PipeChat Digest #2767 - Wednesday, March 20, 2002
 
Paul Emmons, West Chester University 1/28/02
  by "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net>
Paul Emmons, St. Thomas's, Fifth Avenue, NY 3/10/02
  by "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net>
Re: searching
  by "Mike Gettelman" <mike3247@earthlink.net>
Re: A Felix Hell Review
  by "Mike Gettelman" <mike3247@earthlink.net>
 

(back) Subject: Paul Emmons, West Chester University 1/28/02 From: "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net> Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 00:11:49 -0500   Paul Emmons at West Chester University, Pennsylvania January 28th, 2002   Paul Emmons is well known to a unique group of organists from around the world, a generally cheerful, occasionally argumentative, sometimes garrulous, often erudite Ship of Fools, in number, about 1,500, reading and writing on a Pipe Organ mailing list on the Internet called PipOrg-L. You can join this rarified world at http://www.albany.edu/piporg-l/ , and there you will often find informed and interesting articles by Prof. Emmons. (The foregoing is, of course, redundant to those already reading this on that very list!) Paul is Associate Professor and also Music Librarian at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Not only is he a brilliant and knowledgeable writer on matters organic, but he also plays wonderfully well - in addition to which, anyone who plays two major recitals a goodly distance from one another, but quite close in time, who does not play the same program, gets extra marks. Mind you, the St. Thomas program of a week ago Sunday, the subject of the next report, was a distinctly Lenten program, while this January event at West Chester University was, of course, not. (There was actually one work in common.) After you have read the contents of both of these programs, you will realize that you are in the presence of a superb program builder.   West Chester University, West Chester, PA. January 28th, 2002. The organ is Skinner Opus 596 of 1926, 3-manuals and Pedal, built in the Westfield shop. The organ was rebuilt in 1999, but it still retains most of the essential E. M. Skinner sound, and what's more, in a college auditorium which is just a kind of grown up version of a high school auditorium, with acoustic to match, this instrument speaks boldly out into the room through two generous openings on either side of the stage. The console is on the main floor, in front of the stage, fully visible from all the seats in this steeply raked auditorium. On entering the hall, I was immediately struck by an impressively large audience, but then, it was not possible to drive or walk in the vicinity of the campus and not know that there was an organ recital happening that evening. Large, backlighted signs were hard to miss. Well done, this, and from that and whatever other publicity there was, came a remarkable lot of university students and faculty who listened respectfully to a program that offered no concessions to the uninitiated, but which, given the telling sound of the organ, the visibility of the player, and the solidity and conviction of his playing, kept everyone at full attention. The program:   Bach . . . Toccata and Fugue in F (540) Yes, it can be done convincingly on a 1926 Skinner, and indeed it was.   Sigfrid Karg-Elert . . . Symphonic Choral: "Jesu meine Freude" 1. Introduction (Inferno) . . . with appearances of B-A-C-H here and there 2. Canzona . . . using a wonderful collection of Skinner solo stops. 3. Fugue with the Choral, ending with the very raunchy Vox for a quite raunchy harmonization, even for Karg-Elert. This was a great color piece for this instrument.   After a brief intermission: Herbert Howells . . . Fugue, Chorale, and Epilogue. As with the Karg-Elert, this was a work wanting lots of registration dexterity, with ever changing sounds which fascinated the listeners. Here and there, we had full tremulants going, and one discerned a trace of WurliTzer hidden away somewhere in this Skinner.   Sir Edward Bairstow . . . Evening Song. This opens with wonderful long lines, cantilena like. There is a Hollins-esque middle section.   Kenneth Leighton . . . Veni Redemptor, Opus 93 This opens with the plainsong alla Alain, followed by many and varied sections, built very transparently on plainsong fragments, easy to recognize. Toward the end, the plainsong is powerfully sounded out against insistent rhythmic and melodic patterns. And thus ended a recital which showed me some new pieces, and reminded me of others, and I do believe that whatever level of musical experience one brought to this event, there was something there to move and edify. The audience, with long and enthusiastic applause, left no doubt about its appreciation. Score another point for the organ with rather a lot of young people in attendance. Kudos to Paul Emmons.        
(back) Subject: Paul Emmons, St. Thomas's, Fifth Avenue, NY 3/10/02 From: "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net> Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 00:26:52 -0500   Dear Lists and Friends,   On Sunday, March 10th, at St. Thomas, Fifth Avenue, Paul played probably the most perfect program possible for this instrument, and for the season of Lent. For me, there has always been an odd feeling to these 5:15 recitals, following 4 p.m. Evensong as they do. Evensong draws a quite large attendance, but I regret to say that the recital is always preceded by the great march west by most of the people there. (I must clarify that I mean "liturgical west." To the extent that it matters, St. Thomas is backwards - St. Patrick's Cathedral across the way has it right!). I managed to arrive about halfway through Evensong, in time for a sermon and a collection! Timing is everything! But also for the glorious Bairstow anthem, Save us, O Lord. The St. Thomas Choir was on a "domestic tour," and a visiting choir of men and boys from St. Peter's Church, Philadelphia, was on duty, conducted by Tom Whittemore, with organist Matt Glandorf. Despite a serious effort at acoustical renovation some years ago, the choir still always sounds somewhat remote and indistinct to me in this place. I have only been in St. Peter's Philadelphia once, and remember little of it, but it may be the kind of challenging building that is good preparation for singing at St. Thomas' s. This guest choir really seemed to take the measure of the building and penetrate it with a resonance and projection that really worked, and remained an attractive sound. Matt Glandorf made great use of the organ, including in the hymns. I got to sing my great favorite, "O Quanta Qualia" along with Lancashire at the end. Sad to say, I was the only person singing where I was seated.   Anyway, on to Paul Emmons and his tune-based recital, by which I mean that each piece is based on a known melody, the first three works, in fact, being built around the choral melody, Aus Tiefer Noth.   Jean Langlais - De Profundis (from Nine Pieces of 1942-43) The Cantus is clearly sounded out at the start, then on a celestially accompanied Clarinet. It is all quasi-improvisatory, and it would not be unusual for a French organ piece to have had its genesis in an improvisation. Paul found wonderful mysterious sounds for this work, perfectly suited to this instrument.   Here followed the big Bach Aus Tiefer Noth with double pedal. Paul treated it big - I do wish he could have gone upstairs and done it a second time on the Taylor and Boody instrument - not for comparison, but to double our pleasure. It's a long, long, walk up and over, however. I found I got quite tired of that steely exposed Principal sound up front for this piece.   The last of the Aus Tiefer pieces was by Sigfrid Karg-Elert, from Opus 65 It opens with Clarinet solo - then an alternation w/tremulous Vox and a big flute, celestially accompanied. This is a wonderful, atmospheric piece   Jean-Jacques Grunenwald (1911-1982) - Hommage a Josquin des Pres (1958) How much music of Josquin do you know? I know a couple of motets, so I figured it was futile to try to find some reference in this piece. Paul explained to me later that it is based on a numerical rendering of the composer's name, 16 digits in all. Perhaps I may be forgiven for not picking up on that! A most interesting piece, this.   Anton Heiller - Ecce Lignum Crucis - Behold the wood of the Cross An astonishing piece based on the plainsong. It built right up to the rather exciting En chamade reed at the "west" end. You can find this in the 2nd Oxford Modern Organ Music volume. Be prepared to work hard, but it is worth it.   Kenneth Leighton - Veni Redemptor, Opus 93 I have written about this piece in the posting immediately preceding this, about Paul's recital at West Chester University.   This was rather a mysterioso concert, with a Lenten emphasis - something of a "spiritual exercise" in the very best sense. Wonderful, imaginative registrations throughout made for a beautiful experience. Thank you Paul Emmons (say the bells of St. Clement's). Sorry. I could not resist that - it's been going through my mind for days. Anyway, this recital is a wonderful memory - one of those musical experiences of which one wishes there was a recording.   Cheers,   Malcolm Wechsler www.mander-organs.com          
(back) Subject: Re: searching From: "Mike Gettelman" <mike3247@earthlink.net> Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 03:44:05 -0500   John Speller wrote: (snip) I am open to correction, but I think Rieger and Rieger-Kloss were originally the same company, and that this was also how Rieger-Kloss came about.   Del Case wrote: Occasionally I see references to "Rieger-Kloss" and I know that there are many who think that this is the Austrian firm of Rieger, now merged with another builder. This is not the situation. Rieger-Kloss is in the Czech Republic and not related to the Austrian firm of Rieger. Del W. Case Pacific Union College   Ross Wards wrote: John, Yes, you're right. The two Rieger firms were once the same company. Ross   Mike Gettelman asks: Ping Pong, ping pong. Whose serve is it now? What might be the correct answer?        
(back) Subject: Re: A Felix Hell Review From: "Mike Gettelman" <mike3247@earthlink.net> Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 04:39:57 -0500   Hi Felix, I haven't met You or your Dad in person yet, but through the Lists, I feel like you have made us all part of your adventure with pipe organs. The way you allow yourself to be accessible to us, and the way you take the time to explain the good and the not so good things, makes you very human to us. That's a quality sorely missing in a lot of virtuoso performers today, and it endears you to us in a most positive way. I am not an organist, so I don't pretend to understand all that you describe below, but I know enough to get the gist of the difficulties you encountered in that performance. I'm sure those problems drive you crazy in your quest for flawless performance, but for us it is a breath of fresh air to know our young organic Superman can have a bad day too. By admitting you get knocked down a peg or two once and a while by a strange instrument, you affirm our faith in ourselves, such that that those of us who are a hundred or more pegs below you, have hope and motivation to keep climbing. I am a big fan, have all 3 of your CDs from the OHS catalog (if there are any more available, let me know), and hope to finally get the chance to hear you in live performance at Westminster Presbyterian in OKC in May. It has been reported to me that the Reuter instrument there needs a very expert performer to sound good, and that if anybody can do it, it's you. (grin) I look most forward to meeting you and your Dad at the post-concert get-together along with fellow list members Peter Storandt, Keith Morgan, and perhaps Jim Pitts too. It will be one of the great highlights of what is proving to be a year of many fantastic organic highlights for me. Thanks so much for permitting me and the other list members to share in your life. On a final note, feel free to call upon me if you ever encounter such a cranky instrument again. I'm sure we could assemble enough list members to play the stops for you like a hand bell choir, so all you have to do is play the manuals and the pedals. I'm sure the organ would have to have many stops to accommodate all those who would be willing. ( Wouldn't that require some hours of rehearsal?) (grin)   Cheers Felix (say hi to your proud Papa for me) Mike Gettelman   Hell-Felix@t-online.de wrote:   > Thanks to Dave, Ben and Tim for publishing this > review of Suzanne Anderson, who very kindly - to put it mildly - > described mine and my assistant's (Sorry, dad, you did > a great job anyway!) desaster, when we both messed up the > registration in Mendelssohn's No. 6. You know where? > It was the transition from variation no. 3 to no. 4, from a one or > two stop registration, manuals uncoupled (shover!!), to a > Mendelssohn-ff, > which was planned very smoothly...as the score requests, which is > nearly impossible, but doable, if you practice it over and over with > your registrant like a drill. But if then, in reality, something > unusual happens, either on your > or on your assistant's side, you begin to mess up things, which, in > this case, caused my dad, to held the stops of the 'oberwerk' for the > stops > of the 'hauptwerk', and the more you try to make corrections, the more > you > mess up in fact, and the desaster is there, and you feel: this is a > very > new approach to play this beautiful piece... > > Best wishes to you all > > Felix >