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  • Playing Vierne



    Ok,</P>


    So I'm tackling Vierne's Op. 14 (Final movement, 1st symphony) for Easter. I'm getting the notes right but it just doesn't feel "right." I don't know if I'm getting the stops off a little, tempo, or what it is.</P>


    Is anyone familiar with this piece and if so - do you have any performance suggestions that I could try?</P>

  • #2
    Re: Playing Vierne



    Hmmm, I learned this for Christmas, and I felt that the notes were 80% of the battle with this piece, rather than the usual 50%. I found that a sense of life and forward momentum is required (it can descend into stodge if you start thinking vertically -- think melodically). Apart from that, staying relaxed is key, don't tense up, let it sing. I think I subtly phrased the opening manual sequence in 2-quaver groups rather than totally legato, but that may indeed be in the score. I'd say relax and have fun with it, then you'll be away.
    </p>

    You're playing it loud, with reeds aplenty, right...? []
    </p>

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    • #3
      Re: Playing Vierne



      Practice slowly, with a metronome. It is important to go slow enough that you make no mistakes - that might be painfully slow! </P>


      Once you've mastered a perfect run-through (of a certain page or section) then you can advance the metronome one click.</P>


      Speaking of tempo, I like performances that are not too fast.</P>

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      • #4
        Re: Playing Vierne

        [quote user="soubasse32"]


        Speaking of tempo, I like performances that are not too fast.</P>


        [/quote]</P>


        Amen, Amen and <U>Amen</U>!!! Too many organists get the idea that fast playing is good playing. I'm glad to hear, Soubasse, that you, probably one of the very best organists on the forum, don't feel that way.</P>
        Mike

        My home organ is a circa 1990 Galanti Praeludium III, with Wicks/Viscount CM-100 module supplying extra voices. I also have an Allen MDS Theatre II (princess pedalboard!) with an MDS II MIDI Expander.

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        • #5
          Re: Playing Vierne



          Agreed. I was playing too quickly. The piece sounds more structured and organized when it is not rushed.</P>


          What do you think about mixtures in parts of it? Especially in the late-middle part where the 32' pedal reed comes in to repeat the opening melody. My score never calls for a single one but I don't care for its suggested registration.</P>


          Also, towards the end when that pedal reed comes back in (along with the 32' wood) it never changes registration through the end of the piece. It's like you are going full bore for the last several pages. Is that overboard? Is there a good place to back-off and rebuild for the ending?</P>


          If you're not sure where I'm talking about I can get the measure numbers later this week (I'm on the road at the moment).</P>


          Thanks for the feedback!!</P>

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          • #6
            Re: Playing Vierne



            Loud is not a problem. The registration I start with is:</P>


            Swell: 16/8/4 Reeds, 8/4/2 Diapason, 8/4/2 Flute (8' reeds are a cornopean and harmonic trumpet)</P>


            Great: 8' Reed, 8/4/2 Principal, 16/8/4/2 Flute</P>


            Choir: 16/8/4 Reed, 8/4 Diapason, 8/4/2 Flute</P>


            Pedal: 32' wood, 16/8/4 Principal, 16/8 Flute, 16/8/4 Reed</P>


            All manuals coupled (including to pedal)</P>


            ====================================</P>


            Then around page 4 it starts to decrescendo.There are a few coupler changes like Gt to Ped off, then on, then off. Then the opening theme returns but with triplets on the manuals instead of in 4. Use the original registration + 32' reed on pedal. That carries through the end and I sfz the final chord.</P>


            Never use the trumpet en chamade. Never use the mixtures or mutations. I like the mixtures but the registration never calls for them (meaning I'll probably use them anyway).</P>

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Playing Vierne



              [quote user="Bombarde32"]What do you think about mixtures in parts of it? Especially in the late-middle part where the 32' pedal reed comes in to repeat the opening melody. My score never calls for a single one but I don't care for its suggested registration.[/quote]</P>


              To play French music, you must know the French system of registration. [8-|] Once you do, you may - and should - follow Vierne's registration indications to the letter.</P>


              When a French score indicates Fonds et Anches plus a full spread of pitches (32.16.8.4/16.8.4), it is assumed that mixtures,cornets, and other upperworkis included. When the score says </P>


              ? anches (as opposed to + anches)</P>


              ... then you must remove all reeds, mixtures, mutations, and stops above 4' pitch. If you happen to have the Oboe Mixtures in their scores. These composers were more likely to have registrational pistons, so they could be more specific in their indications.</P>
              <P mce_keep="true">[quote user="Bombarde32"]Also, towards the end when that pedal reed comes back in (along with the 32' wood) it never changes registration through the end of the piece. It's like you are going full bore for the last several pages. Is that overboard? Is there a good place to back-off and rebuild for the ending?[/quote]</P>
              <P mce_keep="true">Keep in mind that at Notre-Dame the effect of full organ is thrilling to an audience (though overbearing to the organist!) -I understand why he keeps full organ for so many pages. I personally would not change Vierne's indications, other than perhaps to remove the 32' reed until the last line. If you are playing in a small room and the organ is very much "in your face", then it might be a good idea to reduce the sound a bit.</P>
              <P mce_keep="true">I would avoid using the Tutti/Sfz button, but instead add all suboctave couplers. This adheres to French registrational practices. I would add a Trompette-en-chamade only for the last few chords.</P>
              <P mce_keep="true">In loud combinations you might consider thinning out the flute stops, such as 4' flutes and definitely 2' flutes; this may give a more powerful effect overall.</P>
              <P mce_keep="true">A final note - there are an alarming number of errors in Vierne's scores. As I've said before, anyone wishing to play Vierne well should consider getting "Louis Vierne - Organist of Notre Dame Cathedral" by Rollin Smith. It contains corrections (many by Olivier Latry) to almost every Vierne score. http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=...;index=blended</P>

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              • #8

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                • #9
                  Re: Playing Vierne



                  Thank you, thank you. I'm (mostly) self taught so I don't have this background. With my regular work, plus school (MBA), wife and kids ... researching proper registrations for various pieces is difficult to do.</P>


                  Would you add ALL the mixtures? I have a Fourniture and three rank on great, IV/III Plein-Jeu on the swell and III rank cymbal on Choir.</P>


                  I will most definitely thin out the flutes as the fourniture cuts through very clearly when engaged. The Plein-Jeu and Cymbal can get a little piercing on the upper end so taking some other upper work out may help greatly. Not too mention it will be too loud with all that on.</P>

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Playing Vierne



                    Regarding using all the mixtures...</P>


                    Traditionally, you would have all of the mixtures on. However, we must always use discretion when registering. [8-|] If any stop isloud or ugly - avoid it. Good taste must prevail. []</P>


                    The French grand jeu soundfavors reed tone over mixtures. Also,French mixtures tend to be lower pitched and large-scaled (tending towards flute tone). If any of your mixtures are too spiky or acute, you might avoid them.</P>


                    I mentioned using sub-couplers for the 'big finish' - butshould have also mentionedthat it is also a good ideato avoid supercouplers in French music.</P>

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                    • #11
                      Re: Playing Vierne

                      Ah, but my organ has no super or sub couplers It is the one thing I dislike about it.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Playing Vierne



                        Nosubs or supers? Oh well... at leastno organist will everbeable to"abuse" them! []</P>


                        In order to play French romantic/symphonic music, you really should have lots of 16' tone. If it is a typical American organ, or a neo-baroque instrument I'm afraid the only way you might be able to get it is to play down an octave.</P>


                        In the case of the Vierne Final the last chords are already placed in such a way as to take advantage of the pitch spread. Not much you can do there,but with other pieces you should experiment.</P>

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                        • #13
                          Re: Playing Vierne



                          Nope, no subs or supers. Although you have to understand our church on why we went that route. First, it's a digital so subs and supers would have required a lot more cards for processing. One requirement was that if all stops are on and I hammer it - no notes are lost, no fidelity is lost. It had to handle the potential max load. So have all 50 stops on and then doubling, or tripling the notes with subs and supers would have been costly.</P>


                          The other thing is this. Our sanctuary (on a good day) seats 350, maybe 400. It was my call but for the bulk of what I do and with my personal style, having a greater variety of stops spread across 3 manuals is more useful than having subs and supers because it gives me so many combinations.</P>


                          To compensate for the times when I need the extra oomph on the high or low end the American spec has some mixtures with quite a bit of "sparkle" on the high end (although it's weak on the 16' side). The other spec is a French/Baroque combo that has a 16' reed on swell and another on choir. There's a large 16' wood on great. In addition there's a couple of powerful III rank mixtures plus the Fourniture and plein jeu.</P>


                          It's not a perfect setup but I've never found a piece where I couldn't get a registration I was happy with.</P>

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