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Vox Humana

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Everything posted by Vox Humana

  1. In this case the organ is directly above the cantoris choirstalls, so I’m not sure how much advantage a ground-floor console would confer.
  2. Indeed, Darius. I did consider that, but I doubt it very much. We were at the front of the nave (no screen), not very far from organ and choir. The choir may have been slightly more easily audible in the quire, but the difference could not have been much, if anything: the organ would still have been far too loud. The organist was simply using far too much Great Organ - especially for a lumbering, thick-toned H&H (although it was a magnificent instrument of its type). I think the others have already been put off: there was hardly anyone else there! It is, of course, the job of the choirmaster to control the balance, but I have known organists who take this very badly and one in particular who has been told many times by different people that he is playing too loudly, yet remains quite incorrigible. And how many organists have heard their own playing from the congregation’s position?
  3. I have just endured the most depressing experience I have had for quite some time - and when I say depressed I genuinely mean it. Mrs Humana and I have just been to a Choral Evensong in a large church in Lincolnshire. Good, spacious acoustic, fine H&H organ, well-tuned choir. Byrd responses, Walmisley in d minor, Balfour Gardiner Evening Hymn. Apart from the responses, which were insecure, the choir sang very pleasingly in the soft bits. They probably did so too at mf and above, but unfortunately it was impossible to tell for sure because they were completely drowned out by the organist. Even making allowances for circumstances (for all I know, Covid and other factors may have meant the choir was under strength) there was no need for sheer volume of organ used. It wasn’t that the organist couldn’t play. He or she was evidently a highly competent player. Perhaps he/she was only following the choirmaster’s orders, but, whatever the reason, it totally ruined the service. We might as well not have been there. This feeling was compounded, after a very well played voluntary, when Mrs Humana wanted to speak to the vicar, but we waited five minutes while she pointedly ignored us. You would have hoped that any vicar worth their salt would have welcomed visitors, but no. This was old-style Anglicanism at its worst. The whole experience left us feeling very depressed. We certainly won’t ever return here again. Essentially what we got was an organ recital punctuated by readings and prayers. It wasn’t what we went for and we took away nothing positive. This was yet another very competent organist who had no clue about accompaniment. Why?
  4. And a (belated) very happy birthday from me too.
  5. Thank you. I stand corrected. Can it also cope with the depleted wind required for Harmonies?
  6. Now that's something you can't do with a toaster, or with The-System-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. Ditto this piece, which I rather like, and which underlines the point S_L made yesterday about originality.
  7. It's a rather lovely piece, whatever it is. My first thought was Delius, although it's nothing that I know. My second thought, given that the Launceston in question here is the one in Tasmania, not Cornwall, was to wonder whether it might be Edgar Bainton—but I'm not aware that he wrote any organ music and the style is probably a bit too chromatic for him. I suspect that this is an original organ piece and not an arrangement, although that's just a guess.
  8. I agree. We all make mistakes and even the presenters of old time could make them, but it's the general sloppiness that bugs me. In the days when the BBC was a public service provider and a standard setter, high standards mattered. Now that the focus is on entertainment and ratings, they don't so much. We now have Radio 3 announcers who, without the slightest respect for the listening experience, think it cool to barge in before the last chord has died away, who talk over the music, who apparently think that we long to heard their voices, and who behave generally like DJs. It's awful. Sorry. End of rant.
  9. Once upon a time, pretty much. These days, not so much. A presenter's personality is now more important than learning. What a contrast with the simple, factual; presentations of old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdNjQbtiGOA. That said, errors apart, I did think the presenter of this prom had a much better style than some.
  10. First of all, how do you get them to listen to reason? A couple of days ago I was talking to the organist of a remote village church (congregation c.20) which has a II/P organ of 11 stops by Anon. It's a rather lovely thing, thanks to the golden touch of the late Bill Drake, although I'm quite sure this wouldn't stop some organists replacing it with a digital instrument, owing to its lack of a 'proper' Full Swell, Tuba, Open Wood, 32' reed, etc., etc. It sits at the back of the church, in the north-west corner, its rear against the side wall. Immediately to the left of the organ, a doorway is about to be drilled through the west wall, to provide access to a toilet to be built onto the outside of the church. A kitchen is also envisaged. Inevitably this wall is several feet thick, so a lot of dust will ensue. Are there plans to cover or dismantle the organ to protect it? No. Also, there is complete disregard for the organist's complaints about the disruption around him that will be caused by stampede of the desperate during his voluntaries. He is trying to insist that the organ is not only dismantled, but turned through 90 degrees to put some space between him and the melée. I wish him luck, but I'm wondering where the church will find the extra money.
  11. Yes, the other two are Arietta and Elegy. All three are very attractive pieces. Melody is the easiest, but none of the three is difficult. If I recall correctly I ordered my copy through Musicroom. It was a reprint, but was stapled and of excellent quality.
  12. So is this now a hybrid organ? If so, why on earth? The original III/P pipe organ sounded more than adequate to my ears. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE7EaJ1TC9c
  13. I find it quite distressing to watch the increasing desperation of the C of E thrashing about in its death throes. As a musician I cannot but deplore this latest strategy, which will not do organists and quality church music any favours at all. However, from the ever-diminishing clergy's point of view, tasked with promoting the Gospel and bringing people to Jesus, what are they to do in this increasingly secular and anti-religious world? There is plenty of evidence that professional quality church music is well regarded and valued, but that on its own will not sustain the church. Perhaps this isn't a suitable topic for discussion on this thread, or even on this forum, but it is something that will affect both the ability of organists and singers to function as church musicians and, as pointed out, the survival of the instruments we play.
  14. I've no idea, but I thought the examples in the 1974 recording particularly tasteless. Sorry to be blunt, but IMO this sort of thing does nothing to enhance the words and nothing to enhance the music; it's just the organist saying, 'Hey! Look at me!' And I say this as one who is very much in favour of things like descants and colouring the mood of the words - but the accompaniment must never usurp the singing.
  15. I think it's not so much the stop itself as a combination of the recording quality (a microphone in front of speakers maybe?) and the beats created by the discordant semitones. Tippett famously had in mind the Trompeta Real at St John's, Cambridge, of course.
  16. Not totally, but there's very little. That's why they mostly record their CDs elsewhere, e.g. the superb set of Eton Choirbook discs recorded in Merton College Chapel and Howard Goodall's Invictus, recorded in St John the Evangelist, Oxford. The old organ can be heard in this broadcast evensong from 1976: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7iAmKgeyJM The sound quality isn't great, but it's enough to give a good impression and the organ sounds very well. The whole service is well worth hearing (although passing notes between the quarters of psalms should be a capital offence). The Tuba (I assume) can be heard in the Tippett Canticles here: https://youtu.be/DSwj1MvXPAE?t=1106
  17. I played the old H&H at Christ Church a few times. I didn't enjoy the old console much, but I've handled worse and the instrument certainly sounded perfectly adequate. I am sure some would consider it superior to what is there now. The acoustic there doesn't do organs or choirs any favours.
  18. Thanks. There hardly looks to be the depth to accommodate four ranks. Must be pretty tight in there.
  19. Is there actually anything behind that row of display pipes? I'm wondering whether they speak or are just for show.
  20. Should such faults happen after forking out large sums? Certainly not. Is it usual? I can't say, but it must be very much more common than it should be. Speaking for myself, there are major, national firms who I would trust to do a proper, even Rolls-Royce, job. Then there are firms who are very reliable on the mechanical front, but who I would never ask to add extra stops because they lack the artistry. (I know of jobs where secondhand ranks have just been pulled off the factory shelf and plonked onto the soundboard without any attempt at revoicing them to blend with the existing pipework, with ghastly, inartistic results.) And then there are the notorious cowboys who one should never touch with a disinfected bargepole under any circumstances. I could cite two jobs that were done so appallingly that the firms really should have been taken to court. In one case I actually recommended this, but the church declined because they thought it would be bad for their image. At another church an organist friend and I had advised very strongly against using the firm in question, but of course the priest knew better and so proceeded to waste £20,000, just to end up with an organ in the same, sorry state as before, albeit with one of the manuals needlessly electrified. One problem is that churches these days are hard up. Another possible problem, at least where I live, is that organ building is a dwindling profession, so that existing firms can barely cope with the tuning rounds they have, let alone rebuilds. Nevertheless, a customer does have a right to expect a competent job.
  21. I'm sure she was. Heaven knows I've nothing against educating people, but, if you are going to do that, don't you have a moral duty to present accurate, reliable information?
  22. Totally agree about the Poulenc. A wonderful performance – and it was so good to have the organ featured on the first night. My music teacher at school didn't like the Poulenc, despite being an organist. He found it too bitty. That never worried me: I've always loved it. But what on earth was Katie Derham on about it requiring 'such a level of virtuosity'? For heaven's sake, it's completely straightforward! For difficulty it doesn't even begin to compare with the great piano concertos. I don't know why the BBC insists on parading inane presenters who talk down to us. The Beeb should have put the commentating in the hands of Anna Lapwood. Now there's someone who knows how to do a professional job without patronising, as she showed on BBC Young Musician.
  23. Ah yes, of course. I should have remembered that. Thank you. I did read something, somewhere, though mentioning a date of c.1500. Maybe it's just the word 'stop' that makes it's first appearance around then. Or maybe I'm just completely confused! 🙂
  24. Tangential query: When do we get the first mention of stops? So far as I know, it's as late as c.1500.
  25. The discovery is not that new, apparently. https://jeremymontagu.co.uk/Bethlehem organ J L-D.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3zPGz7gVRVWazI12dYlcMqRE3rrOqLCY9nJfgD7zwUELkQDc9oDFjShdY
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