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David Drinkell

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  1. I was a student at Bristol University 1975-78 and I well remember Clifford Harker's piston settings. I also remember Garth Benson's at St. Mary Redcliffe, which were similarly Edwardian. I had lessons from Garth and he gave me a few recitals and services. The Redcliffe pistons were adjustable at a switchboard, but it was difficult to talk Garth into lending the keys to the cabinets. 'What do you want to change the pistons for? I never change them.' I could understand his point of view, since it takes a while to set up a big four-manual on a switchboard, but I couldn't quite work with what he had set up, although I think my generation were beginning to get tired of neo-baroquery and was appreciative of Romantic organs and the way to register them. I certainly learned a lot from Garth's registration, and also from listening to Clifford accompanying the psalms at week-day Evensongs. I believe that one channel at Redcliffe is reserved for Garth's settings. One does learn, even from odd lines in conversations. I remember the late Richard Galloway (Holy Rude, Stirling - the best example of the oft-heard adage 'Rushworth's could really do it if they wanted to') saying, 'My dad used to like using 16' stops on the manuals', and finding several new dimensions to my own playing as a result. Similarly, sitting next to Francis Jackson at Evensong when I was fourteen and watching him accompany the psalms had an effect which is still with me forty years later. Getting back to 'Doubles Off' - I find this very useful when it's there. I first got used to it when Ernest Warrell used to let me loose at Southwark, a very generous gesture towards someone he didn't know.
  2. I found the comments about the design of the present organ interesting. I didn't know that Allan Wicks had modified Cocker's scheme. For its date, it was amazingly progressive. St. John's College, Cambridge received a lot of accolades, but Manchester was in many ways more advanced. Perhaps, for any number of reasons, it didn't all work out so well. I've only heard it in the building once, and then not enough of it to form an opinion. There used to be a website called 'Dream Organs', the originator of which has now gone to play the Great Compton in the Sky, but it contained a good deal of information about Cocker's organ schemes, including what he wanted at Manchester (several instruments around the building, some of them electronic, with a master console of a size to impress a Southern Baptist, the work to be done by Compton and Harrisons' jointly).
  3. If my memory serves, Horace Clark was a Roman Catholic layman from Essex who built himself a house organ. Noel Bonavia Hunt wrote it up in 'The Organ' and was very enthusiastic about Clark's skill. I think bits turned up in various instruments after his death.
  4. Borgundkirkje in Alesund has a superb and beautiful 1981 Marcussen Hovedverk II: Principal, Spidsflojte, Rorflojte, Oktav, Quint, Oktav, Terts, Mixtur Ivv-V, Trompet Svellwerk I: Bordun 16, Principal, Voce Humana, Gedakt, Hulflojte 4, Nasat, Flachflojte, Mixtur IV, Trompet, Obo Brystwerk III: Gedakt, Quintaton, Kobbelflojte 4, Principal 2, Blokflojte 2, Quint, Klokkencymbel II, Regal Pedal: Subas, Oktav, Gedackt, Oktav, Nathorn 2, Mixture, Fagot, Trompet Svell has conventional shutters, Bryst has folding doors - both lots controlled by balanced pedals. The reincarnated old organ at Trondhjem Cathedral has been much in the news lately, but I look forward to the restoration of the large 1930 Steinmeyer. It was moved and somewhat emasculated in 1963 (losing its 'Willis' type swell reed chorus in the process), but still had a good whack of big-organ grandeur when I played it about 25 years ago. The 1974 Ott at the Mariakyrkje in Bergen is quite famous, but I found it very much on the fierce side for a not-overlarge building. Deep in the fjords, Norddal Church has a lovely little 15 stop two-manual by Christensen of Copenhagen.
  5. The 'Suite sur le premier ton' is fun and effective. Clerambault, Guilain et al with a modern twist. 'Fantasia on O Canada' is a good rip-roarer.
  6. I've just played all the Psalm Preludes, one each week, at our lunch-time concerts in St. John's Cathedral, Newfoundland. They went down very well - and the audiences were by no means organ anoraks. I've played the Siciliano but feel I need to run it a few more times to get it to flow properly. I think it's important to get a broad over-view of Howells and not to judge him on a small selection of works, or in his writing for particular forces. The recently-issued 'God be in my head' is a little gem - definitely worth looking at for those with choirs.
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