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Mander Organs

David Thornton

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Everything posted by David Thornton

  1. We were in the Cathedral at Albi last week, doing the tourist thing with the 'audio guides'. Various pieces of music played on the organ formed a background to the commentary, one of them was an arrangement of the first movement from the Cantata BWV 170 for solo alto, Vergnugte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust. If you don't know this piece, it's absolutely gorgeous, there's a recording of the 3 Alto Cantatas by Andreas Scholl which I can thoroughy recommend. If anyone's come across an arrangement of this I would love to do it. DT
  2. I found using the 'dotted/triplet' practice technique most valuable when learning this piece. For those who are not familiar with this, it's a good method for getting nearer to performance speed once you have a basic grasp of the notes. Basically you take a straight rhythm and lengthen every alternate note to give a 'da de da de da' rhythm, then turn it around the other way to give a 'de da de da de' rhythm (one's always more difficult than the other, depending on whether the music's anacrusic or not!). You are actually getting the finger/hand/foot movements up to speed, but with added thinking time inbetween. If you can manage both versions you will be well on the way. I used this technique with the opening manual figuration and A flat figuration of the Prelude, and most of the Fugue. Good luck! DT
  3. One aspect of present day console design which I sometimes find uncomfortable is reduced key length. I can think of 3 cathedral organs of which I have personal experience which have received new consoles in the past decade where the key are at least half an inch shorter that standard piano keys. Much C19th and C20th repertoire relies heavily on pianistic techniques and many pieces are written in keys sufficiently 'black' no necessitate a hand position well towards the back end of the sharp/flat keys, short keys together with projecting pistons from the manual above can pose problems especially for a player with long fingers. I can understand short keys being used in a new instrument based on pre C19th models, but not for an instrument of a more ecclectic nature expected to be able of play C19th and C20th repertoire. Cavaille-Coll and Father Willis used full length keys, as did other C19th builders and builders in the first half of the C20th. Ok, it's a long stretch to the 4th (and sometimes 3rd) manual on an early Willis, Lewis, Binns etc; but I find Vierne etc. more comfortable to play on such consoles that a number of present day consoles. DT
  4. Wow... Will, whose operating system does it use? DT
  5. We went to Coventry Cathedral today to hear resident D.o.M Kerry Beaumont play a lunchtime recital. The last time I was there was on a Burnley Grammar School trip in 1969, so today was the first time I've heard this organ. I was most impressed by it, and rather surprised that it is so infrequently recorded. In many respects its sound and the acoustic reminded me a lot of Blackburn Cathedral, an organ on which many choose to make their recordings. What do other forum members think of it? DT
  6. Hmmm........ Just because technology makes something possible, that doesn't mean it's necessarily a good thing to do! Give me Meursault any day! DT
  7. It sounds very fine indeed. I've heard/played quite a few small 2 manual organs whilst in rural France, none by C.C yet, but a few by Stolz and a couple by Quorin; mostly in good playing order, and similarly they have all sounded magnificent. The common factor has been that all the churches which housed the instruments have been larger than the average British Parish Church, with relatively high stone vaulting, stone-paved floor, and no pews; giving very favourable acoustics. The instruments have been sited on galleries, either directly against the west wall or set infront of it by about 2 metres, encased in a fairly shallow box and speaking directly down the main axis of the building. (Incidently AJJ, I too used to play the Monk's Road Willis you linked and agree; the acoustics of the church are quite good and the organ is well placed!) DT
  8. Forum members may, or may not be aware that the Skinner organ at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York has now been reinstalled. It was removed following a serious fire in November 2001 which caused extensive smoke damage and required the whole of the interior of the Cathedral to be chemically cleaned. video is part of the redidication service from November 2008 and features the famous 'State Trumpets'. You will also find several other varied videos recorded within the last 5 months. It's a vast building; the distance between the 'State Trumpets' and the console is a lot further than that at St. Paul's. DT
  9. At the front of a Chopin volume containing one of the pieces I've been working on recently is an editorial essay which talks about contemporary methods for learning pieces. One method suggested is that the student should be able to repeat the piece/passage/page whilst reading a book, newspaper, or whatever. Surprisingly enough it's acually do-able, mind you, the essay doesn't say whether or not you have to read out-loud, I think that would probably be even harder. This could become a new party trick, rather like playing Widor's Toccata blindfolded; the audience selects the text to be read! DT
  10. Now that's something I would really like to hear. I love Ravel's piano music and have done this suite on the piano over the last couple of years, but not finished the Toccata; it's relentless! Ravel didn't orchestrate the Fugue and Toccata, and I just can't envisage Toccata on the organ at all. Thomas Trotter plays his version of the suite, but I think only the 4 orchestrated pieces. Are you aware of any organ recordings of it? DT
  11. No mistake; but I don't think the wording necessarily implies that an Echo Organ would be built to the 'original specification'. I too would be most surprised. DT
  12. I too still have my copy of this. However, I do remember someone once lending me a much earlier booklet describing the organ which may well have been one of these by R. Meyrick-Roberts; listed here on one of my favourite web-sites: Abe Books. I think it featured photos of the stop jambs. It is probably your best bet for determining the original composition of the mixtures, unless David Wylde feels like contributing! Whilst we are on the subject, what's the correct story about the removal of the original nave console and what what happened to it? DT
  13. My wife and I attended David Poulter's Bank Holiday recital today. We picked up some literature about the restoration project, it didn't go into great detail, but listed some of the costings. I quote from the document: 'As a matter of urgency immediate renovation work and re-voicing of the reeds will cost in the region of £90.000 and £95.000 respectively. A further £90.000 will then be required for less urgent general renovation work, together with a massive £200.000 for major cleaning, which has not been undertaken for some thirty years. An additional £86.000 would allow us to realise the Echo Organ, promised on the original specification' Here is the spec. of the Echo Organ as originally planned: Salicional 16 pedal Echo Bass 16 pedal Fugara 8 pedal Dulzian 16 pedal Quintaton 16 Echo Diapason 8 Cor de nuit 8 Carillon 8 TC Flauto Amabile 8 Mute Viole 8 Aeoline Celeste 8 F Celestina 4 Fern Flote 4 Rohr Nasat 2 2/3 Flautina 2 Harmonica Aetheria III 10.12.15 Chalumeau 16 Trompette 8 Cor Hamonique 8 Musett 8 Hautbois d'Amour 8 Voix Humaine 8 Hautbois Octaviante 4 Interesting, I wonder where they would site the division and if it would be anything like the original plan. DT
  14. Hi Alastair, I heard John Robinson (assistant at Canterbury) play this as his final piece at an opening recital in Dumfries in February. Regards, David
  15. I gather that the Tuba Magna has been moved around somewhat. Legend has it that when the organ was first installed (in the much smaller building) the Dean complained that it sounded much too loud, so it was relocated somewhere within the depths of the south chamber. I'm fairly certain that its present position is at the bottom of the south transept case, speaking through square openings directly into the transept. I'm not sure whether David Wells or H&H moved it. Having sung in quite a few very large diocesan services over the last few years, it certainly leads congregational singing (as does the new central space diapason chorus which Bazuin has mentioned). But, I'm sad to say that I personally find this stop coarse and uneven, unlike the fine Tubas 16/8/4. As for the 32s, the enclosed trombones 32 & 16 on the north side seem to have far more 'crack' than the bombarde rank. DT
  16. 'Light the blue touch paper, and retire to a safe distance.......'
  17. Possibly the most remarkable thing about the Liverpool organ which many overlook is that it was designed for a building which did not yet exist. It was installed and voiced in a building which, at the time, was only a fraction of the size it is today. At the time of its installation only the Quire and east transept were built, it is a testament to Henry Willis 111's skill that very little has been altered to compensate for the vast increase in cubic area which organ now fills with sound. Regarding the open woods (or open basses in 'Willis speak'), the larger of the 2 open woods was an extended rank from 32ft to 4ft if my memory serves me correctly, the smaller open wood was an independent 16ft stop. At the time of the H&H restoration it was considered that the upper registers of the larger open wood developed too much 'roll' in the space of the completed building so were removed leaving 2 independent open woods at 32ft on the south and 16ft on the north. Conversely, some of the mixture work was altered to produce a greater impact in the space. I wasn't aware that the chorus reeds were altered at all, but will stand corrected if someone can verify this. Having heard how Ian Tracey feels about the Liverpool organ, I would be most surprised if there are any changes to the original materials. I couldn't imagine a safer incumbent for the Liverpool organ. DT
  18. If you want to treat yourself, you can play at Lincoln Cathedral for a tenth of the price! DT
  19. Jennifer Bate at Beauvais: Whole piece 12.32 Opens at 120 to 126 bpm The 'chordal section at 138 to 144 bpm (I'm not counting bars after what happened with the Chorale No.2!) From the section with the pauses onwards the performance becomes quite rhapsodical, with a stringendo in the section with the 'off beat' chords. It's a convincing performance but a fair bit of the triplet figuration is lost in the acoustic. The only other recording of Final I have is Arthur Wills' GCOS recording from Ely, but as I sold the turntable a few years ago, I can't play it! I enjoy the Bate CF set; strangely the only piece which I have reservations about is GPS (which we discussed on another thread), it's the only one in which she doesn't sound in total control. There's a very bad edit in the central Allegro section, and this and other fast sections sound hurried - IMHO. DT
  20. Glad someone of your stature finds this difficult, I was beginning to think that early Alzheimer's was setting in! I haven't had a look at Priere yet but am very fond of it. When I've done that and Final I've got the lot under my belt. DT
  21. Erm, yeah, sorry about that, I sort of miscounted. However, the passage I mean is that prior to bar 246, as Vox Humana put it: 'The worst bit in the semiquavers that precede the pedal point is the four bars of descending figures accompanied by short chords in LH and pedal on the first and second beats.' At present I am trying to put the finishing touches to 'Grande Piece Symphonique' which I have found quite a bit harder to learn than the rest of Franck's works for organ. It's not that the piece has any particular technical difficulties, it's just that my brain doesn't seem capable of working in F# major with a lot of accidentals and double sharps thrown in for good measure. DT
  22. Does anyone know who will be succeeding Dr Spedding at Beverley? DT
  23. A wonderful piece! However, like many others by Cesar Franck, it does contain some very awkward moments. I would identify these and start working on them first; very, very slowly. In the section from 206 to 221 (the passage just before the long F# pedal point) the semiquavers are by far the most awkward, start learning this section now and memorise the falling patterns. I have heard many performances come unstuck at this point, indeed I attended an opening rectial a few weeks ago in which the young organist who is the assistant at one of our premier Cathedrals and a 'rising star' blemished an otherwise flawless recital at this point. Good luck, DT
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