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Earthquake Zones

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Rochester Cathedral is pretty deafening from the console, though you are virtually sitting inside the organ up on the screen. I don't think I'd go so far as to call it physically painful though.

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No no no!

 

The loudest organ I have encountered is the HNB at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook near Ipswich. It has one of the largest screens in Europe, is situated on the west gallery and is simply frightening when standing directly in front of it. The chapel is huge, with 3 domes resulting in an echo of about 8 seconds. If you dont know this one, go and visit!

 

Spec:

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N00981

 

Peter

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And there's always pcnd's chamades! :lol:

 

Mmmm.... They are being tuned next week - I am looking forward to Mass on the following Sunday; particularly since our new curate will have been ordained the previous day....

B)

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At this years St Alban's Organ competition - one of the finalists decided to go for it in the opening allegro of Widor's VI - the panellists covered their ears - as did Peter Hurford, who was sitting in the audience! I have to say it was a pretty ugly sound.

 

I thought the recent Latry recital at the RAH had some enormous sounds coming from the organ that were still quite musical.

 

PS I heard Bath Abbey on radio 4 morning worship last Sunday and have to say the mixtures nearly burnt my ears out. I hope the choir use ear defenders.

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

Which

Organ

Really

Could

Elicit

Some

Terrible

Ear-splitting

Rackets

 

Saucy! :lol:

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All the southerners are making various claims, so I'd better redress the balance a little with a few northern earthquake machines.

 

Newcastle Cathedral organ is very, very large and very, very loud; make no mistake. It isn't a very large building, but the organ is enormous.

 

The organ at Liverpool Cathedral is quite capable of rattling the rafters, and at reasonably close quarters, it really is tremendous.

 

Similarly St Geroge's Hall, Liverpool, which when exploited to the full, is absolutely hair-raising.

 

The organ at Chester Cathedral is a big sound when all the reeds are used.

 

The organ at Hull City Hall is fairly monstrous when the big reeds are drawn; largely because it isn't the biggest hall in the world.

 

The huge instrument at Leeds PC, in quite a modest building, is also breathtakingly loud on full organ.

 

Lastly, (because I can't be bothered with any more), the organ at Durham Cathedral, which in the quire is absolutely devastating on full organ.

 

MM

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PS I heard Bath Abbey on radio 4 morning worship last Sunday and have to say the mixtures nearly burnt my ears out. I hope the choir use ear defenders.

 

It must have been the mic. position - Marcus Sealy is one of the most sensitive players I have come across.

 

AJJ

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Lastly, (because I can't be bothered with any more), the organ at Durham Cathedral, which in the quire is absolutely devastating on full organ.

 

MM

 

Quite so! A friend of mine, realising that using the Solo Octave and Sub-Octave Couplers with Solo to Great would enable 9 :lol: ranks of Tubas to be used on the Great did so at the end of "I was Glad" on Hild/Bede College day. We were recording the service on the tape deck that James and Keith used to have in the organ loft. At the end of the recording you can hear the mics being frazzled. The device, I gather, was not operable after that!

 

To ask a (perhaps) more interesting question, I can not think of an instrument with a more breathtaking dynamic range. Using the Swell Salicional alone with the box tight shut, it is sometimes impossible to hear if anyone is playing at all. It is wonderful for pieces like the Howells First Psalm Prelude as you can genuinely obey the "a niente" marking. Not knowing (but having heard) Westminster Cathedral and Liverpool terribly well, I'm sure that people will assure me that the same is possible there. This issue of dynamic range really struck me when I heard an excellent recital by Peter Backhouse in Edinburgh this summer (another phenomenally loud, and very beautiful instrument). The loud stuff was VERY VERY loud, but the pianissimo passages were still at about mp. As such the instrument doesn't quite have the mesmerising effect (for me) of say Durham, Peterbrough or Coventry. What do others think?

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I've heard it said that when Sumsion started improvising before evensong on the old Gloucester organ the congregation gradually became aware that the organ was playing. I'm (slightly) too young to know if that was true or not, but I've always thought it a wonderful concept.

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Playing the organ at St Mary's Warwick a few months ago during an organ crawl, I remember a couple came up to the console to see what the "special event" was. Turned out they could the organ being played from the opposite end of the High Street so came up into the church to find out where all the noise was coming from...

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Playing the organ at St Mary's Warwick a few months ago during an organ crawl, I remember a couple came up to the console to see what the "special event" was. Turned out they could the organ being played from the opposite end of the High Street so came up into the church to find out where all the noise was coming from...

Yes, this one has to go on a list as being both loud and unpleasant even though there was an attempt to tame it a few ago.

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Guest Cynic
Yes, this one has to go on a list as being both loud and unpleasant even though there was an attempt to tame it a few ago.

 

Indeed.

 

St.Mary's Warwick West End organ is in every way a Denys Thurlow Special.

Fortunately, some older (much more subtle) pipework was kept and this was included in the East End organ which I find very musical by contrast.

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Guest Psalm 78 v.67
Indeed.

 

St.Mary's Warwick West End organ is in every way a Denys Thurlow Special.

Fortunately, some older (much more subtle) pipework was kept and this was included in the East End organ which I find very musical by contrast.

 

Not well known, but my previous church (St Laurence, Hawkhurst) is a Dennis Thurlow Special (rebuild) too. My first wedding there, some of the choir had their fingers in their ears! The Great Open has been "cut-up" drastically and is really too big, but the only alternative at 8' is a Clarabella. His Great mixture was on open-foot voicing and stood away from the chorus chronically. I had it re-cast during my tenure, but the Open was beyond redemption.

 

Redland Park URC Bristol is a huge 4-decker, much bigger than you would expect in the building.

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Indeed.

 

St.Mary's Warwick West End organ is in every way a Denys Thurlow Special.

Fortunately, some older (much more subtle) pipework was kept and this was included in the East End organ which I find very musical by contrast.

 

I must agree - I thought that it was a fairly unpleasant instrument, with a slightly silly console design. I also remember that it was very loud.

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I must agree - I thought that it was a fairly unpleasant instrument, with a slightly silly console design. I also remember that it was very loud.

Well we've discussed this unpleasant instrument before. It would also usually get into a top 6 list of most untidy console area/organ loft in the country.

 

It would be quite entertaining to draw up a list of the top "Most Unpleasant" organs, although you'd have to restrict it to large, well maintained organs in major churches to cut out all the dross in the villages. Warwick and Sherborne would be top of my hit parade.

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Well we've discussed this unpleasant instrument before. It would also usually get into a top 6 list of most untidy console area/organ loft in the country.

 

It would be quite entertaining to draw up a list of the top "Most Unpleasant" organs, although you'd have to restrict it to large, well maintained organs in major churches to cut out all the dross in the villages. Warwick and Sherborne would be top of my hit parade.

 

This might make interesting reading.

 

Shall we limit ourselves to U.K. instruments only, for now? Lists of our top six most hated instruments seems a good idea. However, I think that they have to be worse than merely untidy; either tonally objectionable, or with an unwieldy console - or just plain all-round nasty.

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Guest Cynic
This might make interesting reading.

 

Shall we limit ourselves to U.K. instruments only, for now? Lists of our top six most hated instruments seems a good idea. However, I think that they have to be worse than merely untidy; either tonally objectionable, or with an unwieldy console - or just plain all-round nasty.

 

Ah but....

will I have to keep off naming Gl*****er for fear of frightening the horses?

 

I mean, for me at least it fully qualifies. I think others would feel the same, but then we would kick up the same opposition from folks who like it because it does a middling good 'Poor Mans' Notre Dame' impression.

 

Obviously disregarding huge swathes of seriously poor, dull or mechnically worn-out organs, here would be my other five:

 

Christ Church Oxford - because it features some of the all-time ugliest reeds in the Anglican Communion

Shrewsbury R.C.Cathedral - because of one stop - an unbelieveable Migraine III on the Great

Hull University Chapel - least ergonomic organ ever built

St.Alban's Holborn - loudest organ with least redeeming features

The University Church, Oxford - for the least concession ever made to the needs of Anglican worship [in a centre of worship]

 

 

The prize for Most Pointless Extra Expense would go jointly to Symphony Hall, Bridgewater Hall and Christchurch Priory for their redundant (duplicate) actions and tracker consoles.

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Guest Lee Blick
Shrewsbury R.C.Cathedral - because of one stop - an unbelieveable Migraine III on the Great

 

Surprising for a Mander organ.

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Guest Cynic
Surprising for a Mander organ.

 

 

This was in the pre-John Mander era. If I speak without fear or favour but with some experience, I would suggest there were quite a few less than perfect Mander jobs before he took charge. In fact, the further you go back in the firm's history the more of these you find. Some of the actual perpetrators have gone on to great prominence and are now much in demand for their expertise.

 

Anyway, as to Shrewsbury, The Great Man (NM) came and introduced this 'new' instrument to the peasantry. He spoke at length, covering, amongst other things all the advantages of extension, but neglected to tell us the most interesting thing about this organ, viz that three of the internal ranks had been made by Willis for the Altar organ of St.Paul's which Manders had just rebuilt. In fact, only the Open Diapason rank (in display) and the Migraine III were new (Mander) pipework.

 

If the console had been detatched there would not have been a problem for the player, as it is.......

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Ah but....

will I have to keep off naming Gl*****er for fear of frightening the horses?

 

I mean, for me at least it fully qualifies. I think others would feel the same, but then we would kick up the same opposition from folks who like it because it does a middling good 'Poor Mans' Notre Dame' impression.

 

Not as long as you do not mind my stating that I do not care for the Compton at Downside!

 

For the record, Gloucester sounds almost nothing like Nôtre-Dame de Paris, but very much like the four-clavier Danion-Gonzales instrument in Chartres Cathedral.

Obviously disregarding huge swathes of seriously poor, dull or mechnically worn-out organs, here would be my other five:

 

Christ Church Oxford - because it features some of the all-time ugliest reeds in the Anglican Communion

1Shrewsbury R.C.Cathedral - because of one stop - an unbelieveable Migraine III on the Great

Hull University Chapel - least ergonomic organ ever built

St.Alban's Holborn - loudest organ with least redeeming features

The University Church, Oxford - for the least concession ever made to the needs of Anglican worship [in a centre of worship]

The prize for Most Pointless Extra Expense would go jointly to Symphony Hall, Bridgewater Hall and Christchurch Priory for their redundant (duplicate) actions and tracker consoles.

 

The last three - I would certainly agree with your points, Paul.

 

My six nominations:

 

(I do not include the wreck that is the organ of Llandaff Cathedral, since this is currently on Death Row, all final appeals having been exhausted, with no hope of clemency - thank God. I just hope that it has not donated any part of its body to the new organ....)

 

In no particular order:

 

1) Downside Abbey (Perhaps with a thorough restoration, I might change my mind, since I distinctly remember liking its big brother at St. Luke's, Chelsea).

 

2) The Collegiate Church of Saint Mary, Warwick (Loud, uncouth, unhelpfully-designed console and, well, just nasty really.)

 

3) Honiton Parish Church (I actually preferred the old organ. I am unable to find any tonal beauty in this instrument. The reeds are particularly rough and unpleasant.)

 

4) The 'temporary' organ installed in Saint Ambrose, West Cliff, Bournemouth about ten years ago - and swathed in some old vestry panelling. (With the exception of the Orgue du Choeur in Chartres Cathedral, this is the nastiest pile of junk it has ever been my misfortune to play. A piano would have been preferable.)

 

5) Winchester Cathedral (No real colour or tonal beauty - it is simply a noise machine. The 32p Contra Bombarde, which was the only such stop ever made by Hele & Co., Plymouth, is rather offensive from anywhere in the Quire. The only redeeming feature of this organ is the beautiful Harrison & Harrison console.)

 

6) Crediton Parish Church (It may be one of the few vintage Harrison & Harrison organs to be left to us, but I can see no musical use for the Pedal and G.O. chorus reeds, the G.O. Harmonics* - or the Choir Tuba. The aforementioned reed stops are extremely loud and utterly devoid of any harmonic development. Even from part-way down the North Aisle, these stops are oppressive and very unmusical.)

 

* I am aware that Arthur Harrison inserted his 'Harmonics' stops in order to help the Tromba ranks blend with the chorus. However, with regard to this organ, it is rather like attempting to make oil mix with water. In any case, the G.O. reeds are so loud (and so fat), that I cannot imagine anyone wishing to use them for more than a few seconds. Prior to its recent restoration, this was also a rather ugly organ, with dull front 16p Geigen pipes above matt black plywood. This often seemed to be how Arthur Harrison left his instruments; even the organ at Westminster Abbey was left caseless for a few years at the time of the 1937 rebuild. However, this could have been partly Harry Harrison's decision.

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I agree re University Church Oxford viz-à-viz apparent disregard for Anglican liturgy. Sadly, however, it is a very fine instrument; more integrity and less ‘eclectic’ than Trinity Cambridge, which I dislike intensely. Rather, I'd nominate the old/new kist-o'-whistles of St Peter's College, Oxford. The organ consultant had the audacity to publish a statement in The Organbuilder to the effect that its role accompanying choirs in Anglican liturgies need not be a consideration (whereas, he claims, it was at Magdalen). Consequently, the College was persuaded to purchase one of the worst instruments I have ever had the misfortune to play. A host of curious, reputable visiting organ builders were incredulous, declaring it ‘unfinished’ (among other things), yet on the back of this, his "first Oxford instrument", the builder was awarded a number of valuable contracts, to the eventually dissatisfaction of the purchasers. Coincidentally, I notice one of them in Paul's list.

 

Thankfully, within four generations of organ scholars (each of whom directed an extremely able and dedicated chapel choir of choral scholars and volunteers), the Emperor's New Clothes were revealed in all their glory and the thing was binned in favour of the lovely Willis, which we always used for Monday night Compline services, 1987-1990, when the other instrument was brand new and the Willis apparently "unplayable" (don’t you believe it – a drop of oil on the blower and a few hours’ patience worked wonders).

 

I'm not bitter :lol: I just did my best to break it! Duruflé Toccata eventually did the trick! B)

 

Does anyone know what happened to the rejected instrument?

 

Ian

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"the Willis apparently "unplayable" (don’t you believe it – a drop of oil on the blower and a few hours’ patience worked wonders).

(Quote)

 

This was true for sooooo many organs that have been scrapped !

 

With two friends we "got back to life" a very interesting pneumatic organ

in Brussels 30 years ago with some hours, oil and tape.

Halas when the time arose for "big chiefs" to assess it, the electric wires

to the blower had been cut !

I could fill ten pages here with stories like that.

 

Pierre

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Ah but....

will I have to keep off naming Gl*****er for fear of frightening the horses?

 

I mean, for me at least it fully qualifies. I think others would feel the same, but then we would kick up the same opposition from folks who like it because it does a middling good 'Poor Mans' Notre Dame' impression.

 

Actually, I can remember the exact performance that first excited me about the G*******er organ: a broadcast by Mark Blatchly of Mozart K608 in the early 1980s. It totally blew my mind. I taped it and played it incessantly. Sounded nothing like Notre-Dame :P

 

Incidentally, MB was the first person (I'm led to understand - apologies to Mark's predecessors if not!) to use that organ like a giant one manual, setting the precedent for all subsequent successful performances on that organ. Of course this wasn't anything particularly revolutionary - I was taught to do this by William Morgan at Bolton Parish Church when accompanying choirs as a schoolboy, i.e. couple everything up to the Great; use the Choir and Swell as your bread-n-butter; add/subtract softer Gt stops as necessary. It works everywhere and helps achieve 'fake' tutti effects without swamping the choir with wodges of Gt diapasons and hohl flutes. Solo strings and orchestral reeds can likewise thus be eased in for sizzles and snarls.

 

We joked at G*******er that the first thing needed at the rebuild was a 'coupler' piston à la Willis III: the first stops we always reached for were ALL the couplers, just to the left of the music desk B) Ralph Downes must have been spinning :lol:

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