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Pierre Lauwers

Herbert Howells

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Pcnd, do you know the Danion-Gonzalez in Beauvais Cathedral?

Pierre

 

I have the specification somewhere and I have heard it - but I do not like it! I find the sound thin and brittle. Oddly, it sounds entirely different to the instrument (also by Danion-Gonzalez) at Chartres Cathedral. Neither does it sound like Coventry - which I think is a far superior instrument!

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I have the specification somewhere and I have heard it - but I do not like it! I find the sound thin and brittle. Oddly, it sounds entirely different to the instrument (also by Danion-Gonzalez) at Chartres Cathedral. Neither does it sound like Coventry - which I think is a far superior instrument!

 

Right!

I must confess I sometimes tend to believe Beauvais could be a british

ideal organ today :huh::lol::lol:

Yes I'd take Coventry instead. This said, Beauvais we need absolutely

to protect as an important testimony.

But for Howells we'd better look for something....Earlier!

Pierre

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Yes I'd take Coventry instead. This said, Beauvais we need absolutely

to protect as an important testimony.

But for Howells we'd better look for something....Earlier!

Pierre

 

Glad to hear that you would take Coventry instead, Pierre!

 

Before listening to the most recent recording of the restored vintage (1921) H&H at Crediton, I would have recommended that for Howells - but now I am un-convinced. Full GO and Pedal is just a wall of opaque noise. In fact, I find it distinctly unlpeasant and unmusical. I am not certain that Howells would have liked it either - it does not sound like the recordings I have of the old Gloucester organ, to my ears!

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"I am not certain that Howells would have liked it either - it does not sound like the recordings I have of the old Gloucester organ, to my ears!

 

(Quote)

To say any H&H would fit because it's an H&H would be as short-sighted

as the "Reformers" were; we'd better stick to what Howells himself said

-if we still know, before it's too late-.

Pierre

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To say any H&H would fit because it's an H&H would be as short-sighted

as the "Reformers" were; we'd better stick to what Howells himself said

-if we still know, before it's too late-.

And, if we really want an "authentic" performance, play it mostly on 8ft stops, with the addition of 4ft in forte passages (maybe) and adding the mixtures only with, or after, the chorus reeds - if at all (anyone know what Howells's or Brewer's views about mixtures were?)

 

To say any H&H would fit because it's an H&H...
Did anyone say that? I think the point being made was that an "unauthentic" performance isn't automatically unmusical, even if it's not quite what the composer wanted or expected.

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"Coventry isn't a neo-classic organ. A Grant Degens & Bradbeer is a neo-classic organ. Coventry is an eclectic organ. Not quite the same thing."

(Quote)

 

-Eclectic organs from about 1930 up to 1978= Néo-classique.

 

Some examples: Coventry, St-Albans, Holtkamp Senior organs, Victor Gonzalez,

Hans-Gerd Klais.

 

...

 

The Néo-classique organ is not very well understood, because Norbert Dufourcq took that name for himself while working with Victor Gonzalez.

But  Klais in Germany and Holtkamp in the USA did exactly the same thing before Gonzalez! modern "in the open" design included.

See for instance what Klais built in Antwerps as early as 1930:

http://users.skynet.be/quickbase/parochie/klaisorgel.html

 

So any organ that gathers classic and romantic features before 1978 (Beauvais) is a neo-classic one.

Pierre

 

St Albans Organ is not a neo classical organ. It is nothing remotely like the organ you refer to in Antwerp. Eclectic I can just about agree with but neo-classical - never!

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"and adding the mixtures only with, or after, the chorus reeds - if at all "

 

(Quote)

 

Suffice to read the Gloucester's specification to understand that.

 

All the crescendo Pedals I studied within late-romantic organs introduced

all the 8' flues before the first 4'; it was the Flûte, not the Principal.

The 4' Principal came along with the first 16'!

Then you get the Twelfth; the Fifteenth followed, often with the first

chorus reed; next followed the other reeds, and the Mixture or Cornet

came last.

Pierre

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"St Albans Organ is not a neo classical organ. It is nothing remotely like the organ you refer to in Antwerp. Eclectic I can just about agree with but neo-classical - never!"

(Quote)

 

OK, let's say you are right.

May I know how you understand the differences?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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(Quote)

To say any H&H would fit because it's an H&H would be as short-sighted

as the "Reformers" were; we'd better stick to what Howells himself said

-if we still know, before it's too late-.

Pierre

 

Well, Pierre - I did not say this!

 

My point was that, since Crediton was almost exactly contemporaneous with the old Gloucester organ, I would have liked to recommend it. Unfortunately, tonally it is worlds apart - despite being voiced by Arthur Harrison (who maintained a 'house style' until his death). It is not just the dry acoustic and the poor position at Crediton - I think that at Gloucester (just as they did later at Exeter), H&H changed rather less than was their wont - regardless of what was engraved on the draw-stops.

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"St Albans Organ is not a neo classical organ. It is nothing remotely like the organ you refer to in Antwerp. Eclectic I can just about agree with but neo-classical - never!"

(Quote)

 

OK, let's say you are right.

May I know how you understand the differences?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

Pierre - it may have something to do with the fact that Mr. Lucas is Organist and Master of the Choristers at St. Alban's Cathedral - and as such, I expect that he knows the organ rather well; that is to say aurally, as opposed to merely by a paper specification!

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"and adding the mixtures only with, or after, the chorus reeds - if at all "

 

(Quote)

 

Suffice to read the Gloucester's specification to understand that.

 

All the crescendo Pedals I studied within late-romantic organs introduced

all the 8' flues before the first 4'; it was the Flûte, not the Principal.

The 4' Principal came along with the first 16'!

Then you get the Twelfth; the Fifteenth followed, often with the first

chorus reed; next followed the other reeds, and the Mixture or Cornet

came last.

Pierre

 

The problem with that is, in the UK, there are few (if any) cathedral organs which actually possess a stop-crescendo (pedal). Registration is done by means of departmental pistons, general pistons - and hands!

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The problem with that is, in the UK, there are few (if any) cathedral organs which actually possess a stop-crescendo (pedal). Registration is done by meand of departmental pistons, general pistons - and hands!

 

Yes!

And all romantic organs share some principles...

Pierre

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Pierre - it may have something to do with the fact that Mr. Lucas is Organist and Master of the Choristers at St. Alban's Cathedral - and as such, I expect that he knows the organ rather well; that is to say aurally, as opposed to merely by a paper specification!

 

 

I started to type a more detailed reply to Pierre but managed to lose it! And now am in danger of losing the will to live.

 

But I think you have hit the nail on the head ... making assumptions from the written word and a knowledge of history rather than from direct and intimate knowledge of the instruments.

 

Mind you, it is understandable. After all most of us in England think that St Bavos Haarlem is an old baroque organ, (which it appears to be on paper) whereas in reality it is a modern and versatile Neo-classical (?) organ - its certainly not old because it has been revoiced at least twice - and its not eclectic either, because it wasn't designed to play Franck or Vierne, even though one can do certain pieces of this type on it to great musical, if not historically "authentic" effect! (I have even played Howells there before now).

 

But then you can play Bach very effectively at King's, and that organ is neither eclectic nor neo-classical to most Englishmen.

 

You can, however, play Bach Sweelinck Vierne Reger Elgar Howells and Messiaen wonderfully effectively at St Albans, Coventry and Windsor, because they were specifically designed to do that. That's eclectic!

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Dear Mr Lucas,

 

That's precisely what Norbert Dufourcq wanted!

An eclectic organ.

This said:

 

-I Heard St-Alban's live, and came back with an LP I still have

 

-I'd prefer this one too to Beauvais!

 

I never encountered any organist for whom his/her organ was not

something special.

Of course they all are.

But back home reviewing one's notes and files there are some common

points, tough, between organs build in the same period, be them in England,

Belgium, Germany, France or the U.S.

Had I said to Bach he played late-baroque central german organs, I may have

had strange comments!

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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

 

Nothing is too good for Howells!

 

:unsure:

 

MM

 

 

I do love constructive ambiguity. My favourite is the (apocryphal) reference: "You will indeed be fortunate if you can get this man to work for you."

 

BAC

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The problem with that is, in the UK, there are few (if any) cathedral organs which actually possess a stop-crescendo (pedal). Registration is done by meand of departmental pistons, general pistons - and hands!
Indeed. I've not checked the Gloucester and Salisbury specs on NPOR, but I'll bet that in Howells's day the registrational aids were much more limited and an "authentic" performance would involve a lot of hand registration.

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Dear Mr Lucas,

 

That's precisely what Norbert Dufourcq wanted!

An eclectic organ.

This said:

 

-I Heard St-Alban's live, and came back with an LP I still have

 

...

 

Had I said to Bach he played late-baroque central german organs, I may have

had strange comments!

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

Hmmm. Then we are agreed - eclectic it is.

 

There is a wonderful hymn by Frederick Faber 'There's a wideness in God's mercy' which has the verses :

 

For the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind,

and the heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind.

But we make his love too narrow by false limits of our own;

and we magnify his strictness with a zeal he will not own.

 

This could apply to categorising organs into "styles".

 

Aren't organs just good bad or indifferent as musical instruments? Shouldn't we concern ourselves with how well they do the job they were built to do more than being in this style or that style.

 

We all have preferences, and mine would be that if we had 100 instruments preserved around the country for the perfect performance of the music of Herbert Howells that would probably be 97 or 98 too many. And I suspect that HH would have been one of the first to agree ... and, by the way, in terms of organ music Bach was his hero!

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"Aren't organs just good bad or indifferent as musical instruments? Shouldn't we concern ourselves with how well they do the job they were built to do more than being in this style or that style."

 

(Quote)

 

This is of course a worthwile viewpoint.

But others are possible: the problem is: who will judge the good/bad/ugly?

The history shows this vary with time, so we need some care.

Norbert Dufourcq wanted to "better" all Cavaillé-Coll organs...

My viewpoint is: All organs styles are worth preservation, the job they

are asked for is second!

Now what is in a "style"? I agree this is questionnable, it will never fit

the reality.

And yes in french Néo-classique= eclectic (but pre 1978)

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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"f we had 100 instruments preserved around the country for the perfect performance of the music of Herbert Howells that would probably be 97 or 98 too many. And I suspect that HH would have been one of the first to agree ... and, by the way, in terms of organ music Bach was his hero!"

(Quote)

 

Of course the aim should be the maximum diversity in style in any dedicated area.

The 97 too many HH organs then better be exported in continental Europe and US

than scrapped.

How did HH play Bach? That is very interesting!

Pierre

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Indeed. I've not checked the Gloucester and Salisbury specs on NPOR, but I'll bet that in Howells's day the registrational aids were much more limited and an "authentic" performance would involve a lot of hand registration.

 

 

This would seem more than likely but I wonder whether it is not counter-productive for organists of all musicians given the static nature of the instrument (if one leaves out of account "toasters" and Reginald Foort's touring Moller) to become quite so hung up on "authentic" as opposed to "musical" performances.

 

To give a specific example how far does one go in the search for authenticity in the performance of Bach? Is it necessary not simply to forgo all playing aids, swell boxes and inappropriate stops but also to have the organ blown by hand, the lighting provided only by candles , and to adopt the dress of Bach's day in order to be subject to the same impediments to movement that his clothes would have imposed upon him ? I suggest few would actually see the need to go that far. Mr Lucas has pointed out that it is possible to play Bach very effectively at Kings and I have heard Peter Hurford play it very effectively at St Alban's as well as the Ulster Hall in Belfast (Passacaglia). What holds for Bach ought equally to hold for other composers; even those, like Howells, closer to our own time. After all , I bet few people on this Board wear a starched collar, even on Sunday, but Howells almost certainly would have done at the time he composed his first pieces and probably later as well. (I can recommend the practice for anyone with a slight inclination to masochism - it will not hurt 0toomuch.)

 

IMHO too much concentration on authenticity requires that nobody should perform anything for which their particular organ is unsuited. One consequence of this is to deny to congregations and audiences the opportunity to become acquainted with vast sections of the available repertoire- hardly the way to encourage knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, the literature of the organ. Another is to confine some players of some instruments to the works of second or third rank composers or transcriptions.

 

For these reasons I am happy to settle for a musical performance of organ music, just as I do of a Beethoven Symphony, without enquiring too much into whether the orchestral forces precisely equate to those Beethoven had at his disposal and whether only authentic period instruments are used. Surely history should be the servant of the music: not its master ?

 

Brian Childs

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This would seem more than likely but I wonder whether it is not counter-productive for organists of all musicians given the static nature of the instrument (if one leaves out of account "toasters" and Reginald Foort's touring Moller) to become quite so hung up on "authentic" as opposed to "musical" performances.
Oh, quite. I wasn't actually advocating "authentic" performances. In any case, true authenticity in music of the pre-gramophone eras is unattainable - which is why I put the word in quotes.

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