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About sprondel

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    Berlin, Germany
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    Friedrich Sprondel. Grew up in a Orgelbewegung environment with organs by Paul Ott and Flentrop. Interested in everything organ-related from an early age, learned to play the violin. Read Musicology, later a freelance musicologist, journalist, musician, and orchestra dramaturg. Worked with the journal "Orgel International".

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  1. Is it just me, or is there anyone else who also can’t unsee the sleeping monkey king in this curious case? Just wondering. All best wishes, Friedrich
  2. I love this one. A showpiece indeed, if rather an inverted-flamboyant one. https://www.dropbox.com/s/mwu1n68ezbvfb2o/02 Raitio_ Canzonetta.mp3?dl=0 All best wishes, Friedrich
  3. I just found an older comment in another (now defunct) forum in which an organbuilder suggested that the »Terz« approach worked best when applied to the first 24 or 30 notes, from there continuing in pure octaves, so that the beats won’t increase at the former rate. More than one other contributor back then wrote, however, that they tuned individual notes, just by ear, the only condition being that the ranks are positioned sufficiently far apart from each other. All best wishes, Friedrich
  4. In German organbuilding, there is the term “Terzschwebung”, and I understand that this is the most frequent method of celeste tuning. It refers to the tuning process: Both ranks are pulled, and a major third is played; in the sharp rank, the upper pipe is silenced, while in the unison rank the lower one is. Then both remaining pipes are tuned to a pure major third by way of sharpening the celeste pipe. For a flat celeste, the silencing would be done the other way round. That way, the beats per note will increase with the pitch in a pleasant way, and it’s quite easily done. Is this the usual method with British builders as well? All best wishes, Friedrich
  5. In an interview in Orgel International, Olivier Latry repeatedly mentioned Messiaen using his own recordings as points of reference. Apparently, when discussing the music, he sometimes turned to his wife, asking her how again he had done it for HMV’s « Messiaen par lui-même ». So, peculiar as they appear to be when compared to the printed music, he considered them to be of prime importance. On the other hand, he seems to have been very pleased when he witnessed dedicated performers such as Jennifer Bate or Almut Rössler playing his works. Rössler recorded them on three instruments that were quite far from anything he might have been familiar with in France: on the idiosyncratic Rieger of the Neanderkirche, Düsseldorf (everything up to the Mass), on the neo-Schnitger Beckerath of the Johanneskirche Düsseldorf (Trinity meditations), and on the well-known Passau cathedral Eisenbarth (Livre du Saint Sacrement). I believe to recall that all of these performances and recordings were meticulously prepared with Messiaen himself and validated by enthusiastic remarks written on the music and sometimes printed on the LP cover. The only conclusion is that, to Messiaen, the style of the instrument was not as much of importance as the performance, more precisely the intensity and imagination the performers employed to make the music work. Now, this in no way matches his persistent referring to his own Trinité recordings. Apparently, that’s the way it is, and every performer must deal with this in his or her very own manner. All best wishes, Friedrich
  6. In fact, additional to the Guillou recordings (Mussorgsky & Stravinsky, Bach), there are a number of recordings by Ulrich Meldau with orchestral repertoire (Dupré & Demessieux, Bossi, Bartmuß). Gunther Rost recorded one of his Petr Eben CDs there (Job), and there are recordings of light music by Ursula Hauser and of Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s organ music by Livia Mazzanti; David Zinman conducted Strauss’s Festival Prelude there. Apart from the Guillou recordings, however, I consider Keith John’s GEO portrait for priory the most spectacular (Mussorgsky & Alain, Trois danses). Thus, the organ has been well documented in recordings, in which I used to like its bite and expressive power, as well as the unmistakable oomph of its basses. I think it’s regrettable that it has to go, but in part understand the reasons – that organ has always been a soloist with some idiosyncrasies, and probably not the most comfortable of accompanimental instruments. Best wishes Friedrich
  7. First part of the question: As far as I can say, no, they haven’t. It is still up to the builder, consultant and buyer and their mutual relationship to determine specifics such as the use of space in any case, be it new or existing. At some point, the builder might point out that for many reasons he would rather have more space than still more ranks to fit in, and hopefully the consultant will go along with that. As to secure access, I am not sure if there are regulations, but I suspect there are – here a builder might be able to tell more. Second part of the question: Yes and no. Chest layout can of course be done in major or minor thirds, which considerably helps saving space and provides access to some extent without having to resort to walkboards. What usually can’t be done is space saving in the lower range: Where old builders and buyers were completely comfortable with a short or broken bottom octave (starting CDEFGA or CDE, respectively), we expect the full chromatic range throughout, with two to four more large pipes per rank to accommodate. On the chest, they easily account for up to a meter in width. To cope with that, builders in the 19th century set-off large bass pipes, or placed them in or behind the facade, or shared them between ranks (Schulze did this to a large extent, combining Gambas, Salicionals and Diapasons, Hohl Flutes and Stopped Diapasons in the bottom octaves of manual 16- and 8-foot ranks). I often marvel at cases and the respective stoplists, wondering where it all goes. And I admire builders such as Lynn Dobson, who apparently were able to convince their customers not to demand more organ than space will accomodate. Lynn Dobson’s collection of designs, many quite original but with their own internal logic, rarely leaves one wondering how they “did it”. The late Stephen Bicknell wrote several wonderful pieces for Piporg-L on this subject, just to give subscribers an idea of the space needed for an organ of just moderate size. One particularly concise one can be found in the list archives here. He faced the problem on several occasions, and used to be quite self-critical, relating to, among others, an organ built by our hosts which he designed. And his rant concerning St Lawrence Jewry, with its catching bottom-line, is quite legendary among older Piporg-Lers. Best wishes Friedrich
  8. No. 5 is really grand and dramatic, with lots of fire in the first movement and Scherzo and an enormous and well-orchestrated climax in the finale. The second movement, Adagio con espressione, is quite worthwhile as well. My favourite Guilmant sonata by far. Get Michael Schönheit’s recording from the Leipzig Gewandhaus—surprising choice of instrument as it may be, it is incredibly intense throughout. The Morceau de concert op. 24 is a fine piece which works with two subjects and their combination (as do several movements of the 5th sonata). Best wishes Friedrich
  9. The opening recital by Iveta Apkalna can be listened to here (link expires in four days or so). Between pieces, there are interviews (in German) with Apkalna and Philipp Klais. Another Philipp Klais portrait, quite extensive and in German, can be found here, with three decades or so of Klais recordings’ worth included. He comes across as a nice enough chap, though if you compare contents and key phrases between interviews, you notice that he has his talking points well prepared and apparently repeated over and over again. No wonder considering the media coverage of the new hall, which covered the organ quite remarkably. This is free publicity other builders can only dream of, even in the international field. Quite a lot of dynamic compression in the recital recording, I’m afraid, so that e. g. the final chord of Bach’s T, A & F appears to be actually the softest part of the piece! But quite informative otherwise, I think. The organ sounds quite good to me, well balanced choruses and silky foundations, and the basses definitely seem to be one of its many strengths. I am quite keen on hearing it on site, but don’t know when I can make it, given the desperate ticket situation. All best wishes Friedrich
  10. Plug-and-play would be quite improbable, since there are so many variables – or rather, so many ways in which a second-hand rank, without any adapting, may not fit in. What system was the rank voiced on, and what system will have to accommodate it? On what pressure was it voiced originally? Will its speech and scaling support blend with its new neighbours? Maybe there would be a chance if the second-hand rank and your instrument were made by the same builder at approximately the same time, so that the same pipe-makers and voicers might have been involved, the same chest system was used and the same or a quite similar scale sheet be used. Builders like Willis used to produce pipes on an industrial scale and to industrial standards. But as soon as it gets to blend, speech and character, a plug-and-play approach will end up in trouble. Best wishes Friedrich
  11. Well, I guess the idea of reinforcing singing where the main organ won’t reach singers might be as old as the Ecclesiological and Tractarian movements are. At least according to Nicholas Thistlethwaite (Victorian Organ, p. 310f), it was in consequence of those reforms that organs were banned from musically and acoustically efficient locations into corners, chancels, and triforiums. re Colin's remarks: Thanks for these – very informative, and coming with a good explanation for the coming-about of that monster, the Large Open. With the organ at an acoustical disadvantage from the outset (see above), inventions such as this one, utilitarian but not necessarily musically satisfying, were bound to happen – as was, with the arrival of electric action, the nave organ. Personally, I’d prefer one of those anytime. And yes, a Double on the manuals does not hurt, as I have felt many times when singing in service – indeed, a fairly strong bass tends to help as well. How big then would be the step to having a full organ in the nave, if a small one? Something like 16 8 8 4 3 2 IV, 8 4 4 2 Sesq III 8, 16 (Gt) 16 8 4 16 In Freiburg Minster (G), where the organbuilders had to deal with four acoustically distinct spaces (crossing, chancel, nave, and tower), four full organs were built in the 1960ies (Späth, later replaced by Metzler; Marcussen; 2 x Rieger). The nave organ is the most effective one, as well as the smallest of the four (II/21). Here, the Great has no Double, and borrowing between Great and Pedal is prohibited by the prodigious scale of the Pedal Open 16, which makes it the building’s secret 32'. Nevertheless, it carries the singing very nicely all by itself. The large Rieger is much more beefy, especially since its revoicing in 2000, but not quite as noble and easy on the ears. All best wishes Friedrich
  12. That’s most certainly all that’s needed – and a fine organ all by itself it might be! Maybe for its purpose, a rather slow halving ratio wouldn’t be a bad idea, and a 16-foot bourdon wouldn't hurt (if only 12 notes and borrowing from the SD from TC), as it was included in Canterbury Cathedral, IIRC. All best wishes, Friedrich
  13. I believe it was HW IIIrd’s hardly concealed adaptation of Skinner’s stop. Just like his Sylvestrina, which as far as I know is not much different from an Erzähler. Best wishes Friedrich
  14. Is it in fact spelled “Reim”? I’m wondering, because the only builder who ever came up with a similar name was Johann Friedrich Schulze (father to Edmund). In 1847/9, he included a “Riem 16'” in his large organ at Bremen cathedral. The stop was a Bassoon with wooden reeds (in the previously given source, it’s plainly called “Fagott”), an idea which is supposed to have been brought up by cathedral organist Wilhelm Friedrich Riem, after whom the stop was christened. It can't have been terribly successful, as it was exchanged for a more traditional reed in the second half of the 19th century. I am asking because Schulze was to be such a big name in England, and – pardon my frankness – many English writers don't get the German ie/ei (ee/eye) thing right. All best wishes, Friedrich
  15. Yes, for commercial CD recordings he adds the flying mic. The permanent installation, as far as I know, goes without them, so as not to disturb the architecture.
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