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Everything posted by deadsheepstew

  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.
  15. Grosvenor gets very heavy use. Viz also Exeter College, Oxford and Jesus College, Oxford: both had new organs at exactly the same time, in exactly the same week. Exeter had a Walker that kept breaking down and has quite a lot that is suspect about its design and construction. Jesus had a Bill Drake that is immaculate to this day, much like Grosvenor. His workmanship is so unbelievably good, it's just a shame he doesn't move his tonal thinking forward say 50 years to the heydey of Gray & Davidson/Walker/Bevington rather than staying in G.P.England-land.
  16. This is an important question. I occasionally do some Petr Eben and Arvo Part but that's about as far into the area I've gone. Sadly the comment about transcriptions is probably true, as would be questions over the standard of scholarship. There is a guy called Michael Novenko who came over from Czech about ten years go, so I went to his big recital at Peterborough - he completely rewrote two Hindemith sonatas and played lots of Rheinberger.
  17. Additionally, I have been asked to ask you if you have any horizontal specialities?
  18. With major jobs, probably - the majority of work, and also Daniel's work, is small to medium parishes. Ironically, these are also where there is the least knowledge about the organ, and where the most careful work is needed. I could reel off dozens of small organs round here which are just horrid beyond words, but all of them are Walkers and Sweetlands and Bishops and Binns and Bevingtons, beautifully made and, originally, making quite an exciting (or certainly musical) sound. These are also the instruments where new/young players are trying to get inspired to carry on and improve. I always gave Mr Manners the benefit of the doubt until I once asked him if they could regulate my Sw to Gt coupler - the plucks were coinciding, and fiendishly heavy, and I wanted one to come just after the other - and he looked at me in complete incredulity and said "It's only a parish organ, young man, not Westminster Abbey!" There is no excuse for any musical instrument being treated with that kind of disrespect, let alone a mid 1800's instrument with reeds, manual doubles and mixtures by an extremely high quality builder as this one was. On that rebuild, we saw the DOA up to the point of getting the faculty, and after that the standing committee ran the job. I'm sure if the DOA had witnessed some of the horror stories we uncovered they would have been very interested indeed.
  19. What a .... liberty. More of a Lily Savage boy meself
  20. 1) The DOA system has long been suspect. In any case, they can only advise on a paper scope of works. The decision on who does the work is down to the church, though in extreme cases I have heard of builders being banned from going anywhere near certain diocese. 2) Those paying the bill all too often don't pay heed to those who have to play. 3) Those playing all too often don't know what an organ should sound like, regrettably. As for being a bitch - well, come and look at the instruments in question. I challenge you not to weep and rend your hair. One of them was, as it happens, a Daniel mixture made from a secondhand flute - an unbroken 19.22 perched on top of very, very soft Bishop fluework. To compound matters they chose to remove (rather than repair) the wind stabilising equipment. It was unuseable from the word go.
  21. May I suggest you approach Dame Gillian Weir for advice on this matter. It is rumoured she has sometimes played with a hot water bottle strapped to her back, perhaps for ballast. I don't think she hangs out here very often, though.
  22. Really a question for Mr Mander concerning reed tuning. I'd like to save my church a bit of money by knocking the reeds into tune myself every once in a while. Is this a common practice? Also, I am playing a little instrument at the moment with a fairly useless Dulciana on one of the manuals. I was thinking about knocking it a tad sharp to the Sw Open to have a kind of celeste. I've seen this done to outstanding effect. I'm guessing that as there's no major alteration and it can be said to be temporary, a faculty wouldn't be needed. Any advice, anyone?
  23. My two cents, then: Principles. 1) Two balancing choruses, both at least partially unenclosed, a requirement in contrapuntal music. 2) The enclosure of part of the second manual to provide the necessary sound effects for liturgical work. 3) Mechanical action to manuals and direct magnet to pedals. I Quintadena 16 Open Diapason 8 Gemshorn 8 Stopped Diapason 8 Stopped Flute 4 Principal 4 Fifteenth 2 Full Mixture Mounted Cornet V (fid G) Cremona 16 Trumpet 8 II - all enclosed unless specified Open Diapason 8 Stopped Diapason 8 (unenc) Gamba 8 Vox Angelica 8 Principal 4 Flute 4 (unenclosed) Blockflute 2 (unenclosed) Mixture III 15.19.22 (breaks @ tenor F#, treb D#, top A#, as does Gt) Clarinet 16 Hautboy 8 Vox Humana 8 (horizontal) P Stopped Diapason 16 Flute 8 (ext) Principal 8 Blockflute 4 (not extended; wide scaled) Fifteenth 4 (ext) Mixture 12.15.19 Trumpet 16 Usual couplers (no octaves) Tremulant to each division, variable speed and depth Schwimmers all round Ideally I would make it so the unenclosed section of II was at the back of the organ, had its own keyboard, and could be unhooked and wheeled away for independent use as a continuo. Shall we say half a mil for cash?
  24. Percy Daniel have quite simply vandalised some really exquisite instruments beyond reasonable repair or even functional playing. I have personal experience of three, only one of which we could rescue, and the recent BIOS article about a highly historic early 1800's chamber organ to which they applied electric action and tab stop control should tell us all we need to know. I hope they are doing more responsible work these days and wish them well, though I confess to quiet personal glee when I learned they had to be put into liquidation in order for Mr Cawston to complete the transaction. Apparantely their horizontal reed and work at whichever Welsh cathedral it is at has been really rather good, and I have seen new instruments of theirs that have some extremely high quality and solid cabinet and electrical work, just less successful tonally. Is the name Daniels to be abandoned or continued?
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