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Anthony Poole

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Everything posted by Anthony Poole

  1. That's as maybe, but it is the high price of metals that are likely to attract the thieves and, while they may not make as much as they thought, in today's high-priced environment, they could still stand to gain considerably. Prices are at a level where it is substantially worth the cost of recovering lead from alloys. And I read a report yesterday, which was forecasting average tin prices at $8,500/tonne for the rest of this year and $9,000/tonne for the whole of 2007. I shudder to think what today's metals prices are doing to organ builders' margins these days, or the cost of organ building. But that's another story!
  2. I've wanted to post this for a while, but was reluctant to do so as I did not want to give anyone ideas. However, with metals prices at, or close to record levels, including tin and lead on the London Metal Exchange, I strongly urge organists to make sure their churches beef up their security. It would be a tragedy to hear of organ pipes diesappearing to thieves intent on melting them down to make a quick, small fortune on the scrap market, but it is a sad and real possibility in today's environment of staggeringly high metals and commodity prices. Primary copper is worth well over $7,000 a tonne and has even been above $8,000 a tonne this year and it has an extraordinarily high value on the scrap market. In the US thieves risk their lives regularly trying to steal copper wire from overhead telephone wires and it often ends in tragedy with people either falling, or being electrocuted by overhead power lines. Entire lamposts and traffic lights are regularly stolen for their aluminium and copper wire. Earlier this year, a nickel producer in France had two full trucks of high purity nickel stolen which, at today's prices, the value of the two cargoes was approximately $1 million. Fortunately, nickel is not used in pipes. Also at risk are the lead from stained glass windows and a church's silverware. If you have a pipe organ under you care in a church, a concert hall or your home, please do all in your powers to make sure it is secure. Today's metals prices are unprecedented, but opportunistic thieves have probably been around for as long mankind. So please be on your guard.
  3. In no particular order: Laurencekirk, Alkmaar (tonally, it has been lovingly untouched over the years) St Ouen, Rouen Westminster Cathedral (the big one) St Ignatuis Loyola, New York St Sernin, Toulouse A very nice Ken Tickell 3 stop continuo organ I saw used at St John's Smith Square once. Good for portability and adjustable pitch, including an extra pipe to allow a bottom C when working at A=415. I wouldn't mind also playing the Wurlitzer at the Winter Garden in Blackpool. St Ignatius happens to be my local parish church, so I get to hear it frequently.
  4. I think the 8ft flute on the swell, with seven ranks would be just as costly to build as seven individual stops, although you mention it would be an extended rank. That would give you some tuing issues, as for a mutation stop, you would want perfect fifths, or whatever the intervals are, as opposed to the unperfect fifths necessary for the 8ft stop to be in tune with itself at equal temperament, or other temperaments. That aside, I think a more useful stop than the Pedal 8ft Octave Wood would be an 8ft Open Diapason on the Swell, giving you two really independent choruses on the manuals. I might be tempted to exchange the 16ft swell reed for a 16ft pedal reed of some description. I've always preferred manual harmonic flutes at 8ft pitch, especially if their role is as a solo stop. I've never understood the reason for a Gt 4ft harmonic flute in the absence of an 8ft harmonic flute. But this is entirely academic, as we have no idea what sort of a room this instrument is intended for and, if it is for a church, what its liturgical role would be. When real organ builders have to come up with real solutions to real instruments and buildings, I think it is much more interesting than drawing up fantasy stop lists. But there's no harm in it. If we can play fantasy football, or fantasy cricket or, in my case, fantasy profesionall cycling team management, then there is no reason why we shouldn't play fantasy organbuilding.
  5. Try listening to Test Match Special during the cricket season, with headphones. Failing that, keep an eye on the time and after 15 minutes, draw the 'Open Pullpit Trapdoor' stop.
  6. Given the shameful record of one well-known French music publiser, it is perfectly possible that there are inaccuracies in Louis Vierne's published symphonies. The only way of telling for sure is to go back to the manuscripts. Even then, you have to bear in mind that Vierne was blind for most of his adult life and, therefore, probably relied on dictating his compositions, which could have created the opportunity for the introduction of errors to his scores as they were being committed to paper. If you take some of the published works of Widor and Fauré by Hamelle, it is not hard to find scores that are littered with misprints. Indeed, the choral reduction of Widor's mass for two choirs and two organs, published by Hamelle, is full of errors - a real triumph of French music publishing. And Hamelle's originally published version of Fauré's Requiem, the enlarged 'concert' version that the composer wanted no truck with, is a litany of misprints. Widor kept revising his symphonies, and I'm not sure he stuck with Hamelle for later versions, having been frustrated by the publisher's incompetence. But in fairness to French music publishing, there are misprints and errors elsewhere. Much of Dvorak's published output is full of errors, including such well-known pieces as the B minor Cello Concerto and the New World Symphony. The conductor Denis Vaughan, a former assistant of Thomas Beecham, did go back to Dvorak's manuscripts and was astounded at what he found. Even the famous tune from the New World Symphony, immortalised by the 'Hovis' TV commercial, is not exactly what Dvorak wrote, although I don't know where the errors are. Vaughan has been trying for years to get a record company to let him record the symphonies in new versions, based more faithfully on the composer's manuscripts. But, to-date, I am not sure the project has ever got off the ground. Of course, the cynical among us believe that some publishers deliberately publish misprints, so that when the copyright is about to expire, they can republish with some of the misprints corrected, thus keeping their stranglehold on a piece for another 75 years.
  7. Unfortunately, I cannot attempt to answer all of your questions, because I simply do not know enough of the history. However, I understand from all accounts I have read that the Altar division you referred to was inaudible. Why spend the money to restore it, or worst still, why spend the money on trying to make the division audible, which could have proved to be an exercise in futility and, therefore, a waste of money? I believe the pipework is still there and the soundboard, just disconnected. I don't believe Williss III made any attempt to pass off the diapason chorus in the southeast quarter gallery as his own, new work. It was Lewis pipework salvaged from a church that was bombed in WWII. Its scaling was insufficient for the Cathedral, but demonstrated the accoustic qualities of the various quarterdomes in projecting sound across the dome and a good way down the length of the nave - something the Chancel Organ could never do and hope to lead a congregation. The Mander Dome Diapasons were scaled and voiced for the job they were required to do. Although my son thinks I'm a dinosaur, I wasn't around in 1872 or 1900 and neither, I suspect, were you, so who are we to say that Willis ruined a perfectedly good Chancel Organ that he had built? As I said, I am unable to answer your other questions. The only thing I would say about the North Choir organ is that if an organist does not like it, he or she is free not to use it. While some of the stops on that division appear on paper to be out of whack with the rest of the Chancel Division, I believe it is voiced sympathetically with the rest of the Chancel Organ. But, as John Mander pointed out, much earlier in this growing thread, the original idea was for a Positive division. And one can well imagine it would have been very much along neo-classical lines and entirely inappropriate. But the then organist, Christopher Dearnley, was quite clear about it needing to be a North Choir division and steered Mander away from going fully-down the neo classical route that so many organ builders chose to do in the 1970s. I believe it was an attempt to make the Chancel Organ more versatile to take account of choral music written in the second half of the 20th Century and is, perhaps akin, to the lengthening of bridges and general loudening of violins in the late 19th Century, to meet the demands of new orchestral repertoire. At least it did not replace anything else. The space it occupies was occuppied by the old console The position of the old console made it impossible for an organist to hear the instrument. I once read somewhere that when Willis first built the Chancel Organ, he had seriously underestimated the vastness of the St Paul accoustic and had to voice and louden the pipework on site to its limit. Interestingly, if I remember correctly, the bottom C of the biggest Dome 8ft Diapason has a circumfrence only an inch wider than the bottom C of the Gt large 8ft Open. This, to me, seems to suggest that there is something about the accoustic property of the northeast quarter dome that throws sound out much more readily than the Chancel, allowing for a comparatively modest scaling of the Dome Chorus compared with the Great Chancel Diapason chorus. But John Mander is, naturally, much better qualified to answer that question. I am only going on a vague memory of an essay written by Ian Bell, which I read probably 20 years ago.
  8. I am loathe to judge an instrument purely on the basis of a single hearing of a recorded performance over the web. I listened to it over headphones and the bass is huge, just as I found with the Pipedreams webcast of the new Mander in Atlanta. I guess headphones over the web really pushes the bass. But my computer is not wired up to good speakers, just the built-in laptop speakers, which are like a small, transistor radio type speaker. That said, from what I heard, this organ does not strke me as a true neo-classical organ, as Pierre described it, in the full sense of what I understand the term to mean. To my ears it sounds like an eclectic approach, perhaps not unlike that of CB Fisk of Gloucester, Massachussets. There seems to be more than one style going on here in this new Letourneau instrument. On the one-hand, there appear to be some romantic leanings, especially in some of the flue work and strings with what seems to be fairly prompt speech and no hint of 'chifs' or 'quacks', and then there is the more neo-classical approach in some of the other flue work where some 'chiff' is audible, but, perhaps, not to the degree of a true neo-classical instrument. So I suspect there is some flue work that has open tip voicing, minimal nicking and the languids placed where they produce some 'chiff' and then there is other flue work that seems to have much prompter speech. Both styles can be heard in the Duruflé Siciliene, which is a little unnerving. As for the reeds, the chamades sound fairly brash and vulgar and do more than just provide a crowning glory to a tutti in the manner of, say Cavaillé-Coll. Instead, they tend to dominate the tutti. Some of the softer, solo, manual reeds sound rather unrefined to me and not particularly romantic. But this could just as easily be something caused by microphone placement. I'm not sure whether the instrument relies solely on the reeds for power as has been suggested elsewhere in this thread. I think the mixtures have some part in this too and it is not just force of tone, but harmonic development too. But the missing clue to this puzzle is a live hearing in the flesh. Without that, I do not want to judge this instrument. I'd like to hear how it sounds in the room, how it fills the room and how it sounds with a live orchestra. The eclectic approach is still favoured by many organ builders, unfortunately. I think Fisk achieved a more cohesive result in the big concert hall in Dallas, even though this instrument is also eclectic. Again, I can't tell for sure, because I've not heard the instrument live. But I have talked to somebody who has played it, who says that it does work well in the hall and with orchestras and in the concert hall context. Regards Anthony
  9. I'm guessing that it was the microphone placements, as I have been told by an organist who played there that the room is pretty good.
  10. This is an interesting response. I never said the piece was well-written, only that it was fun to do. But I disagree with your view that it is a badly written piece. But this is subjective. If you look, or listen to the choral writing, it makes no attempt at minimalism, there is too much material for it to be minimalist in the Glass or Adams school. And the other movements are not strictly minimalist either. I'm not a great fan of the minimalist school but, personally, I believe John Adams has had something to say where others have failed, but, again, this is subjective. I only see a very vague passing reference to Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms in the Paulus concerto, rather than a crude attempt at Symphony of Psalms pastiche, but perhaps I am missing something. I don't understand your point about the final bars being considered "overblown had Schoenberg ended Gurrelieder with them". The point is that Schoenberg did not write the piece and compared with the vast and lush, romantic score of Gurrelieder, there is nothing in Stephen Paulus that could possibly considered overblown. Incidentally, one of the revisions by the composer I referred to, I think, occured at the end of the piece that makes for a more powerful ending. And not to belittle Proms audiences, but they do tend to like exuberant pieces and there is plenty of exuberance in this concerto. And, you have no idea of the enthusiasm with which the St Ignatius audience received this concerto. I have never seen such an enthusiastic standing ovation, where the audience got up on their feet immediately. And this is an audience with a diet of repertoire from Gregorian chant, ealy music, polyphony, through the Baroque, classical and romantic periods, spirituals, gospel, contemporary, etc, etc with composers from both sides of the Pond. My main criticism of what little of Stephen Paulus's music I have encountered generally, not this piece, is that there can be too much emphasis on rythm for my liking. I often feel that parts of his faster music cry out for the occasional phrase of some length to break up the relentless, percussive, rythmic drive. But he is hardly a minimalist in the same vain as Adams or Philip Glass. You don't get the same tiny fragment repeated endlessly several times before moving onto the next slice. Incidentally, I don't believe that Glass, Adams and a few other like-minded composers were the true inventors of minimalism in musical composition. Listen and look at the beginning of Louis Vierne's Les Cloches de Hinkley from the 24 Pieces of Fantasy and you will find an example of minimalism that dates back to 1927 in the manual part in the opening measures and another example near the beginning in the right hand.
  11. I listened to a large part of this programme yesterday, but wished I'd heard the radio broadcast, because I am sure the sound would have been much better. Nevertheless, the organ sounded good. But the pedal foundation tone sounded very strong and thick, and that could be to do with the webcast as well. The accoustic sounded on the dry side, although I am reliably informed by an eminent organist who gave one of the early recitals that the room is actually pretty good. The strings reminded me of St Ignatius, sometimes, which is not surprising given that it is the same builder, although somebody might tell me that the scaling and style are completely different. But that is just an observation. It was interesting to hear the Stephen Paulus concerto for organ, orchestra and chorus in its original version. This piece was especially commissioned for the opening of this instrument. There have been a few revisions in the last movement, which were made in time for the New York premiere at St Ignatius, New York in March of last year. I was lucky enough to sing in the New York performance, and had a real blast doing it. It's a great piece and deserves wider recognition, especially in New York. I think it would go down a real treat with a Proms audience in London. Anyway, I recommend listening to this concert. You can listen to it in stages if you don't have an hour and a half to hear the whole thing at once.
  12. It all looks spectacular to me, including the console. The case is a real architectural gem and fits in well with the older architecture of the church. This looks like really imaginative and inspired work and visually, at least, it all looks like a breath of fresh air. The case designer has been very bold in doing something, which is not the norn, not a cliché or a piece of pastiche. I fear that all too often, new instruments look like pastiche reworkings of classic old 18th century cases and this looks like a refreshing change to me and a product of our own times. I look forward to hearing this instrument some day, because it certainly looks like it has a lot of character. I'm a little puzzled by reading (if I read it correctly) that the 32ft reed on the Pédale was accoustic. Is this achieved in the same way as accoustic 32fts in flue ranks? I would have liked to have seen a real 32ft flue rank in the Pédale. Somebody asked about the temporary wall that was there. I can imagine the pictures may have been taken before installation was fully complete and the temporary wall was there to hide the builder's on-site workshop from the rest of the church.
  13. A comment like this is just crass and uninformed, especially when one considers that Mander restored the RAH organ (adding one additional stop) tonally as it had been left by Harrisons in the 1920s, which was radically different from the organ originally built by Father Willis. And in any case, HW IV retired some time ago. Regardless of whatever the reputation of Henry Willis & Sons was under HW IV, it should have no bearing on its reputation today. To question the professional reputation of another company in writing in a public forum like this is libellous if people take your remark seriously which, hopefully, they will not. And as it is on a forum that is hosted by a competitor of Henry Willis & Sons, it exposes the host to a potentially unacceptable liablity. It pays to engage brain before fingers on a computer keyboard.
  14. From what I've read about new organs built by Mander in challenging buildings, the company has done its best to design the internal layout to maximise the egress of sound into the building. The new organ built in St Louis, Missouri, a couple of years ago was one such example, but the good work of the builders and voicers has reportedly been destroyed by the subsequent installation of carpeting. In some churches, where a lack of height forces the swell to be placed behind the great, some organ builders put the bigger reeds on separate chests and voice them on higher pressures and make them louder, perhaps with more generous scaling than might seem necessary. I believe some organ builders also use swell shutters on more than one side of a box to improve egress. I believe the new organ that Mander is building in St Alban's incorporates this into its design, but best to check with JPM. Interestingly, at Westminster Cathedral, the grand organ has the swell placed behind the great, even though there was plenty of height to put the swell above the great, or the other way around. But the egress of the swell into the building is still splendid and the swell box effect of opening and closing produces a considerable dynamic range. I once conducted a band in a theatre, which had so much sound absorbing material that I was able to tell the brass and percussion that no matter how loud they played, they would not be able to drown the singers. The performers on stage were in front of the orchestra. But even with the percussion appearing to beat the **a% out of their instruments, it rarely sounded like more than a generous mezzo forte. I think organ builders sometimes come up against this in churches and, no matter what they do, the organs sound like they are wrapped in cotton wool. My understanding of Symphony Hall, Birmingham was that Arup was the project manager, but Artec and Russel Johnson had carte blanche when it came to the accoustic design and specification of the materials used. His other big success is the Meyerson Center in Dallas, although there are other noteable examples too that don't come to mind right now.
  15. I think you are right that what people consider to be good accoustics is subjective. Personally, I think the Royal Festival Hall has a far worse accoustic than the Royal Albert Hall, despite the latter's faults. The RAH does at least have some warmth to it. That said, piano recitals work pretty well in the RFH. I've not heard the Marcussen at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, so I cannot comment. I have heard orchestras play there and the accoustic is nothing like that of Symphony Hall, Birmingham. However, I would not say that it is a bad accoustic. Speaking of Symphony Hall, despite the use of modern materials, where it mattered accoustically, such as large, flat reflective walls and surfaces, the choice of material was marble and solid timber. And the choice of seating materials was also a crucial component in the success of the space. The success of this accoustic owes more to the acoustician Russel Johnson of Artec, rather than Arup. I've only heard orchestras, small ensembles and vocal and choral ensembles in Symphony Hall, and I've yet to hear the organ, so I've no idea how it sounds. But I do think that Symphony Hall has one of the finest concert hall accoustics I have ever experienced. How materials are used is just as important as the choice of materials. The most successful concert halls have one thing in common: they are basically the same shape, which is the shoe box shape, turned on its side. This provides lots of large, flat walls, which provide listeners with early reflections of higher frequencies. Symphony Hall is slighly different in that the ends are rounded. The shoebox and the early reflections really help with clarity and help instrumental players with balance and ensemble. The classic examples are the Musikverein in Vienna and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. The Town Hall in Birmingham should also have been a good example, but the effect was ruined by carpet. However, as part of the renovation, the carpet was removed, revealing a much more lively accoustic. The importance of large, flat walls can be demonstrated by taking a walk down the street. If you are next to a building with a large flat wall, walking towards a busy street in front of you, it will sound like the street noise is coming from the large flat wall. If there is a pneumatic jack hammer going 100 yards down the road, it will still sound like the noise is coming from the flat wall that is next to you. And if an aircraft flies over head, the noise will sound like it is coming from the flat wall and you will hear the aeroplane long before you see it. I have sat in various parts of Symphony Hall, listening to a solo violin practicing, and sometimes it sounded like the player was just a few feet to the side of me. Something like 80% of the sound that an audience hears at Symphony Hall is reflected off the side walls, rather than coming directly from the performers on the stage. Of course, the ceiling and floor play their part too. The large flat floor of the Royal Albert Hall means that orchestras sound superb in the arena during the Proms season. If you stand in front of the fountain, the notorious 'double note' almost disappears, save for when a snare drum are playing softly. The fan shape of the Barbican is a disaster. The only flat surfaces of any accoustical use are behind the woodwork on stage, which means performers can hear every noise the audience makes. Churches come in all shapes and size. In addition to the overall shape of the building, the placement of the organ and any choral or instrumental group is key. Generally speaking, churches on continental Europe have organs housed above the west door that speak down the full length of the nave. If the nave has lots of flat surfaces and is free of sound-absorbing materials, the organ will often sound superb. Take for example, Westminster Cathedral and also St Alban's Holborn. And if you happen to be in New York, try St Ignatius Loyola too. When organs are sited in a chamber next to the choir stalls, they struggle to speak into the church and organ builders have a hard time to make them do so. The disadvantage of a good accoustic that is free of sound absorbing materials is that instrumentalists, soloists and choral groups have to work really hard to achieve a genuine pianissimo, and few can really do it. A mezzo forte is effortless and fortissimo does not take much effort. A poor solo trumpet player can easily achieve an ear-splitting fortissimo in such an accoustic. And I have heard orchestras overplay in Symphony Hall, largely because they were used to performing in such poor accoustics.
  16. Anthony Poole

    New Stops

    I think a useful new stop would be the 'Eject Assistant' stop, to be drawn when frustrated by an incompetent page turner, or during an unwelcome visit to the organ loft from an interfering member of the church's staff. You could also have on teaching instruments the 'Eject Student' stop in the event of being frustrated by a lazy student. Just make sure the student doesn't draw the 'Eject Assistant' stop first. How about an 'Electric Choir Stalls' stop with adjustable voltage for when you choir refuses to sing anything other than a quarter tone flat? This could, of course, be used in conjunction with the 'Eject Choir' stop for really bad choirs. I think the 'Open Drinks Cabinet' stop has been in use for a while on some instruments. And maybe on some instruments it is the most useful stop of all. Or how about a 'self-destruct' stop? I think it's probably time I pulled that one out myself.
  17. I think it is true that there has been some kind of bias against the organ at the BBC for some years now, which explains the late night, or early hours broadcasts. There is the hang-up that many people always associate the organ with being a church instrument and don't think of it in concert terms. However, I think another part of the problem may be in uninspired programming that exists in organ recitals. How many recitals do you see that have the predictable Bach, something French romantic, something English etc? It is almost inevitable. The result is boredom by listeners, except those who love the instrument, and no inspiration to composers to write for the instrument. And the danger is that it will eventually bore young players and we will see a preciptous drop in the number of people wanting to learn the organ. Insofar as the Proms are concerned, the Royal Albert Hall organ is not owned by the BBC. If it was the BBC's money that had paid for its restoration, you can bet that it would feature more prominently in its programming, as it would have to justify the expense to the licence payer. Why just a solo organ programme at the Proms? Why not programmes of solo organ pieces, combined with music written for organ and other instruments? We don't have to resort to transcripts. There is wonderful original music being written for such combinations as organ and trumpet, organ and cor anglais, organ and violin and organ and cello. How many of you have heard Naji Hakim's wonderful sonata for trumpet and organ, written about 10 years ago for Håken Hardenberger and Simon Preston? I believe they are perfoming it at a recital in Symphony Hall, Birmingham sometime next year. Did you know that Stephen Paulus wrote a spectacular new concerto for organ, orchestra and chorus that was part of the opening of Mander's organ at Peachtree Road Methodist Church in Atlanta. Did you know that Thierry Escaich recently wrote a superb concerto for organ and orchestra? Both works would go down well with Proms audiences. And there is also growing repertoire for organ, chorus and brass. If you limit it to just organ, you run the risk of only pleasing the enthusiasts, which make up an unmeasurably small proportion of the broadcast and physical audience in the hall on a regular basis. Don't sideline the organ. Bring it into the mainstream. I think Nicholas Kenyon has been in the job of running the Proms too long, and the whole format has become uninspired. It desperately needs fresh blood. I think it would be a refreshing change to see a Proms season without Mahler symphones. Don't get me wrong, I like the pieces, but does the Proms have to have them every year? The BBC also needs to get its head out of its backside and stop commissioning obscure pieces from its best buddies in the world of composition that only ever get performed once and commission works that people want to hear and perform again. The Stephen Paulus piece I referred to above is also a useful contribution to the choral repertoire. The last movement can be performed with just organ and chorus. If somebody at the Beeb would show some faith in composers willing to write for the organ - and there are plenty out there who are prepared to embrace tonality, as well as the serial composers, and yet still inspire and challenge listeners and players - new works could be commissioned for the Proms that stand a chance of making it into the mainstream repertoire. But I don't believe Nicholas Kenyon is the person to do that. That said, I don't know who is.
  18. I believe this was the 8ft Corno di Bassetto on the Chancel Solo division.
  19. Thank you for clearing that up for me, although I did not think that you actually meant to make such a comment. Nevertheless, you have been inside the organ and I have not, so it is conceivable, although not likely, that you saw something which would have supported it. Brian Childs <{POST_SNAPBACK}> It was a long time ago, but nothing I saw led me to believe there was anything other than a high standard of workmanship.
  20. I read your whole post with interest but was not quite sure exactly what inferences to draw from this final paragraph and thought it might be worthwhile asking for a little clarification, before I (and perhaps others) start reading in criticisms that were never intended. I assume it to be correct that Manders have in more recent times had more opportunities to build biggerorgans from scratch than they did then. (The Moderator of this site is ideally placed to provide authoritative information on this). But are their organs now also better built than they were then, which seems to me a possible inference. I have no doubt that they will be differently built : there is very little built now, or recently, which is constructed in the same way as it was then, from cars to TV sets, and we have available technologies now, particularly in terms of computer electronics, unheard of then. It is hardly surprising if a modern Mander organ bears the same similarities to one built then as a modern Ford does to a Mark 1 Cortina . But if I am correct (and again the moderator is ideally placed to correct me) in the early sixties the firm had already undertaken some important restorations of historically significant instruments eg Adlington Hall, St Mary's Rotherhithe, and would within a fairly short period of time secure the contract to rebuild St Paul's Cathedral, another fairly significant instrument . One would have assumed therefore that their work was "state of the art" for then : of course what was so then would not be so now ! I hope you will not mind me asking these questions but I do not want our host to accuse us of abusing his hospitality and throw us all off the site. The rest as I said was fascinating, but leaves us as perplexed as ever as to how a properly looked after instrument could have declined so swiftly into a state where economic repair does not seem a feasible option. Brian Childs <{POST_SNAPBACK}> Let me clarify. I did not mean to suggest that the quality of Mander's workmanship in the 1960s was in anyway inferiror to what it is now. I am not qualified to make such a sweeping statement and I have no reason to suspect that it was the case. That is all the more reason why I am astounded that a Mander instrument of 1960s vintage should have deteriorated to a state that it is no longer useable. All I meant to say is that the type of organs Mander built in the 1960s and 1970s bear little resemblance to the significant organs that have been built by the company in the last 10 to 15 years. As a sidebar to Pcnd's last contribution, I thought the 32ft pedal reed at Sheffield was there in 1981 when I saw the organ, but my memory may not be that good.
  21. I was surprised to hear of the probable demise of the Mander/Willis organ at Sheffield Cathedral and am too astounded that an organ built in 1966 is beyond economic repair. I have played the organ once, in the summer of 1981, but only got the chance to play a couple of pieces on it. I was there to hold keys for a Mander tuner, Vic Dann. Having never been to Sheffield before, I was expecting to see a depressed town with what was left of its once mighty steel industry on its knees and on the point of closure. I think the Cathedral had not long been a Cathedral, having previously been a parish church. It seemed to me to be a positive development in what was rapidly becoming an economically depressed city. The day we went was hot and sunny, and I left home at 5:30 in the morning to ride my bike to Vic Dann’s house. I was supposed to be there by 6AM. I made it by the skin of my teeth, having stopped half way to change the inner tube in my front tyre, which punctured, and we left for our 150 mile drive north and arrived at the Cathedral shortly after 9AM. As I recall, the organ stood about 30 feet to the right of the console. From the console, it sounded very big. I remember some neo-classic leaning on some sections of upper work, which was not untypical of the 1960s. At the time, I knew very few instruments, as a 16-year old. A lot of the instruments I knew were in various stages of disrepair, or were new neo-classical instruments by various builders, so none of it seemed odd to me. At the time, I had little experience of the Anglican choral tradition, as I was well on my way to becoming a lapsed Catholic, so I cannot comment on Sheffield Cathedral’s organ’s suitability for that use. I’ve since gone back to the RC church, but do now have experience of the Anglican tradition. I remember the organ being dusty when I went into the instrument to hand Vic a reed knife, and there were a few notes on reeds not speaking that needed to be cleaned. But that was not surprising for an instrument that was then 15 years old with a lot of the pipework and soundboards exposed. I remember thinking the whole organ would probably need to be cleaned before too long. Whether that cleaning took place or not, I’ve no idea. And I remember that en-chemade tuba, with its copper resonators, ringing loudly in my right ear while it was being tuned. Anyway, how the organ has since got into such a state of mechanical disrepair is beyond me, other than routine maintenance and cleaning not being carried out, unless there has been something more catastrophic, such as water damage. If so, then why did the Cathedral allow it to fall into such a state? And what is to stop the same thing from happening again with a new instrument? Whatever. If the desire is to build a new organ at the west end and have a choir organ, then I cannot help thinking the Mander/Willis organ might be successfully adapted into the choir organ role, allowing a new instrument at the other end of the church. If so desired, it could also be possible to wire a new console so that the new organ can be played from the Choir. What is not known is whether the new organ in the west end will be very different in style from the choir organ, or whether one will compliment the other, such as in Westminster Cathedral. I think it is also reasonable to point out that the Mander Organs of the 1960s was a very different builder to what it has become today. In the 1960s it did not have the same opportunities to build significant new instruments the company has enjoyed in the 1990s and in the early 21st Century. If you look at some of Mander’s instruments built in the last 10 years or so in the US and in Japan and compare them with Sheffield Cathedral, you would not make a link that it could be the same builder, except for the name plate on the console.
  22. I think the US eastern seaboard may have been in danger of a tusnami for the past 10,000 years. But in a world of global warming, just about everywhere on the planet is under some sort of threat. The Netherlands is under constant threat of flooding, for instance, so I wouldn't let that stop you from travelling to New York. You may find the air fares to New York and hotel accommodation more affordable off-season, especially during the winter. The second half of January and February are usually the cheapest times to go, provided you avoid half-term and President's Day week (often the same week). March is usually cheap too. You might just have to put up with snow and cold weather. Other good times to go are October, but avoid half-term week and November, before Thanksgiving. October often has the beast weather too. If you want to pay more for your air fare, Olivier Latry is performing the entire works of Duruflé at St Ignatius on 7th May. Seriously, if you do make it to New York, the music staff at St Ignatius are usually very accommodating to people wishing to visit the organ.
  23. I would recommend tyring the action at St Ignatius Loyola, New York. I think you would be pleasantly surpriised. It is very mannageable with all four manuals coupled and it is a big instrument - 68 speaking stops.
  24. This console looks very similar to the console at St Matthew's. I've not seen another one like it.
  25. The three manual instrument you mention at St Matthew's in London was in Ealing in west London for what was then a new church, built on Ealing Common. I am a native of Ealing, grew up there, but have since been transplanted to New York. But I know the church well and the organ, having played it many times. Unfortunately, it is not in its original condition. I believe it was originally a two manual instrument with pneumatic action, with the console detached from the instrument and placed opposite in the choir stalls. The organ was enlarged in 1912 by Brindley & Foster to three manuals. At the same time, the action was made electro-pneumatic and the old console ripped out and a new, attached console put in. The new stalls put in the place of the console don't match the original, and you can see the site of the old console clearly if you look in the church. The new action involved new soundboards, which were a sliderless invention of Brindley & Foster, with an individual leather purse/motor controlling a pallet on every note for every single pipe. Unfortunately, when one of those motors failed, which became quite a common occurrence in the 1980s, it meant removing a whole rank of pipes to fix it. Thankfully, they were deromatically and the organ does not hold a tuning well at all. After 1912, no work was done to the organ, until it was cleaned and overhauled, and possibly rewired, in around 1960 by Arthur Noterman. It then remained unaltered until around 1996 when it was restored by Heritage Organ Builders. At that time, the Swell Vox Humana was replaced with a 4ft Clarion. The work of 1912 led to the most bizarre internal layout of the organ. The Great is above the console, the new Choir was behind the console and under the Great, the swell was to the left of the Great, as you look at the instrument, with the shutters pointing towards the Gt. That meant the Swell sounded quite good from the opposite choir stalls, but it completely fails to speak into the main body of the church. The internal layout has not changed The organ is in a chamber to the side of the choir stalls in what would be the 'north' side, had the church been built on an east/west axis. The church has a dry accoustic, despite virtually no carpet. It is a red-brick Victorial church, but the open, exposed brickwork in the church is not coated and absorbs a lot of sound. Placing the console within the organ means that it is impossible to balance with a choir. However, the church uses some microphones and some small speakers in the console to act as monitors only for the benefit of assisting the organist in balancing with a choir. The organ can be very loud from the console, but sounds weak in the main body of the church. It has the most bizarre piston system I have ever seen - very Heath-Robinson, which I can't begin to describe. You can't set pistons and you don't see stops go in and out when you press a piston. The Pedals have composition pedals, as does the Swell (the Sw composition pedals are in addition to the four pistons). There are no general pistons. There is a general crescendo pedal, which cannot be adjusted from the console. Despite all this, there are some elements in the instrument that lend themselves very well to the performance of French romantic liiterature. And the Great Principal Chorus seems to be based and voiced to what is now the Small Open Diapason 8ft, which may have been the original Montre 8ft. On the other hand, the original Montre 8ft may now be the Large Open Diapason and the rest of the principal chorus may have been re-scaled and voiced to the Small Open Diapason. I just don't know! The original poster to this thread will find information on the National Pipe Organ Register website, although I am unable to access it at the moment. I keep getting a message telling me I will be directed to a new home page, but that is as far as it gets. From memory, I will attempt to reproduce the current stop list, even if I can't remember all the names: Pedal Sub-Bass 32ft (Accoustic and drawn solely from the 16ft Open Wood rank) Open Wood 16ft Violone 16 ft (extention of Violonecello) Violoncello 8ft Bourdon 16ft (extension of Flute 8ft) Flute 8ft Trombone 16ft Contra Fagotto 16ft (From Swell) Choir (unenclosed) Open Diapason 8 ft Lieblich Gedakt 8 ft Salicional 8ft Voix Angelica 8ft Flute of some sort 4ft Nazard 2 2/3 (but incorrectly labelled as another 4ft flute) Flute of some sort 2ft Clarinet 8ft (Tenor C upwards) Posaune 8ft Great Bourdon 16 ft Large Open Diapason 8ft Small Open Diapason 8ft Lieblich Gedakt 8ft Flute Harmonique 8ft (arguably the nicest stop on the organ) Dulciana 8ft (not like an English Dulciana at all and may originally have been called something else) Principal 4ft Suabe Flue 4ft Fifteenth 2ft Mixture III Posaune 8ft (same as Choir Posaune and sited on its own chest next to the Gt soundboard. The style is more French than anything else, despite its name) Swell Bourdon 16 ft Open Diapason 8ft Lieblich Gedakt 8ft Viole da Gamba 8ft Voix Celeste 8ft Principal 4ft Flute of some sort 4ft Flute of some sort 2ft Mixture III Contra Fagotto 16ft Horn 8ft (I think this is actually a harmonic trumpet in the French style) Oboe 8ft Tremulant (doesn't work) Clarion 4ft Swell Octave Swell Sub Octave Swell Unison Off The two manual mixtures are quint and break once at Tenor B. The clarinet has preparation for the bottom octave, but it has never been fitted. Some remedial work was done in the early 1990s, which included the clarinet being taken away to be cleaned after some water damage. The pipes that came back looked nothing like the ones that went away. In order to avoid any suspicion of libel, I will not name the builder concerned who carried out that work. When the work of Heritage Builders was carried out, I don't think the church knew too much about the original instrument. The main purpose of the work was to make the organ reliable and to replace the original blower, which was housed outside the building, was very noisy and unreliable and drew in cold, damp air that helped perish the leather work. That it lasted so long was a testimony to the quality of the original engineering. The mid 1990s work involved a thorough cleaning of all the pipework, replacing all the leatherwork in bellows, trunking and pneumatic motors. A swell engine replaced the mechanical link on the Swell shutters in preparation for a new, detached console - a dream that has yet to be realised. Pictures of the interior of the church in history books on Ealing show a different appearance to the side of the organ, dating back to before the 1912 work. This was before the Swell organ had been placed there, and it almost certainly would have allowed for better egress of sound into the church. With the benefit of hindsight, a restoration to the two manual scheme would have been better, even if it did not mean the restoration of the original console and pneumatic action, as it would have allowed for a better internal layout and greater egress of sound into the church. I am guessing now, but I think the original Gern scheme of 1884 would have had a stop list along the lines of the following: Pédale Soubasse 16ft Flute 8ft Bombarde 16ft (I don't think the Pedal 16ft Violone 16ft and 8ft in today's instruments were original, but that's only a hunch) Grande Orgue Bourdon 16ft (still there) Montre 8ft (now Small Open Diapason, I'm guessing) Bourdon 8ft (now Lieblich Gedakt) Gambe 8ft (now Dulciana) Flute Harmonique 8ft (still there) Prestant 4ft Flute of some sort 4ft Doublette 2 ft Fourniture ? ranks Trompette 8ft Récit Bourdon 16 ft (still there) Diapason 8ft (now Open Diapason) Lieblich Gedakt 8ft Viole da Gamba 8 ft Voix Céleste 8ft Prestant 4ft Flute Triangulaire 4ft (still there, but now renamed. I remember being amazed at seeing the pipes during the mid 1990s work. I'd never seen a Flute Triangulaire before) Flute of some sort 2ft Plein Jeu III-IV Contra Fagotto 16ft Trompette Harmonique 8ft Basson/Hautbois 8ft Voix Humana 8ft Temblant Gern did live and work in Notting Hill in west London. He built a similar-sized organ in St Stephens in Ealing, which is now redundant. I'm not sure what happened to this organ, but it was rebuilt by Noterman in the 1960s. The organ at Notre Dame de France in Leicester Square has indeed been altered an enlarged several times and is now beyond recognition. I think little of Gern's work survives in tact, so the opportunity to restore an original is rare and should be cherished. Indeed, most of his work seems to have been latered beyond recognition, which is a shame. If Gern had enjoyed some of the same opportunities in London that Cavaillé-Coll enjoyed in Paris and France, the shape of British organ building might have taken a different course at the end of the 19th Century. I've no idea if there are any pictures of him anywhere. I'd be interested to see if anyone else knows more about him or his work. Sorry for such a long post. Regafds Anthony Poole
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