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Mander Organs

Charles Wooler

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Everything posted by Charles Wooler

  1. I have samples of four sets of the psalms: a couple of the St Paul's ones, All the Priory ones, the Westminster ones and the Willcocks ones from King's. They all have their own strengths. For my money the Westminster Abbey ones are brought to life simply by Andrew Lumsden's sublime use of the Abbey organ: nothing for me particularly sets the Abbey choirs recording apart from the others in terms of singing. It is very nice, don't mistake me, but the dramatic and retrospective moments definitely come from the organ. The St Paul's disc contain excellent, singing, beautiful and vibrant, but the pointing is as set in the St Paul's Psalter. John Scott explain in the preface to either the Psalter or the Discs that he has tried to get the barline as far left as possible in each verse and in doing so this has brought about some rhytmic idiosyncracies which take time to get used to, but are very effective once you're over the surprise. As has been said before, this would only work in St Paul's. The King's set I find a little dated, with very "ordinary"chants, but are well sung and discretely accompanied by David Willcocks (why does one of the discs use Trinity (pre Metzler) to record in: was the Kings organ being rebuilt?). The Priory set are variable. The singing from Durham, Norwich and Ely for example is top drawer and stands alongside the Abbey, Kings and St Paul's set with consumate ease. This set also has a lot of "home grown" chants (particularly Norwich) unique to various Cathedrals and in this respect the Priory set is for me the most interesting (all thought not all the homegrown ones are outstanding chants. The Priory set, by its very nature also demonstrates the huge range of approaches to sining Psalms. All of these sets are about 15-20 years old now. It is interesting to point out that apart from Durham and Ely none of the choirs who have recorded the discs under discussion are still being directed by the same person. Is it perhaps time for someone to revisit the cathedrals and make a new survey of Psalm singing? It would be interesting to see if there are any substantial changes in approach.
  2. Does anyone know the timescale? I'm giving a recital there in May half term. Or supposed to be.... Liszt BACH, Franck Prelude Fugue and Variation and Elgar Sonata. Charles
  3. Does anyone else know St Thomas the Martyr in the Haymarket, Newcastle? http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N04095 A very modest sized building but the organ is very exciting to hear. A little less satisfying to play due to the very remote position of the console and a long delay! Having said that I still enjoy practicing there several times a year, when getting ready for something that needs more than the two manuals offered by my own church's Nicholson.
  4. Quite so! A friend of mine, realising that using the Solo Octave and Sub-Octave Couplers with Solo to Great would enable 9 ranks of Tubas to be used on the Great did so at the end of "I was Glad" on Hild/Bede College day. We were recording the service on the tape deck that James and Keith used to have in the organ loft. At the end of the recording you can hear the mics being frazzled. The device, I gather, was not operable after that! To ask a (perhaps) more interesting question, I can not think of an instrument with a more breathtaking dynamic range. Using the Swell Salicional alone with the box tight shut, it is sometimes impossible to hear if anyone is playing at all. It is wonderful for pieces like the Howells First Psalm Prelude as you can genuinely obey the "a niente" marking. Not knowing (but having heard) Westminster Cathedral and Liverpool terribly well, I'm sure that people will assure me that the same is possible there. This issue of dynamic range really struck me when I heard an excellent recital by Peter Backhouse in Edinburgh this summer (another phenomenally loud, and very beautiful instrument). The loud stuff was VERY VERY loud, but the pianissimo passages were still at about mp. As such the instrument doesn't quite have the mesmerising effect (for me) of say Durham, Peterbrough or Coventry. What do others think?
  5. I've been pressganged into buying tickets for the Vicar's Cheese and Wine party by some old codger (not the vicar!) whilst I was playing the communion hymn! His sales pitch started with "are you busy?"!
  6. I'm fairly certain it is true actually- a friend and former boss of mine at St Oswald's Durham, David Higgins (now sadly no longer with us) was a friend of Alan Thurlow's both at Sheffield and in Durham. David used to say that he heard the story direct from Alan Thurlow himself. My own favourite Conrad story (for there are many!) is the story of Conrad going to an RSCM do in Darlington and driving Alan Thurlow. Finding nowhere to park he pulled up in an office car park (it was a Saturday). A porter came running out and said to Conrad "Excuse me, this is a private car park". To which Conrad nonchalently replied "that's ok my good man. This is a private car!" David also told me of the time when Conrad was conducting a large choir (possibly the University Choral Society). The soporanos missed an entry in one of the choruses in Judas Maccabeus. Conrad stopped the choir and shouted "ladies, I know it says 'chorus of virgins' but please all sing".
  7. Did you find the claw's stuck into the pedals?
  8. For my money: Cat 1 Best small organ (2 manuals under 20 stops) Bill Drake's organ in the undercroft of the Houses of Parliament Cat 2 Best medium-size instrument (Up to about 40 speaking stops - any number of manuals) Frobenius in Oundle School Chapel Cat 3 Best large organ (about 40 - 100 stops) St Giles Edinburgh Cat 4 Best very large organ (100+ stops) Durham Cathedral (Only 99 stops but can we make concessions?) Cat 5 Best cathedral organ Durham or St Giles? Cat 6 Best city/town hall organ Newcastle City Hall- has to be heard, pity its in such a mess. A total crime. Cat 7 The best of the best Don't ask mean questions like that............
  9. Or a game similar to this? http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gQ7qK-L4Fx0 Charles
  10. Unbelievably: the 32' Double! Charles
  11. I have news about it, having recently joined the committee of the Newcastle and District Society of Organists. They are doing a huge amount to get it restored. For those that do not know it is an absolute Rolls-Royce of a 1928/9 Harrison and Harrison (http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N04108) with 66 stops and 4 manuals. Several people have remarked that it is the utmlst in opulance, built at exactly the same time as the Tyne Bridge in the inter war years when the City was still trying express a sense of civic pride and wealth. I have only played it once: 3 years ago and it was in a terrible condition- it sounded marvellous and has clearly been exceptionally well made, however it is full of dirt to a shocking extent, largely I suspect because it was in a leading Civic Venue in the region where all the major acts nationally performed and smoking in the concert hall was still acceptable. A recent report by Paul Hale confirms it as a stunning instrument but gives picture of frightening levels of filthines: upto an inch of dirt on the hoods of the Tubas for example. Having said all this, the fact that the instrument went out of fashion very may well have been its saving grace. The recital series at the city hall was transferred in the sixties to St Thomas the Martyr with a more fashonable Harrison of the Coventry Cathedral Mould (http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N04095) and the City Hall Organ was forgotten about. Until the 21st Century. Some of my colleagues in the NDSO have worked tirelessly to bring the instrument to the City Council's attention. At first many City councillors were unaware that the hall had an organ! A fact that I find extraordinary given that it occupies the entirity of the back wall of the hall in a vast case covered in Gold leaf and with every seat in the auditorium facing it. But there we go. Now they are just beginning in the city council to realsie what they have got and that restroing it may well be the key to breathing new life back into the City Hall itself which has been a somewhat unknown quantity since the SAGE concert hall opened on the otherside of the river. I really know very little except 1) it is a superb instrument that is likely to be one of the finest concert hall organs in the country when restored 2) the council are beginning to take an instrument in it 3) Paul Hale's report explains that the instrument is actually in a better condition than may have been feared with the state of the winding and the pipework being remarable given the hall's age, lack of dehumidification and the lack of any attention (not even a regular tuning) for a good number of years. I will try and get my freinds and coleagues on the NDSO who have been involved in the project since Day 1 to post more information, but until they do so, please keep your eyes and ears open for any publicity and SUPPORT THIS PROJECT WHOLEHEARTEDLY! Charles
  12. I'm afraid they've dropped even bigger blunders in the past! Priory once released a disc called something like "The Music of Durham Cathedral", complete with a lovely, full page picture inside of the organ....... of Hereford Cathedral! Having said that, the vast majority of their discs that I own are exceedingly enjoyable, better good discs and comedy errors in the printing that the more Blairitepossibility of crumby recordings with superb artwork and marketing.
  13. Correct me if I'm wrong. Wasn't Mrs Mangel an organist back in around 1988/1988 on neighbours? Now I've embarrassed myself I'll run away and hide
  14. Last line of this one reads............ Mr Kemp's organ is now kept in the church and used in services as a way of remembering him, he added. Do journalists ever proof read?
  15. The fact that the entire organ is dismantled and flat packed in a seperate warehouse/lock up in Co. Durham also suggests strongly that Harrison and Harrison have been asked to rebuild and reinstall the lot, although I don't know for definite. Charles The hatch reffered to in the opening post may well be for the console. If you read William McVicker's excellent essay on the organ in Gillian Weir Priory Disc recoreded recently in the RFH it explained that the console will be replaced in the hall, but somewhat further back and attached to the organ chamber. This is because it kept getting walloped by the lighting rig as it was lowered to set up lights and the console soon got very tatty. Charles
  16. For me, after much pruning; Olivier Latry- Complete Durufle James Lancelot- Complete Parry David Briggs - Reubke at First Congregational Church LA, Hans Fagius Complete Bach Set David Goode- French Showpeices from Kings Of course that means leaving out Gillian Wier's Hexham and Messaien Discs, James Lancelot's Vierne V, John Scotts Dupre Discs (and Durufle) and many many others. Thank heavens Newcastle is not a desert island (no "Its grim up North jokes please!") Charles
  17. He has just retired-last summer in fact. He was an inspiration to me too. During the early '90s, the then vicar of St Mary's made life impossible for him and Dave Radwell (did you come across him too). They were joint Directors of Music at the time and both decided that they'd had enough of him. David is now at Eaton Bray and Ray is at St Michael's Aston Clinton where he has totally re-invigorated the music. I have never met any one of any age with such energy and enthusiasm for music. And with the ability to get even the most limited group of people to sing or play well. When I was at school, I helped out a bit at Aston Clinton and Ray taught he all the basics- very thoroughly too and was a great encouragement. Send me a PM with you're real name etc. and I'll put you back in touch with him if you like! Charles
  18. Try St Mary's Aylesbury (www.stmarysaylesbury.org.uk) - they have just installed an electronic to stand in for the Walker/HNB which recently died quite spectacularly. A friend of mine was playing it at a time and the mobile console threw a wobbler and half and showered an impressive cloud of sparks between his legs. They have a 60 stop or so Walker Elephant's tusk console which I gather is sitting in the corner contributing the square root of bugger all to church life. Judging from what is written on the music page of their website they have no intention of restoring it- they anticpate buying a second hand pipe organ. Not bad given that in the re-ordering of the Church in the late '70s/early 80' the Walker component was removed from what I understand to have been its chamber (office space was deemed more vital) onto a gallery high up north of the crossing so that everything spoke up into the bellfry nicely (the Bats in Aylesbury sing hymns terribly well these days!) and complemented it with an HNB extension organ organ the west end in a small chamber north of the new West Choir Stalls, the voicing of which was just plain nasty. Not to mention the fact that the console was put into an essentially seperate room to the rest of the church. In short there was a west organ that could be heard by only the choir, and east organ that could be heard only by a few in the congregation and an organ console in a place where hearing anything in the church was just deemed to be plain luxury!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They might let you have some of their stops though. Just a thought............. Charles
  19. Is it possibly an imitation of the sort of Postive Division that they have at Durham Cathedral? The Choir and Postive Specs are: Choir 26 Bourdon 16 27 Viole d'Amour 8 was Salicional 28 Lieblich Gedackt 8 29 Flauto Traverso 8 was '4' 30 Gemshorn 4 31 Stopped Flute 4 32 Flauto Traverso 4 33 Nazard 2 2/3 1970 34 Piccolo 2 35 Tierce 1 3/5 1970 36 Dulciana Mixture III 15.19.22 37 Clarinet 8 Positive 38 Flute A Cheminee 8 39 Quintade 8 40 Prestant 4 41 Flute Ouverte 4 42 Doublette 2 43 Sesquialtera 2 12.17 44 Larigot 1 1/3 45 Octavin 1 46 Octave Tierce 4/5 47 Cymbal III 22.29.33 48 Dulzian 16 49 Trompette The 4/5 Octave Tierce looks totally bizzare on paper, but in practice it gives a third (and frequently used) Cornet Colour. You Draw The Prestant 4, Doublette 2', Larigot 1 1/3', Octavin 1' and Octave Tierce 4/5' transfer to Solo using Postive on Solo, drop them down an octave using Solo Sub Octave and Solo Unison Off and then return them to the Choir using Solo to Choir (Still with me? ) and Voila an 8, 4, 2 2/3, 2 and 1 3/5 combination. I gather that in the most recent restoration of the console Solid State logic spotted that the Octave Couplers affect the Positive when it is transferred to the Solo, but didn't make the connection with the 4/5'. They rang James Lancelot telling him that they'd spotted a very silly quirk of the system and that they'd taken it off for him. As you can imagine they were soon corrected! Not knowing the pitches of the stops you mention I wonder if this is what they're aimed at doing. Just a thought............. Charles
  20. Whitechapel is St David's Hall Cardiff
  21. A little bugger to play though: 100% accurately at any rate
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