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John Sayer

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Everything posted by John Sayer

  1. I've had a small II/P 4 stop house organ by Peter Collins - about the size of a large wardrobe - for 10 years, and am generally pleased with it. The highly sensitive suspended action and slightly foreshortened keys together with the pipes a few inches from one's nose show up sloppy articulation quite mercilessly. Good discipline however for the barock and classical repertoire, but something of a handicap for bigger romantic works. Anything with big spread chords, for example, such as Henry Smart's Postlude in C, is well-nigh impossible to play cleanly. In such cases one really needs something less sensitive and more forgiving. Some electroniums (as BIOS would call them) have an excessively light, springy touch which is almost as bad, particularly those with cheap, hollow, plastic keys. I also have a Viscount Cantorum with decent non-slip keys and a fairly heavy, deep touch which is much better in this respect. JS
  2. Kenneth Jones told me he had proposed full restoration/reinstatement of the original decoration but that this was opposed by the Cathedral Fabric Commission or whatever it was called in those days. Such a pity, as the one test panel he showed me was a riot of colour. Just think of all those pink-faced cherubs below the impost, with a sky-blue baclground and detail picked out in gold leaf. What an opportunity missed! JS
  3. Organs heard live or played, in no particular order 1. Naumburg, St Wenzel 2. Hamburg, St Jakobi 3. Sydney Town Hall 4. Toulouse, St Sernin 5. Braja, Cathedral 6. Deptford, St Paul 7. Coventry Cathedral 8. Oxford, The Queen's College 9. Copenhagen, Garrison Church 10. Kampen, Choir organ (Reil) JS
  4. They do things differently in Germany! The Cathedral in Hildesheim, rebuilt after wartime destruction in 1945, is to close from January 2010 to August 2014 for thoroughgoing restoration (Sanierung) at a cost of 30 million euros. For those interested in details of the 4m Klais organ see Hildesheim Dom. Can you imagine that sort of thing happening at Canterbury, say? JS
  5. What depressingly sloppy English in the press release (wrong use of apostrophe and 'due to'). You'd think an ancient cathedral would set a better standard. JS
  6. I see the dreaded 'Ealth & Safety statement makes its baleful appearance in print in the beautifully produced Order of Service. Better that way, I suppose, than some intrusive Tannoy announcement by a cleric before the introit. JS
  7. Indeed - horrendous account of hapless Professor stranded 90 feet up and having to escape by walking a narrow plank across to the nearest window ledge, thence down to ground level and a stiff Schnapps. Imagine having to do that at somewhere like Lichfield or St Edmundsbury and you'll get the idea. JS
  8. Looks - and will doubtless sound - magnificent. The Naumburg/Hildebrandt influence clearly discernible again, as at St-Louis-en-l'Ile. JS
  9. This may be of interest - it's certainly a novel way of getting to work! JS
  10. I believe the answer is that the Hill case was originally installed in the North Transept, a few feet away from the north wall. Moving it back there would leave the south window unobscured for the first time in decades, letting more light into a rather gloomy building. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Solo box at the top even had a glass back wall in order to reveal the stained glass with the shutters open. Tonally it might not make much difference, but architecturally it will be a great improvement. JS
  11. Yes, the inaugural concert itself - entitled Ihre Majestät zieht ein (Her Majesty arrives) and given by Tom Trotter and Iveta Apkalna - is pretty remarkable with works by Stanford, Bridge and GT-B, alongside Wagner and Guilmant. Subsequent recitals include Lemare, Hollins, Horatio Parker, Cocker, Nevin, Brewer etc. Wir werden sehen... as they say. Duisburg is Germany's twelfth biggest city, twinned with Portsmouth but perhaps more accurately on a par with somewhere like Hull. One must admire the civic authorities for going ahead with - on paper at least - such a bold and uncompromising artistic venture. One can't imagine the average British city council commissioning, say, Nicholson & Co to build a full-blooded replica of an early 1900s Walcker or CC-Mutin. JS
  12. There has been regular reference in these pages to the growing English influence on the German organ scene, as seen in the many imports of redundant specimens of solid 19c English romantic organs and in the new-found taste in high pressure reeds added to existing instruments. The civic authorities in Duisburg seem to have gone the whole hog in commissioning a new IVP/61 instrument for the Mercatorhalle, the main concert venue in the city. The specification Mercatorhalle, on paper at least, looks worthy of Arthur Harrison c. 1920 with a Grand Cornet V thrown in for good measure. All the more remarkable is the fact that the new instrument comes from the workshops of one of the most traditional and long-standing of German organbuilders, Eule of Bautzen. JS
  13. A most interesting notion, Jonathan. Fundraising for one particular organ project currently occupies a lot of my time. I'd be intrigued to know just which non-traditional places we should be investigating. JS
  14. I've made similar observations over the years. The names of at least two celebrated recitalists come to mind as playing entire programmes from photocopies, often carefully pasted up and collected for convenience in a ring binder - and all in clear view of the audience. Maybe if challenged, they would be able to claim to have the original scores in their briefcases in the dressing room, but who knows? JS
  15. A new, mobile IIP/12 organ, known as the Haydn-Orgel, is under construction by Rieger for St Stephan's Cathedral in Vienna, a partner to the larger IVP/54 instrument by the same firm on the south side of the nave. see Haydn-Orgel. The specifiaction, on paper, seems an attractive concept for just 12 stops. Hauptwerk C – g’’’ Principal 8’ Viola di Gamba 8’ Gedackt 8’ Octav 4’ Principal 2’ (Vorabzug aus Mixtur) Mixtur III 2’ Schwellwerk C – g’’’ Coppel 8’ B/D Traversflöte 8’ D (ab c’) Flöte 4’ Sesquialter II Quinte 2 2/3’ (Vorabzug aus Sesquialter) Flachflöte 2’ Pedal C – f’ Subbass 16’ JS
  16. One might ask a similar question about the earliest appearance of bottom C# in the manuals. This note is one of the many puzzles associated with BWV 565 (T & F in D minor) where it appears in bar 2 in the LH. Its function is thematic rather than harmonic, so there is no way round it in performance. Research has shown that the standard manual compass for organs in Thuringia and Saxony right up to around 1760/1770 was C,D - c''' occasionally d'''. I think I'm right in saying that, although bottom C# occurs in a few of Bach's other organ works, organists of the day, faced with this missing note, could get round it by various means including transposing the piece upwards a whole tone. However, BWV 565 in E minor would not have been possible, as the piece already demands c'''. Whilst this by no means clinches JSB's non-authorship of this problematic piece, it does suggest a much later dating than the traditional recieived wisdom of an early Jugendwerk. (How did we get here, by the way? - it's a long way from Leeds Cathedral!) JS
  17. Difficult with a Cathedral congregation of 500 communicants at major festivals - I don't fancy the washing up afterwards! Mind the new routine does knock a good 10 minutes off the main Sunday morning eucharist. And the Celebrant now has a bottle of Cuticare as well as the lavabo bowl on the credence table. Here in Ripon & Leeds diocese the Sri Lankan form of greeting at the Peace is encouraged - hands together and slight bow/inclination of the head; reverence and humility combined with none of the usual wandering about. JS
  18. Very interesting, I'm sure - I last heard the Marienkirche organ back in 1993 and would like to attend the Colloquium (let's hope Ryanair will still be flying to Rostock by then!). How does one go about registering (Anmeldung usw)? JS
  19. The 'organ project' currently underway at St Michaelis is a huge undertaking, involving restoration of the existing 5m Steinmeyer organ organ (with reinstatement of the Fernwerk), the Marcussen concert organ, the crypt organ plus a new 2m CPE Bach organ. The work is being done in collaboration by two firms - Klais and Freiburger Orgelbau. For details see Klais and Freiburger OB (I'm to blame for any infelicities of translation, I should add) JS
  20. I think I'm right in saying Weingarten is the only one of the great abbey churches in this part of Germany without a functioning choir organ. Gabler's original organ predates the great west-end instrument by several years. Unlike its big sister, however, it has not stood the test of time and fashion very well, having been rebuilt and enlarged over the last 250-odd years. When I was there last May, it was in a sorry state with pipes, swell-boxes and associated 'works' sprawling over a huge area behind the elegantly carved choir stalls on the north side. The website describes the current state (see under 'Zustand') but seems surprisingly reticent on what form the 'restoration' will take. All that survives of the original is the casework containing pipes from the remarkable Choralbaß 10-15 fach plus 3 other ranks including a wooden Pincipalbaß 16. Whether this is to be a faithful copy of the original or a more flexible scheme better suited to the needs of 21st choral accompaniment - as opposed to 18c monastic accompaniment - is not made clear. (I got the impression the organist, Stephan Debeur, would prefer the latter). Wir werden sehen..... JS
  21. I think you already have most of the highlights. It's worth looking at the Thomaskirche website/newsletter for details of concerts etc, eg the organ recitals on Saturdays at 7.30 in July/August - Thomaskirche. It's an easy enough city to find your way around in, all fairly compact. The restored station of 1909 with its 27 platforms is indeed vastly impressive with shiny new boutiques and eateries of all sorts. From there you can catch a train to Dresden in a about an hour, but that's another story..... JS
  22. I believe the instrument was built with aluminium pallets, thought to be a great technical advance at the time, but which gave major problems later as the leather coverings came unstuck from the metal. Rectifying this problem accounted, I believe, for the major part of of Wood's rebuilding. I seem to remember the original intention was for a new Frobenius (?) at the west end but the plans fell through and Peter Collins was contracted to provide an largish 2m instrument to meet a very tight deadline for the dedication of the new eastward extension attended by Princess Margaret. Lawrence King was the architect. The siting of the organ behind the altar is not ideal as much of the sound goes up into the new lantern tower rather than down into the nave. Quite a reasonable 70s neo-classical sound, all the same. JS
  23. The rattling sound seems to have been cured. To be fair, the Bombardon (and the big Solo & Great reeds, for that matter) were never intended for service use in the choir and visiting organists are requested not to use them. However, judicious use in recitals is another matter. JS
  24. I asked the same question about 3 months ago. The answer, as I recall, was that this division would be in the westernmost part of the case on the north side. I'm not sure how effective the Positif in the concrete drum on arch actually was in terms of tonal egress etc, but these days I imagine H&S restrictions over access for tuning etc might be a problem. JS
  25. I asked the same question about 3 months ago. The answer, as I recall, was that this division would be in the westernmost part of the case on the north side. I'm not sure how effective the Positif in the concrete drum on arch actually was in terms of tonal egress etc, but these days I imagine H&S restrictions over access for tuning etc might be a problem. JS
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