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Mander Organs


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Everything posted by swalmsley

  1. I think that's being a little harsh. I interpret the spec as being that of the foundation of a straight concert organ on a very grand scale, with liberal use of extension in the (many) secondary divisions, for solo, imitative, cinematic, and special effects. In this it is quite different from a normal "theatre" style instrument. Notwithstanding this, it is also fair to say that extension is used rather more heavily in the pedal divisions than is normally the case for a concert organ.
  2. Having been fortunate to see inside it, I feel it cannot be described as anything other than a great - even monumental - feat of organbuilding. The grand excesses of the tonal scheme will not be to the personal taste of everyone, but I find they make a lot of sense within the context, which is - to say the least - unusual. Dare I even suggest it, but to my ears the 64' makes a definite musical contribution to several of the tracks of the 1998 CD.
  3. The spec is visible under the "Adopt a Pipe" page. https://www.svatovitskevarhany.com/en/pipe-adoption
  4. I have heard that claim before, from multiple sources. It irritates me because it is, by whatever measure is chosen, plainly wrong. http://die-orgelsite.de/ The number of three manual organs, in Europe, which have a greater number of ranks, stretches well into double figures. There even exists one three manual organ which, by the same measure, is over 40% larger.
  5. However, the 1.4m capital figure is stated as including an endowment. Depending on whether they're planning to fund just organ maintenance or also other costs with the endowment income, and whether it's planned to be a perpetuity or a progressive withdrawal of principal, the endowment could be the greater portion of the capital. So the restoration costs, allowing for the size differential of 50 stops vs 37 stops, could be comparable with Bedford. On a related point, I found it amusing to use the effects of compound inflation to adjust the original cost of Bedford - as stated in the NPOR entry - into today's money. It came out at rather less than I expected at a little under 200k. Of course this is a gross simplification and does not account for the variation of the cost of hand craftsmanship and organ materials relative to general prices over that time period, compound inflation being of course a measure of a varying basket of consumer goods unrelated to organbuilding. But it is still an interesting benchmark.
  6. https://coventryobserver.co.uk/news/coventry-churchs-amazing-project-to-house-grade-1-listed-organ-from-manchester-in-citys-oldest-rooms/
  7. In the mid 90's Anthony Bogdan was kind enough to allow me to practice regularly on this organ. It was indeed very fine, and very loud. The Gt chorus in particular was very bright and crisp in a way that one does not usually associate with H&H of this period. The TP action was a joy to play, with immediate response, and worked perfectly, although it was attended-to by the organbuilder. http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=G00085 Interestingly, the other large local parish church - Leigh St Mary - has an earlier H&H rebuild with an almost identical stoplist. However the thoroughbred St. Thomas job was always regarded locally as having much the better effect, being sited in more generous acoustics. The 32' OW was quinted below GGGG, if memory serves. The church is an immense red brick building, with a huge undercroft. A few years ago, it was found to be in need of major structural and electrical work at a seven-figure cost, presumably beyond the means of a small congregation. In the preceding years, the organ had been substantially damaged by water ingress due to a series of thefts of the lead roof above the chamber. If the suspicions are confirmed, it's wonderful news that this instrument will survive.
  8. The BBC R3 recording of the inaugural recital is available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b095qhsk I'll resist the temptation to opine based only on a recording, made in a rather challenging acoustic. However, most interesting is what TT says - or, indeed, does not say - during the interview.
  9. Tangential, maybe, but for me hearing the Wanamaker organ in the building offered no extra insight into its tonal qualities or grandeur over that evident on the fabulous and readily available Keith Chapman/Peter Conte recordings. In short - the lavish sweeping orchestral, string and crescendo effects are remarkable - if not unique - but there the distinction ends. Looking closer to home, however, there is the much smaller organ, of a similar vintage, in a school chapel in Suffolk, which for me offers a more compelling illustration of the possibilities of "blank cheque" organbuilding. The quality of construction and tonal integrity is stunning, and it is highly effective in the - admittedly rather smaller - building. The impact on the listener of the full chorus is grand to the point of overwhelming, in a way that Wanamaker, for all its vast resources, cannot manage.
  10. Since 2006 RoHS legislation in the EU has mandated lead-free electronics with the effect that operational lifetimes are greatly reduced. Over the next few years we will likely see the impact of this in organs, both electronic and electronic-actioned, and it may well be that pre-2006 will start to be seen as a lost "golden age" where electronics service lifetimes were able to exceed 10, 15 or even 20 years. As has been pointed out, a single decade is really nothing in the context of a pipe organ - little more than the "settling-down" period, and indeed is also nothing in the context of similarly-affected satellite or military equipment. So, if reliability is important, then the future is, clearly, simple mechanical-actioned instruments, or provision for the regular replacement of electronic modules much more often than the historic rebuild interval.
  11. As to Colin Pykett's interesting question, I think the nature of the beast enables an experimental, rather than experience-based approach to "voicing" or "room integration". With a pipe organ, fundamental decisions which have to be made early in the design process cannot be easily (or economically) undone; parameters such as layout, pipe scaling, windchest planting. Later, in the voicing process, one can always shave a sliver from the lips, but not put it back. With a few exceptions, mostly at the smaller end of the spectrum, a pipe organ builder is forced to build a specific organ for a specific space. In contrast, electronic organs (even with different badges adorning the console) tend to be based around a much more generic set of building blocks which can be adjusted endlessly at little marginal cost; so, is it not more optimal to defer those adjustments until the final installation where the room parameters can be known without estimation or supposition? Or, as is possibly the case sometimes, does the fact that these crucial decisions can be deferred endlessly simply lead to them never being made properly? So my view is the necessary focus is brought to bear in a fine pipe organ installation because the medium itself demands it.
  12. Completely agree - eclipses John Scott's for me, and that's saying something! There is also the fine Reubke performance on the other side of the LP, which has the mastery of TT's later recording (on the same organ) but is more emotionally wrought, especially in the conclusion. Rather suits the work I think. The organ is of course a well-worn vehicle for large scale German romantic music but acquits itself surprisingly well in the Elgar, helped of course by the infamous acoustics; one hardly misses the massed ranks of diapasons and rounded reed tone.
  13. I imagine that even at today's prices this buys quite a lot of organ: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/manchester-cathedral-church-celebrating-25-7200728
  14. I heard a recital played on the west organ roughly 3 years ago. It was disappointing, with a completely unbalanced and rather grating chorus. Not a pleasant sound at all.
  15. swalmsley

    RFH Organ

    I'm with Wolsey. I was present for both John Scott's recital and Cameron Carpenter's improvised accompaniment to the silent film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" on Saturday evening. The latter concert was not broadcast but I compared the John Scott sound to a recording of the broadcast shortly after I returned. The sound in the hall is much better than the (admittedly good) broadcast sound. It is truly a wall of sound, the lateral disposition giving that unusually stereophonic effect which has always been evident. I always admired the softer flutes and clean classical choruses of the organ before it was taken out, but what has changed now is that the improved resonance in the 16ft and 32ft registers has rebalanced the sound in the hall to the extent that the tutti is now very satisfying and has become the organ's best sound, whereas before I found this somewhat grating. The blend that has been achieved with the chorus reeds and mixtures is a marked improvement. Many highly admired instruments achieve, by careful balancing, this effect of being extremely loud in a way which is not at all tiring on the listener and the rebuilt RFH organ is now in that category. I had several hairs-on-the-back of the neck moments during both performances, admittedly helped by the interpretations, but something which cannot be faked, and which I sadly find much more often on the continent than here. Particularly noticeable in the hall and less so in the broadcasts is the way in which the improved bass resonance and the slight improvements in hall acoustics are just sufficient to remove the old impression of the hall sucking the life out of the space between each note and chord. In my opinion, this is now a very, very good organ and on a somewhat selfish note I'm very pleased that it's local!
  16. A number of Dutch churches have similar arrangements, some containing equally significant organs. For example, the Laurenskerk at Alkmaar is regularly used for exhibitions and there is even a bar in the south transept, with the seating area being in the transept itself. The Martinikerk and Aa-kerk in Groningen are also now "community" rather than religious buildings. I attended recitals at many Dutch venues during a trip last year and interestingly Zwolle and Haarlem were rather the exception in that one could still attend services! At the main Sunday morning service, Zwolle was standing-room only which casts a curious slant on the latest developments. None of these communities seem to have forgotten about or neglected their irreplacable heritage; quite the opposite in fact, as the magnificent restoration of the Aa-kerk Schnitger shows, as does the painstaking attention currently being lavished on the vaulting at Alkmaar. The star of the visit for me was the reconstructed Martinikerk organ - it is just breathtaking to hear live. On the other hand, Haarlem's much-modified main chorus now slips into the insipid when compared to the spiky glories of the smaller Mueller at Leeuwarden.
  17. Whatever St Ouen's eventual fate, current (September 2012) indications are heartening. The crumbling external stonework of the central tower has just been restored in what appears to have been a very extensive and long-term manner. The building does have regular use as an events/exhibition space, and the city is quite commercial so likely to have deeper pockets than Abbeville. Elsewhere in the city, the flamboyant gothic jewel of St Maclou is buried under the scaffolding of another restoration. Different parts of the cathedral have been clad in scaffolding each year I've been; and recently one of the cast-iron corner turrets of its central spire has been temporarily removed. Those familiar with the sizes and heights involved will be able to speculate as to the costs of this work. So I think we can be cautiously hopeful that the St. Ouen church will be capable of discharging its highest function - that of keeping the rain off CC's crown jewel - for a few years yet! Incidentally, one of the recitals I attended in September (Yves Castagnet playing stellar repertoire ending with the whole of the Widor Romane) was the best organ recital, and one of the best musical occasions I've ever witnessed. Having previously bored the readers of this forum with litanies of praise for this peerless organ, I'll stop here.
  18. Yes, they do. I've just ordered a CD from them. You can even log in using your amazon.co.uk account, including any saved address and payment details you may have.
  19. swalmsley


    label:priory (or whatever you wish) in the search box is very useful. Highly recommended.
  20. The Skrabl website contains this interesting claim: "Last year they completed seventeen major new organs. They do not even count the smaller ones...." I bet their accounts & billing department does!
  21. There is an interesting recording of this organ, where the programme notes have the following to say: "In 1969, the Warrington Corporation decided that an estimated restoration of the instrument costing a modest £9000 would not be a viable proposition. Through the staunch efforts of a specially formed Cavaille-Coll Organ Retention Committee (under the chairmanship of Gordon Fletcher) the corporation gave an undertaking that, if the money could be raised, the organ would be retained in the Parr Hall. (...) Considerable interest was aroused and eventually the corporation decided to add to the sum raised (...) replacing of the worn-out, irreparable 'Barker-lever action' with new electric action. (...) It is of course a matter of regret that the Barker action had to be dispensed with ... in the event perhaps the only realistic step was taken; and the Willis electric action is certainly very fine." An article named "A Queen in Distress", from the Organist's Review, Oct 1971, by Gilbert Kennedy, is also mentioned. Perhaps this might shed more light as to thoughts and opinions at the time. The general tonal effect as captured on the recording has much in common with the similarly-specified but decade-later organ at St. Francois-de-Sales, Lyon, the most marked differences being attributable to the very different acoustics - predictably more resonant and warmer in the bass in Lyon.
  22. Just to pick up on a couple of points here, one with my AP hat on and one without. I don't believe Stephen Smith posts in this forum (or even reads it), but for one I'm glad to see that organrecitals.com is appreciated. I've been pleased to be able to provide some of the technology behind it as a way of "giving a little back" to the community which has given me much interest and pleasure over the years. Stephen puts in a tremendous amount of time keeping the site up-to-date and it's important to me that the technology allows him to make the most efficient use of his time. In common with I think everyone that was there, I very much enjoyed Francis Jackson's recital on Saturday and I personally found that the wanderings-around on the gallery could not distract from some truly memorable music-making. It is important to point out (and is no secret, having been in our newsletter and on our website) that the video equipment was funded solely by a grant from the Lottery "Awards for All" scheme for the specific purpose of increasing accessibility to recitals at the Ally Pally. There is no question of those funds being usable for organ restoration. For those not fortunate enough to have been present, some photographs are available at http://www.allypallyorgan.org.uk/concerts.php Stephen Walmsley APOA
  23. If MTT is a good way into the whole running of the DVD, then the cause is most likely the changing of layers during playback. The laser has to be repositioned to read the second layer, a process which causes a pause which will vary depending on the mechanism. It's there in all commercial releases over a certain length if you look for it; it's just that in some cases it's more noticeable than others. If I'm right, any replacements will show the same "fault".
  24. I saw and played this organ shortly after the second console was added. I distinctly remember David Wyld, who was good enough to arrange this, telling me that the second console was added against his advice, at the insistence of the authorities, who wanted to create a more "intimate" feel to services focussed on the chancel. Naturally, I spent most of the time at the upstairs console...
  25. By sheer coincidence, I listened to this CD from start to finish just a few days ago, and the effect of these old recordings caught me quite by surprise. I think it's about time that a snippet of the other scorching Dupre performance - the first movement of the Widor VI - found its way to that page, and it has... There are many wonderful moments here, but one of my personal favourites is Goss-Custard's build-up to full swell in "AD1620" which is still awe-inspiring no matter how many times one listens to it!
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