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Mander Organs

David Thornton

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Everything posted by David Thornton

  1. The present console on the screen is the 1957 one which used to be in the choir, the pre '57 console was placed in the nave and I remember from many visits in my youth that there were a number of discrepancies between the specifications on the 2 consoles. This old console has since been removed, I'm not sure exactly when. I'd bet that the 'Cornet des Violes' appeared on the nave console. DT
  2. Personally speaking, I would love to see a nice case back on the screen at Manchester, but considering the lack of height I couldn't see a screen organ containing very much and retaining a visually pleasing proportion. Thinking of a couple of examples of new instruments which occupy screen locations in buildings of similar proportions, St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford is a small 2 manual but looks right for the size of the arch, Hexham Abbey is again 2 manuals but is almost twice the size of Oxford. In my opinion Hexham looks too big for the arch, Manchester certainly does not have the height to accommodate 16ft pipes like this. In both these churches, the new instruments have paneled backs and the Quire has been abandoned as the place where the choir sings, with new stalls set up in the nave or under the crossing at Hexham. I couldn't see Manchester abandoning their fine mediaeval choir stalls! A further difficulty is the completely different style of each aspect of the Manchester Screen, Tudor paneling on the nave side, Gothic pinacles on the Quire side (also about 4 feet higher than the nave side!). DT
  3. I still have a Ryemuse EP made by Derek Cantrell on which he played the 1st movement of Bach's Trio No.1 in Eflat, the 1st movement of Mendelssohn's 1st Sonata in F minor, and the Lidon Sonata de Primo Tono; it inspired me to learn the 3 pieces and I used to think the organ sounded great. However, in the building although it accompanies very well and there is much of considerable beauty it doesn't really excite or thrill in the way that some of our Cathedral organs do, despite hearing it many, many times, and from different parts of the building. As for the EP I couldn't tell whether it was the 'Tuba Magma' (as Paul Morley so nicely put it) or the 'Orchestral Tuba' in the Lidon. Concerning the notorious big tuba, Manchester was the first Cathedral organ I ever played when at the age of 13 I played for Derek Cantrell as part of an audition for Chetham's. I played BWV 545 and Stanley's Trumpet Voluntary, DC said that I could use whatever I wanted, 'except the Tuba Magna', but the Orchestral Tuba sounded pretty good to a 13 year old. He did allow me to play a single note on it however, and said that it was much too loud and that he never used it. DT
  4. Unfortunately, it is at present. There have been negotiations which Bryan Hughes has conducted recently with a suitable UK venue, but it would be imprudent to say more at the present time. He also told me that Schulze's home town of Paulinzella would welcome it back and had a suitable location for it. DT
  5. We go to Choral Evensongs here regularly and I'm rather inclined to agree with you. I would scrap the present Great and Choir and create new within a case on the screen: Great speaking into the nave, unenclosed Choir speaking into the stalls, also put the fine Solo Tuba in the case and any Pedal material that would fit. Keep the Swell as it is, move the Solo (including the old choir Clarinet) into the space vacated by the present Great. Move the pedal Ophicleide rank into the space vacated by the present Choir or Solo and lighten it up a bit. DT
  6. We go to Choral Evensongs here regularly and I'm rather inclined to agree with you. I would scrap the present Great and Choir and create new within a case on the screen: Great speaking into the nave, unenclosed Choir speaking into the stalls, also put the fine Solo Tuba in the case and any Pedal material that would fit. Keep the Swell as it is, move the Solo (including the old choir Clarinet) into the space vacated by the present Great. Move the pedal Ophicleide rank into the space vacated by the present Choir or Solo and lighten it up a bit. DT
  7. Last night we attended a performance of the 'St. John Passion' at Manchester Cathedral and very good it was too. The Dean opened the concert by welcoming everyone and announced that the priority music development for 2009 was to be a 'new organ'. I am aware from conversations with members of the resident team over the last 6 months that: 1. Paul Hale has been on site and surveyed all the current organ material. 2. A number of builders have been asked to submit proposals (sorry, can't quite remember all the names which were quoted) 3. The new instrument would be (to some extent) accommodated within a new case on the screen. Let's hope these plans get further than those made during Gordon Stewart's tenure during the '80s, when it was proposed to have a 'stock' 3 manual Walker on the screen. I gather that funds were availably at the time, but got diverted into other things. It certainly will be lovely to see a fine case back on the screen, the present aspect viewed from the nave is not pleasant. DT
  8. Yes, and there's also a shaving mirror to the right of the keyboards. I think that Simon's actually camping out in there. Anyway, I think you were all fooled, it's not a proper console it's a toaster! DT
  9. I've played 2 organs with these, both in France, and both by Pascal Quoirin. A restoration at the Collegiale Notre-Dame at Villefranche de Rouergue, and a new instrument at the Cathedrale de Carpentras. Both organs I would have loved to take home, the Villefranche organ made a fantastic sound, despite being rather idiosyncratic. Anyway AJJ, how about posting a write-up about the Organ Club week in Paris, I'm sure many members would be fascinated, I would for one! DT
  10. This may well have been what you are describing, a 1964 HNB extension organ on which I spent many happy hour during my early teens at Heptonstall Church. If I remember correctly, although this was an extension organ, the Great 8/4/2 Diapasons were not an 84 pipe rank but were partially independent around the middle octaves. During the 60s I found this little HNB and the 3 Walker Positives I occasionally played to be like a breath of fresh air compared to most local organs to which I had access. In terms of promptness of speech, response to touch, brightness and clarity of voicing, the ablity to register (with care) 2 contrasting choruses, and comfortable consoles - especially for someone who played a lot of Bach. DT
  11. Probably the best feature of Walker Positifs was that they featured a nicely scaled fully independent 3 rank mixture, even on (possibly) the smallest 3 rank jobs. I'm thinking of a 1958 one in a church in Rochdale which I have agreed to play in a months time. Another feature in the smallest jobs was a crescendo pedal instead of pistons. The largest I ever played was a 3 man. in Grimsby with about 8 ranks. DT
  12. Members of a certain age might be remembering a bottle of fizzy pop at this point! DT
  13. It's good to hear that some members have personal experience of this organ. One of the interesting facts about this instrument is that when Walkers rebuilt York Minster in 1960 they removed the larger of the two Open Wood ranks from the Pedal, the bottom octave of which was stoppered and became the bottom octave of the 32 at Ampleforth. When you look at the size of the 2 cases at either side of the south transept at Ampleforth, it's difficult to imagine how so much organ has been fitted in, this is possibly one of the reasons for the amount of extension and borrowing, although of course, during the 60s Walkers stock-in-trade instruments were the 'Positive' extension organs produced in great number, very many of which are still going strong today. However, the open location and superb acoustics appear to compensate for any over-crowding of the pipework and chorus deficiencies caused by extension. To a certain extent this puts me in mind of Downside Abbey, an instrument entirely based on extension which according to popular opinion, sounds much better than it ought to, due to location and acoustic. But, as I haven't heard Downside in the building, I wouldn't dream of offering a personal opinion. DT
  14. Two more true chamades by HNB which date from the very early 60s are Bradford Cathedral and Dunster, both around 1961/62. I played the Bradford organ a couple of times in my mid teens and remember enjoying it. The 'Purcell Trumpet' was part of the Nave organ which stood on 4 columns over the main aisle in the last bay of the nave. It occupied a very elegant Italian Renaissance style case (which looked a little like today's case at Portsmouth Cathedral) designed by Sir Edward Maufe who designed the new east end of the Cathedral and also Guildford Cathedral. The whole concept was most enlightened for the early 60s and it is very sad that the Cathedral authorities have since scrapped this nave section as part of a 're-ordering of the Cathedral', and replicated its resources with digital ranks. This nave organ is pictured on the cover of Herbert & John Normans' book 'The Organ Today', unfortunately I can't find a picture of it on the internet. The Purcell Trumpet has since been incorporated into the main chancel case, but no longer speaks straight down the nave. Memories of the Purcell Trumpet speaking from the west end were that it sounded distinctive, but didn't exactly 'grab you by the throat'. Were all HNB chamades of the same contruction, that is, like St. John's as opposed to spun brass? DT
  15. Elvin's books says that this instrument was built by H&H (2 man, 13 stops) for experimental purposes, then used as a temporary organ, firstly at Westminster Abbey and later at St. Alban's during '59 to '62 whilst the rebuild was going on, then sold to Arthur Starke. DT
  16. According to Laurence Elvin in his 'Harrison Story' pg. 211; the Monks Farm Positive was added 5 years after the the rest of the organ was set-up which would make it 1967. DT
  17. Getting back to UK instruments; my first encounters with a 'Trompeta Real' type reed, and definitely the most striking organ sound I had heard as a 12/13 year old was the 1961 Walker at Ampleforth Abbey. This vast instrument features a 'Trompetta Argentea' which is situated away from the main organ in a small gallery at the base of the large central dome (rather like siting the Trompette Millitaire in the whispering gallery at St. Paul's), although not a true chamade the reflective effect and superb acoustics of the spacious chapel give this stop tremendous impact. If I remember correctly it is of the spun brass type and was silver plated (hence the name). This instrument (finished shortly after the influential rebuild at York Minster) was the first of 3 ground-breaking 60s instruments for major churches: Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral and Blackburn Cathedral. All feature chamades of varying resonator construction which sound quite different. Oh, not forgetting of course, Winbourne Minster. Walkers also included chamades in a number of their 'house style' tracker instruments from the 70s onwards; City of London School comes to mind, I'm sure there were others. Considering the size, quality and importance of the Ampleforth organ it is surprising how infrequently it has been recorded. Noted musician Philip Dore was the first organist and I think his son William now has some role there on the music staff. DT
  18. No doubt you well correct me if I am wrong, but I always thought that in Iberian organs the 'Trompeta Real' was an internal rank, whilst the horizontal ranks in the facade were 'Trompeta Batalla' at 8ft pitch plus things like 'Clarin' at 4ft and 2ft pitch. I've included a link to an example from Gehard Grenzing's website, the spec. of his restoration at Zaragoza Cathedral shows which are interior ranks and which are horizontal. The whole website is worth having a look at, but isn't up to date. We heard a newly finished Grenzing restoration in May/June last year at Sant Francesca de Palma in Majorca, very impressive it sounded too. DT
  19. You may well be right - I'm certainly not pedantic enough to troll through the whole set to check. However, there are certainly lots of indications to use 'Voix Humaine', 'Voix Humaine et Tremblant', or 'Tremblant'. I have always assumed that these 3 mean the same thing - Vox + Trem. The CF works which I play are from wide variety of editions; mostly old Novello. I recently bought the excellent value Dover complete works to do the Grande Piece Symphonique, but find that I still go back to the copies from which I originally learned to play the rest of the repertoire - must be something to do with the layout and the page turns. DT
  20. I am now on my 2nd generation toaster at home, and it boasts a most profound and effective 32ft - Hotpoint 32! However, this stop doesn't have a drawstop in the traditional sense, it's only activated when 'the wife' is doing the washing. On spin cycle the washing machine generates a low pitched resonance which permeates the whole house, this is barely audible in my music room but combines superbly with the bottom end of the pedal 16ft registers. I've not been able to discern the exact pitch of this resonance, but it seems to be a harmonic which reacts with just about every note in the 16ft bottom octave to produce a superb Contra Bourdon effect which underpins the rest beautifully. It's most effective from bottom F to B (as are most quiet 32s) but is still there on the lowest notes. But, there's a bonus - when the washer goes onto its high-speed spin the effect becomes a more biting Contra Violone! I play a lot of Cesar Franck (lots of opportunities for quiet 32 under Celestes or Vox Humana/tremulant) and am currently learning 'Grande Piece Symphonique' - a rather time consuming task; and so try to time practice sessions with washing sessions. It's wonderful; no need for speakers the size of wardrobes, no need for those dreadful mutations which just add a hollow growl. Anyboby else got a Hoover 32, Ariston 32, Zanussi 32, Indesit 32? DT
  21. York Minster has both Cornopean and Horn on the Swell, they appeared under these names in the 1960 Walker rebuild, but if you trace the history of the organ back though its various incarnations you will see two 8ft swell reeds with varying names going back to 1859/62. DT
  22. My wife and I 'did' New York for our joint 50ths a couple of years ago and attended the Sunday Choral Evensong at St Thomas's. JS's choir sang extremely well then we were treated to an excellently performed recital by the 'associate' organist Jeremy Bruns - half an hour of Bach on the Taylor & Boody on the west gallery followed by half an hour of romantic music on the Skinner culminating in Rawsthorne's Hornpipe Humoresque. The new organ sounded very fine indeed, but I can't say that I liked what I heard of the Skinner either in the service or the recital. There was little warmth and it tended to shout as the volume increased. There didn't seem to be any quiet/refined solo voices. It's not a particularly big church, just nave and chancel with no transept, so the acoustics aren't particularly great; any organ up in the chancel is going to have a hard job! We also gate crashed a celebrity funeral at St. John the Divine - but that's another story! DT
  23. Nachthorn, I PM'd you yesterday saying that I have copied out this chant and can send it to you. Did you not received this, I am aware that PM's don't always get through? David
  24. To draw a link with a thread which was recently running - 'King's College Cambridge' and comparisons members have drawn, favourable or otherwise with St John's choir. St John's sounded on superb form yesterday morning under their current director Andrew Nethsingha. DT
  25. All the Blackburn soundboards were replaced with new ones by David Wood in 2002 as part of the rebuild. This doesn't say much for the longevity of Walker's 1969 originals! Makes me wonder about the condition of the organ at the Met. Liverpool which Walkers built in 1967, I would have thought that the method of soundboard construction would be the same as Blackburn. DT
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