Ciurlionis Organ Competition, Round 2, Group 3

in secretsoforganplaying •  last month 

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I just had a lunch with Tyler Boehmer, an American organist who played at the competition yesterday. Before that we had a very insightful conversation for our Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast which will go live on Sunday, so stay tuned!

And now I'm sitting at the church of St Casimir's waiting for today's audition to being. There is some 20 minute delay because of the technical issues of the organ needed to be taken care of. Some mechanics of the manuals and tuning of the Trompete stop. But now it's all ready to go.

The live stream should be available from competition's website:

http://ciurlionis.link/en/b/organ

The first contestant today is No. 14 Ae Shell Nam from South Korea. He starts his program with Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 by Johann Sebastian Bach. The registration of the Fantasia's loud episodes includes manual Trompete which sounds out of place here to me. The soft episodes are played only with principals 8' and 4'. Could have been a separate principal chorus on a positive instead. The tempo started to fluctuate too much in the middle. The fugue starts without 16' in the manual. Tempo is too fast to be able to hear fugal entries and counterpoint. The first pedal entrance of the fugue is with a mistake. Did organist use pedal preparation? Not sure if the hands and feet sound together in one phrase where they move in parallel 6th chords. The ending sounds rushed.

My score based on the scale of 10:

Technique: 6
Registration: 7
Artistry: 6

Next on the program is Fugue in C# minor, VL 86 by Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis which is required piece for Round 2. Good registration in the middle section where E major comes in. The stop changes towards the culmination sound a little too late. Not much attention to harmonic changes. Needs more articulation to let it breath between the phrases.

My score:

Technique: 8
Registration: 7
Artistry: 7

The final composition is "Transports de joie" by Olivier Messiaen from "L'Ascension". The organist doesn't seem to use the trick of playing a piece one octave down at least some episodes where the manual range allows it. This would make it sound more French when playing on the Neo-Baroque organ. Some chords feel rushed. Especially in culmination.

My score:

Technique: 7
Registration: 7
Artistry: 7

Now is the turn for No. 16 Filip Šmerda from Czech Republic. He starts with Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 548 by J.S. Bach. I need more articulation in the hand part in many places. The manual part is too weak to balance the Posaune in the pedals in the prelude. Is there 16' in the hand parts? The fugue is also played on the same registration. A small slip in the hand part doesn't prevent the flow of music. I don't hear articulation in the 16th note runs. Sometimes there is no sense of pulse and strong and weak beats.

My score:

Technique: 6
Registration: 7
Artistry: 7

The next piece is the fugue by Ciurlionis. I miss more attention to harmonic changes and subject entries at the beginning. The breathing between phrases could be more prominent in these acoustics. Conservative climax in terms of registration. Works well.

My score:

Technique: 8
Registration: 10
Artistry: 8

We now again hear "Transports de joie" by Olivier Messiaen from "L'Ascension". I again see the dilemma of making this organ sound more French. Some chordal passages could be played with more attention. The same could be said about the final long run. Great sounding final cadence.

My score:

Technique: 7
Registration: 7
Artistry: 7

The next contestant is No. 17 Alexander Little from United Kingdom. He plays BWV 548 which we heard before. I have my own doubts about the registration here. The manual part sounds too harsh because of Trompete. More than a few small mistakes don't disturb musical flow. Need much more attention to articulation. The final trill in the prelude could be performed with more stylistic awareness. The same registration in the fugue. Here the organist doesn't control the 16th note runs with articulation. Can't emphasize this enough. Not a complete final trill.

My score:

Technique: 5
Registration: 7
Artistry: 6

Next sounds the fugue by Ciurlionis. Good registration at the beginning. The musical flow seems a little rushed, producing a mistake in one place at the beginning where the pedals come in. Pedals are too weak in E major episode. Wrong note before B minor. Needs more attention to harmonic changes. The ending is rushed too.

My score:

Technique: 8
Registration: 8
Artistry: 6

The final piece is "Transports de joie" by O. Messiaen. At times chordal passages sounds chaotic. Good enthusiastic spirit though. The organ lacks French colors. Better articulation is perhaps needed for scalar passages to be heard properly. The final pedal two-note motive is too slow for my taste.

My score:

Technique: 6
Registration: 7
Artistry: 7

After a short break the next contestant arrives. This is No. 20 Jan Šprta from Czech Republic. His program starts with Prelude and Fugue in Eb major, BWV 552. The organist seems to wield the acoustics well at the beginning. Good principal chorus with mixtures and 1 3/5'. I want more attention to the key changes. A couple note slips don't disturb the flow of music. The fugato episode needs more articulation and attention to details. The final cadence seems rushed. The 1st fugue starts with reduced registration but a bit faster tempo. The 3rd fugue sounds too fast in relationship with the previous fugue. Better articulation is needed. The final trill needs more stylistic awareness.

My score:

Technique: 7
Registration: 10
Artistry: 7

Next sounds the fugue by Ciurlionis. Rushed tempo and no attention to melodic and harmonic changes at the beginning. More rush in the middle. Good balance between hands and pedals. Before B minor episode two noticeable mistakes. The chaos in culmination. Registration doesn't work here because of the reed.

My score:

Technique: 7
Registration: 6
Artistry: 5

The final piece is "Transports de joie" by Olivier Messiaen which we heard before. Exciting spirit in performance. Registration changes toward culmination come too late because of the assistant. Needs more French flavor in registration. The final cadence could have been listened with more attention.

My score:

Technique: 8
Registration: 8
Artistry: 8

And the final contestant in the 2nd Round is No. 22 Hyun Sun Park from South Korea. The organist starts her program with the fugue by Ciurlionis. Calm tempo and no rush provide a feeling of contemplation. A little bit better phrasing is needed. I want more pedals in E major episode. In culmination a little mistake is heard and I think more forward movement could have been better. Also need to listen to harmonic changes more.

My score:

Technique: 7
Registration: 8
Artistry: 7

Now sounds "Eaux natales" from Poèmes pour orgue: "Eaux natales" by Thierry Escaich. We've heard this piece yesterday played by Tyler Broehmer. I like his opening registration more. But later the performance gets in the mood pretty well. Nice registration colors at the end.

My score:

Technique: 10
Registration: 8
Artistry: 10

The final piece for today is Toccata and Fugue in E major, BWV 566. Strange choice of reed for the pedals. I think it's Dulcian from the Positive. Certainly not Posaune. The first fugue is registered with 8', 4', 2' principals in the manual and 8' and 4' principals in the pedals. It is played with only a few small hiccups towards the end. The second fugue is registered with Trompete in the manuals and Posaune in the pedals. I hear a small mistake here. A better articulation and attention to harmonic changes is needed.

My score:

Technique: 6
Registration: 8
Artistry: 6

There you have it! Round 2 is over and I'll be waiting for organizers to announce the results. I will also calculate my own scores in a separate post. Stay tuned!

Organ specification:
http://www.vargonai.lt/vargonai_vilnius_kazimiero.htm

[Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion which may or may not coincide with the reader's opinion. If you don't like it, write your own.]

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Check out my Secrets of Organ Playing books:
https://amazon.com/author/vidaspinkevicius


I'm co-owner of witness untersatz with @contrabourdon!

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I wasn't this time. I hope to see record

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