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pcnd5584

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  1. With reference to the G.O. compound stops, one is almost certainly the 15-17-19-22 IV-rank Mixture retained from the Willis instrument, and the other is probably a standard 19-22-26-29 quint Mixture. The G.O. foundation stops - maybe. However, there are seventeen 8ft. flues throughout the instrument. That should provide more than enough variety of tone-colour. In a building of this size, I should expect to find two Open Diapason ranks on the G.O. - even if the instrument is primarily voiced to be heard from the Quire.
  2. Buckfast Abbey

    Barry - I can speak of the instruments of both Gloucester Cathedral (on which I had regular lessons with David Briggs for several years), and Saint Albans (which I have played for choral services) from first-hand experience. I can assure you that the influence of Ralph Downes has certainly not dissipated - either with the passage of time, or as a result of additions or alterations. To take first Gloucester Cathedral. There was virtually no revoicing, and only a few additions on the Pedal Organ, a re-pitching on the West Positive, one re-voiced rank on the G.O., and a subsequent addition of a Trompette Harmonique to the West Positive. The rest of the instrument is, tonally, as left by Downes (well, Philip Prosser, to be strictly accurate). In the case of Saint Alban's Cathedral, again there have been a few additions, but the instrument is substantially as it was left after the re-pitching of the chorus mixtures some years ago. David Drinkell and Vox Humana make valid comments about Downes: he was a player and teacher of some repute. He was well-travelled, and had studied many historic instruments, the better to inform the decisions which he made when designing the organ of the RFH.
  3. The Royal Festival Hall Organ - what if ?

    Just a thought - as far as I know, Manchester Cathedral is not particularly reverberant. It is basically a large parish church, turned cathedral. Salisbury or Winchester would provide a rather better acoustic ambiance. Or, if you really want something very reverberant, but without the annoying, confused sound which is often the case under the dome in Saint Paul's Cathedral, Gloucester Cathedral is even better, at a round eight seconds in an empty building.
  4. St James, Piccadilly

    I would not hold your breath in anticipation of this restoration. Whilst having no desire to question the veracity of this statement, or the wishes or enthusiasm of the incumbent, there has been a restoration project here since at least 1982, when students from my college gave a concert in the church, for which a colleague played the toaster. After the rehearsal, I picked up a leaflet, which gave details of what was planned, together with a proposed stop-list, and an appeal for funds. Ths must surely be one of the longest-running (without anything actually happening as a result) organ appeals anywhere, ever. I would venture to suggest that if the church has not managed to raise enough funds by now, then it is unlikely that this organ will be rebuilt or replaced in the foreseeable future.
  5. Appointments 2

    Or even acrophobia. One could suffer from vertigo in a cellar....
  6. Appointments 2

    Yes - I played for a long week-end of services for a visiting choir a couple of summers ago, with no problems whatsoever. I am fortunate in not suffering from acrophobia. However, I can sympathise with those who do.
  7. Most bizarre specifications?

    Co-incidentally, I had to have this key duplicated twice, today. It is quite small, and I have now lost two copies. It has been very useful this summer, since the Chamade has been foully out of tune for most of the season, due to very hot weather (for Dorset), interspersed with occasional cooler and rainy days.
  8. Most bizarre specifications?

    Unfortunately, at the moment, this instrument makes no sound at all. As far as I know, the console has been disconnected, pending a restoration; an electronic substitute is currently in use.
  9. Most bizarre specifications?

    You are indeed correct, SL. We are currently in discussion regarding the rebuilding of the Minster organ - I have already mentioned the 'Pulpit Trapdoor' stop (which I want connected and fully operational....)
  10. RCO Test Equivalencies

    I have had similar occurrences, Vox. About a year or two ago, during the rehearsal for Sunday night's Choral Evensong (with the Gentlemen of the Choir), my colleague made a last-minute substitution for the published anthem. I cannot recall what we were to perform, but we ended up doing The Lord is King, by Boyce. The choir librarian handed out the parts - and I received a figured-bass only organ part. (All of the copies were the same, so swapping would have been pointless.) Since we rehearsed up to about 18:25, there was no time to practise (having only had a bit of a 'top and tail' through edited highlights). It was also taken rather quickly. Fortunately, I managed to acquit myself without anything untoward happening. Again, occasionally, my colleague will decide that an anthem would be better with accompaniment on a particular occasion. This usually seems to happen with Gentlemen-only services, and almost without exception will include frequent crossing of parts, or having permanently to read the top two staves 'upside-down', as it were. On another occasion (fortunately only a rehearsal), I was rather tired and commenced playing Harwood's A-flat major setting nf the Magnificat, in G major - only realising a couple of pages in that it 'felt' wrong. However, it made the central G# minor section a lot easier to read.
  11. Franck - quick registration queries

    With reference to the registration directions on the Trois Chorals, as you write, it is virtually impossible to state with certainty either one way or the other. However, the fact that they are both idiomatic to the style and nuance of the music, and that they are perfectly possible to realise on Franck's original instrument (although this would be a comparatively easy task for a pupil of Franck to replicate), suggests to me that they are, if not his own directions, then certainly sympathetic to his wishes. At the Minster, I can render a passable Voix Humaine with the Swell Hautbois, 4ft. Flute, Vox Angelica and the (fan) Tremulant. On larger instruments, I too have resorted to using the Solo Organ. It is also possible to give a quite Gallic flavour to the opening of the Premièr Choral, on the Minster organ. The Fonds on the G.O. (with the Open Diapason I providing the fullness of a Flûte Harmonique, and the Viole de Gambe as a fair representation of a Gambe) and Swell Organ (including the Hautbois). Only the slightly chiffy Gedeckt on the Positive Organ betrays the instrument's English origins. (Ironically, as far as I am aware, this stop was intended to sound similar to a Baroque German or Dutch Gedeckt.)
  12. "Organ" in King's College Chapel

    To answer your original question - David Drinkell is correct; a digital substitute has not been employed during the restoration. There are two small chamber instruments which have been used, in addition to more unaccompanied repertoire,
  13. Priory Records - Great European Organs

    Added to which, the programmes are simply too 'popular' to interest me. Yes - I realise that this is probably a necessary commercial tactic; but I wish that Priory would release just one DVD in the series, which does not feature either well-worn 'pot-boilers', or endless orchestral transcriptions, clever though they may be.
  14. Franck - quick registration queries

    This is an interesting point. The series of manuscripts stored in the Bibliothèque Nationale (MS 8707) give many schemes by Franck, for various types of registration - a fair proportion of which are clearly identifiable as referring to his own instrument in Ste. Clothilde, and others, that in the Trocadéro. The manuscript for the Premièr Choral is, I believe, the property of The Pierpoint Morgan Library, NYC. The description given is thus: 'Autograph manuscript, unsigned, dated 7 August 1890. Thirteen pages of music. Dedicated to Mlle Clotilde Bréal. No registration indications. (The manuscript was acquired by Alfred Cortot, sold after his death in 1962 to Robert Owen Lehman, and given to The Pierpoint Morgan Library in 1972.)' 1 However, the engraver's plates for the Premièr Choral and the Troisième Choral are missing, apparently - as are early drafts of these compositions. Notwithstanding, the registration directions (and it is always better to read these in French and ignore any English 'translations') are appropriate in style (with the caveat supplied by Vox Humana) - and to the best of my knowledge, in the case of the Trois Chorals, are entirely possible to realise on the original instrument in Ste. Clothilde. However, as Vox says, this is really only half of the story. Some years ago, I was with a colleague at the organ of his church, where he was demonstrating the (large Romantic) instrument's capabilities. At one point, he said "And this is my French channel" - and then proceeded to draw all of the 8ft. foundation stops, including the huge (and probably leathered) Open Diapason I, the fat Hohl Flute, and a number of other unsuitable ranks. Unfortunately, he had attempted to follow the letter of the 'law' (as it were) - rather than the spirit. When playing either the First or Third Choral at the Minster (J.W. Walker, neo-Classical with eclectic elements, 1965), I tend to eschew virtually all of the compound stops, except the G.O. four-rank quint Mixture, which I set to draw with the reeds. Otherwise, I rarely draw anything above 4ft. pitch - other than the Swell Fifteenth, which helps to brighten the rather 'English' 16ft. and 8ft. chorus reeds. Fortunately, the Swell Clarion is rather brighter, and thus is tremendously useful when playing much French Romantic music. As Sprondel states, the Céleste should never be used unless specifically requested. In the whole of Franck's œuvre, I do not think that he called for this stop more than twice. It is worth remembering that the Hautbois (or Basson-Hautbois) was considered to be part of the 'Fonds'. In larger instruments by Cavaillé-Coll (i.e.: those with divided layes, or 'chests'), this stop was almost invariably sited with the Jeux de Fonds, as opposed to the Jeux de Combinaisons (reeds and upper-work). 1 p. 145; French Organ Music from the Revolution to Franck and Widor; Edited by Lawrence Archibold and William J. Peterson. University of Rochester Press (1995).
  15. Diapasons and Flutes

    Some good points. Colin. Slotting the pipes would also have the effect of making the tone a little more 'string-like' (in the organ sense). FHW also occasionally did this to his Gemshorn ranks (which were often cylindrical, instead of inverted conical) - presumably because it was either easier or cheaper. (Although this latter would be odd - he was not known to cut corners or take cheap options elsewhere. He regarded zinc, for example, as "a cheap and spurious metal".) Your comment with reference to T.C. Lewis and Willis was interesting. At the time of the (start of) the H&H rebuild of the organ in the RAH, the insufficiency of the foundation tone was one of the chief arguments advanced by those who wished to change this instrument. Certainly, after the rebuild was completed, it could not be said that either the clavier or the Pedal foundation work was inadequate as to 'body'. I believe that T.C. Lewis was also not particularly enamoured of FHW's chorus reeds. Quite what he would have thought of Harrison Trombe, I can only imagine. I still regard the rebuilding and the revoicing of several of the chorus reeds on the organ in Southwark Cathedral as a great error of judgement on the part of HWIII. I wonder if, following the restorative work by Harrisons, it is really possible to state that they sound now as when they were first installed? It was not simply a matter of lowering the wind pressures; in order to raise them in the first place, Willis must surely have had to provide new (and thicker) tongues - and with a slightly different curvature. If this was indeed the case, I doubt that the original tongues were stored carefully, in case it was wished to re-instate them in the future.
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