céleste and if I'm not mistaken it's an early work. Gorgeous harmonies.
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato