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German Romantic Organ-consoles


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I think it depends entirely on what turns you on. Full organ at Exeter is never going to shoot your socks off in the way something like, say, Liverpool Anglican, Gloucester, or Rochester might. What it does have is a wonderful bloom. The organ is like a stately, refined gentleman. Not everyone's cup of Earl Grey perhaps, but it oozes quality.

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I fear we will have to disagree about the 32' lawnmower. Gravitas is not the word I would use to describe it. The bottom octave has no tone. Could it be that the half-length pipes are to blame, I wonder? (I realise there was no room for full-length ones.) However, whatever the reason, it blends with all the subtlety of a baboon's backside.

 

I exaggerate a little for effect, but you probably get my drift!

 

Actually, I think that you exaggerate a lot, Vox! Personally, I prefer this to the hideous row which the Hele & Co. 32p reed at Winchester makes - this stop has virtually no harmonic development at all - it is entirely fundamental. I also prefer it to the Contra Posaune at Salisbury - which is really only effective of one happens to be located in the North Transept. In the Nave (like much of the instrument) it has little presence; from the loft, it is virtually inaudible. I also prefer the Exeter Contra Trombone to the new Bombarde at Gloucester - although this stop has been improved since it was revoiced by Keith Bance two or three years ago.

 

I think it depends entirely on what turns you on. Full organ at Exeter is never going to shoot your socks off in the way something like, say, Liverpool Anglican, Gloucester, or Rochester might. What it does have is a wonderful bloom. The organ is like a stately, refined gentleman. Not everyone's cup of Earl Grey perhaps, but it oozes quality.

 

Now here we agree, Vox. B)

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I find it difficult to comment objectively about Exeter ... Even in the loft, the tutti is, to my ears, less than thrilling, and I personally could not place this organ close to the same league as say, Salisbury, Hereford or St. Micheal's Tenbury. I'd go further and suggest that if you compared it with other H&H cathedral organs in the region, such as Coventry, and (dare I say) Worcester (rip), its a damp squib.

 

Actually, from the console, the sound at Exeter is surprisingly similar to that which can be heard downstairs, for example, from the east end of the South Nave Aisle. This position has been suggested by at least one recording engineer as the best place from which to listen to this instrument - unless, of course, one wishes to enjoy the charms of the Choir Organ.

 

The soundboards of the GO and Swell at Exeter are arranged in C and C# sides, from west to east, both on two levels, as was previously the case at Gloucester Cathedral. Therefore the player is actually the favoured party, in terms of balance and direct sound. The Pedal Organ is quite literally all over the place, so has no direct sound source, regardless of where one is positioned - with the obvious exception of the Contra Violone and the lowest four pipes of its 16p extension. This rank (the Violone) also performs a double-duty as the lowest eight notes of the GO Double Open Diapason. The Tuba is mounted high up with the GO reeds (which are connected to the soundboard mechanically). Only the Solo and Choir organs are difficult to judge with regard to balance, from the console.

 

Whilst I agree that the Choir Organ Clarinet (the Corno di Bassetto is on the Solo Organ) is a pleasant register, I regret greatly the loss of the Choir upper-work -particularly the Twenty Second, which has been re-scaled as the rather less-useful Larigot. In any case, a Larigot effect is possible to produce due to the presence of the quiet Lieblich Bourdon (16p), the Nazard and the Octaves Alone coupler. I also miss the Cimbel (26-29-33) which capped this delightful flute chorus most effectively. Whilst I acknowlege that, technically, topping a flute chorus with a high-pitched mixture should not work, nevertheless due to the quality of the voicing by (I believe) Kenneth James, this was actually most effective.

 

The same is true (to an even greater extent) on my own church organ. The Positive chorus is topped with a brilliant Cymbal (29-33-36), which is even brighter and more assertive; yet, even in the dry acoustics of the Minster, this chorus is one of the most effective which I have ever played. I shall certainly not be allowing any organ builder to replace it with a Dulciana or a Fifteenth, or any other such stop, as has been done at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin and Carlisle Cathedral. In the case of the latter instrument, the recent tonal alterations by David Wells were, I believe, a mistake. Since a complete return to the original Willis stop-list for the Choir Organ (with voicing closely matched to the Willis style) was not the chosen course of action, the present half-way house is actually the worst of both worlds. It also fails to take into consideration the Walker tonal pyramid of the mixture-scheme (which was similar to that which currently obtains at Wimborne Minster). Here, the GO Mixture (19-22-26-29) is a superb mixture of general utility. The Swell Mixture (22-26-29) is brighter, with the breaks arranged in order that the higher-pitched ranks are taken further up the compass. Finally, there is the Positive Cymbal (29-33-36) which crowns the three choruses. The effect, as one chorus is added to another, is electrifying and in its own way, almost as effective as that which can be heard at the church of Sint Bavo, Haarlem - unfortunately without the six-second reverberation period, alas.

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I agree that the Choir Clarinet is a nice stop and blends well with the rest of the instrument, but why was it felt necessary to add a voice so similar to the Solo Corno di Bassetto? Does the Solo Organ speak towards the nave perhaps?

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I agree that the Choir Clarinet is a nice stop and blends well with the rest of the instrument, but why was it felt necessary to add a voice so similar to the Solo Corno di Bassetto? Does the Solo Organ speak towards the nave perhaps?

Yes. the solo box is in the west chair case.

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Yes. the solo box is in the west chair case.

 

... which was added at the time of the 1891 rebuild, when the case was also raised. The three orchestral reeds (if one were to include the Vox Humana) were originally on the Choir Organ, but in a separate swell box; see:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=D05099

 

for details.

 

For some years prior to 2001, one or two tuning access panels had been removed from the back of the Solo box (east-facing) in order to assist tone-projection eastwards.

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