PipeChat Digest #2799 - Tuesday, April 9, 2002
 
Felix Hell in Buffalo
  by "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net>
Mixing metaphors
  by <Wuxuzusu@aol.com>
Re: The Queen Mother's Funeral
  by "Bob Conway" <conwayb@sympatico.ca>
Re: The Queen Mother's Funeral
  by "Stanley Lowkis" <nstarfil@attbi.com>
RE: Organ, Westminster Abbey
  by "Emmons, Paul" <pemmons@wcupa.edu>
RE: Organ, Westminster Abbey
  by "David Scribner" <david@blackiris.com>
Cameron Carpenter at St. Thomas, 5th Avenue
  by "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net>
3 PM Sun, Apr 14 Cynthia Powell Recital Middletown, NY  (x-post)
  by "Pat Maimone" <patmai@juno.com>
 

(back) Subject: Felix Hell in Buffalo From: "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net> Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2002 07:21:11 -0400   Felix Hell, Slee Concert Hall, SUNY at Buffalo April 5, 2002   In my post-Oberlin period (early 60s), I was driving around the south for some reason, long forgotten. As good Fennerites (disciples of Fenner Douglass, for the young and uninitiated), we knew where the landmark (or "pilgrimage") organs were. Many of these were Flentrops, and on our trip, we found ourselves in Winston-Salem, and homed in on Salem College. Margaret Mueller (whom we knew a bit from Oberlin), was there practicing, and kindly turned the organ over to us for a while. I began to improvise, and some on these lists will scorn the following thought - some *will* understand. The action took me over - I found myself playing as one possessed! We all felt it. Margaret, who is always very kind, to be sure, said a big "WOW!" Felix's recital began with what is for him a frequent starter, the Bach G minor Fantasy and Fugue. On this night, I was instantly reminded of that day at Salem. Felix was "playing as one possessed," and I was convinced he was beguiled by the action. Felix never plays in a way that is any less than exciting, but there was something different going on on this occasion. Now I know them's fightin' words on these lists! I can only offer up as some corroboration that later in the evening, I tested my theory on Felix, who gave a quick and clear assent. He played with immense clarity and energy. His unusual little articulation scheme for the soft sections early in the Fantasy worked here extremely well. There was incredible excitement in the fugue. There were also a few wonderful wolfish temperament moments, courtesy of whatever Fisk temperament was used for this instrument. There was great whooping and hollering from what I was told was one of the largest audiences assembled in recent memory for an organ recital in Slee Hall.   Felix has become a master of the great Bach ornamented chorale preludes like O Mensch and Schm=FCcke dich, the latter of which he played on this occasion. The pace felt perfect with wonderfully fluid ornamentation. The final cadence could not have been more clear, but no one clapped until long after, when Hans moved the music! I thought they were all so moved that they hesitated to break the spell, and hopefully they were, but it seems they were also lost. Shame on us wimps who know the music for not starting the applause. Well, we were just being sensitive to any spell that might have been operating. My, we are civilized!   After the excited audience reaction to the G Minor, I almost expected mass hyperventilating for the big D Major. The Prelude was wonderfully monumental. The Fugue was not treated as a "look how fast I can play" opportunity, as it occasionally is. It was at a nice sensible pace. I can't quantify it more precisely than that, so trust me! There were some clever, not overly fussy, little bits of registration play with individual voices. I would swear that in all the cascading notes in the last gasps of this great Fugue, Felix was thickening the texture with added notes. As he denied this later in the evening, there was a bit of a sly grin, so I am left unsure, with no recording to prove anything. So, it was either a fun bit of audacity, or just the thickening of the registration. Whatever the cause, the effect was wonderful. A little Felix signature is now the really incredible, super high velocity, pell mell Pedal solo at the end. It literally had the audience rising from their seats.   To finish the first half, we heard the Guilmant First Sonata, in D Minor. Fisk Opus 95 was not conceived as a Guilmant Organ, and because the console is <en fenetre>, it is not possible to hear the effect of registrations - someone needs to be downstairs listening in the hall. This fell to Hans, and they both said, when we spoke on the phone the night before, that this work was a great registrational challenge. They certainly beat the odds. What a great sweep of lyricism was this performance with a wonderful momentum! As is his gift, Felix found registrations that really worked, helped along, by the way, by a very effective Swell box. The second section of the first movement, with its intertwining melodies, was wonderfully limpid. Strangely, the movements of this work were not listed in the program, so there was great applause after the first, with its huge ending. For the second movement, there were not here the sorts of sounds Guilmant had in mind, but it all did work. The last movement, with its wonderful rumbling pedal bits I so love, was nothing less than spectacular. The audience was, shall we say, appreciative. The buzz during the intermission was all excitement.   The second half began with Mendelssohn 3, for which Felix found a wonderfully rich opening sound, and something totally apt for the fugal section, all so solid and lyrical. The whole enterprise was breathtaking, followed by the gorgeous slow movement, for which there was a beautifully tremulous Flute.   When I knew Felix was planning on playing the Franck E Major, what little I knew of this organ made me wonder if perhaps the A Minor might not be a better choice. There was some discussion between Felix, Hans, and Joe McCabe, who knows the organ well, and also with David Fuller, and they seemed to feel it was possible. Those sublime opening bars gave the answer - not only was it possible but beautiful as well. The pace of this performances was "determined" - rather right on this organ and in this place. There was a quite nice Trumpet, if a bit big, and with some slight instabilities. Felix found a good celestial Vox-substitute. In this piece, I felt perhaps Felix was losing concentration a bit. For me, losing it in something as chromatic as the music of Franck means game over. Not this guy. He is cool, perhaps even kewl, and handles any minor lapse in such a way that only Franck and I would notice it - oh, and also Franck's wife. This was an achievement, pulling off this vast Romantic bit of musical architecture on an instrument not intended for such folly. It was a beautiful performance.   If I ever have something like a "signature tune" associated with me, it needs to be the Franck Cantabile, or something I can manage reliably and flawlessly. Associated with Felix is a piece that requires a musician who is a well-oiled machine with nerves and fingers (and feet) of steel! No one who has heard him play the Norbert Schneider Toccata, "Schlafes Bruder" could possibly disagree. While being a wonderfully atmospheric piece of music, it is also a remarkable display of virtuosity. I am sure most of the audience was hearing this phenomenon for the first time. They simply bellowed! It was quite a scene. I got sort of tied up in this thing, and own the movie "Schlafes Bruder" and also have read the book in a good English translation. It's a fascinating little blip on the Organ music scene. Highly recommended, but don't ask your organist to play it for Easter. He or she will not thank you.   To cool down, we heard the lovely Adagio (Consolation) of Liszt. The audience remained silent after this, and this time, I think it was that they were genuinely moved and had decided not to break the spell. Well done.   Not having yet played enough notes, Felix chose to finish this recital with the Liszt B-A-C-H. What can one say? It was brilliantly played, and registered with great care and imagination. Felix first played this in public for my AGO chapter, in Stamford, Connecticut, about a year ago. That was an auspicious maiden voyage, and it remains a great vehicle for both Felix's technical assurance and also for his ability to express clearly and with excitement, great, tumultuous, Romantic musical ideas. The audience made it clear that Felix was not going home just yet!   Recently, he has been playing the Finale to the Vierne 1st Symphony as an encore, and in cities which are great railroad junctions, has included just one little snippet of "I've been workin' on the railroad" in the Pedal. I had been told of this, but on this occasion, heard it for the first time. He swears he would never do it within a concert, but the rules are off for an encore. The audience really loved it. I have told him of Malcolm Archer slipping in a bit of Auld Lang Syne in the same way near the New Year, so watch for that.   Well, I cannot think of a better way for me to have spent my __th birthday than listening to what I have described above. And it was really nice to have a good visit with Hans and Felix, my Buffalonian friends Joe and Charles, and also to see Doug Campbell who, with friends, drove a mere three hours plus for this concert. With no hype, no guile, no trickery of any kind, just unrelenting hard work and energy, an innately musical nature and spirit, the guidance of a great teacher (John Weaver), the unstinting support of his family, and a rich and full God given talent, Felix Hell, at 16, has become something immensely important to the instrument we love, and to its great repertoire. So be it!        
(back) Subject: Mixing metaphors From: <Wuxuzusu@aol.com> Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2002 12:55:21 EDT     --part1_11a.efb0428.29e32579_boundary Content-Type: text/plain; charset=3D"US-ASCII" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit   Sorry about my trying to work a bit of stateside respect for the Queen = Mother into this thread. Perhaps my writing skills ought to be polished, or = perhaps I ought to stop trying to comment on two subjects with only one posting. Stan Krider   In a message dated 04/08/2002 5:10:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time, pipechat@pipechat.org writes:     > Subject: Re: Death of the Queen Mother > From: "John Foss" <harfo32@hotmail.com> > Date: Sun, 07 Apr 2002 20:00:06 +0000 > > > My definition of stolid referred to the organ of Westminster Abbey - and = I > interpret it at as a mixture of stately and solid. The dictionary I have =   > here - oxford - defines it as "not easily excited". I think this = describes > the Abbey organ to a T - I can't see how "civil" can be comfortably = applied > > to an organ! I suppose in the sense of "polite" it could - but organs = need > a > range of manners from the retiring to the assertive. Incidentally, I = don't > really go along with your definition of civilisation either! Maybe this = is > a > cultural thing UK vs US. Civilisation comes from the Greek politismos - > people living in a city. but for this it would be best to refer to the > "Spectator" - a civilised British weekly publication! > John Foss >     --part1_11a.efb0428.29e32579_boundary Content-Type: text/html; charset=3D"US-ASCII" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit   <HTML><FONT FACE=3Darial,helvetica><FONT SIZE=3D2 FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF" = FACE=3D"Arial" LANG=3D"0">Sorry about my trying to work a bit of stateside = respect for the Queen Mother into this thread. Perhaps my writing skills = ought to be polished, or perhaps I ought to stop trying to comment on two = subjects with only one posting. <BR> Stan Krider<BR> <BR> In a message dated 04/08/2002 5:10:16 AM Eastern Daylight Time, = pipechat@pipechat.org writes:</FONT><FONT COLOR=3D"#000000" = style=3D"BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" SIZE=3D3 FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF" = FACE=3D"Arial" LANG=3D"0"><BR> <BR> </FONT><FONT COLOR=3D"#000000" style=3D"BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" = SIZE=3D2 FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF" FACE=3D"Arial" LANG=3D"0"><BR> <BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=3DCITE style=3D"BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; = MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px">Subject: Re: Death = of the Queen Mother<BR> From: "John Foss" &lt;harfo32@hotmail.com&gt;<BR> Date: Sun, 07 Apr 2002 20:00:06 +0000<BR> <BR> <BR> My definition of stolid referred to the organ of Westminster Abbey - and I = <BR> interpret it at as a mixture of stately and solid. The dictionary I have = <BR> here - oxford - defines it as "not easily excited". I think this describes = <BR> the Abbey organ to a T - I can't see how "civil" can be comfortably = applied <BR> to an organ! I suppose in the sense of "polite" it could - but organs need = a <BR> range of manners from the retiring to the assertive. Incidentally, I don't = <BR> really go along with your definition of civilisation either! Maybe this is = a <BR> cultural thing UK vs US. Civilisation comes from the Greek politismos - = <BR> people living in a city. but for this it would be best to refer to the = <BR> "Spectator" - a civilised British weekly publication!<BR> John Foss<BR> </BLOCKQUOTE><BR> </FONT><FONT COLOR=3D"#000000" style=3D"BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff" = SIZE=3D3 FAMILY=3D"SANSSERIF" FACE=3D"Arial Narrow Special G1" = LANG=3D"0"><BR> </FONT></HTML> --part1_11a.efb0428.29e32579_boundary--  
(back) Subject: Re: The Queen Mother's Funeral From: "Bob Conway" <conwayb@sympatico.ca> Date: Mon, 08 Apr 2002 12:59:00 -0400   Lee and others,   One can only hope that we will not be subjected to the usually inane comments of the TV announcers during the musical items of the Service!   Bob Conway ...   At 12:23 PM 4/8/02 -0400, Lee Ridgway wrote: >What a way to go! > >The music before the service: >J. S. Bach -- >Fantasia and fugue in g minor, BWV 542 >Piece d'orgue >Passacaglia >"Liebster Jesu", BWV 731 > >Plus "Solemn Melody", of Henry Walford Davies > >Music after the service: >J. S. Bach -- Prelude and fugue in E-flat major, BWV 552 > >During the service, music of Croft, Purcell, McKie, Brahms, sung by the >choirs. > >Seriously, it is the kind of service that one would expect in this >case, and certainly can be held up as the finest example of what a >dignified, solemn, celebratory funeral can be. > >:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: >Note: opinions expressed on PIPORG-L are those of the individual con- >tributors and not necessarily those of the list owners nor of the Uni- >versity at Albany. For a brief summary of list commands, send mail to >listserv@listserv.albany.edu saying GET LSVCMMDS.TXT or see the web >page at http://www.albany.edu/piporg-l/lsvcmmds.html . >::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::      
(back) Subject: Re: The Queen Mother's Funeral From: "Stanley Lowkis" <nstarfil@attbi.com> Date: Mon, 08 Apr 2002 16:00:06 -0400       Bob Conway wrote: > > Lee and others, > > One can only hope that we will not be subjected to the usually inane > comments of the TV announcers during the musical items of the Service! > > Bob Conway ...   What! You mean that hearing Dan Rather anguishing about the Queen Mother and showing clips from CBS' "The Best of Lady Di" when he can't think of anything to fill the silences, does not appeal to you? :) :)   http://inside.c-spanarchives.org:8080/cspan/cspan.csp?command=3Ddprogram&re= cord=3D155457630 C-SPAN will be broadcasting the live BBC feed. *NO* big mouthed U.S. = anchor people.   ..."We have to take a break now, but we'll be back with John Cleese = telling some hilarious Queen Mother stories in our next segment after your local = news.."   I hope that everyone can get C-SPAN. If you want nice big pretty graphics you might try CNN.   ...Setting my alarm for 5:15 AM EDT..   Stan Lowkis    
(back) Subject: RE: Organ, Westminster Abbey From: "Emmons, Paul" <pemmons@wcupa.edu> Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2002 16:36:31 -0400   Hugh Drogemuller writes:   >My only live experience of this instrument was from standing by the = console   which is up on the screen. I was much more impressed by the sound at this vantage point than from any recordings.   Ah, then you can tell us how many manuals it now has. Someone here wrote four, but that is not what I remember.   A few years ago, I got the chance to gawk at the console for a couple minutes thanks to the good graces of someone I had just met at evensong, = who was acquainted with the organists. Simon Preston had had a lot of work = done to it in high-tech respects, including, I'm almost sure, a fifth manual. = Is my memory defective?      
(back) Subject: RE: Organ, Westminster Abbey From: "David Scribner" <david@blackiris.com> Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2002 16:39:36 -0500   At 4:36 PM -0400 04/08/2002, Emmons, Paul wrote: >Ah, then you can tell us how many manuals it now has. Someone here wrote >four, but that is not what I remember.   The easiest way to find out is to go to the Westminster Abbey Web Site at: http://www.westminster-abbey.org/ and click on the link for "The Organ"   It gives all the information about it - Sorry, I'm not going to answer your question - you need to find out for yourself <G>   David  
(back) Subject: Cameron Carpenter at St. Thomas, 5th Avenue From: "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net> Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2002 22:35:50 -0400   Cameron Carpenter at St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue Sunday, April 7, 2002   Cameron Carpenter has much going for him. A memorable alliterative name is a real plus. (You can't buy one of those!) He has had some very attractive advertising placed on his behalf. And he has a prodigious technique. I heard sure evidence of the last-named at a Juilliard student recital a while back in which he played two Preludes and Fugues from the Well Tempered Clavier, giving the Pedal as much to do as the manuals, and pulling it off brilliantly. So, it was with happy anticipation that I took the train down to Grand Central and hiked over to 53rd and 5th to hear him in a full recital on his own. He had written me about this event some time ago, and I had written back: "Upstairs, downstairs, or a bit of both?" He proudly shot back that he was playing this program on the Aeolian-Skinner organ in the Chancel. This organ can be stunning as used by Gerre Hancock in all aspects of service playing. As a recital instrument, and in certain music, I find it a bit hard to take at times. However, I can be a good sport.   I confess I thought the program got off to a strange start. I was sitting about a third of the way back, and even that close, both the Prelude and the Fugue in E Minor, as in "The Wedge" really became a bit of a jumble. I think it was partly registration, a bit on the heavy side, possibly speed, although I would not have said the tempi were over quick. There was something else going on, and I was never quite able to sort out what it was. Cameron was distorting the beat in ways that I could simply not comprehend. I wish I had surreptitiously taken a recording of this, because it is a phenomenon I would like to study, and perhaps to learn to understand. There were odd moments when short phrases suddenly got very compressed, reaching the finish line rather sooner than the beat would expect. I have to say that durinq the Prelude, I saw a very high-ranking official of the AGO attempting to keep a steady beat with large conducting gestures on the back of the pew at his side. He had to give up and start anew quite a few times. There were impetuous and quirky things going on which I do believe were part of Mr. Carpenter's plan. I mean, I think he knew what he was doing, and while I found it a bit helter-skelter, I would like to know more about what he has in mind.   Wilhelm Middleschulte - <Perpetuum Mobile> - He played this daunting and fabulous Pedal <tour de force> brilliantly, and what a clever piece of programming, it being, if not at all obviously, based on the subject of the Wedge Fugue! Well done.   Cameron's next move caused a great smile to appear on my face. I heard the tell-tale creaking of movement across the high passageway to the back of the church, and sure enough, he appeared on the bench of the superb Taylor and Boody instrument, which speaks with wonderful clarity down the nave. We heard the wondrous Sweelinck <Mein junges Leben hat ein End.> This was nice. Many in the audience were enthralled with the sensation of such clarity, turning around with great smiles like mine on their faces. This was a perfect match of organ and composition, and Cameron did a quite good job of it, if perhaps a bit more legato oriented than one might like. If I may tease a bit, doing this piece on this organ made it unnecessary to tackle the complexities of the flat, straight pedal board, for those unaccustomed to such things.   I am not entirely sure why, but we heard next the lovely Bach A Major Prelude & Fugue (S. 536), which was in the printed program as preceding the Sweelinck. Whatever the reason, in fact, it somehow felt right in this order. The registration was gentle, bright, and clear, so the shock of moving back downstairs was attenuated - it would be interesting to know exactly what was used. Both the playing and the registration were touchingly luminous, and I found it immensely moving. The Fugue was given a fuller registration, but only a bit, and it was played with great clarity. The final phrases got a gimmicky kind of staccato treatment, and this, I thought, seemed out of place with the beautiful sensitive playing that had just preceded it   As with the opening Bach E Minor, I could not get my brain and ears around Cameron's interpretation of the Franck B Minor Choral, possibly the most introspective and architecturally rich of these three final masterpieces. There were some odd hiccup clippings of phrase endings at the beginning. After the big Vox section, there were what to me were strange rushings and clippings that did not work for me musically. However, I have been around long enough to know that sometimes, that which is strange can be eventually comprehended, so I am not ready to write it off, but for now, it is beyond my ken.   Jongen - Toccata from Symphonie Concertante, Opus 81 (1926)- transcribed by Cameron Carpenter. A good, big ending, leaving us with the memory of a strong and fleet set of fingers and feet.   Back to GCT, and Metro North to Brewster North, and on home for a long sleep. It has been one hell of a couple of weeks!   Cheers to all,   Malcolm Wechsler www.mander-organs.com        
(back) Subject: 3 PM Sun, Apr 14 Cynthia Powell Recital Middletown, NY (x-post) From: "Pat Maimone" <patmai@juno.com> Date: Mon, 8 Apr 2002 23:39:36 -0400   Come one, come all to western Orange County, New York this Sunday, April 14 at 3 PM. to hear organist Cynthia Powell play the 3-manual Austin at Grace Episcopal Church in Middletown, NY.   She will play works of Bach, Vierne, Messiaen and Bolcom. Cynthia's recital is being sponsored by the Central Hudson Valley Chapter of the AGO. For further info about the artist, the organ and directions to the church, please see the chapter's new web site:   http://www.chvago.org   Pat Maimone District Convener, Upstate New York Past Dean, Central Hudson Valley Chapter AGO patmai@juno.com   ________________________________________________________________ GET INTERNET ACCESS FROM JUNO! Juno offers FREE or PREMIUM Internet access for less! Join Juno today! For your FREE software, visit: http://dl.www.juno.com/get/web/.