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Thread: Typical organo plenum/ baroque/ Bach organ registration

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    Typical organo plenum/ baroque/ Bach organ registration

    Hi all

    can you please advise me what the typical Bach organ registration would be in terms of it being up to sesquialtera/ mixture level in the manuals and a reed in the pedal etc. What would you use to play for example the St Anne's fugue?

    Thanks
    kevin
    Nicht Bach sondern Meer

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    What I would use on my II/9 might be much different than one playing this piece on say III/56.

    I've performed the St Anne on my churches II/9 with great success. My registration to start with was:
    Swell: 8', 4' Spitzflote, 8' Gemshorn
    Great: 8', 4' Principal; 4',2' Gedeckt, Mixture III
    Pedal: 16' Bourdon, 8', 4' Flute, 16' Reed

    In that manner I only have to remove the 16' reed when playing on the Swell ... I have only 4 general pistons so they are used sparingly and I make judicious use of my Crescendo shoe. The only coupler I have is Swell to Great ... and that is manually applied as there is no reversible piston. The 4 general pistons are below the Swell .. there are no toe studs.

    For the chorale in the middle, I use the following registration:
    Swell: 8' Spitflote, 8' Gemhorn (box open)
    Great: 4' Gedeckt, Swell to Great
    Pedal: 16' Bourdon, 8', 4' Flute

    As the piece continues after this 'chorale' section, I stay on the Great add the 8', 4' Principal, and gradually add stops via the Crescendo shoe. I must reserve something for the ending with my limited resources.

    Since I have been playing this II/9 every week since 1982, I am intimately familiar with the Crescendo shoe and know in relation to how far down the shoe has traveled exactly which stop is going to add and when.

    I don't find the size of an instrument to be of any hindrance to playing all of the literature for the organ. I have performed the Mendelssohn Sonata I on this II/9 in concert ... had to use all four pistons though. Just because the composer 'demands' the use of a 32' pedal stop (which I don't have) does not mean I won't perform the piece. I will work with whatever resources I have at my disposal.

    Kh ♫

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    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post

    I don't find the size of an instrument to be of any hindrance to playing all of the literature for the organ. I have performed the Mendelssohn Sonata I on this II/9 in concert ... had to use all four pistons though. Just because the composer 'demands' the use of a 32' pedal stop (which I don't have) does not mean I won't perform the piece. I will work with whatever resources I have at my disposal.

    Kh ♫
    In fact, this is not the case. You probably have an edition in which an editor suggested a Pedal 32ft. stop.

    At no point in any of the six sonatas, does Mendelssohn call for a 32ft. register. There is one occasion (Sonata Nr. 6) where he required a Pedal 8ft. alone and another place in the same sonata where he specified a Pedal reed. Aside from this, and in the 'Composer's Remarks' which preface my edition of the sonatas, Mendelssohn expressly states that he gives 'only a general indication of the kind of effect to be produced, without adding a list of the particular Stops to be used.'
    Last edited by pcnd5584; Mar-30-2014 at 01:19.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

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    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    With regard to your original query, it is almost pointless to suggest a list of stops for a particular work. It depends entirely on the disposition and stop-list of the instrument, the voicing of the stops, the acoustic ambiance of the building and the work(s) which are to be performed.

    The best advice is to use your own ears and judgement - and, if at all possible, get someone else to play extracts at key points in the score, whilst you listen from a number of different places in the building. This will give you a better idea of how the instrument will sound to the listener. If the result is a fairly clear - and musical - sound, and one which appears to you to suit the piece, then this is probably right for that instrument.

    A few months ago, our church received a visit from an organists' association, which I hosted. After talking about and demonstrating the instrument briefly, I then gave those who wished to play the freedom of the console. At this point, whilst I would normally have simply let them get on with it (unless they were playing too loudly all the time), I simply had to go up to the console whist one of their number was playing some Bach and suggest an alternative registration.

    What he had done was to use so-called 'textbook registration' - always a bad idea. and worse, it was from a style of registration which was popular here in the 1960s (apparently). That is, for Bach, one should employ just one stop of each pitch, for the choruses, with un-coupled claviers and pedals. Given that the instrument over which I have custody is a large three-clavier 'Classical' instrument, with independent choruses on all claviers (up to a Cymbal III 29-33-36 on the Positive Organ) and has a Pedal Organ of seventeen stops (most of them independent), including a metal chorus up to four-rank Mixture, it might be thought that this was an ideal recipe.

    However, in practice (since I know this instrument intimately), in our acoustic, and with comparatively low wind pressures, the resulting sound was thin and anything but clear. So I stopped him and completely changed his registration, adding a number of 8ft. foundation stops - and couplers. At first, he was horrified, but I persuaded him to play the piece again, on this registration. The result was an instant transformation for the better - and was acknowledged to be so by all those who were listening in the Nave.

    I post this account, not for any other reason than to illustrate the folly of attempting to prescribe registrations on other instruments - particularly those of which we do not have first-hand experience.
    Last edited by pcnd5584; Mar-29-2014 at 15:38.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

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