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Mander Organs

Rowland Wateridge

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Everything posted by Rowland Wateridge

  1. Replying to Cantoris, are you referring to the UK situation during present times, i.e., while Covid-19 restrictions are in force? Apart from the destruction during WW II I can only think of one major cathedral organ in this country largely destroyed by fire - and that was a considerable time ago - at Norwich Cathedral. Actually the fire started while Heathcote Statham was playing. But it was rebuilt, and on a grander scale, by HN&B (the magnificent case by Stephen Dykes-Bower added later) and, unlike Notre Dame, there was no State ownership or funding. Presumably all cathedral organs are, or should be, insured. If a similar tragedy happened here, I can think of three major UK organbuilders equal to the task facing the French at Notre Dame, and would, of course, have included Mander's as a fourth.
  2. I have responded on the ‘Tickell Organs’ thread. Although this was their last organ, the company continued to exist into 2020.
  3. That has turned out to be the last organ built by the company. Wolsey qualified his 2018 post (not quoted by bam) by saying that it may well be the last. The company itself still existed on 5th March this year, as I have said, at the preliminary stage of a voluntary application to strike it off the Register of Companies. When I checked the position, both the company and the application were ‘live’. Clearly this is now academic, but just to make the point that the company remained in existence although seemingly inactive.
  4. As you say, this appears to have gone unnoticed. The statutory first notice to be published in the London Gazette for voluntary striking Kenneth Tickell & Company Limited off the Register of Companies was dated 5th May 2020. In the absence of any reason to the contrary the company was due to be struck off the register not less than two months from 5th May. As yet there is no mention of a second notice that this has actually happened. Whatever the situation, this has been a sad day for British organbuilding.
  5. This is terribly sad, and I can only echo John Robinson’s hope that some kind of rescue will be possible. I think tribute is due to John Pike Mander personally, not only for his great achievements in organbuilding but his generosity in providing this discussion board and sharing his expert knowledge with such patience and courtesy.
  6. There is the argument that the size of the congregation is irrelevant to the Opus Dei, but realistically one cannot ignore issues of finance. Dispensing with weekday Evensong would mean an annual loss of around 250-300 services (depending on whether Saturday is counted) and all the associated liturgy. At my local cathedral we used to have weekday choral matins which was given up for these reasons - a slippery slope?
  7. Thank you. That is good news on all fronts.
  8. For those of us who live at long distances from Leeds, will there be any chance of a YouTube, or similar, recording? I have a friend in the US who would love this. Also very good news that live concerts are to return to the Town Hall. As a guess, would Percy Whitlock be the one composer without a direct link to Yorkshire? - or do we have to wait until Saturday for the answer? On reflection, Johann Strauss seems more likely. Intriguing!
  9. Replying to Michael Wilson’s latest post, we seem to be going round in circles! You will see in my reply to Dafydd y Garred Wen “I think we agree that the Abbey is not a royal chapel”. But it is undoubtedly a Royal Church vested in the Dean and Chapter who are answerable only to her Majesty! So, back to the original subject, is there any evidence that the Abbey’s choral foundation faces any ‘threats’? PS to Cantoris: I don’t have access to the Church Times, and don’t feel I can add anything further to this discussion which has strayed far beyond the realm of music.
  10. The Cathedrals Measure 1963 has no application to Westminster Abbey which was only briefly a cathedral under Henry VIII to protect it from the effects of his own dissolution of the monasteries. Possibly you were only referring to the 1963 Measure as a comparison with the situation of cathedrals, but the status of the Abbey was, and remains, a Collegiate Church of the Dean and Chapter. What I have read elsewhere confirms what contraviolone has said that it vests in the Dean and Chapter. I don’t think that contraviolone or I were discussing the concept of fee simple, which I suspect has no application anyway to the Crown as the ultimate freeholder of all land in England and Wales. There is a separate thread on this Board about the Chapels Royal in which our fellow member Wolsey provided much detailed information from his personal expert knowledge.
  11. Thank you contraviolone. Perhaps I may conclude my input to this thread with something totally unconnected and irrelevant. On my 21st birthday in 1962 I went to an organ recital by Simon Preston in Westminster Abbey, the organ still being in its 1937 Coronation incarnation, largely the conception of Arthur Harrison, I think, although he did not live to hear its completion. I suspect that few people would have spent their coming of age (long before the age of majority was reduced to 18) in this way. Not entirely sure now, but I think Simon Preston’s programme included Liszt’s BACH. During the same series I heard George Thalben-Ball, but my only abiding memory of his recital was that he added the tuba every time in the final chord of all of the ‘big’ works - a practice which Henry Willis III described as a ‘crash’ - and these were certainly very resounding ones.
  12. Sorry, I'm not convinced about ownership by the C of E but that isn't really the topic. Before seeing Colin Pykett's reply, I made a quick search of the Charity Commission in relation to the Abbey Choir School. This reveals that the trustees of the Westminster Abbey Choir School Bursary Fund are the Dean and Chapter. Without knowing, I suspect that the Abbey buildings vest in them, but it isn't terribly relevant and I think we agree that the Abbey is not a royal chapel. The link kindly provided by Colin Pykett only refers to services at St Margaret's Westminster being cancelled and a shortfall in the Abbey's income. As Colin observes, music isn't specifically mentioned, but there may be other information elsewhere.
  13. Could you please quote a source for this rather startling information. I am not at all sure that this is correct. Westminster Abbey is a royal foundation of King Saint Edward the Confessor, re-founded by Elizabeth I as a College of a Dean and Canons outside the jurisdiction of any diocesan bishop or archbishop. Of course the form of worship is that of the Church of England.
  14. That possibility was the reason for my comment on one of the other threads “Nantes Cathedral - serious fire” about the advantage of a mains electricity isolation switch box, and not merely switching-off at the console without this back-up. But it would be wrong to speculate and no doubt in due course the facts will emerge. (Incidentally, three separate threads on this subject were started all at about the same time today.)
  15. The first organ that I played had a mains electricity isolation switch box, located at a considerable distance in the Rector's vestry. I forget how we accessed it during weekday lunchtimes (nearly 70 years ago!) but no risk of out of hours electrical fires with that arrangement. I believe that my local cathedral organ is similarly protected now. As far as I am aware, this does not have any adverse consequences for registration memories. Of course, it isn't established what caused this fire. It's a very sad loss.
  16. Professor Wilkes’ notes on “The production and control of sound in organ pipes” run to eight pages with numerous diagrams and technical data all beyond my comprehension, but there is an illustration of the candle experiment. The open flue pipe is shown in the vertical position. At the top of the pipe, the candle is held horizontally, i.e., at 90 degrees, with the flame positioned centrally above the open end, and somewhat below that there is a cardboard collar positioned around the body of the pipe. The candle remains lit. The candle is then held vertically with the top of the flame level with the lower lip of the mouth, and the flame is extinguished. I stress that this is the diagram, and to the best of my recollection this was the orientation of the pipe and candle during the experiment. The venue did not have a pipe organ, and after this length of time (22 years) many of the details, for example, how the pipe was blown, are now hazy to me. There is data not only about reeds but also different members of the reed family. How to interpret those details is now totally beyond my recall, and so these comments may not be particularly helpful. It’s clearly a complex subject. In most basic amateur or lay terms, Stanley’s question was about emission of sound from pipes, not necessarily the same thing as production of sound, I assume. Further elucidation from you or Colin Pykett would be welcome.
  17. I haven’t discovered the division of authorship but the Maida Vale organ is dealt with at page 25 largely in the context of the cornet at various pitches, while pages 134 and 135 go into more general, and admiring, detail of the organ’s concept within the limitations of the site. But, to repeat, can anyone come up with current information about both organs?
  18. The performances on the two BBC Comptons which Tony Newnham mentioned were recorded by Nigel Ogden in 2002 at Maida Vale and at Broadcasting House in the ‘1990s’. My understanding is that Maida Vale is still playable, but not greatly used, and that the Compton at Broadcasting House is disconnected and unplayable. Does anyone know the present position about both? There’s a separate thread on this topic where it was said that Maida Vale was little used, although Eric Shepherd had recently tuned it for a BBC choral rehearsal. But Maida Vale is scheduled to close, I think by 2022, and when I last enquired there was no information about the future of the organ or the possibility that it would move with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus to their new home in East London. The Broadcasting House Compton seemed to have been abandoned, and I think I recall that the console had been removed to another location. I believe the late David Drinkell supplied some of these details. (Now confirmed, but earlier on this thread, not the other one.) Coincidentally, during the current ‘lockdown’ I came across “The Organ, its tonal structure and registration” by Cecil Clutton and Lt. Col. George Dixon (1949). Considering the authorship, this is surprisingly complimentary about the Maida Vale Compton. Perhaps this should be the subject of a separate post.
  19. Well, as an alternative to Widor V (and breaking the rule about playing individual movements from organ symphonies) how about the Finale from Vierne’s Symphonie 3, already mentioned? The big pedal entry there is, I suggest, as exciting as Widor’s - possibly more so as it comes so dramatically following a gradual build-up on manual reeds. But, of course, this requires a large cathedral or concert hall organ with the necessary resources. People who dislike transcriptions might like to reconsider in the case of W T Best’s arrangement of Mendelssohn’s Overture to “St Paul”. Again, it needs a suitably wide-ranging organ - and a virtuoso player! I have heard it three times played by Thomas Trotter. The same thing happened every time - there was an immediate audience reaction to the opening section. Twice was at Birmingham Town Hall, where much of the audience would be aficionados (and, incidentally, always runs into several hundreds - a full house is one thousand, and I experienced that once with people standing!), but perhaps the more telling experience was at the opening of the new Tickell organ at Manchester Cathedral, attended by all the great and the good of the north-west, Lord-Lieutenant and every mayor from Lancashire it seemed. It was a ticket event and I sat in the ‘additional seating’. I’m pretty certain that organists were very much in the minority in the audience of several hundreds. My impression was that many people were out of their depth, possibly slightly bored, until the opening bars of “St Paul”. The audience visibly stirred, and sat up! And listened! The drama comes towards the end of the Vierne, but at the very beginning of the Mendelssohn. Either recipe might catch people’s imagination.
  20. I’m not sure what you mean by Widor’s ‘socialite’ achievements. He was thought of highly enough as a musician to become Minister of Beaux Arts. I can’t think of an organist having held an equivalent office in this country. (Before anyone mentions Edward Heath, I discount him in this context.) But as we are being brave today, I fully share your view of the Reubke Sonata, but would never have dared to say that here. But then, the big Reger works are anathema to some members here, as inexplicable to me as ‘our’ view of Reubke would be to them.
  21. May I gently suggest that the justified indignation about pejorative remarks aimed at amateurs and reluctants (of which I am, or was, one) doesn’t warrant a counter-attack on professional organists as a breed. We are lucky to have some of the finest in our small country. I won’t name favourites, save to say that before the present lockdown it was possible to attend concerts and recitals around the country performed to the very highest standards to respectably-sized audiences. My experiences do not echo some of the pessimistic comments above. As an added bonus, in the last 12 months I had the good fortune to hear, and briefly meet, Thomas Ospital and Philippe Lefebrve from Paris (including a sensational improvisation by PL), and Richard Elliott from Salt Lake City. Three outstanding performances by gifted and charming people. I have encountered several ‘hiccups’ in professional recitals - but no more than three or four times in 50 or more years! - and they were not all the organist’s fault. A couple of ciphers, and one memorable occasion at the RFH with Ralph Downes, no less. He started the Franck second Choral, and after a few bars there was a marked pause; he continued briefly and there was a second more pregnant pause. He then turned to the audience and said “I’m terribly sorry, ladies and gentlemen, I will start again”, which he did, and gave a faultless performance. Yet again, I strongly commend www.organrecitals.com both for advertising events and for planning to attend recitals. It’s an amazing and valuable resource. Before present circumstances there can never have been such a wealth of live-performed organ music available. Let’s hope that normal conditions will return soon.
  22. In defence of Widor Well, we discussed this on an earlier thread, principally about Widor’s much slower tempo in his recording of the Toccata at St Sulpice when he was well into his 80s. Some of us here (maybe a minority) felt that Widor’s interpretation (of his own music!) imparted a dignified grandeur which other performances simply don’t achieve or come near. Although he didn’t observe the rule at Selby, Fernando Germani was on record as saying that individual movements from the organ symphonies should not be played alone; they were part of the whole and to be heard in the context of the other movements. BWV 565 and the Toccata from Symphonie 5 (on its own) have undoubtedly become the most hackneyed. Where organists, and the likes of Classic FM, aren’t succeeding is shown by the fact that the public at large knows little, if any, of the rest of the organ repertoire. I’m afraid I couldn’t pull the lever on Widor! A fascinating man and life; lived through the Franco-Prussian War with dreadful privations, was effectively Minister of Beaux Arts with responsibility for evacuating the Louvre in WW I, Knight of the Legion of Honour, organist of St Sulpice for almost 64 years, etc., etc. Now if you had nominated Léfebure-Wély ... ... I can’t bring myself to nominate a replacement for Widor V, but highly recommended would be Vierne’s Symphonie III, with its haunting Adagio and simply stunning Finale.
  23. My goodness, such heresy on an organists’ website! I will concede that the former organist of the famous public school near my home made an error of judgement some years ago when we had an ‘open day’, not just for the arts but for all local activities of every kind. People were encouraged to circulate round the city and sample everything on offer. For some of them this particular performance may well have been their first (maybe only) encounter with the organ. The programme was ‘The Art of Fugue’ complete (or as complete as it gets). My heart sank as this was an obvious opportunity to evangelise on behalf of the organ. I heard the late Anthony Caesar, former Precentor of Winchester Cathedral, assert that J S Bach was “God’s Messenger”. It was not a matter of any doubt for him. But, of course, the interpretation and playing had to be totally committed. (Incidentally, he proudly claimed that as a boy in the 1930s he had crawled through the bottom C pipe of the Winchester Father Willis 32’ open wood!) As for “dreadful dull, slow, soul-less playing of hymn tunes”, this is down to the organist. Some of us here have to grapple with small, ancient and basic, sometimes intractable, instruments. It’s the organist’s job to overcome the negatives, and to provide at the very least reliable rhythmic playing, enhanced as best he or she can by the resources of the instrument - and with commitment to this very important element of parish liturgy. At parish level, this is arguably the organist’s number one job. Apologies for the apparent sermon. Piet Kee’s CD performances of Bach and Buxtehude at Haarlem and Alkmaar are to be treasured. I haven’t heard the Roskilde recording.
  24. Firstly, NPOR N04090 gives as the reason for the appearance of the organ's east (?) front "Plain rear to hide tuner's passage boards". But these pictures are puzzling. The 1991 IAO Congress was held in Durham, and included a coach visit to Hexham for a recital by Nicolas Kynaston (as I recall). One front of the organ, and I assumed it to be the back, was almost entirely vertical swell shades, and it was very noticeable at the time how much the swell pedal was being used, and, unless I am mistaken, the shades opened slightly sequentially and their action was very 'fluid'. We understood that it was wholly mechanical. I can't reconcile that memory with the 'Google' photographs. Moreover there is mention on NPOR of 'East swell shutters with indicator'. Létourneau worked on the organ subsequently in 1998. Did they make changes to the original Phelps east front, and does it incorporate the vertical swell shades? Someone with local knowledge can surely tell us. Curtains around the console were standard at practically every English cathedral and some major churches, and still are in quite a few. On my last visits to York and Lincoln, they were still there.
  25. I don’t want to hijack the thread, but here are John Scott and others talking about the Merton organ when it was new.
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