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Thread: Widor's toccata

  1. #16
    Commodore con Forza
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    I still have to assemble some material on the Widor/Dupré comparison, but for now, just a small info on French Wagnerophiles, namely to say that Widor, too, was a great admirer of Wagner! He was actually part of a small French crowd who went to Bayreuth for the Ring premiere in 1876. And if you look at the evolution within his first eight symphonies, they also end up, with #7 and #8, in a direction that may arguably be called Wagnerian (a good example being the first mouvement of #8).

    Even in the Romane, despite it taking a different turn than the purely "symphonic" idiom of #1-#8, there are certain Wagnerian traits, such as the "infinite melody" in the first mouvement (from the end of the tutti right through the decrescendo, then the progression of chromatic descents, and all the way to the next statement of the A-G#-A-F-E-F theme). There is also the "Isolde" theme F#-B-C-C#-E-D towards the end of this mouvement, returning in the second mouvement (before the second ostinato towards the end), conspicuously preceded by a Tristan chord! And in the Final, the next-to-last tutti has some tromba-like statements of a quite Tannhäuserian spirit.

    I also cannot help thinking of Wagner when I listen to Vierne's symphony #5, especially the Final.

  2. #17
    Captain of Water Music Thomas Dressler's Avatar
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    I agree with you on the Wagnerian influence in compositional style in Widor's music. There are lots of places where I've thought, "Wow, Wagner!" when I've played through symphonie movements. However, I think we need to make a distinction here. Wagnerian compositional style does not necessarily imply Wagnerian performance practices. There quite possibly could be a connection, but one does not prove the other. (I always thought the 4th movement of Widor's 1st sounds particularly Wagnerian, by the way. . .) I'd say that for me, I hear the Wagnerian influences stronger in Widor's compositional style than Franck's, but at this point I feel they need fairly different approaches to performing style, at least to use of rubato.

  3. #18
    Commodore con Forza
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    Tom, you're right: what I said concerned composition rather than performance. (I must confess that I don't know anything tangible about Wagner's performance practices, so I'm afraid I can't comment on that aspect.)

  4. #19
    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    The toccata, whilst showy, reminds me too much of Ravel's bolero ... it goes on, and on, and on.

  5. #20
    Ensign, Principal Jeffrey Hall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contratrombone64 View Post
    The toccata, whilst showy, reminds me too much of Ravel's bolero ... it goes on, and on, and on.
    Indeed they do...but I love them both. However, I'm reminded of an art critic's observation about Malevich's White on White (shown below): "This having been done, it need not be done again."


  6. #21
    Lieutenant, Associate Concertmaster
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    I have the recording of Widor playing this, and I do enjoy it, but I heard the Allegro movement from his SIXTH organ symphony in G minor at a recital last week, and I have fallen in love with it. I listened to a few different recordings of this at the library, and some of them I love, others I don't like at all (there is a part like a dance about 2/3 of the way into the piece -sorry I don't have the vocabulary for what that is called- and some recordings have organists just racing through that part, which I don't like) Does anyone else like this piece or play it?

  7. #22
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Yes, Widor did, imho, sometimes use the leitmotiv device. Vierne, in his symphonies, used the leitmotiv device quite freely.
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

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