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Jeremy Jones

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Everything posted by Jeremy Jones

  1. Reading the potted histories of members of this forum, it becomes clear that I am by no means alone in being fascinated, not to say nuts, about the organ and trains, steam or otherwise. Anyone got any ideas why this might be?
  2. I used to live just behind HTB and the Brompton Oratory, but never went into either so cannot comment on the organs. However, I do recall taking the dog for a walk past HTB every night, where there's a nice piece of grass, around 10.00 pm. For some reason this would coincide with an exodus of pretty young women from HTB, many of whom would make a bee-line for the King Charles Spaniel to rub its ears. Unfortunately, they never showed much inclination to do the same with me.
  3. Fortunate enough to be educated at Haberdashers' Aske's, Elstree and as a boarder at Clifton College, Bristol. I have learnt with varying degrees of success to play the violin, viola, guitar and clarinet (I gave up the latter after passing out mid-lesson, my tutor advising that it helped if I took a breath every now and then). Happiest playing the piano and eventually, once my feet could reach the pedals, Clifton's fabulous 4 manual H&H organ, but never to a standard where I coulld hope to earn a living, although good enough to be let loose once on the public at St Mary Redcliffe. I took part in the Oundle Summer School with tutors Nicholas Danby, Jacques van Oortmerssen and Kimberley Marshall, where although there was much interest in the then new Frobenius organ in the chapel, most organists seemed to be more interested in the silent beast at the other end of the chapel. In my teenage years, by writing nice letters, I also managed to get a few hours on the organs of Hull City Hall, Bristol's Colston Hall, St John's Cambridge (pre-Mander), the Royal Albert Hall (twice) and Royal Festival Hall (also twice, the second time also involving help Ralph Downes to tune the instrument). I found the RFH organ to be a confusing one to register, and have the utmost respect for anyone who can register effectively on this instrument. Also a bit of a singer, first as a treble and then as a tenor. In the Haberdashers choir I sang in a performance of the Berlioz Te Deum conducted by Claudio Abbado at St Albans, although stuck in the south aisle, the boys choirs couldn't see Abbado so were conducted by Richard Hickox standing on a chair watching Abbado on CCTV! Every year we took part in Christmas Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with Richard Stilgoe as compere, one of which was always televised by BBCTV. In the Clifton choir, we went on eventful days out to sing Evensong at Winchester, Exeter and Bristol cathedrals. For a couple of years after leaving Clifton I was in the London Symphony Chorus and took part in some memorable concerts and recordings, including Candide with Leonard Bernstein just before he died. Although I got a few jobs playing weddings, funerals and various services in London, this proved more trouble than it was worth, and although for a while I continued playing, I haven't pulled a stop in anger for a few years now. Workwise, I have been employed by the BBC, British Rail (never again!), Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers (they fired me, and quite right too!) and a Yorkshire building company, where I ran the London office. For the past 10 years I have been a civil servant, first in the old Ministry of Agriculture (Parliamentary Questions and Milk Quotas) and since 2000 with the Food Standards Agency (meat hygiene). I combine this with regular trips around the country by train (another lifelong passion, despite BRs attempts) to go to concerts and organ recitals on instruments I have yet to hear live.
  4. This happened to me at Westminster Abbey but fortunately the organist remained in charge of registering. On that monster, I wouldn't have known where to start!!!
  5. I think MM is right. You don't know quite what to call it - the X factor, musicianship, who knows - but you can tell the real thing when you hear it. If people just go to hear the superstars, the Simon Prestons, DGWs, Thomas Trotters, John Scotts and David Briggs of this world, they will never encounter that fresh sense of discovery you get when you hear an unknown player reveal him/her-self for the first time to be a real talent. Most Sunday afternoons used to find me going along to Westminster Abbey or Westminster Cathedral for the organ recitals. These were, and still are, a bit like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates. You never quite knew what you're going to get. And so sometimes, you come across a real talent that you haven't heard of before, and the hairs stand to attention at the back of your neck. I still remember the first time I heard Martin Baker at the Abbey - I had never heard of this person, but his playing was full of belief and conviction, and I just knew I had heard a major talent for the first time. And lo and behold, it came to pass!
  6. I think this may be connected to a point I previously made elsewhere on this forum about organists staying in one place for too long and getting set in their ways. Ian Tracey (and Ian Wells for that matter) has been at Liverpool for more than 20 years now. Who knows, maybe a move to another post and another instrument would inspire him to explore other by-ways of the repertoire. I think both of these have been done to death, which is why no one mentions them anyone, even the redoubtable Mr Lauwers, although I happen to know he has set up his own forum "The Romantic Organ" which has its own section on the Worcester organ and where Pierre really gives a full background on this instrument from beginnings right up to the present day.
  7. I am almost tempted to hire a fast plane or train to get me to Liverpool tomorrow, if only to be present at this seminal event! Regrettably, Paul's recital clashes with the opening of the new football season, and my thoughts and hopes will therefore be directed elsewhere as Spurs take on Bolton at the Reebok, a real clash of North and South civilisations!
  8. The latest issue of 'The Organ' arrived yesterday, and I have to say that it really isn't bad, with interesting articles on the Klais at Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik and Van den Heuvel at St Eustache, Paris plus other interesting organ related bits and pieces. In comparison, the latest issue of the revamped Organists Review has successive articles on Stanford and Parry, Sir John Stainer, Harold Darke, Henry John Gauntlett, Caleb Simper, Alan Gray and Thomas Attwood Walmisley that remain unread. The only light relief comes from interesting articles by John Norman and Paul Hale and an interview with the always interesting Arthur Wills. Of course, 'The Organ' wouldn't be 'The Organ' if it weren't full of typos and other eccentricities which should have been filleted out at the editing stage. There's a paragraph about a recital Carlo Curley is giving on the refurbished organ at All Saints, Clifton, Bristol on 1 July (when the magazine wasn't published until mid-August) and mention of David Goode's taking no prisoners rendition of the organ solo at the Proms in 2004 in Kodaly's Glagolitic Mass.
  9. DC: Great sub octaves can be terrificly useful things. Christchurch Priory is quite at sea without the one that Geoff Morgan had adde PCND5584: Actually, it was a Nave Sub Octave which was added, which does play through the Nave Flues on Great transfer - but does not affect the GO stops. DC: No it wasn't - it was definitely a Great Sub Octave and affects all the Great stops. Seconds away ... handbags at the ready ... Round 4. (ding)!
  10. The bottom line is that there are good and bad orchestral transcriptions. My real bete noir with them is when, as with the Sibelius Finlandia, they try and emulate the orchestra with an incoherent rumble on the pedals. Thomas Heywood has carved out a niche for himself, and good luck to him, but for me variety is the spice of life. I think Thomas Trotter has got the balance about right. He is known to be something of a specialist when it comes to orchestral transcriptions, and often includes at least one in his programmes, but he is also a very fine player of repertoire written specifically for the organ. It should not be forgotten that transcriptions can be tremendous fun, albeit on the right organ. Wayne Marshall recorded a CD of transcriptions on the scrumptious Hill at Peterborough Cathedral that really is a must-hear. His performance of the Die Fledermaus Overture had me laughing out loud the first time I heard it. He really does find some amazing colours on the Peterborough organ. On the other hand, David Briggs has had more mixed results on disc - a great disc of transcriptions from Truro and a truly awful one from Gloucester (I sent my CD back!).
  11. Bravo MM, couldn't have put it better myself. I first heard Carlo Curley when he came to the Colston Hall in Bristol and his playing just blew me away. Wow! His book is well worth reading, as he really has led an interesting life. I am a big fan and cannot understand those who are snobbish about Carlo. But, and it is a but, I am no fan of his digital touring organ and his Battle of the Organs, which leave me cold. Ah well, nobody's perfect. Talking of which I wonder whether MM was being deadly serious or just rather intense in his extensive posting?
  12. As someone who has, and will, only ever given one organ recital, I have the utmost respect for those who manage to overcome their nerves to put their reputations on the line. Nonetheless, I have in my time sat through far too many recitals that have been ponderous, dull, and quite simply boring. Oh dear! The problem is that much of the organ repertoire was written for liturgical use, where it should remain. Taken out of context and played at a recital, what may have been a moving accompaniment during Communion or other such pauses during a service does run the risk of turning the audience catatonic. So, if a quiet work is desirable at a point in the programme, it should be something along the lines of Vierne's Naides from the 24 Pieces de Fantaisie which is a delightful and quietly registered work but which keeps moving, rather than something hypnotic by Messiaen where if you are lucky you get a chordal progression once ever minute. I may be exagerrating, but you should get my drift. Finally, for those not of hard hearing, the Tuba or en-chamade reed should only be used sparingly!
  13. MM bow your head in shame no longer! I have lived in London for over 30 years and yet have only heard St Paul's once, Southwark twice, and as for the Temple Church or Alexandra Palace - not a sausage. And yet in recent years I have travelled hundreds of miles to hear instruments in Edinburgh, Liverpool, York, Lincoln, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Leicester and St Davids. Funny old world when you ignore what's on your own doorstep! As for Westminster Cathedral, only one recording has ever come close to representing what the instrument is like to hear live. That was by Nicolas Kynaston playing works by Durufle and Dupre which can be found at http://www.mitra-classics.de
  14. It is often said that you should never judge the merits or otherwise of an organ based solely on recordings. On this basis, instruments such as St Sulpice, St Ouen, St Sernin, Yale, St Baavo or Sydney Town Hall have to regrettably be put to one side in favour of: Westminster Cathedral Lincoln Cathedral King's College, Cambridge St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol Liverpool Cathedral
  15. I am grateful for MMs reply to what was admittedly something of a rant. But it does get up my nose how those oop North one minute don their rose-tinted specs and go into raptures about the organ in St George's Hall, and the next are sharpening their knives with relish prior to going in for the kill concerning the RAH organ. Both of these instruments started life as the work of Father Willis and both were later rebuilt with varying degrees of success. One has been the subject of frequent use, as a solo instrument, with symphony orchestras and choirs at the Proms and during other classical concerts, for other various events such as the annual service of Remembrance, Songs of Praise, numours Christmas concerts etc, and considered worthy of having £1.7m spent on it so that it can continue doing so for many years to come. The other, meanwhile, has been allowed to quietly decay, with any work carried out very much on a patch and mend basis, rather than attempting to deal with the underlying problems. I take no pleasure in what has been allowed to happen to the St George's Hall organ, but a little objectivity over the merits or other wise of the Liverpool and RAH instruments would be welcome.
  16. I listened last night (although endured might be a better word) to Christopher Herrick's new Hyperion Organ Fireworks CD played on the C B Fisk Organ at the Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas, USA. Mostly second-rate repertoire - I don't particularly mind that - but I don't actually think I've ever heard such an unlovely instrument as this one. I am not familiar with the work of C B Fisk, but is this instrument representative of their output? Maybe, having just the previous day listened to Huw Williams new CD from St Paul's Cathedral, where I struggled to find the right superlatives to describe this superb recording of a truly wonderful organ, my expectations were too high? But I don't think so. The Dallas organ just sounds so un-musical, and makes me realise just how well Birmingham have done with their Klais.
  17. Having spent my formative years playing a 1911 Arthur Harrison with 8 and 4ft Trombas, I would have welcomed having them revoiced as Posaunes. The Trombas were utterly useless as chorus reeds and they tended to be used most transferred onto the Choir manual in works like Couperin's Mass for the Parishes and John Stanley voluntaries. Not exactly what they were intended for, but what else can you do with them, when if you add them to Great to Mixture, they immediately obliterate the Great chorus. As for the 8ft Large Open Diapason, there was also one of those, and again you had to scratch your head a bit to find some use for it.
  18. "And for the most distressingly mutilated organ in London? Westminster Abbey. Very sad." I would agree in so far as the 16/8/4 Bombarde reeds added in 1987 - they do not sit well with the character of the rest of the instrument. Otherwise, this has always been my favourite London organ. Perhaps not the most eclectic of instruments - I ecould listen to it all day in works by Elgar, Parry, Stanford, Whitlock, Howells, Healey Willan, Alcock et al, i.e. works by British composers, for which I believe it is ideally suited. The full Swell is such a sweet and rich sound, the Tuba Mirabilis is an utter delight and doesn't dominate the ensemble. The RAH organ is a strange one. I've been fortunate enough to have played it twice in my life due to family connections. At the console you just have no idea whatsoever of the power of the instrument - it just goes completely over your head - and yet sit at the very back of the hall and full organ really knocks you sideways. Is it a Willis or Harrison? Ask yourself the same question about Durham, and you probably have your answer. About St Paul's, I'd agree with an eminent contributor to this board, that the recital audience here hears the dome organ, a large echo division (chancel) and some west-end chamades. Very disappointing. This is an organ which only sounds intelligible as a whole in recordings. Agreed, and yet I always found John Scott's recordings have had such a wide dynamic range, which makes domestic listening difficult. However, the sub-organist at St Paul's, Huw Williams, has just got a new CD out on the Guild label that for me is the best recording this organ has ever had. They have focused very much on the Chancel Organ and recorded it quite close so that the acoustic doesn't have a chance to muddy the waters, with the Dome organ very much taking a back seat, but still there, as you can hear when the Trompette Militaire gets an airing in the Meyerbeer Coronation March. Although Westminster Abbey is my favourite London organ, I would arguably say that the greatest has to be the Grand Organ in Westminster Cathedral. This organ really can pack a punch, and yes, the 32ft reed is huge, but it also has some lovely soft registers. A truly heroic romantic organ on which I have been fortunate enough to hear some great recitals in the past. Nicolas Kynaston demonsrated he knows this organ better than anyone, a recital by a young Andrew Millington remains in the memory, as does a recital by Jean Langlais and most memorably, the UK premiere of Messiaen's Livre du Saint Sacrement by Jennifer Bate, with the composer present. Such great occasions today are rare if not non-existent.
  19. Could Healey Willan be said to be a one hit wonder? I wonder, given that he's been given the Naxos treatment with an entire album of organ works. Jeremy Filsell has made a CD on the Guild label of the Reubke Piano Sonata and Organ Sonata on the 94th Psalm, the latter recorded on the Klais at St John's, Smith Square, London. Not sure about Jongen just being famous for the Sonata Eroica. There is the lovely Chant de Mai which he wrote whilst in the UK and John Scott Whiteley haas managed to fill 2 CDs of his organ music for Priory Records.
  20. Well if you're going to be picky.... Maybe CSL did write some hymn preludes, but the nature of oa one hit wonder is that said composer is only famous for one work, and for CSL that work is the Tuba Tune. Anyway, as I understand it, CSL was much more interested in playing scales on the piano and during his time as a teacher at Clifton College in Bristol, could usually be found in one of the cubicles in the Music School perfecting his scale technique on one of the College's battered old upright pianos.
  21. Pardon my Scouse, as I've never heard the organ in St George's Hall live, but from what I have heard on CDs recorded by Christopher Dearnley, Ian Tracey and David Briggs, I remain resolutely underwhelmed by what I have heard. I know, I know, you should never judge an organ by a recording, but to me it has sounded like a poor mans Lincoln Cathedral, with out of tune reeds and an insufficient supply of wind. Were there in fact ever the glory days when this organ was in full working order, and is there anybody still alive who can remember them. And finally, if this organ is such a gem, why haven't the famously generous people of Liverpool dug deep into their pockets (and I do mean the people, not the local authority) and raised the necessary funds to put the sparkle back in this so-called jewel in their crown?
  22. And there was me thinking the Sonata ends on a downward spiral towards the fiery gates of hell.
  23. The problem the RAH have is that organ recitals are a loss maker for them. To simply put on an organ recital means they are going to lose money. So it is understandable why they would prefer to have Eric Clapton, Cirque du Soleil or the Brit Awards as these bring in a financial return. Given this situation, I think the RAH should be applauded for investing £1.7m in the organ rebuild and for putting on recitals with the calibre of DGW, Simon Preston, David Goode and John Scott.
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