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Cornet IV

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  1. This has little to with the thread topic but has reminded me of an incident many years ago when I was staying at the Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth which looks out onto the Stephans Dom. I was about to pitch into bed a bit after midnight when, through the opened window, wafted the Schubert B flat major Sonata from a piano somewhere within the hotel. The building was almost deserted but in one of the reception rooms I found a few retirees in their pyjamas and dressing gowns with a uniformed member of staff listening, spellbound, to the exquisite performance. The small audience rose to attention in absolute silence as Clifford Curzon finished, closed the Bösendorfer and quietly walked off to bed.
  2. A while ago, I experienced a similar phase, although it was mercifully short-lived. In my case, I ascribed it to increasing laziness; I was losing enthusiasm for the discipline necessary to the performance of this musical genre. Romanticism can be just that and from a performer's point of view, a convenient disguise of shortcomings of technique. This view is likely to generate some flak but after more than 70 years of "restless" contrapuntalism, I'm probably too old to change. Besides, I'm not really enamoured of the large instruments generally associated with this stuff. Sadly, I'm much too deaf to perceive any characteristics of decaying notes. And I find that graphic equalisers, compared with hearing aids, seem to lack "immediacy" or "grip" - don't ask - which is why, most of the time, I prefer the latter. Nevertheless, I'm all too aware that much of what used to be there, now is absent. I'm thinking of those wonderful recordings made by Lionel Rogg on the Großmunster (Zurich) Metzler many years ago which, to me, proved so revelatory. Rather like the electrification provided by Glenn Gould 10 years earlier. I suspect being banged up for so long is getting to me . . . .
  3. In my case, deafness (like so much else wrong) is a function of old age but was initiated by my time as a commercial pilot of piston-engined aircraft. I very much doubt that organ playing induces this condition - I think one would have to spend many continuous hours at a large and powerful instrument with constant pleno to induce any likelihood of hearing damage. My authority for suggesting this is that Virgil Fox retained his aural faculties unto the end. No brick bats, please!
  4. I think, to a degree, that as with other things, one generally gets what one pays for. I have had glasses prescribed and supplied by independent opticians and found the only significant difference between these and glasses from Boots, Specsavers et al, has been the substantial price differential.. However, with regard to my hearing aids, I have dealt only with an independent, registered/qualified audiologist, so cannot comment on the High Street element, but I'm told that these chains are able to offer their attractive prices through bulk ordering from one or two manufacturers and of course, it is these products which are heavily (exclusively?) promoted with a concomitant reduction of choice and possibly biased advice for the customer. Frankly, I think that without expert assistance, the whole subject becomes something of a minefield. There are many claims made for the performance of these things, most of which I have found to be fanciful. Claims made for "intelligent" aids which can determine conversations/sounds you wish to hear to the exclusion of those you would prefer to reject, in my experience are bogus. Conversations in pubs and other public places are difficult regardless of the price paid. My current aids, which I've had for several years, have no bells nor whistles beyond the ability to increase/attenuate ambient sound which I find useful. They are from Oticon, Ria-Pro model. But I do think that approaching an independent adviser in the first instance would be a sensible move as there would be an absence of time, bonus or other considerations possibly affecting the quality of advice offered. There are several means of hearing reinforcement, not just the conventional arrangement and the appropriateness of these will need to be properly assessed. I do wonder how thorough a chain with its commercial constraints might be. Hope this helps.
  5. Me too. But I sometimes wonder about possible consequences of the radio signals passing from one device to the other and through the brain. However, given my age, this has to be an academic consideration and in any event, these pulses are of such short duration and low amplitude that it probably doesn't matter..
  6. I have found the usual amplifier tone controls - typically around 15dB lift/cut - to be insufficiently effective. Furthermore, they generally follow log curves and Baxandall principles which, in my situation, do not help at all; hence the pernicious graphic equaliser. But I've never noticed any "delay", except when an old film on that excellent Channel 81 on t' telly has lost its sync and wandered off. But I have yet to find a hearing aid that is able to determine that which I wish to hear and exclude that which I do not. There is a great deal of hype attached to this subject. Perhaps one has to make the distinction between severe hearing loss and just the need for a bit of sound reinforcement. In the latter case, I imagine the High Street chains offer an adequate level of service but I agree, for those of us more severely afflicted, the benefits to be had from the help of a qualified audiologist having sophisticated diagnostic equipment are substantial. Sadly, none of this support comes cheaply but if one needs to use aids 16 hours a day, as has been suggested, almost any price is worth the improved quality of life which they bring. For me, to be able to hear the wonders of drawing additional high-pitched ranks as one approaches the last arpeggiaic summit of the F major Toccata (540) is something beyond bliss - not to mention the relief of others exasperated with constant "pardons?" and "what did you say?" However, I do take exception to mine having to be sent to Poland for their not-infrequent and invariably expensive repairs.
  7. A bit off topic, I'm afraid. I'm as deaf as a post, partly because I'm 80 and largely because I spent too much time sandwiched between a pair of Pratt and Whitneys. I have to take organs as I find them - my aids despite being expensive, do not have speech/music or any other sophistication beyond a simple volume control. The digital program is biased towards the higher frequencies as a function of my aural "presbyopia" but the top half of a 4' is not good and I'm lucky if I can get as far as a break-back; any 2' rank is quite beyond me. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the loss of brightness in mixtures and those partials which contribute so much to a pipe's character. This is a situation, perforce, I must accept. However, I have found that when listening to recorded music, to a useful extent I can compensate for my aural shortcomings with a 15-channel graphic equaliser. This is an irony since I have spent so much money in seeking a flat response curve in the first place, only to distort the output in such a crass manner. But it does work to an acceptable degree for me - it may do for others too.
  8. At the publisher's request, I have been revising my biography. I reached the following passage and remembering Martin Cooke's plea, I wondered if it might conjure similar memories for others. This was during my first year in secondary education, so I must have been thirteen at the time. I sometimes was allowed to make my own choice of hymns. I would switch off the blower when the good Canon began his sermon but, concentrate as I might, I usually lost the plot fairly early on, so my mind wandered off to things of more immediate and temporal interest; things like the AJS Porcupine and how much I should like to see Reg Armstrong on a camshaft Norton in the Senior TT. I had a pair of shoes which I had worn out, but with built-up heels they were fine for organ work. However, they were a bit on the tight side, so I would slip them off and return to my Boys' Own reverie and thoughts of the latest offerings from Gamages, the new Raleigh with drop handlebars and the latest balsa kit from Keilcraft. Perhaps I could build the three-valve "Skymaster" if I could persuade Gran to let me have the kit for my birthday. "And now . . . ." thunders out as the doughty cleric turns to the altar; it's my signal to return to the world spiritual. "To God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost . . . . ." Time to switch on Bob to the accompaniment of creaks and wheezes as things come to life - let's hope there won't be a cypher. ". . . .be ascribed as is most justly due . . ." Where's my left shoe? Panic! Can't have lost a shoe ". . . all might, majesty, dominion and power . . ." More panic - it's become jammed in the pedal board.. Leap off the bench to retrieve itinerant footwear and accidentally hit the bottom end of the 16 foot open wood. BOOOOM! Instant red face but the shoe remains fully wedged. ". . . henceforth and for ever more. Amen". "We shall now sing hymn number two hundred and ninety four." That's not what we agreed. What's 294? Quick shuffle through A&M. "Jerusalem"! Well, they're not getting Dr G T Ball with only one shoe. "Please Canon Williams, Sir, the hymn should be two hundred and three." "Ahem, correction; we shall sing hymn number two hundred and three." At last, the key lever gives up its prize and I can manage the pedal line without a limp.. Crisis averted. Happy days!
  9. Like others here, I did not know David Drinkell but I did enjoy his contributions to the forum. These characteristically were interesting, demonstrating a wealth of knowledge which he was happy to share with us. A sad loss.
  10. My immediate reaction to this was "Here, here!" No doubt an interesting undertaking in several disciplines but is music to be numbered within them? I suspected not. But then I thought of Walter Carlos. Were his contributions less valid because they were not realised on a Blanchet or Taskin? And Carlo Curley; surely his output was no less musical because it was not produced on a Schnitger or Trost? Does this Klais, despite having the appearance of some device for the manipulation of keyhole surgery and looking equally clinical, not have any less a capacity to conform to classical Orgelbewegung? Could such a soul-less machine not be capable of replicating what we would recognise as "proper music", even if it required the assistance of a first and second officer and probably cabin staff as well? Of course, one's reaction to this instrument is very much according to personal taste - I dislike it, but I'm an unashamed Luddite. In any event, it is the sound which defines the principal character of the instrument, and I have no knowledge of this. The bells and whistles are but a means to an end but I think there are better ways of getting there. However, seeing the picture reminded me of a recital given years ago by Diane Bish which I attended with the express purpose of studying her pedal technique in the F Major (540). Saw almost nothing as she was wearing a voluminous skirt which obscured almost everything! But it does occur to me that this console - if that is what it is - allows excellent views of the performer's actions.
  11. Well suspected - not my cuppa at all, although in fairness to RH-J, I associate him with double contra ophicleids or whatever, and I'm sure that he was much more than this. Nevertheless, it was a good thing Mark Twain didn't give up his day job! However, It was this sort of thinking against which the American "Arts and Crafts" gang are dedicated. Richards, Fowkes have been part of the Organ Reform Movement to which I referred earlier. To have been appointed to provide the instrument in "Handel's church" was a singular distinction. I do not know the organ but if it is as good as their interesting three-manual opus in Stamford, CT, it must be a cracker! I played this instrument rather by accident - I was put onto it when I was visiting Zuckermann Harpsichords in nearby Stonington. And sadly, I don't know the Dobson organ either - perhaps I should get out more, but anno domini is catching up.
  12. Lots of interesting things . . . . Rowland, I have not visited the forum for a week or three, hence my tardy response to your comprehensive contribution. My apologies. Hook and Hastings are held in high regard in the States and at least one of their instruments will be featured in the annual conventions of the excellent Organ Historical Society. My last attendance of one of these was their fiftieth anniversary in 2006 at Saratoga Springs, upstate NY. There are myriad 19th century organ builders dotted throughout America but few are well known, mostly because of a small and local business and.because (in my judgement) so much of their output is less than memorable. I suspect that they follow a pattern similar to that here but numerically larger due to the extended geography. I do know of Charles Callahan's book but confess I have yet to read it. I have to ask for many similar cases to be taken into account; I had expected retirement to be a something in which I could indulge in all those interesting things for which I previously had insufficient time. Oh dear - I got that very wrong! Curious that you should mention Edward Power Biggs. Years ago, it was almost impossible not to associate him with his concert contemporary, Virgil Fox. In recent times I have come to appreciate the considerable scholarship employed by EPB , just as I have come to view Fox as a circus performer. I didn't know of EPB's association with the Isle of Wight; I have always thought of him as an Essex-born American and remember when he died in Boston, Mass, quite some time ago. Now, I don't know if there is an English parallel here but perhaps thirty years ago, there was an interruption of the American organ evolution and into this interval stepped a bunch of chaps who eschewed the developments of the 18th and 19th centuries and went directly back to first (Werk) prinzipals. Should I ever be able to visit the States again, it won't be to the Aeolians, E&GG Hooks and Odells that I shall head. No, it will be to the likes (of my favourite) the 3-decker Friitts- Richards in Seattle, a couple of Taylor and Boodys, the CB FIsk in St Paul, Min., John Brombaugh and a cornucopia of others who have wonderfully combined the sound and character of Schnitger, Silbermann, Trost et al with modern mechanical actions. I asked Paul Fritts about Hope Jones and Wurlitzer - I wished I hadn't! The problem with the States is that you have to board an aeroplane to go anywhere! As an exercise in extreme sillyness, I once drove from New Orleans to Jackson, Mis. to play the 18" gunned battle cruiser by Keates-Geissler moored in the Presbyterian church there. 234 ranks, 9 divisions, inumerical pipes and goodness knows how many other complications. For someone who thinks it all ended in 1750, this was a remarkably dumb thing to do. I knew there was a connection between Sullivan and Henry Davan Wetton but for whatever reason, have been convinced that the common factor was St Peters, Cranley Gardens. Could be another of those damned senior occurrences but I don't think so. And re the Cornhill St Peters, I can assure you that it was reputed to have (perhaps 3?) ranks of Father Smith which survived The Fire. And, most assuredly, if you walked into the vestry and immediately turned left, there was Mendelssohn's console backed onto the wall. In the mid 'sixties, I lived in SE19 and followed John Portis as organist at St Mary's, Woolwich. I regularly had consulting commissions (nothing to do with music) north of The River and I was sometimes able to arrange an Evensong on my return home and thus managed a brief acquaintance with some of the City instruments. And talking of old Bernie Smith, I have a modest claim to have "discovered" the Byfield in St Mary's, Rotherhithe. Happy days . . . .
  13. I lived there for a little longer than that but long before anyone had thought of the Rieger, so I missed that treat. I was stuck with the post-Victorian (from memory) Hill in the Cathedral (before the en chamade rank) on which I spent a few of my musically formative years - I was educated locally. By this time I had begun an appreciation of the Barok for which this instrument was far from ideal. As a "thank you" to my mentors who had so patiently nurtured me - perhaps Churchmouse remembers Robert Field-Dodgson - my last appearance there was in 1957 with the Buxtehude F major Toccata.. But I should have so liked to have done this on the Rieger. I'm delighted that ChCh is "Phoenixing" from the rubble. As an aside of little consequence, about five years ago I rang Plain Bob Triples in a band which included a girl who had been in Christchurch when the 'quake hit. She became almost hysterical when the tower began to wobble and dashed for the outside world. I suspect the nightmare of the earthquake will be with her forever.
  14. This is good to know; I had half supposed that having become the property of a body not known for its interest in pipe organs or related music, it might have been sold or, worse, allowed to fall into disrepair. I am surprised however, that it has been enlarged - I felt that its resources were more than adequate for St Peter's and not in need of augmentation. My most recent experiences of London churches go back more than 50 years, so I'm hardly current with the contemporary scene. Indeed, this applies to English instruments generally. I have spent a fair proportion of my life living abroad and as a consequence am more familiar with, for example, Taylor and Boody or Aeolian-Skinner than Harrison or Willis - not that the characters of these builders necessarily are comparable; I'm something of a fan of G Donald Harrison who didn't care much for the symphonic instrument. But I digress . . . . Still wondering however about St Peter's upon Cornhill and Henry Davan Wetton in Fulham. Perhaps my curiosity is not to be satisfied but my recollection of such things usually is reliable.
  15. It never occurred to me to take any offence. However, I am new here and know that some sites are touchy about such things; their sensibilities disturbed by my occasionally ill-disciplined participations. But if I might trespass further,. your reference to different topics has emboldened me to ask a further question. Perhaps it involves the elusive character of the "English" organ! When I lived in West London, I sometimes played Arthur Sullivan's old organ at St Peter's, Cranley Gardens. Who knows - the archetypal English composer well might have played an archetypal English instrument?. All of which is rather beside the point but for reasons long forgotten, I recall this instrument/church/Sullivan having a connection with the Victorian composer, Davan Wetton. I appreciate the matter is a bit esoteric but does anyone know of this connection - I'm very sure I have not imagined it. I doubt if there is much ;point in approaching the church since I gather it is now the home of some Eastern religion. Not much point in offering a Herbert Howells Rhapsody then.
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