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was E. Power Biggs good?

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  • #46
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    Hello !

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    • #47
      Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

      Dear Admin,
      I am flattered that you are actually reading what we are chewing about. So, tell us all, who do you favor? Fox? or Biggs?

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      • #48
        Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

        So, tell us all, who do you favor? Fox? or Biggs?

        Carl Weinrich
        -Admin

        Allen 965
        Zuma Group Midi Keyboard Encoder
        Zuma Group DM Midi Stop Controller
        Hauptwerk 4.2

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        • #49
          Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

          Re: was E. Power Biggs good?
          Posted: 09-26-2003 09:54 AM
          Yeah, that IS the best name for an organist. I remember when I picked up one of his CD's and showed all my friends his name because I liked it so much.

          The reason I ask about Mr. Biggs is because my favorite guitarist is Christopher Parkening. I'm a bit of an oddball in the guitar community because although Parkening has had great pop success, some other guitarists think he's overrated (I just can't understand that. The guy is incredible and the best ever!). I thought that an organist whose name was "E. Power Biggs" and had his album in a store in the mall might be a little gimmicky; the organ community might think he's a sellout or something. I'm glad that that's not the case.

          Last night I went for a walk and took my "Bach favorites" CD along. I was sore from smiling so much because that fugue "The Great 542" is UNBELIEVABLE. It's SO larger than life, it's so extreme!! It's a real mind-blowing piece. It sounds incredibly difficult. Is that true? Can any of y'all on the forum play it? If so, I'd love to hear it! I think Mr. Biggs' recording is one of my favorite recordings anywhere of anything! Please tell me your thoughts on this crazy piece!

          stephen


          The Number 542 is a catalog number listing all of Bach's work. the piece you refer to is " Fantasie & Fuge in g minor"
          before you rate this recording i would suggest you find three other recordings of it by three different organists, then, re-evaluate your opinion. be sure to listen to the recording of it by Anthony Newman, he plays the fantasie on the Pedal harpsichord and the fuge on the organ.

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          • #50
            Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

            John, you said,

            "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. "

            John, I forgot to mention that I am envious that you heard him many times at riverside. Of course, Bach would have used the resources of the day. If the South would have had the B- 52 bomber, they would have won the war. in listening to his recordings I find the exaggerated use of registry and manual changing the only extended interpretation of Bach's work. That would be a little difficult for Bach himself to do on the instrument of the day.
            No where can you hear anything of a closed swell or choir division being used. So even though he may use registry changes to make the common listener hear the theme of what ever piece he is playing. the guide lines of Bach's environment remains intact.
            Yes, Fox was sensitive to criticism, isn't everyone? Aren't you?
            I'm curious, did you get to meet Fox?

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            • #51
              Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

              Dan
              I haven't forgotten Dupre'. It is his volumes that I use of Bach's manuscripts. There is more to the page and his suggested fingerings and pedaling I am comfortable with.

              Hugh
              The Casavant Feres is my favorite builder


              John,

              The romantic era of French organ music and Organs and Bach are what the essence of the organ is today for me. So you can see why I defend the flamboyant Fox.
              I have tried and tried and tried to find something, anything that Biggs recorded that isn't lost in a muddle of reverb or recorded poorly. I believe the luster of the organ, because of the way it has been presented, is fading and will become extinct if some new vibrant blood and revolutionary approaches are not taken.
              The shame of it all is that the classical organist has to spoon feed his audiences and the popular organist is a comedian in the lounge.
              the church organist's days are numbered in the fact that there are sight's right now offering free link ups to churches for service music. what ever hymn the pastor wants for the service, just click on it and Voila' , it plays. direct it through the sound system and who is to know whether or not the organist is live. although it is very good for learning and versatility in the use of hymns, It is obvious that it will replace the organist some day soon.

              take a look at the "cyberhymnal" web sight. you'll see what I mean

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              • #52
                Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                Interesting that both Biggsy and Foxy evoke strong emotions. I have heard Biggsy in the flesh at London's Royal Festival Hall - he is one of those organists who I think is better on record than live - though I only heard him the once. Both Ralph Downes and Norman Johnson (Organist of Sydney University), who were my main teachers, thought highly of him. It may have been the RFH organ. Personally I love it, but most recitals there do not come to life. Only Simon Preston, Gillian Weir and Melville Cook. I played the Poulenc Concerto there in a gala concert back in 1971 - it was a great experience. I spent my six hours rehearsal time entirely practising stop changes. Ralph Downes lent me the score from which he had played the first British performance of the Poulenc, so I was in good hands. He also went through it with me playing the Orchestral part on the piano. Neither NJ or RD would comment on Virgil Fox. Maybe he is a good communicator, and has a flair for the spectacular. What records of his would you recommend?
                John Foss

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                • #53
                  Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                  John,
                  I heard the Poulenc for the first time in 1971. An upperclassman that I looked up to as a freshman at Duquesne University, Dennis Villani, played it for his senior recital. The Assumption RC Church in Bellevue Pennsylvania was a Romanist building with about three and one half seconds reverberation and a fifty some rank Casavant installation he started out with the Poulenc which was mesmerizing, with major works of Bach following and finished with the Vierne symphony No. 1 finale'.
                  I set out to play both works for my first recital, the Vierne made it, the Poulenc didn't. I replaced it with a simpler concerto of Handel's, the one in Fmajor.
                  As far a recordings of Fox. Any and all that you can find. the one Hugh refers to seems to be the most popular, he has one out of his Rogers tour which I think has been tidied up a bit. his live performance was a bit flashier. Several from riverside.
                  And if you like it fast and furious, Anthony Newman does a good flash. Marie Claire Alain also does quite nicely.

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                  • #54
                    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                    Hi there!

                    I'm still here, lurking I guess you could say! I honestly am just reading y'all's posts and learning about the organ by doing so. I don't have much to say since all I know about organ is that I LOVE it. It sounds to me like the voice of God.

                    Please, keep discussing! It's very interesting. I do most of my posting on the classical guitar forum at www.e-borneo.com!

                    I wish I knew more about your great instrument- I just plain don't have much to say and prefer listening. If I think of a salient point to make, trust me, you'll see it!

                    stephen

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                    • #55
                      Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                      Speaking of Marcel Dupre, while in Berlin, I bought a copy of Marcel Dupre plays Bach on the Opal label.The recordings were made in the late 20s and early 30s. The very first cut is Dupre's reading of the Fantasia and Fugue in C minor, BVW 537. I got goose bumps. After having listened to this 1927 recording of Dupre playing Bach, it became clear to me the influence that his interpretation of Bach's organ works had on Virgil Fox. If you listen to Fox's rendition of the same piece at the Riverside Church, you will be astounded by the similarities of both performances.So there you have it. Biggs, Fox and Dupre. I dont have to choose. There is something I like about all three. I believe the recording of Dupre is available through the Organ Historical Society, incidentally.

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                      • #56
                        Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                        It is actually a shame though, that most of the recordings these guys made will never be released on CD. Virgil probably has had the most, but there are only a few Dupre CD's out there, and some of some of them are from when he was in his 70's and 80's (not in top form). Another interesting note on the Dupre Bach recordings- he does not fly through the trio sonata like a lot of other organists do (I have a recording of Gillian Weir playing the movement at twice the speed).

                        dan

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                        • #57
                          Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                          Dan,
                          I would love to hear the Weir recording of the Eb trio. In the imagination of Bach's flamboyancy, I see him showing off technically and sending the resounds of chordal progression in melodic intervals through out the entire church. Filling the ears with as much sound to fill the entire spectrum. would it be possible to send a MP-3 of Weir's recording?
                          Jerry

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                          • #58
                            Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                            Unfortunately I can't send MP3s. To my knowledge she has 2 recordings of the piece.One is from the 1970's as part of her TV show, and the other is on the CD "scherzo"(this one includes only the third movement). Jean Guillou also plays this piece very fast.

                            dan

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                            • #59
                              Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                              There is also a striking similarity between both Dupre's and Fox's rendition of Franck's 1st Chorale. It seems strange to me that people accuse Fox of being unfaithful to the spirit of Bach's works when he is part of this tradition.

                              dan

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                              • #60
                                Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

                                I worked with Fox a few times. My friend worked with him many, many times over the years. We both agree that he was a tremendous talent. Not always easy to get along with, but he knew his Bach. I believe his recordings of Bach were the finest. Biggs I did not know, nor do I like his recordings. I am told he was very standoffish and not much of a showman. Fox brought Bach to the public like no other.

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