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Paul Hale

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  1. Paul Hale

    Solihull School

    Only just notice this posting as I visit the site about once a year! I've written an account of the organ at Solihull School (36pp, several specs and plenty of colour photos) which can be obtained from the school for £5 plus p&p. If you'd just like the spec, email me via <PaulHale.org> and I'll send it. David Briggs gave a simply stunning first recital earlier in June (mentioned on this site by others), to a packed chapel. Paul Hale
  2. I wonder if I could comment, please, on the Bridlington Priory thread? Some have commented on the mixtures; here is some information about them. Sadly there is no Anneessens chorus mixture. Anneessens supplied a Cornet 2-4 ranks for the Great and a Mixture 5 ranks on the Swell. The Great Cornet largely remains, fleshed out into 4 ranks from middle C by Compton in 1949, and now by Nicholsons as 5 ranks from middle C, replacing the Compton rank by a more appropriate one. Of the Swell Mixture only the Twelfth rank remains, made separately available in 1968 when Laycock & Bannister added a new Swell 5-rank Mixture. In 1968 five new mixtures were added: Great 19.22.26 and 29.33.36; Swell 19.22.26.29.33; Positive 26.29.33; Pedal 19.22.26.29. To later ears (certainly mine) many of these stops were both pitched too high to start with and broke back irrationally and too late. Consequently they stood away from the rest of the flues and only became almost tolerable when the Great reeds were all drawn. Even then the Great Cymbal sat hopelessly on top. My suggestions were to scrap the Great Cymbal and replace it with the Positive Scharf (too high to sit on top of the Postive chorus which, typically, had no 2ft Principal - such a central rank for a Positive with pretensions to a principal chorus), to remove the top rank of the Swell Mixture (the 33rd) and to rethink the breaking pattern of all the manual mixtures so that each broke back early enough to reach down to and reinforce the chorus with which it is designed to work. This has been done, and I believe the resulting choruses are really splendid, the full coupled flues possessing tremendous richness, depth and complexity, with plenty of natural brightness. The 32ft Tubasson totally dominated the organ until the recent work, when it was moved two bays east and thoroughly repaired and regulated. It now blends in very well, though - yes - has sadly lost in the church some of the animal excitement it used to possess. Still, the general gains with the rebuilt organ [by improving the layout] are so huge that this one slight disappointment has to been considered in context. I would be so thrilled if folk come to hear it when I give a concert at Bridlington this Saturday (29th July) at - NB - 6pm. The programme is designed to show as much of the organ's colour as can possibly be displayed in one concert and included Bach's Zei Gregrüsset variations as well as the Willan Intro, passacaglia & fugue, Franck Chorale I, Howells 'Master Tallis', Vierne's 'Clair de Lûne', a Fanfare by Cook and some variations by Dandrieu. Paul Hale
  3. With regard to the digital 32ft basses at Southwell, the pitch remains remarkably close to the pipes because (i) the cathedral is kept at a reasonably constant temperature so the pitch of the pipes stays the same (actually both organs are wonderfully stable in tuning and hardly have to be touched), and (ii) because at such low frequencies beats are very slow. We hardly ever tweak the tuning knob - perhaps twice a year [mid winter and mid summer] for the nave organ 32fts (yes, it has them too) if the pitches of the two organs have drifted apart. The screen organ, by the way, is used for 35-40 hours a week on average (it's automatically metred) and is now nine years old. I still feel a twinge of guilt at including the 'cheats', but not enough to outweigh the musical advantages of having tolerable 32ft stops. Interestingly, an internationally super-famous recitalist, not knowing the stops were pipeless, once commented on how fine they were. The whole Pedal Organ is loud in the Crossing because it is at the back of the organ. Naturally the 32ft devices are also loud there - the 'reed' especially so. The whole organ sounds odd from there because it all points East, of course. It's balanced to sound fine in the Quire. I can't say we think about the digital nature of the 32ft stops from one month to the next. Once they were revisited (and softened) by Mr Hart after the organ had been used for some months they blended in well. They do their very occasional job as well as many pipes at this pitch - for which we simply didn't have room - and better than quite a few 'real' polyphones and half-length reed basses. Paul Hale, Southwell Cathedral
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