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Brian Childs

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Everything posted by Brian Childs

  1. I completely agree that this is scandalous but the rub is - how are they supposed to know ? If, as is frequently claimed on this board and elsewhere, many churches are experiencing the greatest difficulty in finding someone who can actually play the organ how many is it plausible to assume have ready access to a member of the congregation with sufficient knowledge to oversee the work of the "builder/tuner" ? Employing independent consultants who do have such expertise, with its concomittant increase in costs, is most unlikely to prove attractive to almost any parish, and in the case of many is simply an unrealistic expectation, given the other calls on finance. I would like to know the views of Frank Fowler on this but I do seem to remember a time when it could be assumed that the majority of craftsmen were (1) competent and (2) honest and could thus be trusted to the right thing without someone looking over their shoulder, although there have always been exceptions. But it now seems the exception may have become the rule. Does anyone know when this happened and why ?
  2. Indeed, Great European Organs No 41 PRCD 487. BAC
  3. I think one needs to be careful with the kind of realpolitik argument espoused here because it is all too easy for it to confuse that which is undoubtedly true change is an inevitable fact of life with a corollary which most certainly is not - therefore all change is for the better, and should be enthusiastically embraced. I would argue that all organisations undoubtedly need a strategy "to manage change" but that an important component in that strategy is a set of criteria for distinguishing changes which are: (1)desirable, and therefore should be embraced, (2)undesirable but inevitable, and therefore have to be accommodated/accepted (3)undesirable and preventable, and should therefore be vigorously fought. I think most would probably agree on the validity of these three categories though obviously not on their contents, since change which some would embrace enthusiastically is anathema to others. That said an organisation is likely to be most effective when the great majority of its members are agreed on the appropriate categorisation of the changes relevant to its purpose and functions, since it is possible for it to adopt a strategy which is not inherently self contradictory. The problems arise when an organisation tries to implement a policy which is intrinsically incoherent in order to reflect "the views of all its members" . Perhaps others more familiar with the various organisations mentioned than I am might be prepared to hazard a guess/opinion as to whether the wish to be /need to be (ex-members do not contribute financial support except via legacies in the case of deceased ex-members) "all things to all men" is at least a contributory cause of some of the problems such organisations appear to be facing with change management ? BAC
  4. Getting younger would be unusual ! Although mindful of the bard's take on the 7 ages of man one's behaviour might conceivably become more juvenile. Anyway here you are, just to jog the memory - but surely the Red Dragonfly is rendered unfit for organistic consumption by the use of TONAL PERCUSSION stops! BACH: Prelude & Fugue in D; Chorale Nun Freut euch RHEINBERGER: Intermezzo from Sonata 17; Scherzoso from Sonata 8 PURVIS: Capriccio IVES: Variations on America ROBERTS: Pastorale & Aviary ELMORE: Chorale Seelenbräutigam TOURNEMIRE: Fantaisie Te Deum et Guirlandes alleluiatiques DUPRÉ: Noël Variations JONES: Improvisation on The Red Dragonfly
  5. Whilst I cannot speak for other places I know Chelmsford did not have one back in the 1960s, but then I do not know whether it has one now. What I do remember is that the local Grammar School had what was effectively a reserved teaching place for the Assistant/Sub organist, who by dint of his post was able to facilitate access by any of his pupils with the requisite ability. ( Inevitably they were overwhelmingly boys since the school was then completely single sex, which would be enough in itself to cause the practice to be frowned on now.) I suspect a similar arrangement prevailed in a number of other places, particularly in cathedrals without a choir school where the local grammar school served as a source of the majority of the boys. The demise of the grammar schools and the pressure on school budgets are both likely to have impacted on this cosy arrangement, but to what extent I do not know. I suspect that the rise in organ scholarships may be,at least in part, a response to a decline in the availability of "free labour" from the school sources just mentioned but I do not know this for a fact.
  6. Roger Fisher performed Sonatas 11-15 in the complete LP series recorded by Michael Smythe (were these reissued on CD a few years ago or have I just dreamt that up??) and also Nos 7and 8 for EMI at or around the time he recorded Chester in the Great Cathedral Organ Series. I thought these were very fine performances. Latterly he appears to be revisiting some of this repertoire with CD versions of No 6 (Martkirche, Wiesbaden), No 7 (Chichester Cathedral) and No 8 (Chester once again) all on the Amphion label. I have heard these but not all that often. My initial impression is that his interpretations have not altered radically over the years, in exactly the same way as his view of the Reubke Sonata now seems to be pretty close to the view he took back in the early 1970s, even down to the slamming on of the brakes at the end. But I cannot claim to have done the sort of sustained comparative listening necessary to turn general impressions into carefully considered opinions. Since both versions (of the Reubke) are available on the Amphion label anyone seriously interested is able to make their own comparisons. Brian Childs
  7. I would not know about that but the article in the forthcoming issue on how to teach music to children may provoke some comments from those who have earlier expressed an opinion here.
  8. The Ely Swell Reeds before the controversial rebuild of 1974 were Oboe and Vox Humana on 4 1/2 inches of wind and on ten inches Double Trumpet, Trumpet, Horn, Horn Quint and Clarion. The only Quint Trumpet I can think of in the UK is on the RAH organ. Does anyone know of another in the UK ? Incidentally, does anyone happen to know what is on the forthcoming CD (July) of Simon Preston on the RAH organ ? BAC
  9. The Tuba Mirabilis at York is horizontal, at least Francis Jackson, who ought to know, has said it is, as have others , and so too is the new Bombarde which faces East, while the TM faces west. The original York Tuba is conventionally upright. Allegedly the Tuba Magna on Manchester Cathedral (now removed) was horizontal while the Tuba at Newcastle presumably still is. I cannot recall any other horizontal tuba in an English Anglican cathedral though there are several surviving examples of the sort of 19th century Fan Tuba which York and Chester both had at one stage in their evolution in Parish churches which have either less money, or less inclination, to spend on rebuilds. Where do Trompettes Militaire , as in St Paul's and Liverpool, fit in this discussion ? Or non-horizontal Orchestral Trumpets , such as those at Norwich, Coventry, Hull City Hall and Westminster Abbey. In terms of the four examples cited, and apart from the name, how much do they really have in common in terms of timbre, decibel output , and contribution to the tutti of their respective home instruments ?
  10. Well, if we had a clue as to where it was ... I thought the reason that the Tuba normally resided on the Solo manual was that it was usually intended to stand apart from, rather than blend with, the rest of the instrument, in which case failure to blend in would hardly be all that surprising but rather an indication that the intended effect had been achieved ! And "noise" can be very evocative, at least to those of us of a certain age - for instance the very distinctive sound of a Merlin aero engine, or of a supercharged Bentley 4 1/2 litre or even a Fiat 500!!! As to the sound of Spanish chamades they have never seemed to me to have anything more than physical configuration in common with their modern counterparts, and I think Professor Peter Williams holds (or at least held) the same opinion. But surely stops voiced in the classic Spanish fashion would be a wonderful addition to the armoury of those who want to maximise their ability for producing "raspberry" effects, and the directional layout of such stops should mean that at least in some instances they could be directed at the person for whom such sound effects were intended?
  11. Of course I accept that with an application of imagination and musical nous you can show that a town hall organ is a great deal more versatile than it is usually given credit for but it is still EASIER to use it for what it was intended to play just as it is a great deal EASIER to get Pickfords to move you than to hire a handcart and do it yourself !
  12. It would indeed be a very dreary monochrome world if we all looked the same and had the sames tastes in clothes, literature and music so I am perfectly happy for PCND not to like the Theatre Organ, though rather saddened that he is missing out on so much pleasure and excitement as a consequence. As a fully paid up member of the Cinema Organ Society I obviously find myself closer to the position of MM. However, I would venture to suggest a couple of points which I regard as matters of fact , rather than opinion or preference, which I would suggest are relevant to the discussion. 1. A number of large town hall concert organs were expressly designed to play transcriptions of orchestral music and are better suited to doing so than they are to the performance of significant parts of the organ repertoire. One might therefore think that anyone contemplating performing on them would select music that they were designed to play, on the basis that that will sound better than that which they were not intended to play. Of course it is possible to use something to perform a task for which it is not designed: you can move your household effects in a two seater sports car but it is generally better to hire a van (or the services of professional removers). 2. As MM has already pointed, a number of celebrated theatre organists were extremely well qualified musicians, in the sense of possessing formal qualifications. Both Foort and George Blackmore were FRCOs, while Maclean's academic pedigree is difficult to fault. This tradition continues to the present day with a former Oxford organ scholar, Richard Hills, being musical advisor to the COS with several highly regarded CDs to his name . It is difficult to see how a bright line boundary between the worlds of the "classical" and the "theatre/popular" organist can possibly be drawn so as to ensure that Virgil Fox and Horace Finch get assigned to the categories which are appropriate for them given the institutions in which they played !! Brian Childs
  13. I agree. For English examples one might think of GTB at the Temple Church, Harold Darke at St Michael's, Cornhill, or Heathcote Statham at Norwich. And of course one must be both beware of Ageism and alive to the fact that in the future people will be expected to carry on working past what is now the conventional retirement date of 65.
  14. This is a question in the same category as "how long is a piece of string" in other words it does not have an answer in the form in which it is put. It requires much more contextual information. That provided, you might quite confidently assert that institution X would indeed be blessed if its incumbent emulated Vierne's method of departure at the first available opportunity, while institution Y's DoM is still going strong after 50 years and providing satisfaction to almost everybody (100% success rate is an unrealistic target to set !!). As another contributor has hinted there is the problem of the individual whose failing powers are manifest to everyone but himself but that problem is spread across almost all human activity , and it does not seem to me that there is any special feature which applies only to the context of a church DoM. At the end of the day someone, hopefully with tact and sympathy, has to break the bad news: a task that is rarely easy and seldom actively sought except by those whose personalities show a liking for inflicting pain which makes others consider them unsuitable candidates for caring jobs ! BAC
  15. Victorian and Edwardian English composers next time, possibly even something on Caleb Simper !
  16. I think that your analysis has to be right and is the "least worst" position in that at least you contemplate people knowingly contravening the rules. But much law of this sort is based on the prohibited act having been done rather than the offender knowing they are offending, ie if you supply an article which does not comply the offence is complete even though you were totally unaware of the fact that it did not comply . However, the language of regulation 7 quoted below (contravention of which is one of the offences created by the regulations) might be enough to require knowledge for a conviction. 7. A producer shall ensure that new electrical and electronic equipment put on the market on or after 1st July 2006 does not contain hazardous substances. Producer is defined as either the manufacturer OR the person who puts their own brand on goods produced for them by others (unless the brand of the actual producer is present) [ this category is usually called own branders and its commonest application is to supermarkets' own brand goods, eg M & S Baked Beans] OR the person who imports the goods into the EU (extended to include the non EU EFTA countries as well) from any place outside that geographical area/ grouping of states. Thus any producer of organs based within the EU will be caught by the directive by being present in a member state to which it applies. While producers located outside the EU area are not directly effected, the person who imports what they produce IS, thus external producers must also comply if they wish to be able to market freely in the EU area without the person to whom they sell being guilty of an offence. The obligation to ensure that goods comply obviously connotes active steps being taken and enquiries made, so lack of knowledge would be a fairly difficult thing to show in practice: effectively confined to the situation where a supplier tells lies which it is reasonable to believe represent the truth and with no need for further enquiry or checking. Hope this explanation makes sense. BAC
  17. I actually have all those plus the original Handel Organ Concertos with Menuhin and the Messe de la Pentecote from St Albans' and the Hindemith Sonatas. I would be happy to consider lending them to you if we can find a way of transporting them that does not put them too much at the mercy of Royal Mail. I would hate them to end up in a landfill somewhere !! BAC
  18. I think this so exactly encapsulates my own views that I would adopt it without qualification. In particular, the distinction between the style of what is offered and the quality of what is offered. Whatever style be adopted the end product should be the very top of the range of that style, even if we can assured that we will be forgiven that our best falls far short of perfection.
  19. Well as to Rattle this has been done already. There exists a CD called 'Round Midnight the significance of whose title will be familiar to all those here who also dabble in jazz. (EMI CLassics7243 5 57319 2 0) in which 12 Cellisten der Berliner Philharmoniker play classic Broadway songs, film themes, etc. Track 7 is a piece called The Flower is a key(A Rap for Mozart) in which the speaker is ... Sir Simon Rattle. I personally did not feel an overwhelming urge to hear it again but ..... BAC
  20. The forthcoming May issue of Organists' Review has a feature by Paul Hale on a couple of recent rebuilds for which he acted as consultant, Bridlington being one. It explains the basic philosophy underlying the rebuild from his perspective. I do not know whether it will add to the information in the programme notes but it may give you some clues as to the explanation for your perception of the rebuilt organ. BAC
  21. There seems some excellent advice here from people far better qualified than I to offer it but a couple of points do occur to me which I think might be relevant to how you might wish to proceed. (1) Who are you playing for - simply your own pleasure or with an audience in mind ? If the latter is the case, particularly if it is a payingaudience then an additional consideration ought to be to find the approach which best conveys to them the essence and spirit of the piece and provides them with the most pleasurable listening experience. (2) I have sometimes found it helpful to apply to the performance of music conceived for a quite different style of organ exactly the same considerations as would apply to transcribing a piece not written for organ at all but say for orchestra or string quartet. At least that approach gears you up to thinking outside the box and is (IMHO) more likely to produce results which satisfy both you (and any listeners) than you could ever obtain by downloading the specification of Buxtehude's organ and then simply working with a table of stop equivalents. BAC
  22. I don't know about the horses but it certainly scares off record buyers, judging by the sakes of Great Cathedral Organ series No 11 Salisbury on which Christopher Dearnley programmed it, on a very different type of organ from that for which it was ostensibly conceived.
  23. We are now entering unknown territory as far as I am concerned, after all this whole area of Law did not exist when I was a student: we did classical Roman law and the Institutes of Justinian: important things like how to manumit (= grant freedom to) a slave in the time of Gaius or Ulpian. However, deducing consequences from known facts and trying to edge forward it is possible that a derogation has to be applied for, and the application would have to be made by the party seeking the derogation which would be the relevant State. The regrettable consequence of this very tentative view being even partially right would be to put the initiative firmly back in the hands of the UK government. Surely there must be someone somewhere who knows something about the present structures of the EU and has in an interest in the organ. Perhaps we should advertise ? BAC
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