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John Robinson

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Posts posted by John Robinson

  1. 15 hours ago, Peter Allison said:

    I have it on reasonable authority that the organ is one of those difficult instruments to record (like the 2 Liverpools, and St Pauls) for reasons that those who know more about it than me can say . To close a recording and the different Divisions are not heard in context, and to far, and the sound gets less direct and the room/acoustics spoil it.

    True.  I have an LP of St Paul's demonstrating just about every section of the organ.  Bearing in mind such widely separated divisions as the Positive organ, the Dome Tubas and the West-end Royal Trumpets, and how each was reproduced so clearly, there is no way that all of these could possibly have been recorded using the same microphone(s) located in a central position!  I'm sure they must have been moved around for the best effect.

  2. 11 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

    Some years ago I persuaded two work colleagues to come with me to a lunchtime recital (not sure whether they were called concerts) in Winchester Cathedral, something which would never have occurred to them to do before.  Afterwards one of them said “I had no idea an organ could sound like that”, and they both became regular members of the audience.

    I believe that is the problem with the lack of public interest in the organ in this country.  I have spoken to friends who describe organ music as 'dirges' and 'all the same notes all the way through'!
    Yes, I think it would be great if more people could hear recitals such as you describe and by organists such as those you name. Jonathan Scott is another one who I think could certainly convert people to the organ.  I think in many cases it just needs some 'non organ lovers' to be persuaded to hear the right music by the right people.

  3. 14 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

    ...[And let's also remember that, yes, we have all these instruments, but the established church seems to be eating itself alive and in 30 to 50 years time will be gone. What will happen to all these pipe organs then?] 

    I'm afraid that is a perfectly possible future.  Churches are closing right left and centre these days as the number of people who still regard themselves as Christians diminishes.
    It is quite possible that eventually all we shall be left with will be cathedrals and a few ancient churches of historical interest.
    Those people who would find themselves without a local church would probably go to their nearest surviving church or cathedral which, in a way, would at least provide more support for those buildings - and organs of course - which still remain.

    Personally, of course I'd much prefer it if more people in this country took more of an interest in organ music, and I often wonder why the instrument benefits from so much more interest and following in places like the Netherlands and Germany than here in the UK.


  4. 11 hours ago, innate said:

    Let me know when Nicola Benedetti plays a recital of Brahms and Stravinsky on an electric violin or Yuja Wang plays Debussy and Rachmaninov on a digital piano. This really isn’t a question of being “truly authentic”—we aren’t demanding Liverpool Cathedral has a mean-tone mechanical instrument at its West End nor are we expecting Benedetti and Wang to play Bach or Scarlatti on harpsichord or gut-strung violin (although Nicola has done just that!), just on instruments whose constituent parts excite the air and interact with each other and the audience in a natural, musical way.

    if you’re getting epsdis ffo maybe the problem is in you.

    I agree.  We are all entitled to our opinions and those electronic gadgets which I may not name are not, in my opinion, not in any way equal to the real McCoy.

  5. 12 hours ago, peterdoughty said:

    I've always heard that they're the Great Contra Violone (but there's also one mention that I've seen online which suggests that the facade is actually made up of a mixture of that and the Pedal Double Open Diapason - see here).

    Unfortunately, there's no word anywhere via google regarding the composition of the pipe metal... but there is an interesting previous thread on this very forum that I've just found here!

    Actually, in that thread there is a quote from John Mander stating that the pipes are of 90.4% tin.

  6. I may be wrong, but I'm sure I read somewhere that those 32' pipes were made of tin which, I assume, would be pretty strong certainly compared to lead or lead-tin.  Perhaps, if so, they're just too thin!

    Incidentally, are they the pipes of the Violone or the Diapason?

  7. 3 hours ago, DariusB said:

    Sorry for the technical problems yesterday - we are going to re-record all the presentations and contributions from Nicholsons and post them as a separate video this week.

    Thank you.  I look forward to it.

  8. 16 hours ago, S_L said:

    Leeds!! I went to Balmforth's, of blessed memory, in Leeds, years and years ago, to buy a 'cello case for my David Techler 'cello. The 'cello was worth a fortune and I paid £35, a lot of money in those days, for a hard case. I don't think Balmforth's exists anymore and, now, every time I go to Leeds I get lost and there seems to be a new 'Ring Road' or motorway where I want to go! Or, perhaps, I'm just getting old!

    Quite apart from the Town Hall organ (and the Leeds Minster organ too) Leeds is the best shopping city outside of London!

  9. 13 hours ago, DariusB said:

    I feel very fortunate that while some civic organists and their supporters have to deal with local authorities who are indifferent or even hostile,  Leeds City Council has such a strong record in supporting music.  (I also hugely appreciate Simon Lindley's role in this).  They're one of the few councils still to have a dedicated music department and as well as the organ recitals they run free chamber concerts, brass band concerts etc all over the area as well as the International Concert Season.

    Yes indeed.
    As far as I'm concerned, Leeds is the centre of the known universe!

  10. I have been informed that the new Grand Organ is to be sited above the Great and in front of the Swell.
    Similarly, the new Solo is to be placed behind the Great.
    The one new division I was previously unaware of is the Echo Choir.  Can I assume that this will be behind the Choir (previously known as the Positive)?  That seems a logical position anyway.

  11. 12 hours ago, Martin Cooke said:

    If you don't already read the very entertaining British Pipe Organs site on Facebook, there is a really interesting discussion going on at the moment: - https://www.facebook.com/groups/355269498442029/?fref=mentions

    It's all about the merits and de-merits of altering organs when they come to be rebuilt, and generally fiddling with them. Truro is seen, by all of us, I am sure, as a great unchanged cathedral organ (bar the moving of the console, subsequent renewal of the console in the Mander style - [which to my mind was a shame] - and the bringing forward of the Tuba)  at the one end of the scale, and then there is, say, Blackburn with its added manual and its digital pedal stops, and the 70's rebuild of Ely, at the other. In the middle of this are instruments like York and Canterbury which had been changed almost endlessly since their incarnation, but both of which seem to have found a happy and harmonious new and glorious state consequent upon their very recent rebuilds. I am bound to say that having followed the work on these two instruments from afar and not knowing either from a playing point of view, H&H and the cathedral teams and advisers have done astoundingly well. But, in 25/30 years' time, when these instruments are no longer 'new' will the incumbent organists still want to fiddle when they are rebuilt? (Some of us will never know!) And is it reasonable that they might? Anyway, I do not seek to detract from the discussion on the other site - it, and other discussions there, are always lively and interesting.

    Good question.
    It seems to me that tastes change quite regularly in the organ world, at least in this country, and consequently many organs (if the money is there) are re-worked/re-designed (put it as you will) quite regularly to fit in with the tastes of the time.
    As an example, the recent changes effected at York have, admittedly, resulted in a more effective output of sound particularly in the nave where, as I understand it, the organ was rather lacking in power.  At the same time, though, I believe that all of the historic pipework, especially from Hill and Elliot and Hill, has been retained.

  12. I hope that Darius doesn't mind me pre-empting him, but I have just found a post on Facebook detailing the rebuild of the Leeds Town Hall organ by Nicholson's.  Their information is here:



    I must say that I'm impressed with the scale and scope of this rebuild.  It is much more expansive than I had imagined and all who are involved should, in my opinion, be congratulated for their forward thinking.

    Darius, if I have posted out of turn, please say so and I shall delete this.

  13. 7 minutes ago, SlowOrg said:

    Is there any other way to order the book than from the York Minster’s shop (which, at this time, doesn’t ship to the EU)? I’d be very much interested in purchasing a copy.

    I'm afraid I don't know.  I have looked on Amazon (who, of course, do ship to the EU) but there's no sign of it being available there.
    Perhaps someone else can help.

  14. 1 minute ago, Nathan said:

    I'm pleased I stumbled on this thread. Great to see they have a book out (just ordered it). When I was a kid, I purchased a book / pamphlet on St Paul's Cathedral Organ back in the 80's. It's had updates in 1994 and 2008 by Mander Organs. They don't seem to do a book now.

    I have just received mine in the post and I can tell you that it's an excellent work, far better even than what I was hoping for.  Not only the history including specifications and pictures, but also the information about the recent rebuild which is comprehensive and includes diagrams of the internal layout, for which I am particularly grateful.
    I can firmly recommend it to you.

  15. 10 minutes ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

    John, from deepest Southern England I fully share your admiration for the Minster organ which I first heard played by Francis Jackson almost 70 years ago!  That memory has remained ever since.  I was able to be at York for the final Evensong and recital with the organ encased in scaffolding before being taken down for the rebuild.

    As well as sounding magnificent, the restored case and pipe decoration are also to be treasured - indeed, showing a photograph of it to a friend in USA his response was “what a magnificent case”.  I remember at the wedding of the Duke of Kent and Miss Katharine Worsley (when FJ played them out to Widor V Toccata - did that create the fashion?) the ITV television camera took in a general view of the west-facing case, and the commentator gratuitously remarked that it was “not very attractive” - how wrong he was, but sadly quite typical of ignorant comment about organs.  On my recent retirement, I was presented with two pipes.  On proudly showing the larger one, 4’ and gilt, to someone they asked “what is it?”!

    Sadly, I'm afraid that demonstrates the general lack of interest in organs in this country.  Do the same in Holland or Germany and just about everyone would know what it is.

  16. I've just had the pleasure of watching 'The Organs of York Minster 1236 - 2021' book launch from York Minster (was unable to attend in person).
    It's still here: 

    for another seven days, if anyone's interested.

  17. 8 hours ago, contraviolone said:

    I'm sure you know quite a lot. I think on a previous thread we mentioned this issue. Of the stops you mentioned I am surprised the Cornet was removed. This is such a versatile addition to any specification.  It's also a useful 'support' for the treble reeds. 

    I'm afraid not!  I know very little other than what I have read and I wish I knew a great deal more.  I also confess to not being an organist, so please don't place any great weight on any suppositions I come up with!  Thanks anyway, though.

    Re. the York Minster organ, the 1960 and 1993 alterations/additions were, I believe, intended to make the instrument more suitable for 'correctly' playing 'baroque' music.  That's nice (as far as I'm concerned) inasmuch as it might make the organ more 'all singing and all dancing', but on the other hand it could be argued that the ideal British organ should sound 'British' and not attempt to sound German, French and even Iberian into the bargain!

    I have only heard the 'new' York organ online so far but even then I do think it sounds excellent, within those restrictions of course.  Incidentally, I remember once suggesting that a small 'nave organ' might be added advantageously to carry the sound (and the timing) down the nave, but I'm probably completely wrong and the 'new' instrument will no doubt not need any such addition.

    Now, as for some strident west-end trumpets as at St Pauls... !

  18. 27 minutes ago, pcnd5584 said:

    They do seem to be rather nervous of upper-work. Anything above a 29th appears to be anathema. It will be good to hear the re-designed instrument in York Minster in the flesh, as it were, at some point. However, in that vast space, and with that acoustic energy, I wonder if they will miss their Choir Cymbal (29-33-36)?

    I mentioned related matters on a thread on Facebook recently, asking about the loss of the Cornet, Sesquialtera and Larigot, and was assured by someone in authority at the Minster that these would not be missed.
    In addition, I believe that the new west shutters to the Swell box have made an enormous difference to the output in the nave.  Then there is the Ophicleide extension down to 32' on the same pressure as the Tuba Mirabilis.
    I've only heard it on recordings so far, so what do I know?!

  19. 8 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

    I have mentioned this organ before, etc.

    I noticed earlier this evening, and again when I clicked 'this' above, that NPOR doesn't seem to be working.
    Does anyone have any ideas of what the problem might be?

  20. 10 hours ago, DariusB said:

    If the trumpet is on a low-ish pressure, it will fall off markedly in the treble, whereas the cornet will be non-existent at the bottom, quiet in the middle and get much stronger in the treble.  Drawing them together is sometimes the only way to get an even volume through the whole compass.

    Yes, I can see why Cornets can be particularly useful.

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