Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Posts posted by contraviolone

  1. 21 hours ago, John Robinson said:

    I mentioned related matters on a thread on Facebook recently, asking about the loss of the Cornet, Sesquialtera and Larigot, and was assured by someone in authority at the Minster that these would not be missed.
    In addition, I believe that the new west shutters to the Swell box have made an enormous difference to the output in the nave.  Then there is the Ophicleide extension down to 32' on the same pressure as the Tuba Mirabilis.
    I've only heard it on recordings so far, so what do I know?!

    I'm sure you know quite a lot. I think on a previous thread we mentioned this issue. Of the stops you mentioned I am surprised the Cornet was removed. This is such a versatile addition to any specification.  It's also a useful 'support' for the treble reeds. 

  2. 9 hours ago, robertsharpe said:

    Hello Sean, the Choir Cymbal was taken away in 1993. The Choir Organ speaks to the east, being positioned above the screen console tribune (although it is effective, gently, to the west especially now the interior is less crowded with basses blocking the sound). There is no lack of brilliance in the sound of the Great chorus in the building and you are welcome to visit to hear it all. The reinstated Mixture V on the Great has the following composition:

    c1      15 19 22 26 29

    f#19  12 15 19 22 26

    f#31   8 12 15 19 22

    c37    5 8 12 15 19

    g#45  1 5 8 12 15

    though of course a set of numbers on a screen are nothing without consideration of the scale and relative brilliance of the individual pipes and the tonal finishing in the space.



    It is worth pointing out that the individual voicing of mixture work, such as Fourniture IV (, can make a tremendous difference to the brightness of the principal chorus.

    I am always reminded of the King's College Cambridge organ, where the 1970 addition of the IV rank Fourniture on the Great made a significant difference to the overall effect of the chorus. Some might say it was a bit too bright, being a product of the fashion back then to brighten up principal choruses and make them 'stand out from the crowd'. All the recordings from King's pre-1992 make this evident.

    The work done by Harrisons in 1992 though toned down the brightness of this stop, and to a certain extent I think this is a shame. It's certainly more integrated with the principal chorus but it has lost that something which made it a bit more fun. 

  3. 21 hours ago, pcnd5584 said:

    They do seem to be rather nervous of upper-work. Anything above a 29th appears to be anathema. It will be good to hear the re-designed instrument in York Minster in the flesh, as it were, at some point. However, in that vast space, and with that acoustic energy, I wonder if they will miss their Choir Cymbal (29-33-36)?

    I have noticed in recent work such as Canterbury Cathedral nothing in the mixture work has gone above the 29th. The favourite seems to be Mixture/Fourniture IV ( Not saying there's anything wrong as such (perish the thought) but I would have thought a little more 'colour' would be welcome.


  4. Having read through this thread, and having previously read the other thread, I can only say that the idea of removing the current instrument with the FW from Brighton is utterly ridiculous. Is the present instrument in St John's that bad? And is it really in such a poor state that it warrants removal for another?

    As it is the FW instrument is significantly smaller than the one it will replace, and as alluded to before will need additions, particularly 32' provision on the Pedal. And that's just one example of many others needed.



  5. 46 minutes ago, handsoff said:

    Oh yes it was dreadful and the whole rank seemed to be completely unregulated! But very exciting to an 11 year old whose only experience of a reed stop was a distinctly dodgy and asthmatic Oboe going just to tenor C...

    (I still quite enjoy the old FJ recording though!)


    I still have the old FJ recording on vinyl. It makes an occasional appearance and with quite a useful speaker set-up can be quite interesting.

    Definitely impressed by the performance the other day. I agree it does sound a little brighter than before. One or two notes in the lower registers were a little bit 'off' but I don't really mind this at all. Adds to the character. Must be the cold weather tickling those reed tongues.


  6. 22 hours ago, S_L said:

    I agree. The French seem to have a fondness for introducing something modern, edgy, perhaps outrageous and controversial into a traditional scene. Chinese architect (I. M. Pei), I know, but look at the Louvre - two huge glass pyramids in the middle of an essentially 17th/18th century building facade!  And I remember the heated discussion on this board about the latest console at Notre Dame de Paris - another 'Marmite thing'!

    I actually like the glass pyramid at the Louvre. It works for me, but I must admit it is difficult to explain why.

    The latest console at Notre Dame de Paris is indeed hideous and I am hoping it will not survive the current rebuild of the instrument.

    This 'edgy' approach the French seem to take can work, but not very often. I remember the favourable press coverage of the Pompidou Centre but when I first viewed it in 1985 it left me cold. It hasn't aged well and today looks like a pile of decaying junk. 


  7. It's just a resultant stop. We may trust the French to tart up the word so that it sounds just superb when it isn't. 

    That organ case in Evreux is utterly hideous. What were they thinking? Totally out of sympathy with its surroundings and completely grotesque.

  8. 12 hours ago, S_L said:

    A Response to a number of posts. I'm sorry if I have caused too much controversy or any offence - it wasn't intentional!

    Contraviolone: I did, indeed mean 'transfer', 'come across' or whatever (susseeded?). I most certainly did not mean 'succeed' as in 'success'. I'm sorry if my spelling let me down, and, and I apologise if I am wrong, but I did smell a little sectarianism in your post!!! 

    Damian: I'm afraid I know dozens of 'Guitar Swinging Nuns' and, as I said, often they had the very best of intentions. They did irreparable harm in parishes, schools and colleges up and down this country and the Catholic church in England is, in some places, still reeling from them! If you didn't experience this then you are indeed fortunate. I did!

    John: I know a number of organists who play Sunday by Sunday who are not in the least religious! And, of course there are hundreds of others with a deep faith!!    

    You are wrong but no need to apologise. It was said in a little moment of jest. 

  9. On 02/03/2021 at 16:02, Choir Man said:

    Having read that it would be hoped they will respect the current voicing of the pipework of this instrument during the restoration. Given the results though from other recent work elsewhere I am not completely convinced of this. 

  10. 13 hours ago, S_L said:

    They're not!!! A few places have gone back to the 1962 Missal, some occasionally sing the Common of the Mass in Latin but, generally, it is, musically, a fairly dismal affair - and in France it is even worse!!!

    I'm sure you are being funny John but, if you're not - I wouldn't bother - because you will be desperately disappointed - musically anyway! And I speak as one who did leave the Church of England  and succeeded to Rome!  It was a long time ago and, before anyone makes assumptions, it, most certainly, wasn't over the Ordination of women!!!!


    Given the continued ecumenical relations between the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic church, presumably you mean 'transferring'. I'm not sure if it's any measure of success to describe the transfer of allegiance to the Bishop of Rome.

  11. 10 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

    These, surely, are the celebrated chamades so often referred to by pcnd5584 on numerous earlier threads.  Rather amusingly, in the original Dorset volume of ‘The Buildings of England’, Nickolaus Pevsner, clearly unfamiliar with chamades, described the Wimborne ones as “a charming idea”!  The resonators are of spun brass, and I’m sure pcnd5584 once told us who made them - was it Boosey & Hawkes?

    Yes I remember pcnd5584 mentioning this. I'm surprised he has not returned to discuss the restoration? He last visited this site on 17th January 2020.

  12. 1 hour ago, Martin Cooke said:

    Very interesting, Rowland - I'm afraid I'm not as familiar with Winchester as I ought to be, living only 25 miles distant, but I have played there twice - once during a 'lock in' with James Lancelot, and on a subsequent occasion when I played for a visiting choir with whom I was touring the area for a week in about 1977, so before the addition of the nave organ. I have been to a couple of Royal Choral Society concerts there more recently, but a 'proper' visit is long overdue.

    I hadn't realised the time lag with the West Organ caused issues for the congregation at St Paul's. Is this a regular complaint? I always felt that the augmenting of the Dome Organ and the provision of a small diapason chorus at the West end had been a good thing in terms of keeping things together. 

    The West End diapason chorus does not work all that well. It comes across as being rather disembodied and vague. You know there is something going on when being used but the overall effect is indistinct. If memory serves it is placed south side of the nave gallery, this in itself doesn't really help either. The solution of course is a large West End organ on a gallery speaking directly down the nave, but that isn't going to happen. The Royal Trumpets are rarely used.

    The effect in the Dome is of course much better, if a little one sided. All the Dome section is squeezed into the NE Dome gallery. There should really be some pipework in the SE Dome gallery (where the old diapason chorus was located) to balance things off. Perhaps the old Willis Dome tubas and reeds from 1900, now gathering dust with our hosts, could be placed there?

    Question is (and in other places in this regard), when does it all end?

  13. 21 minutes ago, John Robinson said:

    I believe that a similar decision has been taken regarding the York organ.
    This has been described as now returning to the 1930s Harrison and Harrison voicing of the instrument for Bairstow which, I understand, was rather more powerful than the post-1960 voicing.  Clearly, prior to the work presently being done on the organ, it has been rather lacking in power down the nave and that problem is, I believe, being addressed.
    That's all to the good, and I am looking forward to hearing the improvements.
    However, I wonder how this will affect how the organ sounds in the choir.  Will it be too powerful?
    I think I might have mentioned this matter somewhere earlier in this thread when I suggested a judicious use of stops might make the organ perfectly suitable for use in the choir.  I am aware that on the Great, for example, there will now be a diapason chorus on 7" wind in addition to the chorus on 4 1/4" wind as was the case previously.  I am assuming that the higher pressure diapasons are intended to provide the greater power necessary in the nave and the lower pressure stops would be used alone in the choir.

    Indeed. The ongoing conundrum of balancing the needs of a strong choral tradition in the quire and the wider needs within large cathedral spaces.

    Perhaps the French have the best idea.



  14. 6 hours ago, S_L said:

    Perhaps you would like to tell us more!!!

    It goes without saying the location of the pipework is not ideal, placed as it is either side of the chancel high up in the triforia. This of course was the same before, but despite the drawbacks of the instrument in its previous specification, a degree of balance could be achieved if a careful choice of registration was used to support the choir. 

    Of what I have heard so far the effect of the new instrument is certainly quite powerful. It illustrates the characteristic bold voicing of the principal chorus which again will need careful handling. I'm not sure why Harrisons have gone down this path of strong voicing, another good example is my local cathedral at Bury St Edmunds where you will be literally blasted to pieces even with a modest set up of Great to fifteenth. I'm sure it sounds fine down the nave but in the chancel it is overpowering. I fear the same effect may take place at Canterbury.

    On the other hand, the recent work by Harrisons at King's College Cambridge is vastly different. Overall balance is nigh on perfect. I was able to listen to the instrument very carefully at close quarters during 2019 and the restoration I believe is a triumph, within the remit of the restoration. 

    At the end of the day placing organs high up in Chancel galleries just isn't ideal and I suspect whatever approach is taken it isn't going to produce the best results. 

  15. 17 hours ago, Paul Isom said:

    Keep and ear out for Canterbury Cathedral's broadcast of choral evensong on the 14 October.  I have a vested interest as my twin boys (now full choristers) are singing.  From memory, the music is Stanford in A and I was glad - Parry.  It should be a good shout!  You will get a chance to hear the revamped organ and the terrifying Ophicleide on the Solo division.  Evensong is currently in the nave and the organ certainly makes it's presence felt, the new pedal stops shaking the place.  The choir will be singing in the choir of the cathedral for the broadcast, but not in the choir stalls.  Tomorrow is the first day with the boys and men (Wood in Eb no. 2).  All services are webcast and can be seen on Youtube.  It's been really tough on the choristers as they are all socially distanced 6,7 and 8 in one bubble with the probs (year 4) and new full choristers (year 5) in the other which is slightly separated from the others.

    I do wonder why the Ophicleide has been voiced so boldy on this division, plus the fact that it's on 20 inches wind pressure? Seems totally over the top to me. Here it is demonstrated at 5:30 here:


    I hope the new organ is more sympathetic to the singers than it was with the instrument pre-restoration. The Quire at Canterbury is not the best location for singing, everything is mopped up by the heavy stonework of the Quire and screen. But the old organ was the most frustrating experience to sing with, immense sympathy was required to achieve any balance with the choir. Hopefully the new-ish choir division will resolve this problem.  


  16. 3 hours ago, Niccolo Morandi said:

    I was recently thinking about 16' stopped pipes and how they are traditionally made of wood, but I have noticed the odd extension organ will sometimes have a 16' made of metal rather than wood. I'm just wondering about what are difference between using 16' stopped wood and metal pipes as I can't seem to find any opinions on them.

    I think you may find the French Bourdon stops (16' and 8') are generally made of metal. In English and American organs the Bourdon stop is generally confined to 16' pitch on the Pedal, and made of wood.

  17. 20 hours ago, East Kent Trombone said:

    I wonder who is taking over the tuning since Manders went bust.

    I believe (although I may well be wrong) that the contract for this was lost some time ago.

    From this youtube video it may be assumed the current Custodian of the organ tunes the instrument:


    What alarms me is the significant amounts of dirt and dust on the pipework. What on earth are they thinking?


  18. 2 hours ago, UoBDMWC said:

    As someone currently involved in research at a university, I do not feel that style guides are any more than a guide to someone's view of something. Thus, I'm completely happy to continue to use the formal plurals, clear punctuation, the Oxford comma, avoidance of split infinitives, and eschewing the current deplorable misuse of the word 'incredible', as I've preferred over many years. My university does have a style guide, which I ignore. My supervisors are happy with that.

    'Incredible' is increasingly used an adjective to denote a matter of delight, the antithesis of its real meaning. Such linguistic impoverishment is offensive.

    The word 'incredible' becomes much more attractive, even acceptable, compared to the American phenomenon of plastering anything good or even exciting as 'awesome'. Add the American accent, and it's enough to drive anyone mad!

  19. 2 hours ago, Choir Man said:

    For those that missed it last week, Jonathan Scott's recital from the Royal Albert Hall is available on iPlayer. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p08n8ns0/bbc-proms-2020-the-symphonic-organ


    A fantastic instrument (thanks partly to our hosts) played in the way it was intended to be. (Dare I also say that the acoustic in the RAH is enhanced for the lack of a live audience)

    Certainly enhanced by no audience, no coughing and hacking and no bodies to absorb the sound.

  20. 39 minutes ago, OwenTurner said:

    Very interesting, thanks S_L. I've never heard of this before. Does it really work? In my experience of the Hammond and its equal temperament 2 2/3, 1 3/5 ad 1 1/3 drawbars I don't think it does. Does it work here or is the ear and brain forever trying to bend it into what it ought to be?, a bit like practising on an out of tune keyboard instrument.

    I'm not sure if it all really works. I would like to hear the organ in person. 

  21. 13 hours ago, S_L said:


    This isn't in full by any means - but it may help to work out where things have come from:


    This organ was build in 1931 by John Compton with 35 ranks, retaining pipes from 11 ancient stops.

    At the console this is a big organ with 4 manuals and a floating Bombarde division:

    Actually, the organ is entirely enclosed in three Swell boxes, while the true specification is as follows:

    Chamber A: Great, Choir and their Pedal basses

    Diapason I
    Diapason II
    Diapason III
    Diapason IV
    Hohl flute
    Flauto traverso
    Vox angelica

    Chamber B Swell, Solo and their Pedal basses

    Strings (two ranks)
    Stopped Diapason
    (Harmonic) flute
    Harmonics 4 ranks
    (Orchestral) Oboe
    Great Flute

    Chamber C


    With this relatively modest, but carefully tought specification, widely duplexed and extended, Compton gave us a splendid organ, which says a lot about the man's

    Quite surprising is the way the Mixtures are obtained:

    -The Great Plein jeu is extended from the four Diapasons and the Gemshorn

    -The Great Cymbale from the Salicional and the Gemshorn

    -The Swell Cymbale from Gamba, Geigen and Violone

    -The Choir Acuta from the Dulciana

    -The Choir Petite Cymbale from Diapason III, Salicional and Gemshorn

    -The Solo Kalophone from Gamba and Harmonics 4 ranks !

    -And the Baryphone from Violone, Harmonic Flute and Harmonics 4 ranks.

    The independent mutation ranks are of course extended from foundation ranks as well.
    Many people could believe such mutation ranks obtained from tempered foundation stops won't work, being off-tune.
    But we must take the place of such stops in such a design into account: the Mixtures are there to add sparkle, not to build true choruses, while the Mutation stops are
    ever soft, intended for synthetic registrations.


    Detached electric console
    Double-touch luminous disc stops
    Solid state memory to all pistons (this is a later addition)
    8 pistons each to Choir, Great, Swell and Solo
    8 pistons to Bombarde, 10 to Pedal
    8 general pistons
    General crescendo Pedal (acting upon) Great and Pedal
    Usual couplers including Great to Choir, Bombarde to Great on second touch and
    Solo to Choir on second touch.
    Sustainers to Choir and Solo
    Six Tremulants to different ranks
    Wind pressures from 6" to 20"



    And I was led to believe (I forget the source) that it was 38 ranks but only 35 ranks.

    Remarkable really how much may be obtained from such a modest number of ranks.


  22. 3 hours ago, Cantoris said:

    As a Bath Abbey chorister I went with a small group to Downside in the 60s I would think. I did play the Compton, but young as I was cannot remember much about it apart from all was working at that time, and it sounded magnificent in the Abbey Church.

    I believe the great Dom Gregory Murray was still organist at that time. Many of us will remember his many interludes composed for the liturgy. Published by R and D I think.

    Peter Matthews (also from Bath) took over from G.M. as organist as far as I can reflect, and also taught at the school. He was appointed Organist Emeritus on his retirement.

    I was given to understand that other work carried out in 2009 was the "re illumination" of the Compton press button stop controls. Console is a wonderful looking beast right opposite the enclosed pipework. Definately a place to visit. Lovely area.

    Yes there is a youtube video showing the work being done to the Compton illuminating press buttons:


    The Hull Minster organ of course has the same Compton illuminations. I'm sure visiting organists must find these consoles both novel and perhaps a bit of fun?


  23. 6 hours ago, S_L said:

    I'm afraid, as Cantoris has said, abuse happens in all institutions whether they be RC or otherwise and in the public and private sector. The difference seems to be to me, and this is not a sectarian remark, that the Church of England washes its dirty washing in public whereas the RC church tries to hide it away! I speak as a Roman Catholic! And members of our profession are not immune from carrying out this abuse as has been evidenced by the number of organists, both Cathedral and otherwise, who have been convicted of serious crimes against children in the past few years. What is even more worrying is the way that the perpetrators of these crimes are welcomed back into the fold as if nothing had happened! Abusers remain dangerous - even after they have served prison sentences!  The Downside abuse happened a long time again and the school has, since, put in stringent procedures to deal with the protection of children. All of us who have or have had contact with young people need or needed to be aware of our own safety. We were all advised, for instance, never to be alone in a room with a female student without there being a door with a window in it!

    As for the Abbey church - I don't know the buildings but perhaps, when the brethren eventually do leave, it will become the school chapel!

    It would certainly be a very large and impressive school chapel!

    Looking at the organ details on NPOR, the stop list does look impressive, being a very good example of the Compton expertise of borrowings and extensions. A modest 38 ranks becomes an instrument of 142 ranks! Interestingly NPOR does not indicate where the borrowings etc are derived. Of course quite a few borrowings/extensions are obvious by deduction, nonetheless I am very surprised the derivations are not annotated?


    Would be interested to hear from members who have played this instrument. There are several recordings on youtube and I must say the tuba alone is impressive!

  24. 22 hours ago, Barry Oakley said:

    Simply that news of the monks leaving en-masse from Downside has given rise to speculation about the wonderful Compton in the abbey church.

    I suppose we should be asking what will happen to the church itself? Will it become redundant or revert to a fully functioning church within the RC diocese?

  • Create New...