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Colin Harvey

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Everything posted by Colin Harvey

  1. In reponse to Vox's and Paul's posts: What is equally important to consider is placement of the choir organ within the organ - this will help determine the nature of the division. If the Choir Organ is behind the Great Organ or underneath the Swell Organ (as is typical in a 3 manual British organ), this division is going to be best as choir organ in nature. Sticking a load of neo-baroque squeaks and shrills is likely to be counter to the character of this division. If you want a proper unenclosed positive division, you will have to place this division appropriately in the organ. There are a number of options, either in a ruckpositive position, an oberwerk or a brustwerk position. A classical recit division on a French classical organ is a small soundboard above the Grande Orgue, short compass, with quite a telling Cornet on it. The smaller pipes and fractions need to be well-placed if they are to be heard. High frequencies get attenuated by air, are more directional and don't go around corners so they need to be placed well to be heard. We've all come across a pedal mixture on a rebuilt British organ that is next to useless because it is buried deep in the bowels of the organ (I've seen one behind the main reservior at ground level) and the sound doesn't get out. Just as much as understanding the effect you want to achieve with your choir iorgan, it is just as important to understand the structure and placement of the division within the organ and how it works with the rest of the organ - and indeed, if it is consonant with the style of the rest of the organ (although I hope I don't have to say that).
  2. All these stories of turning up at a unfamiliar organ with 20 minutes to prepare for choral evensong all focus on working out how to manage the organ than actually getting to know it. They all focus on button pressing. So how do people get to know and understand an unfamiliar organ? Let's take away the time constraint and the preoccupation of how it balences the choir for accompanying choral evensong and let's focus on how people work out how all the elements of the organ fit together. What do you do? Quote: "I was far too tense and wound up to enjoy the experience and help others enjoy it too - which is why people organise cathedral visits, on the whole. So now, I make quite sure there are no surprises in store, and then go for a pint with everyone else" I like this.
  3. I once gave a lunchtime recital at Bristol Cathedral. That same lunchtime, Tony Blair visited County Hall on the other side of the green, where protesters pelted him with eggs. Obviously, the recital still went ahead and the reception in the Cathedral was more favourable: I was fed egg and cucumber sandwiches with tea in the Grand Marriott hotel afterwards.
  4. I had a quick flick through the Baerenreiter edition as a friend had a copy - I really can't remember it that well, except it seemed very... Baerenreiter. From the sample on website, well, the first page doesn't really present the most difficult challenges for an editor/arranger so it's not really possible to form an opinion. The Rutter edition presents the original organ part, as Faure wrote it, with extra indications of notes added by the orchestra in small notes. In his editorial JR seems convinced of the conjecture that the 1900 orchestration may have been delegated to somebody else (i.e. not Faure) because it is not of the same standard as the 1893 edition. Therefore, there is a train of thought that the 1900 version is not Faure's work. Roger-Ducasse seems to have prepared the piano reduction of the 1900 edition. Personally, I'm not sure what value there is to an organ transcription based on a piano reduction of the original organ part prepared by a 3rd party if you can just get the original organ part...
  5. I would second Paul Morley - the Rutter edition is excellent: it is basically the original (1892?) Faure organ part as he wrote it. Faure's orchestral parts enhance the organ part with the texture of the strings and colours of the brass and woodwind but all the necessary notes are in the organ part. I don't feel it's necessary to play every note when it goes into 4 staves - many of them are lost anyway - it is just there to add to the organ part and your ears will be the best judge - I feel parts like the cello lines and of course the Trumpets in the Dies Ira should be added. John Rutter's notes in his editorial sum up exactly how the 4-stave sections should be used. If I remember, in the sanctus I play the bottom two or three of the sustained notes on a 8ft stop in the pedals, the arpeggios in the left hand on a separate stop and the solo violin part on a good principal stop in the right hand. I would strongly recommend listening to a recording with an orchestra to know how to colour the organ part: there's a section towards the end of the Agnus Dei that has a superb Trumpet/Tuba solo in the tenor before the recapitulation of the opening and personally I feel a lot of music is lost if it is left out. However, it's not there in the organ part but I've written it in to my copy. The other thing I would second in John Rutter's editorial is to be quite sparing in use of 16ft pedals. I only use 16ft pedals when the double basses join the cellos on the bass line.
  6. Two points I would make: The most recent work of Paul Fritts and Ralph Richards, both working in the North German Baroque style at an astronomically high standard, shows how the Schnitger/Mueller/Hintz idioms can be developed to reach into the romantic repertoire and elsewhere. Particular instruments worth considering are: http://www.frittsorgan.com/opus_pages/gall...to_gallery.html http://www.frittsorgan.com/opus_pages/gall...to_gallery.html http://www.richardsfowkes.com/pages/3instr...15/15_index.php http://www.richardsfowkes.com/pages/3instr...17/17_index.php I've written before about my admiration of the Tennessee organ before - listen here to it at about 11 minutes playing a Schumann Fugue: http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/www_publ...7_0801part2_128 This is the best I've ever heard this piece in a recording and taking into account the bone-dry acoustic, this organ is a remarkable achievement. There are fine recordings of the Fritts organs - Craig Columbus at Columbus and Michael Unger at Rochester are warmly recommended as they show off these organs in a wide variety of repertoire, from Sweelinck and Spanish music to Reger, Jongen, English romantics and contemporary music. The second point is that it is of utmost importance to build an organ that is appropriate in style for the room. I feel that this is where many of the less successful "Historically Informed" instruments have fallen apart. Especially in university chapels, there are many examples of organs built in a particular style that are stylistically just as inappropriate for their location as they are for their function. If you match the style of the organ to its location appropriately, you frequently set in place a good framework for a successful organ. Not only does this framework inform the decisions of the design and specification of the organ, it provides the basis for the musical identity of the organ, which it will lend to any music that is played upon it, in a manner that is entirely appropriate for the location.
  7. I don't see that a historically informed organ and "an organ designed for choral accompaniment" need be mutually exclusive at all. The organ at my church could claim to be historically informed (although it would never be presumptive enough to claim it is entirely historically informed), yet within the context of its 18 stops and the aspirations of our better-than-average country parish church choir, it has proved itself to be extremely good at choral accompaniment and certainly adequate for our church's needs.
  8. I think this is an extremely good question. My only experience of Cavaille-Coll concert hall organs is the recently restored organ in the Philharmonie Concert Hall in Haarlem (restored by Flentrop in 2006, with a reconstructed Barker lever action). This organ was originally in Amsterdam and it was transplanted to the Hall in 1874/5. To English ears, this organ is *EXTREMELY* loud. The Great reeds and mixtures come on with a crash and seem to set the entire stage surround to resonate with the sound. It is quite devastating on the stage - not only will it frighten those of a nervous disposition, it will make them hallucinate. However, many Cavaille-Coll organ experts feel that this organ has been softened and it would have been much louder in its original home. I hate to think what such an instrument might be like in the relatively intimate environs of Sheffield Cathedral if the original voicing is kept. I also wonder how the cathedral organists will cope with such an instrument day-to-day to accompany evensong - the realities of living with such an organ may be very different to the dream. Long term I would worry how the nature of the instrument may become diffused as succesive organists strive to make it fit better for its purposes in the musical life of the Cathedral. I am concerned that they may not yet be fully aware of what they are letting themselves in for.
  9. I wish there was a way to "like" comments, just as you can on facebook...
  10. There is an article in the IBO's Organ Building Journal, Vol.7 "A method for calculating wind reservoir size" by Andrew Moyes, which you may find to be of interest. In this article Andrew explains the process and calculations he uses to size regulators.
  11. How fast do people think the Final of Sonata 1 should go? I have MM crotchet = 120 in my copy but I feel this is too fast. It sounds too hurried at this pace to make good listening. Even the firey, youthful performance Raul Prieto Ramirez (youtube link above) clocks in at about 104-108, which I feel is about the right speed. What do other people think?
  12. Interesting to see Paul Hale is giving the inaugural recital. As a member of AIOA and as editor of the Organ Building journal produced by the IBO (which specifically forbids its members from entering into hybrid organ projects), I would have thought he would not have touched this project with a disinfected barge pole. Is it just me or does the new case have tapered prospect pipes? It makes it look like the prospect pipes are planted too far apart, which doesn't look entirely to its advantage.
  13. The Spanish also shared the tradition of naming their upper ranks by the partial from the unison - octava, docena, quincena, decinovena, etc. I think it would be interesting to speculate on the relationship between the Italian and Spanish organ, its design and repertoire, of the 16th to 18th Century, especially in relation to the social, religious and political relationships of the Mediterranean states of this period. It is also interesting to speculate on the relationship between between the English and Dutch schools of the 16th and 17th Century - things like a Fantasia on a Fugue of Sweelinck by John Bull whet the appetite for what interaction might have been going on between these composers (and the organs they knew) at this time. When one considers the writings of Praetorius and his designs for 6ft, 8ft, 12ft, 16ft organs, etc and the early cases known in England - such as the 6ft cases at Old Radnor - and compare against nearly contemporary cases such as the van Covalens choir organ Alkmaar - one is led to speculate about the cross-pollination of ideas.
  14. That is how Christchurch always sing their psalms. They've done it like that each time I've visited.
  15. Silly thought, perhaps, but how about playing some piano music? Maybe a slow movement from a Beethoven Sonata or some Chopin Mazurkas as a starting point.
  16. Very cute David / Hecklephone. Thanks for that. It sounds very pretty. Any chance of hearing the Regal avec Bourdon 8 seule? @Vox: Yes, sometimes using a 4ft bass and 8ft solo in the treble you do get the accompaniment going higher than the solo line. Not to worry - the Vox Humana should be quite a strong voice in this style of music and besides, Bach's lines often cross in his fugues. Just thinking about it, the French Harmoniums used similar devices - a 16ft voice above middle c and a 4ft voice in the treble so you could do two voices on the same keyboard. All clever stuff.
  17. I have come across *VERY* few good regals on recent instruments, especially on these shores. To me, many of them are far too thin, brittle and variable in tone and tuning to be of much use but this is probably more to do with the aesthetics of time when they were built than the skills of the builder. Most of the historic treatises on registration recommend a foundation stop, such as a bourdon, is always drawn with a Vox Humana and this is wise advice, especially with the rather anaemic regals found on many instruments built over the past 50 years. The Vox Humana (Flentrop) at Dunblane Cathedral is a good example of Dutch practice. Willis I Vox Humanas are usually very good. The Vox Humana at Adlington Hall (which I've only heard in a recording) is good. It can be heard here: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/NPaudio.cgi...Code=3&No=3, although I wish it had been drawn with something else to fill the sound out - it doesn't sound quite right to my ears by itself. I've always liked the Bassoon on this organ too: http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/NPaudio.cgi...ode=3&No=12 The Vox Humanas of J.C.Mueller (Waalsekerk, and Beverwijk) are *extremely* fine. Beautiful examples at both these churches, both of which highlight their extreme sensitivity to touch and wind supply. The Haarlem example is OK too but let down by the decreased pressures and 1960s soundboards, action and wind supply. The effects of these factors are often overlooked or misunderstood on these stops. An afternoon getting to grips with the Vox Humana at Beverwijk is a frustrating but ultimately rewarding experience as you get to grips first hand with the interplay between touch, managing the wind supply and using these effects to aid the music. This lesson could not be learnt on an organ with a Schwimmer-based wind system. I have come across some fine examples of French Classical Voix Humaines. Here is an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI1f7_V75GA I wish more builders of neo-classical instruments had aimed for this more full-bodied, rich and beautifully finished style of Regal, which this clip beautifully demonstrates, because I think there would then be more understanding of the place, use and function of these stops in the UK. Vox: your Carisbrooke example could be used in the Spanish style, with the bass half of the instrument playing several contrapuntal lines and the Vox Humana playing the cantus firmus in the right hand. The tientos of Spanish composers demonstrate how this is done - quite frequently the right hand plays 2 parts - the cantus firmus on the solo in the treble half of the instrument and another part that never goes above Mid C.
  18. Thanks for getting this information from the horse's mouth and posting it up here. It's good to have better information on what is really going on.
  19. It is always disappointing to read of postponed plans but it is never recommended to schedule an inaugural recital until an organ has been completed, for good reason. In this case, with several suppliers involved, the risk of some part slipping behind schedule can only increase.
  20. I find the news about the destruction of this organ distressing. I wondered whether the church might have good grounds for legal action and compensation against the pastor for this wanton - and, it seems, unilateral - destruction of one of their assets? Even if the church decided they did not want the organ any longer, they have now lost the opportunity to sell it, so this action has incurred financial loss to the church. Knowing the American appetite for a legal battle, I am sure the lawyers are already sharpening their claws...
  21. I thought readers may like to know J. S. Bach's organ works are the subject of building a library on BBC Radio 3 today at 9:35am. Stephen Farr will discuss some of the considerations with Andrew MacGregor. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vdk4p For those that miss the initial broadcast, it should be available to listen again on iPlayer.
  22. True, but not an impossible issue. I suspect if you didn't tell them, 95% of the choir probably wouldn't notice. @ P W Hodges - yes, agreed! I can't think of many recordings of this organ. It really deserves to be heard and recorded more than it is. If we can put something together...
  23. How about Reading Town Hall? Fabulous organ...
  24. Just to correct the message above: The new organ at St Edmundsbury Cathedral is being built by Harrison & Harrison of Durham, not Nicholsons. There is more information on these websites: http://www.stedscathedral.co.uk/news/141-organ-project http://www.harrison-organs.co.uk/stedmundsbury.html
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