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Bach's organ music arranged for piano and string bass

Discussion in 'Submission Room' started by Francois de Larrard, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Dear All,
    I haven't show up for a long time on PS, due to a heavy work load. I'm pleased to find the site still very active, due to the committment of the members and, overall, of the administrators...
    Since I am in Lyon, I have met Jean-Paul, a string bass player, with whom we play jazz. However, for warming up we had the idea to practice some Bach's organ music, which is quite suitable for such a duo (the pedal part being played by the bass). This first piece is one of the most famous chorals, well known through Busoni's arrangement for piano solo. Here we played the score as it is written, except some minor octave transposition (the bass cannot play lower than the low E of the piano). Hope you enjoy it !


    Bach - Choral BWV 639 'Ich ruf'zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ'
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hi Francois,
    Wow, what a conicidence :shock: - both us submitting a recording played on two instruments on the same day :shock: :!: :)
    I think you are right that the bass works wells with this music. Very nice! I have processed the file and put the link here.
    I will update the main site tomorrow.

    edit: it is up now.
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Well done ! Yes that combination works well, the string bass rather like a continuo part. IMHO this could be played with a bit more depth and feeling, it sounds a bit too brisk and matter-of-factly (though that is a matter of taste). Personally I find repeating the theme an octave higher a bit corny and un-Bachian (also a matter of taste, probably).
     
  4. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    I like the idea of taking organ repertoire, splitting off the pedal line, and giving it to a separate bass instrument, leaving the manualiter lines to an ordinary single-keyboard instrument.

    However, translating this to a pizzicato execution lends an almost too irreverently comical flavour to what is after all a plaintive hymn. That said, one can just about get away with it in this piece, given that its original pedal line kind of throbs along relentlessly in a non-legato fashion.

    Unfortunately, listening with my usual cheap computer speakers, the bass part is completely inaudible. With headphones I can hear it, but feel it's still rather overpowered by the piano. It would be nice if the balance could be adjusted.

    At the risk of overdoing the comic quality, it might work really well using a harpsichord with a buff stop.
     
  5. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you Monica ! Well, the difference between us is that I am absolutely unable to play the bass part, while you did so well for your flute part...

    Thanks Chris for your comments. If depth means slow, I agree that our version can lack depth. Otherwise, I tried, on the contrary, to play with weight (especially on the RH part) with a singing left part. But I agree our tempo is strict, unlike some romantic versions of the Busoni's transcription. Personnaly I think there is no reason to alter the tempo in such a piece. It is not at all a recitative, but a choral, as we can find many in the cantatas or in the passions. As for the octaves, it's a way both to introduce variety between different sections, and to display the soprano part (remember we cannot change registration in piano !). Now, if you don't like it, you don't like it...

    Rainer, thank you for your listening. As for your comments, I have difficulties to understand what you mean: what is comical in this choral ? What do you mean by 'harpsichord with a buff stop' ? Please forgive my limited English... As for the balance between both instruments, we have checked this point and I think that if you listen the recording on a reasonable lounge sound system, it's OK. But in a car, for instance, you may wonder if there is any bass playing, since the bass frequency range is similar to that of the engine...
     
  6. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    The pizzicato creates a comical effect, like "jazzing it up". Leaves you wondering when the saxophone is going to come in. :)
    A "stop" on a harpsichord or organ is a voice selector, I think you call it "registre" in French. A "buff stop" on a harpsichord makes pieces of leather or felt touch the strings so that they resonate for a much shorter time, giving a kind of muffled sound, also somewhat comical.
    Here it is not a problem with background noise. I've been listening on the cheap speakers which came free with my new computer, and unfortunately their bass frequency response is very bad. I have an old computer (no longer used) in the attic, and I have just gone to get its speakers and connect them to the new computer. The old speakers were also free with the computer, but are very much better than the new ones, the difference is like night and day, I can hear the bass fine now! Sorry for the unnecessary fuss.
     
  7. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks Rainer for the explanations regarding harpsichord. By the way, I don't think harpsichord would be very suitable for this piece, given the quarter notes of the upper voice which must be played legato and sostenuto, while the harpsichord notes quickly vanish.
    Finally, I still don't know what is funny with pizzicati, but we should have different references...
     
  8. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member Piano Society Artist

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    Sorry for going a little off-topic, everyone.
    Francois, by coincidence, the day you put this recording up I came across your recording of the Goldberg Variations and listened to it.
    Very nice, and thanks for posting the entire cycle to the web site.
     
  9. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thanks very much, Stu. Actually, it was a long effort to learn this monument of keyboard musicw, but very rewarding in terms of serenity! Regards,
     
  10. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    For some reason I couldn't hear a single note of the bass part, just piano. :?
     
  11. Francois de Larrard

    Francois de Larrard Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Hello Eddy,
    This is probably because you listen the recording on the small headphones of your computer, which are very weak in the bass range. If you have a suitable cable, just connect your computer on your home stereo system, and you'll hear that there is a double-bass playing !
    Regards,
     
  12. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member

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    Yes, you are right. And I discovered one of my speakers is out ... again!
     

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