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bazuin

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About bazuin

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  1. "what's wrong with learning to play idiomatically on, say, an EP-action instrument?" Nothing, but how many idiomatic (as opposed to eklektik) EP organs are built today? In the UK the dogmas of the reform movt mean that consciences of the organists won't let it happen (even the new EP organs have to have the Positive with the mutations and the high mixture...) In any case it is easier to learn on mechanical and later be able to play well on EP than vice versa. "but it looks as though the SS contract was signed quite some time before there was any evidence of what the SW3 organ might sound like..." yes but an hour on EasyJet would put you in close proximity with many many other fine examples. I assume the SS people travelled a little before they signed the contract?! "I think a broader issue, which underlies much of what's written here, is that organists are in danger of being educated exclusively as period specialists." There is no evidence that this is the case. There is little idiomatic playing of 'period' music on the organ in the UK anyway, so organs like these have to be seen as a positive move. It may also reflect the music sung at SS - I don't know where their repertoire preferences lie - perhaps someone can fill us in? "Do organs like these encourage contemporary/experimental composers, I wonder?" yes of course! Here's a good recent example: http://www.echo-organs.org/Nuovi-Fiori-Musicali.7.0.html Bazuin
  2. "I don't know whether others had already heard about this commission - if so, apologies. I'm afraid I'm dismayed at the impending arrival of yet another Euro-organ, when so many characterful native instruments lie neglected in redundant buildings..." I think it's a shame to mix these two issues up. I wholeheartedly agree with your point about rehousing - this is one of the biggest issues facing Britain's (still) disappearing organ heritage. Seemingly the IBO are having considerable success in re-housing instruments from their online list incidentally. On the other hand, if a new organ is to be built then commissioning it from Flentrop is certainly not to be regretted - this is a world-class organ builder with the most important restoration portfolio in the world. If you need convincing go to Chelsea - probably the best new organ built in London since the war (although Grosvenor is also very fine). "To be honest, what annoys most about this contract, is the underlying assumption (?) that a teaching instrument needs to be of a particular type, aesthetic and quality." Organs of particular types and aesthetics are undoubtedly better for teaching particular types and aesthetics of organ literature because they encourage the successful application of the techniques associated with said types and aesthetics. I hope it's fair to say that even in this country, where a student's contact with historic organs is necessarily limited, there is a general assumption that the one-size-fits-all organ technique is a thing of the past. Intruments with specific characteristics, specific playing techniques (whether the application of what Vogel calls the 'structured legato', or paired fingerings or even a student understanding how Sauer 'programmed' a Walze in order that he/she successfully register Reger) and the literature itself are all highly interdependent. "Is it thought that English builders can't/didn't produce instruments of a high tonal & mechanical calibre? Do all recent installations prove that continental builders can/do?" No, of course not. But Chelsea proves that Flentrop CAN produce an organ of the highest tonal and mechanical calibre. (Their work in Holland and elsewhere suggests that they do so consistently). "I suppose the Flentrop flue sound is actually more-or-less what Ralph Downes was aiming for" Perhaps - Ralph Downes had extensive contact with Dirk Flentrop. But DF's organ building ideals were firmly neo-baroque - Flentrop haven't built organs like that for more than 30 years now. Downes was quite happy to embrace open toes and nick-free languids. This doesn't really have anything to do with the present Flentrop style which is firmly based on their almost-daily contact with well-preserved pre-1800 organs of the first order. The winding systems they use (almost always wedge bellows) play an important role in the sound character. Bazuin
  3. This project has to be taken very seriously because of the calibre of the people involved. Hans-Ola Ericsson is one of the great organists/scholars of our time and Woehl is undoubtedly a great organ builder. Of course there is nothing in the existing organ repertoire which requires all those mutations or the registration tools, but to think of it in those terms is to miss the point entirely. One concern jumps at me though - the organ seems to be very large. The room clearly isn't. Bazuin
  4. bazuin

    What can we do?

    Last week on a visit to the deep South (of England) I visited an organ recital which neatly encompassed the problems of the genre. I paid £7 to get in, the church was cold, the advertising was amateurish, the programming was lazy and lacked any thread, and although the organ was excellent and the player quite good I barely felt like I got my money's worth. Had I wished to drink a glass of wine during the interval it would have cost me another £2. The audience was attended by all of about 40 people. There are various reasons why people don't go to hear organ recitals any more. Post-reform movement performance practice has nothing to do with it (people flock to hear Rachel Podger play unaccompanied Bach on the same violin for the entire concert MM!) I think the problems lie elsewhere: - the organ is only musical instrument for which you can regularly pay to hear substandard playing - organ recitals usually happen in churches which, with some exceptions, are seldom good at doing PR. - even in the best situations, organ events are rarely professionally advertised to the extent that other art music genres are. (This is very important - at the annual Toulouse les Orgues festival the events are advertised much like a top concert hall would sell Joshua Bell or Daniel Barenboim and the audiences are huge, often paying prices unheard of in the UK - EUR 25 is quite normal). If one's resources aren't as lavish as in Toulouse, JOR's 'endless legwork' becomes essential. Unlike the era of WT Best, audiences have thousands of choices in terms of how they use their leisure time. - organists, especially but certainly not exclusively, in the UK, have a habit of playing very dull repertoire by second rate composers (Harvey Grace's championing of Rheinberger was great for Rheinberger but very bad for organ recitals!) How often do you hear an organist performing with the principle clarinetist, cellist, trombonist (delete as appropriate) of the nearest professional orchestra? On the continent the organ and contemporary dance genre has been done to death but I've never seen it in the UK. The problem with what JOR calls 'tuneful, worthy music' is that it further alienates the organ from mainstream (art-) music making. Concert pianists or violinists don't tend to play 'tuneful, worthy' music. It also more or less rules out any contact with contemporary music and the possibility to engage with today's composers. In the UK, organ concerts, especially in churches, and especially when they become social events (ie a lunch concert includes lunch!) can be very successful. I believe Gordon Stewart's series in Huddersfield attracts large audiences for instance (albeit not in church of course). The UK is also very good at outreach work with children etc (organists like Daniel Moult are especially good). What I also notice is that organists with series in their own churches tend to invite a certain kind of colleague - either the local Cathedral assistant, or a less local but long-established 'big name'. (To the non-organ world, the organ world doesn't have big names!) Why, for example, are the most recent prize winners of the international competitions not invited? Often they're still students, desperate for the performing experience, and certainly not demanding huge fees. This way the cliche that the organ is the sole preserve of middle-aged men (too common!) is avoided and international players bring a completely different programming dynamic. Stepping off the soap-box... Bazuin
  5. Will the CD only include the tracks included on the CD released by the BBC at the time? It would be a shame if DGW's Stockholm Eben Moto Ostinato (among others) wasn't to find its way onto disc. Bazuin
  6. "It was very striking that what is now exists is very much an Edwardian instrument in character, with the original Norman & Beard still intact and in fine voice. What I found remarkable was the blend of old and new pipework; a task in which the voicer had relished. " I had a conversation two weeks ago with the consultant who said exactly the same thing. Although I stand by my comment a year ago that Klais were not the obvious choice to undertake such a project, I now know why they were chosen and they have clearly achieved something quite fascinating there! Regarding Satyagraha, it's worth checking out the late Donald Joyce's recording of the piece (on a CD of Glass organ works) recorded on the big Brombaugh organ in Collegedale - it's really something. Bazuin
  7. bazuin

    DACs

    East Neuk Festival: http://www.eastneukfestival.com/ Not nearly as eccentric as you might imagine. An example of an excellent festival in an unlikely place south of the border might be this: http://www.brinkburnmusic.org/ Desperately trying to bring this back 'on-topic', as far an I'm aware, Paul McCreesh has yet to find a way to involve the 1867 Hill organ, which according to my good friend 'Gross Geigen' is a beauty... Bazuin
  8. bazuin

    DACs

    "I like it anyway!" That's the most important thing! I know about the Abbot and Smith rebuilds of course, and as you point out these clearly made it impossible to judge the original instrument. G and D were at the time the most French-inspired of the UK builders (driven on in Leeds by Mr Spark if my memory is correct). The Back and Front Great idea is clearly influenced by Cavaille-Coll. The horizontal reeds in the solo must have been quite something I think. "As for the organ of St George's Hall being awarded a bottom of the class grade certificate, I think that says all there is to say about the BIOS scheme." I think you've missed the point of the CoR which was introduced specifically so that BIOS could certificate altered organs. Ripon Cathedral has just got one as well. Given that St George's Hall is in such need of restoration and a BIOS certificate can help with fund raising, I think they should be applauded. "I have lost count of the recitals I have given for free or for expenses only, and if people like me didn't give our time and dedication to what is largely a lost cause, the whole organ-scene would collapse from the roots up." In Holland, little is different. It's a great place for organs but a dreadful place to be an organist. Without the amateur enthusiasts and the organists (often highly trained) playing concerts for peanuts, there would be virtually no organ culture. "We are now in the grip of low-quality popular culture, largely fuelled by purely commercial interests, drugs and alcohol." My friends in Sweden say much the same thing. Did you know there's now a very successful chamber music festival in the villages of the East Neuk of Fife? Interesting that you remember the Great George Street Hill. This case alone justifies, in my view, the legal protection of historic organs. If there were, maybe the other historic organs in Liverpool (including the Father Willis and Bewsher and Fleetwood organs in Edge Hill) may have a rosier future. Bazuin PS, I had a similar experience when I was a 'tadpole'. In my case it was the largest unaltered surviving organ of George Holdich (as far as I can tell). It was taken by an unscrupulous organ builder (from your corner of the planet, MM!) when I was 12 years old (the church closed) and was broken up. With hindsight it was a significant formative experience I think.
  9. bazuin

    DACs

    "The same is true of the originally ineffective Gray & Davison organ at Leeds Town Hall, which was wonderfully transformed by a combination of good re-casting and some superb voicing and re-voicing from Dennis Thurlow." About this I'm rather astonished although I've never heard the organ live. I had always suspected that this was a tragic example of an organ going out of fashion rather than ineffectiveness. I can't believe it was made more effective by adding lots of Stinkens squeeks (which is what happened when it was rebuilt in the 1970s, according to the little history of it by Kenneth Johnstone). "Perhaps the idea of a graded organ certificate may be more acceptable, with the highest grade reserved for national treasures such as St George’s Hall, Liverpool" Funnily enough this organ has just got its CoR certificate, effectively the lowest grade, in recognition of the FW material still present there. "England is largely a country of musical Philistines" Really? With the Proms and the opera houses and Aldeburgh and the 3 Choirs and Oundle and the hosts of smaller festivals and wonderful orchestras etc? I think this is too simplistic. "annoyed by their comments and rather puritan values" It would be interesting if you could expand on this statement. My own frustration with BIOS was always that it focused for too long on organs and and an organ culture which were/was long lost rather than fighting to try to save the instruments (primarily from the late 19th and early 20th centuries) which still exist. This focus has changed a lot since BIOS's foundation. Bazuin
  10. bazuin

    DACs

    "With regard to Truro, perhaps you have never visited the organ chamber there, Bazuin? The access stairs and passage through the triforium are cramped and tiring, even for a younger person." Perhaps, but wasn't Guillaume Ormond organist there until he was very old? (I met someone recently, purely by chance as he has nothing to with organs, whose parents had taken Ormond in as a lodger - incredible!) In France and Belgium you come accross these things all the time (enter West End organ gallery in the North transept, up the spiral stairs, out along the roof, down some more stairs...) "The modifications at Truro have really not done any damage to the integrity of the Willis." No. But they have changed the way organists approach it. "Surely there is little point in denying that the style of accompaniment for Anglican 'cathedral' type worship relies on much stop-changing." Now more so than ever because the registration aids have made it possible. The technology drove the nature of the music-making, not vice versa. Don't English organists usually have page-turners during services with complicated accompaniments? (Again, I don't know...) If so, perhaps a second pair of hands could also help with the odd stop change not covered by the original registration aids? Perhaps someone could comment on the comparable sizes of the new Llandaff organ and its Cathedral, and the Truro organ and its Cathedral? (For those of us who've never been to either...) "In my opinion, the Royal Festival Hall organ is just as historically important as some of the quaint examples on the HOCS list," I agree wholeheartedly. Once again, it would be nice if someone were to present their views on the merits of the BIOS HOCS and the implications of their becoming legally binding documents. Are contributors here BIOS members? What is the feeling here regarding the relationship between BIOS and the practicing musician? Does anyone here have experience of making a HOCS application? (I'm awaiting the result of my first attempt...) Bazuin
  11. bazuin

    DACs

    "if an organist who has known a particular instrument well for several - or many - years, should be able to effect some alterations, tonally or otherwise - not simply do as they wish. " What is the difference? Where do you draw the line? "To attempt to maintain that (virtually) all organs should be kept in their present state (i.e. that in which they are found now in 2010) with no alteration and only very restrained restoration work could end up being counter-productive." The only organs to which protection would apply, in my utopian world, would be the ones which would qualify for BIOS HOCSs. (In the case of the valuable and well-conceived CoR, the bits covered specifically by this). "Of course organ builders such as Cavaillé-Coll" The work of Cavaille-Coll (who rebuilt organs of Cliquot and others) is often used as an example of why organs should be changed. If C-C did it, why can't I? C-C was a man of this time. His time was not one especially concerned with antiquity of any variety (this is even truer perhaps in England, and almost equally as true in the Netherlands). Now we live in a time when historians can become celebrities, when we more fully appreciate what we lost. This isn't to say that an organ's practical function (or its 'social profile' as I like to call it) is irrelevant - it is precisely this which safeguards it. But at the moment, the balance is tipped too far in the direction of the 'practical' with the result that the (at least as important) question of 'cultural inheritance' remains too often in the domain of the enthusiast. Remember that in C-C's time, the playing of non-contemporary music was exceptional (think of the furore surrounding Guilmant's concerts of old masters at the Trocadero), now it is commonplace. This is crucial - the demands of the organists pncd refers to have changed by going into retrograde... "If you are really suggesting that we should limit progress to the manufacture of new instruments then, on a financial level alone, the craft of organ building may well die out within a comparatively short period." This was an important factor in post-war organbuilding. Old organs had to be replaced to keep people in work. Even today, my colleagues abroad are astounded by the size and quality of organs which are 'redundant' here. At the moment many of these organs are lost as a matter of course, or at least lost to the British 'cultural inheritance' through their export. This is deeply regrettable. "Just one example - Llandaff, despite a major appeal has inaugurated its new pipe organ with a large portion missing - due to a shortage of funds." Did the organ have to be so large? (The question isn't rhetorical - I've never been to Llandaff). "Would you wish to see (for example), the organ of Truro Cathedral 'restored' to its original state? By this, I mean that the 1887 console would be reconstructed using available records and photographic evidence of contemporary instruments; that the action was returned to the same design as that which Willis originally supplied; that the accessories were rutlhessly pared-down to the former scheme - the Swell Sub Octave and Octave couplers for example, working only on the Great Organ?" Yes please. The problems caused by the hidden, elevated position of the original console can now be efficiently and cost-effectively solved by CCTV and a radio microphone. If the cost of reconstructing FW's original canvas is the loss of the sub-octave couplers and the pedal divide thing for Cochereau effects I could quite happily live with that. I realise of course that I'm in the minority here! "On the other hand, is the organ in Truro Cathedral now more versatile, now more able to allow a skilled organist to realise and enhance Willis' original intentions through the media of a new console, action and such luxuries and a Pedal Divide?" Unless you know something about Willis' intentions that we don't, this is purely hypothetical. I would argue that it places a barrier between the player and Father Willis's intentions (which we can assess to a considerable extent by playing the organs by him which are technically, as well as tonally, preserved). "but the quality is, for me, insufficient to allow the formation of a reasoned opinion as to the exact impact of the work carried out fifty years ago." At the risk of repeating myself, one can gain a very good picture of how this organ sounded by visiting the well preserved examples of Muller's works in Netherlands. It's also important to realise that the changes carried out to organs there are far better documented in the Netherlands (because of the legal 'monument' status of organs) than an equivalent project in the UK. Even those recordings tell a fascinating story. I'm interested to know how many of the contributors to this discussion are members of BIOS (especially MM and pncd) and what their view is of the value of the HOCS and whether they would like to see HOC becoming a legally binding document (as BIOS themselves want, I hope it's fair to say). Bazuin
  12. bazuin

    DACs

    "Southampton Guildhall? BBC organ, Maida Vale? There must be others, surely?" St Nicholas West, Aberdeen. Bazuin
  13. bazuin

    DACs

    "I am unsure whether your first comment (in parentheses) is to be taken as a compliment - or not..." It was! I'll get over the fact that you wouldn't vote for the Dutch Pedal Reed party...somehow With all the hypthetical questions we ask here, we forget that the rebuilding culture in the UK is not unique to the UK. Even in the Netherlands many organs were rebuilt in the 19th century and beyond. Now, the 19th century material in the old organs tends to be preserved as historic too. Even the pneumatic 1940s Echowerk by Mr Bik (!) was preserved on the Batz organ in the Lutheran Church in Hague when it was restored 2 years ago. No-one, even the Netherlands would ever imagine destroying the Compton organ in Hull to re-create the original Forster and Andrews. This is to miss the point entirely. The question of purpose ignores the fact that good organs also have their own intrinsic artistic qualities. This sets them apart from lorries. And steam trains (much as I like those too). As pncd said "On the other hand, who is to judge that these instruments have become unfit for their intended purpose?" Exactly. Except that, as pncd has told us before, he thinks the organists that play them every week should have the freedom to change them as they see fit. My point is that, assuming the project has a conservation aspect, they shouldn't. I hope it's fair to say that this is BIOS position as well, hence their long battle to assume the status of statutory advisory body. Rather than simply imagine ever-more hypthetical situations the legal protection of organs would create, why don't we consider how these relationships work in countries other than this one? The answers are not always positive, but unless we understand the narratives (both good and bad) we can't comprehend how such a culture operates and how it could apply here. Bazuin
  14. bazuin

    DACs

    "As I am sure you are aware, organists are often rather an emotive group, who will fiercely guard and defend their particular favourite style of instrument. I suppose that the committe could be made up of organ builders or non-players - but this would simply create yet another raft of problems. Organ builders can be 'influenced' as can organists. Arguably, everyone could have something to lose - or to gain. A committe of non-playing or building government officials (who would simply rely on advice from consultants) is a non-starter - for obvious reasons." I agree (shock, horror) with a lot of what pncd writes here. I think now that the BIOS HOCS scheme as is has been implemented since 2002 is very good and if I were elected PM on Thursday (don't worry...) this would form a very sound basis of what would and wouldn't receive English Heritage-style protection. Bazuin
  15. bazuin

    DACs

    I make no comment on the effectiveness or otherwise of English Heritage and doubtless everyone will have a different take on this anyway. Likewise the goverment agencies in Europe responsible for organs - it doesn't always (in some countries seldom) work as it should. But, in general, those countries have more historic material preserved than the UK as a direct consequence of organs being treated as monuments. It's a question of principle - should organs be classified as part of a country's 'Cultural Inheritance' (to use the Dutch phrase) or not? I believe they should. "As to your quote about Dutch hospitals being the best in Europe, I have no doubt they are good, but I would be keen to know the basis on which you make the sweeping claim that they are the best." http://www.expatica.com/nl/news/dutch-news...rope_56753.html The Dutch themselves tend to make the distinction between GP care (which they often find to be insufficient - it's harder there seemingly to be referred to a specialist) and hospital care which, in my experience, they all agree is excellent. Bazuin
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