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Christopher Brown

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About Christopher Brown

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  1. I agree. It is especially enlightening when the pistons are not adjustable, in which case one can often identify the date of the last rebuild (or the age of the incumbent organist), based only on the piston settings. The settings at Halifax, for example, still (for now) betray the neuroticisms of the 60s and 70s. 'Full' on the Great and Swell pistons gives all the swell plus octave, but not the Great No.1 Open (never mind the trombas!). This registration sounds fine in itself; but as well as giving an unsolicited haircut to anyone stationed in the north aisle, it tends to undermine the smooth build-up of power which is so characteristic of the instrument as originally conceived. Unsurprisingly, all these attempts to achieve 'clarity' do not seduce us into believing we are listening to a Schnitger or Silbermann; but holding back all the 'filling' until the last moment has rather the effect of a late and injudicious application of flour to a sauce that has been made too thin. Most seasoned accompanists/recitalists here do a lot of hand registration!
  2. Oh come off it! He's only one person and he can say what he likes - unless you think there is a serious possibility of crazed Top-Gear viewers going and buying firearms just because Jezza says so I worry much more about those (of all political persuasions) who speak smooth words about power to the people, whilst having their own snouts firmly in the trough whenever they think they can get away with it. Do you know how much trade union bosses are paid?
  3. Sounds like it's been nicked off the Flying Scotsman...
  4. Now we are getting warm... Trying to graft a so called independent pedal onto a romantic or quasi romantic instrument is rarely a complete success. To me, a proper 'independent pedal' implies far more than merely the inclusion of a metal 16' and a mixture. A true independent pedal should have a balancing combination for every likely combination on the manuals without coupling, otherwise it is a constraint rather than an asset. This isn't too difficult with a classical tonal design, but it becomes more problematic with schemes that build up horizontally as well as vertically. It's effectiveness also depends on the voicing and disposition of the organ. I suspect one reason for the lack of pedal choruses on English organs is that our instruments are often cramped, speak in several directions or are divided around the building - and it's no use having a wonderful pedal chorus that is 40 feet away from anything else and balances completely differently depending where you are stood. From experience with cathedral organs that have had chorus work added to the pedal, I have to say that I have never been entirely conviced. Yes, they allow you to play uncoupled if you are determined to do so; but they still sound nothing like Buxtehude's organ, so what's the point? The concept of an independent pedal is fairly alien to English romantic instruments and the repertoire they are optimised for. Just because the Germans have something and it sounds good, doesn't mean we have to have it too.
  5. As it happens, I have just printed off a copy of 'Solar Flare' which I will have a look at tonight.
  6. Wonderful indeed, and only a fool would design an instrument in that style and neglect to provide a suitable pedal division. But would we put one of those organs into an English Cathedral where it will be used mostly for accompaniment? None of the specs suggested so far look that way. What is important in one type of instrument may not be in another. The concept of a fully independent pedal is essential in some schemes, desirable in many, and virtually incompatible with others.
  7. But you still haven't said what you mean by a proper pedal division. I'm not being obtuse (I could guess, but guessing is not scholarship!), I would really like to know what would be essential on a modest sized instrument, in your view. Is this "an extensive pedal division"? (Interesting article by the way) http://www.albany.edu/piporg-l/FS/sr.html In my view the essentials are 2 or 3 16's an 8' and a 16' reed. Anything else depends on the style of instrument and what you want from it.
  8. I didn't say that knowledge is a bad thing - only that it does not always prove beneficial. Having said that, the world is indeed littered with examples of a little knowledge being a bad thing, and the organ world has not been spared that. As you say, it's all about what you do with it. But many follies have been perpetrated in all good faith, on the basis of 'scholarship' which has not stood the test of time. Musicians have more need of ears than scholarship, and a surplus of the latter cannot make up for a deficit in the former. There are organs (and organists) which are well researched yet tedious to listen to, and others that defy logic yet delight the ear. Which would we rather entertain? Where do we think Bach stood in this? Of course we should ideally be both artistic and well informed, but knowledge is dangerous when we confuse education with schooling...
  9. Define 'proper'... I don't believe scholarship - modern or otherwise - is always beneficial.
  10. I believe it was once the favoured term with English builders, but was swiftly abandoned due to sniggering amongst the lay clerks. Funny how the 'English Choral Tradition' dictates in unexpected ways...
  11. We are in the slightly artificial situation of having limited stop list, but unlimited funds and space. Enclosing the pedal means we can voice these ranks (flues as well as reeds) fairly powerfully and use the box to give a quieter bass when needed, rather than adding to the stop list. We can also do nice things with the 32's when accompanying or playing certain styles of music. I always think it is useful to have a 2nd enclosed manual division, and assuming adequate space and good design there is no reason why this should have any downside. Here, the postive foundations would be used for accompanying a choir, or solos on the other manuals, and it also houses the only clarinet stop. All good reasons for enclosure. The chorus would be intended to add just a little to the Great. The big trumpet might be unenclosed or even en chamade depending on the building. It would occupy a similar position in the tonal scheme to a Willis Tuba - i.e. big enough for a solo but not overwhelming when added to the chorus - but voiced to sit comfortably with the other reeds. Perhaps with something of the sound of a magnified English low pressure trumpet, or a not too brassy french trompette.
  12. I would ditch the 4th manual and go for an enclosed choir/solo. So probably not eligible for your prize - but something like this, perhaps: Pedal (Enclosed) Octobass 32 Violone Bass 16 Stopped Bass 16 Flute 8 Violoncello 8 Serpent 32 Bombarde 16 Great (manual 1) Contra Viola 16 Open Diapason 8 Viola 8 Flute Harmonique8 Octave 4 Superoctave 2 Plein Jeu 12.19.22 3rks Basson 16 Trompette 8 Swell Bourdon 16 Flute Ouverte 8 Viole 8 Violes Celestes 8 Orchestral Flute 4 Salicet 4 Cornet 12.15.17.19.22 5rks Bombarde 16 Trompette Harmonique 8 Hautbois 8 Clairon 4 Postive (Manual 2, Enclosed) Salicional 8 Chimney flute 8 Gemshorn 8 Prestant 4 Flute 4 Nasat 2 2/3 Octavin 2 Tierce 1 3/5 Cymbel 22.26.29 3rks Clarinette 8 Orchestral Trumpet 8
  13. I quite enjoyed the Saint-Saens. If the tempi are accurate to the original performance they are quite fast, but I'm not convinced they are entirely so. I think we should treat the evidence with caution given its reconstituted nature. Much of the Bach might have been ok had the organ been better tuned...
  14. Nick, your article mentions correspondance concerning the original piston settings for the 1929 instrument, which are of interest to me. Do these particulars still exist in the archive, and did you happen to make a note of them?
  15. I doubt you'll find much of that on this side of the water. If anything FW is idolised over here (not entirely without reason).
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