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Bach - Organ Trio Sonata No. 1, for piano and bass

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Francois de Larrard, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Dear All,
    After a first attempt to adapt Bach's organ music to piano and bass, we have recorded with my friend Jean-Paul Gouttenoire what is I think (but Chris will confirm) a masterpiece of the organ repertoire. This time, Jean-Paul played with his bow, not in pizz.. Since the two manual voices are very much intricatted, and only playable as they are written with two keyboards, I took the liberty to transpose the left-hand part by one octave down. I hope puritans will not (too much) complain :oops: ! At least, this gave me the opportunity to play this magnificent music on a piano.
    The structure of the piece is like an Italian concerto. The first movement is an allegro, with no repetition, while each one of the two others have two sections. The second movement is my preferred one (so, the ones who have little time are encouraged to listen this one): a beautiful, meditative and singing piece. Actually, all this music is fantastic. As for the rendition and the arrangement, of course this is up to you to appreciate... Thanks in advance for your interest.

    P.S.: if you want to hear the bass, you're better having decent boomer headphones, which is not the case on most computers...

    Bach - Organ Trio Sonata No.1 in Eb BWV 525, 1st mvt (2:59)
    Bach - Organ Trio Sonata No.1 in Eb BWV 525, 2nd mvt (8:17)
    Bach - Organ Trio Sonata No.1 in Eb BWV 525, 3rd mvt (3:37)
     
  2. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Indeed Bach's trio sonatas are rare masterpieces of the organ repertoire (as is everything else Bach wrote for the organ). With their 3 fully independent and developed parts, they are so difficult to realize that organists are often advised not to take them on until they have 10-15 years experience. I foolishly produced a recording after playing for (I think) 2 years or so, on a totally unsuitable organ, and even had the temerity to put it on PS. Boy was that bad. Last year I finally saw the light and scratched it, along with a lot of other old bad stuff. Whether I will ever return to it, I don't know.

    Even though I am an austere puritan, I'm not at all against these sonatas performed by a trio or duo of persons, provided that they are equal partners yet with their own distinctive voice. Here, despite all good intentions and good playing I don't think this is the case. It very much sounds like a piano concerto with obbligato bass accompaniment. The bass playing is too soft, grainy and slurred to make much of an impact. It's not the ideal instrument for this perky music - a bassoon or bass oboe would perhaps be better. It also seems (but I could be wrong) that he misses quite a few notes. Your playing is very good as always, but the piano can't provide the necessary contrast between the upper voices. The transpositions did not bother me, and I well understand why you had to do it (as well as I understand why you just had to play this magnificent piece).
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    These are now on the site.
     
  4. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Chris,
    Thank you for your attentive listening. I thought after your first post that you were not going to accept this recording, and I wondered wether I could remix it to change the bass/piano balance. Hence, it depends completely on the way you listen such a recording. I agree that playing it on an average computer, the bass is almost inaudible. However, when I plug the computer on my lounge sound system - I have very big speakers - the balance seems to me quite good, and I can hear distinctly the three voices, which is seldom the case with many organ versions. With what kind of system have you listened these pieces ? Otherwise, if you consider that most PS visitors listen the recordings on their computer, I can remaster the recordings in order to highlight Jean-Paul's bass. Yes he makes a few wrong notes (so I do in some places, too...). Regards,
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Lounge Sound System, eh... Would be that I had a lounge, or even a sound system. The PC with cheapo headphones it is for me. I could just about hear the bass. It's not enough, I think, so it may be good if you can boost it up somehow.
     
  6. andrew

    andrew Member Piano Society Artist

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    I have to agree with Chris. Even through a tolerable pair of speakers, I still feel that the bass is a junior and somewhat distant partner to the piano. I do hear three voices, but it requires some concentration. The bass probably makes itself heard most in the third movement, which I think is quite a success despite a few little smudges. As to the quality of the arrangement, I'm afraid I'm not remotely knowledgeable enough regarding the original to comment.
     
  7. hanysz

    hanysz Member

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    The balance sounds fine on my headphones (but not so good on medium-sized speakers).
     
  8. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Francois,

    I'm having toruble with my internet as I can only seem to download a short 15 second segment of the first movement, though what I heard sounded rather good. My dr. beats headphones picked up the bass well, though I think, with this type of pairing matching a piano with a double bass, you have the issue of tuning. The phrasing sounded artistic and it had the 'chamber music playing' aspect that I like and rarely hear here on PS. So the issue of tuning. Even though both are concert pitch instruments and "string instruments" :lol: the double bass can't issue with the same precision Bach's notes that a modern piano can. Chris said that the bass would be better boosted up. I agree. There are some successful experiments with Duke Ellington playing piano with (albeit jazz) with Jimmie Blanton on double bass, and where the piano sounds like its in the background, merely accompanying the double bass (but very good, of course!).

    Enjoyed hearing this, now if only I can get the full three mvt.s!
     
  9. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    OK Gentlemen, I will proceed with a remastering, and when it is done I will resubmit the three pieces. Thank you for your interest ! Regards,
     
  10. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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  11. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Francois,
    I liked your first version better than this new 'remastered' version. In this one, especially the first movement, the bass is almost comical-sounding. But I know I hear things different than everybody else, so I have replaced your files here.
     
  12. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    The bass may be a bit more audible now but it's still nowhere near a real voice in the trio. I just don't think this soft-grained and grand-fatherly instrument lends itself for bright and chirpy music like this. It also seems that the bassist is not always in tune.
    It's better than it was, anyway.
     
  13. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Monica ! Would it be possible to write Allegro moderato, Adagio, Allegro instead of 1st, 2nd and 3rd movement ?
    Thank you in advance.

    I like the grand-father image. Curiously, in French we generally call string basses 'Grandmas' (grand-mères), by reference to a very popular children music piece, written during the '50, and called 'Piccolo et saxo'. In this very nice story, characters are music instruments. Logically, the piccolo is a very young children, and the string bass (which is of feminine gender in French) is a grand-mother. By the way, the music, composed by André Popp, is very good and well orchestrated.

    François

    P.S.: Jean-Paul is a grand-father (like me !), but he plays quite well in tune, as compared to the many bassists I played with...
     
  14. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    No, we should not do that, although it's already happened in the links in this topic.
    These tempo indications are not original and don't appear in the manuscript or in any Urtext edition. Bach seldom wrote any tempo indications. Do these appear in some French edition perhaps ? They make perfect sense, but are a bit arbitrary, it could just as well have been Allegro, Andante, and Presto.
     
  15. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Generally yes, but I did hear some places where his pitch was a bit too low. Of course that is wont to happen with string players unless they are really extremely good.
     
  16. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Chris, look at what is apparently the original manuscript:
    http://petrucci.mus.auth.gr/imglnks/usi ... WV_525.pdf

    As a matter of fact, there's no indication for the first movement, but there are for the two following ones, as in my edition. So the correct indication could be
    - 1 mvt
    - 2nd mvt (Adagio)
    - 3rd mvt (Allegro)... ?
     
  17. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    You mean 'this may happen unless they are really extremely good' ?
     
  18. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes you're right. In fact he wrote tempo indications for all trio sonata movements except the very first, so we should do it the same if only to be politically correct :)

    Yes, that is what I meant. I collaborate(d)
    with different string players and it's very hard for them to be always exactly in tune. We should not bitch at them too much, they are doing their best :D
     
  19. hanysz

    hanysz Member

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    It means pretty much the same thing. It's fun to see someone using "wont" accurately.
     

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