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2 Manuals Or Three?

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I don't know if this should be here or in Nuts & Bolts but here goes:

 

Prompted by looking at Clifton Cathedral's spec:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N01276

 

I wondered how useful you all might consider a third manual, both for liturgy/accompaniment and for recitals/voluntaries.

 

If we took the 26 stops and three manuals of Clifton as a starting point how would that compare in terms of flexibility and scope to, say, the 34 stops and 2 manuals of Hexham http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N04090 or the 24 stops (also 2 manuals) of the RAM van der Heuval http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=T00351?

 

Are coupling manuals (a third manual with no stops permanently coupled to both of the others) eg at Magdalen, Oxford http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N09181 useful for hymns and psalms but not much use in the solo repertoire?

 

This is definitely in the idle speculation of a Sunday evening category as far as I'm concerned but I'd love to hear what the team think.

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Without going into too much detail, I find that most of the standard repertoire - and most of the requirements for accompaniment - can be realized on a reasonably comprehensive 2m spec as long as there are sufficient registrational aids. I gave weekly recitals on one such instrument for a couple of years (http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N07367) and found little of my repertoire which caused me much difficulty to play on it. A third manual, however, does make matters easier! It is interesting to note that after Thomas Trotter transferred his weekly organ recitals from Birmingham Town Hall to this church when the Town Hall instrument was being rebuilt, he wrote to the church to say what a splendid instrument they had and he found it more than a match for the Town Hall instrument which is, of course, considerably larger.

 

Specifications, of course, aren't the be-all and end-all of the instrument, and really tell us very little of the organ's quality and versatility.

 

I think that a comprehensive 2 decker is better than a sketchy 3 decker any day. But, of course, am even more happy with a comprehensive 3 decker! Or 4....or even 5!!! <_<

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Guest Cynic
I don't know if this should be here or in Nuts & Bolts but here goes:

 

Prompted by looking at Clifton Cathedral's spec:

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N01276

 

I wondered how useful you all might consider a third manual, both for liturgy/accompaniment and for recitals/voluntaries.

 

If we took the 26 stops and three manuals of Clifton as a starting point how would that compare in terms of flexibility and scope to, say, the 34 stops and 2 manuals of Hexham http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N04090 or the 24 stops (also 2 manuals) of the RAM van der Heuval http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=T00351?

 

Are coupling manuals (a third manual with no stops permanently coupled to both of the others) eg at Magdalen, Oxford http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N09181 useful for hymns and psalms but not much use in the solo repertoire?

 

This is definitely in the idle speculation of a Sunday evening category as far as I'm concerned but I'd love to hear what the team think.

 

I must confess to not having bothered to open your suggested specifications (I'm in one h*** of a mood this evening!), but I have a very strong opinion on this question and it's this:

accompanying services may be OK with two large manuals and pistons, but for recital repertoire and practice I believe three manuals to be more-or-less essential. Practically nothing from romantic German or French (any period) can be played satisfactorily on less. A choir manual of only two stops (Tuba and Clarinet) might just about 'get by' for English romantic works, but IMHO you still need three. Even your John Stanley-style music really needs three. Much modern repertoire needs not only three manuals but three going up to C61.

 

For an educational institution to commission a two-decker to replace a three-decker positively shrieks for comment! I went to The RCM, so perhaps I'd better not say anything too pointed about the design/commissioning policy at The RAM. Even then, they have a large organ (with plenty of manuals) just across the road. Coincidentally, the other 'French' organ from the same period, Exeter College, Oxford is also a two-decker.

 

I appreciate that when one gets down to very, very few stops, a third manual is a large expense which is difficult to justify. Even so, that number of stops is pretty small. Here's a 'small three' I like very much:

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N08874

 

 

As far as practice is concerned, one needs to be able to use the same manuals in rehearsal that one uses in performance (NB in the same order!). The actual stops used in rehearsal are almost immaterial by comparison.

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It is interesting to note that after Thomas Trotter transferred his weekly organ recitals from Birmingham Town Hall to this church when the Town Hall instrument was being rebuilt,

 

This is most interesting..... the 'official' history is that the weekly recitals were transferred to St Philip's Cathedral when the Town Hall closed. They've certainly been at St Philip's for a good number of years (including the entire period that work has been carried out on the organ). How long were they at St Paul's? (The Town Hall closed in July 1996).

 

Our booklet for Trotter's new Town Hall recording is at the printers as I write - we want it to be accurate, but it could well be too late to change it, but we'll try if we get the correct information...! Please PM if you prefer.

 

Gary Cole

Regent Records

 

info@regentrecords.com

01902 424377

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Guest Psalm 78 v.67
As far as practice is concerned, one needs to be able to use the same manuals in rehearsal that one uses in performance (NB in the same order!). The actual stops used in rehearsal are almost immaterial by comparison.

 

Oh yes! Am I the only one to have gone to play on the Great of a 3-decker (being used to 2) and started with a pedal note coupled to swell and great, with a silent chord on the choir? <_<:blink:

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This is most interesting..... the 'official' history is that the weekly recitals were transferred to St Philip's Cathedral when the Town Hall closed. They've certainly been at St Philip's for a good number of years (including the entire period that work has been carried out on the organ). How long were they at St Paul's? (The Town Hall closed in July 1996).

 

Our booklet for Trotter's new Town Hall recording is at the printers as I write - we want it to be accurate, but it could well be too late to change it, but we'll try if we get the correct information...! Please PM if you prefer.

 

Gary Cole

Regent Records

 

info@regentrecords.com

01902 424377

 

Thomas was only at St Paul's during the Town Hall Organ rebuild of 1982 and then again for the spring term in 1993 (or 1994?) while something was being done to the Town Hall roof. I don't think that the roof work happened in the end, but as the publicity had already been done the recitals did move to St Paul's. I know that for sure as I was at the Conservatoire then and went to them! This was all of course before Nic's rebuilt St Phillip's Cathedral Organ, so when it came to the Town Hall's closure in 1996 St Phillip's seemed more obvious as it's closer to the TH and the organ was newly rebuilt whereas St Paul's organ by this time was showing signs of age and is now due to be the subject of a major rebuild... more of that later though!

 

Hope that clears that up.

 

I play St Paul's weekly and do miss a third manual, for accompaniment and repertoire although I manage to practise on a 2 man Wyvern at home - but that's mainly note learning. For fun I go up the road to the three manual I play my monthly recital series on! B)

P.

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Thomas was only at St Paul's during the Town Hall Organ rebuild of 1982 and then again for the spring term in 1993 (or 1994?) while something was being done to the Town Hall roof. I don't think that the roof work happened in the end, but as the publicity had already been done the recitals did move to St Paul's. I know that for sure as I was at the Conservatoire then and went to them! This was all of course before Nic's rebuilt St Phillip's Cathedral Organ, so when it came to the Town Hall's closure in 1996 St Phillip's seemed more obvious as it's closer to the TH and the organ was newly rebuilt whereas St Paul's organ by this time was showing signs of age and is now due to be the subject of a major rebuild... more of that later though!

 

P.

Yes, that's quite right and what I was referring to. I remember talking with Thomas when we heard that the Town Hall was closing in 1996, and I did say to him that the organ was now ailing and that St. Paul's would probably no longer be the best venue.

 

It's a pity that the church will now have to face raising funds for a major rebuild of the organ. About 11 years ago, when I was DoM there, I informed the church of my concerns and explained that the organ was going to need attention to prevent matters going too far, and got quotations in for the work. The Vicar and congregation all seemed to get behind this, and we investigated fund-raising. Indeed, some of the most immediate and necessary work was undertaken then.

 

Unfortunately, things suffered a terrible blow when the DOA visited. I'm not going to mention his name for reasons of politeness. I tried to explain the mechanical problems to him, but he was more keen on playing the instrument and not interested in hearing about what was going on inside the instrument. Understandable, to a point, I suppose. He extemporized for about five minutes, and then said with great confidence to the Vicar "There's nothing wrong with this organ at all." I was flabbergasted and said that he was visiting on one of the organ's "good days" and suggested to him that he looked in the tuning book where all the regular problems were listed, or spoke to the organ builders who maintained the instrument (Nicholsons), but he wasn't interested. He then asked me if he could look inside the loft. I was delighted with this as, with screwdriver in hand, I hoped to show him the wear and tear in the instrument, and the condition of the soundboards etc. Well, I unlocked the door of the loft and let him in. He poked his head inside for all of two seconds, glanced left and right and then said "Very nice. Thank you"! He then said to the Vicar (who was an old friend of his) "I think you said you were going to buy me lunch. Shall we go?".

 

Over lunch at the local gentleman's club he told the Vicar that he thought the organ was allright ("It'll be good for a number of years yet, I'm sure"), and managed to convey the same message to a couple of church officials and to some people who we hoped would be helping financially during that disastrous lunch - to which I wasn't invited! I was dismayed to have people in the congregation the Sunday afterwards coming up to me to inform me that they had been told the "good news about the organ" and they were sure I'd be delighted that the organ was fine, and that there was nothing to worry about. It was especially miff-making as there were several dumb notes and one cipher that very weekend.

 

All the hard work I'd put into persuading the parish that the organ - which sounded very nice to them, and in a lovely acoustic too - was beginning to ail was wrecked.

 

I'm rather surprised that it's still playable. I shall look forward to hearing what the plans for the rebuilding are, and wish the church all the best with this. Perhaps, though, had they done things a few years ago, such major work wouldn't now be necessary. B)

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Guest Cynic
Yes, that's quite right and what I was referring to. I remember talking with Thomas when we heard that the Town Hall was closing in 1996, and I did say to him that the organ was now ailing and that St. Paul's would probably no longer be the best venue.

 

It's a pity that the church will now have to face raising funds for a major rebuild of the organ. About 11 years ago, when I was DoM there, I informed the church of my concerns and explained that the organ was going to need attention to prevent matters going too far, and got quotations in for the work. The Vicar and congregation all seemed to get behind this, and we investigated fund-raising. Indeed, some of the most immediate and necessary work was undertaken then.

 

Unfortunately, things suffered a terrible blow when the DOA visited. I'm not going to mention his name for reasons of politeness. I tried to explain the mechanical problems to him, but he was more keen on playing the instrument and not interested in hearing about what was going on inside the instrument. Understandable, to a point, I suppose. He extemporized for about five minutes, and then said with great confidence to the Vicar "There's nothing wrong with this organ at all." I was flabbergasted and said that he was visiting on one of the organ's "good days" and suggested to him that he looked in the tuning book where all the regular problems were listed, or spoke to the organ builders who maintained the instrument (Nicholsons), but he wasn't interested. He then asked me if he could look inside the loft. I was delighted with this as, with screwdriver in hand, I hoped to show him the wear and tear in the instrument, and the condition of the soundboards etc. Well, I unlocked the door of the loft and let him in. He poked his head inside for all of two seconds, glanced left and right and then said "Very nice. Thank you"! He then said to the Vicar (who was an old friend of his) "I think you said you were going to buy me lunch. Shall we go?".

 

Over lunch at the local gentleman's club he told the Vicar that he thought the organ was allright ("It'll be good for a number of years yet, I'm sure"), and managed to convey the same message to a couple of church officials and to some people who we hoped would be helping financially during that disastrous lunch - to which I wasn't invited! I was dismayed to have people in the congregation the Sunday afterwards coming up to me to inform me that they had been told the "good news about the organ" and they were sure I'd be delighted that the organ was fine, and that there was nothing to worry about. It was especially miff-making as there were several dumb notes and one cipher that very weekend.

 

All the hard work I'd put into persuading the parish that the organ - which sounded very nice to them, and in a lovely acoustic too - was beginning to ail was wrecked.

 

I'm rather surprised that it's still playable. I shall look forward to hearing what the plans for the rebuilding are, and wish the church all the best with this. Perhaps, though, had they done things a few years ago, such major work wouldn't now be necessary. B)

 

 

I find this a very interesting story indeed. Thanks for sharing it with us.

I suppose your adviser (anyonymous but ?might be guessed at?) is at least a change from the sort of adviser whose report I have recently seen on an organ I know really well. There the intention seemed to be to spend as much money as possible and replace everything in sight when the organ just needs a good clean and mechanical updating.

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