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Here is a question that might seem funny:

 

Has there yet been an organ possesing both closed toned chorus reeds (of the Tromba kind) and french - I mean quite free-toned- Trompettes?

Noël Bonavia-Hunt describes three kind of chorus reeds: the closed-toned, the normal (he meant the Willis type) and the free-toned french one. He compared the first with the Flute, the second with the Open Diapason and the last one with the Gamba family.

The three flue stops families blend perfectly together, how would do the three chorus reed types?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Presumably about as well as kippers and custard....

 

I suppose that they equate roughly to Trombi as perceived by Arthur Harrison, chorus Trumpets by 'Father' Willis (or possibly Walker, or Posaunes by William Hill & Son) and then C-C Bombardes and Trompettes.

 

I cannot immediately think of a British instrument which has all three types, but knowing examples of the above quite well, I do not imagine that one would ever wish to mix them on one organ. There would be little point, really, since they would be unlikely to blend. I do know of a few instruments which have attempted to mix two of the types - with, in my view, somewhat limited success. I would always prefer some homogeneity to the tonal design of an organ. The result is usually more 'honest' than that of some so-called eclectic instruments.

 

To be frank, I can see little of musical value in existing H&H Trombi; their opaque, un-blending tone tends to stand away from the flue-work. In any case, they are usually so powerful (often on 10" - 12" w.g.) that they obliterate the rest of the G.O., where they are normally found. Examples extant are Ripon Cathedral (although I think they have been tamed, here, since they sound more musical and appear to have more harmonic development than of yore), Crediton Parish Church, Devon (this still has its Harmonics IV on the Great, complete with flat twenty-first) and King's, Cambridge. Here again, though, they are not typical, due to the fact that the G.O. Trombi were enclosed in the Solo box at the 1934 re-build by H&H.

 

Some good examples of musical G.O. chorus reeds are (I know that was not quite your original question): Exeter (H&H), Bristol (Walker), Gloucester(Willis/H,N&B/Downes), Coventry (H&H), Winchester (Willis/H&H) and Salisbury (Willis). The latter is, I think, a better example than say, Truro, where the G.O. reeds are perhaps a little too loud for the building. I have also not included examples where the G.O. reed chorus does not include the sub-unison, such as Chichester or Worcester, good as these reeds are.

 

However, my own personal favourites are examples such as the C-C at S. Etienne, Caen (G.O.) and Notre-Dame and S. Sulpice, Paris.

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Thanks Pcnd,

 

So there is still a genuine Harrison's "Harmonics" mixture at Crediton. This is interesting! how does it do?

As far as I understand Arthur Harrison's style, this stop could be an attempt to bind flue stops and Trombas togheter.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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I can't think of any organ that would satisfy Pierre's requirements of having both (H&H-style) Trombas and (ACC-style) Trompettes. However, I would be interested to hear from anyone who has played or heard the Fisk instrument at Lausanne Cathedral.

 

I understand that the Lausanne Fisk has a somewhat mixed pedigree. A primarily Clicquot-style Grand-Orgue flue chorus, but with added 8' fonds to bring out its French Romantic side. A large German Mixtur as an alternative to the Fourniture and Cymbale. And Trommeten at 16' and 8' pitches as alternatives to the ACC-style Trompette chorus.

 

The Positif de Dos is apparently based on a German Baroque chorus, but again with French and German mixtures as alternatives. It also contains all the mutations that one would expect in both a classical French Grand-Orgue and Positif. Plus a Schnitger-style Dulzian 16' and a Cromorne 8' after Dom Bedos.

 

And more ...

 

Does it work? I've heard some of the Fisk firm's (older) work in the USA, and was quite impressed. But - on paper at least - this mixing and matching certainly looks strange (although it certainly does have its antecedents in the "American Classic Organ") ...

 

Regards

Malcolm F

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Here's another one from the Fisk stable ... and perhaps a little closer to what Pierre has in mind.

 

I just had another look a the Fisk website, and was reading about "Opus 126" at Greenville, North Carolina. The stoplist is primarily French nomenclature, and from the presence of both a Récit Expressif and Positif Expressif, I would assume French Romantic pipework and voicing to match. However, the Grand-Orgue includes a Trommeten 8', while the Pédale includes both that stop (by transmission) and a Posaune 16' as well as the French reeds. Based on what has apparently been done at Lausanne, I would assume that the Trommeten and Posaune are firmly German Baroque in style.

 

But wait, there's more! (Sounds like I'm making a special offer on steak-knives, doesn't it ...) The Positif Expressif includes a Tuba Mirabilis 8'. My guess is that this is an English-style tuba, rather than a register along the lines of the Cavaillé-Coll / Mutin stop of the same name at the Sacré-Coeur.

 

Alright, I've assumed and guessed enough for this post. Does anyone out there know this instrument? Have the good people at Fisks incorporated three quite different reed styles into their new organ at Greenville? And done so successfully?

 

Regards

Malcolm F

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Actually I'd mix reeds from the very same epoch, not "Baroque" with "romantic".

 

Here is an example of belgian late romantic organ, an intact 1931 Anneessens:

 

http://users.skynet.be/sky25034/fr/index.html

 

It's a frame, so:

-Click on "orgues" above

-Then on the right "Saint-Martin Ypres".

 

You'll find two MP3s (with...Elgar!!!)

 

What do you think of this organ?

 

Lausanne I do not know, but the french fellows on the french forum are very found of Crediton (I posted the same link).

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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However, I would be interested to hear from anyone who has played or heard the Fisk instrument at Lausanne Cathedral.

 

 

Dear Malcolm,

 

Go by yourself and make the journey to Lausanne because for me, the whole thing is totally unmusical and opressing in this beautiful Cathedral. It is the only Fisk I have heard, but what a disappointment....

 

Listening to this instrument, I think that no european organ builder (continental nor english) has any lesson to take from this instrument.

 

The former Kuhn was nicely voiced, but badly disposed. Now the disposition is only a little bit better (th Great is at the top of the towers with the basses just behind the front pipes.......), but the voicing is loud and dull, I found. I also find the winding is rather unstable.

 

This organ cannot be compared to the various glorious organs (although very different from continental ones !) there are in the UK !!!!!!

 

This is of course a personal opinion. And I only heard it during concerts, but did not really visit it yet.

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Yes - I have played it. The restoration has, in my view, been undertaken extremely well. The new stops include a 32' octave to the Pedal Ophicleide and an extension of the G.O. Gross Geigen, making it playable at 8' pitch.

 

The 'Harmonics' is very bright - it does not break back for ages, but the brightness is somewhat unsociable, being fearfully edgy.

 

The Trombi ranks have, I think, been restored, not re-voiced. Trust me, here - you would not want to play Couperin or de Grigny on them.... They are probably OK for Elgar, but still very loud and opaque in tone, having practically no harmonic development. Personally, I think that the Harmonics does not help to bind the reeds to the rest of the chorus - they are just too 'dead'.

 

However, I am certain that it was correct to retain the 1921 H&H specification and voicing in toto - it is the only surviving largely un-altered Arthur Harrison that I can think of. Don't think I would want to play Bach on it, though. Having said this, I do not imagine that it has any problems leading the singing in a full church - even if they sang like Methodists....

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All Saints Margaret Street in London has also recently had work done on it by H & H and as well as sounding really rather good copes well with many areas of the repertoire that one would not expect to work.

AJJ

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Here's another one from the Fisk stable ... and perhaps a little closer to what Pierre has in mind.

 

I just had another look a the Fisk website, and was reading about "Opus 126" at Greenville, North Carolina.  The stoplist is primarily French nomenclature, and from the presence of both a Récit Expressif and Positif Expressif, I would assume French Romantic pipework and voicing to match.  However, the Grand-Orgue includes a Trommeten 8', while the Pédale includes both that stop (by transmission) and a Posaune 16' as well as the French reeds.  Based on what has apparently been done at Lausanne, I would assume that the Trommeten and Posaune are firmly German Baroque in style.

 

But wait, there's more!  (Sounds like I'm making a special offer on steak-knives, doesn't it ...)  The Positif Expressif includes a Tuba Mirabilis 8'.  My guess is that this is an English-style tuba, rather than a register along the lines of the Cavaillé-Coll / Mutin stop of the same name at the Sacré-Coeur.

 

 

Oh my God.... Someone actually built this??

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Well,

 

No french organist would have the idea to play de Grigny at Crediton -there are enough excellent organs for that, far more than 1921 Harrisons-. But if you want to have an idea of what they think about Crediton, have a look here (in french):

 

http://forum.aceboard.net/18898-3215-17612...21-restaure.htm

 

So it seems there is potentially more interest for such a style on the continent than in UK. In french we say "Nul n'est prophète en son pays" (Nobody is seen as a prophet in his own country).

 

So don't worry. The french who will go to Crediton (there are two yet planning just that) do not expect of it to beat Poitiers in Couperin. I do not even think they will take such music with.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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All Saints Margaret Street in London has also recently had work done on it by H & H and as well as sounding really rather good copes well with many areas of the repertoire that one would not expect to work.

AJJ

 

 

Yes - did they not also alter the 1970s mixtures on the Swell and G.O.? Apparently they did not blend. However, since I have not played it for several years, I cannot remember. I do remember thinking that it was a fantastic instrument, thought - endless variety in beautiful quiet sounds.

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Thanks, Pierre.

 

I think they will find the journey worthwhile. But, arguably (and for different reasons), it has the same problems of restricted repertoire that one encounters at St. Bavo, Haarlem. I know it plays Baroque and modern music well, and it cannot reasonably be expected to play the entire repertoire without compromise. But - no Franck, no Widor, no Vierne, no Reger? No thanks! (Apart from problems of compass, one would need at least two registrants, a personal fitness trainer and a large bottle of Vodka in order to accomplish such a feat.)

 

(I know, the words 'can' and 'worms' come to mind....)

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I think we should accept that any charachterfull organ is limited in repertoire. Nobody today would still advocate to put a Swell on a Silbermann....Or a shrill Diapason chorus in a Cavaillé-Coll.

 

If Crediton permits Elgar, Howells plus the 19th century english choral music like S-S Wesley's, it is largely enough to justify its existence. Should we find an intact Samuel Green's organ today, it would be welcomed as a kind of miracle, and nobody would dare modify a nail from it. But it would actually permit even less "repertoire" by far.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Nobody today would still advocate to put a Swell on a

Silbermann....Or a shrill Diapason chorus in a Cavaillé-Coll.

For better or worse - see the comments above by PF Baron and pcnd5584 - this is exactly the impression I take from reading about the Fisk firm's current work. It seems that they are building instruments that have the French Romantic organ as their basis, and then grafting onto them Clicquot mutations (Lausanne), a Cromorne in the style of Dom Bedos (Lausanne again), a Schnitger Dulzian (still Lausanne), German Baroque Trommeten in addition to Cavaillé-Coll Trompettes (both Lausanne and Greenville), a German Baroque Mixtur as alternatives to the Cavaillé-Coll Fourniture and Cymbale (again both Lausanne and Greenville), and adding a Tuba Mirabilis to the "blend" (Greenville). If not putting a Swell on a Silbermann, certainly this could in part be viewed as adding a shrill Diapason chorus to a Cavaillé-Coll.

 

While I applaud the concept of trying to allow an instrument to perform a large portion of the repertoire with (some degree of) authenticity, I do wonder if perhaps these instruments might be taking things a little too far. In this, I'll have to reserve my judgment for the time being, since where I'm located now - Perth, Western Australia - is a long, long way from either Lausanne or Greenville.

 

Do we need to go so far, in any case? In his book on the William Hill & Son magnum opus at the Sydney Town Hall, incumbent organist Robert Ampt wrote that Gustav Leonhart told him that, "if the result is convincing, the impression will be authentic". To me, at least, these are wise words. While I think one will always need to be somewhat judicious in choosing music played on any particular organ, one can surely travel a long way beyond that for which it was originally "designed".

 

In this respect, I assisted a friend quite a number of years ago with the registration of Reger's "Halleluia Gott zu loben" on a moderately-sized instrument in the Netherlands with neither a Swell box nor a crescendo pedal, nor indeed anything much at all in the way of registration aids. Yet the result was without doubt Reger - not, perhaps, as the composer had intended it, but nevertheless a most convincing performance. Isn't that all that we need aspire to?

 

Regards,

Malcolm F

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Yes, Malcolm,

 

And they advocate this without apology, because as americans they feel free to mix the styles this way. I personnaly believe this kind of synthesis to be outdated. Before WWII, a young german organ-builder, Rudolf Von Beckerath, came to France to work with a former Cavaillé-Coll's voicer, Victor Gonzalèz. Together they created the french version of the "neo-classical" organ, which is a mix of Cavaillé-Coll and Schnitger's influences, plus some hints of baroque french organ added by consultants like Norbert Dufourcq. The results are sometimes excellent; a good example is Soisson's cathedral organ (1956).

But when they succeeded as a musical instrument, these organs were nor an ACC, nor a Schnitger, nor a Clicquot, but something else. It was the organ for Messiaen, Dupré, Duruflé, Alain etc.

 

I'd try something even different: to enlight a belgian late-romantic organ (to be heard with a link above) with english and german accents, but from the very same period. Such a trial should, of course, take place in a new construction, never in an existing organ -belgian late-romantic organs are rare gems- and could satisfy the wishes to play both Elgar, Reger and Widor if it succeeds (which it will never fully do).

Even within such a restricted scope, the problems are many. There is the question of the chorus reeds, but the soundboards too are different: belgian and german late-romantic organs had ventil chests, while the english had slider-chests. Tonally this makes quite a difference.

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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I think we should accept that any charachterfull organ

is limited in repertoire.

Nobody today would still advocate to put a Swell on a

Silbermann....Or a shrill Diapason chorus in a Cavaillé-Coll.

 

If Crediton permits Elgar, Howells plus the 19th century

english choral music like S-S Wesley's, it is largely enough

to justify its existence.

Should we find an intact Samuel Green's organ today, it would

be welcomed as a kind of miracle, and nobody would dare modify

a nail from it. But it would actually permit even less "repertoire"

by far.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

 

I would agree - up to a point. Just as long as it is not an original Hope-Jones....

There used to be one at Pilton, in North Devon, but it has now been altered.

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In this respect, I assisted a friend quite a number of years ago with the registration of Reger's "Halleluia Gott zu loben" on a moderately-sized instrument in the Netherlands with neither a Swell box nor a crescendo pedal, nor indeed anything much at all in the way of registration aids.  Yet the result was without doubt Reger - not, perhaps, as the composer had intended it, but nevertheless a most convincing performance.  Isn't that all that we need aspire to?

 

 

 

Well, I suppose so, but I'm still not totally convinced - were the manual compasses adequate? When I played at St. Nicholas' Church, Amsterdam, despite being an excellent French-sounding instrument, the upper limit of the manuals meant that the only 'big' Widor Sortie I could play to fit was the Finale from the Second Symphonie. Everything else ran out of notes.

 

I have also played Langlais' Messe Solennelle on a French organ with no registration aids (mechanical or human). It just aboult worked, but it kept me really busy and, since I only had about an hour's practice-time, it cost my boss dearly in the bar afterwards. :D

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I would agree - up to a point. Just as long as it is not an original Hope-Jones....

There used to be one at Pilton, in North Devon, but it has now been altered.

 

.......Why would'nt a H-J organ be worth preserving? The more so if we don't like it, I believe. I do not like neo-baroque organs, should I advocate their "correction"?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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.......Why would'nt a  H-J organ be worth preserving?

The more so if we don't like it, I believe.

I do not like neo-baroque organs, should I advocate their

"correction"?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

Well, I played it in its un-restored state. Nothing above 4' pitch, Weird tonalities; Tibias (not like Willis ones!) Phoneumas (some sort of string, I think). Not much use for repertoire or service accompaniment, really.

 

I' m not that keen on 'neo-baroque' either, but most probably sound more musical than a H-J!

 

I presume you have never heard one?! :D

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Well, I played it in its un-restored state. Nothing above 4' pitch, Weird tonalities; Tibias (not like Willis ones!) Phoneumas (some sort of string, I think). Not much use for repertoire or service accompaniment, really.

 

I' m not that keen on 'neo-baroque' either, but most probably sound more musical than a H-J!

 

I presume you have never heard one?! :D

 

I only heard some H-J voices in Worcester -more than twenty years ago-.

 

Let's suppose H-J organs are really bad. We need at least to keep some, in order for our grand-grand children not to lose their time reconstituing them. It's for this reason we need to keep organs from every existing style.

Fashion is a never-ending balance effct...

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Well, I suppose that would be a very real way of saying, "we learn by our mistakes". For me, the two most important criteria for preservation are: (1) historic interest; and (2) intrinsic merit. I think that both should be satisfied. There may be some historic interest in an original Hope-Jones, but I must say that I'm yet to be convinced of intrinsic merit.

 

Regards,

Malcolm F

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Thanks Malcolm,

 

And here we are to the point:

 

I do not believe anyone is capable to tell what is "good" or "bad" in any tonal matter (of course, an ill-conceived action is something else!) before enough time has passed. With organs, this is well over 100 years. The whole history of the organ is a testimony for this. Each generation destroys the former's work, because it is "bad", has no value. But grand-grand-Daddy's was just fine.

 

Now I know young organists (round 25 years old) who want romantic organs. That's very sympathic for an old "opponent" to the neo-baroque organ as I was 20 years ago, but......I tell them: "Very well, but please leave neo-baroque organs untouched".

 

So "Intrisic merit" is something that exists, no doubt, but any judgment in this matter we should avoid with organs between 20 and 100 years. Experience shows that's the critical phase. It's between 20 and 100 years old that the massacres occurs.

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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I think we'll have to disagree here, Pierre.

 

For me, Hope-Jones' work lacks any real intrinsic merit. It is not so much a question of taste, but rather one of musical use. An H-J organ was never properly capable of leading a congregation, nor was it able to provide a convincing performance of any music written for the instrument. The choruses, such as they were, were very tiring.

 

On the other hand, there are many builders whose work simply does not appeal to me (as a matter of taste), but whose instruments I would nevertheless if possible want left for posterity - because they are fine organs that fulfil the musical function for which they were designed. In the best sense of the term, they are "musical" instruments.

 

Kind regards

Malcolm F

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