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Everything posted by MusingMuso

  1. =============================== I once received an enormous hug from Carlo while he was wearing that coat. After that,, I shelved my planned camper-van vacation to the Northwest Territories. MM
  2. I'm not sure about the spelling, but I seem to recall that the original pedal reeds were voiced by Rochessen, and I have two records of the organ from the early days, of which the most signficant is the one played by Ralph Downes himself. The programme includes the Widor Toccata, and those pedal reeds sounded absolutely awful.....rasping, rattling horrors, which we now know was partly due to the some of the cladding materials used in the construction of the hall. It was good to hear how much that aspect of the hall and the organ has improved since the refurbishment of the hall and organ. It's also interesting to compare how the RFH organ compared to two other well known instruments, namely those at De Doelen in Rotterdam (Marcussen?) with a similarly dry acoustic, and the Cavaille-Coll "Trocadero" organ when it was installed in a very dry "Palais de Chaillot". I have recordings of these also from around the same date, and actually, the RFH organ sounded comparable to both of them, and probably better than the Rotterdam instrument. If these instruments demonstrate nothing else, it is the way many modern building materials don't just absorb sound-energy, but the way in which hey absorb specific frequencies; requiring VERY professional acoustic engineering, if the disasters of the past are to be avoided. MM
  3. We shouldn't forget that Ralph Downes was deeply influenced by the "American Classics" of G Donald Harrison, and although I forget all the details, he did want to bring Harrison over to build organs in England. I'm fairly certain that Downside or Buckfast featured in that ambition, but of course, it never came about. Considering the building, I always thought that the RFH organ was a good one trying to get out, and even if the hall remains very dry, it is certainly sounds better than before. MM
  4. I know what we need to do. The next time an orchestra performs the "Rite of spring," we should attend in force. create a riot and shout "Boo!". MM
  5. Probably the most painful organ-related thing I ever did, was to rush upwards at an organ console....I shall explain. For some obscure reason, the organ console at this particular church was much higher than the surrounding furniture, and the approach to it was by way of three large platform steps. (I actually forget where it was, but it may have been in Harrogate). Anyway, being young and full of futile energy, I jumped up two of the three steps like Zebedee in "The magic roundabout," and moving at quite a rate of knots vertically, had every intention of landing on the organ bench with a single leap from the second step. What I had not noticed was a large DC rheostat and handle, which tells you how old the blower was. Needless to say, my knee smashed into the cast iron box and sticky-out handle, and the pain was so bad, I actually rolled straight off, fell about 4 ft and landed with a crash on the ground, writhing in agony.....a double whammy of an accident, resulting in massive bruising and swelling to my knee, burred elbows and a wrenched shoulder. The choir thought it was very funny. I hate them to this day, and although one should never speak badly of the deceased, if they all happen to be dead....good. MM
  6. Having lambasted the opening concert, I must now heap praise on Oliver Latry. Messaien is not my favourite organ composer by any means, and I had quietly anticipated the disaster of L'Asension in THAT acoustic. It was miraculous that the performance was very enjoyable, though a generous acoustic always adds the element of mystery to Messaien's works. The WHOLE of the Widor 5th I could have lived without quite happily, but again, I found myself listening with new ears. A million or so Toccatas have come and gone, but the controlled panache of Latry was fabulous. When I heard the words George Dyson, my perplexed brow could not quite make the connection between the RFH organ, France and a Yorshireman of a decidedly romantic disposition, but I need not have worried. When I heard the words, "Let's see what happens," I knew that we were in for a treat. I may be a bit of an improviser, but the other 99% of me knows that I am rubbish at it when compared with a maestro of the art. This wasn't flappy paddle accompaniment and endless repeats of motifs: this was genius, and more than once, I found the hair on the back of my neck standing to attention as I listened with mouth agape. Oh yes! The organ sounded quite good too. MM
  7. I shall pull no punches. I thought that the choice of music for the opening night was simply dreadful....not many converts there, I suspect. IMHO, the organ sounds better, but not that much better than it used to sound. The hall is the main culprit, which really doesn't measure up to the much better concert halls in Europe. In fact, without even attempting controversy, there is a case to be made for the interchange of two instruments in large halls. Were the Festival Hall organ to be placed in the lively acoustic of Stockport Town Hall, it would stand a chance. Were the organ of Stockport Town Hall installed in the RFH, it would probably sound very much at home. As for this nonsense about 1st and 2nd division composers, I suspect that what is really being implied is that only those composers who wrote for orchestra or multiple genres may be regarded as 1st division, and all the rest are 2nd best. May I remind everyone that there are NAMES other than Bach, Franck & Messaien? Brahms, Reger, Bruhns, Reubke, Liszt, Buxtehude, Pachelbel, Brixi, Alain, Mendelssohn, Saint Saens. Dupre, Durufle, Rheinberger....it's quite a big list, but their output may not be the most prolific. If they wanted to present new music to a new generation, why didn't they commission something from the young, 18 (?) year old Belgian composer/organist Thomas Mellan, who's "Galaxies & Explosions" is utterly remarkable? Indeed, why not get him to play a proper recital of standard repertoire works, transcriptions and original compositions? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTUS6nRLOKg Here we are, with what is supposed to be the leading capital of the world, and yet the establishment knows nothing about what is really going on in the world of the organ.. If they wanted to include other instruments, perhaps they should have asked this gentleman:- http://www.kiralycsaba.com/audio.htm. I'm sorry, but all I see and hear are organ geeks at the helm, and it is killing the organ off. MM
  8. A belated response perhaps, but the death of Alan Spedding is sad news indeed. Although I didn't really know Alan much at all, my occasional contacts with him were never anything other than delightful. He was a modest and diligent man who ran a steady ship at Beverley; maintaining a standard of music at the Minster becoming of a great building. One special memory of him, was when he welcomed the local organist's association; Beverley being the last port of call after York Minster. His words made me smile, and I have used them myself since:- "I see that you have been to the largest Minster in Yorkshire this afternoon. Now let me welcome you to the most beautiful." He wasn't wrong of course, for Beverley is the jewel in the ecclesiastical crown of that county. If Alan left only one lasting legacy, it would be the organ at Beverley, because when the time came to re-build the organ last time, he insisted that no tonal changes were made; leaving the organ as a very interesting and very noticeable blend of 18th century Snetzler pipework and newer ranks which, for the most part, blend well. Thus was spared a substantial and quite rare 18th century English chorus sound....refined, bright and reedy in equal measure. I think it is very nice when someone leaves things as they found them; quite happy with what they had. MM
  9. It's quite some time since I wrote about Eastern Europe and Hungary in particular. Since then, I have discovered so much more....organs, performers and some splendid music. One piece which hit me between the eyes (ears?) recently is an unashamed pastiche of Dupre, but so good in its own rights as to qualify as a fabulous organ-work and recital piece Not only that, being avalable on Youtube, it shows off the magnificent "French" sounds of the Josef Agster organ at Pecs (pronounced Pesh) cathedral, Hungary. (Angster had worked with Cavaille-Coll at Ste Supice) The work, composed and performed by Szilard Kovacs, uses all the techniques of the Dupre "Variation on a noel", but the underlying theme is a Hungarian Christmas Carol. Be careful with the volume control....... Enjoy! MM
  10. =========================== Yes, a very fine performance and a superb recording. As you suggest, it isn't quite Francis, and the York recording just has that added bit of magic to it, which I'm sure derives from that wonderfully elastic sense of timing and phrasing, as well as the lyrical legato and moments of daylight. There's so far nothing to quite compare, and we're now almost 50 years down the line from that EMI "Great Cathedral" release. That's how legends are created. Best, MM
  11. Thanks for that useful interview clip, which confirms that the gentleman in question cannot have been Healey Willan....the mystery continues. As for the Francis Jackson interpretation of the Willan masterpiece, I couldn't agree more. Whenever organists of a certain age get together, and mention is made of that recording, it is usually followed by a tacit, mutual nod of admiration, after which everyone agrees that it is the "definitive" interpretation. That said, there is a rather fine interpretation of said work on You Tube, played by Virgil Fox at Girard, and although I've never sat down with the score to check the absolute accuracy of it, the musical qualities are remarkably fine. Yet even this recording doesn't have that fluid timing and lyrical beauty of Jackson's performance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0ccc22AFfY But can anything really measure up to the perfection of Francis Jackson? Somehow, I doubt it, even to the extent of suggesting that no-one will EVER play it better. For me at least, it marks the apogee of the British organist.at a certain point in time. Best, MM
  12. Sadly, I had some good photographs of the Bavokerk, Alkmaar and other nortable organs in the Netherlands, but all these have perished with age and storage conditions. Generally speaking, I'm not in the habit of photographing consoles I'm afraid, but I probably have a lot of archive material containing photographs. Sorry! MM
  13. Thank you David, that is very good advice for me and to anyone in the same situation. I have lost quite a number of slides due to poor storage conditions at a commercial site, for which there can never be any sort of true compensation. Damp and fungal infections are the great enemy of film, and I have quite a task on my hands (and eyes) to re-touch some of the images. (I'm getting quite good at it). Where the slides are of historic importance or of great personal interest, I shall keep them, but the bulk are of no great significance and will probably get dumped. I shall certainly transfer them to more modern media as it arises, and even store them on two alternative formats. Thanks also to AJJ and the request from Sarah Beedle regarding photographs of Caleb Jarvis....a superb organist, and at the time of the photograph, the Civic Organist in Liverpool, with responsibilities which covered recitals at St George's Hall, as well as accompaniment (etc) on the big R & D organ at the Philharmonic Hall. There is also a very faded slide which shows four people together, and one of them I recognised immediately as Dr Reginald Dixon of Lancaster, but I wonder if I didn't also get a shot of Healey Willan at the same time, and possibly some of the cathedral clergy at Liverpool. Best, MM
  14. I have been going through hundreds of old slides recently, and converting them to digital images as a way of preserving them. Two of the photographs I scanned were particularly interesting, and date from 1964 when I was all of 15. I can't recall what camera I used at the time, but memory tells me it may have been a Korroll camera with small frame film. (Possibly 110 format?) The quality of the originals and subsequent degradation of the slides hasn't helped, but after a bit of fiddling around, (with the wonderful, but now unobtainable 'Picture Publisher' programme), the end results are acceptable. The first photograph is of Henry Willis IV, but the second one is a slightly poignant one, for it shows Dr Caleb Jarvis, (then Liverpoool City Organist) emerging from the old Rushworth & Dreaper works in Liverpool. Now the $6m question....how do I upload photographs these days or do we need someone with a website? Best, MM
  15. Hello, Don't be perplexed Barry, I am still lurking, but this is my busiest time of year. Good to see that Colin Pykett has become a member of the discussion board. Now HE knows a thing or two about Compton which could be of interest to us. Best, MM
  16. I've got past caring, to be honest. I was delighted last Sunday, when everything went unexpectedly quiet during the final voluntary, only to eventually realise that the 80+ year old, stand in priest had rambled on for so long, the mass had dragged out to 90 minutes, and everyone had stampeded out the west door like a herd of wilderbeast. MM
  17. One of the most unexpected and delightful Bach Trio registrations I ever heard, and have on CD, is when the late and great Carlo Curley played the opening movement of the G major Trio Sonata on a Wurlitzer organ, in which the Pedal line was maintained by a keen 8ft Cello, 8ft and 4ft in the LH and, for the right hand, a combination of what I think was an 8ft Kinura, 4ft Flute and the percussion Chrysoglott. It is so sparklingly clear, fresh and perfect, yet completely devoid of the slightest authenticity. I suspect that old Bach would have loved it. Best, MM
  18. I'm sure this will be an unpopular sentiment, but I've maintained for 30 years that the time has come to throw away both the BCP, (beautiful though it is), and also the modern liturgy based upon it. They no longer speak to almost anyone, except elderly people and a few choral enthusiasts. Best, MM
  19. ======================== What excellent humour.......garden shears, the no bell peace prize and now a carillon peeling out the Vierne Finale across New York....priceless. I shall probably burst out laughing on Sunday without warning, when the toll starts. Mercifully, "our" bell has a leather damper, so it sounds a bit like dustbin lids being bashed together, which although not very musical, doesn't make too much of a din inside the church. Best, MM
  20. ============================== I used to struggle with the way cold causes a drying effect, but when I realised that errant peas shrivel up in the bottom of freezers, the penny dropped. Interesting that so many instruments have returned to normal again. Best, MM
  21. It's absolutely fascinating to note that the action-problems have almost sorted themselves out without need of major intervention. This evening, I adjusted about four leather buttons, and although the keys are not perfectly level yet, everything is now working and it looks like it is just going to be a matter of adjustment when we're certain that everything has settled down again. I really wouldn't have thought it possible, and I now regret that I didn't take photographs. Thanks to all for the suggestions/confirmation of the original problem. Best, MM
  22. ========================= Interesting replies; demonstrating that the problem is obviously manifest at this time. I noted to-day, after just a little bit of rain, that the keys are slightly more even than they were last week, but still not right by any means. Ciphers had also reduced on the pedal action. As David says, it isn't just organs. On a journey to Glasgow and back this week, I noted not a single leaf on a single tree, (other than a few miserable looking conifers which looked dry and dusty), and hedgerows which were just dry borders of white sticks. The grass is very short and very brown; the sheep and lambs being given animal feed. To-day, I noticed a tree bursting into life with leaves sprouting everywhere, so there appears to be life after death after all. Best, MM
  23. How I miss the days when Choral Evensong attracted perhaps 100-200 people, with a full SATB choir and wonderful anthems and settings. Psalm accompaniment was an art-form which had developed from being a boy-chorister, and of course, every organist aimed at the highest level of imagination, and musical beauty. It was always a lovely end to the week, and of course, organists would gather in local pubs afterwards and tell stories,(sometimes tall stories), but always in a convivial atmosphere of mutual support. I think I finally accepted ten years ago that the era was gone, and I think the last Evensong I accompanied in this way was probably over a decade ago. I suppose when you lose someone or something precious, you must accept the reality and move on. My problem is, that I don't see the slightest evidence of anything moving-on anywhere. Best, MM
  24. ================================= Thank you David. I think this confirms my initial diagnosis, and hopefully things will come back to normal naturally. I can never recall such a long period of almost Atacama desert conditions; cold and arid in equal measure, and it is certainly an insight into the problems of exporting instruments to different climates around the world. I knew there was a very good case for carbon-fibre actions! Best, MM
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