Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by CT_Worcester

  1. I have just caught up with this thread. Sumsion's pacing of the second movement is, for me, just perfect - spacious and lyrical. Everyone else I have heard it plays it as if they have a train to catch. I don't think it is true to say that Dr Sumsion never set foot in the Cathedral after the new organ was installed. I'm pretty sure he was there at the opening recital in 1971. The last time I saw him was in the Cathedral during Three Choirs' week in 1980. As far as I know, he was on excellent terms with John Sanders, whose baby the HN&B organ was - at least I never heard otherwise during the years I was living near Gloucester. As to Elgar's choral music, I've never heard anything as electrifying as the 1969 Worcester recording of Give unto the Lord, with Christopher Robin at the wheel.
  2. I remember when I studied harmony in France years ago they insisted on the soprano, alto and tenor C-clefs being used. No idea whether this is still current.
  3. Well, this introduces the point, doesn't it, that there are any number of Victorian cases that are absolutely hideous, despite the decoration of the pipes. Durham Cathedral is a good example: when I looked through the calendar celebrating the centenary of the H&H 1905 rebuild, I was astonished at the beautiful workmanship that went into those cases. But the result is still far from pleasing. You only have to look at pictures of the old Smith cases (fortunately not completely lost) in their original position, to see the beauty of what was lost in the Victorian restoration. If you look at the simlar arrangements of front pipes at Salisbury and St Mary Redcliffe (both undecorated), you can see that the Durham cases are not much better, for all the wonderful decoration. (Love the sound of the Durham organ, by the way - James Lancelot's recording of Messiaen's La Nativité and L'Ascension is a complete joy.) A really beautiful Victorian case - with painted pipes - is at Hanbury Parish Church in Worcestershire. NPOR says it's a Nicholson organ, but the case could have been designed by somebody like Bodley - it's very reminiscent of some of his other work.
  4. Gloucester Cathedral is one of the better-known examples of decorated pipes. Most of the display pipes are (i) painted, and (ii) speaking, the main exception being the gilded display pipes in the chaire case which are, in fact, made of wood. Both East and West fronts are decorated in this way. The pipe shades on the West front are painted as well, rather than carved. As is well documented elsewhere, the chaire case was dated (by Rev F.W Sutton) as 1579, and the main case (by Thomas Harris) - I think - 1665 or 6. Both cases were extensively restored in 1971 at the time of the HN&B rebuild. http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/gallery/...nicholson.shtml
  5. A favourite read from my childhood was William Mayne's 'A Swarm in May'. The story was set in a fictional cathedral (but based on Gloucester). The character of the headmaster, Mr Ardent, was reputedly based on Clive Pare, one-time precentor of the Cathedral and headmaster of the King's School.
  6. When I saw the specification, it reminded me of a Vowles organ in St Barnabas, Gloucester (2 manuals, but similar preponderance of 8ft ranks, two heavy reeds, and no upperwork to speak of), and the recording confirms the impression to a large extent. It's absolutely years since I played the St Barnabas organ, but I did not find it a rewarding instrument to play. A three-decker by Vowles at Holy Trinity, Bath was a much more satisfactory organ (when I last played it 25+ years ago), but, again, the reeds tended to swamp everything. One is tempted to say the CHS organ is worth preserving just because it is an EM Skinner, but I should be struggling otherwise. To the suggestions already made about repertoire (Howells, Whitlock, Rheinberger, Reger), I would add 'orchestral transcriptions'. Henry
  7. I may be way off the mark here, but I think John Scott's recording of the piece at St Paul's is nearer 100 dotted crotchets pm than 67, even in so resonant a building as that. Haven't listened to the piece for while, however. Henry
  8. I don't know why builders include the tuba in the 'tutti'. I remember hearing a fine improvisation at Hereford Cathedral ruined when the final peroration was swamped by the tuba, which was either the last stage of the general crescendo, or on the 'tutti' piston. I think heavy users should be made to provide credit card details before being able to draw the tuba and solo to great; either that, or agree to undergo therapy!
  9. I should like to add my thanks to Adrian and Chris for a memorable and most enjoyable day. Thanks also to David Morrison for giving us access to the library, and the fascinating documentation relating to the organs of the Cathedral. I'm ashamed to admit that it, in all my years in Worcester, it was my first visit to the library! It was a great pleasure to meet some of my fellow board members and hear them play, and to hear the range of music that the Tickell organ is able to handle in a very musical and convincing way; a delight, also, to hear the choir in such fine voice! As readers of previous posts will be aware, I was fond of the old organ, having grown up with it, but I am very happy to admit that the installation of the new instrument brings to a close a very doubtful century in the history of the Cathedral's organs. Favourite wish? To hear the Elgar Sonata no. 1 in the Cathedral, on an instrument that can finally do it justice! Henry
  10. I attended a magnificent recital by David Sanger at the Town Hall last night. It was the first time I have heard the organ since the hall re-opened. I must say the old girl was in terrific voice, though, sadly, the audience fell short of the usual numbers of Birmingham organ enthusiasts. I know that the changes made in 2007 were not extensive, but it seemed to me that the organ had more 'presence' in the hall than formerly, and the choruses, right up to full organ with bombarde division, were impressive. Maybe the refurb of the hall has given it a more sympathetic acoustic: I always felt the sound fell a bit flat formerly. The programme was as follows: J.S. Bach Toccata, Adagio & Fugue Mendelssohn Andante in D, with Variations Franck Grande Pièce Symphonique Bingham Roulade Schumann Four Sketches for Pedal-Piano Vierne Tempo di Scherzo, Largetto & Final (From Symphony No 5 in A minor) There was an encore - Leo Sowerby's 'Carillion', which showed off the new Whitechapel bells to great effect. What particularly struck me about the recital was the way in which a British 19th-century town hall organ can deal with the French romantic repertoire in a thoroughly authentic way - as another member of the audience put it, "He got sounds out of the organ that I've never heard before!"
  11. Adrian, could you count me in also for the 31st? Many thanks. Henry Cairns-Terry
  12. Barry is right. At the FD level, no VAT charged, but the FD suffers VAT on his cost inputs. FD's typically recover 15% or so of their input VAT overall, as some supplies they make are taxable, eg flowers etc. I've checked the Exempt Schedule, and the VAT exemption for Burials and Cremations is very restrictive - it only covers disposal of the remains of the dead / making arrangements for... I'm glad to see DHM is being careful to declare his crem fees. HMRC had a purge on these a few years ago and it was found that a lot of doctors had missed crem fees off their tax returns. Has DHM thought of going for a Flat Rate Scheme - reduces effective rate of VAT that has to be paid?
  13. Further to some earlier discussions on this thread about the Hope-Jones organ at Worcester Cathedral, here is an essay by Colin Pykett entitel Elgar's Organ Sonata and the Organs at Worcester Cathedral. I don't think this has been referred to before in these pages.
  14. I must be about ten pages behind with this fascinating thread... I remember the tuba profunda well from my days as a schoolboy attending Cathedral services, which I did both pre- and post the H&H rebuild. It and the 8ft extension were extraordinarily loud, probably too loud for general use. Harry Bramma would normally couple down the solo bombarde 16, eg in the Vierne Carillion, where it provided a very effective moto perpetuo. The tuba profunda was wonderful for congregational accompaniment - no rousing final verse was complete without a thunderous bass line! Incidentally, I always understood that the diaphones were not working by the seventies - I seem to remember Colin Beswick telling me they had not worked for several years. The Great Cathedral Organs recording (which I also have) was made in, I think, 1969, and it sounds to me like the tuba profunda that CR used in the Mendelssohn Sonata no. 3. That piece also features the solo orchestral trumpet - a scorching stop which I don't think survived the 1972 rebuild, at least, not in its original form. The double-tongued tuba was used for the reprise at the end of the first movement of the Mendelssohn. Like Captain Foulenough, it was asked to leave... After 1972, the Solo was effective as a bombarde division - you got caught in the cross-fire if you were in the crossing when full organ was playing, as I once was for a memorable performance of the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony!
  15. I remember seeing a piece in an old edition of "The Organ" from fifty years or so ago on the C-C / Mutin scheme. The specification was listed, and read much as you might expect. There was also a photo of a scale model of the organ - a very fine-looking and ornate case with at least two 32' towers. It was not clear from the article where the organ was to go. From what I recall, the project did get some way, and funds were raised; they were ultimately diverted to pay for repairs to the fabric. So AC-C's dearest wish remained unrealised.
  16. I heard the Worcester Organ just before Christmas. It was in fine voice in the hands of Christopher Allsop playing the Naji Hakim "Adeste Fideles" in duet with the Nave electronic. Afterwards I spoke briefly to the Dean, who had clearly been approached by a number of people on this subject. He said quite firmly that there was nothing to be done, as the organ was almost unplayable. He said the Tickell instrument is likely to go in sometime in 2007; the Nicholson in the Nave will be a year or two after that. There are some photographic mock-ups around in the Cathedral showing what the new organs will look like when they are in, and I can't help feeling that the Tickell will be the better-looking of the two. Sorry to say I did not pick up copies to post here. Enough! It is page 23 already...
  17. ... 2. I always draw attention to students the fact that the Tuba is located on the SOLO manual (normally) - even at the Sacré-Coeur in Paris, where they are chamade 16/8/4 on top of the organ pointing slightly downward (in twilight the view of these extraordinary pipes remind one of a WW2 battleship). Some players feel the need to couple this Uk stop to the Gt to achieve cataclysmic musical (sic) moments. Many a time I have thought that on electric-actioned instruments in the UK a cut-out mechanism could easily be in-built to stop this 'accidental' usage happening. Solo surely means solo or else the dear belov-ed Tuba would be found elsewhere. No way is it a chorus stop and surely it should be used/handled as if it is an unexploded bomb with a dicky ticker. ... Here is an idea for organ-builders - make organists provide credit card details before they play, and charge them a fiver every time they draw the Tuba (and lots more if they couple it to the Great!). I attended a recital in Hereford Cathedral last summer where the noted (French) recitalist registered the closing improvisation with the Stop Crescendo pedal, which drew the Tuba with the full organ for the closing finale. A very fine stop, the Tuba completely obliterated the rest of the chorus. A disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable recital.
  18. I must admit I am a bit suspicious of performances by "star" players. Maybe I am being unfair, but it is almost as if the temptation to make a mark becomes too much. For example, I once heard Jean Gillou play the Mozart Fantasia in F minor at an unbelievable pace. Also Pierre Cochereau, in his recording of the Vierne Symphonies, takes the Chorale from the Second Symphony at a tremendous lick - faster than any other performer I have heard.
  19. I think the old Worcester Cathedral organ would form the basis of a very fine instrument, especially as it contains within it so much of what is interesting about English organ-building, Hill, Hope-Jones, Harrison & Harrison...
  20. The ten-second reverberation was the old organ. I also make it six seconds for the current organ.
  21. It grieves me, too, that so many of the major contracts for new organs in this country should go to foreign firms building largely neo-baroque instruments, especially since, as it seems to me, the fashion over the last two decades appears to have moved away from trying to make any and every organ that comes up for reconstruction conform to the baroque model, towards respecting the integrity of the various indigenous periods and styles. It does, however, seem to me that we have not discovered a distinctively British "school" since Arthur Harrison died, and even firms such as Manders look to older models for new instruments (Cavaillé-Coll in New York, and Gray & Davison at Chelmsford). The continental builders, on the other hand, appear to have the self-confidence to build in their own national styles without looking to foreign precedents. And who can deny the excitement and musicality of big instruments such as the Klais in Symphony Hall, Birmingham? So we are wonderful at liturgical instruments and preserving the heritage of the great British builders, but don't have a sufficiently strong "school" to punch our weight in the tenders for new concert instruments. Are we too late, then, to discover a distinctively British "sound", and have the confidence to sell it to the A-list recitalists and the commissioners of new instruments? The Symphony Hall organ is a magnificent instrument, but, to my mind at least, you get more of a thrill from a really good British instrument.
  22. I've been listening to the Bate set again in the car over the last few days and am full of admiration for the brilliance of the Beauvais instrument and the clarity of Miss Bate's playing. I am not enough of a scholar to know what liberties she takes, though I note she does include the brief hiatus at the beginning of the toccata in "Dieu parmi nous", which some players omit.
  23. Returning to Worcester Cathedral a moment, Harrison added two mixtures to the Great in 1925, one a Harmonics, and the other a five-rank quint mixture along the lines of the 1908 example at Ely. The 21st in the Harmonics was suppressed in 1967, but I think the rest of the Harmonics survived the 1972 re-build, as a cornet. The Swell acquired a mild-mannered three-rank mixture in 1967 and a Scharf in 1972, which complements the marvellously fiery 16-8-4 trumpets. These are on something like a 15 inch wind. The Choir gained a high-pitched mixture in 1972, but was not much changed. As regards the surviving Hope-Jones voices, the violes d'orchestre and violes celestes (scale something like 1 1/16" at CC) are very beautiful. I believe they were voiced by Franklin Lloyd, who also worked for Michel & Thynne (Grove Organ, Tewkesbury Abbey). The orchestral trumpet is also a very fine stop. I never met anyone who said the diaphones were in the least bit musical, or indeed ever heard them. I they had ceased to work long before the 1972 rebuild. The tuba was definitely mirabilis - two tongues per pipe, and on something like 20 inches - astonishing effect. It was extended to 16' in the pedal, and could easily dominate full organ. It was rumoured that, if you held a chord for more than a few seconds, it would drift out of tune. Not much to do with Howells, but I thought you might be interested...
  24. The disposition of the new and old Gloucester instruments is quite interesting. The organ is placed centrally on a screen (in a fine Renaissance case from 1665), and has to accompany services both in the quire and in the nave. The current organ solves this problem by having West and East Great organs, with the reeds in between. The Swell has shutters west and east. The choir organ is in a chaire case dating from 1579 and facing east. The West Positive, as its name implies, faces west. When Willis rebuilt the organ in 1888, his first instinct was to split the organ on either side as he had done at St Paul's in 1872. Fortunately, he was not allowed to do that. Instead, he rotated the instrument inside the case, so that the Great faced south, with the Swell behind it. The Choir organ was in the little chaire case on the east, and the Solo (1899) in a swell box inside the north side of the screen behind the main case. As the organ was relatively small for the building, he voiced the Great and Swell on 4 1/2 inches of wind. Harrison & Harrison's work in 1920 was limited in scope. He added a leathered Open Diapason I on the Great, a 32' octave to the open wood in the North Choir Triforium, and expanded the Solo from four stops to the specification shown above. Otherwise, I don't think the instrument was much changed. Harrison did not, for example, recast the Great mixture as a Harmonics, or revoice the great reeds as trombas. Pierre Lauwers' description of the old organ as "classic english-romantic" is pretty accurate. When the organ was rebuilt, it was said that it was not distinctively Willis or Harrison & Harrison, and so was not worth preseving in its then form. The principles underlying the reconstruction of the organ in 1971 were to make the instrument relate more to its case by re-aligning the soundboards to the pipe fronts, containing the instrument as far as possible within the case, and restoring the tone of the instrument to something more in keeping with the surviving Thomas Harris pipework of 1665. Much of the old pipework was re-used, restored and revoiced as necessary. The tuba went to All Saints, Margaret Street, London, where it can still be heard. The 32' octave was disposed of. As the Cathedral Organist, John Sanders, said at the time, if you had a piano, you would scarcely put the bottom octave in an adjoining room! At the same time, the case was magnificently restored. The resulting instrument is very successful and exciting, being a combination of baroque diapason choruses and splashy French-style reeds. It is not exactly typical of an English Cathedral organ, nor indeed of organs of the Restoration period! To return to the point about Herbert Howells, the loss of the old Gloucester instrument is not all that damaging, as there are a number of surviving instruments which are "out of the same box". So far as the Willis pedigree is relevant, the Salisbury Cathedral organ, among others, would give a good idea of how the Gloucester organ used to sound. Also, Howells would have known the instruments in Worcester & Hereford cathedrals, (Willis & Hope-Jones / Harrison respectively) and these are not much changed since the 1920s.
  25. I don't know the RFH instrument very well, but I do know the sound of the Gloucester Cathedral instrument, which was designed by Ralph Downes, though it was originally HN&B not H&H. The acoustic is, if anything, too resonant - the opposite of course of the RFH. As in the RFH, Downes used very light wind pressures, and specified French shallots for the reeds, though most of the reed pipes themselves were survivals from previous instruments, notably Willis. Anecdotal evidence has it that Downes, who supervised the tonal finishing, was fanatical about the voicing of the flue work, but was happy for the reeds to be as rough as you like! And they are rough, particularly the Great reeds. Following Pierre Lauwers' comments, I think I would concede that the instrument is eclectic. Its diapason choruses are thrilling for Bach, the plein-jeu ideal for Couperin and friends, and it does the French Romantic school very well. For evidence, see - or rather hear - David Briggs' recording made immediately after the recent Nicholson rebuild, in which you can hear all three.
  • Create New...