Jump to content
Mander Organs
Contrabombarde

Earthquake Zones

Recommended Posts

OK, it's maybe a frivilous topic, but having spent a few thrilling hours getting to know the organ at Lausanne Cathedral over the weekend I wonder if I could begin such a thread. Even with the mobile console halfway down the nave, and playing on Great principal chorus it's pretty deafening. Add the Great reeds and couple to full Swell and your ears start to ache. Couple that to the Bombarde heavy reeds and tiles come off the roof. Add the Bombarde chamades and full Pedal down to 64' (32 plus 21 1/3) plus Great 32' flue and the Pacific seismographs start to pick it up. It's one amazing instrument (5-manual mechanical action!), though it is more than a bit loud! Organ in question is a 2003 Fisk from the USA. They should get Jeremy Clarkson to feature it on Top Gear in a noise shootout with a Ferrari.

 

It reminds me of the organ in Lake Avenue church, Pasadena, a Casavant dating back around 10 years. Enormous four manual, with 32 bourdon on Great and 32 foot REED on Swell. Again, voicing on a collosal scale, though in a vast, windowless auditorium wth the acoustics of a cinema, and I thought that though it was a thrilling instrument it was just a bit too loud to be able to control sensitively.

 

So, for the bit of the schoolboy in us all, what's the loudest organ you've ever encountered, whether measured at console or in church/auditorium? And how loud can an organ be and still remain musical? Examples please!

 

Contrabombarde

 

(conflict of interest: my alias' name!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The organ of the Chant d'oiseau church (dealt with elsewhere here).

 

As for the most musical loud organ, I could cite an organ which does

not exist any more somewhere in Europe, heard from the choir.

 

Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Loudest I've heard was Christchurch Cathedral, New Zealand Hill Norman & Beard 1926. The tuba is on 19" which is the loudest in the country at the moment.

 

JA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bath Abbey is very loud at the console. (My daughter, who's been in many an organ loft with me, put her hands over her ears at full Gt+Sw. Haven't tried coupling through the Tuba.)

 

St Mary Redcliffe is, to my mind, uncomfortably loud at the console.

 

I haven't had the fortune to hear Westminster Cathedral from the tribune, but its a most magnificent sound - and quite loud enough - in the nave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cologne Cathedral 's tuttis + 64' gives quite an earthquake.

 

Maybe that's something for St.Pauls if one would something, a 64' - the tutti is indeed very very loud near the south transept (tubas poking your ears).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As for the most musical loud organ, I could cite an organ which does

not exist any more somewhere in Europe, heard from the choir.

 

Pierre

 

Yes - absolutely, Pierre.

 

The Full Organ was thrilling, with a delicious tang to the big reeds - just like an old English spiced sauce....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect that Nôtre-Dame de Paris would take some beating - Tutti Général actually made my ears distort.

 

The loudest organ in central London is supposed to be the instrument in St. Alban's, Holborn. Apparently, after its completion it was so noisy that the only way of getting the G.O. down to a bearable level was to build substantial wood baffles around the soundboard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... what's the loudest organ you've ever encountered, whether measured at console or in church/auditorium?

 

Wesminster Cathedral

Bath Abbey (Klais)

St Alban's, Holborn

St Peter's, Eaton Square (Jones)

Royal Albert Hall (restored)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wesminster Cathedral

Bath Abbey (Klais)

St Alban's, Holborn

St Peter's, Eaton Square (Jones)

Royal Albert Hall (restored)

 

Indeed - the organ of Bath Abbey is very loud. Actually, it was fairly powerful before the rebuild by Klais. Apparently, it frightened some of the orchestra during the first full rehearsal for the Saint-Saëns Third Symphony, which was performed shortly after the latest rebuild was completed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes - absolutely, Pierre.

 

The Full Organ was thrilling, with a delicious tang to the big reeds - just like an old English spiced sauce....

Well I guess I know which organ is being discussed, and I played it regularly for 4 years. Whilst it was a thrilling instrument I would not agree that it was exceptionally loud. We've been through the arguments about accompanying the choir (it was simple, use little great and keep the swell pedal under control). But for the grand finale it was not unreasonable to couple through the solo Bombarde & Trumpet, possibly even with octave couplers. I can't imagine doing that at Bath.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well I guess I know which organ is being discussed, and I played it regularly for 4 years. Whilst it was a thrilling instrument I would not agree that it was exceptionally loud. We've been through the arguments about accompanying the choir (it was simple, use little great and keep the swell pedal under control). But for the grand finale it was not unreasonable to couple through the solo Bombarde & Trumpet, possibly even with octave couplers. I can't imagine doing that at Bath.

 

Whist this is true, the Solo Organ at Bath Abbey is considerably nearer to the singers than was the Solo Organ at the other building under discussion....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Whist this is true, the Solo Organ at Bath Abbey is considerably nearer to the singers than was the Solo Organ at the other building under discussion....

 

.....Which was oriented towards the nave, not the choir.

 

Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
.....Which was oriented towards the nave, not the choir.

 

Pierre

 

....Which was exactly my point. This made it quite possible to use both big Solo reeds (and the Pedal 32p Trumpet), when accompanying a reasonably robust choir.

 

Incidentally, I had always wondered why the Pedal reeds were simply named 'Trumpet' - all three pitches; surely Double Trumpet, Trumpet and Clarion would have been less confusing when glancing quickly for a climax stop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By common consent, Notre Dame seems to be one of the loudest ; I have heard that remark about eardrums distorting from more than one player. I spoke to Stephen Farr about playing there earlier this year ; normally the most aesthetic and fastidious musician, Stephen admitted, despite himself, at being impressed by the fact that it was just so LOUD.

 

Westminster Cathedral is very loud at the console, although in a way that I find overbearing rather than exciting. The Grand Chorus is above your head, and once that is on you cannot hear anything else.

 

In a recent Sunday afternoon recital I arranged my programme so that - in a rare moment of discretion - the Contra Bombarde was only heard at the end of the last piece. My hapless page turner was standing right beside the Bombarde when it came on and physically jumped. He later described the experience as like having a pneumatic drill held to the side of his head. Naturally, I went on to point out to him that I had not got round to the Tuba Magna at all in my programme.

 

The other organs that I remember as almost unpleasantly loud are Notre Dame Leicester Place and St John's Church, Duncan Terrace, Islington, the latter being very loud at the console so that after a little time you just end up with a headache.

 

The art, as ever, is to find the right balance of power and excitement. My uncle, an architect, always raved about Liverpool Anglican Cathedral as being (architecturally) the perfect mix of smoothness and power, and that probably goes for the Liverpool organ as well. Playing that organ at full blast is like driving a racing car at 200mph ; you 'slow down' to what feels like a crawl, only to look at the speedometer and find you are still doing 70 mph.

 

Perhaps we could start a related thread about organs that are disappointingly soft. By common consent, Bridgewater Hall never quite seems to get there ; an experience I have also had (as a listener) at King's Cambridge, Kingston Parish Church and Saint Sulpice (although in the latter case that might have been to do with my position in the church). Just as you think things are starting to build up nicely, you realise that you are already flat out. Ultimately, beauty of sound is much more important than sheer power, but sometimes a bit of a blast is just what you need. As George Thalben Ball reminded us, every organ should have one stop or aspect that makes you go 'Golly'.

 

 

M

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
By common consent, Notre Dame seems to be one of the loudest ; I have heard that remark about eardrums distorting from more than one player. I spoke to Stephen Farr about playing there earlier this year ; normally the most aesthetic and fastidious musician, Stephen admitted, despite himself, at being impressed by the fact that it was just so LOUD.

 

But on the occasions I have heard it from downstairs - either in a recital or in the 'big' Mass on Easter day not so long ago it has sounded decidedly far away. Possibly the effect of all the tourists etc. also does not help. Cochereau recordings aside - I have two modern recordings - Olivier Latry and Phillippe Lefebvre - the former sounds as if it has been recorded at a greater distance than the latter and therefore gives a better perspective from an 'acoustic' POV. Levfebvre has more consistently 'loud' bits whereas Latry coasts along quite nicely but adds coupled Chamades at the ends of pieces so practically doubling the volume (the end of his Widor Toccata is decidedly OTT but quite splendid all the same!). The Pedal Bombardes make less of an impact in the Latry recording. I'd like to hear it from the gallery......maybe next time...

 

AJJ

 

PS Feb. '09 - I take this all back - in an empty building - even from the crossing the sound is VAST!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... I'd like to hear it from the gallery......maybe next time...

 

AJJ

 

If you do, I recommend ear-muffs - or a wooly hat.

 

(Or not leaning against the case....) :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Psalm 78 v.67
St Mary Redcliffe is, to my mind, uncomfortably loud at the console.

 

Particularly Full Swell with the West shutters open into the North Transept. Try sitting in the transept right next to them as I did for a service once many years ago! (Slightly off-topic, I have never seen much mention of the late Garth Benson on this forum...a Redcliffe "character" if ever there was one!)

 

St Alban's Holborn is pretty loud as I remember.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Psalm 78 v.67
Particularly Full Swell with the West shutters open into the North Transept. Try sitting in the transept right next to them as I did for a service once many years ago! (Slightly off-topic, I have never seen much mention of the late Garth Benson on this forum...a Redcliffe "character" if ever there was one!)

 

St Alban's Holborn is pretty loud as I remember. - (edit: D'oh ! Should have read earlier posts more thoroughly! :blink: )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wesminster Cathedral

Bath Abbey (Klais)

St Alban's, Holborn

St Peter's, Eaton Square (Jones)

Royal Albert Hall (restored)

Having heard both the first and last of these recently I thought Westminster Cathedral thrilling but the RAH at full tilt is just unpleasant and uncomfortable, especially the GO reeds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That provoked a lively discussion ;-)

 

PCND??? Notre Dame de Paris or am I missing something?

 

And what's this highly mysterious organ somewhere in Europe that no longer exists and that we're evidently not allowed to name???

 

Incidentally, on the subject of quiet organs, is Bridgewater Hall that disappointing? I've only heard it once, with Wayne Marshall and thought it held its own in the Jongen Organ Concerto against a full orchestra.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PCND??? Notre Dame de Paris or am I missing something?

Pierre-Cochereau-Notre-Dame-[19]55-[19]84, now residing somewhere in a mid south-coast county.

 

And what's this highly mysterious organ somewhere in Europe that no longer exists and that we're evidently not allowed to name???

Which

Organ

Really

Could

Elicit

Some

Terrible

Ear-splitting

Rackets

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...