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Keble College, Oxford

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Everybody has seen this, I suppose? http://www.tickell-organs.co.uk/KebleCollegeOxford.htm

 

Exciting stuff.

 

I wonder what the rationale was behind the Viola 8 and Fugara 4 on the Choir/Solo? I am sure there was a reason and that they work well, but I am not sure, on paper, what I would use then for in that scheme!

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I suppose they function much in the same way as a pair of geigens or suchlike would on a romantic Choir Organ.

 

Yes, I suppose so - although I would have thought as it is a combined Choir/Solo division, a pair of undulating strings - contrasting with whatever the Swell ones are like - would be of more use. (Not criticizing the scheme in any way, just a personal opinion)

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I would imagine the 8’ Viola, when drawn with the 8’ Open Flute, could well produce the simulacrum of a diapason sound; as might the 4’ Fugara, with the 4’ Flauto.

 

In addition, the manual is both under expression and provided with a tremulant. These could easily create successful ‘undulations’. In a brief search, I could not find out whether the (two) tremulants were adjustable, as the Chapel’s website does not currently provide details of the organ.

 

This instrument, in Keble’s fabulous Chapel, is on my ‘to hear soon’ list.

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Perhaps users aren't aware that most of the organ has been re-voiced in the last few weeks by Ruffatti. The DOM, Matthew Martin, last week told me in detail what has been done. I look forward to hearing it now, wonderful though it was before.

 

Martin

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Thanks for the update Martin. I'm sure all of us would be interested to understand the rationale behind re-voicing this organ by Ruffatti. Would you enlighten us please?

 

I played the new Tickell at Keble a year or two ago. I was very struck by the unashamedly romantic - if not orchestral - spirit of the organ. It's as though the style had gone full circle from Compton through GDB to Ken Tickell and here was Tickell building an organ that wasn't a million miles away from his grand-organ builders in John Compton! In particular, the orchestral reeds and strings of this organ impressed me with their colour and finish. Keble is a far cry from his early classically inspired organs such as Oakham. The organ feels very assured in its orchestral style, as though the organ builders didn't feel ashamed of making a 4 manual English cathedral style instrument and have gone for it. There's a definite confidence and assurance of hand in it.

 

In this context, the Choir Organ makes perfect sense. There is no attempt to build a secondary principal chorus on the choir - the mutations are not really what this division is about, rather soft foundation stops and the (excellent) orchestral reeds, all under expression.

 

The impression of playing this organ, with electric coupling throughout, feels much more like an electric action organ than a mechanical action organ. Indeed, you can't but help feel the feel of an electric action was the objective when building this (only nominally) mechanical action organ In this context, it does not feel inappropriate. How long will it be until mechanical action is eschewed entirely in these styles of organs for EP or direct electric?

 

It is impressive how much organ Tickell managed to squeeze into a comparatively small space; this could not have been possible without modern design tools and modern approaches to winding and action design.

 

Indeed, if I were to mention a weak spot on this organ, it would be the choruses. Tickell seemed to follow the quest for a chorus which had exactly the same tonality at every point of the compass with a fairly scientific approach. This has resulted in very neutral choruses which are inert to any sense of musical growth or expression when playing a musical phrase. We all know every other instrument changes across its register - human voice, strings, brass, woodwind - so why should the organ attempt to sound the same? This organ's choruses feel musically numb, especially if you prefer the treble ascendancy of choruses by builders such as Cavaille-Coll or Hill.

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Not sure I can enlighten you as to the rationale. Matthew said that he wanted to make the organ brighter, though perhaps that might be the only concern you expressed.

 

I thought it was a very clever and artistic instrument as it was. However, anything in that acoustic sounds good, even the former electronic.

 

Martin

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