View Full Version : Re: Widor Toccata - speed
03-27-2006, 12:14 AM
Virgil Fox whips through this sucker at an ungodly speed in Virgil Fox Encores, about 152. Now there's a tempo for ya. After listening to Virgil play it and then trying to listen to any of the recordings I have of it otherwise, it just sounds deathly boring. Gordon Turk does it at about 108 on his ocean grove CD, and it just bores me to death every time I hear it. Pierre Cochereao manages about 90 on his "organ recital" CD, and the organ is the only thing keeping me listening to that recording. Really, it's my personal opinion that this piece needs to be played ultra-fast to really give the adrenaline rush it was designed for I'm sure.
03-27-2006, 12:45 AM
Well, it almost depends on the accoustic. I bet if you went up to St. Supice and tried to play it at 152, it would be about as clear as mud, because that place has GOT to have fabulous accoustics. I have heard Virgil Foxes recording of it, and I swear I can hear Widor flippin in his grave everytime it gets played. I think it is alright to step up the pace a bit for dry accoustics, but...yeah...not that much. I would say 120-125 MAXIMUM. And, it depends on the organ. If the organ's voicing is covered and muted, then I would also slow it down a bit, so that things dont run together. Play it through on your organ, and find what you consider, thee ideal speed!
03-27-2006, 03:15 AM
Really, it's my personal opinion that this piece needs to be played ultra-fast to really give the adrenaline rush it was designed for I'm sure.
I (as I have mentioned) am fine tuning it for easter, and have been asking some organ friends of mine about it. The way one of them put it was simply that most of these people don't listen to this piece all the time! It's going to sound exciting whether you play it at 150 or at 118. Might as well play it closer to the speed that it was intended!
03-27-2006, 12:04 PM
I used to have an LP of Widor himself playing it and was surprised at how slowly he did it. Mind he was about 180 years old when he recorded it, don't know if that made any difference. I can't find the LP now so can't quantify it.
03-27-2006, 02:07 PM
At 100 it lasts slightly over 6 1/2 minutes. I just tried it.
With any reverb to speak of it must sound awful at Virgil's speed.
I've always thought of it as majestic (with the pedal progression) by which I mean it needs a certain degree of deliberateness rather than speed. I think that's what Widor was aiming at when he revised the speed indication downward later on. The contrast between the pedal and the right hand are enough to fool the brain into thinking it is faster than it really is. And the distinction between the eighth note chords and the following 16ths in the left hand is lost if you play it too fast for the acoustics.
03-27-2006, 04:30 PM
There's an interesting thread on the same subject over on the Mander Organs board - here (http://web16713.vs.netbenefit.co.uk/discussion/index.php?showtopic=399).
03-27-2006, 05:02 PM
I have always read that Widor did not like things to be played so fast- when talking about Liszt he stressed that he had played SLOWLY, something most people still do not realize. The toccata is not the most complex construction, so it can still be intelligable when sped up a bit.
03-27-2006, 06:48 PM
I definitely learned it, and played it fast as hell...but the organs I have regular access to aren't the greatest acoustically. If I were to play it at St. Pulpice, I would spend the extra time to bask in every single note.
03-28-2006, 08:27 PM
You know, those old wax recordings are great, but I doubt they're still accurate to the speed. It's wax for goodness sakes! When they were re-recorded digitally I'm sure they were changed to even speeds out (due to the poor recording).
None the less, it still is slow.
Calme et Grandeur... I love it!
03-29-2006, 09:29 PM
Any change in speed during recording (or during playback) would automatically result in a change of pitch of the sound.
Not necissarily... There is a program called "SlowGold" (or something like that) that can raise or lower the speed without effecting the pitch. Now, obviously the more you change the speed, the more distorted the sound becomes, but still... It's certainly worth checking out.
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