Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Jeremy Jones

  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Jeremy Jones

  1. The story behind Manders heroic efforts at a new build at St Peter's, St Louis in the US in your portfolio section is surely a good example of how not to build a new organ, and well worth reading. Perhaps the coup de grace on this project, which I notice has diplomatically not been mentioned but which I had heard about from another source, was that so much of the Manders team's good work at voicing the instrument was summarily undone once the opening recital had been given when carpet was put down all the way down the central aisle by the client. Is the customer always right? Jeremy Jones London
  2. I too have had the good fortune to have played St Mary Redcliffe. Yes, at the console the Swell is pretty overwhelming, but then it is just the other side of the North Choir aisle. The point is that distance, i.e. in the Nave and Choir, puts the Swell into perspective. That being said, perhaps the most pertinent aspect of this instrument is that for visiting organists not used to the unusual layout. it can be difficult to play. Given the distance between the Swell and the Choir, Harrisons placed the softer stops usually found on the Swell and ideal for accompanying St Mary Redcliffe's fine choir, in the Solo swell box on the South side of the Choir. The orchestral reeds, flutes and strings usually found on the Solo are actually on the Swell. Apparently, seasoned users of the organ tend to use the Solo to Choir coupler to get over the need to reach the top manual for these soft strings, flutes etc. Jeremy Jones London
  3. If ever there was a case for an organ (its wonderful case excepted) to go into the melting pot and to start anew, it has to be Gloucester. Maybe events down the road at Worcester, where they are to replace the incumbent with not one, but two, new organs, might just make the unthinkable, thinkable. Jeremy Jones London
  4. Blackburn doesn't have the baggage of the Gloucester instrument, the Walker organ only having been built in the late 1960s and certainly not containing the historic pipe or case work to be found at Gloucester. Blackburn was already a pretty stark and un-compromising instrument, in both visual and sonic terms, and, although I don't approve of the addition of electronic stops, the end result suits the building it stands in, both visually and musically. No, what jars at Gloucester is you have the incomparable setting, an instrument that visually looks in harmony with its surroundings, but sounds anything but. It reminds me of a TV advert for a Manchester-brewed beer that has a bit of fun at the expense of arty perfume ads. Filmed in glossy black and white, this has a beautiful woman sashaying across the screen looking like a Greek goddess, making all sorts of artful poses, such as standing in a waterfall. When handed a pint of said beer, she opens her mouth and in a broad Manchester accent says, "Ta, very much". What you see, and what you hear, just isn't cricket. Jeremy Jones London
  5. He is, of course, bang on! The abomination recently visited upon the Gloucester Cathedral organ is a classic example of indulging an organists' whim for a whiff of authentic Cavaille-Coll a la Notre-Dame in his own organ loft. By all means start from scratch with a Van den Heuvel or suchlike, but don't disembowel an existing English instrument for such a purpose. Mind you, Gloucester was already a lost cause post Downes, so I don't suppose it matters that much. Jeremy Jones London
  6. I suspect that the reason for the differing approaches had less to do with Cecil Clutton and more to do with the cathedral organists at Ely and St Paul's at the time of the rebuilds, namely Arthur Wills and Christopher Dearnley. I recall a review in Organists Review a couple of years ago of Paul Trepte's recording of the Ely organ made after the 2001 restoration. This had distinctly unfavourable things to say about the 1975 rebuild. Perhaps not surprisingly, the next issue of OR contained a long and somewhat defensive letter from Arthur Wills that can simply be summed up as saying: "I woz right!". Jeremy Jones London
  7. I would always regard a tidy organ loft with some suspicion. It suggests someone is taking too much to heart the saying about cleanliness being next to godliness. Time spent cleaning the organ loft is time spent not practising. At school we had a lovely big organ loft and a cupboard full of old organ music left by old boys and teachers. I saved myself a small fortune by rummaging around and finding long lost copies of the Orgelbuchlen, Brahms Chorale Preludes, Vierne's Pieces en style libre, to name just three. And, when it came to my time to leave, I too must have left a few scores behind, as I never saw them again afterwards. It's all part of the charm of a dusty organ loft, overflowing with all sorts of goodies! Long lost works by Berlioz or Handel weren't found in pristine organ lofts, after all. Jeremy Jones London
  8. Of course, much the same could be said about organs, in that it is surely preferable to have an instrument that has an honesty and integrity about it, e.g. New College, Oxford and St Mary Redcliffe, both uncompromising in their own different ways. As opposed to something which tries to be all things to all men, e.g. Tonbridge School Chapel or, dare I say it, St Albans Cathedral! Jeremy Jones London
  9. We have been moaning for months on this discussion forum about the lack of any organ recitals at the RAH, and now we've got one. So everybody happy then? Well, not exactly! I know its churlish, but having receiving in the post a Stop Press notice about the organ recital at the RAH and done a few celebratory cartwheels, my heart sunk like a stone when I saw that it was to be given by the ubiquitous Dame Gillian Weir. As I said, churlish, and of course typically English in having to find something else to moan about. The programme, by the way is: Elgar: Allegro maestoso from Organ Sonata in G Liszt: Fantasia and Fugue on 'Ad nos' - Interval - Elgar: Nimrod from 'Enigma Variations' (arr. Harris) Liszt: St Francis of Paola Walking on the Waves (trans. Rogg) Howells: Rhapsody No. 3 Ives: Variations on 'America' Bovet: Hamburger Totentanz Vierne: Final from 'Symphonie I' Anyone who has already purchased the Priory CD of Dame Gillian playing the RAH organ will know that the 2 Liszt works, the Elgar and Howells are common to both. By the time we reach 26 October, Dame Gillian will already have played most of the works in the RAH recital and CD at her other UK engagements in 2005 such as Belfast, Leicester, Lichfield and St Paul's Cathedrals. Check out her engagements at http://www.gillianweir.com/ if you want confirmation of this. Having been to hear Dame Gillian Weir at Armley and Bridgewater Hall in recent years, I had had growing doubts about her ability to handle such large instruments in repertoire which requires many stop changes. For me, this was backed up by the evidence on the CD, where, contrary to the fawning reviews the disc has been receiving, I thought there were some decidedly odd and abrupt registrations, particularly in the Liszt 'Ad nos' and Cook Fanfare. This is treasonable stuff, and I know I am well out on a limb in what I have had to say in this posting. Nevertheless, and with all due respect to Dame Gillian, was there really no one else of similiar stature who could have been engaged? Jeremy Jones London
  10. Everyone is, of course, entitled to their opinions, but I do not think it necessary to be so glibly dismissive of a design that someone will, in all likelihood, have put a lot of work into. As to whether the current organ in Worcester Cathedral should be saved, or not, it is worth remembering that the Dean and Chapter are the ultimate custodians and have difficult choices to make. It is not quite as black and white as some here appear to think. The current Organist at Worcester, in conjuction with the Dean and Chapter, have to base their decisions on what they, as custodians, believe is best for the future of the Cathedral. They only have to look at their neighbours down the road at Gloucester to realise that whatever decision they take, there will be those who, in all probability, will still be arguing they were wrong 30 years hence. As far as I can see, retaining the existing organ is the easy option. But it may not necessarily be in the long-term interests of Worcester Cathedral. Something to think about before anyone here has another 'pop' at the cathedral authorities. Jeremy Jones London
  11. If its open hunting season on the South Bank Centre, can I join in please? There are two things wrong with the SBC? Firstly, it looks like a dog's breakfast (literally) and is not much fun getting to or from. You either have to step over the homeless en route from Waterloo Station or step over the homeless at Embankment Station and then walk across Hungerford Bridge and step over some more homeless people. Walking across Hungerford Bridge on the 2 or 3 days each year when it's a warm and balmy evening, taking in the panoramic view of St Paul's and the Gherkin as the light refract's beautifully through the layers of smog, can be an enchanting experience. At all other times, you are exposed to the elements, including the howling wind that comes up the river from Westminster, sometimes accompanied by horizontal rain. In fact the SBCs only saving grace is the Harrison/Downes organ, which would sound a whole lot better in a more sympathetic acoustic. No, what's needed for London is a new concert hall somewhere accessible. On my way to work every day I pass what is currently a big hole at the bottom of the Edgware Road by Marble Arch where an entire block has been flattened. This is the ideal size and location for a new concert hall, with superb public transport links to hand. No doubt another boring block of flats or offices is planned to be built here, but one can dream, I suppose. Jeremy Jones London
  12. Having looked at the ECHO website in some detail, it clear that, while I stand by my earlier opinion that the British are not insular, insofar as organ building is concerned, the fact remains that we are not good at setting up the type of organ festivals which would enable ECHO membership. As far as organ festivals are concerned, all we have is Oundle and St Albans, neither of which could possibly feature in ECHO as places with organs of historical interest. Oundle focuses on the 1980s built Frobenius organ in the school chapel but also takes in the wider area of Cambridge, Peterborough etc and St Albans is focused round the 1960s built Cathedral organ. We have lots of odds and sods all over the country, a Liverpool Organ Day here, a London Organ Day there, but nothing of the prestige or duration to which the ECHO countries offer. Part of the problem maybe that as far as the organ is concerned, we have always been late starters. Whether it be the introduction of Pedal boards, or an awakening to the merits of mutations, and later on the neo-classical organ, the conservative British have always arrived late at the party. And we still have a big problem about the organ's image in the UK, no more evident than by the way the Royal Festival Hall and Royal Albert Hall have treated the organs in their care. To date there remain no guarantees about when, or if, the RFH organ will be re-installed. And at the Royal Albert Hall, Manders have done a splendid job in restoring the old war-horse, only for it to be put back into hibernation, save for the occasional Organ Spectacular when the same old Widor Toccata and Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor are rolled out. We've seen for ourselves on this discussion board the open in-fighting over what's left of the Ally Pally Organ. It's surely no wonder the UK hasn't been invited to be part of the ECHO, if we can't take ourselves seriously, why should they? Jeremy Jones London
  13. I have to agree with JPMs comments. For a couple of years I was a member of the London Symphony Chorus and became intimately accustomed with the backstage area of the Barbican Hall. There really is no vacant organ-friendly space behind the rear of the platform. Any organ would have to take up room on a platform, which, when a choir is performing, is already a bit of a tight squeeze. Jeremy Jones London
  14. I think the British are less insular now than we used to be, particularly since the end of the Second World War in 1945. People like Ralph Downes had to drag organ builders like J W Walker & Son and Harrison & Harrison kicking and screaming into the neo-classical age, persuading them to open their eyes, ears and minds to foreign influences. The repercussions of the resulting instruments at places like the Brompton Oratory and Royal Festival Hall are still being felt today in the continuing inward flood of instruments from all corners of mainland Europe - Goll at the RCO and Aubertin at Aberdeen University to name just two recent examples. These commissions are not the acts of an insular nation, far from it. A little bit misguided, perhaps, in the case of the RCO, but not insular. The absence of Great Britain from the ECHO list does not surprise me, as if anything, insularity is the malaise of mainland Europe today, not the UK. Name the last significant commission for a new organ in mainland Europe to go to a British firm of organ builders. I can't think of one. Can you? The only commission I can think of is from an American organ builder, C B Fisk, for Lausanne Cathedral. But no British one. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Jeremy Jones London
  15. I totally agree! The Organ Spectacular at the RAH next month is a re-hash of what was done last year, and there is nothing in the Proms this year to quicken the pulse, certainly nothing like the glory days of Simon Preston rattling the RAH's windows in the Reubke Organ Sonata, for example. One does begin to ask, in the face of such total lack of comittment on the hall's authorities, what was the point in restoring the organ? You only have to look at the series of organ concerts at the Festival Hall and Birmingham's Symphony Hall to see that an imaginatively put together series, well marketed, can draw big audiences. Jeremy Jones London
  16. Is this a comment on the current state of the Worcester organ? Please enlarge. I think this discussion stream, now into its fifth page, has run its course. Now is the time for those here who so enthusiastically, if not always convincingly, continue to object to the plan to replace the existing instrument in Worcester Cathedral with new organs by Kenneth Tickell and Nicholsons, to walk the walk rather than just talk the talk. Someone once said it's good to talk, and so it is, but indulgently emoting at length on this discussion board wont do anything to stop your precious Worcester organ from being chucked in a skip. Carpe diem! Jeremy Jones London
  17. Future generations will surely think whooppee, our cup run'eth over. As it is, Worcester is not exactly over endowed with good instruments right now. When the Three Choirs Festival comes to town every 3 years, as far as organ recitals are concerned within the city walls they have Trevor Tipple's marvellous organ at St Martin's and ... er.... that's about it. A new Nicholson and Kenneth Tickell in the Cathedral would not only provide more choice for solo recitals, they would also be a great addition for works for orchestra and chorus. They would re-invigorate the Cathedral's music life in a way that a restoration of the existing tired instrument would not. As for Worcester being a provincial Cathedral, you only have to look at somewhere like Lincoln, which is comparable (in a provincial sense) to Worcester, to see what the combination of a superb organ and the right personnel can do to project an image way beyond the immediate environment. Lincoln's programme of organ events for 2005 is spectacular for a so-called 'provincial' cathedral. A series of four recitals by French players based at La Madeleine, St Eustache, Notre Dame and St Etienne-du-Mont. There is a series of all-Messiaen recitals by Colin Walsh as well as a couple of mixed programme recitals. Next month they are holding a 9 hour Organ Marathon and in October are staging an Organ Spectular featuring all 4 cathedral organists. Now if that lot's provincial, this 'townie' wants some. Jeremy Jones London
  18. Although I do have some sympathy with those who would wish to retain the existing Worcester instrument, sometimes a line has to be drawn in the sand. Now I did once hear a story that Stephen Cleobury wanted to replace the King's Harrison with a neo-classical instrument the like of which one finds in most Oxbridge chapels these days. Whether true or not, the fact remains that the existing Harrison organ, despite a few changes made in the intervening years, neverthless still retains the unity of vision of its creator, Arthur Harrison, has not been subject to rebuilds by various different organ builders, and is to my knowledge in excellent working order. The same cannot be said of the Worcester organ, which is an amalgum of Hill, Hope-Jones, Harrison, Nicholson, Wood Wordsworth etc. and in very poor condition. The plans in hand for two new instruments by Tickell and Nicholson are exciting, and can only re-invigorate the Cathedral's music making in a way that the dead hand of a further rebuild of the existing instrument could never do. Jeremy Jones London
  19. Hope-Jones re-built and enlarged the organ at St George's Church, Hanover Square, London, in 1894. Although this was almost entirely replaced by a new instrument by Harrison & Harrison in the early 1970s, the Choir Organ remains almost completely Hope-Jones: Open Diapiason 8 Lieblich Gedackt 8 Flauto Traverso 4 Flageolet 2 Larigot (Harrison) Corno di Bassetto 8 Tuba 8 The old Hope-Jones console was also retained and is on the south side of the choir. There is of course also the 4 manual 1897 Hope-Jones organ in the McEwan Hall, University of Edinburgh, rebuilt by Willis in 1953. Jeremy Jones London
  20. I believe before he left Westminster Cathedral to take up his current post as Sub-Organist at Westminster Abbey, Robert Quinney made a couple of recordings on the Henry Willis III Grand Organ for Signum Records. They have not yet been released. Jeremy Jones London
  21. I have a question. Why is it that it is deemed unnecessary to publish in advance the programme for organ recitals? Does the repertoire not matter? This seems to be a situation you only really find with organ recitals, and in particular, those held in churches or cathedrals. Recitals, or concerts as they are sometimes called, in secular venues such as the Royal Festival Hall and Birmingham's Symphony Hall always publish what works are to be played. But enter a sacred place and it always tends to be a mystery until shortly before curtain up, when all is revealed. There are exceptions. Organ-centric places such as Lincoln Cathedral and Liverpool Anglican Cathedral are very good at publishing well in advance the programme, but they are the exception rather than the rule. Let me give two examples to back up my claim. Following some recent work on Bristol Cathedral's Walker organ, David Briggs gave a re-opening recital last week. David's website had mentioned this a number of months ago, and in recent weeks whenever you logged onto Bristol Cathedral's website you couldn't fail to miss the banner highlighting the event. But as to the programme itself, neither website revealed so much as a sausage, and a Google search revealed no one else was any the wiser. Why the big secret? Now next weekend Andrew Caskie is giving a recital at the Reid Memorial Church in Edinburgh. All that I could find on the internet about this recital is that it features (Alfred) Hollins and his contemporaries. Now I am by chance going to be in the vicinity so I will probably go along anyway, but that really is not the point. What seems to be the case, as far as I can see, is that it really doesn't matter what pieces are played at organ recitals - it's the instrument, and maybe the player as well that are the draw. What they actually play is secondary. Why should this be the case? Doesn't it matter whether Rheinberger, Messiaen or Bach is being played? Some people don't like Messiaen, and heresay though it is to say so, some people don't like Bach much either! But I think we need more detail than just the composer. Often it will just say: "Music by Bach, Howells, Liszt". But if you've gone that far, why not go the whole hog and tell us the very pieces that are to be played. Why should it have to be akin to getting blood out of stone? Jeremy Jones London
  22. Alistair is quite right, Gillian Weir has not recorded the full version of Elgar's Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1, but plays an abridged edition. I do not see the point, other than to pay lip service to the work. I'd have preferred a complete P&C and no Nimrod. The organ does sound fabulous, though, and real tribute to Manders excellent craftsmanship. Jeremy Jones London
  23. In any event, Simon Preston's DG recording of the Liszt and Reubke, recorded at Westminster Abbey after the 1982 restoration but before the Bombarde section was added in 1987, has for many years now been deleted and there are no plans to re-release it. I was fortunate enough to successfully bid for a copy of the CD at an on-line auction, although I had to pay a small fortunate to oubid others. The changes wrought on the instrument, other than the new Bombarde section, undoubtedly improved the instrument. The 32ft reed now has some fire in its belly and the Great Trombas slimmed down to true chorus reeds. All is needed now is a few new CDs to document this for those who cannot hear the instrument live. Unfortunately, since the addition of the Bombarde section, there have to my knowledge only been two recordings of the organ made - by Jane Watts in 1988 (Priory) and Andrew Lumsden in 1991 (Guild), the latter long since deleted. Jeremy Jones London
  24. Quite so, Pierre. There is nothing inherently wrong with the fashion in organ building moving towards French style chorus reeds, and on the right instrument, such as St Ignatius Loyola, they make perfect sense. But Westminster Abbey? You would be hard pushed to find a more English sounding instrument, where the Swell is sweetness personified and provides colouring that is ideally suited to the works of Howells, Whitlock and Elgar, and the 8ft Tuba Mirabilis is silky smooth and totally inoffensive, but wonderful all the same. To which has been bolted on a brassy battery of Bombarde reeds totally at odds with the rest of the instrument. What may be fine for Coventry Cathedral or St George's Chapel, Windsor, just does not make any sense at the Abbey, and shows a serious error in judgement by the normally reliable Durham organ builders. Jeremy Jones London
  25. An interesting thread is developing here. Organists can sometimes be their worst enemy, but organ builders don't always help by providing Bombarde sections containg batteries of reeds which are anything but musical. JPM has admitted here that the Birmingham Bombarde probably needs to be reined in a bit. Another Bombarde section which I have never liked is the one installed at Westminster Abbey in 1987 by Harrisons. The 16/8/4 reeds are anything but refined and sound coarse and harsh and make no attempt whatsoever to blend in with the rest of the instrument. But of course, organsists adore them! I was at the re-opening recital at the Abbey in 1987 given by Simon Preston and still recall with shock the impact the new reeds made when used at the climax of the Dupre Symphonie-Passione. I literally had to cover my ears to protect them from this assault. Jeremy Jones London
  • Create New...