Muffat 'Apparatus': Difficulty, registration suggestions, any tips?
  • I studied this collection during my thesis and I really enjoy it, especially the Ciacona. My teacher wants me to start working on a "big" piece and I'd love to do that one first. I've listened to some recordings on YouTube but none of them really seemed to "strike a chord" with me. I don't know anything about the instrument Muffat would have had during that time (published 1696 so he's still at Salzburg then), but I do like to stay faithful to those details when and if it's possible. The only available copy from my university library is a Peters Edition which adds pedal and probably a whole host of other stuff Muffat wouldn't have intended. I haven't checked the manuscript copy on IMSLP for a while, but if a modern print of the manuscript exists it would be nice to take a peek at it.
  • doneill
    Posts: 176
    There is a great recording by Michael Radulescu of the entire Apparatus - I hope it's still available. It was recorded on the stylistically appropriate organ of the Michaelerkirche in Vienna. The best edition is by Doblinger - get that, and it will be of great benefit. It is great music and highly useful for playing Catholic liturgies.
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    This is one of my favorite Muffat pieces, played by an excellent organist on an historic instrument. I am assuming you mean Georg Muffat? Also, have you read, "Georg Muffat On Performance Practice," available from Barnes & Noble? Although mostly concerned with violin, still contains some interesting info about the period and styles.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srvKsvAf_JA
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,866
    The now rather quiescent piporg-l can be searched for threads on Muffat.

    I haven't yet got a promised answer to a query about temperaments arising from toccata XI.
  • Thanks all! Good old Doblinger...I purchased their edition of Biber's 'Rosary' Sonatas and they are full of editing and even bowings...I will welcome such "suggestions" in the case of the Muffat, however.

    @CharlesW: Yes I am well versed in Muffat's writings, secured a very nice translation at the library although I need to get it again. I am performing one of the suites from his 'Armonico Tributo' this spring with the baroque orchestra I play with. Since I spend pretty much zero time with French or French-style music I have much to learn...the ornamentation can really be tricky sometimes.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    Those ornaments are not always written out and it isn't always clear where to put ornamentation. Couperin was quite clear and direct on how he wanted ornaments played. Other composers were vague and left it up to the performer. Remembering that many of them were harpsichordists helps, since ornaments were about the only way to sustain notes on that instrument. They carried those practices into their organ works, even though the organs could sustain notes indefinitely. One of my organ professors once said you can play those ornaments to please your ear, which is what the performers of the day often did. I love French music both Baroque and Romantic, and play it frequently.
  • doneill
    Posts: 176
    Fidem,

    The Doblinger edition of Muffat was supervised by Radulescu, and it is scholarly, with no superfluous interpretative markings.
  • Glad to hear it, thanks so much!!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    I have nothing at all against historically informed performance practice - notice I said "historically informed." I can promise you a 300-year-old organ does not sound as it did when built. It has almost certainly been rebuilt at some point with no guarantee that nothing was changed from the original design or materials used by the original builder. That said, historically informed performance is a good thing, but maybe not the most important thing. As an organ professor once told me, "Make the music beautiful first, then look to historical performance practices." If it isn't beautiful, it won't be something that an audience or congregation will want to hear.
  • doneill
    Posts: 176
    I agree - historical knowledge is no guarantee of good musicianship, but I find that it often informs good musicianship. With early fingering, for instance, I am not slavish to the treatises, but I find that it is an excellent guide into patterns, which gives me ideas, and then great music emerges. It's not all about what the composer intended (and many composers would agree); nor is it entirely up to the performer. It's a mental process, and historical knowledge is a part of that.
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  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    Exactly, it is a process. However, contemporary scholarship often doesn't allow for personalities or other variables in the composers, themselves. Franck, for example, never played anything the same way twice, according to his contemporaries. Do we know for certain that Bach didn't say at a specific time, "You know, I think this will sound better a little faster and with the 4-foot proboscishonker on the swell?" Performance is not as cut and dried as some scholars would have us believe.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,866
    Make the music beautiful first, then look to historical performance practices.
    I wonder why one would bother, if the steps were in that order! Isn't beauty the goal?
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood doneill
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    Beauty is always the goal. I have heard organists play what they considered authentic historical practice on "historic" reproductions, and it was anything but beautiful. I have also heard organists who could make about anything beautiful and seemed to be able to coax the best out of any organ.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,307
    Make the music beautiful first, then look to historical performance practices.

    Inform your sense of beauty with research into historical (and other) performance practices.
    Thanked by 1doneill
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,052
    Basic to making music beautiful is God-given talent. Study can improve that talent, but it can't compensate for a lack of it.
  • @Adam Wood: That is precisely why I inquire into performance practice and also why I have a graduate degree in music history :-) I also don't want the piece to sound completely daft (what a great word, Americans should use it more LOL) on my thoroughly modern instrument.

    I am no stickler about HIP, even if heavily edited parts irritate me sometimes. In too many instances it leads to bland and completely uninspiring performances. Rather, I am simply making note of my weakness and in this case it's the French style-both organ and violin! The 'Armonico Tributo' is quite helpful in that most of the ornaments ARE written out, although God help me for getting my fingers twisted trying to execute some of them.

    @CharlesW: "4 foot proboscishonker" LOL I just startled one of my cats off the bed from laughing too loudly!!!!
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • doneill
    Posts: 176
    I prefer to see interpretation not so much as what I want to do it, but rather like peeling layers and discovering the natural beauty that is already there. Historical performance practice knowledge is one of my tools to do that. With poor liturgical music, I always feel as if I need to improve it or add something to it to make it presentable. I shouldn't have to do that if there is beauty already inherent in it.
  • I hear ya there. I've learned a LOT about improvising and "improving" poorly written music in this job, especially the contemporary stuff.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW