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Pierre Lauwers

Save The British Organ Heritage

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As I said, Cavaillé-Coll -trained in Spain- used Chamades only as utilitarian devices,

when the conditions were difficult; never as a stylistic trait.

Nothing in common with today's craze; when Chamades are mandatory

even in small churches. I guess the optics are final: "ça en jette", Joe

public is impressed.

Spanish churches are big, and above all, very wide.

 

Pierre

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Nothing in common with today's craze; when Chamades are mandatory even in small churches.
I don't know which country you have in mind, but they're far from mandatory in Britain.

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As I said, Cavaillé-Coll -trained in Spain- used Chamades only as utilitarian devices,

when the conditions were difficult; never as a stylistic trait.

Nothing in common with today's craze; when Chamades are mandatory

even in small churches. I guess the optics are final: "ça en jette", Joe

public is impressed.

Spanish churches are big, and above all, very wide.

 

Pierre

 

Pierre - your first point: 'utilitarian devices' - exactly what do you mean by this? It cannot be said that conditions were difficult in S. Sernin, S. Sulpice or Sacré-Coeur (for example) - unless one were to cite a resonant acoustic as a 'difficulty'. Chamades were introduced in these instruments (only visually in the first example) in order to provide a 'super-climax' effect which would dominate the vast naves.*

 

With regard to your phrase 'never as a stylistic trait' - this was not under scrutiny; the question was whether or not chamades could be regarded as a valid part of a Romantic instrument.

 

I, too, have no idea where you have acquired the notion that 'chamades are mandatory even in small churches'. There are not that many examples in Britain. The smallest church (which I am able presently to recall) in which the organ possesses a chamade, is Dunster Parish Church, in Somerset. It has to be said that this building is not that small - and that the effect of the organ with its chamade rank is neither overwhelming nor grossly out of proportion to the space in which it stands.

 

Whilst it is true that chamade ranks can be impressive visually, surely not all Spanish churches are big - or wide. Furthermore, those Spanish chamades which I have heard have little in common tonally with those at S. Sernin, for example. In any case, were we not discussing Cavaillé-Coll chamades (as opposed to the perceived craze for English organists to acquire them)? In which case, the church of S. Sernin may not be as wide as, say, Toledo Cathedral - but it does have double aisles and it is impressively long.

 

 

 

* I am aware that the cathedral-sized instrument at Sacré-Coeur was originally constructed for the fabulously wealthy Baron Albert de l'Espée, an eccentric aristocrat, and placed in the cavernous organ-hall of the Chateau d'Ilbarritz on the rocky Atlantic coast near Biarritz.

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"exactly what do you mean by this?"

(Quote)

 

Stops not intended to be heard for themselves, like corroborating Mixtures.

Cavaillé-Coll did not use his Chamades as crownings -never-. Ask "Organoïde"

on Organographia (second titular at St-Sernin) about these stops there.

They are drawn BEFORE the interior reeds, and you do not hear THEM in

the tutti; they "pull" the rest.

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The limitations of such an instrument would be much mitigated by the fact that there is a superb old instrument at the other end of the church, which is ideal for pre 1750 repertoire.

 

That instrument itself is extremely limited when it comes to post 1750 repertoire, however. It has only a four-octave manual compass (with no C# or D# in the bottom octave) and a pedalboard that stops at d. And it's tuned to Werckmeister.

 

For reference, the spec is:

 

Hoofdwerk

Bourdon 16

Praestant 8

Roerfluit 8

Octaaf 4

Quint 3

Octaaf 2

Mixtuur III-IV

Scharp III-IV

Trompet 8

 

Bovenwerk

Holpijp 8

Quintadeen 8

Octaaf 4

Fluit 4

Nasaet 3

Gemshorn 2

 

Pedal

Subbass 16

Octaav 8

Octaav 4

Trompet 8

 

That such an instrument can fill a church of those dimensions comes as something of a surprise.

 

 

===========================

 

 

That's Howells eliminated then!

 

 

B)

 

 

MM

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Speaking of chamades, neo-baroque et.al, how to 'understand' this one: a 1969 Rieger with chamades of 1732.....

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Here is an example of one *thing*, somewhat different, the luxembourgish

had restored by the german Builder Jann:

 

http://www.orgue-dudelange.lu/

 

Click on the picture, then left on "Orgue", then "Disposition".

 

I wonder if the original Tuba came from Willis, a builder Stahlhuth

followed (among others...!). The Tuba is modern now.

 

Pierre

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Here is an example of one *thing*, somewhat different, the luxembourgish

had restored by the german Builder Jann:

 

http://www.orgue-dudelange.lu/

 

Click on the picture, then left on "Orgue", then "Disposition".

 

I wonder if the original Tuba came from Willis, a builder Stahlhuth

followed (among others...!). The Tuba is modern now.

 

Pierre

 

There's an instrument I'd like to hear - as an aside - there was a Stahlhuth at St Patrick's College Maynooth near Dublin - rebuilt long ago by Willis and eventually incorporated into a Kenneth Jones 'eclectic' scheme. The case is still there in an amazing chapel. The only other example I could find over here was this - shame about the console though. I'd be interested to know the connection whereby this builder and for example Anneessens got contracts in the Uk/Ireland Pierre.

 

AJJ

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Both Anneessens, in Flanders, and Stahlhut, near Aachen, just two kilometres from the belgian border, were strongly interested with the british organ.

They tried a synthesis with the british style, pared with french and german traits -typical for

areas as ours here-.

And so they traveled in Britain.....And got some contracts!

 

Pierre

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Both Anneessens, in Flanders, and Stahlhut, near Aachen, just two kilometres from the belgian border, were strongly interested with the british organ.

They tried a synthesis with the british style, pared with french and german traits -typical for

areas as ours here-.

And so they traveled in Britain.....And got some contracts!

 

Pierre

 

Interesting - thanks. Anneessens instruments have some reputation over here for being somewhat hastily assembled and in consequence not very long lasting. Pipework exists as the basis of much rebuilt instruments (Bridlington Priory, Italian Church Clerkenwell) but few originals still exist. Is this the same in Europe?

 

AJJ

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See here:

 

http://www.andriessenorgelbouw.be/en/ISM-info.html

 

....And do not miss the MP3 files (above). The specification looks

frenchy, but.....If we have ONE good for Howells, then this one!

 

Anneessens built tick pipes -after british manner- with very few tin.

The bigger pipes had to be made of Zinc; when the customers

refused Zinc, the result was a Spaghetti after several decades.

Ypres has of course Zinc in all the basses, so it is in tip-top condition.

 

I forgot to mention Georg Stahlhuth was a pupil of two importants builders

in Belgium; Hyppolite Loret, then J. Merklin, both in Brussels.

Though Merklin was a german, he develloped his style with Fétis.

This is the reason I consider Stahlhuth as a representative of the

belgian tradition.

 

Pierre

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Thanks again - and back on topic with Elgar (and Howells) albeit the British organ heritage via Belgium with French/German influences - I like it!

 

AJJ

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I have a good reason to re-launch this thread by an example

of an interesting rescue of a british organ, this time not by moving it

outside the UK: the organ of St-Mary de Lode church in Gloucester.

This "music box" has had more chance than some others in that area,

as it was restored in a quite interesting manner, withouth "playing games",

with the aim to go as far back possible towards an original state, but without

w......rising anything in case of doubt, completing the scheme in order to fit

what exists.

The organ is believed to have started life as a one-manual one, and it displays

features that are so tipically english that not only you won't find them outside

the english-speaking countries, but you will rarely find people outside those countries

who know that they exist: namely, the Swell organ -completely unknown outside

Britain up to 1840 or even later- and the Sesquialtera-Cornet as only Mixture

( Never seen on the continent, save some "Mixtur-Cornet" in little organs from

Joachim Wagner, for example).

 

I could hear it trough Ian Ball's new CD, "Wondrous Machine!" IFBCD 001, obtainable

by Ian Ball himself or Adrian Lucas, who produced and edited it.

 

The Specifications is as follow:

 

GREAT (GG, AA to f3)

 

Open Diapason 8' (rather large for such an organ, maybe modified, they did not know so left it alone)

Stopped Diapason 8'

Principal 4'

Fifteenth 2' (No Twelfth!)

Sesquialtera bass 1 3/5'- 1 1/3'- 1' (Aha, Father Willis, where are you???) Cornet 3 r treble (both new, and bold)

Trumpet (from middle C) 8' (with very very few rattle, clear but little in common with a french one)

 

Swell to Great

 

SWELL (Tenor F up to f3)

 

Open Diapason 8' (gentle, moderate scales, sounds sometimes like a Salicional on the CD)

Stopped Diapason 8'

Principal 4'

Hautboy 8' (again, nothig to compare with an "Hautbois" or a german "Oboe)

 

Hitsch-down Swell Pedal

 

PEDAL (C to f)

 

Bourdon 16' (the existing one was replaced with a more coherent one from the same period as the organ)

Great to Pedal.

 

On the CD Ian Ball choosed to present us with an ecclectic programme, with the obvious aim to demonstrate

such an organ "can play lots of repertoire", and it works. This organ colors all music with its own -strong- personnality

-it is unusual NEVER to hear the sempiternal Dupré-told-it-was-the-only-good-true-one Quint Mixture with 8, 4 and 2 (only one of each please!) would-be-"baroque" Principal chorus, in a whole CD.

But this is an excellent therapy, and one could advise this organ to many organists as a desintoxication program.

 

There are many such "Sesquialtera-Cornet" documented as sole Mixture in late-baroque british organs, and now, thanks to this restauration and this CD, Anyone can understand why.

Let us now hope the same commitment will be applied to others british organs from any period, whatever their

make, their actions, their wind-pressure, and and and!

 

Pierre

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Guest Patrick Coleman
I have a good reason to re-launch this thread by an example

of an interesting rescue of a british organ, this time not by moving it

outside the UK: the organ of St-Mary de Lode church in Gloucester.

 

Pierre

Visually and tonally, this is a splendid instrument! :)

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I have a good reason to re-launch this thread by an example

of an interesting rescue of a british organ, this time not by moving it

outside the UK: the organ of St-Mary de Lode church in Gloucester.

This "music box" has had more chance than some others in that area,

as it was restored in a quite interesting manner, withouth "playing games",

with the aim to go as far back possible towards an original state, but without

w......rising anything in case of doubt, completing the scheme in order to fit

what exists.

The organ is believed to have started life as a one-manual one, and it displays

features that are so tipically english that not only you won't find them outside

the english-speaking countries, but you will rarely find people outside those countries

who know that they exist: namely, the Swell organ -completely unknown outside

Britain up to 1840 or even later- and the Sesquialtera-Cornet as only Mixture

( Never seen on the continent, save some "Mixtur-Cornet" in little organs from

Joachim Wagner, for example).

 

I could hear it trough Ian Ball's new CD, "Wondrous Machine!" IFBCD 001, obtainable

by Ian Ball himself or Adrian Lucas, who produced and edited it.

 

The Specifications is as follow:

 

GREAT (GG, AA to f3)

 

Open Diapason 8' (rather large for such an organ, maybe modified, they did not know so left it alone)

Stopped Diapason 8'

Principal 4'

Fifteenth 2' (No Twelfth!)

Sesquialtera bass 1 3/5'- 1 1/3'- 1' (Aha, Father Willis, where are you???) Cornet 3 r treble (both new, and bold)

Trumpet (from middle C) 8' (with very very few rattle, clear but little in common with a french one)

 

Swell to Great

 

SWELL (Tenor F up to f3)

 

Open Diapason 8' (gentle, moderate scales, sounds sometimes like a Salicional on the CD)

Stopped Diapason 8'

Principal 4'

Hautboy 8' (again, nothig to compare with an "Hautbois" or a german "Oboe)

 

Hitsch-down Swell Pedal

 

PEDAL (C to f)

 

Bourdon 16' (the existing one was replaced with a more coherent one from the same period as the organ)

Great to Pedal.

 

On the CD Ian Ball choosed to present us with an ecclectic programme, with the obvious aim to demonstrate

such an organ "can play lots of repertoire", and it works. This organ colors all music with its own -strong- personnality

-it is unusual NEVER to hear the sempiternal Dupré-told-it-was-the-only-good-true-one Quint Mixture with 8, 4 and 2 (only one of each please!) would-be-"baroque" Principal chorus, in a whole CD.

But this is an excellent therapy, and one could advise this organ to many organists as a desintoxication program.

 

There are many such "Sesquialtera-Cornet" documented as sole Mixture in late-baroque british organs, and now, thanks to this restauration and this CD, Anyone can understand why.

Let us now hope the same commitment will be applied to others british organs from any period, whatever their

make, their actions, their wind-pressure, and and and!

 

Pierre

This disc is now available for purchase on Amazon here

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Guest Cynic
This disc is now available for purchase on Amazon here

 

Referring back to the original topic - our heritage under threat!

Things are already coming to a head. In the last six or so weeks I have been personally told of four instruments that want saving, in each case, they would like me to take everything away. I have this week seen two others on e-bay, neither of which had (when I last looked) received a single bid.

 

The personal invitation ones first

The first organ on my list, I hope to be finding a home for, it's a scruffy but well-made tracker organ of 15 stops. The pipework is excellent despite the instrument being by a lesser-known company. I was shown a quote from a lesser firm to do this instrument up in 1991 - they wanted twice as much for that job then than I would charge for moving the instrument and setting it up with modest tonal changes for a new owner.

 

The second is a five-rank extension organ from the 1960s in excellent order in a church that is closing. Once again, I believe I may already have found someone who will give it a home. Lucky little organ.

 

Number 3 I can do nothing about; it is a substantial untouched Binns organ full of excellent pipework, the whole thing is all either too bulky or too bold for my purposes (I mostly install seriously cheap house organs). The most I could do if I allowed myself to get involved would be to rescue the best of the pipework, but my stores are already full. in a sensible situation, a church with a poor organ would see this instrument as a godsend, but who'd dare to take up such a challenge? Not many places these days.

 

Number 4 is a local instrument (of 14 or so stops, good pipework, fair but modified action) that is dying. My personal inclination is to make a gentle approach to the church and see if I can persuade them to let me tidy it up rather than take it away. But..will the diocesan organ adviser allow me to do this? His main problem with me is that I don't charge enough - because I don't do the major intervention sort of thing (re-palletting, flooding bars etc.), I merely dust out, repair and reassemble!

 

Why am I telling you all this?

 

The situation is going to get worse.. so far I have not seen many thoroughly good organs scrapped, but this is going to happen more and more. On e-bay at the moment is one of the best organs that the Midlands firm of Taylors of Leicester ever built. Their magnum opus, the De Montford Hall has been saved, but their largest (and finest) surviving church organ at Emmanuel Church Loughborough is so much in danger that it has ended up on e-bay. Rather curiously the text given includes requirements made to any possible purchaser that it would have to be respected, kept complete etc. etc. when the church that owns it is no longer prepared to do this themselves!! I may be being uncharitable, maybe their church is closing and there is nothing else they can do.

 

Ah, you say. It's not being saved because it is too big an organ. Well, how about the other one currently on e-bay - a small, compact, modern-style Willis IV instrument in the chapel at Merchant Taylor's School, Northwood. That could go almost anywhere ..and (apparently) nobody wants it.

 

Builders' stores are full, churches don't want to find the money, amateurs don't dare take these things on.....and it will get worse. Churches are closing and the lists of decently made instruments that nobody wants are getting longer and longer. There is only one gleam of hope and it's a bit of a negative one (if you see what I mean!) - thank goodness that there are churches and builders in Europe that have a use for our heritage, because we've (some of us) given up on it ourselves.

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The situation is going to get worse.. so far I have not seen many thoroughly good organs scrapped, but this is going to happen more and more. On e-bay at the moment is one of the best organs that the Midlands firm of Taylors of Leicester ever built. Their magnum opus, the De Montford Hall has been saved, but their largest (and finest) surviving church organ at Emmanuel Church Loughborough is so much in danger that it has ended up on e-bay. Rather curiously the text given includes requirements made to any possible purchaser that it would have to be respected, kept complete etc. etc. when the church that owns it is no longer prepared to do this themselves!! I may be being uncharitable, maybe their church is closing and there is nothing else they can do.

 

Their website gives no indication that they are closing - I would rather suspect that they want rid of the organ and that any faculty will have made suitable disposal of the instrument a condition of the faculty (slightly clumsy wording, but you get my drift...) i.e. the DAC is trying to protect this organ. I've seen this happen elsewhere.

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Their website gives no indication that they are closing - I would rather suspect that they want rid of the organ and that any faculty will have made suitable disposal of the instrument a condition of the faculty (slightly clumsy wording, but you get my drift...) i.e. the DAC is trying to protect this organ. I've seen this happen elsewhere.

This a most grand and fine organ - perhaps the finest in the diocese. However it is not the largest. The church is not closing - in fact they have built rather recently, largely to one side of the building. The organ is fallen into disrepair and other musical resources I think, have taken its place. The instrument possess one the the finest 16ft Violons I have ever come across. A trade-mark of Taylors, this stop. Exceptional. It will be national disgrace if a comparable home is not found, or any home at all.

N

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Builders' stores are full, churches don't want to find the money, amateurs don't dare take these things on.....and it will get worse. Churches are closing and the lists of decently made instruments that nobody wants are getting longer and longer. There is only one gleam of hope and it's a bit of a negative one (if you see what I mean!) - thank goodness that there are churches and builders in Europe that have a use for our heritage, because we've (some of us) given up on it ourselves.

Rather than giving up on it, Paul, we have allowed ourselves to get to the stage where we are frozen between the extremes of the purists and the incompetent amateurs (who both have their fair share of representation and slating on this Board).

 

Purists among the ranks of advisers and builders make it unaffordable for churches to carry out basic repair or substitution work; incompetents leave churches facing chronically unreliable instruments and further large bills.

 

Those of us - and I include Paul and myself in this category - who are trying to navigate a practicable middle way seem to find ourselves faced with unreasonable opposition at every stage. No wonder so many just give up!

 

An outbreak of COMMON SENSE is required...

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Interesting. Does being a purist necessarily mean being more expensive? As far as I know I have never been involved in the most expensive tender for any project, but invariably the work done is as respectful of original techniques as it's possible to be.

 

This is in many ways to do with my caveman view that if you provide a musician with a musical instrument, they will produce music; that, to me, means getting the fundamentals of key touch and pipe speech right. This is a process which need not be very expensive at all, certainly by comparison with adding extra stops and elaborate capture systems which often seem to me to be there to overtly demonstrate 'improvement' or 'change' rather than getting to grips with what brought about the dissatisfaction in the first place.

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Interesting. Does being a purist necessarily mean being more expensive? As far as I know I have never been involved in the most expensive tender for any project, but invariably the work done is as respectful of original techniques as it's possible to be.

 

It seems to me that often the purist way is more expensive, yes. However this approach can work out cheaper for the organisation as it increases the likelihood of grant aid being available. However the larger grants often come with strings attached (e.g. turn off the heating, conditions of access, etc.) which some organisations are unable/unprepared to agree with. Without grants the purist way becomes expensive, the incompetents are still incompetent and the middle ground is still a lot of money to raise (more than the purist project with the big grants)!!

 

Broad brush approach in paragraph above, individual projects may vary etc...

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Guest Patrick Coleman
Broad brush approach in paragraph above, individual projects may vary etc...

While I very much appreciate this is a broad brush approach, the current situation demands that you are considered historically significant (fact) and (my perception) in a fashionable area/building. This may be different in England or Scotland, but grants are not easy to come by in Wales, unless you happen to be in the Saint Mary's Usk category, where the superb Gray & Davison ex-Llandaff instument still had to be reverted to a stick swell for no good practical reason.

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Common Sense was applied at Llandaff in 1898, when the 'superb Gray and Davison' was slung out.

 

Thank goodness there was no 'outbreak of Common Sense' in Usk in 1930, or 1950, or 1980, or indeed in 2006.

 

Paul

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While I very much appreciate this is a broad brush approach, the current situation demands that you are considered historically significant (fact) and (my perception) in a fashionable area/building. This may be different in England or Scotland, but grants are not easy to come by in Wales, unless you happen to be in the Saint Mary's Usk category, where the superb Gray & Davison ex-Llandaff instument still had to be reverted to a stick swell for no good practical reason.

 

=======================

 

 

It's all very frustrating, because I trundle past Usk very regularly; having spent most of my time going back and forth between Yorkshire and Newport/Cardiff/Swansea for the past 10 weeks. The trouble is the weight limits! I parked up at Raglan, and I'm sure I saw a few stones fall from the ramparts of the castle. God knows what I would do to the church at Usk!

 

Oh well! Some day.

 

MM

 

PS: The snow in Merthyr Tydfil and Ebbw Vale was memorable, but having spent time working in Finland, it was like re-discovering the wisdom of keeping a hand in with those Grade 5 exercises. Quite a white knuckle experience descending the Heads of the Valley road, I can tell you.

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It seems to me that often the purist way is more expensive, yes.

 

I don't want to end up caught in one of my characteristic circular arguments, but I really don't see how this can be possible. Restoration is about doing the least amount of work necessary to render an instrument in as-new condition. Consumables are; sheepskin on reservoirs and pallets, leather buttons and felt washers. In short, getting to grips with the fundamentals before worrying about anything clever.

 

The other approach - adding stuff on clamps, electrifying pneumatic pedals, adding pistons, swapping Dulcianas for Mixtures - all require things to be bought or made and the organ adapted to take them. That is inevitably an expensive process. Anyone offering to do such work for less than would be charged by someone offering to simply put into good order what is already there ought to be at least questioned with healthy scepticism.

 

Any perceived added value assumed by the term 'historic' needs to be carefully accounted for - for instance, have pipes been lengthened in a return to cone tuning, or has an original swell mechanism been replicated? None of these is likely to cost any more than the alteration did in the first place.

 

In my view, the basics have to be right before any discussion of whether or not a change of direction is appropriate; it's usually straightforward to apprehend quite quickly what has gone on inside an instrument, and work out whether it was done for any reasons other than convenience, incompetence or ego. Some changes (eg slider seals) can actually be important or even vital to the survival of an instrument, and quite easily reversible.

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