Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Stephen Dutfield

  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Stephen Dutfield

  1. If we're talking about the Llandaff positive case - which I think we are - it certainly polarises opinions. If the slots had continued around the front, or it had been faced with a cross or crucifix I don't think I'd like it at all. As it is, I'm fortunate to work just a five minute walk from the cathedral. On a nice summer's day when the traffic's roaring past and the village is busy and I've got a decent lunch-break, I find stepping in through the west door into the cool peaceful cathedral and being struck by the awe-inspiring presence of Epstein's sculpture rather a moving experience.
  2. I don't know, but as both cases form part of the unified scheme of church furniture and architecture designed by Pace, I think it unlikely that either will be allowed to go. However the main case would be more easily modified, but would likely have to keep the same footprint as there are chapels in the north aisle, both to the west and east of the case, although it could possibly expand slightly eastwards.
  3. This is exactly the same principle as the Hope-Jones 'stop switch' - although in the case of H-J the fact that it was a registrational aid was secondary to the saving it made in limiting the use of current from the batteries then supplying the action.
  4. The mine landed to the South of the Nave and took the whole south side of the roof off, the top of the South-West spire, demolished the Chapter house, blew all the windows out, and did quite a bit of damage to the organ, but perhaps not as much as people think. Most of the Great would have been mangled, and the console (new in 1938) certainly destroyed, but the contents of the swell boxes didn't fare too badly and the roof over the organ remained in place. Dr. Michael Smith once intimated to me that there was more Hope-Jones in the organ as it stands than anyone cared to admit, but in truth not much of it is recogniseable. One of the big problems with it is that it's hemmed into a case with little chance of tonal egress. Sound crosses to the console OK, but doesn't travel down the Nave. The case is incredibly congested, and in truth it's a wonder anything gets out at all. It has also suffered with half-hearted maintenance for many years. Rushworths rebuilt the console in 1980 and dealt with some of the action, and since then a capture system has been installed which is failing very badly. A friend did a wedding there a few weeks ago, and on using one Great piston all the pedal stops flew in and remained under charge so couldn't be pulled out. Apparently it's a known fault, and forcibly drawing the Quint will release it! Couldn't help thinking they'd have been better off to have kept the setter board - which was conveniently sited in a cabinet next to the console - since the capture system only has one memory! Nothing much happened on tuning visits, apart from the then tuner always turning up when he knew there was a busy service schedule, and spending much time outside the west door having a smoke. Faults reported in the tuning book were met with "Can't fix - have reported to Liverpool" and, of course, nothing further happened. The organ's currently in the hands of Patrick Burns who does his best with what he's got, but in truth I think everyone gave up on it so long ago that all he can do is a certain amount of fire-fighting. When Harrisons inspected it a few years ago, they proposed keeping just the Open Wood and the blower, everything else to be binned. All that said, I did have one of my musical 'road to Damascus' experiences there, when about 7 years old, listening to Robert Joyce rehearsing for a recital. For that I remain thankful.
  5. The 'original purpose' of George Pace's concrete cylinder was primarily as an organ case. It was put there to provide a division of the organ to lead a congregation, and used as an architectural device to break up the tunnel-like vista from the west door right through the the lady chapel, as there is no central crossing and no pulpitum/rood screen. Had there been a Choir division or Nave organ this might have worked, but the Positive is of little use for any purpose! I have a feeling - though I'm not absolutely sure - that Epstein's 'Christ in Majesty' was then commissioned as a feature for the front of the case - rather than the case being built as a home for the sculpture. The gilded angels around the remainder of the case are surviors of the pre-War choir stalls. It would be quite impossible to restore it back to its Hope-Jones spec (even if such a thing was considered desirable on either historic or musical grounds) as there isn't much H-J left. What is there has mostly been revoiced, although there's a nice Clarinet which is his, and a couple of strings.
  6. That would have stirred up this morning's Eucharist - our congregation find sharing the Peace a bit radical!
  7. Hello Neil, welcome aboard! I knew our paths would cross again sooner or later
  8. According to the book "The Organists and Organs of Hereford Cathedral" that instrument included a stop called Glockenspiel 4' in the Echo division, after its 1892/93 rebuild by Father Willis, which was described as "a mixture of Cymbale type." This was removed in the 1908/09 rebuild by HWII and replaced with the still-present gongs, at the time played from the Choir but now on the Solo.
  9. I'll keep my opinions on interpretation to myself as there are others here far better placed to comment, but curiosity got the better of me, and I rewound a little further to hear Robert Elmore perform the Toccata from BMV565 at Atlantic City! I have to say that the dear old BBC Compton with its studio acoustic sounds an eminently more suitable vehicle than does the 'big one'. The sound of a hundred ranks all pulling in different directions.......
  10. It was later dismantled and stored by the church. The console and some ranks are now on display in the Hope-Jones museum belonging to the Lancastrian Theatre Organ Trust at Peel Green, near Eccles. http://www.voxlancastria.org.uk/heritage/heritage.htm I can't remember the name of the North Wales church with the 2m H-J still playing, although I was talking to someone about it recently and it has apparently been kept well. Is there not also a substantial amount of H-J left at Pilton in Somerset? You see - if I hadn't loaned out my copy of the Fox book I'd have all the answers to hand!
  11. Yes - it all comes back now. Clearly the calligraphic(?) font I remember was somewhere else, but Bath did stand out as not being in the thinner condensed font. It all looked very business-like and clear, and I liked it! The only aesthetic improvement I can think that Klais have made is in the shape of the key cheeks which in their 1972 incarnation were fairly plain if I remember correctly - which recent posts seem to suggest I don't! Anyway, thanks for saving me an hour rooting through the attic looking for the Bath booklet amongst all the other 'obscene publications' which my wife thought were taking up too much space on the bookshelves, and depriving her of room for the latest Danielle Steel
  12. Ah, apologies. Clearly it's the onset of middle-age that I need to blame I must have been thinking of another console. Just to satisfy my curiosity I'll dig out the Bath booklet tomorrow and see what it says.
  13. Mmm, interesting. Post-1972 they certainly were engraved in a font that looked like it had been done with a calligraphy pen i.e. 'Old English' thick/thin style which sat nicely with the panelling of the stop jambs. The booklet about the organ which I acquired at the time I first visited it (1982) mentions that the stop heads added in the 1972 re-build were engraved in the same style to match the existing, however this may be wrong if the engraving on the Dudley Holroyd LP photograph is standard. All rather academic now anyway, but I always thought it a most attractive console.
  14. I wasn't criticising the square pistons in themselves - indeed they do look perfectly at home at Gloucester - just the fact that they looked so out of place on the old Bath console with its carved woodwork and gothic stop-head engraving. I agree the shape of piston doesn't make much difference, although I think the square ones might have been more universally accepted if the face was slightly concave like that of a standard circular piston. From the builder's point of view though - was it not far more time consuming to cut square openings in the key slips than to drill a row of holes, or is my memory at fault and were they on round bodies?
  15. I was quite familiar with the old console - spending days on end holding notes for tuning - and looking at the new console on the JS-W '21st Century Bach' DVD the first thing that struck me was that all the proportions look very different. I rather got the impression (and it IS just a visual impression as I haven't visited the Klais) that the pedalboard wasn't as far recessed under the manuals as we are used to. Also the stop jambs are now set at a wider angle from the keyboards than they used to be, although they seem to have retained the mock-Gothic woodwork. However, it is nice to see it without those cube pistons! Did anyone here ever use the plug-in Positive keyboard down in the Quire? It used to be stored on top of a cupboard in the vestry, but could be mounted on a little wooden stand and plugged into the transmission system via a co-ax cable. It had a set of push buttons above the keyboard to operate the stops and could control just the positive division. Another interesting thing I remember about the instrument in its HN&B incarnation (related to a recent thread here) is that the Choir box was next to the Great soundboards and had its shutters on the top. Related to the same thread is the memory of having to put almost one's entire body-weight behind the swell pedals to overcome the initial inertia in the very long traces - particularly up to the Solo box - and of course once you'd started them moving the next problem was trying to stop them....!
  16. I happened to visit Nicholson's a couple of weeks back, and they'd just taken delivery of a 16' Pedal Open of very generous scale - apparently by Harrisons (I know nothing of the post Hope-Jones history of Worcester) which they had obtained for a school job that's in hand at the moment. This came from material discarded at Worcester.
  17. Compton organs that are set with a setter board (as opposed to their early 'capture' system) treat the second-touch cancel as another piston, so there is an extra row of switches after the pistons for that manual. This means that you can set certain stops to neutral if you wish - hugely useful for couplers, and in the case of theatre organs very useful for tremulants. However, the down side is that you could - if you were daft enough - set things to come ON with the cancel! I once played a small Compton theatre organ which, at the time, belonged to someone who has quite a reputation as a theatre organist (although it wouldn't be polite to say whether that's a good or bad reputation...) and he had the Great cancel set to bring all sorts of rubbish on. When I questioned it he just said "Well it works OK like that so I'm going to leave it." Now't as queer as folk as they say...
  18. Although your statement is absolutely correct in respect of cathedral organists, I really do feel that I have to jump to the defence of theatre organists! The vast majority of theatre organists that I know or have known (and there are, and have been, very many) are quick to express their admiration for the approach of 'serious' musicians, certainly with regard to their musical abilities and qualifications. One occasionally might hear the odd criticism of the way a recital is presented, and I suppose it's only natural for theatre organists - who of course have a VERY different task to perform - to be more receptive to the type of performance that is being discussed in this thread (i.e. the Virgil Fox/Carlo Curley 'show') than a more conventionally presented recital. We would, though, be doing most theatre organists a dis-service to suggest that they dislike the musical approach of a serious musician (rather than the performance style) just because they themselves choose not to perform in that idiom. There are, of course, those theatre organists who don't have the ability anyway - I'm amongst them - but that needn't stop them appreciating the art of a 'serious' musician.... I believe Robin Richmond and Pierre Cochereau were good friends, and Robin was always the first to denigrate his own classical credentials - despite having studied under Peasgood at Westminster. There were and are those in the theatre organ business who could more than hold their own in the world of serious performance, like the Reginalds New and Porter-Brown. There was the genius of Quentin Maclean, and his late and much-lamented latter-day equivalent William Davies, and currently I would hold up Richard Hills as a very good example. But to come back to your original point - yes, they're different animals that perform in a different way, but anyone who is sincere in their love of music, or indeed in their quest to learn more about it will, I am sure, appreciate the degree of musicianship, ability and validity of performance we hear from our best organists in cathedrals, churches and concert halls - even if they're delivered without spotlights, dry ice, fireworks, overhead video screens, birdcages and men on pedestals
  19. Indeed it does - but what about the keys...?!
  20. And it's highly likely that timber/leather/glue will still be available in much the same form in 50/60/70 years time. I had an unfortunate experience some years ago of buying what should have been rather a nice three manual home toaster, but it was then some years old. As soon as things started to go wrong engineers just shook their heads and went away laughing at the prospects of me ever sourcing replacements for the bespoke ICs therein. Admittedly this isn't (or shouldn't be) the case with Allen organs - they proudly advertise that they carry spares for every organ they've built since 1939 - although it would be interesting to put this to the test. Would they in fact recommend that you replaced the innards of your 1939 valve-toaster with a few thousand quid's worth of new boards?
  21. You're very welcome Ronald. It's the sort fo thing that keeps me off the streets, or - more importantly - away from organ consoles!
  22. Here we go then: Wedding No.1 - (Angus & Laura) St. Michael's, Betchworth, Surrey Wedding No.2 - (Bernard & Lydia) Royal Naval College chapel, Greenwich Wedding No.3 - (Carrie & "the Stiff in the Skirt"!) Chapel at Albury Park, Nr. Guildford. Gareth's funeral - St. Clement, West Thurrock, Essex. A redundant church restored by Proctor & Gamble whose plant overshaddows it. (Non) Wedding No.4 - St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield. It's amazing what you can find when you search the web for long enough.....!
  23. Never mind that - how could he TALK to the audience in such a fluent and relaxed manner WHILE he was playing. If someone asks me a question while I'm playing I have a job to stitch two words together... and then they're probably the wrong words!
  • Create New...