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John Sayer

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Everything posted by John Sayer

  1. How about the Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair (Wm Drake 1991 IIP/23) for a start? In 18c English style, but versatile. JS
  2. G is always hard in German (except in loan words). die Gemse = chamois, cf, French Cor de chamois. But then we English make a canine repast of most foreign stop names. The one that really gets my goat (forgive the pun) is 'Possawn' for Posaune (a wonderfully resonant 3 syllables, as in 'die letzte Posaune' - the Last Trump). JS
  3. I agree. I was fortunate to be present at another revelatory opening (or rather reopening) recital, that of the huge Sauer organ in the Berliner Dom in June 1993, at which Wunderlich (Heinzi to his pupils) played Reger and his own Hiroshima Sonata. The whole audience in this vast building rose, as one, to its feet at the end. Call it the apostolic succession, if you will, via Straube, from the Grosser Max himself, but to me, it was pure genius. (91 in April and, as far as I know, still playing). JS
  4. I was present at David Lumsden's opening recital at 3 pm on Whitmonday 26 May 1969 and vividly recall sitting in the stalls captivated by the new and gorgeous colours, not just aural but also visual in the kaleidoscopic shifts of light from the stained glass reflected in the movement of the swell shutters. I still have the commemorative programme - Gibbons, Stanley, de Grigny, Messiaen, de Heredia, Cabanilles, Liszt (BACH), Buxtehude and Bach Passacagalia. JS
  5. You only need small loudspeakers and modest volume to relay pitch and pulse to the choir - not huge full-range monsters. I believe one Oxford college about to acquire a new (and somewhat remote) west end organ is contemplating an arrangement with a high-quality microphone close to the organ and loudspeakers discreetly hidden within the quire stalls. JS
  6. Has anyone tried saving, say, as Sibelius file as a .pdf, and then downloading to a Kindle - no smaller than the average hymnbook, although there might well be more staves to the page. JS
  7. I suspect £15k or even £20k/stop would be more realistic these days. Even a modest IIP/20 doesn't seem to leave much change out of £1/2m. JS
  8. How interesting! Let's hope the new owners will see fit to replace the alien French substitutions of Nazard and Larigot with something more in keeping with the original concept. JS
  9. The text suggests the Tokyo organ is at least 3 rather than 2 instruments in one - Dutch Renaissance, German Barock and French Classical/Romantic - all playable by means of very clever (mechanical) technology. I know of only 2 Garnier instruments - at Esquelbec in Flanders and in Strasbourg - both quite modest in size, uncompromising in tonal design and execution, yet both remarkably well-sounding on the ear. On verra..... JS
  10. Erasmus, In fact. "In regione caecorum rex est luscus" JS
  11. Surely it's only a matter of time before the dreaded H&S tentacles extend to the use of holy smoke. Rumour has it that one metropolitan cathedral is anticipating some sort of challenge about its effect on young choristers' well-being. JS
  12. The pictures of the shattered Cathedral - the only one in NZ to maintain a full choral tradition (with boys) - are heart-breaking. Other pictures suggest that the nearby RC Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament - a vast and austerely beautiful basilica with a stunning instrument by Halmshaw of Birmingham - has also suffered severe damage. JS
  13. I have fond memories of an Organ Club visit a quarter of a century ago, at which a truly splendid tea was laid out on tables in the north aisle, during which the President, Jonathan Rennert, provided high-decibel accompaniment at the console. It wasn't quite 'foie gras to the sound of trumpets' but it was certainly 'pork pies to the sound of Trombas'. JS
  14. I banged my head a few years ago on the low stone arch leading to the console. Blood everywhere and mild concussion - and little recollection of what it was like to play. JS
  15. John Sayer


    I think I'm right in saying the Queen's College, Oxford Frobenius was voted number one favourite organ in a poll of IBO members last year - a remarkable result, if you think about it. It was a revelation back in 1965 and remains, for my money, the most honest, most uncompromisingly musical organ in any Oxbridge college. Discuss JS
  16. See Part 8, Chapter 6 of Mann's majesterial account of the decline of a patrician Lübeck family, for an affectionate portrait of Edmund Pfühl, "Organist von Sankt Marien" and music teacher to the young Hanno, the last doomed generation of a once thriving merchant dynasty. Like many characters in the novel, Pfühl is thought to be based on a real-life person, one Hermann Jimmerthal, Marienorganist from 1844-1886, and thus contemporary with much of the action (and also the Schulze organ). His long tenure is comparable with Buxtehude's 300 years earlier. One of several memorable scenes describes a Sunday morning service at St Marien, with Hanno sitting with Pfühl in the organ loft high up at the west end, "in the midst of a mighty tempest of rolling sound" proudly assisting with stop pulling etc. Pfühl improvises quietly after the hymn before the sermon, "slowly lifting his hands from the keys, leaving a deep bass note lingering solemnly round the building", as the Pastor climbs the steps to the pulpit. Pfühl then quietly mocks the Pastor's exaggerated, melodramatic delivery. Secretly they conclude "that the sermon was mere twaddle and that the real service consisted in what the Pastor and his congregation regarded merely as a devotional accessory: namely the music". The appearance of this benign and sympathetically drawn character makes for a rather special interlude in this great novel. Let's hope something brave and far-sighted does indeed come of the plans for a new organ at St Marien. I remember hearing the present Kemper machine soon after its installation over 40 years ago and feeling very disappointed. This great church deserves something better. JS
  17. I understand they were hoping for European funding, on account of the organ's provenance. A pity if that has all come to nothing. JS
  18. A comment a bit further down the same YouTube page reads: "Sorry, but this was not recorded at Berlin Cathedral. It is from Wunderlichs recording session at Schwäbisch Hall (1980 Walcker-Tzschöckel, St.Michael)." I agree. I was at Wunderlich's re-opening recital at the Berliner Dom in June 1993, following the marvellous restoration by Sauer, and have heard the instrument several times since. The instrument on this clip is quite different. JS
  19. How about St Peter's, Vauxhall? - a dozen stops, but sounds 3 times the size in a vast acoustic. Another interesting organbuilder/architect connection is that between T C Lewis and William Burges, as seen in the two beautiful small organs he provided in 1875 for the two new estate churches at St Mary, Studley Royal and Christ-the-Consoler, Skelton-on-Ure, both within 5 miles of Ripon and both exquisite examples of High Victorian church architecture. The Skelton instrument (NPOR R01403) is of similar design to Vauxhall but, alas, no longer playable. The church at Studley Royal, on the Fountains Abbey estate, is in the care of English Heritage/National Trust and the organ was carefully restored by H&H about 30 years ago. It sounds quite magnificent. See Studley Royal One wonders how this all came about: was it a Masonic connection, perhaps, or were they both members of the same London club? JS
  20. We look forward to hearing them, Paul. Around 23 stops on Great, Swell & Choir are reckoned to survive unaltered from the Lewis organ of 1878 and the Great diapason chorus now has a well-deserved BIOS Certificate of Recognition. I know I'm biased (forgive the weak pun), but it's a gloriously lively, vigorous, ringing sound. JS (Ripon)
  21. This one still exists and is 2 stops smaller. Worth Matravers, Dorset JS
  22. It struck me, too, as very mannered and odd. The pause at the colon in each verse is properly observed when the psalms are said, but surely not when sung. JS
  23. There was a fair amount on discussion on this ingenious and, to my mind, successful design on an earlier thread. A refreshing change from the dare I say 'predictable' 20-stop offerings by native builders. See Petersham JS
  24. He's well-qualified to do so as chairman of various of various museum and heritage bodies, and, since 2007, Chairman of the Churches Conservation Trust. JS
  25. Sad indeed. This great hill-top basilica and complex of monastic buildings must have been a remarkable place in its heyday. There are still a few functioning monasteries in this part of the world - Ottobeuren, Neresheim, Ochsenhausen - but one wonders how long they will continue. All have amazing 18c organs - by Riepp, Holzhey and Gabler respectively. Stephan Debeur, organist at Weingarten - seen at the console in the first link above - is a talented, enthusiastic and hospitable ambassador for Gabler's wonderfully OTT rococo confection there. The Swabian/South German Orgellandschaft, with its associated scenic and vinicultural attractions, will continue to draw visitors for a long time to come. JS
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