(Please pardon the untimely reply.)
The American liking for lots of celestes well in evidence here, I see. I don't mind that personally.
>>I couldn't agree more. This instrument warrants two, no more. I find celestes are like descants, effective in inverse proportion to their use. I could have been worse though: Remember the Wanamaker has 90 (sic!) ranks of celestes in the string division alone. Can't remember off hand what the grand total is for that thing.
Not sure I feel comfortable with virtually all of the Pedal being borrowed. (Or is it, Midmer-Losh-like, really the other way around?) I'd happily have sacrified some manual stops for more independence here.
>>Again, I agree; but space more than money dictated how the specification would be achieved (and not the other way around, as it should be. Let me clarify that: Frist decide what the space needs and can acoustically support, then keep digging into your pockets until you come up with enough loot to do the job properly). But actually, they've done a rather decent job balancing things out. None of that unit organ all tops and bottoms nonsense. Nonetheless, the pedal division is the most serious compromise—given that you accept the overall specification as musically valid (I do not). At least 5-6 more ranks are needed. Even 2-3 fully augmented ranks would go a long way in correcting an obvious weakness. In addition, there is a definite need for a Quint 5-1/3' and possibly a independent 10-2/3'.
One other complaint I have is the great. It really needs a Fourniture IV (2-2/3'); and a Cymbale III (1/3'); and probably, again, a 5-1/3', if it's going to live up the specification to which it aspires. I don't know your experience, but I think a manual full-gamut 32' is near the ultimate in ostentatious nonsense. I've only played three instruments that had manual 32' sets, and I could not think of a single valid musical use for any of them. Plus, you need a monstrous acoustic to support one. St. John the Devine, NYC (if it's ever finished), and the National Cathedral are the only two Episcopal churches that come to mind that have the volume to possibly support one; and, to the best of my recollection, neither has one. I'm sure St. John's doesn't (at least in its present iteration), I've played it twice; and I'm sure I wouldn't have forgotten that. Incidentally, I really do hope they can come up with the 4-5M$ needed for a full rebuild. It's one of the Skinner/Aeolian-Skinner blends that really lives up to its reputation
I guess what really frosts me the most about this big collection of penny whistles we now have is that we had a chance to do-the-right-thing after that catasctrophic fire and we blew it. Since we are of English derivation, I, and others, felt we should give very serious consideration to an English builder. After my experince with the St. Iggy's in NYC, I was completely sold on Mander. That instrument is a marvel, and I generally don't like froggy organs (I've earned the right to use the perjorative, I was married to one for 29 years and still feel I deserve the Croix de Guerre). I generally don't pass around such high praise either; here it is warranted. But. Oh, is that instrument intimidating. It seems to have "No fools will be tolerated" painted all over it; but once you start to play it, just seems to come alive and want you to do well (I wasn't the only one that evening that remarked on the strange feeling it gave you). Best mechanical action I've ever played. I've played a couple of big van der Heuvels, which I thought were the best large trackers I'd every wandered across, but the Mander is definitely better. I really regret the Jesuits have it and we don't.
I cannot imagine Schantz will last a century, it's just too pretentious to be taken seriously; and I think over time it will prove to be an embarassment.
It still seems people cannot resist the temptation to make ~65 ranks look like 90-100.
Tell me: why the Clarinet and Orchestral Oboe on the Choir instead of the Solo? I know Ernest Skinner did this sort of thing and there must be a reason. I've got an idea why, but I'd be interested to hear from an American
>>First, the real question is why is there a clarinet? In my opinion a nearly worthless stop. Even Virgil Fox said—and I was there when he said it—he could count the number of good clarinets he'd encountered on one hand and have several fingers left over. He almost always added a nazard when he had one to add (often he did the same thing with the typical “organ” oboe). A clarinet and no cormorne/krummhorn? Surely one or the other should have come first, and there is not even a preparation for one. I guess the Choir Rohrschalmei is supposed to deputize.
About orchestral anythings, the less said the better. One exception, I've always like Skinner/Aeolian-Skinner French horns. Go figure.
But to answer your question directly, my best answer is space. The solo box is shoehorned in on top of the choir on the choir north wall. The building's architecture is weird, but that's another story. I don't think there is any sinister cabal here. Another thing: Although it isn't too apparent at first glance, note form the spec that these are essentially 8' divisions, very odd since there is a 32' on the great you'd expect the swell would have a big 16' open flue. Another dead give away that trade offs are being made to the space available. I'm not even sure the full 16' octave of the Violone is enclosed.
I am curious, however, as to your thinking on the rather odd disposition. In my opinion, Skinner did a lot of strange things; and I never could puzzle out the logic behind what he did. Perhaps there was none. Have you devined something I have not?
In closing, thank you for your comments.