Listen to a Buxtehude Prelude

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 14, 2004.

  1. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Go to the page and select the highest quality download.

    Here.

    Surf the site - it is very interesting for whoever wishes to know about organs.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 14, 2004
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  2. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Well, I forgot to ask for some feedback... Nice, odd, ugly, impressive, and so on.

    I ought to have inserted a poll, but I never did it before and now it seems to be too late.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 15, 2004
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  3. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    Probably just my bad connection but I get always 'net resource not available' when I try the link. I listened to a recording of this piece that I have. I'd say it is more of a technical exercise than a mature piece of art.
     
    bat, Mar 17, 2004
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  4. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Works fine with me.

    And, Bat, no it is not a technical exercise - moreover, that's quite mature Buxtehude. I wonder what kind of interpretation you've got at home.

    The structure is typical Buxtehude: A Plenum Prelude. then a fugue; a short interlude; a second fugue on the same theme but rythmically modified and 'strengthneded and after that the postlude, now with the full plenum.

    One reason I provided this link is that the registrations are given, and in this kind of acoustic you listen to them perfectely.

    The interpretation is not superlative, but it is rather good (the organist gets into a little trouble playing when actually pulling the registers - something which would be done by someone elese in Buxtehude'd day - but otherwise, he is rather correct and straightforward).

    Buxtehude is hard to understand. It is much more baroque than Bach, his gestures are more dramatic, much more rhetoric, and one must manage to convey that without bad taste and exaggeration.

    It is rather hard to play, not in the sense that BAch is hard - the problem with Bach is that there are so many notes and you must find a correct tactus and more or less stick to it. Buxtehude allows the interpreter much more freedom, but the fingering is very difficult (a hand and pedal technique based on Bach has difficulty mastering it) and there are places where you just have to memorize whole parts in terms of finger memory.

    I would say that if this prelude seems a technical exercise, it is very badly played indeed. With Buxtehude (indeed, with all composers, but in Buxtehude that is particularly true) you have to master the technique and concentrate on the gesture. It is grandiloquent, baroque, heroic, tragic, eerie and so on. All that cannot be conveyed if one is struggling with the notes or just reading them without agogics and a firm understanding of the relatedness of every part to the whole.

    It is hard to like but chiefly very hard to interpret well. I guess this is the case of the version you listened to.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2004
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 17, 2004
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  5. Rodrigo de Sá

    GrahamN

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    The link worked for me fine. As far as the music is concerned - thought the first section (to 1'20) excellent, but thereafter....what bat said. And yes, the interruptions when he's changing the registrations are very off-putting.
     
    GrahamN, Mar 17, 2004
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  6. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Yes, I understand. The two fugues are not really very well conveyed through that relatively small organ.

    This kind of fugue, on repetitive notes, are typical of the North German repertoire. They actually exploit a feebleness of Schnitger and such organs: the unsteady wind.

    If you play them with reeds (he uses flutes and then principals, adding the trompet just at the 2nd fugue) the organ wind usually gets very unstable, and you have a kind of 'trembling' organ; if the reeds are dark (as they usually are with Schnitger) the effect is very disturbing - cavernous and trembling. Each time you strike a note all the other voices will waver. This was also exploited by Bach in his famous Erbarme dich o Herre Gott.

    This organ has new bellows, and its wind is not unstable.

    And I agree he plays the fugues too hurriedly and not stacatto enough.

    The end - the postludium, is again akin to the Prelude.

    I wish I could show you the g minor Preludes. The best known one (it begins in an ostinato in the pedal, g b c d e c d (g minor) the d begging for the tonic to appear which it does not) is incredibly beautiful - the last fugue is absolutely wonderful (and not too difficult to play).

    Also the f#minor is most impressive; and again the big d minor. The C major too - a very famous one, beginning with a huge pedal solo (rather spectacular if not extremely difficult - pedal solos very seldom are, even the Bach C major toccata) and ending with a (rather difficult) chaconne.

    I played them except for the f#minor. When you know these pieces well, you love them to passion. There was a time - indeed, every time I study a Buxtehude piece - when I ranked Buxtehude higher than Bach in terms of organ composition and, indeed, in terms of sheer emotion. Now I'm stuck with the harpsichord and have to make do with Bach ;)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2004
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 17, 2004
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  7. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    I have another recording of the piece by Rene Saorgin (is Saorgin OK?). I listened to it but even that didn't yet do the trick.
    I remember a Buxtehude record that I liked, the organist was late Enzio Forsblom (Finnish). It was his last record. In the booklet he mentioned that Buxtehude organ should be unequally tempered. Maybe I should dig out that record
     
    bat, Mar 17, 2004
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  8. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    Saorgin is OK, just not very inspiring. You get the notes, and there are no major artistic blunders.

    But for my money, I'd try Harald Vogel, especially volumes 4 and 7 (MD+G).

    As to tuning. Certain Buxtehude pieces suggest mean tone temperament. But the later ones certainly don't. There is a certain amount of evidence he had his organ retuned to perhaps Werkmeister.

    Werkmeister is unequal (as a matter of fact, it is what I usually use in my harpsichord) but allows one to play in 'difficult keys' - for instance, e Major. You do notice it is out of tune, though. But, for that matter, so is equal temperament.

    For instance, Buxtehude's big - the most famous - g minor prelude modulates so much that you cannot have mean tone. With Werkmeister, you can play it. But, in a way, it is more comfortable to play it on equal temperament.

    This temperament question, concerning keyboard instruments, is a great nuisance! Unless you tune and retune your harpsichord all the time (which, of course, you cannot do to an organ) it will always play out of tune when you move to 'difficult' keys.

    I really think the limit of discordance depends more on the listener or player than anything else.

    For instance, I can't stand Bach's partitas in mean tone temperament - even e minor is horrible. On the other hand, I can't stand a harpsichord tuned to equal temperament - all the notes are out of tune and the chords sound harsh and dull at the same time - the instrument really loses brilliance and sweetness!

    Sweelinck may be played in mean tone (in fact, it was written for mean tone). Even so, his Fantasia Chromatica sounds really odd with mean tone tuning. Perhaps he intended it to sound truly screaming. That is my opinion. Baroque composers used the different keys to achieve different amounts of tension and expressiveness.

    Even so, it is very hard to get used to it...

    Sorry for the long launch. But I tuned my harpsichord this morning, so I'm still hot from it... Weather is horribly unstable, so it is already getting out of tune!!!
     
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    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 17, 2004
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  9. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    bat, Mar 17, 2004
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  10. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    The Moroney and Walcha WTCs are equally tempered if I remember correctly.
     
    bat, Mar 17, 2004
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  11. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    The two Walchas certainly are. With Moroney I think it is very close but perhaps not exactly equal tempering. But, anyway, with the WTC you just have to have something very close to equal temperament. Leonhardt, for instance, tuned his harpsichord differently according to the keys.

    But we can feel sure that Bach wanted his keyboards to be able to modulate freely. His mature organ works surely do - the great e minor prelude and fugue, for instance - and we know he had an argument with Gottfried Silberman about temperament, requiring the possibility of playing in A# major. Which is impossible with Werkmeister or perhaps even Kirnberger.

    That said, a harpsichord sounds unbelievably beautiful with mean tone tuning if you don't stray from, let's say, c major, g major, a minor, d minor, g minor, even c minor and such tonalities. If you play in, say, f minor, you get huge tortions to the pure intervals. It is impressive, but we tend to listen to it as plain out of tune.

    I really think it takes a lifetime to get used to mean tone temperament. And if you do it, you won't be able to play much Bach or even the mature Buxtehude. So a compromise is necessary. I personally find Werkmeister to be such a compromise. But, even then, when I play in E major or c#minor I always feel the need to retune it to something more comfortable.
     
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    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 21, 2004
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  12. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    The organ in Janakkala church in Finland is equally tempered but has also a set of alternative pipes which put the organ in mean tone. During summer they have often a baroque music festival there. Before the festival starts they switch to mean tone and after the festival they return to equal temperament. My other Buxtehude record is recorded with the Janakkala organ but I don't think mean tone was used during in that case.
     
    bat, Mar 22, 2004
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  13. Rodrigo de Sá

    Rodrigo de Sá This club's crushing bore

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    But:

    I thought I had answered that, but it seems I didn't. Buxtehude's music cannot all be played in mean-tone tuning. His mature works modulate far too much. Therefore, it is probably best to have Werkmeister - a rather beautiful temperament that retains very beautiful thirds and acommodates all of Buxtehude's organ music.
     
    Rodrigo de Sá, Mar 28, 2004
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  14. Rodrigo de Sá

    bat Connoisseur Par Excelence

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    According to festival program they play Bach "in original baroque tuning" i.e mean tone !!! Are they somewhat misguided?

    Could digital organ might solve this tuning issue? I have a digital organ record that is recorded in a church - they brought in there an Allen MDS-55 organ with speakers and all. Good sound too. Just press a button and switch to a different tuning, I guess.
     
    bat, Mar 31, 2004
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