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Mander Organ Builders Forum


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  1. Evolution. The organ has evolved from the blockwerk of hundreds of years ago to the instrument it is now, ebbing and flowing between the tastes and perceptions of the ages. Choral tone also has much to do with fashion. The most commercially successful choirs seem to be those which adopt a "continental" sound, for example New College Oxford, who seem to me to be the most musically alert and spontaneous group around at the moment. Howells, Stanford et al were themselves followers of fashion, not bastions of musical and moral stewardship; they had to give 'em what they wanted or they wouldn't have made a living. This is the generation that played Bach on tubas. Now, we have a generation of musicians very well versed in historical practices and able to inform current performances. New College will sing Stanford quite differently from Mozart and quite differently from Messiaen. Preservation seems to me to fall into a dangerous mothball and formaldahyde area of language, when surely stewardship would be a better word - using the knowledge and experience we have (much of which wasn't around 60 years ago) to inform spontaeneous, lively and appropriate musical performances? In other words, preservation in terms of breathing new life into old wood rather than harking back to a golden age which, to those whose names we remember, was fraught with the same arguments we worry over now.
  2. Mr Budgen is a quite exceptional craftsman with an immense knowledge of organ history which informs everything he does. I had heard that the latest rebuild left the organ still very heavy and still very quiet. It seems a shame, all that money spent on an advisor's whims over the last 20 years to be not much further forward than they were...
  3. For my part I agree that last week I went much too far and sincerely apologise for any offence or upset caused to other users of the board. I confess a degree of alcoholic beverage consumption was involved. I hope those concerned will accept this apology and be assured that normal taste and propriety will be resumed forthwith.
  4. Seriously though folks, in my lonelier moments I do seek amusement from compiling specifications of totally inappropriate stop names, like Albatross 16' or Pringle 8' or Enema 1 3/5'. It's quite fun making the name sound like the sound. A bit like that Douglas Adams book The Meaning of Liff. Surely if we put enough of this stuff on the internet, in 400 years' time whoever takes over the mantle from Bill Drake will be earnestly creating instruments with 5 rank Mounted Crocodiles on them?
  5. It's not too expensive or difficult to DIY. You can buy a complete old pig on eBay for a couple of hundred quid, even if you only use the keyboards. Mine is: I: Stopped Diapason 8, II: Stopped Flute 4 (bott octave grooved to the tenor octave of the 8'), P: Stopped Diapason 16. Gives you enough diversity to make a useful rehearsal noise in just about any field, even trio sonatas if you don't mind playing down an octave with one hand. Or, get a cheap 2m harpsichord and fit a pedalboard to it?
  6. Or, indeedy, a "don't drop the coffin" fly on the wall thing about Mander's works?
  7. I think the Beeb would probably struggle to justify commissioning new organ concerts. I think a rerun, with additions, of Gilly Weir's TV series at 8.30 on BBC2 and 10.00 on BBC4 ought to do the trick. There is, after all, no better and more level-headed communicator in our midst.
  8. One whirr, two whistles, and a clunk + faintly electrical humming noise. I've got three, all W&W. Beat that!
  9. If he suggests moving it, let him. I have seen this work to awesome effect several tims. Not least Westbury.
  10. Will do, when I have email working right - no attachments at the moment. Novenko gave a rather poor recital, unfortunately. This was about 1993 and I think he was slightly overwhelmed about being in the UK.
  11. 125 grand? Blimey! Could've had 5 new 2-manual Allens for that!!!! Organ builders expect to make a proposal and solution. They expect to be judged at least partially on the basis of their proposal, its usefulness and relevance to the instrument's use. Often, it's best to have that viewpoint rather than the independent adviser who won't actually have to go and do the work or pay for it. The builder I mentioned above did just that and came up with the only scheme for us that was remotely useful and practical, giving equal weight to the liturgical needs, the history of the instrument, the school of craftsmanship used in its construction, the budget available and the musicality of the solution. In my opinion this balance was exactly right. Do you mind if I ask what part of the country you are in?
  12. I would most definitely look elsewhere, and probably not Deanes as they are only an extension of the redundant Osmond firm and probably not the route to go for longevity, or quality voicing/regulation (however frequent). I would talk to someone like Shaftoe, Meakin (if he's still trading independently), Stephen Cooke or John Budgen (if he's still doing electric work - think may be more selective now). Cooke did a major rebuild for me (on an ex Daniels instrument) in about 1990, including new pedal chests, wind regulation, revoicing and undoing Daniel's tonal alterations. None of it has missed a beat since despite only one tuning every two years, and the DOA at the time said the quality of the chest/schwimmers/wiring/traditional wind trunks was the best he had seen in many many years. Ref Romsey - I have played this, ages ago - it seemed to me that the rebuild was eminently sensible, unifying the actions - there were about half a dozen things going on between the pedals and the pipes before, apparently - I was impressed with the restraint of the rebuild work, and the quality of the Mander work on it - the nicest sharp mixture I have ever heard. Not so sure about the horizontal Tuba though!!
  13. And, then, there are some outstanding locally based craftsmen who do a really top-notch, Mander/Drake/Harrison quality job or better, are cheaper than the PD's of this world, but don't get a look in.
  14. Into which last catergory I would tentatively insert Walkers. I've never found a recent mechanical action of theirs I was really happy with. The pre-1870 stuff is mechanically, design-wise and tonally far superior to anything they have produced since (apart from Bristol Cathedral, and a couple of fairly inspired things in the mid 60's that were at least better than their contemporaries were producing). In my opinion. Exeter is much, much too forced for the building its in and full of really tatty rubbish - like those blue and yellow "pipes" either side of the case, which are just painted onto a piece of MDF. Ugh.
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