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Guest Roffensis

Gloucester Cathedral Organ

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I emailed a compalint to the BBC asking what other programme they would cut short in mid-item and suggesting the end of the voluntary could have replaced the closing announcement. I got a response today:-

 

"Thanks for your correspondence regarding ‘Choral Evensong’ broadcast on 11 August.

 

We raised your concerns with Abigail Appleton, Head of Speech Programmes, BBC Radio 3 and she replies:

 

“I'm very sorry that due to a misunderstanding in the London studio the Organ Voluntary was faded out too early. We usually broadcast the whole of the service regardless of whether it means coming to the next programme a little late. Please be assured it will be broadcast in full when 'Choral Evensong' is repeated this Sunday 15 August."

 

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

BBC Audience Services[/i]

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I'm quite sure it was in equal temperament when I played it a few weeks ago.

 

Absolutely.

 

So, is the new solo reed worth having? It seems (from the comments above) that it has little impact in the Nave, but that it may be a worthy addition, as heard from the Choir.

 

Without wishing to upset John Sayer, I remain in a gentle sea of obfuscation by his employment of the phrase 'rather less unobtrusive'. It would be helpful for me to know to what rank(s) it is compared - and is he actually saying that it is 'quite loud' in certain contexts?

 

Clarification would be appreciated....

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I wouldn't say that it has little impact in the Nave but it does not obliterate everything else as do some solo reeds in other cathedrals. My impression is that it is exactly right for 1) leading a large congregation and 2) giving some fire and brilliance to the tutti in solo organ works. Worthwhile? Yes, certainly. It adds a new dimension to the already thrilling sound of the Gloucester organ.

 

I've just listened to the end of the Choral Evensong (final hymn onwards) and consider that the BBC engineers captured the sound of the organ well. On Monday, I noticed a pair of microphones suspended perhaps 30' to the west of the tiered choirs stalls, which were placed almost against the screen, and about 20' from the floor. I don't know if these were the BBC's mikes but they were placed in the right place to capture the sound of both the choir and organ and gave an accurate representation of the sound in the nave as I heard it on Monday from my position next to the aisle in about the 10th row from the front.

 

For anyone who didn't hear either broadcast I think that using the "listen again" facility on the BBC website will give a realistic impression; the new reed was used to solo the tune in the playover of the hymn and, as Omega Consort said, between the Nunc and its Gloria.

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I wouldn't say that it has little impact in the Nave but it does not obliterate everything else as do some solo reeds in other cathedrals. My impression is that it is exactly right for 1) leading a large congregation and 2) giving some fire and brilliance to the tutti in solo organ works. Worthwhile? Yes, certainly. It adds a new dimension to the already thrilling sound of the Gloucester organ.

 

I've just listened to the end of the Choral Evensong (final hymn onwards) and consider that the BBC engineers captured the sound of the organ well. On Monday, I noticed a pair of microphones suspended perhaps 30' to the west of the tiered choirs stalls, which were placed almost against the screen, and about 20' from the floor. I don't know if these were the BBC's mikes but they were placed in the right place to capture the sound of both the choir and organ and gave an accurate representation of the sound in the nave as I heard it on Monday from my position next to the aisle in about the 10th row from the front.

 

For anyone who didn't hear either broadcast I think that using the "listen again" facility on the BBC website will give a realistic impression; the new reed was used to solo the tune in the playover of the hymn and, as Omega Consort said, between the Nunc and its Gloria.

The nave mics were for the Three Choirs festival only, I suspect. The organ and choirs for the broadcast were mic'd from the Quire. Agree entirely re your comments about the new party horn. A magnificent sound but not overpowering. Particularly beautiful in the tenor register.

 

Best wishes

 

Ian

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The nave mics were for the Three Choirs festival only, I suspect. The organ and choirs for the broadcast were mic'd from the Quire. Agree entirely re your comments about the new party horn. A magnificent sound but not overpowering. Particularly beautiful in the tenor register.

 

Best wishes

 

Ian

 

I've never heard this instrument in the flesh, but thought it sounded glorious in David Titterington's recording of La Nativite (Hyperion), recorded around 1986.

 

Listening to the odd broadcast, including this one, since then, would anyone else agree that the tonal scheme seems to have rather lost its integrity...? :D

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I've never heard this instrument in the flesh, but thought it sounded glorious in David Titterington's recording of La Nativite (Hyperion), recorded around 1986.

 

Listening to the odd broadcast, including this one, since then, would anyone else agree that the tonal scheme seems to have rather lost its integrity...? :D

 

Personally, no. Whilst there are others here who know the instrument better, I can at least speak from the standpoint of having played and heard it on many occasions. In any case, the tonal work carried out in the last few years almost entirely involved additions (as opposed to alterations). The new work is very much in the spirit of the existing instrument and supplies elements which I always felt were missing (the 32ft. range of the Pedal Organ, for example - Downes often seemed to avoid specifying 32ft. reeds).

 

The pipework has been well voiced (in the case of the 32ft. Bombarde, re-voiced) to complement the older ranks. I am delighted that a Trompette Harmonique has at long last been added. Whilst the tutti could not be said to lack excitement, this instrument (to my ears) needed an extra [reed] element, in order to balance the comparatively high proportion of mixture-work. *

 

 

 

* It is interesting to note that after the cathedral organ was taken back into service following the rebuild, the Rodgers electronic organ which had been in use during the refurbishment had seemed even brighter with regard to upperwork. However, I did feel that when playing it the electronic did not appear to respond to the acoustics as well as the pipe organ.

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Personally, no. Whilst there are others here who know the instrument better, I can at least speak from the standpoint of having played and heard it on many occasions. In any case, the tonal work carried out in the last few years almost entirely involved additions (as opposed to alterations). The new work is very much in the spirit of the existing instrument and supplies elements which I always felt were missing (the 32ft. range of the Pedal Organ, for example - Downes often seemed to avoid specifying 32ft. reeds).

 

The pipework has been well voiced (in the case of the 32ft. Bombarde, re-voiced) to complement the older ranks. I am delighted that a Trompette Harmonique has at long last been added. Whilst the tutti could not be said to lack excitement, this instrument (to my ears) needed an extra [reed] element, in order to balance the comparatively high proportion of mixture-work. *

 

 

 

* It is interesting to note that after the cathedral organ was taken back into service following the rebuild, the Rodgers electronic organ which had been in use during the refurbishment had seemed even brighter with regard to upperwork. However, I did feel that when playing it the electronic did not appear to respond to the acoustics as well as the pipe organ.

 

Thanks for this - reassuring, & good to have the view of someone who has played the instrument.

 

R3 seems to have a knack of making so many instruments (& choirs too, for that matter) sound less attractive in broadcasts of Choral Evensong than in the flesh. Perhaps they're out of practice when it comes to recording organs...

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R3 seems to have a knack of making so many instruments (& choirs too, for that matter) sound less attractive in broadcasts of Choral Evensong than in the flesh. Perhaps they're out of practice when it comes to recording organs...

:angry: Much I respect the job of the outside broadcast engineers, I think that some of the Choral Evensong broadcasts have sounded less than ideal. The same goes for the King's Nine Lessons broadcasts - last year's gave that wonderful chapel the acoustic properties of a public convenience...

 

I think Gloucester might be a difficult organ/building to record, in any case. I have discs from Gloucester on five different labels, but only those by Hyperion and Signum capture the true sound as heard in the building itself, to my ears at least.

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