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New Beckerath At Marlborough College


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#1 riddler67

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 11:32 AM

As the Canterbury debate moves onwards and the well-documented and arguably still present "division" between European and British organ builders comes to the fore again, I thought you all might be interested in some info about our new Beckerath. We invited tenders from many builders, British and European, with a firm belief that it must be possible to get the best of all worlds in one instrument, without it sounding idiotic! I firmly believe that this Beckerath will help to bridge the Euro-divide - it has a warmth and a Britishness to it and a fiercely French swell (which of course means that it's perfect for Anglican tradition accompaniment with three 8' strings, a 4' stringy Fugara a string mixture, stopped and open 8' flutes etc). In the 62 stop instrument 10 ranks (almost all from the orginal Forster & Andrews of 1878 and almost all wood) have been retained. We went for Beckerath purely for their sound and the quality of the mechanical action. No anti-British thing here, simply a case of the best proposal winning: pricing, while an issue, was not relevant in the final choice. As a school we want our pupils to be able to hear North German principal choruses, French classical Cornets and Cromornes, the French symphonic swell, the warmth, sonorities and scale of the great British tradition - and Beckerath have proved (IMHO) that with real attention to scaling and voicing all these apparently diverse sounds can be brought together. This doesn't sound like 4 different organs coupled together: every stop on every division compliments every other stop. Of course others have done this, some more successfully than others.... But please don't think of this instrument as being remotely similar to the only other UK Beckerath at Clare - things have moved on somewhat!

Specification follows.

GREAT
1. Großprincipal 16’ New
2. Principal 8’ New
3. Principal Céleste 8’ New
4. Viola da Gamba 8’ New
5. Rohrgedeckt 8’ Exist
6. Octave 4’ New
7. Waldflöte 4’ New
8. Quinte 2 2/3’ New
9. Superoctave 2’ New
10. Cornet V 8’ New
11. Mixtur V 1 1/3’ New
12. Cymbel III 2/3’ New
13. Bombarde 16’ New
14. Trompete 8’ New
15. Clarine 4’ New
Tremulant

SWELL (ENCLOSED)
16. Flûte allemande 16’ New
17. Bourdon 8’ New
18. Flûte ouvrit 8’ Exist
19. Viole d’Orchestre 8’ Exist
20. Voix Céleste 8’ New
21. Aeoline 8’ New
22. Fugara 4’ New
23. Flûte octaviante 4’ New
24. Nazard 2 2/3’ New
25. Octavin 2’ New
26. Tierce 1 3/5’ New
27. Sifflet 1’ New
28. Harm. Aethera III 2 2/3’ New
29. Plein Jeu V 2’ New
30. Basson 16’ New
31. Hautbois 8’ New
32. Trompette harm. 8’ New
33. Clairon 4’ New
Tremulant

PEDAL
34. Untersatz 32’ New
35. Principalbaß 16’ New
36. Offenflöte 16’ Exist
37. Bordun 16’ Exist
38. Octavbaß 8’ New
39. Flutebaß 8’ Exist
40. Choralbaß 4’ Exist
41. Mixtur V 2 2/3’ New
42. Contra Bombarde 32’ New
43. Bombarde 16’ New
44. Fagott 16’ New
45. Posaune 8’ New

POSITIV
46. Prestant 8’ New
47. Holzgedeckt 8’ New
48. Prestant 4’ New
49. Spielflöte 4’ New
50. Nasat 2 2/3’ New
51. Gemshorn 2’ New
52. Terz 1 3/5’ New
53. Larigot 1 1/3’ New
54. Scharf IV 1’ New
55. Cromorne 8’ New
Tremulant

SOLO (ENCLOSED)
56. Harmonic Flute 8’ New
57. Flute Céleste 8’ New
58. Concert Flute 4’ Exist
59. Trumpet 8’ New
60. Clarinet 8’ New
61. Vox Humana 8’ New
Tremulant
62. Tuba 8’ Exist

Hope the above formats OK when displayed, apologies if it doesn't.

All are very warmly invited to a Festal Evensong and Organ Dedication by the Bishop of Salisbury at 6.30pm on Sunday 4 Feb, which is followed at 8.00pm with a recital by Simon Preston. Entry to both events is free, but due to space limitations tickets are required. Please email musicsec@marlboroughcollege.org if you're interested.

I do hope that some of you might be interested in coming along. I'm an organ nut, read this site regularly (though this is my first post) and do think that we have something very special here. And I want you to know about it! And of course I'm not biased...

Tim Ridley
Assistant Organist
Marlborough College
Wiltshire

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 12:45 PM

Dear Tom.
thanks for that posting - a very interesting scheme indeed, the selection of fluework at 8' particularly caught my eye, but everything else one would expect is there too.

I would be particularly interested to know how the site question has been solved. The old HN&B job was stuffed in at the East End, where is the Von B.?

Any photo site for us to visit?

Thanks again,
P.

#3 riddler67

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 01:10 PM

Dear Tom.
thanks for that posting - a very interesting scheme indeed, the selection of fluework at 8' particularly caught my eye, but everything else one would expect is there too.

I would be particularly interested to know how the site question has been solved. The old HN&B job was stuffed in at the East End, where is the Von B.?

Any photo site for us to visit?

Thanks again,
P.



The organ is still in a chamber on the north wall - suggestions that we move to the West End gallery were greeted with derision by the governing body (additional cost of a new case adding almost a third to the overall price). But of course the new instrument has been designed properly to speak out from its intended space. The HN&B was a revamp and enlargement of the orginal F&A which was at the West End and was indeed stuffed rather unceremoniously into the new space through necessity. The clarity with which the new instrument speaks around the Chapel is extraordinary (and a relief!).

Loads of photos at http://www.iancrabbe.co.uk/organ.

#4 mrbouffant

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 01:17 PM

Very interesting set of photos. The console looks incredibly dark and heavy.. I guess in real life it's not as forboding.. Not sure I'm that keen on the choice of font for the stop labels either.... Still, if it does the job it was designed for....
organista and sometime software engineer...

#5 riddler67

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 02:46 PM

Very interesting set of photos. The console looks incredibly dark and heavy.. I guess in real life it's not as forboding.. Not sure I'm that keen on the choice of font for the stop labels either.... Still, if it does the job it was designed for....


I'm sure you'll be unsurprised to learn that the console was obliged to be in dark oak to blend in with the existing panelling around it - grade 1 listing and all that, we were given an unequivocal lack of choice in the matter by the local council! Although it does indeed like lighter in real life the overall look is darker than expected due to Beckerath's one and only error - ommitting to tell Heuss, the console manufacture, to reverse the keys from their usual expectation to white naturals/black sharps. However it so happens that none of the organists here could care less so we were happy to leave them as they are rather than put the project behind schedule. The stop font is I suppose a matter of taste - we like it but I'm sure that not everyone will! The feeling was that with every rank of pipes an absolutely beautiful handcrafted gem it would be inappropriate to identify the associated stop with a mere printed label. We feel that the older script style is more individual.

#6 Barry Jordan

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 10:29 PM

I'm sure you'll be unsurprised to learn that the console was obliged to be in dark oak to blend in with the existing panelling around it - grade 1 listing and all that, we were given an unequivocal lack of choice in the matter by the local council! Although it does indeed like lighter in real life the overall look is darker than expected due to Beckerath's one and only error - ommitting to tell Heuss, the console manufacture, to reverse the keys from their usual expectation to white naturals/black sharps. However it so happens that none of the organists here could care less so we were happy to leave them as they are rather than put the project behind schedule. The stop font is I suppose a matter of taste - we like it but I'm sure that not everyone will! The feeling was that with every rank of pipes an absolutely beautiful handcrafted gem it would be inappropriate to identify the associated stop with a mere printed label. We feel that the older script style is more individual.


The thing that I noticed immediately becauseI've just had the same fight with Heuss is that they've used their standard crappy stop-switch units with the really horrible white Teflon stop shafts. They cannot simply replace them with wood either, because the wooden ones have a wider bore, so you have to change the entire units. 113 of them, in our case, at a cost of nearly 20 000 euros. All that plastic does not harmonise well with wood or porcelain or even with gothic buildings. I asked the man at Heuss's if he had no aesthetic sense, but he said, no, that was not his job, he jaust delivered what his customers ordered. If they don't say exactly what they want, they get bog-standard. And I hate those tiny Heuss pistons.

Still, nice to hear of a new sizeable Beckerath. They are unfortunately no longer quite flavour of the month.
Barry Jordan

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 11:14 PM

The organ is still in a chamber on the north wall - suggestions that we move to the West End gallery were greeted with derision by the governing body (additional cost of a new case adding almost a third to the overall price). But of course the new instrument has been designed properly to speak out from its intended space. The HN&B was a revamp and enlargement of the orginal F&A which was at the West End and was indeed stuffed rather unceremoniously into the new space through necessity. The clarity with which the new instrument speaks around the Chapel is extraordinary (and a relief!).

Loads of photos at http://www.iancrabbe.co.uk/organ.



Speechless, for once!

R

#8 Vox Humana

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 11:25 PM

This certainly looks exciting.

I only knew the previous organ from the Collegiate Singers' CDs of Howells's canticles, but, for all Richard Moorhouse's superb accompanying, I thought it sounded distastefully leaden. But then, I've never liked Trombas.

#9 Heckelphone

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Posted 01 December 2006 - 11:39 PM

The stop font is I suppose a matter of taste - we like it but I'm sure that not everyone will! The feeling was that with every rank of pipes an absolutely beautiful handcrafted gem it would be inappropriate to identify the associated stop with a mere printed label. We feel that the older script style is more individual.


The stop font rather reminded me of another sort of Marlboro[ugh]!

I would be thrilled to see this thing, having been among the last to play the old instrument - I came up with Geoffrey Morgan to purchase some ranks of the old pipes.

Do you fancy putting on a Board Open Day? I have access to other instruments in the area - we could make quite a good day of it.

#10 Vox Humana

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 12:11 AM

I'd be up for that.

#11 AJJ

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 08:05 AM

'Good idea!

AJJ
"…We can’t criticize the organ for being boring. In such cases it is the organist that is boring. There is no such thing as a boring organ."

#12 riddler67

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 09:41 AM

I only knew the previous organ from the Collegiate Singers' CDs of Howells's canticles, but, for all Richard Moorhouse's superb accompanying, I thought it sounded distastefully leaden. But then, I've never liked Trombas.



I agree - I was always rather surprised that Priory chose to record this series at Marlborough. Of course the acoustic is ideal, but the old organ sound was indeed leaden, particularly lacking sweetness, clarity and delicacy on the great and swell and decent chorus reeds on the great and pedal. But you're onto a bit of a loser when your great reeds are enclosed in the solo box in a separate part of the organ from the rest of the division!

I think that a Board Open Day would be an excellent idea and will discuss this further with Ian Crabbe, our College Organist.

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 11:49 AM

I agree - I was always rather surprised that Priory chose to record this series at Marlborough.


[discussing Priory's series of Howells CDs]
Or, which is more to the point, why they chose for this project an all-adult ensemble who do not regularly perform these pieces in a liturguical context. It would have ben nice to see that series performed by some of the choirs for whom the music was written, but then so many projects these days are cost-driven.

I have one volume from the series and I have enjoyed it a few times. Truth to tell, it would have been played far more often if this wonderful music had been performed by the sort of choir (and for the sort of tone-quality) for which all these works were written.

#14 riddler67

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 11:57 AM

The thing that I noticed immediately becauseI've just had the same fight with Heuss is that they've used their standard crappy stop-switch units with the really horrible white Teflon stop shafts. They cannot simply replace them with wood either, because the wooden ones have a wider bore, so you have to change the entire units. 113 of them, in our case, at a cost of nearly 20 000 euros. All that plastic does not harmonise well with wood or porcelain or even with gothic buildings. I asked the man at Heuss's if he had no aesthetic sense, but he said, no, that was not his job, he jaust delivered what his customers ordered. If they don't say exactly what they want, they get bog-standard. And I hate those tiny Heuss pistons.

Still, nice to hear of a new sizeable Beckerath. They are unfortunately no longer quite flavour of the month.


Was surprised to read this as our stop shafts are very definitely wood, a very light beech I think. The console may not be to everybody's taste (and isn't the world a better place for difference of opinion!) but it definitely blends well into our pseudo late Gothic building and oozes quality. The Heuss pistons will no doubt cause further debate - no doubt about it they're small. But I've been practising on the organ for a few days now and haven't yet missed a piston: not what I was expecting I have to be honest.

We're fortunate in that Beckerath are using us as a showcase instrument and cutting no corners at all. Unsuprisingly they are desperate to build a big modern instrument in Europe which means that they are actually making a loss on this project. We discovered today that the 32' reed is not an extension of the 16' Bombarde - naturally we'd taken it as read that this would be the case, but yesterday a full set of 32 pipes for each stop arrived from Hamburg. We'd also assumed it would be half length, but no. And no borrowing anywhere other than the Gt 16' principal doubling as the Pedal 16' principal. From our experience with Beckerath they certainly deserve to become flavour of the month again.

#15 JJK

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 05:12 PM

[discussing Priory's series of Howells CDs]
Or, which is more to the point, why they chose for this project an all-adult ensemble who do not regularly perform these pieces in a liturguical context.


I can assure you that most of the pieces recorded on the five priory discs have been sung by the Collegiate Singers at Westminster Abbey - some of them more than once. I know - I was there, singing!

JJK

#16 Pierre Lauwers

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 05:35 PM

The Beckerath firm is not so out of fashion as one
could believe it; see here their last works:

http://www.beckerath...ell/aktuell.htm

....Without forgetting to click on "Projekte", the link in blue at
the top of the page. The organ we are talking about here
has its picture there.

Pierre

#17 Barry Jordan

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Posted 02 December 2006 - 07:07 PM

Was surprised to read this as our stop shafts are very definitely wood, a very light beech I think.


Sorry about that. It's my eyes.........

Just to put the record straight, I'm actually a big Beckerath fan, the last instrument in which the old man himself had a hand went into the concert Hall at the University of Cape Town and has influenced me lastingly. Of course there's no one there any more from those days, but there are certain sounds which have remained with them (and may they never die), like those absolutely characteristic Rohrflöten.

Just in case anyone might think I was bashing them....as you'll see from their pages though, they haven't built a large new organ in Germany for a long time, and even lost the contract for a rebuild of the landmark Beckerath organ in the Petrikirche Hamburg to Schuke. I wish them well.

Cheers
Barry
Barry Jordan

#18 Jeremy Jones

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 12:27 PM

[discussing Priory's series of Howells CDs]
Or, which is more to the point, why they chose for this project an all-adult ensemble who do not regularly perform these pieces in a liturguical context. It would have ben nice to see that series performed by some of the choirs for whom the music was written, but then so many projects these days are cost-driven.

Couldn't agree with you more there, Paul. In my opinion, the decision to record the series with a mixed adult choir was one of the great missed opportunities in recent years. Just think what we could have had if they (Priory) had made the recordings with some of our finest cathedral choirs? This is not to cast aspersions on the Collegiate Singers, who are a fine choir and do a decent job.

Of course, the new Beckerath at Marlborough is in many ways an organists' paradise, with full length 32ft flue and reed, fiery chorus reeds, translucent flutes, a bit of this, a bit of that, plus the old Tuba and some of the F&A pipework being retained. Stylistically, however, it leaves a lot to be desired (dog's breakfast, anyone?). Give me the integrity and honesty of the Beckerath organ at Clare College, Cambridge, any day.
Audere est Facere

#19 pcnd5584

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 02:06 PM

Do you fancy putting on a Board Open Day? I have access to other instruments in the area - we could make quite a good day of it.


I also think that this is a good idea. So, where else are we to visit, David?
Pierre Cochereau rocked, man


#20 sprondel

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Posted 04 December 2006 - 03:09 PM

...
SWELL (ENCLOSED)
16. Flûte allemande 16’ New
...

What kind of stop is this?

I found it in several more recent Beckerath stoplists. Some new clever manual 16-foot sound? An alternative to Quintadenas, Pommers, Bourdons, Gambas? I felt reminded of our "Portunal" thread earlier this year.

Best,
Friedrich




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