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Thread: Organ transcriptions

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    Organ transcriptions

    Purists hate them I know, and I don't give a tincker's cuss. I love 'em. Especially when they're played by incomparable organists such as the wonderful American Martin Jean (on the monster at Yale).

    I was listening to the first movment of Tchaikovski's fourth symphony and it struck me as being "very adaptable for organ" ... don't you agree?

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Can't comment on the Tchaik per se but many times, the large, Romantic symphonies work much better on the organ than the piano (for obvious reasons). A while back, I remember tuning into ABC FM and hearing a somewhat bombastic (there's that word again) organ piece which was nonetheless most enjoyable. I was also unfamailiar with this impressive sounding work and was wondering who the composer was, only to find out afterwards that it was an arrangement of an orchestral work (which I've conveniently forgotten).

    The point I'm trying to make is that some arrangements are capable of working perfectly sympathetically on the organ. Hell, if it's okay for Bach to arrange Vivaldi for the organ, I don't see the problem myself.

    And sometimes, the reason for an arrangement is so that the arranger has the pleasure of performing a piece of music that they would not otherwise be able to. That's the primary reason I arranged Vaughan-Williams' Fantasia On A Theme Of Thomas Tallis for organ duet - I don't play a string instrument, but I adore the work, so I arranged it for an instrument that I can play. Also, in doing so, a nice little tangential result was that I was able to admire the beauty of VW's writing.

    Matt
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    Soubasse

    I have had the pleasure of playing the Fantasia ... in my viola playing days, can't remember which orchestra I was with, Hunter Orchestra maybe (Newcastle, NSW). VW's instrumentation is sublime, for sure.

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    Commodore con Forza
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    Here are a few of my favourite transcriptions:
    • Franz Liszt, Sonata in B for piano, and Igor Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring for orchestra, transcribed by Bernhard Haas (Audite aud 20.009)
    • Franz Liszt, Funérailles for piano, transcribed by Louis Robilliard (Festivo 6931722)
    • Sergei Rachmaninov, The Isle of the Dead for orchestra, transcribed by Louis Robilliard (Festivo FECD 125)
    • Gustav Holst, The Planets for orchestra, transcribed by Peter Sykes (Raven OAR-380)

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    acc - the Rite of Spring on organ sounds achievable, but given the complexity of the orchestral score, there has to be a hell of a lot "left out" (of course). Is it convincing? I'd love to hear it! I have a recording of Symphonic Dances (Rachmaninov) played on two organs, or at least one organ with two consoles (so four hands and four feet), I think that's why it works.

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    Commodore con Forza
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contratrombone64 View Post
    acc - the Rite of Spring on organ sounds achievable, but given the complexity of the orchestral score, there has to be a hell of a lot "left out" (of course). Is it convincing?
    It is very convincing. In my view, Bernhard Haas is one of the very few organists whose technical skills seem to have no limit at all (while at the same time being intensely musical). His rendition of The Rite of Spring is so complex that one is struck by a sense of disbelief (“That's impossible, there must be two guys there, playing with four hands and four feet.”). The word “wizardry” comes to mind.

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    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
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    Is there a recording of this? I'm actually rather dumbstruck just by the very thought of it. Studied the hell out of The Rite when I was at Uni, but that thankfully still didn't stop me from loving it!
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

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    Commodore con Forza
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    Yes, Haas has made a recording — see the link in my first post above.

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    funny, the Rite of Spring was one of the very first orchestral scores I saved up and purchased ... a very crappy Kalmus edition stolen from a Soviet imprint by the looks of things. I still own it and still love to follow it and still find something new each time I listen to it. I own about 15 different Rite records (none on the organ ... yet!!)

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