Jump to content
Mander Organs
Contrabombarde

Earthquake Zones

Recommended Posts

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 :P Ralph Downes must have been spinning :lol:

 

Apparently, Mark Blatchly would also draw all the 8p stops before adding any 4p ranks. It is said that Downes hated the way MB registered the Gloucester organ*.

 

The only thing which this organ still needs is a decent Chamade - facing west. It is the one thing which would make the listener exclaim: "What the **** was that?!!"

 

* I cannot be bothered not to type the word - we all know the identity of the instrument to which we allude....

 

B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.)

??? I can't remember it being that bad on the occasions I've played/heard it...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
??? I can't remember it being that bad on the occasions I've played/heard it...

 

Have you played Salisbury? Compared to this instrument, Winchester is virtually devoid of any real colour - even if the mixtures are more generally useful than those on the Salisbury Willis. The other advantage of the Salisbury organ is that it is possible to use the 32p reed for extended periods, without acquiring a headache.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Have you played Salisbury? Compared to this instrument, Winchester is virtually devoid of any real colour - even if the mixtures are more generally useful than those on the Salisbury Willis. The other advantage of the Salisbury organ is that it is possible to use the 32p reed for extended periods, without acquiring a headache.

Would you really want to use a 32' reed for extended periods though? :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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 know what you mean and those fat reeds are beyond redemption, but I don't think I'd put it amongst the worst by any means. To be charitable the instrument would sound an awful lot better if the building had a decent acoustic. It's such a nice building, it really does deserve one. To me, that's a far bigger disappointment than the organ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Would you really want to use a 32' reed for extended periods though? B)

 

I was thinking of the Final of Vierne's First Symphony (for example) - the 32p reed is specified for the recapitulation of the main theme. It should be possible to use the stop for this length of time, without wishing oneself elsewhere .

 

At Salisbury, it is possible to use the Contra Posaune (32p) to underpin the full Swell; this can be particularly effective when accompanying psalms.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I know what you mean and those fat reeds are beyond redemption, but I don't think I'd put it amongst the worst by any means. To be charitable the instrument would sound an awful lot better if the building had a decent acoustic. It's such a nice building, it really does deserve one. To me, that's a far bigger disappointment than the organ.

 

In fairness, it should be said that the Swell Organ is uniformly good - as are the quiet ranks of the Choir Organ and the G.O. After all, one does not have to use the big reeds.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I was thinking of the Final of Vierne's First Symphony (for example) - the 32p reed is specified for the recapitulation of the main theme.

Indeed - and doesn't the B flat minor Toccata require it throughout, except in the quieter central section? Not entirely sure since I haven't played this in anger for years; sadly it belongs firmly to the days when I used to be able to play a little.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Mm, not convinced about that. I found the organ in Chartres to be a most thrilling instrument of far more impact that Gloucester which, for all the rudeness of some of its sounds, is really somewhat underpowered for the building. I don't think anyone listening to the Dupre Preludes and Fugues on the recording I have of Jane Watts from Chartres (Great European Organs no 18) could for one moment think that they were listening to a recording from Gloucester.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mm, not convinced about that. I found the organ in Chartres to be a most thrilling instrument of far more impact that Gloucester which, for all the rudeness of some of its sounds, is really somewhat underpowered for the building. I don't think anyone listening to the Dupre Preludes and Fugues on the recording I have of Jane Watts from Chartres (Great European Organs no 18) could for one moment think that they were listening to a recording from Gloucester.

Interestingly, Philippe Léfébvre, when he came to Gloucester to give a recital, agreed that it was tonally very much like Chartres (where he was Titulaire before moving to Nôtre-Dame de Paris). He also stated that he thought that Gloucester was the better instrument.

 

I possess several recordings of the Chartres organ, including one featuring Léfébvre playing the complete organ works of Duruflé. I also possess a recorded improvisation of Cochereau playing at Chartres. To my ears there are many similarities in the sounds of these two fine instruments. However, I realise that we all perceive the sounds of various instruments in different ways.

 

Downes said of the Gloucester organ, that it was "... the only organ on which [he had] been able to give a completely clear account of Dupré's B major Prelude and Fugue!".*

 

I have also played this work (as a voluntary after a Saturday Evensong) at Gloucester. It is indeed possible to achieve the utmost clarity. I was also a little surprised to read your commet regarding the Gloucester organ being under-powered. I have listened to it from the back of the nave, in both an empty building and when the nave was virtually full; I felt that it actually projected its tone rather better than did the organs of, for example, Exeter or Salisbury cathedrals.

 

 

 

* p. 211. Ralph Downes: Baroque Tricks Adventures with the Organ Builders. Positif Press, Oxford. (1983).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was also a little surprised to read your commet regarding the Gloucester organ being under-powered. I have listened to it from the back of the nave, in both an empty building and when the nave was virtually full; I felt that it actually projected its tone rather better than did the organs of, for example, Exeter or Salisbury cathedrals.

* p. 211. Ralph Downes: Baroque Tricks Adventures with the Organ Builders. Positif Press, Oxford. (1983).

Well, to be fair, it may well not be the only cathedral organ that is underpowered in this respect, and indeed there may be many that project less well. But I attended an ordination service a couple of years ago and was sitting towards the rear of the nave. Despite being played with "generous" registrations throughout (RH I believe) it was hopelessly inadequate at supporting the singing.

 

I have said before that I accept it makes a decent job of the French romantic repertoire, although I can't see how anyone would suggest that the very gentle swell strings (and the only strings on the instrument) sound remotely French.

 

Full organ makes a rich and distinctive sound, but I don't think it would make it onto this thread (and indeed it was not mentioned by anyone in this context) as a particularly loud organ. Of course all such judgements are subjective, and its also some 17 years since I was in Chartres, but my memory is of having been thrilled by the tutti at Chartres in a way that Gloucester has never managed for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Have you played Salisbury? Compared to this instrument, Winchester is virtually devoid of any real colour - even if the mixtures are more generally useful than those on the Salisbury Willis.

 

I have played it, but many organs would pale into insignificance besides Salisbury which, together with Truro (which I've given a recital on), are arguably Father Willis's finest instruments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have played it, but many organs would pale into insignificance besides Salisbury which, together with Truro (which I've given a recital on), are arguably Father Willis's finest instruments.

 

Well, this is certainly true.

 

I have given recitals on the three instruments at Salisbury, Truro and Winchester cathedrals (in addition to two recitals on the H&H organ of Coventry Cathedral). Out of the three, I think that I preferred Salisbury - although Truro came a close second. I was not playing any Bach, so I simply set the mixtures to draw with the chorus reeds. I think that if Truro had possessed a better Solo Organ, it might have come first, since the tutti (minus the Tuba, naturally) is brighter and comparatively more thrilling in the building than that at Salisbury. This said, Truro Cathedral is rather smaller than Salisbury .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, this is certainly true.

 

.....I think that I preferred Salisbury - although Truro came a close second. I was not playing any Bach, so I simply set the mixtures to draw with the chorus reeds. I think that if Truro had possessed a better Solo Organ, it might have come first, since the tutti (minus the Tuba, naturally) is brighter and comparatively more thrilling in the building than that at Salisbury. This said, Truro Cathedral is rather smaller than Salisbury .

 

 

Although not always mentioned in the same breath as Salisbury and Truro - I also have a great fondness for Lincoln having had organ lessons there and sung 'under it' regularly for a couple of years sometime back. At the hands of a player used to its disposition it can have great character and excitement (in an incredible acoustic and situation). As a player I always found it easy to work even in some quite unexpected repertoire.

 

AJJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My nomination for loudest organ - Frome Parish Church. In the early '80's, the console was equipped with headphones, which fed back sound from a pair of mics on the screen. Without the headphones one couldn't possibly hear the congregation in the nave. Unusually, the Swell soundboard had an extra octave of pipes for each rank so that the Swell octave coupler didn't stop dead at c49, rather like the Holdich diocton coupler.

 

Anyone of you west-country yokels know if the organ is still there/used ??

 

H

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My nomination for loudest organ - Frome Parish Church. In the early '80's, the console was equipped with headphones, which fed back sound from a pair of mics on the screen. Without the headphones one couldn't possibly hear the congregation in the nave. Unusually, the Swell soundboard had an extra octave of pipes for each rank so that the Swell octave coupler didn't stop dead at c49, rather like the Holdich diocton coupler.

 

Anyone of you west-country yokels know if the organ is still there/used ??

 

H

 

'Still there - not used much - they use a digital piano in the nave now most of the time. I once played a wedding there with a choir in the nave and never actually found out if we had ever been together or for than matter whether they had actually been singing! (I seem to remember we did one of those Rutter pieces in a dodgy key so I had to concentrate on my role in things rather than what they were doing.)

 

AJJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, to be fair, it may well not be the only cathedral organ that is underpowered in this respect, and indeed there may be many that project less well. But I attended an ordination service a couple of years ago and was sitting towards the rear of the nave. Despite being played with "generous" registrations throughout (RH I believe) it was hopelessly inadequate at supporting the singing.

 

I have said before that I accept it makes a decent job of the French romantic repertoire, although I can't see how anyone would suggest that the very gentle swell strings (and the only strings on the instrument) sound remotely French.

 

Full organ makes a rich and distinctive sound, but I don't think it would make it onto this thread (and indeed it was not mentioned by anyone in this context) as a particularly loud organ. Of course all such judgements are subjective, and its also some 17 years since I was in Chartres, but my memory is of having been thrilled by the tutti at Chartres in a way that Gloucester has never managed for me.

 

Having worked with Ralph Downes on several occasions, I often wondered how much he considered the full liturgical use of instruments he designed.

 

FF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Having worked with Ralph Downes on several occasions, I often wondered how much he considered the full liturgical use of instruments he designed.

 

FF

 

It must be said that he was rather disparaging of a certain period of the Anglican choral repertoire. In his book, Baroque Tricks, when giving the rationale behind the Gloucester scheme (and stating that, ideally, the cathedral should have two instruments) he says something like "...and one near the Quire, with some touches of Romantic sweetness for as long as Stanford and Wood remain in the repertoire." Or words to that effect. (I am currently in school, so I am unable to access my copy.)

 

Well, more than thirty-five years later, music by Stanford and Wood seems to be as popular as ever with the cathedrals in this area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Psalm 78 v.67
Although not always mentioned in the same breath as Salisbury and Truro - I also have a great fondness for Lincoln having had organ lessons there and sung 'under it' regularly for a couple of years sometime back. At the hands of a player used to its disposition it can have great character and excitement (in an incredible acoustic and situation). As a player I always found it easy to work even in some quite unexpected repertoire.

 

AJJ

 

How is Lincoln "disposed"? Is it all on/in the screen? Only heard it twice, once from fairly well back in the nave at a University Graduation, where I felt it lacked presence, and once in the Quire at Evensong. In the latter case I couldn't work out what / where the Swell was - I didn't hear what I was expecting, if that makes sense; I even wondered if the swell was not working

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How is Lincoln "disposed"? Is it all on/in the screen? Only heard it twice, once from fairly well back in the nave at a University Graduation, where I felt it lacked presence, and once in the Quire at Evensong. In the latter case I couldn't work out what / where the Swell was - I didn't hear what I was expecting, if that makes sense; I even wondered if the swell was not working

 

Great, Choir and Solo are in main case on screen with Pedal Violone and Bourdon (I think) and associated 8 & 4 chorus. Part of the Solo is enclosed with the 8' Flute and Tubas 8' & 4' unenclosed. The Choir organ is divided between a chest in the main case and the eastern 'oriel' case projecting into the Quire. In the north quire triforium is the remainder of the Pedal - the independent 16' and 8' Dulcianas are quite far east in fact. Above the screen and console, still in the North quire triforium is the Swell and I have a feeling that the 32' reed is that end of things also or even round in the transept triforium. Well back in the nave you miss a lot of it - for nave congregational control Great to Solo plus the Tubas and big Pedal are needed. It sounds best in the Quire in my opinion or just in front of the screen on the nave side. At the console I always found it worked better than it should, being so spread out. I have never played it for a service - rather just for organ lessons with the then Assistant - Roger Bryan and for pleasure. It was fantastic in the service context - the late Philip Marshall and Roger Bryan brought out the best in it - psalm colouring seemed to melt in and out of nowhere. Likewise in the hands of someone who understood it and its acoustic it could do wonders in recitals. Colin Walsh can make it sound amazing and Jennifer Bate once gave one of the best recitals I have ever heard on it.

 

AJJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It must be said that he was rather disparaging of a certain period of the Anglican choral repertoire. In his book, Baroque Tricks, when giving the rationale behind the Gloucester scheme (and stating that, ideally, the cathedral should have two instruments) he says something like "...and one near the Quire, with some touches of Romantic sweetness for as long as Stanford and Wood remain in the repertoire." Or words to that effect. (I am currently in school, so I am unable to access my copy.)

 

Well, more than thirty-five years later, music by Stanford and Wood seems to be as popular as ever with the cathedrals in this area.

So, after all these arguments, it now transpires that both its designer and builder admit its not fit for its main liturgical purpose. Exactly what some of us (whatever its other merits) have been saying for years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So, after all these arguments, it now transpires that both its designer and builder admit its not fit for its main liturgical purpose. Exactly what some of us (whatever its other merits) have been saying for years.

Not exactly; RD might have been saying no organ could perfectly fulfil its main liturgical purposes. Accompanying anglican chant is one thing, leading congregational hymn singing is another, and playing inspiring voluntaries appreciated by all is a third; I would say all three were significant when RD was working at Gloucester. The subsequent years might have extended the liturgical purposes of an English cathedral organ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not exactly; RD might have been saying no organ could perfectly fulfil its main liturgical purposes. Accompanying anglican chant is one thing, leading congregational hymn singing is another, and playing inspiring voluntaries appreciated by all is a third; I would say all three were significant when RD was working at Gloucester. The subsequent years might have extended the liturgical purposes of an English cathedral organ.

 

This is exactly what Ralph Downes was saying.

 

In addition, as I mentioned in a post a few days ago, there are a number of valid musical things which the Truro organ (for example) cannot do, but which Gloucester can. Remember that accompanying the choral music of Stanford and Wood is not the only thing which either instrument has to do.

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...