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Mark Fownes

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Posts posted by Mark Fownes

  1. Wow, what a fascinating post, Bruce! You kept my attention.


    I never realized 4' Clarions might break back and will have to keep an eye (or an ear) out for this. I always assumed reed ranks transitioned to flue pipes. Possibly the "Clairon-Doublette 2'" at St. Sernin cemented in my head the idea the incorrect idea that high pitched reeds transition to flues, as night follows day.


    I rather fear that I have not adequately explained that (Willis) Clarions, where they broke from reeds to flues, continued at 4ft pitch and did not break back to 8ft.


    I have also seen it suggested that the main elements of the British full swell which arose in the 19th century, namely a mixture plus a 16 foot reed, arose from the same roots - presumably because it simply sounded good in chords. (I can't recall where I read this but think it might have been suggested by John Norman somewhere back in Organists' Review. If not, apologies to him).




    It was Sumner "The Organ: Its Evolution etc, where he asserts that Willis perceived that "...the incomparable effect of the English full swell organ was due principally to a double chorus reed and to a Mixture of bright tone".



  3. I think I may speak for many when I say that your comments pcnd5584 are taken with the utmost seriousness. Any criticisms you have raised down the years on this forum have always been constructive ones, and are clearly based on professional experience, whether first-hand or otherwise.


    I must say I was going to post a new thread on the heavily restored organ at St Andrews Parish Church, Enfield, Middlesex, the work being undertaken by David Wells of Liverpool. I have the revised stop list to hand, having visited the new console yesterday. But given the ridiculous comments regarding stop lists, I'm inclined not to do it.


    Well, now we are uncertain about the work going on at Enfield. We can argue for or against a well expressed opinion, but what can we do when we are unsettled by an ambiguity and left in doubt by an unremark?



  4. Swiss Church, Endell Street, Covent Garden. Spaeth organ. Beautifully positioned in a “West” gallery. I think the Swell Pedal is positioned somewhat to the right of centre, which is another slight issue …

    That's interesting because the predecessor of this organ was a 2-man Hunter, and Hunter was idiosyncratic with Swell pedals; often to the treble end and always ankle stretching in the open position. Plus ça change...



  5. There’s a beautiful new organ in Central London whose only defect for me is the position of the swell pedal, whereby my knee collides with the underneath of the manuals before the box is fully open.




  6. To Vox Humana's point at #14. I wonder what the piece would sound like on a French instrument? Elgar on a Cavaille-Col? Does anyone know of any recordings?

    There is no finer performance of the Elgar First Sonata than Kynaston's at Ingolstadt (Mitra OSM 16157), on vinyl from 1977. The Elgar Sonata is not organ music, but music played on the organ. (The Second Sonata is Brass Band music played on the organ). An organ, such as Ingolstadt, in a live acoustic, such as Ingolstadt, makes it own demands on the player and the printed score. In this particular case, the player, the organ and the music are as one. The listener is engaged from the first notes to the last, not so much by the musical argument, but by the succession of episodes. You just have to hear what happens next.



  7. This interest in 'sources' is curious. Much of what is posted on this Forum is speculation, or opinion (that is, up market speculation) or anecdote, all of which can be and are tested by list members. The source is most cases is the poster.


    Wolsey argues from the particular to the general (unlike his eminent avatar who was prone to argue the other way round) and asserts that the Internet is subject to the Laws of Libel. No it's not. People and Corporations of people using the Internet may be subject to Laws of libel in some jurisdictions. The Internet is indifferent to what message it carries and blameless of the results.


    The spat at issue was started by what proved to be a well-founded rumour that Roger Sayer is to be the next Director of Music at the Temple Church and a subsequent proposal/suggestion/complaint that such a posting ahead of an official announcement was bad form. Moreover, it was averred, any such remark made without ‘sources’ was invalid. Even if this point is clearly settled by list members, it will, I hope, not curtail the pleasure of those scouring this and other forums in eager anticipation of being offended by some perceived lapse of taste or manners.



  8. The moral of this spat is to cite your source(s) thus or thus.

    No it's not! There is no moral. This is life. Or, if you want to be high-minded, this is Life imitating Art. This Forum serves many needs and one of them is GOSSIP - the third oldest profession in the world.



  9. A friend has given me a bound copy of The Organ (vol XVI, 1936/7), a magazine that I have not read for a long time. I had forgotten how interesting these pre-War articles were, how lively was the letters page and how different is the content from what we get today.


    Evidently, we no longer want informed and critical reviews of organs old and new. Is it because we no longer have the time to write or to read such material? Or perhaps there is no longer any impartial opinion worth reading? Or do we now buy the CD and judge for ourselves?


    In short, is what we get today better in any sense than the material contained in, for example, the 256 pages of Vol XVI of the The Organ?



  10. Now here's a bit of a stunner!


    I was going through some of the Compton patents, and filed by John Compton himself is a very curious type of pipe indeed, which may or may not operate bi-phonically, depending upon what is required. That isn't the important bit.


    The patent shows a wooden VARIABLE WIND PRESSURE PIPE, using a curious triple inlet valve arrangement snd a double EP action arrangement. Cunningly, there is a sliding top-lip actuated by a pneumatic-motor, complete with a beard, which goes up an down to make adjustment to the pipe speech, according to the pressure delivered at the wind-way.


    Having invented the thing, one must assume that it found an application somewhere, but I can't say it's something I've heard of previously.


    The only thing which came close, which I dimly recall from my youthful foray into organ-building, was 16ft bass which supplied a pp and ff bass using the same pipes, but it certainly didn't have the slightest degree of sophistication and may well have been out of tune half the time.






    St Andrew's Luton has or had wooden pipes, I think pedal basses, with mechanically adjustable cut-ups.



  11. 2) How far are you from Calne, Wiltshire? (This instrument formerly possessed five claviers, so it can fit both categories.)



    Calne is an interesting case for it is an organ made bad by the Client from its very inception, the Client being effectively Henry George Harris the Bacon King. Left to themselves, neither Conachers nor the organist of the church would ever have considered such a scheme if only for reasons of space and money, but with Harris stuffing their protests with money the outcome was assured. I think it was rivalry between Harris and Lord Lansdowne of Bowood (actually a one-sided rivalry, because I doubt that Lansdowne knew Harris existed). Lansdowne had a two-manual in his chapel, Harris put a 5-manual in his music room at Castle House. A previous Marquis had a given a 2-manual organ to the Parish Church; Harris forced a 5-manual into the place.


    There other examples of excess, but perhaps none so blatant. We, of course, fine guardians of taste that we are, have no difficulty in pursuing solely the pure and good, but is very difficult for organ builders to resist money.



  12. Well, as the objective approach is not going so well, what about approaching it from the other end with these contentious subjective statements.


    1. There are no bad organs in rooms with a reverberation period of more than 4 seconds


    2. There are no bad 4-manual organs (and all 5-manual organs are inherently wonderful) and no bad organs with a (real) Tuba


    3. There are no bad French organs and no bad organs with a majority of French stop names.


    4. There are no good organs by Brindley & Foster, Monk & Gunther or Kingsgate Davidson.


    5. There are no good organs with endolithic or acid engraved stop-heads.


    6. There are no bad organs in good cases.


    Finally, was the 1896 Hope-Jones organ at Worcester Cathedral a bad organ or a misunderstood organ or an organ good and right for a brief moment?



  13. One that everyone breathes a sigh of relief when it's removed and replaced by an electronic organ, upon which the congregation begins to actually appreciate organ music again?


    I was speaking of organs, not simulators.



  14. I guess bad winding is worst. If windlines are faultily calculated, if note channels are too small, there is little you can do about it. A badly winded organ is, as it was since organs were built, a bad one.


    Personally, I think that bad case design also qualifies. Cases that are boring, architecturally amateurish, over-decorated, wrong-proportioned, over-loud or over-shy, out of style or badly in style, are not worth being looked at, let alone built and paid for. It's not always the builder's fault, though.






    Yes, I'll buy that. And one can have a bad organ behind a fine case, but because the organ is silent for 90% of the time people will not easily be persuaded that it is a bad organ. It's more subjective than we think.



  15. Perhaps a lot of what we consider to be 'bad' organs are those which someone has attempted, unsuccessfully, to change into something which the original builder never envisaged. A lot of 'four square' English organs built in C19 were hacked about in the 60's & 70's to introduce neo-baroque upperwork which often sits very uncomfortably with the foundation stops. Just my two-pennorth.





    This is certainly true, but it concerns organs made Bad. I am more interested original sin rather than subsequent degradation.



  16. I should be interested to know if anyone can define in strictly objective terms a Bad Organ.


    The badness should be absolute and not dependent on temporary fashion or musical taste or passing liturgical requirement. Neither, I think, should wrong use or a wrong position in a wrong building be the basis of a complaint. (I exclude, of course, amateur constructions)


    Is it that there is no group of organs that can be judged bad through a common streak of badness and that every instrument should judged on its demerits? I ask this because, surely, no organ builder set out to build a bad organ - and yet we have them.



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