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....and quite superb it sounded too!

 

I'm embarrassed to admit that I have forgotten the name of the gentleman to whom about I was speaking about the recordings of the Guilmant Sonatas from St.Ouen. Presto Classical have the 3 disc set in stock (unless they had only one set, which I've just ordered!). Here is a link...

 

http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/wx/23980

 

P

 

 

And a very fine recording it is too, especially of the later sonatas that I'd never heard played before. It was myself's Christmas present :rolleyes:

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Come forth, ye sinners and repent...

 

I hereby submit my humble apology for drawing Solo tuba, plus octave and suboctave, for the "pu-pu-pu pom pa pa, pu-pu-pu pom pa pa..." at the end of the finale from Guillmant 1, then coupling them to Great for the final chord sequence.

 

It can't have been worse than the attempts at St John's Oxford to break the damn thing by having three people play the Widor Toccata at once.

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Members of the Forum may wish to know that the first of our 2009 series of recitals takes place next Saturday - 21st March - at 6.30 pm. I am giving the first of the new series which is timed to slip in after choral evensong. The programme is entitled THE WAY OF THE CROSS and includes music by Bach, Tournemire, Sweelinck and Patrick Gowers.

 

Admission £10

 

See you there?

 

Adrian

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Apologies for the shameless self-publicity, but readers might like to know that the second in the Worcester Cathedral series of Organ Recitals takes place tonight (Saturday May 2) at 6.30pm, given by myself. Programme will be:

 

Marchand - Grand Dialogue

Bach - Jig Fugue

Jongen - Chant de Mai

Shostakovich - Passacaglia

Vierne - Berceuse

Cochereau - Berceuse in memory of Louis Vierne

Vierne - Feux Follets (Will-o'-the-wisps)

Liszt - Fantasia and Fugue on Ad nos, ad salutarem undam

 

Admission £10 on the door.

 

Big Screen projection (of hands and feet...)! :rolleyes:

 

Christopher

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I made it into Choral Evensong on Saturday, the first time I've heard the new organ in use for a service (I was present at the open day), and very fine the organ sounded too. I was particularly struck by the beauty of the solo reeds, having played for evensong in Hereford last Monday the Worcester reeds held there own in comparison and, coming from me, thats quite a statement. The tuba was also heard to good effect although the tuning was a little democratic!

 

Adrian demonstrated how well the instrument performs the english repertoire by giving us the 3rd movement of the Elgar sonata before the service and the final movement as the concluding voluntary. Quite a treat despite the somewhat noisy crowd.

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I made it into Choral Evensong on Saturday, the first time I've heard the new organ in use for a service (I was present at the open day), and very fine the organ sounded too. I was particularly struck by the beauty of the solo reeds, having played for evensong in Hereford last Monday the Worcester reeds held there own in comparison and, coming from me, thats quite a statement. The tuba was also heard to good effect although the tuning was a little democratic!

 

Adrian demonstrated how well the instrument performs the english repertoire by giving us the 3rd movement of the Elgar sonata before the service and the final movement as the concluding voluntary. Quite a treat despite the somewhat noisy crowd.

 

 

If you have not heard Wocester live (I have not yet) then next best is the CD - quite splendid!

 

A

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Next recital on the new Worcester organ is this coming Saturday. Sadly, John Gearhart has had to cancel but Christopher Allsop and I will be giving a programme of duets on Saturday 27th June at 6.30pm. Admission £10

 

Programme includes:

 

Wesley - Duet for organ

Leighton - Martyrs

Mozart - Fantasia in F minor

Soler - Sonata in C

Saint-Saëns - Danse Macabre

Wagner - Toccata in B minor....aka The Ride of the Valkyries

 

See you there!

 

A

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What an amazing post this turned out to be...from beginning to end, and all the amazing photos of the build as it developed. Adrian Lucas has already been thanked by many of us for sharing this information with us all.

 

Now that the organ has had some time to bed-in so to speak I wonder (a) what are the general thoughts and opinions of those who have played it (I thought it sounded wonderful on the BBC Evensong broadcast last year), and (B) how are the music staff at the cathedral finding it on a day to day basis?

 

and one for Adrian Lucas if he has time:

 

I wonder whether a book is planned which might use some of the photographs, but also incorporate a full history of the organs of Worcester? It would be excellent to have something in the style of the recent Niland/Plumley St Pauls Cathedral book.

 

Best wishes

 

Richard

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There is already the work of Vernon Butcher. As far as I know, the history

does not need to be re-written every time the fashion changes. Or it is then

an apology of the last one; the end of the history is always our feat....Up to

the next generation. Let us have a date in 30 years.

 

Pierre

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There is already the work of Vernon Butcher. As far as I know, the history

does not need to be re-written every time the fashion changes. Or it is then

an apology of the last one; the end of the history is always our feat....Up to

the next generation. Let us have a date in 30 years.

 

Pierre

sorry about the funny smiley face on my post - no idea why that was there - it was supposed to be a letter b in a bracket!!!

Pierre - the book would be nothing to do with changing fashion - just a history, including the excellent work by VB, and Adrian's photo documentary, and perhaps more historical information which might have come to light whilst the old instrument was dismantled. It could be a very interesting book, as is the St Pauls book that I mentioned.

I didnt want to stir up anything with my suggestions; the old organ is gone - the new one is here...

Richard

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Now that the organ has had some time to bed-in so to speak I wonder (a) what are the general thoughts and opinions of those who have played it (I thought it sounded wonderful on the BBC Evensong broadcast last year), and (B) how are the music staff at the cathedral finding it on a day to day basis?

My church choir sang weekend services in Worcester over the Low Sunday weekend with myself at the organ and a friend guest conducting the choir. This was the first time that I had actually played the new organ and I very much enjoyed it. It was a pleasure for choral accompaniment although I did find it difficult to judge the balance with the choir with the swell organ sounding a little subdued at the console. I received no comments or complaints so assume it was about right! I had wondered in advance about the size of the console with so many "prepared for" stops but found it to be very comfortable and I felt at home with it very quickly. The only small niggle that I had was that for some reason I found the toe stepper + piston hard to locate, but I guess that was just me. The choir flutes were so enchanting that I had to warn my singers not to be transfixed by the sound and to keep singing.

 

Incidentally, and slightly off topic, the welcome given to visiting choirs by the clergy and staff at Worcester is second to none and frankly puts many other cathedrals to shame.

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"Incidentally, and slightly off topic, the welcome given to visiting choirs by the clergy and staff at Worcester is second to none and frankly puts many other cathedrals to shame. "

 

(Quote)

 

It was already so in the seventies. This, combined with the riches of this incredible historic building,

makes it a "great place" one never forgets.

 

Pierre

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Was at the 10:30am Eucharist on Sunday 25th April. Excellent musical direction from Adrian and a setting that was, according to the program notes, written for two organs:

 

Setting: Messe Solenelle (Langlais)

Motet: Tantum Ergo (Severac)

Hymns: 125, 134, 262, 149

Psalm: 23

 

Excellent music & choir direction from Adrian Lucas with Christopher Allsop playing the electronic organ and George Castle (I think) playing the pipe organ in the choir. It was certainly not hard - for me - to tell which organ was playing: the Gloria in the Langlais used both organs (electronic was used mostly but chords were done by the pipes in the choir) while the second part used pipes only. Excellent!

 

My parents were also with me: my Dad loved hearing the organ at the end. I am suprised that they still keep the electronic organ as, from where we were sitting, the pipe organ was perfectly audible.

 

Dave

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I had the pleasure of accompanying the choir Poscimur at Worcester last year. I found the console very comfortable indeed (being 6'6" this is a big consideration). The variety of sounds for psalm accompaniment were super and having three boxes meant that everything could be super smooth. Indeed I found them so much more effective than expected. (They have a similar action to our swell at school). The choir flutes are lovely and the reeds very effective...playing Murrill in E gave plenty of opportunity to try them all out! (At different moments of course an at the specific request of the conductor). The quiet 32 rumbles would be lovely, so I hope it won't be too long before being installed, though I gather it may be some time. I'm playing there this Thursday so it will be interesting to hear it again and to gather my impressions on a second visit.

I can only agree with the previous replies about the cathedral: the atmosphere and frendliness is second to none, one is made to feel very welcome indeed.

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If we're on experiences of worship there, I was in the area back in January and took in Saturday and Sunday Evensong one weekend sung by the Cathedral Chamber Choir. If I recall, Stanford in A and Wood's Central Orb on Saturday, and Dyson in D and Like as the Hart on Sunday. Hows that for a brilliant selection of the finest of the English choral tradition? I think it was George Castle at the organ. Altogether, a wonderful experience, with both the singing and the accompaniment being excellent. My abiding memory will be of arriving on Saturday, tired after an enjoyable but busy day spent walking in the countryside and then at a football match, coming in and hearing them singing the psalms, and feeling as if I could have sat there listening for so so much longer. Thats what a good Evensong does for me, takes you to somewhere completely different, that oasis of calm at the end of your day.

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Glad you and family enjoyed the service! For the french double-organ masses we use the pipe organ as the Grand-Orgue and the Rodgers as the Orgue du Choeur. Although they're not really in the same geographical location as they would be in France, it works musically. Incidentally, we still use the Rodgers because, although the Tickell carries far better and with greater clarity down the Nave than the old Quire organ ever did, it doesn't do so with enough volume to lead hymn singing. Hence the intended 2-manual scheme in the great Transept case to push the sound down the building. In the Quire of course the Tickell is ideally judged dynamically, from an almost inaudible and magical pianissimo to as loud as anyone might wish to play... Blame the sandstone walls and proportions of the building apparently. Sound bounces down the building fine, but loses much of its impact and volume in the process.

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Guest drd
Glad you and family enjoyed the service! For the french double-organ masses we use the pipe organ as the Grand-Orgue and the Rodgers as the Orgue du Choeur. Although they're not really in the same geographical location as they would be in France, it works musically. Incidentally, we still use the Rodgers because, although the Tickell carries far better and with greater clarity down the Nave than the old Quire organ ever did, it doesn't do so with enough volume to lead hymn singing. Hence the intended 2-manual scheme in the great Transept case to push the sound down the building. In the Quire of course the Tickell is ideally judged dynamically, from an almost inaudible and magical pianissimo to as loud as anyone might wish to play... Blame the sandstone walls and proportions of the building apparently. Sound bounces down the building fine, but loses much of its impact and volume in the process.

 

Yes, sandstone walls - that makes sense. Very sound-absorbent.

 

Though not having had chance to visit since the opening recital and preceding magnificent evensong, the memories of the glorious sound of the new organ remain very vivid.

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Futher to my comments earlier, I played the organ on Thursday and it almost felt as if I had only played the previous week, not over 12 months ago. The console was so comfortable to play - plenty of room for my legs and the whole organ easy to control. The great and swell stops being on the outer edges of the console may be some distance for smaller players - my arms were nearly at full stretch to reach them, though I didn't feel it a problem. The smoothness of the build up possible and the very characterful sounds that the various stops make, helped to make my return play very enjoyable indeed.

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At the risk of re-opening this hoary old can of worms, I'm reading "The Life and Works of Ernest M Skinner" by Dorothy J Holden - a good read. Skinner is a very interesting figure.

 

Ernest Skinner visited the UK in 1898, where he met Hope-Jones, hoping to visit the new organ Hope Jones had put in Worcester Cathedral, which people had been raving about in the USA - in fact, this was one of the main purposes behind his visit. This is what he wrote about Hope Jones:

 

"Hope Jones walked in on me one day while I was having lunch, after which we went up to my room and I showed him some of my patented compound wound magnets in which the coupling was done by winding on the magnets instead of by extra contacts. That evening he took me up to St Georges Church, Hanover Square. The first thing he showed me was the combination action which worked from the street current with such force that it could be heard all over the church. It was simply impossibly noisy, after which he played the organ to me. The tone was so brutal and harsh that I was much impelled to rush out of the church to get away from it. Afterwards in Liverpool he took me to see a very small organ of four manuals in which there were not more than four stops in the Swell organ: a Phonon and a powerful reed, and I don't remember what the others were, but the whole thing was simply brutal and destitute of musical value. I was so disgusted and disappointed with the whole business that I never went near the Worcester Cathedral"

 

Ouch! H-J worked for Skinner for a while after he emigrated to the States but it didn't last long. The book paints a picture and side of H-J which perhaps we don't care to look at in the UK.

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One must remember, though, that Skinner was outspoken in all that he said, never minced his words, fell out with a lot of people and sometimes put rather an extreme spin on past events.

 

He did, however, write, "Damn Hope-Jones!" in a letter when he was hoping to entice Donald Harrison to come and work with him. As we know, at first Harrison was the blue-eyed boy, but later Skinner vilified him to such an extent that he was lucky not to have been taken to court.

 

H-J worked with many firms on both sides of the Atlantic. He was with Ingram of Hereford when he was forced to leave England, leaving 'my' organ (St. John's Cathedral, Newfoundland) half-finished, and he was with Austin for a period when he first arrived in the States.

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Skinner was indeed an odd character himself. Mercurial would be putting it mildly, in the sense that his views on many things oscillated wildly from one extreme to the other from one day to the next. To illustrate this, and to counter what Holden quoted (#771), he also said of Hope-Jones on another occasion:

 

"Your patience, research and experiment have done more than any one agency to
make the modern organ tone what it is. I think your invention of the leathered lip
will mean as much to organ tone as the Barker pneumatic lever did to organ action,
and will be as far-reaching in effect.

I believe you were the first to recognize the importance of low voltage electric action,
and the world owes you its thanks for the round wire contact and inverted magnet.
Since I first became familiar with your work and writings, I have found them full of
helpful suggestions."

 

And although H-J did indeed "work for" Skinner, it was in a high profile capacity as a Vice President. So perhaps one should say "worked with" rather than "worked for". So Skinner's subsequent complaints about him say as much about Skinner as Hope-Jones - no competent CEO should take on a new board member lightly, and there was therefore not much point in him crying loudly over spilt milk when it went wrong.

 

Nevertheless, the Holden snippet was useful to me while I was researching Hope-Jones's combination actions. One of the details on which I am still not entirely clear is how he worked the motorised stop keys in his organs with a mobile and distantly-detached console. They could scarcely have been electropneumatic, as in some of his other consoles (such as those at Battersea Town Hall and St Paul's and St Modwen's at Burton on Trent) because it is difficult to see how wind could have been provided to a console 150 feet or so away in some arbitrary position with respect to the organ itself. I have assumed, therefore, that he sometimes used a direct electric action of some sort with relatively powerful stop action magnets. The description of the noisy combination action at Hanover Square supports this hypothesis, though if anyone knows anything further I would be delighted to hear from them.

 

CEP

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