PipeChat Digest #3448 - Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Felix - Capital Playing in the Capital 2-9-03
  by "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net>
Re: "Come to Jesus"
  by <OrganMD@aol.com>
  by "D. Keith Morgan" <aeolian_skinner@yahoo.com>
BIOS meeting 22 February 2003, Barber Institute
  by "Peter Harrison" <peter@phmusic.co.uk>
Re: PipeChat Digest #3447 - 02/11/03
  by "John Foss" <harfo32@hotmail.com>

(back) Subject: Felix - Capital Playing in the Capital 2-9-03 From: "Malcolm Wechsler" <manderusa@earthlink.net> Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2003 00:01:52 -0500   Capital of Connecticut, that is, Hartford, where Felix played a most = elegant recital in an elegant old building (South Congregational Church) on an elegant Aeolian-Skinner from 1949, restored (meticulously, you can be = sure) by th       e Thompson-Allen people about five years ago. It is a large room, with = every possible surface thickly carpeted, but somehow, the little three-manual of only 31 ranks was really fulfilling and at times, thrilling. The voicing = and finishing were, well, that word again - Elegant. The Organ is in a west gallery, and at that level, there are side galleries, three rows deep, all the way along to the east wall. As at Woolsey Hall, the <cognoscenti> were mostly upstairs, with just a few down below. I would guess there were = about a hundred of us. As people chatted amiably before the concert, we noted a sort of Whispering Gallery effect, making it possible to hear quite = clearly what certain individuals were saying across the church on the other = gallery. My lips are sealed.       The all Bach first half of the program began with what was certainly one = of the most, if not *the* most satisfying, intelligent, and musical performances of the Bach E Flat Major Prelude & Fugue (St. Anne) I have heard. The first section of the Prelude was just fast enough that, while maintaining great dignity, it moved along at a stately pace. It was all totally clean, with phrasings consistent throughout. The dotted section = (the first 32 bars) was given a broad and reedy registration, as were the other manifestations of that material. The material in between continued broad, but reed free (if I am remembering correctly), but the fullest = registration was saved for bar 130, when the Pedal proudly enters ascending, with the left hand in a descending E flat scale, one of the great glories of this work. Felix, who is trying for the Guinness World Record in the production of ornaments, produced a really wild one somewhere just at the final = return of the dotted material of the opening. It was magical. The solemn first section of the Fugue sounded out the St. Anne tune and continued on = sturdily until the 6/4 section, played crisply and cleanly, with a broader, fuller registration for the next eighth note section. Speaking of that section reminds me that Felix has had for some time the idea that in a first = public performance of a major work, something is bound to go wrong. Well, I was = at his first performance of the E Flat, and it really came off just fine, but in this second 6/4 section, he began with the left hand on E flat instead = of the lower B flat, and this young master of the finesse somehow gracefully found his way to where he and Bach wanted to be in such a way that those = not knowing the work would not have noticed. In the final, swinging, section = of the Fugue, Felix did something I don't think I have heard him (or anyone else) do before. He made way for Pedal entrances, carrying to an extreme what many of us do, making a bit of a ritardando, calling attention to the Pedal arriving. He practically *stopped* just before the moment, and it = took a bit of getting used to, but I began to like it, and would like to hear this this again. This section gave us some of Felix's lovely, complex ornamentation that, I think, really works in this piece. Hearty applause followed.       Felix plays the great Bach ornamented chorale preludes very beautifully - perhaps "soulfully" is the word. Schmuecke dich, with a nice Tierce = cantus, was very supple and beautiful, and caused the audience to hesitate to = break the mood, but applause gradually appeared.       Some think that the Bach Trio Sonatas do not please audiences, which might consider them dry and academic. Not in Felix's hands. The first movement (sorry, it was No. 1 in E Flat) received a gentle but clear and bright registration. I scanned across the balcony, wondering not just at this = point but in general, what people's reactions were. There was a woman opposite = who clearly knew the piece, and had on her face a look of complete, almost beatific, satisfaction. How I would have loved to zoom in and take her photograph. The adagio was supple and sweet, and seemed, with a special communication skill that Felix possesses, to reach right to the hearts of the listeners. I was watching them from my perch, and for this gang, = adagio did not mean time to fidget. Felix, from years of riding on the Autobahn, knows about no speed limit. His allegro movement might have earned him a ticket, but I have to say as I have before on hearing this phenomenon, = there is a difference between frantic or breakneck, and just very vital and = alive. Frantic is for the technically insecure. I do believe that Felix plays = this allegro just about as fast as is humanly possible, but nothing is lost. It is so clear, precise, and exciting, that it had everyone on the edges of their pews. The ornamentation factory was working overtime, and I was fantasizing a conversation with Felix: Q. "Why do you, at that great = speed, add so many precarious ornaments?" A. "Because I can," and by gosh, he really can, and they are musical and they work.       Closing the first half, the great D Major Prelude & Fugue, which Felix clearly delights to play, and to which audiences delight to listen. The Prelude is so virile, never rushed, always clear and clean, and riveting throughout. The Fugue subject causes quiet gasps from those who know the piece - "Can he possibly get through it at this speed?" Yes, of course. Is it musical at this speed? Yes. In just this piece (the Fugue), one wonders if perhaps the rich ornamentation is possibly getting in the way a bit? I think perhaps yes - a bit. Felix's signature huge accelerando in the last big ascending Pedal passage came a cropper just slightly, as he seemed to get disoriented to the Pedal board. No matter, all were on their feet with well-earned cheers.       Intermission       The second half began with Mendelssohn Number 3, beginning at a fine, thoughtful pace - Maestoso indeed. The Fugue had a gentler registration = and a lovely apt pace, with a fine building of tension to the magnificent reprise of the opening music at a very broad tempo. So exciting is the ending of movement one that some wayward applause is almost inevitable, = and we had a bit from this very intelligent audience that just wasn't looking = at the program, which listed everything carefully throughout. The Andante was = - well, what can one say? Deeply felt, well communicated? Yes to all of = that. Felix has a special feeling for these Mendelssohn slow movements, and it shows. I will long remember him playing the slow final movement of Sonata = 6 in the week following 9-11-01, and asking those assembled for his 16th birthday observance at St. Peter's Lutheran in Manhattan to please remain silent after the piece was finished.       For the last menu item on the program, Hans-Friedrich moved over to the console, and "Team Hell" prepared to deal with the Guilmant First Sonata. You need to know that this is an authentic 1949 Aeolian-Skinner, authentically restored, and we can talk all we want on the lists about the need for multiple memories and all that jazz, but here there are six generals, and I am not sure how many divisionals, but certainly no more = than six. The performance, and the entire recital for that matter, went off without a hitch and without delay, and Felix did not hold back on registering with great variety to avoid inconvenience. He worked it all = out completely successfully. I don't know how many other people play all of = this work publicly. In the wrong hands, it could be a dreadful bore, not to denigrate the music, but rather to recognize its sweet na=EFve nature in = some places. Felix communicates! That is all I can say about this - he never, ever loses an audience's attention. There are no exaggerated gestures, no demonstrative grabbing of stops with grand motions, no sequined shoes, nothing but just whatever movement comes out of the physical requirements = of the notes. Well, all of that won us two encores. The first, the Gigout Toccata. This was a bit breakneck, but oh so exciting. Then Felix's little shtick about "Well, folks, I don't want to keep you, but I can play more = if you like," or words to that effect. That brought us the Widor Toccata, not slow! The little four-and-a-half year old son of Floyd Higgins, Organist = at the church, began a little liturgical dance downstairs at the Widor. He = was doing quite well, until papa rescued him. I noticed only later that he was wearing shoes with flashing lights of various colors on them. This one is going far as an organist. He has the beginnings of his wardrobe = established.       I am conscious of the fact that nowhere on this posting have I mentioned Felix's last name (other than "Team Hell"), and I thought consciously = about this, and felt that, like certain rock stars, by this time, one name is = now sufficient. You all know about whom we are speaking. Congratulations for Felix Hell on yet another landmark performance. We were privileged to be there.       Cheers,       Malcolm Wechsler   www.mander-organs.com      
(back) Subject: Re: "Come to Jesus" From: <OrganMD@aol.com> Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2003 01:30:01 EST     --part1_116.1ebbfd91.2b7b43e9_boundary Content-Type: text/plain; charset=3D"US-ASCII" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit   Hi........   Referring to those who are not too skilled at playing our grand = instrument, I often heard the late Allen Van Zoeren say, " She can't even play Come = to Jesus in whole notes in C." I do not know if he coined the phrase or just repeated it. (However, I heard him say it often)   Bill Hesterman   --part1_116.1ebbfd91.2b7b43e9_boundary Content-Type: text/html; charset=3D"US-ASCII" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable   <HTML><FONT FACE=3D3Darial,helvetica><FONT SIZE=3D3D3 = FAMILY=3D3D"SANSSERIF" FACE=3D =3D3D"Arial" LANG=3D3D"0">Hi........<BR> <BR> Referring to those who are not too skilled at playing our grand = instrument,=3D20=3D I often heard the late Allen Van Zoeren say, " She can't = even&nbsp;&nbsp;&nb=3D sp; play Come to Jesus in whole notes in C." I do not know if he coined = the=3D20=3D phrase or just repeated it.&nbsp; (However, I heard him say it often)<BR> <BR> Bill Hesterman</FONT></HTML>   --part1_116.1ebbfd91.2b7b43e9_boundary--  
(back) Subject: Re.: COME TO JESUS From: "D. Keith Morgan" <aeolian_skinner@yahoo.com> Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 23:38:03 -0800 (PST)   I once had a teacher who often said "He/She couldn't play "Come To Jesus' in dotted whole notes in C major!   D. Keith Morgan   __________________________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Shopping - Send Flowers for Valentine's Day http://shopping.yahoo.com  
(back) Subject: BIOS meeting 22 February 2003, Barber Institute From: "Peter Harrison" <peter@phmusic.co.uk> Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2003 07:44:06 -0000   Booking is now open for the British Institute of Organ Studies recent research conference at the Barber Institute Birmingham, GB, on Saturday 22 February 2003. The call for papers elicited an enthusiastic response from scholars with diverse backgrounds as you can see from the wide ranging programme below.   10.30 - Arrival Tea & Coffee 10.50 - Dr Rebecca Herissone - 'To fill, forbear, or adorne': the realisation of organ parts in Restoration sacred music 11.15 - Michael Dodds - Baroque plainchant manuals: valuable sources for organ performance practices 11.40 - Adrian Mumford - The organ and opera 12.05 - Jos=E9 Hopkins - John Clarke of Cambridge: a forgotten hero? 12.30 - Peter Holman - Handel, William Babel and the origin of the English organ concerto 13.00 - Lunch - buffet lunch provided 14.00 - Tina Fr=FChauf - The organ in the context of German-Jewish culture 14.30 - David Hemsley - A new look at John Crang, the eighteenth-century London organ maker 14.50 - Cleveland Johnson - The Victorian organ in colonial and post-colonial India 15.20 - Martin Freke - Sacred or profane? the socialisation of organists 1950-99 and the implications for BIOS and the Church of England 16.10 - Tea and departure   Travel information is available from = http://www.barber.org.uk/visitors.html. A map and a leaflet with details of hotels in Birmingham are available = from Dr. David Knight, BIOS meetings officer.   Booking can be done by contacting David Knight, 5 Maldon House, Pentlow = Way, Buckhurst Hill. IG9 6DA, GB, Bios.meetings@smvl.org.uk, tel +44 (0)7971 845152 with payment of =A316.00 (BIOS Members), =A320.00 (non members), = =A310.00 (Student)   Peter M Harrison : BIOS Membership Secretary      
(back) Subject: Re: PipeChat Digest #3447 - 02/11/03 From: "John Foss" <harfo32@hotmail.com> Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2003 08:02:59 +0000   I thought Van Gogh had said "I'd like to take a year off."       www.johnfoss.gr         _________________________________________________________________ The new MSN 8: smart spam protection and 2 months FREE* http://join.msn.com/?page=3Dfeatures/junkmail