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Mander Organs

Brian Childs

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Everything posted by Brian Childs

  1. However the pedal reed in the Whitlock Fanfare is quite loud enough to mask most of it !!
  2. Hi PCND At least you understand the use of the apostrophe !! I would be very surprised if anyone on this board can truthfully claim that in their entire life they have never written a sentence containing a mistake which they knew perfectly well was one when it was drawn to their attention. I certainly could not ! It is nice to be back. I actually returned about a week ago and I have been ploughing through this topic in my spare time ever since. I am pleased to have finally reached the end and equally pleased that peace seems to have broken out again : I thought it was getting rather too over-heated to be healthy a few pages back, and the necessary distinction between disagreeing with the speech on the one hand (OK) and insulting the speaker on the other (not OK) was not always being observed. I think it was JKK who so nicely made this point with which a number of others, yourself included I think, concurred.
  3. I actually have this set: I have played it once, and thought it was OK- it is not going to set the world on fire but I preferred it to his Liszt or Mendelssohn offerings. I suspect that with the probable exception of JSB (and possibly Mendelssohn) most sets of "complete works" (for organ), especially those that include absolutely everything, including discarded earlier versions etc, are necessarily going to be played by someone who does not have all the works in their repertoire: of course, how much time is devoted to learning them before they are set down is an issue that might be worth considering in more detail.
  4. "Boring" and "old" both being adjectives I think we may now need a NOUN for them to qualify !
  5. Actually MM I do in principle, though as with any other type of stop (including that whose name we are being asked to eschew for a while) an individual example may be pretty dreadful. Have you heard the Orlos at Altenberg ? Very distinctive.
  6. I think I could better agree with this statement if the word "almost" were inserted before "nothing" in the second sentence. There are times when what is required is the equivalent of the voice of a Brigade of Guards RSM which will cut through everything and brook no disagreement or dissent. I have never encountered a Trumpet that could guarantee to do that, not even the Trompette Militaire at St Paul's much as I like it: they may be loud but they do not stand sufficiently apart utterly confident of their right to dominate all around. I can think of several tubas that can do this quite well. Granted there is not much need for such an effect if one is principally interested in Bach and his precursors, and modern neo-baroque music but as I am not I want the tuba to be around at least until I have grown too frail to attend any more recitals. BAC
  7. Graham, Thank you for the musical link. I now have heard something by Simper albeit an anthemn accompaniment rather than a piece of solo organ music. The evidence to justify the general opinion is accumulating rapidly, it must be admitted. However, while this would not make my top 100 , no make that top 1000, pieces of liturgical music, I have to say that I would still rather hear this than some of the pieces of "praise" music which we are about to favoured with, according to our parish magazine. I am quite happy to listen to Buddy Rich or Gene Kruppa play the drums or the Band of the Royal Marines but a rhythmically challenged drummer can be hard to take, especially in consort with a not-quite-in-tune guitar played by someone who cannot sight read and has not learned all the notes. Incidentally, I should make it clear that this particular duo were heard at a location far removed from where I currently reside and have no connection of which I am aware with the musicians in my present parish. BAC
  8. Thank you for the link. I begin to see a reason for his reputation though to be fair I have come across others whose preservice improvisiations sound not dissimilar - unless of course they are playing his music from memory . Perhaps those who do improvise in this style should be encouraged to use , at least occasionally, pre- service music composed by others ?
  9. I fully agree that for a skilled improviser this is a perfectly feasible approach: was it not said of Howells that while acting organist at St John's during the war he never played any composed organ music by anybody ? However, there is the problem of what to do while the learning process is taking place, and also the consideration of what to do if the skill cannot be acquired: not everyone can learn every skill, after all, however easy others may find it. I have never been able to master swimming! Those with limited talent for the skill should perhaps not be encouraged to inflict their efforts on congregations (or anyone else) as a matter of course, if for no other reason than that it may serve to set people's benchmark for what organ music is like and confirm their opinion that they do not like it. By all means encourage everyone to essay the skill but I have no more wish to hear the musical efforts of those who could not master it than I have to be flown by a pilot who has not quite got the hang of flying yet!!
  10. Is he a from a cadet branch of the family that make the coffee ?
  11. Would you mind amplifying this statement a bit when you have time ? I am not contradicting you: merely indicating I am not entirely clear whether the "missing skills" relate to teaching skills, singing skills or some particular combination of the two. BAC
  12. The Wanamaker (Lord and Taylor) Store Organ in Philadelphia has a set of "Tower Chimes" of large scale up at the top as well as a more normal scaled set with the other percussions. I do not know however whether they are actually in a tower. Also digressing a bit, I note from the booklet of Peter Conte's latest recording (Midnight in the Grand Court) that in his performance of Vierne's Clair de Lune "the famous Clear Flute from the Ethereal Division soars above the lush tone of 36 ranks of dulcianas and muted violins in the String Division." I wonder what the dulciana haters on this board will make of that!!
  13. Indeed they do. A significant number of German organs, including some of quite modest size and some dating back to the time of JSB have a glockenspiel of some description. Most organs of any size in the USA will have both chimes and a Harp/celesta, and quite modest organs from the 1920's and 30's will too, though these were not infrequently casualties of neo-baroquization where it took place. In the UK, excluding theatre organs, tonal percussions are not that frequently found but they are normal on dual purpose instruments (Southampton Guildhall, Wolverhampton, Dome Brighton and so on) and quite often included on Town Hall instruments: in addition to those mentioned above there are - St George's Hall, Liverpool, Huddersfield Town Hall, Albert Hall Nottingam, Middlesbrough Town Hall, and probably others. The original scheme for Liverpool Anglican Cathedral included a set as part of one of the divisons that were not included in the instrument as finally completed, but apart from Hereford I do not think any other English Cathedral has them now though possibly the ones that were installed in Norwich are still lying around in the triforium and the (unconnected) Celestial organ in Westminster Abbey has a set.
  14. Whilst to the digust of some here, and the delight of others, a good many straight organs have one or more tonal percussion stops ( and almost all theatre organs have several distinct types) the only other example of a Tower Carillon I can call to mind is the National (RC) Shrine in Washington DC where I believe the Knight's Tower Carillon is playable from the Solo . BAC
  15. Purely out of idle curiosity can you explain WHY Susan Landale is not British, being Scottish born and Edinburgh educated. Is it that neither of her parents were British citizens, so she never acquired that status at birth or has she CEASED to be British by virtue of taking French nationality on account of where she lives ? Just curious. BAC
  16. I wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments. Concert organists perhaps ought to remember that like clowns they are in the entertainment industry and church musicians are in no different a position when they venture onto the concert circuit. The entertainment may be delivered by a different means but that does not mean that being entertaining is not the object of the exercise. Taking a more elevated view of one's status and function is quite likely to lead to disappointment. I think it might be beneficial for some players (no one here ,of course) to remember that they are privileged that the audience gives up its time to come to hear them:not the other way round. Brian Childs
  17. I entirely agree with you that taste is a personal thing, and I have said before that it would be a dreary world if we all liked exactly the same things in exactly the same quantities. Variety is indeed the spice of life. I did not actually argue for the broadest common denominator: merely for one with adequate breadth. Presumably the gentlemen you mention are fully aware that they have to please those who can afford to, or are willing to, pay the prices they charge or their businesses will collapse Also in suggesting that "pleasing the audience" is a factor that ought to be accorded some priority , I am not saying that audiences are only pleased by being anesthetized into comfortable somnolence by "nice", bland, completely undemanding music: sometimes you please by stirring the blood or even frightening, by challenging or provoking thought. In literature Dickens was rather good at getting the balance right but even The Old Curiosity Shop is not unremitting Mills and Boonish niceness from cover to cover. That is why I think the examples of successful film composers are quite illuminating, because they have to produce music that is "reasonably fit for its purpose" (Sale of Goods Act 1893, s14(3) and not the modern idiom some may believe it to be). That purpose of course is to complement the visual images and has to take its tone from them, so it is not unusual to find that the nastier scenes are accompanied by music that is far from relaxing and bland, but audiences seem able to cope. Pleasing the audience need not be as restrictive as some might fear it to be, and certainly does not mean eschewing everything but the bland. As to King Lear , the considerable differences between the Quarto and Folio texts indicate that Shakespeare revised it more fundamentally than any of his other plays which have come down to us. Moreover, the reaction of at least some audiences is indicated by the fact that between 1681 and 1843 probably the most widely performed version was that rewritten by one Nahum Tate to give the play a happy ending ! As to Guernica , it is surely no more horrific in what it depicts than Goya or Leonardo had been earlier, and anyway visual art demands far less of an investment of time than is the case with music. The individual revolted by what he or she sees can turn away at once and go to seek out a more appealing image to view. Finally isn't it the case that Mahler 10 is a bit like Elgar 3 in that neither is entirely (or in the case of the Elgar possibly even mainly) the work of the celebrated composer to whom it is atttributed ? Can we be completely confident that either composer would have left the work in this form if they had been able to complete it ? Brian Childs
  18. In this debate I would tend to side with those who favour speaking to the audience, particularly in cases where explanation of a "difficult" work is called for PROVIDED 1. The remarks are properly prepared in advance. Except in the case of the most gifted extempore speakers no one should turn round to face an audience without a very clear idea of what they want to say and how they propose to say it. To act otherwise is to court disaster. It is embarrassing for performer, and unhelpful to the audience to be on the receiving end of a few unrelated, incoherent thoughts delivered in an increasingly inaudible mumble as realisation dawns that one has mounted the tiger and has no plan for getting off. 2. Care is taken to avoid the unthinking repetition of remarks which are used over and over again to introduce a piece. I have in the past attended different performances by distinguished players where the same work was programmed: I was mildly amused to find that what had seemed like a few brief off the cuff remarks the first time were repeated virtually verbatim on the subsequent occasion, including the same jokes , which were ostensibly sparked by an untoward event during a prior piece. Brian Childs
  19. I would suggest that it is to over-simplify to treat "challenging" and "contemporary" as if they were synonymous when applied to music. Surely at the end of the day it is not when a piece was composed but what it sounds like that is the crucial factor in determining its "audience appeal". Personally I still find some of J.S.B's less exciting Preludes and Fugues challenging(at least in terms of keeping my attention !) whilst I am very fond of the Fricker Pastoral and the Prizeman Toccata holds no terrors for me. That said, it seems fairly obvious that a considerable amount of modern music is challenging in the sense that it lacks any immediate audience appeal. The interesting question, for me, is why this seems to be seen as a fault in the audience rather than in the composer. A chef who insisted on creating unpalatable meals which made those who ate them violently sick could only have a career in an institution catering to the bulimic. But some composers seem to feel that pleasing the audience is not something to which they should be required to give much, if any, attention. Surely there is a touch of self indulgence, not to say conceit and arrogance in such an attitude ? Obviously tastes in music differ just as widely as tastes in food: some prefer their food far more highly spiced than others but if you are a professional cook then you need to pitch your standard at a level which will be acceptable to a sufficiently broad client base to allow you to have a career. Should not composers be prepared to adopt a similar approach ? Perhaps those wishing to find a means of allowing contemporary voices to write in an idiom which will be attractive to a broader audience might do worse than study the careers of successful film composers, and those who are inclined to be instantly dismissive of such a suggestion should remember that this list includes Vaughan Williams, Walton, Bliss and Bax as well as Korngold, Jarre, John Williams and Morricone. Those who want to plough a different furrow have every right to do so. What they do not have is the right to insist that others should like what they produce or be prepared to pay to listen to it ! Brian Childs
  20. I do not believe they have but his Allegro Marziale also gets a fair number of airings, at least as a voluntary. As to the Kreiger piece mentioned by Jonspark I wonder whether it qualifies as a hit (irrespective of its quality as a piece of music) if the only place anyone has ever encountered it is on JSW's CD: I certainly have never encountered it anywhere else. BAC
  21. Born in Colchester, raised in Kelvedon, Chipping Ongar and Chelmsford where I attended King Edward VI Grammar School (1959-66) before going up to The University of Hull to read Law at the feet of the inimitable F.W.Taylor. Two years into my postgraduate degree a strange desire for remunerated employment persuaded me to accept the offer of a lectureship at Queen's University, Belfast, which I did on 6 August 1971. On 9 August internment was introduced:the rest, as they say is history....Intended to stay 3 years but ended up doing 31, gradually working through the ranks, to become (briefly) Head of Department of Private Law before it was decided, to my great relief, to abolish departments. Eventually decided I could no longer stick being part of a system which glorified reseach productivity, irrespective of the intrinsic value or real originality of the work, and regarded undergraduate students as nothing more than fees on legs to whom as little time should be devoted as humanly possible by anyone who was serious about career development. Took early retirement in 2002 and now amuse myself with various part-time activities, including the proof reading of Organists' Review and the COS Newsletter, being the sort of sad individual who pays attention to such things as the difference between it's and its or principal/le. Still married after 36 years with one son (28), one daughter (23) and currently two cats. Still trying to assess just how much it says about the possibility of reconciliation between peoples that my father spent the years 1941-46 in the RAF and my son's partner is a catholic girl from Cologne. (Any recommendations for a wedding venue between Cologne Cathedral and St Salvator's Chaple in St Andrews?) Was a chorister at my local church and regularly attended evensong at the Cathedral when John Jordan was DoM, (and The Golden Fleece/ Lion and Lamb afterwards!!) Musically largely self-taught and stopped playing after an accident to my right hand left me with greatly reduced sensation in the tips of my fingers: this was probably a great blessing for others as I was never much good anyway. Have been an assiduous collector of organ recordings for 40 years. My one remaining ambition is to have a CD of organ music from all 42 of the Anglican Cathedrals in England. Thanks to the activities of Regent and Lammas I am almost there: only Carlisle, Leicester and Bradford remain to be added. I would be grateful for anyone with any influence over the music staff at any of these locations who could persuade them to issue a CD in the near future before I fall off my perch!!
  22. The organist might well but would the organ ? Unless it would, or is to be treated as so doing, it is difficult to imagine a line of thought that connects the saying with a description of the organ. BAC
  23. I think we could both probably agree on that as a principle, possibly only differeing in the size of the portion to be allocated to the sweet course.
  24. Much food for thought here and I have been reflecting on the various contributions since my last post on this thread. It seems to me one can draw quite a number of useful illustrations for points one is trying to make by using food analogies. Thus tastes clearly differ. The fact that I would sooner die than have to eat semolina pudding again is no reason why anyone who really enjoys it should be denied the pleasure of eating it. So with music. I hope I have correctly recollected that VH is partial to music of the Tudor period. Greensleeves apart I find music of this period as difficult to follow as the English of Mallory in Mort d' Arthur, and consequently I neither listen to one nor read the other. My loss certainly, but the normal allotted lifespan is too short to sample every experience that life can offer as it is, so I do not see the point of persisting in trying to like something which did not appeal on first encounter. "Get it down, it will do you good" is not a sentiment that I have ever found particularly appealing whether applied to food or music. Clearly claiming this privilege for myself, I must accord the same right to pursue individual taste to everyone else here. Accepting that tastes differ amongst individuals does not mean that one has to accept a quite different proposition. That some tastes are inherently superior to others: that foie gras or Beluga caviar is not merely different from roast beef and yorkshire pudding or fish and chips but also better than roast beef and yorkshire pudding or fish and chips. One can accept people's right to act on their individual preferences without also accepting their right to claim that their particular preferences are superior to, or better than, those of others and thus entitled to greater consideration. That said, let us return to the thorny issue of transcriptions and who should play at the RAH. I am quite prepared to accept that "Londoncentricity" is not the explanation in the particular case under discussion here , although the existence of that concept is not in doubt as far as I am concerned. Therefore, the issue must revolve around the "appropriateness" of inviting a particular player to perform at the RAH. "Appropriateness" can signify at least two quite distinct things : (1) fitting in with performance policies of those who organise the programme ; (2) providing a recital programme appropriate for the instrument in question. There is surely very little scope for arguing that the sort of programme that a particular individual would play would fall foul of the second category - the RAH organ was built to play this kind of repertoire which is why the Bass Drum, Tubular Bells and many of those solo division reeds are there : they are not needed for Sweelinck, Bach, Mendelssohn or Messiaen. So the first category of significance must be the one in operation, ie the preferences of the organisers. Provided these preferences are at least neutral in terms of audience size then I am happy to defer to those on the spot, but I think one is entitled to ask for the evidence that they are so to be produced. After all it seems a number of venues even in London have either ceased to offer recitals altogether or have substantially reduced their involvement: that does not look to me like a situation of growing demand. The normal response of a business that wants to stay in business faced with a decline in demand for its existing product range is to seek to find a new product that will appeal to what customers want. One would simply like to be reassured that this is the approach of those in charge at the RAH. Just as I like my meals to be balanced , so with any recital I happen to attend. In the same way that I would not wish to eat a meal consisting of three main courses with no starter or dessert, so I have no particular desire to listen to a programme consisting entirely of transcriptions , but neither would I wish to sit through nothing but Reger or Dupre or Messiaen or even J.S.Bach, though arguably special considerations apply here. Finally I have a question (series of) for those who decided not to attend a recital by Mr Heywood because it contained a substantial number of transcriptions, which is how consistently do you apply this policy ? What about an orchestral concert featuring Gordon Jacob's arrangement of the Elgar Organ Sonata, Stokowski's Bach Transcriptions, or orchestral arrangements of Debussy Piano Preludes. What if Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition were the main work ? Would you excise the Toccata and Fugue in D minor from your repertoire should scholars ever succeed in establishing that it was not actually written as an organ work ? IF the answer offered is "but orchestral transcriptions are different than transcriptions for organ" then why is this so ? "I prefer them" is a perfectly valid expression of a preference, but a preference is only a personal opinion: it is not a fact. Even very large numbers of people sharing the same preference does not convert an opinion into a fact. At one time majority opinion thought the Earth was flat but that did not make it so! Brian Childs
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