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Has someone messed around with the voicing of the Abbey Organ recently ? I was at evensong last Saturday and it sounded bloody awful. I don't know if this might have been the Organist playing with his registration setting. But what I was hearing was gritty mixtures with a cornet combinations in nearly every musical item. The Pedal is far too booming as well. I know it's a difficult organ to play given that the Swell and part of the Pedal is located in the South Triforium. I gather when Neary was Organist there he had one or two things tweaked and added .

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Has someone messed around with the voicing of the Abbey Organ recently ? I was at evensong last Saturday and it sounded bloody awful.  I don't know if this might have been the Organist playing with his registration setting.  But what I was hearing was gritty mixtures with a cornet combinations in nearly every musical item.  The Pedal is far too booming as well.  I know it's a difficult organ to play given that the Swell and part of the Pedal is located in the South Triforium.    I gather when  Neary was Organist there he had one or two things tweaked and added .

===============

 

I've always felt that the abbey organ is most definitely a "Royal Peculiar."

 

It sounded awful forty years ago, and sounds awful to this day in spite of all efforts to improve it over the years. It's also far too big and quite badly sited.

 

Instead of "tweaking and adding" things, they should have got rid of some things.....but then, they did, didn't they?

 

MM

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Guest Roffensis
===============

 

I've always felt that the abbey organ is most definitely a "Royal Peculiar."

 

It sounded awful forty years ago, and sounds awful to this day in spite of all efforts to improve it over the years. It's also far too big and quite badly sited.

 

Instead of "tweaking and adding" things, they should have got rid of some things.....but then, they did, didn't they?

 

MM

 

I think the mixtures were revised in 1982, but it always had a strong Tierce in the mixtures, of course the typical "Harmonics" with a flat 21st. Despite the blurb that the organ was new in 1937, it actually has a lot of Hill pipework in it still. The pedals always were "boomy", but I still consider it one of our very finest organs and I think most would agree. It is amazing how some organists can however make a good organ sound very poor indeed. I have heard it many times and it always has bowled me over. :blink:

All best,

Richard

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I think the mixtures were revised in 1982, but it always had a strong Tierce in the mixtures, of course the typical "Harmonics" with a flat 21st. Despite the blurb that the organ was new in 1937, it actually has a lot of Hill pipework in it still. The pedals always were "boomy", but I still consider it one of our very finest organs and I think most would agree. It is amazing how some organists can however make a good organ sound very poor indeed. I have heard it many times and it always has bowled me over. :blink:

All best,

Richard

 

I suppose it must be some sort of testimony to the individuality of human experience that two replies produce two radically different assessments of the merits of an instrument. I have never actually managed to hear the Abbey organ "used in anger" live:only burbling away to itself on a couple of gentle 8 fts which merely sounded pleasantly atmospheric, as one would expect. It certainly records well, vide the Preston recordings from the 1960s, and the fact that someone was prepared to pay £85 for his later Liszt/Reubke recording (according to another thread on this site) would at least seem to indicate that the results are not universally regarded as awful.

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I suppose it must be some sort of testimony to the individuality of human experience that two replies produce two radically different assessments of the merits of an instrument. I have never actually managed to hear the Abbey organ "used in anger" live:only burbling away to itself on a couple of gentle 8 fts which  merely sounded pleasantly atmospheric, as one would expect. It certainly records well, vide the Preston recordings from the 1960s, and the fact that someone was prepared to pay £85 for his later Liszt/Reubke recording (according to another thread on this site) would at least seem to indicate that the results are not universally regarded as awful.

 

Yes the Cd arrived today!!.....expensive but wonderful, even at £85!!! :blink:

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

I have had the great good fortune to be allowed to play Westminster Abbey organ from time to time and was there enjoying myself as recently as three weeks ago. It seemed to be fully up to its usual standard in both tuning and mechanism. I believe that H&H's London tuner makes a weekly call to keep it 'just so'.

 

I accept that the instrument still has one or two weaknesses (albeit many former shortcomings were amended by H&H in the 80's to Simon Preston's design) - most notably the shortage of independant Pedal ranks - but I think (all-in-all) that it's a splendid beast (full of gorgeous colours and with several different and equally exciting louder combinations) - in short, an organ upon which one can play virtually everything in the repertoire pretty convincingly.

 

I therefore submit that if it really sounded awful to your correspondent recently, I guess it is likely to be:

1. That the player might not have set his/her registrations up carefully enough - like so many large organs, what the player hears at the W.A. console is not the same as a congregation/audience hears downstairs.

2. That the current heat wave may have suddenly hit the reeds exceptionally hard. I believe that this explanation is unlikely to be the case.

3. That this is type of instrument is not to your listener's taste and this has coloured the opinion we were given.

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I have had the great good fortune to be allowed to play Westminster Abbey organ from time to time and was there enjoying myself as recently as three weeks ago. It seemed to be fully up to its usual standard in both tuning and mechanism.  I believe that H&H's London tuner makes a weekly call to keep it 'just so'.

 

I accept that the instrument still has one or two weaknesses (albeit many former shortcomings were amended by H&H in the 80's to Simon Preston's design) - most notably the shortage of independant Pedal ranks - but I think (all-in-all) that it's a splendid beast (full of gorgeous colours and with several different and equally exciting louder combinations) - in short, an organ upon which one can play virtually everything in the repertoire pretty convincingly. 

 

I therefore submit that if it really sounded awful to your correspondent recently, I guess it is likely to be:

1. That the player might not have set his/her registrations up carefully enough - like so many large organs, what the player hears at the W.A. console is not the same as a congregation/audience hears downstairs.

2. That the current heat wave may have suddenly hit the reeds exceptionally hard. I believe that this explanation is unlikely to be the case.

3. That this is type of instrument is not to your listener's taste and this has coloured the opinion we were given.

 

I agree. I do think the alterations to the mixtures were slightly misplaced however, as it had previous to 1982 a quirkiness to it, basically down to the mixtures as were, and they were quite charming. They are still very fine, but a little more mainstream perhaps. Otherwise, I regard a true giant among English organs, and certainly one I have a great regard for at least among others on here I am glad to see.

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Has someone messed around with the voicing of the Abbey Organ recently ? I was at evensong last Saturday and it sounded bloody awful.

 

Go to Worcester - it sounds bloody awful all the time!

 

So would any organ that has been so poorly maintained as Worcester clearly has. To allow a cathedral organ to fall into that state is shameful.

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So would any organ that has been so poorly maintained as Worcester clearly has. To allow a cathedral organ to fall into that state is shameful.

 

 

Yeah I agree there about Worcester. I heard it recently on a broadcast of evensong and it sounds very poor. I think the Organist played Vierne's hymn from the 24 pieces fantaisies. Very poor tonally screamy mixtures and overvoiced reeds which made the whole thing sound like a fart machine.

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Yeah I agree there about Worcester.  I heard it recently on a broadcast of evensong and it sounds very poor.  I think the Organist played Vierne's hymn from the 24 pieces fantaisies.  Very poor tonally screamy mixtures and overvoiced reeds which made the whole thing sound like a fart machine.

 

That the/an organ doesn't as good as it could does'n't mean (in my view) that it has been messed around with.

Maybe the organist is just playing the wrong music with the wrong registrations, or the broadcast is just terrible (as in Holland mostly ...).

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Yeah I agree there about Worcester.  I heard it recently on a broadcast of evensong and it sounds very poor.  I think the Organist played Vierne's hymn from the 24 pieces fantaisies.  Very poor tonally screamy mixtures and overvoiced reeds which made the whole thing sound like a fart machine.

 

 

You need a better hi fi!! The tuning was poor, and yes the organ does sound poor.....now........but it was a fine organ and can be again in the right hands.

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You need a better hi fi!! The tuning was poor, and yes the organ does sound poor.....now........but it was a fine organ and can be again in the right hands.

Its a shame the Worcester organ is being scrapped, it does sound poorly at the moment but what is there could form the basis of a very fine instrument rather than the schemes being pushed forward by Lucas. The only good thing coming out of this is the demise of the bradford contraption but they are having an electronic whilst the organ is removed and the 2 new ones installed.

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Before this thread explodes into another long-winded moan about what's going on at Worcester, could you puhleassseee go and do it on page 698 or whatever it's got to on the Worcester discussion thread.

 

As for the Abbey:

 

1) Having been fortunate enough to be asked to turn the pages for a recital there, the instrument sounds very different in the loft to what you hear in the Nave. But you don't need to go up to the loft to experience this. In the choir you hear the instrument pretty much as it sounds in the loft, whereas sitting in the Nave it sounds totally different (the booming pedal much more evident here).

 

2) The Bombarde reeds added in 1987 do the instrument no favours and coarsen what is otherwise a regal sounding tutti. If I had my way, I'd put these under lock and key for very occasional use. Simon Preston used them at the re-opening recital in 1987 at the climax of the Dupre Passion Symphony, and I was not the only one there to cover their ears. :P

 

3) Well I only paid £23 for the Liszt/Reubke CD ;) albeit I only got the CD in a jewel case with no booklet.

 

Jeremy Jones

London

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Before this thread explodes into another long-winded moan about what's going on at Worcester, could you puhleassseee go and do it on page 698 or whatever it's got to on the Worcester discussion thread.

(Quote)

 

It must be 1,998 I think.

And yes, better let the Taboos boil in their corners. To look at them=sin.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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I have had the great good fortune to be allowed to play Westminster Abbey organ from time to time and was there enjoying myself as recently as three weeks ago. It seemed to be fully up to its usual standard in both tuning and mechanism.  I believe that H&H's London tuner makes a weekly call to keep it 'just so'.

 

I accept that the instrument still has one or two weaknesses (albeit many former shortcomings were amended by H&H in the 80's to Simon Preston's design) - most notably the shortage of independant Pedal ranks - but I think (all-in-all) that it's a splendid beast (full of gorgeous colours and with several different and equally exciting louder combinations) - in short, an organ upon which one can play virtually everything in the repertoire pretty convincingly. 

 

I therefore submit that if it really sounded awful to your correspondent recently, I guess it is likely to be:

1. That the player might not have set his/her registrations up carefully enough - like so many large organs, what the player hears at the W.A. console is not the same as a congregation/audience hears downstairs.

2. That the current heat wave may have suddenly hit the reeds exceptionally hard. I believe that this explanation is unlikely to be the case.

3. That this is type of instrument is not to your listener's taste and this has coloured the opinion we were given.

 

I would concur with Paul's statements. In my opinion, the Abbey organ is a fine instrument. Certainly a gifted former assistant also thought very highly of it.

 

Just a point about the mixtures. Actually the GO mixtures, when re-cast in the 1980s, lost tierce ranks. The composition being, I believe 15, 19, 22, 26, 29 and 29, 33, 36. The H&H Harmonics was retained.

 

Whilst the Bombarde division is powerful, used with care it can be very effective. The Abbey is reasonably large (tallest medieval vault in the UK at 102 feet) and no doubt the Bombarde section comes into its own when the State Trumpeters are cleaning their flags.... To be fair, I have to say that I prefer the Abbey Bombarde reeds to the Royal Trumpets at St. Paul's. I have at least one recording in which they sound so thin, they resemble giant harpsichords (sorry, Mr. Mander - but I do like Chichester!) :D

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I would concur with Paul's statements. In my opinion, the Abbey organ is a fine instrument. Certainly a gifted former assistant also thought very highly of it.

 

Just a point about the mixtures. Actually the GO mixtures, when re-cast in the 1980s, lost tierce ranks. The composition being, I believe 15, 99, 22, 26, 29 and 29, 33, 36. The H&H Harmonics was retained.

 

Whilst the Bombarde division is powerful, used with care it can be very effective. The Abbey is reasonably large (tallest medieval vault in the UK at 102 feet) and no doubt the Bombarde section comes into its own when the State Trumpeters are cleaning their flags....  To be fair, I have to say that I prefer the Abbey Bombarde reeds to the Royal Trumpets at St. Paul's. I have at least one recording in which they sound so thin, they resemble giant harpsichords (sorry, Mr. Mander - but I do like Chichester!) :P

 

I think the problem with the Abbey Organ is getting the balance right. A simple test for anyone is to sit in the nave and you will see exactly what

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I would concur with Paul's statements. In my opinion, the Abbey organ is a fine instrument. Certainly a gifted former assistant also thought very highly of it.

 

Just a point about the mixtures. Actually the GO mixtures, when re-cast in the 1980s, lost tierce ranks. The composition being, I believe 15, 99, 22, 26, 29 and 29, 33, 36. The H&H Harmonics was retained.

 

Whilst the Bombarde division is powerful, used with care it can be very effective. The Abbey is reasonably large (tallest medieval vault in the UK at 102 feet) and no doubt the Bombarde section comes into its own when the State Trumpeters are cleaning their flags....  To be fair, I have to say that I prefer the Abbey Bombarde reeds to the Royal Trumpets at St. Paul's. I have at least one recording in which they sound so thin, they resemble giant harpsichords (sorry, Mr. Mander - but I do like Chichester!) :P

 

I think the problem with the Abbey Organ is getting the balance right. A simple test for anyone is to sit in the nave and you will see exactly what the problem is. On the date in question which was 2 Saturday's ago. a visiting Choir attempted to sing Harwood in Ab in addition to o how glorious ! If only the Organist used his ears ! The baance was not right and drwn out the hand ful of singers who's voices were not really prepared to matched the acoustics of the Abbey. From whee

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I would concur with Paul's statements. In my opinion, the Abbey organ is a fine instrument. Certainly a gifted former assistant also thought very highly of it.

 

Just a point about the mixtures. Actually the GO mixtures, when re-cast in the 1980s, lost tierce ranks. The composition being, I believe 15, 99, 22, 26, 29 and 29, 33, 36. The H&H Harmonics was retained.

 

Whilst the Bombarde division is powerful, used with care it can be very effective. The Abbey is reasonably large (tallest medieval vault in the UK at 102 feet) and no doubt the Bombarde section comes into its own when the State Trumpeters are cleaning their flags....  To be fair, I have to say that I prefer the Abbey Bombarde reeds to the Royal Trumpets at St. Paul's. I have at least one recording in which they sound so thin, they resemble giant harpsichords (sorry, Mr. Mander - but I do like Chichester!) :P

 

I think the problem with the Abbey Organ is getting the balance right. A simple test for anyone is to sit in the nave and you will see exactly what the problem is. On the date in question which was 2 Saturday's ago. a visiting Choir attempted to sing Harwood in Ab in addition to o how glorious ! If only the Organist used his ears ! The balance was not right and drown out the hand full of singers who's voices were not really prepared to matched the acoustics of the Abbey. From where I was at the back it was inaudibile and instead a full and ponderous heavy organ which was not the ideal thing. especially when leading the closing Hymn. If people don't sing the hymns remember it's something your doing !

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I think the problem with the Abbey Organ is getting the balance right.  A simple test for anyone is to sit in the nave and you will see exactly what the problem is.  On the date in question which was 2 Saturday's ago.  a visiting Choir attempted to sing Harwood in Ab in addition to o how glorious ! If only the Organist used his ears ! The balance was not right and drown out the hand full of singers who's voices were not really prepared to matched the acoustics of the Abbey.  From where I was at the back it was inaudibile and instead a full and ponderous heavy organ which was not the ideal thing.  especially when leading the closing Hymn.  If people don't sing the hymns remember it's something your doing !

 

It would almost certainly have been one of the incumbent organists at the console, since organists with visiting choirs are not permitted to play. Therefore, the organist probably knew well the effect of the instrument.

 

I suspect that the key to the problem lies in where you sat. The organist was, I expect, registering to balance the choir as heard from the stalls - not halfway down the nave! Many organs would drown out a choir from such a vantage-point, particularly those where the organ is sited upon a (stone) pulpitum. This would have the effect of largely screening a listener in the nave from the sound of the choir.

 

Since in many cathedrals, the congregation for Evensong tends to sit in or near the choir-stalls, the organist has to balance the volume of the organ for this part of the building - listeners in the nave or even the transepts would almost certainly be given the impression that the organ was overwhelming the singers!

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