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was E. Power Biggs good?

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  • #16
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    True, true. The reeds are deafening on that organ and alot of people who are not used to playing on it are very shy about using them.

    dan

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    • #17
      Re: was E. Power Biggs good?


      The message you are replying to:
      Posted By: John Bittner on 11-03-2003 12:42 PM
      Subject: Re: was E. Power Biggs good?
      Message: Fox, of course, played Bach in the Romantic style with Romantic registrations. Exciting at times, easy on the ears? Yes, but for my taste, his interpretations, as masterful as they were, sometimes did not serve Bach well.

      Biggs was beyond reproach in this regard.



      I have to disagree with you here John. Fox register's Bach pretty much the same way Bach intended. Foundations are foundations are foundations. Being that Bach was a flamboyant show off be dazzling all with his footwork. the only thing different there is between Bach, and Fox playing Bach is concave verses flat pedal boards.
      When you use the term "Romantic" how does one play Bach in a romantic style? Registration or interpretation wise?
      Most of Bach's music is written in four part counterpoint. The very essence of the Baroque period which Bach is credited for. and consequently the foundation of the way we write and listen to music today. But Romantic anything in the baroque period would have been taboo. the two are apples and organes. the structure of the music alone played by the worst entrepreneur could not reflect romanticism. The only interpreting tools of Bach's music would be in the choice of tempo and phrasing. The fact that there were no enclosed divisions on the organ yet made it even harder to vary.
      In Short, Bach was a showman and at the top of what he did, single handily changing and molding music to the way we write, play, and listen to. centuries later, Fox has been the only "showman" to play Bach that has come down the line. for one example, if you care to, listen to Bigg's recording of the "a minor "fugue. then listen to Fox's. Bigg's boring sound of a plodding 3/4 looses sight of the drive and pulse of the music. Bach wrote it in 6/8. Fox plays it in a 6/8 swing fashion that impulsively rocks the building back and forth as any modern day 6/8 piece would do. I am certain Bach played this piece that way also, any organist who doesn't find it to difficult can feel this immediately. I have yet to hear Bigg's play anything with a pulse. the "G" major fugue "gigue" is another example. When playing this one, Bach gives the feeling to the organist of skipping like a child over the pedals. It is very enjoyable to play. Biggs is to big to skip on anything, he turns this one into a funeral dirge. I think his metronome only went as fast as 60 beats per min. anything faster than that would have caused a stroke or heart failure.
      In short, Fox understood Bach well because the music came alive when he played it. For some reason most others sound cautious, scared, or uncertain while playing Bach's music. Playing all the right notes is one thing, bringing them alive is another.

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      • #18
        Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

        One more toot for Fox. I believe his last consultant job was the installation at the Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove, California. It is a shame that he died before its completion and dedication recital.
        To the one would feels that a Fox recording damaged their stereo. I would be more than happy to take that nasty old record off your hands so it cannot ever hurt your stereo again.

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        • #19
          Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

          When you use the term "Romantic" how does one play Bach in a romantic style? Registration or interpretation wise?

          The extensive of use of rubato, use of string chorus's, celestes, color reeds, registration changes, and use of enclosed ranks.

          When I lived in NYC, I attended many of Fox's recitals at Riverside and at Lincoln Center Philharmonic Hall when the Aeolian-Skinner was still installed. He would often preface a Bach work with a defense of his interpretation. He would point out that this or that organ that Bach played had such and such ranks or that if Bach had had the resources of the instrument at hand he certainly would have used them. I point this out to illustrate that more than a few Bach lovers felt that his approach was unorthodox and that he was sensitive to that criticism.

          We know that from all accounts Bach was a virtuoso, but we do not know how he interpreted his own music. It very well may be that it was closer to Fox than to Biggs. What we do know is what instruments Bach had his disposal. Without question they sounded more like the ones Biggs chose to record than the romantic orchestral Skinners that Fox chose.

          Finally, I want to point out that I consider myself a Virgil Fox fan and am not saying that I dislike his approach to Bach, but that I think there is something to be said for Bigg's cleanly articulated playing when it comes to appreciating Bach's contrapuntal essence.

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          • #20
            Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

            Hi Jerry,

            It was with wittism that I replied to the guy that needed, "Amphetamines to listen to Biggs",
            to just get a rise out of him.

            I think it worked ?

            The record is Virgil Fox plays The John Wanamaker Organ - Philadelphia. (1964)
            and on it is one of my favorite versions of the "Pomp and Circumstance March.

            PS: I still have it.


            Hugh

            Comment


            • #21
              Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

              Re: was E. Power Biggs good?
              Posted: 11-08-2003 10:22 AM
              When you use the term "Romantic" how does one play Bach in a romantic style? Registration or interpretation wise?

              The extensive of use of rubato, use of string chorus's, celestes, color reeds, registration changes, and use of enclosed ranks.


              The only problem with that is there were no enclosed ranks of pipes. Every thing was in the open. considering the tracker mechanics of the day and Bach's manuscripts, I doubt that there were a lot of registry changes. The most notable changes were that of changing manuals.

              Comment


              • #22
                Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                Hi Hugh,
                How's the stereo hanging in there? lol Oddly enough, that is one of the recordings the J.S.Bach web site recommends for listening pleasure! lol

                Comment


                • #23
                  Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                  you asked
                  When you use the term "Romantic" how does one play Bach in a romantic style? Registration or interpretation wise?
                  I answered
                  <font color="blue"> The extensive of use of rubato, use of string chorus's, celestes, color reeds, registration changes, and use of enclosed ranks. </font>
                  you responded
                  The only problem with that is there were no enclosed ranks of pipes. Every thing was in the open. considering the tracker mechanics of the day and Bach's manuscripts, I doubt that there were a lot of registry changes. The most notable changes were that of changing manuals.

                  Precisely my point. So using the features and tonalities not found on organs until the Romantic period is how you play Bach in the romantic style. The list of Fox recordings on baroque spec trackers is short if not non-existant.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                    I asked

                    When you use the term "Romantic" how does one play Bach in a romantic style? Registration or interpretation wise?

                    you responded

                    The extensive of use of rubato, use of string chorus's, celestes, color reeds, registration changes, and use of enclosed ranks.

                    When I lived in NYC, I attended many of Fox's recitals at Riverside and at Lincoln Center Philharmonic Hall when the Aeolian-Skinner was still installed. He would often preface a Bach work with a defense of his interpretation. He would point out that this or that organ that Bach played had such and such ranks or that if Bach had had the resources of the instrument at hand he certainly would have used them. I point this out to illustrate that more than a few Bach lovers felt that his approach was unorthodox and that he was sensitive to that criticism.





                    e: was E. Power Biggs good?
                    Posted: 11-10-2003 09:24 AM

                    I asked

                    When you use the term "Romantic" how does one play Bach in a romantic style? Registration or interpretation wise?

                    you answered

                    The extensive of use of rubato, use of string chorus's, celestes, color reeds, registration changes, and use of enclosed ranks.

                    I responded

                    The only problem with that is there were no enclosed ranks of pipes. Every thing was in the open. considering the tracker mechanics of the day and Bach's manuscripts, I doubt that there were a lot of registry changes. The most notable changes were that of changing manuals.

                    you responded

                    Precisely my point. So using the features and tonalities not found on organs until the Romantic period is how you play Bach in the romantic style.


                    Am I to conclude that playing Bach with Romantic features and tonalities is unorthodox?

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                      Am I to conclude that playing Bach with Romantic features and tonalities is unorthodox?

                      Not necessarily in my opinion, but to baroque purists it is. I'm simply defending my original statement that Fox took a romantic approach in his interpretation of Bach.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                        Bach is Baroque! Why would anyone want to play his music in any other style? you wouldn't play a Chopin waltz on the organ. Playing Bach with a romantic flare would sound similar. So, why?
                        I have listened to Fox and I don't find his explanations as a defense of what he interprets, but rather a focal point to which a casual listener can enjoy three hours of Bach. In the rigid form of counterpoint and the four part fugue. Phrasing replication of the main theme in each voice is expected. To ignore this is anti-baroque.
                        Fox's ability to make each voice jump out to the listener's ear with the meticulous phrasing that a fugue demands is awesome. I have never heard him play any Bach compositions romantically.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                          I have never heard him play any Bach compositions romantically.
                          Well, Jerry, perhaps it's those lousy recordings again :-D

                          That Fox was a romantic is not a concept unique to me. Here are some quotes from a lecture Jonathon Ambrosino gave at the 1997 AGO REGION VII CONVENTION.



                          and



                          The quotes were taken from

                          I'm certain that you'll find similar comments about Fox in the writings of his detractors and a fans alike.

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                            Stephen Odum where are you.
                            You started this conversation, and now droped out ????

                            I Have Bach organ works music book interpretation by Charles-Marie Widor and Dr. Albert Schweitzer Volume II(1912)

                            As organist I wonder how they preformed Bach' works ?

                            There are "Sugegestions for the interpertation of the compositions"

                            "Provided with a preface containing general observations on the manner of preforming the Preludes and Fuges" of the first master-period.

                            To me, hearing different interpertations of Bach's works, by varrious artist is like the spice of life.

                            Why would there only be Biggs and Fox?

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                            • #29
                              Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                              Why would there only be Biggs and Fox?


                              Because they were the only two organists that made their entire living as recitalists.

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                              • #30
                                Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                                Sorry John,
                                In my opinion, Fox is versatile in every era of music. He plays Baroque as well as romantic right up to the avant garde pieces of poop that Longlais puked out less than a hundred years ago. each in their own true style. Fox's love for the instrument is obvious and makes him a cut above the rest.
                                I have heard Fox tackle a three hour program on a Rogers in a totally dry auditorium, A nightmare for any organist. Between the electronic doubling and the no reverberation of a live room, to play well, one has their work cut out for them. Biggs on the other hand looses himself in rooms that have four second plus reverberation. I never could tell whether he was coming or going. for all I know, he may be still sitting at the console.
                                When you refer to romantic organ music. Bach doesn't even enter my mind, the likes of Vierne, Alain, Dupre' , etc., are what come to mind for me.
                                Fox plays the French romantic organ just as well has the German Baroque organ. Two different styles interpreted by a master and I must say I never heard Fox slop the two together like I have Biggs.

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