Guest Cynic Posted October 30, 2007 Share Posted October 30, 2007 =========================I have not the slightest evidence for this, but what I hear when I listen to Lewis reeds, is much the same as I hear when I listen to Schulze chorus reeds......a job-lot of bought-in pipes from one of the major supply houses of the day. (PLEASE tell me I am wrong......I do hope so). Please do not quote the "French" pedal reeds at Southwark. I know all about those! I have no idea what a diapson chorus is supposed to do, other than sing majestically, as they tend to do when they are well voiced. A really good chorus will certainly accept reeds of the Willis type, or the Hill type and, even Schulze travesties. G Donald Harrison reeds worked wonders at Methuen (I know the chorus was changed a fair bit, but not THAT much), Norman & Beard reeds attached themselves splendidly to the Schulze choruses at Doncaster, and of course, we all know about those very "English" reeds at the Bavokerk, which might easily have been stolen from a Hill organ. What of course will NOT work, are those hideous Harrison Trombas and Tubas, as well as the marginally better Willis 3 reeds. So yes we can compare, and the results speak for themselves. I agree the the term "irrelevant" is possibly not a good choice of word, but the fact is, the English romantic organ was very regional and very specific, and if you happen to be a world authority on Alcock, Bairstow, Stamford or Percy Whitlock, then there may be some degree of relevance. However, music-making no longer follows this fashion or era, and it is MUSIC which concerns me; not whether an organ is this or that. Why should we continue to perpetuate the "English" romantic organ, which is unsuited to possibly 98% of the organ repertoire from around the world? Please tell me I am wrong.......but make the arguments musical rather than pleasantly historical and nostalgic. As for Ernest Skinner, the man was pure genius, within the confines of the orchestral/symphonic organ tradition, and of course, Willis learned a lot from him. I loved the two Skinner organs (Ernest Skinner) I played in America, and admired the total quality of the finished result, but that doesn't mean that I would like to live with one. As for the music, Leo Sowerby sounds good on them. MM MM, you ask for musical reasons why an English romantic organ deserves our appreciation? Have you ever listened to French music played on German organs, or (possibly worse still) German music played on French ones? We are lucky that, although not identical to other important schools of organ-building of the period, a well-made, reasonably complete English organ will play practically every other national school of organ music respectably. A Hill reed has not the smack of Cavaille-Coll, not even Willis does, but for our buildings they are just as good, if not actually better. Where some of the most notorious imports have gone wrong IMHO is that a typical English church acoustic is not the same as those in equivalent places abroad. A tone that might well sound wonderful at a decent distance from a French west gallery organ will not be appreciated as it shouts from a moderately low (and close) screen position in England. Must praised though that organ sometimes is, I would instance the Reiger at Christ Church, Oxford in this regard. I find that Hill, Walker and Willis reeds tend to stay in tune, tend to have sufficient body and quality of tone to stand on their own; few French and German reeds do that. They speak promptly and they blend. Provided that you have a decent chorus or two (and this is where some of our larger organs often fall to the ground, I would for instance Norwich Cathedral or St.Edmundsbury) an 'English' reed chorus completes the picture magnificently. I note your comments about H&H organs. I would agree with you that a typical Arthur Harrison sound is not the most musical or flexible for solo work. I would maintain, however, that it was a true taste of the times and its real strength is that such an organ is an accompanimental instrument par excellence. Would you rather accompany a choir using an H&H swell or a Klais? A Nicholson? A Reiger? I know which I would choose. 'Horses for courses!' Our organs are/were good for what they were asked to do, which at the time included transcriptions. We seem to be judging organs on their ability to present a vast range of authentic performance, surely this is unrealistic. Let us be glad that (if left tonally unimproved) they do splendidly well in a surprising lot. Unashamed and unreconstructed English instruments (and of course I include Welsh and Scottish organs too) are objects of real interest to musicians and builders from abroad. We have here things that they do not have of their own. The blending capacity of our ranks is extraordinary and so are some of the colours. Of course, you were right to mention E.M.Skinner, because his quest for colour and flexibility was very much along the same lines. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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