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Mander Organs

Brian Childs

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Everything posted by Brian Childs

  1. I suspect a simple misprint at some stage. Either "pope" or "poet" would make more immediate sense to an ordinary hearer, unless the reference is to the habit of having the organ as the instrument of choice in films of Gothic horror stories.
  2. It is quite simply fallacious to imply that serious organists do not play transcriptions. It is not true now and certainly was not true in the past. As to the here and now, Dame Gillian Weir, Simon Preston , Thomas Trotter, Nicolas Kynaston, David Briggs, Kevin Bowyer and John Scott Whitely have all recorded transcriptions, in some cases whole programmes of them, many still available or only recently released. So incidentally has Lionel Rogg whom most people would regard as a serious organist. In the past Thalben-Ball, G.D. Cunningham and Edwin Lemare also did just to mention names most here will know, and Lemare played to audiences which most people performing today would die for, especially if they were on a share of the ticket receipts ! And Marcel Dupre used to regularly feature a transcription he had made himself as the prelude to the Xmas Midnight Mass at St Sulpice. Then there are the theatre organists like Reginald Foort and George Blackmore , both sufficiently serious to be holders of the FRCO diploma, and as MM has pointed out more than once Quentin Maclean' s training by Straube may fairly be taken as evidence that he has claims to be considered a serious organist too. Lastly, most practising organists, including most on this board, quite regularly play transcriptions, often at Weddings when Wagner's Bridal March, Handel's Air from the Water Music and/or "Largo" and Mendelsssohn's Wedding March are called for, as they still often are. And what about "Nimrod" or Chopin's Funeral March ? Quite recently a member of this forum was enquiring about availability of a Brandenburg Concerto in transcription. Serious organists do not play transcriptions ? They certainly do in this world.
  3. Regrettably Belfast to London is a little far to go, especially given the present state of the airports but I wish I could. I have been an admirer of Thomas Heywood ever since I acquired a copy of his first release on the organ of Melbourne Town Hall prior to its restoration and the CD of his re-opening recital was truly outstanding, not least the transcription of the Beethoven 5th. I just wish he could record more in Australia but presumably economic reasons lie behind the fact that his most recent CDs have all been recorded on US organs by the indefatigable Fred Hohman. It is difficult to believe that in a world where it is possible to get instant communication from the most remote places that news of Heywood's talents have not percolated through to London. It appears to me more a case of the receiver being switched off than the transmitter not working. But that would not be all that unusual for London where there occasionally appears to be a reluctance to accept the fact that it is no longer the centre of the world as it was in the nineteenth century so that it no longer has the right to expect everyone else must beat a path to its door to spare it the inconvenience of taking action to find out what is going on in the rest of the world. BAC
  4. I am also quite happy to admit to being a great fan of CC and an owner of most of the CDs and even LPs he has produced over the years. At least he appears to have grasped a fundamental truth that seems to have eluded a number of other concert organists, ie that if you are in the entertainment industry - and music, even art music is intended to amuse and divert and not as a substitute for religious observance - then you need to be entertaining. And he is. He is also the ONLY organist whose concerts I have attended (and I have heard most of the famous names active over the last 40 years) who has come even close to filling the venue where he is playing. (The only player who might have achieved the same,at least on his home turf, was Reg Dixon at the Tower Ballroom but I never heard him play, and have never even heard the Tower organ live.)That fact at least suggests that audiences who are required to vote with their money rather than simply their mouths (or fingers on this forum) are not unhappy with his approach. Years ago I read in a journal to which I then subscribed a review of a recital CC had given in London. I cannot recall precise details at this distance in time but the writer (of whom I had never heard then, and whose name is still unknown to me) expressed the opinion that CC's performance of a Bach work (I think the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue (BWV564)) demonstrated that it was "beyond the intellectual grasp of the player" (or words to the same effect). Freedom of speech means that the writer is entitled to express his opinion, but it confers the same privilege on me. I thought he was a pompous little prat and I never renewed my subscription to the Journal since I know my place and it is not in the company of such elevated beings. BAC
  5. Hi MM, Many thanks for all the useful information about the SGH organ. Although I do have a copy of the Dearnley LP it is away somewhere safe and hardly accessible. As regards the Hull City Hall organ the last time I heard it live was under the hands of Peter Goodman when the luminous touch Compton console was still in situ which could of course be moved to the front of the stage and invariably was for solo recitals. I do not recall it being unduly problematic then to form an impression of the volume level being generated, so I wondered if you consider that the new fixed console has been the cause of, or at least a major contribution to the problem ? Brian Childs
  6. I am fortunate to own this already:indeed it still retains the original price sticker - 99p. I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere that there were plans afoot to reissue this on CD together with additional material recorded by Dr Jarvis but for the life of me I cannot remember where or when I came across this. Perhaps I imagined it or possibly Amphion are now moving in to the era of the LP. Does anyone else know anything ? To change the subject, is it not the case that the Tuba Mirabilis, Solo Diapason and Grand Chorus were all added to St George's Hall organ by Willis III in 1930-31 as a reflection of/ complement to developments taking place at the Cathedral at that time? But if that is so, then what happened to the original solo reeds whose "scorching brilliance" was supposedly altered then ? I had always understood there were four (8,8,4,4) though I do not know why I think this and the NPOR (or at least the version I have been able to access) gives the specification as of 1994 after remedial work to the action but no links to the instrument as it was when W.T. Best or Dr Peace played it. Presumably three of those ranks would form the basis of the existing 16,8,4 Tuba chorus but it is difficult to believe that a stop of reputedly exceptional brilliance was revoiced to provide the French Horn that is the fourth HP reed on the enclosed Solo. Quite apart from the issue of just how easy it would be on a technical level to move in effect from one end of the spectrum to the other - an issue I am not competent to judge but on which others on this forum can provide an informed opinion - it is difficult to see the point of so radical a change. HWIII was not unfamiliar with, nor averse to installing, brilliant solo reeds - the Trompette Militaire at St Paul's dates from this time, and that in Sheffield City Hall must be roughly contemporary, so it is not as if the policy was for the ultimate in closed tone. As far as I am aware Willis have never produced chorus reeds or tubas with the degree of smoothness to be expected of a Harrison Tromba chorus. Certainly the Trombas on the Solo at Liverpool Cathedral sound to me nothing like stops bearing this name that would have emerged from the Harrison stable. Can anybody shed any light on this, please? BAC
  7. Does that involve treating all 3 sonatas as a single work ? If not, which one is the hit...?
  8. Thanks for the information: clearly I need to get myself a more up to date, and perhaps bigger, musical dictionary. I suppose that puts Debussy and Schubert in the same category as Beethoven and Dvorak rather than where I had them and I suspect the research obsession currently driving Higher education will lead to more cupboards being turned inside out and the discovery of further examples of long (and sometimes better) forgotten work. Nevertheless, I think the categories hold water even if I put certain individuals in the wrong box.
  9. Does that make Chopin, Delius, Debussy, Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Schubert etc, etc NO HIT WONDERS (unless transcriptions are allowed ? As far as I am aware none of these wrote anything intended for performance on the organ. I have certainly never come across an original organ work by any of those named, though I have certainly encountered their music in organ performance on a number of occasions. And what about the likes of Bruckner, Beethoven, and Dvorak whose original organ compositions pale into insignificance in comparison with the works for which they are well known ? And did Mozart actually write any organ music intended for performance by a human being as opposed to a clockwork machine ? Perhaps we need to refine the rules a bit in order to provide for the cases of (1)internationally celebrated composers who wrote nothing at all for the organ :(2) internationally celebrated composers whose organ works are insignificant and rarely performed ; and (3) internationally celebrated composers whose contribution to the organ literature is well known but was not originally conceived for the organ, such as Mozart and possibly Schumann , depending on the view taken of his real attitude to the pedal piano for which some of them were ostensibly intended. I would argue that RVW belongs in a fourth category : "composers with an international reputation who have produced one reasonably well known piece of organ music" - that certainly fits RVW and also Nielsen, Britten and Michael Tippet. BAC
  10. Are n't you old enough to remember the Latin Mass ? Or to have done 5 years of it at school ?
  11. Fiat Lux is heard from time to time and turns up in recital CDs on occasion. (Relatively recently on a composite CD issued by Priory of the the organ team at Durham, on a reissue of David Patrick at Buckfast Abbey, and on a CD of Martin Setchell playing on Christchurch Town Hall - NZ that is. I know that the piece has been recorded also by Geoffrey Tristram and Simon Lindley, and I think by Gordon Stewart. I am sure there are others but cannot call them to mind at the moment).Marche des Roi Mages used to be quite popular - perhaps time for a revival ? BAC
  12. The Second Suite is, in my opinion, well worth getting to know, particularly the Final March which I first came across in the Ryemuse recording of Huskisson Stubbington at Tewkesbury Abbey about 40 years ago. I quite like the Ronde Francaise too. BAC
  13. And "Homage to Handel" is a great opportunity to display a big organ. Conscious of normally being too long-winded, on this occasion I may have been too cryptic. I certainly do not think the Sonata Eroica is the only worthwhile piece by Jongen nor that Nun Danket is necessarily Karg-Elert's best work or the only one likely to be familiar to members of this forum but it must certainly be the leading candidate for the position of the most well known : in terms of recordings over the years - I think I could probably name at least 20 - I am unable to think of another that comes even remotely close. In the end, I did not actually suggest Karg_Elert, only admitted to considering it. After all, if having one work that outstrips all others in popularity by a considerable margin is a sufficient criterion for inclusion then both J.S.Bach and C.M Widor would figure in the list! BAC
  14. In respect of Jongen I suppose it depends just how you rate the Chant de Mai/Minuet Scherzo in comparison with the Sonata Eroica in terms of popularity . I considered suggesting Karg-Elert, after all Nun Danket must surely be so much better known - certainly far more often recorded - than his next best known piece ? Any views on what that would be, incidentally ?
  15. I think I basically agree with most of this , though we do have quite a lot of Wurlitzer Theatre Organs from the USA !! But then perhaps only myself, Frank Fowler, and a few others would think of including them! Personally I doubt whether there has been a successful concert organ created in this country since the Colston Hall in Bristol, not counting restorations/relocations of already existing instruments. There are at least two reasons which account for this: (1) the cost of a brand new concert organ is such that very few venues have included them (the Waterfront Hall in Belfast for instance has a location for an organ designed into the structure but no instrument) : such installations as have taken place have been in the nature of rehousing arrangements (eg the ex-Odeon, Manchester Wurlitzer to Stockport Town Hall via the Free Trade Hall, Manchester. (2) A concert hall instrument intended for solo use needs in my view to be slanted towards the romantic end of the spectrum and until relatively recently no one who wished to achieve or retain academic musical credibility would have dared to design such an instrument outside the privacy of their own home. Now that the anti-romantic pendulum has reached the limit of its swing and indeed made some considerable progress in the reverse direction it would indeed be possible to contemplate a design which included voices, such as an adequate amount of string tone and commanding solo reeds, that are not required for the performance of Bach or Hindemith even ! Of course, the small matter of money, often not even available to preserve existing instruments of merit such as Newcastle Town Hall, means that the prospects of any sizeable concert instrument (70+ stops) being commissioned for this country in the near future would appear to start at slim and not to move in a positive direction. Brian Childs
  16. Reubke actually wrote a Piano Sonata in B flat minor(!!) which has been recorded several times in conjunction with the organ sonata on a single CD. Usually the pianist and organist are not the same but Guillou (I think) actually played both. I know that the Mollterz label have been planning the issue of another version , with Catherine Ennis at St Giles' Cathedral Edinburgh for the Organ Sonata and Hamish Milne for the Piano Sonata, possibly due later this year, but it has been promissed for quite some time. As for one hit wonders, Jeremiah Clarke has to be a contender, and if the criterion for inclusion is one piece far better known than the remainder of the person's output then Boellman (Suite Gothique), Jongen (Sonata Eroica) and Garth Edmundson (Von Himmel Hoch) would seem to fit the bill. BAC
  17. I am glad to learn it is in better health than I Had been led to believe, especially in view of the fact that there is no money to replace it. I assume that part of the problem is the size of the active congregation, given the ethnic composition of the local community coupled with the decline in attendance by those who are nominally Christian, meaning that there are very few people amongst whom the load can be shared.
  18. Is there any significance in the fact that this instrument dates from the same era as that in Sheffield Cathedral (long out of use and the subject of a separate thread on this Board a few months ago), whilst Bradford must have been rebuilt round about the same time ? None of them seems to have proved particularly long-lived. Curiously all of these instruments reside in recent foundation Parish Church Cathedrals, buildings that enjoyed a long life as a parish church before being elevated to Cathedral status ? Is it possible that enhanced status was not accompanied by a proportionate enhancement in income ? If that were to have been the case, it could certainly provide a possible explanation for why the organs of some of our cathedrals seem to have deteriorated remarkably more quickly than others (re)built at approximately the same time such as Coventry or St Paul,s. Brian Childs
  19. Dear Frank, Thanks for this, which I found most enlightening. Your suggestion that much of the problem is caused by the absence of knowledgeable colleagues to ask seems plausible to me- it at least suggests that in a number of cases cock up rather than conspiracy or malign intent is the likeliest explanation. BAC
  20. I am quite sure this is true and that a competent consultant is invariably worth his/her fee BUT how is the typical cash-strapped parish to ensure that it selects a consultant of this type and is not saddled with an incompetent rogue ? After all it can hardly be the position that organ consultancy is the only profession without black sheep, can it? And if they exist, how is the parish supposed to recognise them when the whole tenor of the discussion here seems to have proceeded on the assumption that parishes are not very well equipped to protect themselves from rogue builders ?
  21. Personally I only know this organ from recordings but Paul Derrett has recorded on it so it might be worth sending him a personal message off site. BAC
  22. Well I do not ante date The Great War, merely the Korean, and that not by much , but I would certainly stand by my statement as regards my own part of the country (Essex) in respect of craftsmen generally - it is entirely possible that organ builders formed an exception to what was otherwise the rule since my contact with them during my formative years was necessarily not extensive, though why this should have been so is puzzling. Perhaps the economics of organ building have been precarious for that much longer, resulting in longer experience of/practice at corner cutting and doing unnecessary work. Be that as it may, the real challenge is to try to do something about the problem by thinking of a way to make the sort of advice you argue is necessary as widely available as possible at an affordable cost. Any ideas how that might be done ? BAC
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