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Everything posted by sprondel

  1. Hello Niccolo, someone got back to me and helped clearing matters up a bit. There are several extended ranks or units: Trumpet 32-16-8-4, Double Open Bass 32-Open Diapason 16-Open Diapason II 8, Bourdon 32-16-8. The first 12 of the 32-foot flues are actually wired Quint combinations. The Trumpet 16-8-4 unit went in when the organ was first installled in 2008 in its original case, the 32-foot octave was added with the later enlargement. The Tuba has its own short chest just between the case and the southern wall of the transept. About what fits, or may fit, into a case, opinions differ quite a lot between organists and builders. The people to ask, I believe, are the builder's service-and-maintenance staff! There is a very readable piece by the late Stephen Bicknell about that, which I will try to dig from the Piporg-L archives. (In short, I guess he would have taken a glance at the oddly-shaped case and quickly left the site.) I tend to feel a bit uncomfortable when seeing a case and having to wonder where it all went. All best wishes Friedrich
  2. Someone from the German Pfeifenorgelforum commented yesterday on how cute the ears looked on the bottom right pipe. Indeed. Best wishes, Friedrich
  3. Fraser has become a staple in the German online organ community over the last one to two years. What I like about him is how he embraces the many facets of the German organ culture, as you can easily see from his many organ portraits. They cover a huge spectrum, including organ reform instruments, your basic seventies or eighties parish church German organ, organs built specially for contemporary music, the pseudo-French giant at Bonn-Beuel and now Gackenbach. I suspect you won't find many colleagues of German origin with such open enthusiasm and relaxed attitude to diverse concepts and repertoire. About Gackenbach, it might be interesting to look here to see how the Nelson was originally installed there, i. e. in its original case and with only modest additions. I guess the original specification might have been along these lines: 8 8 8 8 4 2 — 8 8 8 8 4 8 — 16. The foremost addition seems to be an unenclosed, floating Trumpet division (or unit?) 16 8 4, extended to 32 for the pedal. The Pedal flues might well be extensions of the one Bourdon: plus 12 pipes for the Bass flute, plus 12 wired Quint combinations for the 32-foot. About the “Contra Trumpet” extension, I am a bit out of my wits—perhaps another wired Quint (which sometimes works really well), or they managed to really hide twelve half-length resonators somewhere. As to the enlarged organ, on the builder’s page you can easily spot the new Solo box in the enlarged case, fenced in by the new 16-foot façade pipes. The Solo apparently adopted the Great Mixture and got its own Trumpet; the rationale being perhaps to complement the otherwise over-used floating Trumpet division (or unit). The new Killinger Tuba is hidden behind the enlarged case. On the builder’s page the second 32-foot is listed as “Harmonik Bass” (instead of “Double Open Bass” as it reads elsewhere), and I suspect this is the single Open Diapason 16, available in the Great as well as in the Pedal, with a wired Quint for the lowest 12. There is a very fine recording of the instrument available from Aeolus. It gives a vivid impression of the Tuba (for another one, see here). It really is huge, though at 300 mm still musical, and generous in character rather than brutal. It apparently forced the overall volume level of the recording down quite a bit! All best wishes Friedrich P. S. About the Norwich puzzle, Fraser might have taken a glance at the stamp-sized picture and have mistaken it for King’s College Cambridge. Would have been only slightly less bad, admittedly. P. P. S. It was confirmed to me today from someone in the know: The Open Diapason 16’, Double Open Bass 32’ (and Open Diapason No. II) are the same rank, and the Trumpets 32 to 4 are one unit. The 32-foot octaves are organised as guessed above.
  4. Well, St Stephen’s is a very large and acoustically difficult space, in fact quite cavernous, built from rather porous limestone that tends to swallow up much of the sound energy. kropf knows it intimately, perhaps he could provide some more specific insight. I think it is exactly the kind of space that needs an awful lot of organ, and especially a Great division that can sing out from pole position, if you want to arrive at anything approaching a satisfactory musical experience. I am quite sure that this was the rationale for massaging the huge Great into that very narrow space. I wish I could hear the result as soon as possible – for now, travelling is quite impossible. To me, additionally it is interesting, as I wondered how to “organ” that space from the instant I laid eyes on this organ’s impressive architecture. Back around 1987, I listened to a recital by then cathedral organist Peter Planyawsky. Wonderful façade, ingenious playing, but a sound that was so utterly dull that one wanted to scream. Best wishes, Friedrich
  5. Internally, the organ is laid out quite interestingly. The arch under which the instrument sits has another connection about 5 ft behind the main façade of the organ, a diaphragm arch 5 ft deep and 10 feet high where it connects to the pillars on either side (scroll down on this page to see it during construction of the new organ). This arch, hidden by organ cases for centuries, posed severe acoustical problems for the 1960 organ, as most of the pipework was placed behind it. The arch, needless to say, is indispensable for the statics of the building. Rieger, however, managed to get their 22-stop Great organ between the façade and said arch. They divided it in two major divisions, each on two levels.The basses of either section, C to h, are placed on C and C# chests running front to back on the level of the cornice of the façade. On top of each pair of bass chests sits a treble chest, starting at c' and running sides to centre. The infamous connecting arch sits just behind the treble chests. So the overall layout, left to right, is: Cornice level: basses of Gt I, C / Gt I, C# / Gt II, C / Gt II, C#; upper level: Gt I, trebles / Gt II, trebles. On either side of this six-chest, 22-stop Great are the chests for the smaller pedal ranks, just behind the 32-foot towers (which, incidentally, belong to the Great). On top of the arch, behind the 32-foot towers, are the two Solo boxes, divided C—C#; on either side of the tower space, behind the Solo boxes and equally divided, those of the Swell. Behind the arch, inside the tower space, a large pit houses the larger Pedal ranks. On top of the arch are the horizontal reeds, speaking right across the Great. In the middle of the parapet, there is the Rückpositiv; in the North and South aisles, there are two more parapet façades, masking two additional enclosed divisions. All best wishes, Friedrich
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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.
  21. In Saint-Sulpice, there has been a permanent mic installation for several months now, put in place by Christoph Martin Frommen, sound engineer for the Aeolus CD label. The installation was used, among others, for Fugue State Filmss Widor DVD set. On a regular basis, it's used to capture the auditions. The microphones are mounted on the massive cornices on either side of the nave. All best wishes Friedrich
  22. Question 1: Yes, we are. One reason might be that this those instruments are so far apart – too far for many of us to visit and hear in the flesh. Plus, not two large organs are alike, because in most venues individual solutions are required, which makes them even more interesting. And, not least: Large organs often seem more versatile musically than smaller ones – seem, as many Willis beasts or the St Mary Redcliffe dragon are highly specialized in their own ways, and not as open to a larger repertoire than one might think judging by the stoplist only. Second part of the question: No, we shouldn’t. Third part of the question: Yes, definitely. What you never get from a large organ in a large building are real subtleties in speech, voicing and balance. Those can rather be enjoyed in smaller organs and more direct acoustics. It’s those that convey the really fine builder. Mediocre ones can get away with much shoddy stuff if the acoustics are mercifully large. Which answers the last bit of the question: I highly doubt that – if only because you very well can hide mediocricy in a large organ, whereas in a small one you can’t. Question 2: This one gets to a real problem. Large organs are for large spaces, period. 32-foot stops are not for your average parish church, much less for school or home installations. A large organ is another kind of instrument than a middle-range or small one, it poses different problems as well as opportunities and calls for different handling and repertoire. “Organ” really is a collective term for a class of instruments, rather than a single instrument. For example, I lately spent an entirely delightful hour with this CD – all repertoire played on a 4-foot based Italian chamber organ with this spec: 4-4 (flute)-1 1/3-1, the last two breaking; meantone. No 2-foot, no 8-foot. But all on relatively high pressure (64 mm), with energetic voicing. That’s nothing any cathedral organ could give me! The problem with large organs is, they are large machines too, and make themselves felt as such, which in itself is a fascination, just as a large steam engine or historical power station would be. Musically, they clearly have their limitations – more indeed than middle-range ones. On question 3, I will have to ponder a little. But it sounds like a great idea. Only, you could exclusively defend it with results – you will have to listen to those obscure instruments to understand why they were included. Among recent CD issues, this one came to my mind immediately. Pleasure from beginning to end! All best, Friedrich
  23. First question: In Franck’s own organ at Saint-Clotilde, there were a Flûte traversière, a Bourdon, a Gambe and a céleste. I'd expect that the classical Voix humaine registration would be Bourdon, Vh, tremulant. In this case, the Flûte would still be out – perhaps because Franck’s Récit was comparably small and on the lyrical side. I would start with the classical solution (in your case, Lieblich, Vh, tremulant). The Diapason wouldn’t really fit in, as in a Voix humaine registration, one is supposed to hear a reed sound without much else. Second question: No, it never is, except when explicitly called for. All best wishes Friedrich
  24. I quite distinctly recall finding, in the early 90ies, my first GEO series CDs offered specially at low-price at the local music shop in Freiburg. Among the first I bought was the Ely one, with Dr. Arthur Wills playing the Guillou Toccata, some Parry, Widor’s Romane and an eight-movement Symphonia Eliensis of his own making. I remember being quite flabbergasted at the sound of the Harrison, as well as at the forceful impact of Dr. Wills’s playing. Furthermore, at that time, British organbuilding and organ music was virtually unknown in Germany, where everyone was still firmly walking West and trying to grasp the French stuff. So this was exciting news to me, and must have been to many. Nowadays, German churches are buying redundant Binnses by the dozen. Whoever collected CDs from the GEO series might have his or her favourites. I can’t quite choose between the Ely one, the late John Scott’s organ sonata disk from St Paul’s (including, entirely brilliant, the Elgar) and Roger Sayer’s Reykjavik programme. Graham Barber’s disk from Coventry is another favourite, not so much for the Karg-Elert symphony, which I never quite got the knack of, but more so for Francis Jackson’s beautiful 4th sonata and Sowerby’s Pageant of Autumn. I believe the series owes much to its first handful of players: Graham Barber, Jane Watts, John Scott, John Scott Whiteley, and Keith John (who, to my ears, always chose the most exciting programmes). Of course there were more, and equally brilliant, players, but these five name seem to have set a standard that radiated through much of the whole series. In which I found surprisingly little repetition in the repertoire, btw. It’s a bit ironic, I think, that it has to end just this year. The last disk is, apart from being quite brilliantly played and recorded, so very distinctly British. Along with the Elgar, it also includes Bridge’s Adagio, Whitlocks “Dignity and Impudence”, and Rawsthorne’s Londonderry Air, as well as both of William Walton’s coronation marches, framing movements from his Henry V incidental music. It’s probably silly by me to see symbolized here the whole mad tragic of 23 June – a Great European Organ, being heard with a programme that seems to belie the title of the very series it concludes. And now look what Stephen Cleobury played, at King’s in 1986, for the very first volume. Other times back then. All best wishes indeed, Friedrich
  25. The smaller organ dates from about the same time as the larger one. It was built in two stages in 1467/1515 by unknown builders, and was rebuilt and enlarged in 1636/7 by Friedrich Stellwagen, one of the most important North-German builders of the era whose main achievement is the large and incredibly beautiful 24-foot organ at St Mary’s, Stralsund, which has been restored around 2000 to its original state. The small organ at St Jakobi is one of the most important landmark instruments in the North. After much enlargement and rebuilding, which included the case (the rebuilt one, incidentally, was drawn once by A. G. Hill), it was restored in 1977 by Hillebrand of Hannover, with reconstruction of the original case and stoplist and slight enlargment of the much tampered-with pedal. The original Subbass, then lost, had been in lead, and at first, the organbuilders couldn’t find lead with the right amount of contamination so that the pipes could actually support themselves. The builders then turned to a church in the Netherlands which got its roof re-leaded, bought the centuries-old lead sheets at a bargain prince, and fashioned the new Subbass from those. The Great sports an almost entirely original chorus of gothic origin, while most of the remaining pipes were built by Stellwagen, except the pedal, which was almost completely new in 1977. Find a stoplist and history (in German) here. Harald Vogel recorded vol. 1 of his complete Buxtehude here. The sound is incomparable – so much depth and sweetness, and a plenum of wonderful blend, balance and control. Best, Friedrich
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