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Guest Roffensis
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Take two modern organ works....the Toccata, Chorale & Fugue and the Diversion for Mixtures by Francis Jackson; both fine pieces which compare very well with almost anything else written after 1960 or so.

 

Who has ever recorded them other than the composer? I'm glad to say, Simon Nieminski has produced an excellent CD of  Francis Jackson's music from Edinburgh.

 

Then there is the Healey-Willan "biggie"....the Intro, Passacaglia, Choral & Fugue, which I think is one of the greatest romantic organ works.

 

Are they known in mainland Europe?

 

I somehow doubt that they are well known outside England (and Canada in the case of the Willan).

As a simple matter of information the Jackson Toccata Chorale and Fugue has been recorded relatively recently by both Roger Fisher at Hull City Hall and Colm Carey at St Peter's Ad Vincula in the Tower of London. For Diversion for Mixtures I have a vague memory that Graham Matthews once recorded it at Sheffield Cathedral but I am too lazy to go up to my attic to check that. But these are I think the exceptions which prove the rule. I can certainly not call to mind  any recording of the Willan stemming from mainland Europe. In fairness to our European colleagues, its layout does pretty much assume a large Anglo-American organ , and its particular registration suggestions would have to be rethought, but I would have thought that if you can play Whitlock at Altenberg Willan should present few problems there. It is certainly a very fine piece and in my opinion easier to come to terms with on first hearing than the similarly scaled work by Reger. (I am expressing no opinion on whether it is in fact a better work than the Reger. I have one but I am keeping it to myself for the moment)

 

Anyone out there able to provide any more examples ?

 

Brian Childs

 

Not on mainland Europe, but.........John Turner did the Willan at Glasgow Cathedral in 1977. There is also a CD upstairs played by someone else but I'm also too bizzy to go look who!!....oh! OK!!! hang on, I'm going!!........Yep, Paul Morgan/Exeter. As to the Diversion, Paul Derrett did that at Bridlington, both on Priory. Francis Jackson recorded the Willan twice at York Minster incidently.

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Organists from other countries that I personally have come across over the years do like the fine romantic english organ literature, the Polish organist who I helped get recitals for in this country, on hearing the Whitlock Sonata ( as recorded in Selby Abbey a few years ago) , went and bought the music and practiced it on the organ of the Oliva Cathedral (I often wonder how it came across there) and played it at Durham Cathedral. I bought him a Francis Jacson Sonata after, and he plays it when doing recitals in Poland and Germany. He thinks English music is wonderful. now something a bit different,, Carlo Curley at Hull City Hall very soon, are the people of "ULL" ready for him?? ;)

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This discussion has touched a nerve with this contributor, as it is something I have been fermenting about for some time. So please excuse me if it all comes out in a bit of a mess.

 

I think if the first question our native record companies (Priory etc.) are asking before making a recording is "How will it sell in Outer-Mongolia?" then they may as well jack it all in right now. You only have to look at other organ specific record labels from other countries - JAV, Gothic, Pro Organo, IFO, Motette, Festivo, Aeolus - to name just a few to see that 90% plus of their output is recorded on native soil for native consumption. Some will end up being bestsellers that do very well overseas, but that's the cherry on the cake, not the raison d'etre for the cake itself. (I did warn you my syntax would go to pot).

 

Priory with their Great European and Australasian Organs series have taken their eye off the domestic market, as have Christopher Herrick on Hyperion, both being guilty of seeing how much money there is to be made by recording instruments outside the UK. They forget that these markets already have their own home grown companies doing what they should be doing back in the UK. But I don't want to just pick on these two. There are other examples of missed opportunities as our record companies have preferred to travel abroad rather than mine the riches we have here.

 

Jeremy Filsell, a fine organist, has just recorded the complete Vierne symphonies at St Ouen, Rouen for Signum. Wonderful, you might think. Well yes, except that Ben van Oosten to name just one organist has already done that, and we are not exactly short of recordings of the Rouen instrument anyway. Would it not have been wonderful if these recording had been made here in the UK. We have some very fine instruments here that could add something new, rather than just another set of the Vierne Symphonies on a Cavaille-Coll. Westminster Cathedral, Truro, Lincoln, to name just three.

 

Mind you, both Filsell and Signum have some previous here. What a missed opportunity was Filsell's complete set of the Dupre oevre on Guild, recorded on the Möller organ of St Boniface Episcopal Church, Sarasota, Florida. Had this series been recorded at Westminster Cathedral, or another fine pedigree Willis instrument suitable for this repertoire, this would have been a must-buy. A missed opportunity. And going back to Signum and a recently released CD of theirs had Colm Carey playing English organ music written in 1937: Whitlock's Sonata and Bairstow's Sonata in B flat. Now isn't there a new organ that was built in 1937 that has always sounded particularly convincing in the English repertoire? Of course, Arthur Harrison's final masterpiece at Westminster Abbey. A logical coupling, one would think. Signum had other ideas and the Letourneau organ in the Church of the Ascension and St Agnes, Washington DC was the chosen instrument for this recording!

 

Being a Londoner, the organs at Westminster Abbey and that in the Cathedral at the other end of Victoria Street are both favourites of mine. I still recall great recitals I have attended at the Abbey given by Simon Preston (during his heyday), Colin Walsh and Martin Baker, and at the Cathedral given by Langlais, Jennifer Bate (the UK premiere of Messiaen's Livre du Saint Sacrement), Nicolas Kynaston and Jane Parker Smith. But where are the recordings of these great instruments?

 

The last organ CD out of the Abbey was of Andrew Lumsden 1991 vintage. As for the Cathedral, David Hill put out a few CDs before he left in 1987 but the only recordings since have been by Iain Simcock (disappointing Vierne IV & VI and Francis Pott's Christus) and an organ pops CD by James O'Donnell. I understand that Robert Quinney made a recording or two for Signum (brownie points) recently but these have yet to be released. Of the current Master of Music (the aforementioned Mr Baker) I am not aware he has ever made a solo CD, which for such a talent is a scandal. As has already been said, one must assume it is the authorities who have put a bar on recordings being made more frequently, especially at the Abbey. They had a fantastic Whitlock recital series recently and I couldn't help thinking this was just the sort of fare that the Abbey organ should be recorded for posterity.

 

A bit of rant, for which apologies, but I must end by saying that every cloud has silver lining, and in this case it is Regent Records. Three Cheers to Gary Cole, for without his company's continued output of UK based organ recordings, each month's new releases listings would be that much duller.

 

Jeremy Jones

London

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Not on mainland Europe, but.........John Turner did the Willan at Glasgow Cathedral in 1977. There is also a CD upstairs played by someone else but I'm also too bizzy to go look who!!....oh! OK!!! hang on, I'm going!!........Yep, Paul Morgan/Exeter. As to the Diversion, Paul Derrett did that at Bridlington, both on Priory. Francis Jackson recorded the Willan twice at York Minster incidently.

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Thanks Richard,

 

For the Willan there are also performances recorded at St Paul's Anglican Church in Toronto, by Andrew Fletcher(CD was called Late Romantic Masterworks, recorded at St Mary's ,Warwick) and by Roger Fisher at St Bee's Priory in Cumbria, and one must not forget Virgil Fox at Girard College recorded over 60 years ago. But that rather proves MM's point does it not ?

 

On the other hand, there are plenty of examples of recordings of major works of European organ literature performed on English and North American organs, so if we are all equally insular as has been suggested elsewhere it must take different forms as between the continent and ourselves.

 

John Turner and Glasgow Cathedral : seriouly under rated instrument and player. There is supposed to be a new CD of a transcription of Haydn's 7 Last Words but it keeps getting put back.

 

Hope Paul does not read this thread again. Fancy forgetting the Bridlington release!

 

 

All the best,

 

Brian Childs

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DEAR JEREMY,

 

HAVE READ YOUR MESSAGE AND I DO NOT THINK IT IS A MESS OR INCOHERENT. PIERRE WILL PROBABLY THINK IT INSULAR OR XENOPHOBIC AND SOME OF YOUR FELLOW CONTRYMEN MIGHT CONSIDER IT A BIT LONDON FIXATED, ALTHOUGH THOSE OF US WHO DO NOT LIVE IN THE SOUTH EAST BUT HAPPEN TO COME FROM THERE (AS I DO) HAVE GOT USED TO THE FACT THAT IF THE WEATHER IS FINE SOUTH OF WATFORD IT IS FINE FOR THE COUNTRY WHATEVER IS HAPPENING ELSEWHERE ON THE ISLAND ! I SHARE YOUR FRUSTRATION AT THE ABSENCE OF MODERN RECORDINGS OF THE ABBEY AND WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL. ON THE OTHER HAND THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF RELEASES FROM ST PAULS , AND THE ALBERT HALL, ALL SAINTS MARGARET STREET, AND ALL SOULS LANGHAM PLACE HAVE ALL FEATURED IN CDS RELEASED IN THIS CENTURY. SOME MIGHT CONSIDER THE SHIFT OF FOCUS FROM LONDON TO ELSEWHERE IS MERELY AN OVERDUE RECOGNITION THAT THE REST OF THE COUNTRY EXISTS AND IS ENTITLED TO A SHARE OF THE SUNLIGHT. AFTER ALL IN THE ERA OF THE 78 FOR PERFECTLY UNDERSTANDABLE REASONS THE GREAT MAJORITY OF ORGAN RECORDINGS WERE MADE ON LONDON INSTRUMENTS, AND IN THE 60S WHEN I FIRST STARTED COLLECTING THE FESTIVAL HALL AND WESTMINSTER ABBEY WERE EXTREMELY WELL REPRESENTED IN MY SMALL COLLECTION.

 

PERSONALLY WHAT I FIND MORE ASTOUNDING AND MORE TO BE REGRETTED THAN THE ABSENCE OF NEW WESTMINSTER CDs IS THAT THERE DOES NOT APPARENTLY EXIST ANY CD RECORDED AT THE FESTIVAL HALL. I AM AWARE OF CURRENT PROBLEMS BUT WE HAVE HAD CDs FOR SOME 20 YEARS NOW. MOREOVER THERE ARE A NUMBER OF OTHER FINE ORGANS IN THE LONDON AREA IN NON CONFORMIST BUILDINGS WHICH HAVE YET TO SEE THEIR DEBUT RECORDINGS. AND WHAT ABOUT ST MARGARET'S WESTMINSTER, AN INSTRUMENT OF INTEREST IF ONLY FOR THE ASSOCIATION WITH EDWIN LEMARE?

 

I HAVE INTERPOLATED SOME OTHER OBSERVATIONS CLOSE TO THE TEXT TO WHICH THEY RELATE.

 

This discussion has touched a nerve with this contributor, as it is something I have been fermenting about for some time. So please excuse me if it all comes out in a bit of a mess.

 

I think if the first question our native record companies (Priory etc.) are asking before making a recording is "How will it sell in Outer-Mongolia?" then they may as well jack it all in right now. You only have to look at other organ specific record labels from other countries - JAV, Gothic, Pro Organo, IFO, Motette, Festivo, Aeolus - to name just a few to see that 90% plus of their output is recorded on native soil for native consumption. Some will end up being bestsellers that do very well overseas, but that's the cherry on the cake, not the raison d'etre for the cake itself. (I did warn you my syntax would go to pot).

 

Priory with their Great European and Australasian Organs series have taken their eye off the domestic market, as have Christopher Herrick on Hyperion, both being guilty of seeing how much money there is to be made by recording instruments outside the UK. They forget that these markets already have their own home grown companies doing what they should be doing back in the UK.

 

IS THIS ENTIRELY FAIR ? IF WE LOOK AT HERRICK'S FIREWORKS SERIES WHICH FEATURES INSTRUMENTS FROM CANADA,HONG KONG , FINLAND AND ICELAND AMONGST OTHERS, ALL OF THEM INTERESTING IN DIFFERENT WAYS AND WHICH I AM MOST UNLIKELY TO BE ABLE TO HEAR IN THE FLESH, ONLY THAT FROM ICELAND (I SHALL NOT ENDEAVOUR TO REPRODUCE THE NAME OF THE CHURCH FROM MEMORY) IS TO MY KNOWLEDGE OTHERWISE AVAILABLE ON CD AND THE MORE READILY AVAILABLE OF THE ALTERNATIVES WAS DONE BY PRIORY. (THE OTHER INVOLVED TRANSCRIPTIONS OF GRIEG,AND WAS QUITE DIFFICULT TO GET). MOREOVER IF OUR PLAYERS SHOULD STICK TO HOME, SHOULD NOT FOREIGN PLAYERS DO THE SAME ? IF THIS LINE HAD ALWAYS BEEN FOLLOWED WE WOULD HAVE BEEN DENIED SOME CLASSIC RECORDINGS MADE BY FERNANDO GERMANI ON ORGANS IN THIS COUNTRY. AND THEN THERE IS THE GILLIAN WEIR PROBLEM - PERHAPS SHE HAS LIVED AMONGST US LONG ENOUGH NO LONGER TO BE ACCOUNTED A KIWI BUT HER RECORDINGS HAVE BEEN MADE ALL OVER THE GLOBE , WITH THE EXCEPTION SO FAR AS I AM AWARE OF THE ANTIPODES (AT LEAST SO FAR).

But I don't want to just pick on these two. There are other examples of missed opportunities as our record companies have preferred to travel abroad rather than mine the riches we have here.

 

Jeremy Filsell, a fine organist, has just recorded the complete Vierne symphonies at St Ouen, Rouen for Signum. Wonderful, you might think. Well yes, except that Ben van Oosten to name just one organist has already done that, and we are not exactly short of recordings of the Rouen instrument anyway. Would it not have been wonderful if these recording had been made here in the UK. We have some very fine instruments here that could add something new, rather than just another set of the Vierne Symphonies on a Cavaille-Coll. Westminster Cathedral, Truro, Lincoln, to name just three.

 

I BET THIS LAST CLAIM

PROVOKES SOME COMMENT FROM CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS, IF THEY SEE IT.

 

Mind you, both Filsell and Signum have some previous here. What a missed opportunity was Filsell's complete set of the Dupre oevre on Guild, recorded on the Möller organ of St Boniface Episcopal Church, Sarasota, Florida. Had this series been recorded at Westminster Cathedral, or another fine pedigree Willis instrument suitable for this repertoire, this would have been a must-buy. A missed opportunity. And going back to Signum and a recently released CD of theirs had Colm Carey playing English organ music written in 1937: Whitlock's Sonata and Bairstow's Sonata in B flat. Now isn't there a new organ that was built in 1937 that has always sounded particularly convincing in the English repertoire? Of course, Arthur Harrison's final masterpiece at Westminster Abbey. A logical coupling, one would think. Signum had other ideas and the Letourneau organ in the Church of the Ascension and St Agnes, Washington DC was the chosen instrument for this recording!

 

I AGREE THAT THE INSTRUMENT CHOSEN BY CAREY SEEMS A STRANGE CHOICE, AFTER ALL AS BELFAST'S NEW CITY ORGANIST HE COULD HAVE USED THE ULSTER HALL ! WITH FILSELL'S DUPRE SERIES FOR GUILD I THINK THE BIGGER MISTAKE WAS TO RECORD ALL THE MUSIC ON A SINGLE ORGAN. TWELVE CDs DEVOTED TO THE MUSIC OF ONE MAN ON ONE ORGAN, HOWEVER FINE, UNLESS IT IS THE SIZE OF THE ATLANTIC CITY INSTRUMENT , ARE GOING TO MEAN HEARING ESSENTIALLY THE SAME COMBINATIONS ON A FAIR FEW OCCASIONS, PROBLEMATIC IF A PARTICULAR COMBINATION OR REGISTRATION DOES NOT APPEAL.

 

Being a Londoner, the organs at Westminster Abbey and that in the Cathedral at the other end of Victoria Street are both favourites of mine. I still recall great recitals I have attended at the Abbey given by Simon Preston (during his heyday), Colin Walsh and Martin Baker, and at the Cathedral given by Langlais, Jennifer Bate (the UK premiere of Messiaen's Livre du Saint Sacrement), Nicolas Kynaston and Jane Parker Smith. But where are the recordings of these great instruments?

 

The last organ CD out of the Abbey was of Andrew Lumsden 1991 vintage. As for the Cathedral, David Hill put out a few CDs before he left in 1987 but the only recordings since have been by Iain Simcock (disappointing Vierne IV & VI and Francis Pott's Christus) and an organ pops CD by James O'Donnell.

I MUST HAVE MISSED THIS LAST ? WHEN DID IT COME OUT AND ON WHAT LABEL?

 

I understand that Robert Quinney made a recording or two for Signum (brownie points) recently but these have yet to be released. Of the current Master of Music (the aforementioned Mr Baker) I am not aware he has ever made a solo CD, which for such a talent is a scandal.

DOES THIS NOT DEPEND ON WHETHER HE WANTS TO MAKE A CD OR FEELS HE HAS THE TIME TO ? PAUL DERRETT HAS POINTED OUT THAT CATHEDRAL MUSICIANS ARE BUSY PEOPLE, AND PERHAPS MR BAKER FEELS HE HAS NOTHING THAT HE IS DESPERATELY KEEN TO SAY ABOUT REPERTOIRE HE WOULD BE HAPPY TO RECORD . WHAT WOULD BE A SCANDAL WOULD BE IF HE WISHED TO RECORD THE ORGAN BUT WAS DENIED THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO SO, OR IF, HAVING NO DESIRE TO RECORD THE INSTRUMENT HIMSELF, HE DENIED THAT OPPORTUNITY TO OTHERS. THE EXISTENCE OF THE QUINNEY RECORDINGS (ALBEIT AS YET UNRELEASED) IS FAIRLY CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE

THAT THE SECOND SITUATION AT LEAST DOES NOT PREVAIL.

As has already been said, one must assume it is the authorities who have put a bar on recordings being made more frequently, especially at the Abbey. They had a fantastic Whitlock recital series recently and I couldn't help thinking this was just the sort of fare that the Abbey organ should be recorded for posterity.

 

BUT WHICH RECORDING COMPANY WOULD DO IT ? PRIORY ALREADY HAVE THEIR SET OF THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WHITLOCK, REGENT HAVE ALREADY DONE THE WHITLOCK SONATA FROM BRISTOL, AND ASV HAVE JEREMY FILSELL'S VERSION. IF THESE ARE SELLING WELL, THEN WHY WOULD YOU WISH TO RECORD AN ALTERNATIVE VERSION GIVEN THAT THE SIZE OF THE MARKET IS SMALL ? IF NO ONE IS BUYING EXISTING VERSIONS WHY WOULD SOMEONE THINK A DIFFERENT VERSION ON A DIFFERENT ORGAN WOULD FARE ANY BETTER?

 

A bit of rant, for which apologies, but I must end by saying that every cloud has silver lining, and in this case it is Regent Records. Three Cheers to Gary Cole, for without his company's continued output of UK based organ recordings, each month's new releases listings would be that much duller.

 

WITH THIS I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE.

 

Jeremy Jones

London

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Guest Roffensis

 

As regards the Whitlock, someone should wake up to the fact he was actually at Rochester Cathedral, and loved that organ. despite two major rebuilds since his time, the organ still is very recognisable, and more importantly retains the exact coulours needed for his music. In all his music you can hear the Rochester influence. Priory diod issue a CD of choral works there, but no one has ever bothered to do anything solo organ wise, not even the five pieces dedicated to locals. His music has always featured at rochester, and I well recall both Robert Ashfield and Joe Levett playing his music. Joe Levett having died only a few years ago was a real loss, as one woh knew him personally, and me him. He was a mine of information concerning both Whitlock and his use of that organ. Instead we get treated to everyone else recording his stuff at St Pauls and so on, and that organ does not quite suit his music in the way Rochester does. Too thin and too much acoustic for a start. Then there are other composers with strong cathedral associations, Harvey Grace at Chichester, Blair at Worcester, the list could go on. Again, it took Amphion to actually reissue any of the old Whitlock recordings at Rochester, and the BBC to broadcast a recital of his music some years ago.

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We have some very fine instruments here that could add something new, rather than just another set of the Vierne Symphonies on a Cavaille-Coll. Westminster Cathedral, Truro, Lincoln, to name just three.

 

Part of the problem here is that there definitely has to be a good reason for recording particular music on a particular organ if one doesn't want to get roasted by the critics right away. If Dupré didn't actually play the organ, then some critic is definitely going to ask why, when there are so many organs that Dupré did play, one has chosen to record it on this one. That it is the instrument over which one presides is a reason which only partly mollifies; and a typical "tourist shop" recording of an organ - a broadly based "showcase" CD is likely to get a very sniffy reception. At any rate here on teutonic ground........ someone (I forget who) recently did the Elgar sonata here on a German instrument and was fairly solidly toasted for the effrontery of trying. Although I've done it a few times in concerts and it's always gone over very well, although it sounded distinctly odd. Of course if you commit it to disc you prepare yourself for much more in the way of flak on a much broader level; all your colleagues read the "trade journals", and getting bad reviews is not good for your career.

 

Wolfgang Rübsam recorded the Whitlock sonata last year (I think) on an American organ (Skinner) for a German label (ifo). What about that? I'm not a great Rübsam fan, but the organ sounds luscious.

 

Cheers

Barry

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If I can deal with some of the points raised since my earlier rant.

 

I probably did come across as a bit London-centric, but that was not my intention. Any new CDs of instruments in the British Isles are always welcome, particularly as I don't have enough leisure time to travel and hear the instruments in the flesh. Only last night I put on a brand new CD from Herald of the Hunter/HNB/Daniel organ in Brentwood Cathedral. I'd been a bit sniffy about this organ, worried that the original core of the instrument (Hunter) had been lost with the various additions made over the years (Fanfare Trumpet et al) but, judging from the CD, it sounds a fine instrument in a mercifully reverberant acoustic. Perhaps I was a bit hard on Hyperion and Priory, but that is because my CD collection is full to overflowing with CDs from both companies and I am one of their biggest fans, and have been disappointed by the recent output from Herrick and Priory as a whole. My comments about Jeremy Filsell and Signum Records were again made as a fan of both, even if they were a bit caustic in places.

 

On the Filsell Dupre, I agree that recording the whole oevre on one instrument is not ideal. Ben van Oosten on MDG seems to have the right idea, with the series being recorded on Cavaille-Coll, Willis and Casavant organs at Rouen (St Ouen), Paris (La Madeleine), Dublin (St Patrick's Cathedral) and Montreal (Église St-Jean-Baptiste). This series shows signs of some thought and care in the preparation, not to mention some stupendous playing.

 

The lack of recordings of the Festival Hall organ is indeed a disappointment. I would imagine that from a commercial point of view, it would not be viable for the hall to be made available for recording sessions during the day or evening, and that just leaves the option of recording through the night. When the organ recital series was re-started 5 years ago, the first series of recitals was recorded by the BBC, so perhaps some enterprising record label could come to an agreement with the BBC to licence these for commercial CD release.

 

The James O'Donnell CD recorded at Westminster Cathedral is called Great Organ Favourites and has appeared on several obscure labels. It is very much a CD for the Cathedral shop, featuring works by Bach; Handel; Clarke; Saint-Saens; Widor; Peeters; Brahms; Mulet; Boellmann; Tchaikovsky; Vierne.

 

Mention of recordings of the Healey Willan. Four others I don't think have been mentioned:

 

1) David Hill at Westminster Cathedral (Priory LP Archive Series).

 

2) Andrew Johnstone on the Willis organ in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin (Metier).

 

3) David Halls gives probably, in my opinion, the best recording of the work on the organ of Salisbury Cathedral (VIF Records).

 

4) Dame Gillian Weir on the organ of the First Church of Christ, Scientist; Boston, Mass.

 

Jeremy Jones

London

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As regards the Whitlock, someone should wake up to the fact he was actually at Rochester Cathedral, and loved that organ. despite two major rebuilds since his time, the organ still is very recognisable, and more importantly retains the exact coulours needed for his music. In all his music you can hear the Rochester influence. Priory diod issue a CD of choral works there, but no one has ever bothered to do anything solo organ wise, not even the five pieces dedicated to locals. His music has always featured at rochester, and I well recall both Robert Ashfield and Joe Levett playing his music. Joe Levett having died only a few years ago was a real loss, as one woh knew him personally, and me him. He was a mine of information concerning both Whitlock and his use of that organ. Instead we get treated to everyone else recording his stuff at St Pauls and so on, and that organ does not quite suit his music in the way Rochester does. Too thin and too much acoustic for a start. Then there are other composers with strong cathedral associations, Harvey Grace at Chichester, Blair at Worcester, the list could go on. Again, it took Amphion to actually reissue any of the old Whitlock recordings at Rochester, and the BBC to broadcast a recital of his music some years ago.

 

Perhaps you should buttonhole Gary Cole of Regent to suggest that Whitlock should figure significantly when they come to do the organ there, although that one may already be in the can. In which case it is conceivable a pleasant surprise awaits you : disappointment however is equally conceivable !

 

By a process of association of ideas about persons and their connections with particular instruments, what about a modern performance of a typical Whitlock programme at Bournemouth Pavilion ? Does anyone know of the whereabouts of any surviving programmes from that era? Or have any suggestions for a suitable performer ? What about other legends of the past who might be "recreated" ? Anyone prepared to tackle GTB in his heyday ? Could we turn this into a Christmas quiz with prizes for the best answers ?

 

BAC

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Part of the problem here is that there definitely has to be a good reason for recording particular music on a particular organ if one doesn't want to get roasted by the critics right away. If Dupré didn't actually play the organ, then some critic is definitely going to ask why, when there are so many organs that Dupré did play, one has chosen to record it on this one. That it is the instrument over which one presides is a reason which only partly mollifies; and a typical "tourist shop" recording of an organ - a broadly based "showcase" CD is likely to get a very sniffy reception. At any rate here on teutonic ground........ someone (I forget who) recently did the Elgar sonata here on a German instrument and was fairly solidly toasted for the effrontery of trying.

 

IN THE LP ERA NICOLAS KYNASTON, NO LESS, RECORDED ON MITRA 16157 THE ELGAR BACKED UP WITH THE REUBKE SONATA AT INGOLSTADT MUNSTER. I CANNOT REMEMBER WHAT THE REVIEWS WERE LIKE BUT I HAVE A HAZY RECOLLECTION THEY WERE NOT UNFAVOURABLE. HOWEVER IT WOULD NOT HAVE MATTERED TO ME ANYWAY BY THEN FOR I HAD BECOME IRREPARABLY JAUNDICED IN MY OPINIONS OF REVIEWERS.INDEED SOME THERE WERE FROM WHOM A NEGATIVE RECEPTION WAS ALMOST AS GOOD AS A GUARANTEE THAT I WOULD LIKE WHAT WAS ON OFFER. OF COURSE EVERYTHING YOU SAY ABOUT CRITICS IS FUNDAMENTALLY TRUE. THE PROBLEM IS THAT CRITICS ARE NOT NECESSARILY SELECTED FOR THEIR ABILITY TO REPLICATE A FOCUS GROUP AND THUS PREDICT WHAT SHOULD BE POPULAR WITH THE PUNTERS WHO ACTUALLY PAY MONEY (I HAVE NEVER PUBLISHED A RECORD REVIEW BUT I HAVE A FAIR NUMBER OF BOOK REVIEWS OUT THERE IN PRINT SOMEWHERE - THE REWARD FOR DOING IT WAS YOU GOT TO KEEP THE BOOK FOR NOTHING, THOUGH IN THE CASE OF SOME BOOKS THAT WAS NOT MUCH OF A REWARD!!) THE PROCESS IT SEEMS TO ME HAS TO GO SOMETHING LIKE THIS.

(1) PRODUCERS OF RECORDS NEED TO MAKE AT LEAST ENOUGH TO AVOID A LOSS, AND UNLESS THEY ARE INCREDIBLY ALTRUISTIC, THEY NEED TO MAKE A DECENT RETURN ON CAPITAL EMPLOYED

(2) THIS INVOLVES SELLING RECORDS, WHICH INVOLVES PEOPLE BUYING THEM AND THUS

(3) THE TRULY IMPORTANT OPINIONS ARE THOSE OF THE PAYING PUNTERS WHO VOTE WITH THEIR WALLETS AND

(4) THE OPINIONS OF CRITICS OUGHT ONLY TO BE SIGNIFICANT IN SO FAR AS THEY SERVE AS GUIDE TO WHAT THE OPINIONS OF PAYING CUSTOMERS ARE, OR ARE LIKELY TO BE.

HOWEVER, THIS IS ALL PREDICATED ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT WE ARE OPERATING WITHIN NORMAL COMMERCIAL CONSTRAINTS. SOME QUITE CELEBRATED PERFORMERS SEEM TO HAVE CONNECTIONS WITH THE ACADEMIC WORLD AND MAY THUS BE SUBJECT TO THE PRESSURES OF THE INFAMOUS RAE (RESEARCH ASSESSMENT EXERCISE) . SINCE THIS IS AN EXERCISE WHICH WOULD SEEK TO RETIRE ALBERT EINSTEIN BECAUSE HE WAS INSUFFICIENTLY PRODUCTIVE, AND WOULD RATE BARBARA CARTLAND ABOVE JANE AUSTEN BECAUSE THE FORMER HAD PRODUCED MORE TITLES, ITS SHORTCOMINGS ARE MANIFEST TO MOST SENSIBLE FOLK. HOWEVER THAT WILL NOT LIFT ITS YOKE FROM THE NECKS OF THOSE YET TO QUALIFY FOR THEIR FULL PENSION. FOR THEM, BUT I WOULD SUGGEST ONLY FOR THEM , THE OPINIONS OF CRITICS MIGHT BE SIGNIFICANT BUT ONLY FOR REASONS OF SELF PROTECTION.

 

Although I've done it a few times in concerts and it's always gone over very well, although it sounded distinctly odd. Of course if you commit it to disc you prepare yourself for much more in the way of flak on a much broader level; all your colleagues read the "trade journals", and getting bad reviews is not good for your career.

 

Wolfgang Rübsam recorded the Whitlock sonata last year (I think) on an American organ (Skinner) for a German label (ifo). What about that? I'm not a great Rübsam fan, but the organ sounds luscious.

 

SEE ALSO JAV 114 PAUL-MARTIN MAKI AT THE CHURCH OF THE HEAVENLY REST, NEW YORK CITY, A PERFORMANCE WHICH I QUITE LIKED BUT DID NOT APPEAL TO THOSE CRITICS WHOSE REVIEWS I READ.

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If it's critic bashing time, can I join in? :D

 

Critics need to understand that the public wants, and indeed needs, an objective opinion free of the reviewers prejudices, which should, like a coat, be taken off before engaging the critical faculty. I once took a music critic on the Telegraph to task after reading his review of a performance I had also attended at the Royal Festival Hall. The first half of the review was entirely about how expensive his pint of the black stuff had been in the RFH bar prior to the concert. He then allowed this to completely colour his review of the resulting performance. I was gobsmacked at the sheer unprofessionalism on display and duly wrote to admonish him.

 

Needless to say, he was utterly unrepentant, going on about how the pre-concert drinks was all part of the concert experience and therefore fair game!

 

On a separate point, Brian mentions a Kynaston recording on the Mitra label made at Ingolstadt. Kynaston made another recording for Mitra at Westminster Cathedral just after its renovation by Harrisons in 1984 of works by Dupre (Deuxieme Symphonie and Evocation) and Durufle. I had the LP of this and I really don't think a better recording of the Westminster Cathedral organ has been made there since. It was also issued on CD but I don't think Mitra are a going concern any longer.

 

Jeremy Jones

London

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If I can deal with some of the points raised since my earlier rant.

 

I probably did come across as a bit London-centric, but that was not my intention. Any new CDs of instruments in the British Isles are always welcome, particularly as I don't have enough leisure time to travel and hear the instruments in the flesh. Only last night I put on a brand new CD from Herald of the Hunter/HNB/Daniel organ in Brentwood Cathedral. I'd been a bit sniffy about this organ, worried that the original core of the instrument (Hunter) had been lost with the various additions made over the years (Fanfare Trumpet et al) but, judging from the CD, it sounds a fine instrument in a mercifully reverberant acoustic. Perhaps I was a bit hard on Hyperion and Priory, but that is because my CD collection is full to overflowing with CDs from both companies and I am one of their biggest fans, and have been disappointed by the recent output from Herrick and Priory as a whole. My comments about Jeremy Filsell and Signum Records were again made as a fan of both, even if they were a bit caustic in places.

 

I DO NOT THINK YOUR REMARKS OVERSTEPPED THE BOUNDS OF FAIR COMMENT. ANYWAY PRODUCERS OUGHT TO BE INTERESTED IN THE OPINIONS OF THOSE WHO THEY NEED TO PAY FOR THE PRODUCT THEY ARE PUTTING OUT. THOSE WHO PAY THE PIPER HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPRESS AN OPINION ON WHAT THEY WANT TO HAVE PLAYED. WHILE I QUITE LIKE THE LATEST RELEASE IN THE FIREWORKS SERIES, I HAVE NO PARTICULAR FONDNESS FOR ITS PREDECESSOR

OR THE LATEST IN THE ORGAN DREAMS SERIES.

On the Filsell Dupre, I agree that recording the whole oevre on one instrument is not ideal. Ben van Oosten on MDG seems to have the right idea, with the series being recorded on Cavaille-Coll, Willis and Casavant organs at Rouen (St Ouen), Paris (La Madeleine), Dublin (St Patrick's Cathedral) and Montreal (Église St-Jean-Baptiste). This series shows signs of some thought and care in the preparation, not to mention some stupendous playing.

 

I FULLY AGREE. HAVING COLLECTED ALL OF FILSELL I DOUBT WHETHER I SHALL GET ALL OF VAN OOSTEN, BUT I HAVE THE DUBLIN AND MONTREAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND AM IMPRESSED. BUT THEN I WAS BY HIS GUILMANT SONATAS.

 

The lack of recordings of the Festival Hall organ is indeed a disappointment. I would imagine that from a commercial point of view, it would not be viable for the hall to be made available for recording sessions during the day or evening, and that just leaves the option of recording through the night. When the organ recital series was re-started 5 years ago, the first series of recitals was recorded by the BBC, so perhaps some enterprising record label could come to an agreement with the BBC to licence these for commercial CD release.

 

THAT IS AN INTERESTING SUGGESTION. IN THE SAME VEIN OF SEEKING TO UNEARTH BURIED TREASURE, THERE WAS AN LP PRODUCED AT THE CLOSE OF THE VINYL ERA WITH NICHOLAS DANBY ON ONE SIDE AND PETER HURFORD ON THE OTHER BY ,I THINK, DECCA. SURELY THE TAPES OF THAT WOULD BE GOOD ENOUGH TO REISSUE IN CD FORM ?

 

The James O'Donnell CD recorded at Westminster Cathedral is called Great Organ Favourites and has appeared on several obscure labels. It is very much a CD for the Cathedral shop, featuring works by Bach; Handel; Clarke; Saint-Saens; Widor; Peeters; Brahms; Mulet; Boellmann; Tchaikovsky; Vierne.

 

Mention of recordings of the Healey Willan. Four others I don't think have been mentioned:

 

1) David Hill at Westminster Cathedral (Priory LP Archive Series).

 

2) Andrew Johnstone on the Willis organ in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin (Metier).

 

3) David Halls gives probably, in my opinion, the best recording of the work on the organ of Salisbury Cathedral (VIF Records).

 

SINCE MANY OF THOSE WHO CONTRIBUTE TO THIS SITE PROBABLY GREW UP WITH ONE OR OTHER OF THE JACKSON PERFORMANCES I PREDICT THAT THIS OPINION WILL NOT PROVE TO BE UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED, UNLESS YOU QUALIFY YOUR VIEW TO MAKE IT CLEAR THAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT THE SONIC QUALITY OF THE RECORDING AND NOT THE PLAYING. AND PROBABLY NOT EVEN IF YOU DO THAT.

 

4) Dame Gillian Weir on the organ of the First Church of Christ, Scientist; Boston, Mass.

 

AND JUST TO COMPLETE THE PICTURE FRED SWANN HAS RECORDED IT TWICE, ONCE AT RIVERSIDE AND ONCE , I THINK, AT CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL THOUGH I COULD BE WRONG ON THE SECOND VENUE. AND JAMES VIVIAN HAS JUST RELEASED A CD OF PASSACAGLIAS FROM THE TEMPLE CHURCH ON THE JAV LABEL. ALL THESE PERFORMANCES AND NONE YET FROM EUROPE. PERHAPS MM SHOULD HAVE OFFERED A REWARD TO ANYBODY WHO COULD TRACK ONE DOWN.

 

REGARDS,

 

BRIAN CHILDS

Jeremy Jones

London

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At least we still have some companies that do echo the excellent output from the old independant labels such as Vista, Abbey and Saga. Quality control is another kettle of fish.At least one company issues CDRs, including some brand new releases, not just archive material. I find this quite wrong, as not all CD players recognise this format, and in any case the quality is not as good as a properly pressed CD. Generally I avoid CDRs, and applaude other companies who make a effort to issue properly pressed CDs.

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As regards the Whitlock, someone should wake up to the fact he was actually at Rochester Cathedral, and loved that organ. despite two major rebuilds since his time, the organ still is very recognisable, and more importantly retains the exact coulours needed for his music. In all his music you can hear the Rochester influence. Priory diod issue a CD of choral works there, but no one has ever bothered to do anything solo organ wise, not even the five pieces dedicated to locals. His music has always featured at rochester, and I well recall both Robert Ashfield and Joe Levett playing his music. Joe Levett having died only a few years ago was a real loss, as one woh knew him personally, and me him. He was a mine of information concerning both Whitlock and his use of that organ. Instead we get treated to everyone else recording his stuff at St Pauls and so on, and that organ does not quite suit his music in the way Rochester does. Too thin and too much acoustic for a start. Then there are other composers with strong cathedral associations, Harvey Grace at Chichester, Blair at Worcester, the list could go on. Again, it took Amphion to actually reissue any of the old Whitlock recordings at Rochester, and the BBC to broadcast a recital of his music some years ago.

 

Not, of course, forgetting the Robert Gower LP of Whitlock's music, on the organ of St. Stephen's, Bournemouth. This organ is arguably even more suitable than the present Rochester instrument (which, according to my booklet, was altered considerably). The only tonal alterations to St. Stephen's, were the GO Mixture IV, replaced with a 17, 19, 22 mixture - I do wish that had not been done! Also, the GO 4p Harmonic Flute was replaced with a Spitz Flute 4p (again, unfortunate). In addition, I and several colleague are convinced that R&D either revoiced the Choir Organ Tuba or substituted another rank of pipes in its place.

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It is true that only the staff or visiting recitalists get to play Liverpool Anglican.

 

It is "the one" that everyone wants to play, but sadly for everyone who wants to play,  the Dean & Chapter stipulate that the organ can only be used for practice when the building is closed (other than for services). When the building is closed, someone has to be there, which costs money.

 

Money is something Cathedrals don't seem to have a lot of these days.

 

It is not the staff being awkward or unfriendly, it is just the way things have to be.

 

Would you want to explain to Ian that you'd broken her?!? :D

 

Just buy him a few beers - he will be fine.... :P

 

Anyway - surely the Liverpool organ is a him?! :P

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I do not buy as many cd's as I used to do, but this last few months I have had my ears opened, A very good friend of mine Mr David Rogers of Doncaster ( a friend of Paul Derretts also I believe) Has an Unbelievable collection of old spool tapes recorded by many organists over the years 1950something to the early 70's on hundreds of organs from all over europe as well as here (festival hall included ) some of these recordings are from the bbc and will never see the lazer of a cd player. Amphion could have a field day. What a joy to here the likes of a very young Ralph Downs, Francis Jackson, Kynyston, et all playing music on organs, some of which disapeared years ago. A recording I the other night was Conrad Eden playing on the 1935 H & H at Durham, recorded privately :D

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Not, of course, forgetting the Robert Gower LP of Whitlock's music, on the organ of St. Stephen's, Bournemouth. This organ is arguably even more suitable than the present Rochester instrument (which, according to my booklet, was altered considerably). The only tonal alterations to St. Stephen's, were the GO Mixture IV, replaced with a 17, 19, 22 mixture - I do wish that had not been done! Also, the GO 4p Harmonic Flute was replaced with a Spitz Flute 4p (again, unfortunate). In addition, I and several colleague are convinced that R&D either revoiced the Choir Organ Tuba or substituted another rank of pipes in its place.

 

Rochester was altered in some respects, but the basic sound of it remains intact. Whitlock knew the organ per the 1905 Walker rebuild. The 1957 rebuild in essence was based more on the extention of what was there (the Choir was very extended), and did not alter things as much as people might think. This is the organ I grew up with, together with Canterbury. The Mander rebuild of Rochester was very faithful to what was there. Preservation of the "roundness" of tone was mentioned as desirable in the late 70s. When the rebuild finally came, Manders did good work, in that the variety of colour was dramatically increased, centering on solo and Choir areas. The Great, Swell, and Pedal remained as they were with really very little tweaking. The biggest difference to the great was the new 8 and 4 reeds and the mixture, but if you do not use these, you hear no real difference whatever in the great. The swell likewise remains almost exactly as in 1957, and the pedal also. Additions to the latter were of course needed, and happened. The huge raucous pedal Ophicleide was also made more polite! I can only state that the organ remains today very recognisable and that very little pipework indeed was removed by Manders. For example, only 30 notes of the choir Tromba ended up on the pedal. Luckily, the very fine Tuba remained. Personally, I would have put the Tromba as the 8 ft great reed, and matched to that. One can say that Whitlock would most surely recognise the sound of the organ even now, apart from the great reeds, which I don't think are as successful as they could have been. Too brash, with not as much body perhaps as one would expect. knowing Bournemouth St Stephens, I consider Rochester far and away the superior vehicle for Whitlock, and more relevant than any. It's historical associations make it a must. It will take an enlightened producer to realise its potential. Having heard it countless times, and played it, I am no doubt, and it remains a most exciting and full sound, that grips the building with a true grandeur. It also has a wonderful old world tone to it, a "darkness" rarely met. It remains THE Whitlock organ for me.

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I do not buy as many cd's as I used to do, but this last few months I have had my ears opened, A very good friend of mine Mr David Rogers of Doncaster ( a friend of Paul Derretts also  I believe) Has an Unbelievable collection of old spool tapes recorded by many organists over the years 1950something to the early 70's on hundreds of organs from all over europe as well as here (festival hall included ) some of these recordings are from the bbc and will never see the lazer of a cd player.

 

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

 

I think I've got quite a lot of old reel-to-reel tapes from the 1960's, including the series by Geraint Jones on historic European organs, many of the John Betjamin "Britain's cathedrals and their music," recitals by Francis Jackson, including the opening of the Blackburn Cathedral organ, when he IMPROVISED much of the final movement of his Sonata written for the occasion. I have recordings by Flor Peeters, Dupre, Nicholas Kynaston pushing the technical limits and others too numerous to mention. I seem to recall that I've got Lady Susi Jeans on tape from the Merchant Taylor's Hall, London, playing music by Schmidt, among others. I've also got a number of Cinema Organ broadcasts from places which no longer exist or which went to the rubbish skips.

 

I even have a live recording of Francis Jackson playing his own T, C & F at a local PC.

 

Some day I'll dig them out and persuade my old Ferrograph to join the living once more. It certainly is quite possible to transfer them to CD.

 

MM

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

 

I think I've got quite a lot of old reel-to-reel tapes from the 1960's, including the series by Geraint Jones on historic European organs, many of the John Betjamin "Britain's cathedrals and their music," recitals by Francis Jackson, including the opening of the Blackburn Cathedral organ, when he IMPROVISED much of the final movement of his Sonata written for the occasion. I have recordings by Flor Peeters, Dupre, Nicholas Kynaston pushing the technical limits and others too numerous to mention. I seem to recall that I've got Lady Susi Jeans on tape from the Merchant Taylor's Hall, London, playing music by Schmidt, among others. I've also got a number of Cinema Organ broadcasts from places which no longer exist or which went to the rubbish skips.

 

I even have a live recording of Francis Jackson playing his own T, C & F at a local PC.

 

Some day I'll dig them out and persuade my old Ferrograph to join the living once more. It certainly is quite possible to transfer them to CD.

 

MM

 

Yes I too have a lot of tapes, largely off BBC but not exclusively, as one of my childhood hobbies was recording anything and everything. I think I knew even then it would never last. When do we get BBC recitals now? I have already transferred a lot onto CD, for purely private use you understand, as we all have to be squeeky clean dont we..... the policy seems to be not letting anyone hear them at all, and have them either buried or cremated with you. That at any rate is destined to happen to a great deal of archive material that is still out there. This applies not only to the likes of commercial recordings, but to us all who have recorded BBC broadcasts etc. I well recall the likes of Peter king/Lichfield, Andrew Newberry/Peterborough, Allan Wicks/Canterbury and yes Eden at Durham etc, all excellent, and all verey frequent broadcasters. I also know that a very large number of the St Georges Hall recitals in Liverpool were well recorded by a guy in Liverpool. Big names like Wicks, Hurford, you name it. The recitals at Liverpool Cathedral ditto, and I have also recorded at SG Hall, Parr Hall etc, and various churches such as the "Met", St Francis Xaviers, Livepool, a very fine and complete 4 decker Hill (original) that no one really knows about these days. In issuing any of this material it becomes highly subjective what to do, and really a national archive, downloadable but paid for would be a solution. Producers will often have their own "babies" and particular interests. A accessible archive will probably never happen, but note that it does for film...... In England there is a sort of inverted snobbery about everything. A lot will just end up on the bonfire one day, like a lot of BBC stuff that was just "scrubbed". A great loss, but one lives in hope.

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Yes I too have a lot of tapes, largely off BBC but not exclusively, as one of my childhood hobbies was recording anything and everything. I think I knew even then it would never last. When do we get BBC recitals now? .

 

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

 

Well of course, there is "Organs & Organists online" which could serve as an archive, should people wish to transfer their tape recordings into digital format, and with due regard to copyrights etc.

 

Interestingly, as I work most nights through the night, I sometimes get to hear organ-recitals on the "beeb." No sooner had I been rambling on about organs in the Czech Republic, than they broadcast a recital this last week from Olomouc, but unfortunately, the organ in the cathedral there, rather than the superlative instrument of St.Maurice, which has the 5-manual, enlarged Michael Engler masterpiece.

 

The cathedral organ of Olomouc is a very tiercey sounding Rieger from circa.1890, but the programme was excellently performed, and to hear a romantic Czech organ of the period was certainly interesting.

 

MM

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Rochester was altered in some respects, but the basic sound of it remains intact.  Whitlock knew the organ per the 1905 Walker rebuild. The 1957 rebuild in essence was based more on the extention of what was there (the Choir was very extended), and did not alter things as much as people might think. This is the organ I grew up with, together with Canterbury. The Mander rebuild of Rochester was very faithful to what was there. Preservation of the "roundness" of tone was mentioned as desirable in the late 70s. When the rebuild finally came, Manders did good work, in that the variety of colour was dramatically increased, centering on solo and Choir areas. The Great, Swell, and Pedal remained as they were with really very little tweaking. The biggest difference to the great was the new 8 and 4 reeds and the mixture, but if you do not use these, you  hear no real difference whatever in the great. The swell likewise remains almost exactly as in 1957, and the pedal also. Additions to the latter were of course needed, and happened. The huge raucous pedal Ophicleide was also made more polite! I can only state that the organ remains today very recognisable and that very little pipework indeed was removed by Manders. For example, only 30 notes of the choir Tromba ended up on the pedal. Luckily,  the very fine Tuba remained. Personally, I would have put the Tromba as the 8 ft great reed, and matched to that. One can say that Whitlock would most surely recognise the sound of the organ even now, apart from the great reeds, which I don't think are as successful as they could have been. Too brash, with not as much body perhaps as one would expect. knowing Bournemouth St Stephens, I consider Rochester far and away the superior vehicle for Whitlock, and more relevant than any. It's historical associations make it a must. It will take an enlightened producer to realise its potential. Having heard it countless times, and played it, I am no doubt, and it remains a most exciting and full sound, that grips the building with a true grandeur. It also has a wonderful old world tone to it, a "darkness" rarely met. It remains THE Whitlock organ for me.

 

 

Hmm....I remain unconvinced!

 

In 1934, shortly after Whitlock left Rochester, ten ranks were either revoiced, re-sited or replaced with new pipework. According to the information in Paul Hale's excellent book, the rebuild of 1957 was rather more far-reaching in effect. The GO reed was revoiced and extended both ways, the Choir Organ gained several extended ranks (e.g.: the old Swell Stopped Diapason - four pitches and the Dulciana - five pitches). Several stops in the Swell were replaced, revoiced, with others prepared-for. The Pedal Ophicleide rank also dates from this time. There were subesquent alterations requested by the then Titulaire, Dr. Robert Ashfield - the Choir gained an extended Larigot, a Cymbale (29, 33, 36) - this latter was a separate rank - and a new Flûte à Cheminée . Further changes to the GO included a 4p extension of the Choir Flûte and a new Furniture (26, 29). On the Swell, the old Trumpet was re-cast as a Clarion and the Oboe replaced by a new Horn. There was also a chest swinging (in Charismatic fashion) from the roof of the Swell containing a Twelfth and an extended Nineteenth.

 

Since, in the rebuild of 1989 the following new ranks were installed: GO - nine, Choir - eight, Swell - three, Solo - six and Pedal - two, with a new 32p octave for the reed, I am sceptical about how closely that the organ resembles the instrument on which Whitlock received lessons from Hylton Stewart.

 

For my money, St. Stephen's is still the most suitable instrument on which to perform his works. Apart from the fact that many of his works were written (and registered for) this instrument (or that at The Pavilion), St. Stephen's has only had minor tonal alterations* since Whitlock last played it. Oh, and of course, a new console.

 

* Including the removal of two ranks in the Swell, to aid tuning access and the possible alteration of the Swell 16p reed.

 

For all that, Rochester is an extremely nice organ! :D

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Hmm....I remain unconvinced!

 

In 1934, shortly after Whitlock left Rochester, ten ranks were either revoiced, re-sited or replaced with new pipework. According to the information in Paul Hale's excellent book, the rebuild of 1957 was rather more far-reaching in effect. The GO reed was revoiced and extended both ways, the Choir Organ gained several extended ranks (e.g.: the old Swell Stopped Diapason - four pitches and the Dulciana - five pitches). Several stops in the Swell were replaced, revoiced, with others prepared-for. The Pedal Ophicleide rank also dates from this time. There were subesquent alterations requested by the then Titulaire, Dr. Robert Ashfield - the Choir gained an extended Larigot, a Cymbale (29, 33, 36) - this latter was a separate rank - and a new Flûte à Cheminée . Further changes to the GO included a 4p extension of the Choir Flûte and a new Furniture (26, 29). On the Swell, the old Trumpet was re-cast as a Clarion and the Oboe replaced by a new Horn. There was also a chest swinging (in Charismatic fashion) from the roof of the Swell containing a Twelfth and an extended Nineteenth.

 

Since, in the rebuild of 1989 the following new ranks were installed: GO - nine, Choir - eight, Swell - three, Solo - six and Pedal - two, with a new 32p octave for the reed, I am sceptical about how closely  that the organ resembles the instrument on which Whitlock received lessons from Hylton Stewart.

 

For my money, St. Stephen's is still the most suitable instrument on which to perform his works. Apart from the fact that many of his works were written (and registered for) this instrument (or that at The Pavilion), St. Stephen's has only had minor tonal alterations* since Whitlock last played it. Oh, and of course, a new console.

 

* Including the removal of two ranks in the Swell, ti aid tuning access and the possible alteration of the Swell 16p reed.

 

For all that, Rochester is an extremely nice organ! :D

 

Yes but what remained in 1957 was not revoiced, the old great reed went of course and there was an enormous amount of upperwork added in 57, but it was all extended!! The choir was hilarious, almost everythnig from this and that. The great reeds were all off the choir tromba, which apperared everywhere in various guises!!! There wasn't room for much new although yes the !6 pedal reed was new. In essence, the diapasons throughout, and swell remained as they were. I knew an orgnaist who had been boen in 1898, and he knew it well and agreed about the 1957 work...basically spiking up. As to Whitlock, Levett knew him I knew Levett, and despite what may appear on paper, the reality is very different. Even the relativley high pressures remain to this day!

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Well, that is certainly interesting!

 

Are there any extant recordings of Joe Levett playing at Rochester? (Anything - not necessarily Whitlock.) I assume that they would have to be private recordings, or possibly re-recordings.

 

It would be most interesting to hear the old organ - particularly the 'old-world' charm. I would agree that Chichester has this in abundance and I would very much like to hear an old recording of Rochester.

 

I would certainly concur as regards Chester - although I would like to hear an old (pre-1969) recording of that instrument. I regard Hill as one of the finest builders ever to emerge from the UK. Certainly, there was generally a much greater sense of structure and balance than either a Willis (where the reeds are everything) or a Harrison (where contrasts are the order of the day).

 

I am aware that I am generalising - there is obviously more to a Willis organ than the chorus reeds, but, having recently again played Salisbury at night, once whilst the reeds of the Pedal, GO and Solo Tuba ranks were silent (due to re-leathering) and once when the wind supply had been restored - the difference was incredible. Without the reeds, (save those on the Swell), Salisbury is lacklustre and impotent.

 

Now, whilst the same could be said of many other organs, Hill choruses are so utterly musical and cohesive - even exciting - that the reeds become a useful adjunct, a colouring - rather than a huge jump to a big climax.

 

I still like Truro, Salisbury, Ripon, etc - but for different reasons!

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At least we still have some companies that do echo the excellent output from the old independant labels such as Vista, Abbey and Saga. Quality control is another kettle of fish.At least one company issues CDRs, including some brand new releases, not just archive material. I find this quite wrong, as not all CD players recognise this format, and in any case the quality is not as good as a properly pressed CD. Generally I avoid CDRs, and applaude other companies who make a effort to issue properly pressed CDs.

 

Hi

 

There is a significant price difference between producing pre3ssed CD's and CD-R's, which can make small runs uneconomic - especially now that the price of blank CD-R's is so low. I haven't had cause to check recently, but a year or so ago, you needed a minimum run of 250 pressings before a duplicating plant would even take the job on, and it was more like 1,000 before it starts to make financial sense. I suspect that we will increasingly see CD-R's used for short-run, specialist recordings. Most modern CD players will recognise and play CD-R's - it's really only the first generation machines that were problematic. If you have a player that doesn't read them, then maybe it needs cleaning and setting up (or replacing, which may be cheaper!)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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My apologies if it has been mentioned before, but doe not Priory Records offer at least a limited re-issue service?

 

It is (obviously) also worth checking-out the second-hand LP shops. I have managde to acquire virtually the entire Great Cathedral Organs series, in addition to many other fine now-deleted LPs. Even some Cochereau - YAY!!!! :D:P:P

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