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David Thornton

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Everything posted by David Thornton

  1. I had some time on a Phoenix organ today, this is the first time I've played/heard one of these and I was very impressed. It's the large 3 manual installation at St. Elphin's Warrington done about 2 years ago. The R&D has been 'moth balled', Phoenix have installed a new console in the space of the old one and speakers within the existing organ chambers. It's an unusual set-up, Sw/Gt/Ped spread across the west wall, console Ch and a Ped rank in the crossing. The keyboards are budget plastic but 'a lot' better than many I have come across with quite a nice feel. The spec. is very similar to the pipe organ, supplemented with the usual additions you would expect - 32s, mutations, solo reeds loud and quiet. It's a big church and the Sw/Gt/Ped speakers are a long way from the console which allows the sound plenty of space to mellow (not what you get with a home organ!), but gives you some problems with delay. Usually with electronics the mixtures are a dead giveaway, I found these most acceptable indeed. The only criticism I would make was that the 2 loud solo reeds were not particularly pleasant or refined, but on reflection I suppose the Phoenix Tuba was probably better than many pipe ranks of that name I've come across! DT
  2. Anyone watch last week's episode of QI, the one with the German theme? As usual it was erudite, witty and thoroughly amusing. One of the topics they discussed was internet forums, in particular what happens when an arguement develops. Someone appears to have calculated the number of posts it takes until the point is reached when members start refering to Hitler and the Nazis. For some strange reason I kept thinking of the Tewkesbury thread! DT
  3. From the look of the Rogg score I would agree. The distinctive pedal writing and much of the left hand was very similar to the Sandor Margittay edition of 'BACH' which I use. (p.s. thanks for the pdf files!) David
  4. Heard this piece played at Blackburn Cathedral last Wednesday by Jonathan Vaughn (Assistant at Wells). It is a transcription by Lionel Rogg and published by UMP of Liszt's 2nd Légende for piano about St Francis de Paola walking on the waves (the 1st is about St Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds). This formed the centre-piece of Jonathan's excellent recital, it makes a pretty spectacular organ piece (on a suitable instrument in a suitable acoustic of course; Blackburn ticks both boxes here). I had a look at Jonathan's score afterwards, it looks a bit more difficult than BACH and Ad Nos, but I would guess that the piano original would be even more difficult! Jonathan must have put a lot of hours into this to get it to such a standard. There are plenty of piano performances on Youtube, but no organ ones. Has anyone else come across this? DT
  5. As this topic has re-appeared after 12 months I just thought I'd mention, for anyone interested in organs north of the border, that the Crichton and St. John's have appeared at last on NPOR with some photos. DT
  6. Murton, If it's a short item you're after, I would suggest 'Nun danket alle Gott' BWV 192 as an excellent introduction to the world of Bach Cantatas. At about 11 minutes it's shorter than most being only 3 movements as opposed to the 6 or 7 of the average Cantata. Each movement is clearly based on the well-known tune with no recitatives: 1. The usual Choral Fantasia with the cantus firmus in the soprano part and plenty going on in ATB and accomp. 2. Aria for Soprano & Bass, quite straightforward. 3. Another Choral Fantasia, this time one of those wonderful Bach driving 6/8 romps with an accomp which lodges in the brain and is hard to shift! You'll find the score on the web-site I suggested. If you want a recording look here. (there's an audio file of the last movement attached to the ad.) Regards, David
  7. Have a look at this website. I've posted this link before on the forum on a previous topic about Bach's Cantatas. The site contains the scores for the bulk of the Cantatas in pdf form which you can print and play as you wish, I've used it a few times myself to make organ arrangements of some favourite arias. An excellent resource. DT
  8. I too have been researching this matter recently, being I suppose like many other forum members of the generation brought up 'pre inegale' so to speak. My approach has been to purchase a recent recording and scores of Francois Couperin's 2 Masses. There are 3 CD sets available at present: Jean-Baptiste Robin from Poitiers, Pierre Bardon from Saint-Maximin, and Bernard Coudurier from Albi. I went for the Robin CDs as I've heard the other 2 organs in the buildings but not heard Poitiers yet (also by far the least expensive - on the Naxos label) and the Dover edition of the combined scores, the whole lot cost less than £20 - remarkable value! I have greatly enjoyed studying Robin's fine performances and agree with the points Nigel has made. The organ sounds fantastic but a little 'swimmy', the various 'en taille' and 'recit' movements are absolutely gorgeous. Of particular interest also has been the ornamentation of the inner parts of the 'plein chant' movements. DT
  9. STOP PRESS - CROSS-BORDER BACKLASH! I have it on very good authority that, not to be out-done, a certain Yorkshire church has sent a drawstop back to the engravers. The stop will now be known as 'Grand Old Duke of York Tuba Mirabilis 8'
  10. Makin were located very near to Sixsmiths who were building one console per week for them during Makin's heydays. Andew Sixsmith made me a custom toaster with a high quality drawstop console 12 years ago. The gentleman I spoke with at the Priory said the Makin had a lot of problems, becoming increasingly unreliable with difficult or impossible to rectify faults. The console could make the basis of a good home toaster (or two!) for someboby. DT
  11. Visited Lancaster on Saturday, and picked up a glossy leaflet/fund raiser in the Priory about plans for the replacement of the notorious Makin electronic. For those of you who don't know Lancaster the 1922 H & H was discarded in 1979 to makeway for 'reordering work' and a large 4 manual Makin inserted in the space of the original console, the case being filled with speakers. The present proposal is that David Wells will place a large pipe organ on the substantial west gallery, and a smaller pipe organ in the existing Austin case in the north choir aisle. Both instruments will be controlled from one console placed on the northeast side of the choirstalls. The nave organ will be the redundant 1913 Willis 11 from St. John's Blackpool with the unfortunate tonal alterations of the 60's largely reversed. This will be housed in a redundant case by Austin & Paley (noted Lancastrian architectural practice who build many outstanding large churches in the northwest including St. George's Stockport) from St. John's Great Harwood. The choir organ will be the redundant 1904 H & H from Blackburn Girls High School. Very similar indeed to what Harrisons originally installed in 1922 when a large proportion of the scheme was 'prepared for' only and remained that way until the 60's (what a difference to the changes they implemented at Blackpool!). I got the impression that David Wells has both these instruments in his possession at present Here are the proposed specs. NAVE ORGAN Great: Double Diapason 16 Open Diapason No. 1 Open Diapason No. 2 Claribel Flute 8 Principal 4 Fifteenth 2 Mixture 111 Tromba 8 Swell: Geigen Diapason 8 Lieblich Gedackt 8 Aeoline 8 Voix Celeste 8 Principal 4 Fifteenth 2 Mixture 111 Contra Fagotto 16 Cornopean 8 Hautboy 8 Choir: (originally enclosed) Stopped Flute 8 Viola da Gamba 8 Viola Celeste 8 Flute 4 Nazard 2 2/3 Piccolo 2 Clarinet 8 Duchy of Lancaster Grand Trumpet 8 (that's the mother-of-all drawstops) Pedal: Acoustic Bass 32 Open Diapason 16 Open Metal 16 (Gt) Bourdon 16 Octave 8 Flute 8 Flute 4 Ophicleide 16 Tromba 8 (Gt) CHOIR ORGAN Great: Contra Gamba 16 Open Diapason 8 Hohlflote 8 Dulciana 8 Principal 4 Harmonic Flute 4 Fifteenth 2 Swell: Violin Diapason 8 Lieblich Gedacht 8 Salicional 8 Voix Celeste 8 Gemshorn 4 Flageolet 2 Mixture 111 Trumpet 8 Pedal: Bourdon 16 Bass Flute 8 Estimated cost will be £443K of which only £85K needs to be raised. The gentleman I spoke with at the Priory thought this would happen within the next 12 months. Considering that the Priory owns neither of these pedigree instruments, and that structural work on the gallery, choirstalls and organ chamber will be necessary, this sum looks like remarkable value to me. It looks an exciting prospect to me, the nave is relatively short so the distance from the choirstalls console should not pose problems. My only reservation is that I would prefer to see the nave organ dually playable from an attached console in the gallery although this would of course add to the cost (don't know if the original is still in existence). DT
  12. Many thanks to Robert for taking the considerable time to supply us with such a comprehensive and accurate account of the York organ (and correcting my error concerning the reeds!). DT
  13. I certainly wouldn't describe the Lincoln sound in the nave as 'ugly' although it makes little impression down there, but agree with AJJ that it sounds fantastic in the choir. However, the acoustics in the choir are little dry, which makes the Swell up in the triforium sound rather cold and separate from the rest of the organ. The best sound by far is heard under the tower. The legend goes that Dr George Bennett (organist 1895 to 1930) requested of the new organ that he should be able to use full organ when accompanying the choir. Well, that's what he got but who know whether that was Willis's intention? As subsequent posts have discussed Francis Jackson and the York great reeds, I have it on good authority that FJ considers the 3 great reeds at Lincoln to be the finest in any British Cathedral organ, and I agree with him. At York the Contra Tromba and Tromba were high pressure ranks, whilst the Trumpet and Clarion were low pressure ranks on one of the great flue chests. In 1960 Walkers revoiced the 2 Trombas as Posaunes (still on high relatively pressure) and put them on pallet magnet chests to make them also available on the choir manual. The Trumpet and Clarion were left untouched. As part of Geoffrey Coffin's rebuild a new 4 slider chest was created to house all 4 great reeds on high pressure as the Trumpet and Clarion were considered to be ineffectual. DT
  14. I use Sibelius software and for some of my romantic/C20th pieces compile an A4 sheet of page turns which sits to the right-hand side of the copy. If there's an awkward turn I transcribe up to a point where it becomes more managable to turn the page, I sometimes put up to 4 'turns' on an A4 sheet. I also find this very useful when learning new pieces, especially if a tricky passage goes over a page-turn. DT
  15. I fully agree. If I were doing my custom-built toaster again (now 12 years old) I would go for 'straight and concave', cost of course rules out a replacement as I would also need a new wider bench. A further issue is how to dispose the sharp pedals on a S&C pedal board, straight or in an arc (as those in a R&C pedalboard). I prefer a slight arc, as in the manner of Cavaille-Coll pedalboards. DT
  16. If you are interested in the French Classical repertoire, then you will find this a wonderful resource. 'Le livre d'orgue de Monteal' is the largest collecton of C18th organ music running to some 540 pages, the music is mostly Magnificats and Masses. It was brought to Montreal in 1724 by John Girard, a Sulpician clerc from Bourges in the centre of France, schoolmaster and organist at the Notre-Dame church in 1765, who was the first professional musician in Montreal. Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) has made these available on the 'net as either facsimile or modern editions and have included audio files so you can hear performances of most of the pieces whilst following the scores. Although the site's in French it's very simple to navigate. You can print whatever copies you wish directly from the website free of charge! DT
  17. Daniel Roth is indeed a most humble and extremely approachable gentleman. I was discussing French visits with a local organist recently, he was relating how he attended a Sunday Mass at St. Sulpice and waited at by the door to the tribune at the end of the service, as is the tradition there. After introducing himself to DR he was invited up to the console where DR demonstrated various aspects of the organ, then to his surprise DR asked him if he would like to play. I can't think of many English Cathedrals where this is likely to happen! At Dijon Cathedral there is a notice by the tribune door inviting visiting organist at introduce themselves to the organist 15 minutes before the service, then they will be invited up to the console. Like Alistair, I have always found French organists to be very welcoming and generous, including some prestigious venues. David
  18. For the eve of the feast of the English Cadence Voluntary: Quiet improvisation in an appropriate style Introit: Thou knowest, Lord - Purcell Responses: Tomkins Psalm: 80 (the one about the analogy of the Vine), chant Atkins, pointing 'St Paul's Cathedral Psalter' Office Hymn: anything plain chant Canticles: Purcell in G minor Anthem: Remember not, Lord, our offences - Purcell Voluntary: Bach DT
  19. Anyone interested in the Cantatas might care to have a look at this web site. It contains the vocal scores for most of the Cantatas as pdf files which you can access with free Abode Reader software. An excellent resource! DT
  20. St. Paul's now has a plethora of these devices (I found 9 on a quick glance through the spec): Gt reeds on solo Gt reeds on ped Sw reeds on solo Sw reeds on ped Which all look useful, plus all the manual transfers: North Choir on Solo Dome Chorus on Choir West reeds on solo West Chorus on Gt West reeds on Gt One hears various accounts of visiting recitalists who 'got it wrong' with embarrassing consequences! DT
  21. As no-one was able to offer any advice about this, I obtained a vocal score and made my own arrangement of the opening aria. It's nearly 7 minutes long; in terms of texture it's an amalgam of the OUP arrangement of 'Air from Suite in D' and a slow movement from a Trio Sonata. It's of moderate difficulty, but you'll need a fluent left hand. If any forum members are interested in playing this, I have printed off several copies which you can have free of charge. Alternately, if you run Sibelius you can have a download of the file. PM me if you are interested. DT
  22. An interesting topic indeed! One has to remember that you don't have to go back many generations to reach a time when the post of O&C at a large town church provided a living for the musician employed. Such people were not school teachers first and church organists second, but made a living from their church post, supplemented by conducting choral societies, teaching a limited number of private pupils, and of course weddings and funerals. This was certainly the case here in the North West, as I recall the names of several revered musicians (mostly long-gone before my time) who were held in high esteem as their 'town's musician'. In many such towns it was not just the parish church which could provide a reasonable living for its O&C. I would guess that the number of musicians today whose primary source if income is their church (not cathedral) post will be very small in comparison. DT
  23. Wow! Thanks for a most inspiring post Colin. I shall be playing this famous organ in September and your vivid description has heightened my expectations even further. DT
  24. Or the 3 Sonatas for Violin & Piano, out on Hyperion's cheap label 'Helios' DT
  25. I too like this stop, it's very different from the Orchestral Trumpet at the Met. which preceeded it (straight resonators as opposed to spun brass, and it doesn't take your head off) John Bertalot's inspiration for this stop was the State Trumpet at St. John the Divine NYC. During the mid 60's JB did a tour of the USA and on returning produced a music/slide show which I experenced 2 or 3 times at various venues around the Blackburn diocese. I remember St. John's featured heavily and JB was full of enthusiasm for the organ and the trumpet. On a general note about the Blackburn organ, it is devastating in the transepts, you have to get down the nave a bit but also sit fairly centrally to hear a good balance between the 2 sides. DT
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