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Thread: Reservations Carlo Curley Bach interpretation

  1. #1
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    Reservations Carlo Curley Bach interpretation

    Am I alone in finding it unsatisfactory to hear a Bach Prelude and Fugue (in this case, the A minor) played as a demonstration of the ability of the player to use all available manuals, stops, expression pedals, frequent changes of registration etc.? This was my experience on Sunday at an inaugural organ recital in Derry, N.Ireland, on the occasion of the restoration of St Columb's Cathedral restoration.

    While Carlo Curley is undoubtedly a great communicator and tremendous organist, he doesn't seem to have taken any of the findings of authentic baroque practice on board. At one point he swept up from the bottom manual of the newly-rebuilt Wells Kennedy organ, right through to the top of the four keyboards, all in the space of a single phrase! I think that if he had had 6 manuals, he would have used them.

    What a contrast to the playing of Peter Hurford or Simon Preston.

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    IMHO, I believe that each performer is entitled to express themselves in whatever fashion necessary that they think will please their audiences.

    The late Virgil Fox was also a showman in lots of respects. He was also able to be quite serious, too. Fox, when he was touring with his "heavy organ" routine, was responsible for introducing J.S. Bach to a great number of people who might otherwise have never heard Bach's music, much less even known that Bach existed! Virgil was not making a mockery of Bach's music, nor is Carlo, just presenting Bach in a lighter mood, perhaps in a way that most people would remember part of the piece that they heard after they went home after the concert.

    From my practical experiences attending organ concerts and from being an organ recitalist/performer, the majority of people want to be entertained, too. Contrast in performance is wonderful - if we all played Bach the same way, it would become rather boring in a short time.

    Now, in order not to offend my fellow organist/pianist colleagues on this forum, I am very respectful of the reputations and playing technique of Peter Hurford, Simon Preston, and our very own Admiral Frederik Magle. I enjoy listening to each of their performances and interpretations as well.

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  3. #3
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    Imho

    Thanks for the viewpoint, Krummhorn. My point was that this performer did not make any attempt to play in a way which acknowledged the findings of the past 40 years in how better to play Bach. Perhaps I do not get to enough public organ performances to make a proper assessment of what is going on today (I do live in rural Ireland!)

    Entertainment from Bach was not what I expected, though to be honest, this virtuoso performance made me laugh inwardly at what was going on!

    is it really enough to say that the main aim is that the performer should make entertainment the main goal?

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    Captain of Water Music Thomas Dressler's Avatar
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    We all approach this differently. I grew up listening to Virgil Fox and was captivated by his energy and ability to communicate. However, I soon became VERY captivated by historic instruments and techniques. I believe it is possible to combine the two. I, myself, use historic techniques; but I was very flattered once when a couple Virgil Fox followers complimented my performance of Bach's "Wedge" as being as exciting as Virgil Fox--and my own personal temperament is not to "entertain" so much as to "present."

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    Lieutenant, Associate Concertmaster AllanP's Avatar
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    An organ concert must have some value otherwise no one will come to listen. Virgil Fox had the ability to fill the house to hear Bach. Academic performance practices are mainly of interest to the dedicated organist, not the general public. Music is the goal!

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    Captain of Water Music Thomas Dressler's Avatar
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    I have to disagree (I'm sure some have been waiting for that!)

    In my opinion, and I speak from a purely pragmatic point of view (meaning I am not interested in things that are purely theoretical and do not make performance more interesting) the most exciting performances are those that have the musical drive of Virgil Fox, but are historically informed enough to be actually saying what the composer meant to say. To do otherwise, as Virgil sometimes did, is like trying to swim upstream. However, I will admit that there is too much dry academic playing out there! Historically informed playing does not have to be dry, and I can guarentee it will appeal to the average audience if done with conviction.

  7. #7
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    Smile Don't forget, music is an art.

    I disagree too. I think the organist should first be an artist and only then a showman. And of course, as Thomas Dressler said so correctly, he/she should express what the composer meant to express.

    It is a very simple matter:
    Music is an art. Art is not entertainment. End of discussion.

    An organ concert must have some value otherwise no one will come to listen. Virgil Fox had the ability to fill the house to hear Bach. Academic performance practices are mainly of interest to the dedicated organist, not the general public. Music is the goal!
    The concert hall need not be full for it to be a good concert.
    The value of music shouldn't be measured by how many listen but the music itself. An organ concert with none listening can still be worth it. Music really is the goal!
    Cheers!!
    Last edited by Drinklicafix; Dec-21-2006 at 12:17.

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    Now I haven't heard Carlo Curley live but have listened to few Bach pieces performed by him.
    I understand what he's trying to do, he's "orchestrating" the piece on the organ. However, his "orchestrations" seem to be on very romantic side. The good point is that it shows what organists can do and what is possible on the organ but it doesn't do much for the music, as Bach did think more vertical than in horizontal lines.

    However we need showmen as well as those who play on more authentic level.

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