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I bought this excellent CD the other day - super playing fro Rupert Gough, interesting repertoire and an organ I knew very little about. It seems to fit into a trend with the RFH, St John's Islington, Brompton Oratory etc. Does anyone here know it well and does it actually sound as good (for its time) live as it does on CD? I would have put up the NPOR link but the spec. does not quite correspond to that in the CD liner - when I have time I will send an ammended survey!

 

AJJ

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I bought this excellent CD the other day - super playing fro Rupert Gough, interesting repertoire and an organ I knew very little about. It seems to fit into a trend with the RFH, St John's Islington, Brompton Oratory etc. Does anyone here know it well and does it actually sound as good (for its time) live as it does on CD? I would have put up the NPOR link but the spec. does not quite correspond to that in the CD liner - when I have time I will send an ammended survey!

 

AJJ

 

Hi

 

The NPOR stop list is marked "Stop list or address uncertain" - and the note towards the bottom of the survey gives the reason. What we really need is someone to visit the organ and check what is actually engraved on the stops (and preferably send us digital pictures of the stop jambs). It's quite possible that the stop list on the CD insert is also incorrect - for some reason, printed sources often contain errors.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Guest Hector5
I bought this excellent CD the other day - super playing fro Rupert Gough, interesting repertoire and an organ I knew very little about. It seems to fit into a trend with the RFH, St John's Islington, Brompton Oratory etc. Does anyone here know it well and does it actually sound as good (for its time) live as it does on CD? I would have put up the NPOR link but the spec. does not quite correspond to that in the CD liner - when I have time I will send an ammended survey!

 

AJJ

 

 

Here, here!!!! Wonderful disc with some really nice music. I have already ordered my copies of the Pasquet organ works from UMP (expensive!), and will dust off my copies of the two volumes of the Morancon. The slightly dubious spec of the organ proves the point, that you should always listen first, rather than forming opinions based on paper stoplists - in fact the organ sounds wonderful.

 

Oh - and my other CDs of the week are The Organ of Buckingham Palace Ballroom, played by Joseph Nolan. Wow, what an organ - and no politically correct repertoire here, just good music that really shows of this wonderful organ. The other pick of the bunch is the Priory re-issue of Twelve East Anglian Organs, played by Geoffrey Hannant - real Gem with some unexpected surprises. The St Edmundsbury Cathedral organ sound fine - and I remember the Harrison Oxley recordings with great affection - and in fact was introduced to the Cranmer Pavane and Galliard (a fine piece) through these recordings. Perhaps someone might re-issue these.

 

Hector

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My copy of the Royal Holloway College disc arrived yesterday - I agree completely with the previous posters' comments. It's a beautiful sounding organ, perfectly in balance and with ravishing upperwork. The music is perfect for the instrument and superbly played. As they would say on Ebay - top stuff, highly recommended.

 

After reading pcnds's comments about the Cochereau recording of the Vierne Messe Solennelle, I bought a copy from Discovery Records, and although I've so far played it only on the West Gallery hi-fi, it blew me away. The end of the Benedictus is stunning but it's insidious really to pick out any particular section. OK, some of the singing is out of synch, on occasions the basses are a bit bar-room and one or two tenors seem to be mounted en chamade, but what the hell? The enthusiasm of the performance is infectious and the Grande-Orgue with the master in charge.....what can one say? It just about brought tears to my eyes. As soon as Mrs T. goes out I shall fire up the East Gallery system and really let rip. Thank you pcnd, for the recommendation.

 

I am waiting with bated breath for the Naji Hakim recording from Sacre Coeur to arrive as it will be a most interesting comparison, and hopefully "La Tradition de St. Sulpice" disc won't be too far away either.

 

P

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  • 2 weeks later...

The disc mentioned above, the Vierne Mass from Sacre-Coeur with Fred Gramman playing the Grandes Orgues, arrived at the weekend. The comparison with the Cochereau version from Notre Dame is startling. The ND de P recording is full of fire and exuberance with, to my ears, typically French singing - enthusiastic but not quite "there". The organ playing is stunning and takes no prisoners as far as letting the choir be heard is concerned, "If they want to be heard then let them sing more loudly!" seems to be the instruction from the console!

 

The Sacre Coeur recording is much more sober and taken at a slower pace, no doubt because of the more generous acoustic (I made the reverberation period, listening through Sennheiser headphones to make sure, to be 8 seconds at the end of the Benedictus). The singing is better, more in tune and in time but somehow lacks a little of the bite and atmosphere of the other recording. The organ though, is absolutely wonderful and makes the hairs on my neck stand up. I'm glad to have both recordings as they can be played at different times according to what frame of mind I'm in. The ND de P is for that after-dinner time on a Saturday night when a second bottle has been opened (even Mrs T. likes the music then!) and the Sacre Coeur for an quiet(ish) afternoon with a cup of tea.

 

Also on the doormat was the Daniel Roth recording of the Widor Mass (JAV SACD). I just love the Widor Mass and have very happy memories of performing it in the late 1970s - I can't remember where but it was a wonderful experience. This recording of the Mass with the accompanying improvisations is just great, even though the pronunciation is slightly strange to us more used to an Italianate sound. Once again, the organ (St. Sulpice) is stunning. Another St Sulpice recording recently arrived is the ifo "La Tradition de Saint-Suplice" with Bach, Widor, Dupre, Grunenwald and Roth - once again a mix of organ and choir, and again superb.

 

The final disc was the freebie from the BBC. I found this to be quite excellent too - great playing and a lovely instrument.

 

Is there a more thrilling musical sound than a big Cavaille-Coll tutti with the 32' Bombarde towards the bottom of its register? Not for me, so much so that our Autumn 2009 holiday is going to be 2 weeks in Paris, sadly, well sort of, all previous hols being already booked...

 

P

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  • 2 weeks later...

I remember reading an interview (possibly in Choir and Organ?) in the last two or three years with the retiring and long serving Organist from Royal Holloway but annoyingly now can't find it. He was responsible for the H&H instrument and described it as being, in his opinion, second only to Coventry Cathedral.

 

He also said it was the last significant instrument voiced by Kenneth James (the H&H head voicer) before he died. Does anyone know details of the firm 'Kenneth James and Son'? I have seen occasional references to it, such as the vilified direct electric action they installed at All Saints, Margaret Street, but this seems to be completely at odds with his reputation as a voicer.

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Guest Patrick Coleman
He also said it was the last significant instrument voiced by Kenneth James (the H&H head voicer) before he died. Does anyone know details of the firm 'Kenneth James and Son'? I have seen occasional references to it, such as the vilified direct electric action they installed at All Saints, Margaret Street, but this seems to be completely at odds with his reputation as a voicer.

 

Is it not possible to be an excellent voicer and at the same time lousy at installing actions (especially direct electric with all its possible drawbacks)?

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Guest Barry Williams

As far as I am aware, Hedley James, son of Kenneth James, took over the business for while. I have heard nothing about the business for a long time and assume that it has ceased.

 

Voicing is a totally different skill to the other jobs in organ building, including action work and pipemaking. Some voicers are not good tuners either. It is, as Father Coleman implies, wrong to assume that a voicer is automatically good as a general organ builder.

 

There does indeed seem to be a lack of skill in adjusting many types of action these days, or perhaps it has always been so. Certainly, when well adjusted, electric or electro-pneumatic action is impressively fast. I have experienced a number that have been better when solid state has been fitted - particularly individual direct pallet magnets. There seems to be a simultaneous attack with solid state - at least from the systems that fire all bars together.

 

Barry Williams

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He also said it was the last significant instrument voiced by Kenneth James (the H&H head voicer) before he died. Does anyone know details of the firm 'Kenneth James and Son'? I have seen occasional references to it, such as the vilified direct electric action they installed at All Saints, Margaret Street, but this seems to be completely at odds with his reputation as a voicer.

 

After Kenneth James died, Hedley continued the business for a short time, was joined by Stuart Payne, then briefly traded as Payne-James. It was said that Hedley left the UK for the USA. They are welcome to him. Numerous churches were left in the lurch when he departed but have probably benefitted from his absence.

 

Kenneth James's reputation seems to have been based on favourable words from Laurence Elvin's The Harrison Story. However, this seems to be at variance with reality. If one studies the way large firms operate, most of the actual voicing work is done in the factory ( i.e., cutting up, languid position, nicking, tip-hole size, etc). Kenneth James was said to be a good tonal finisher - referring to the limited adjustments one can make to pipework on site to give it the final 'gloss'.

 

I have experienced a number of organs rebuilt by Kenneth James (after his departure from H & H). Added pipework was poorly voiced and finished. One notable four-manual rebuild had the Swell Forster & Andrews pipework crudely revoiced to something akin to open-foot, flue-regulated voicing. The old F & A pipework did not take kindly to this treatment, which has now thankfully been reversed.

 

Best not to dwell on the quality of the organ building aspects of his work, either.

 

All in all, something of a puzzle...I often wonder in what he regard he was held at H & H ?

 

H

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Guest Cynic

My pennyworth is in Kenneth James' favour. I remember meeting him and hearing him at work; he was pleasant (a great deal more so than some firms' representatives) and his standard of tuning and maintenance was high which he was working for H&H. He tuned for me a number of times and the organ (now sadly unplayable) was always left 100%.

 

The comments made above about his tonal work are made with hindsight, and much revoicing of what is now recognised as precious material went on in those days. I can think of so many examples of worthy instruments that were hideously 'improved' it is difficult to choose only one! I shall content myself to recommending that readers bring to mind almost any major rebuild by Messrs HN&B!

 

I have said it before, but I believe it bears repetition:

The fact that an organ is rebuilt out of all recognition and that sometimes a particular tonal scheme does not 'work' is often the fault of

1. the customer or

2. the expert adviser!

A case in point: in the early 1970s, Noel Rawsthorne wanted Henry Willis and Co to revoice Liverpool Cathedral organ on lower windpressures. Henry Willis 4, never one to pull his punches, squared up and told him that he would in no way be responsible for spoiling what he considered his father's greatest work.

 

What happened? Willis lost the contract and some revoicing (but not on such a scale as that requested) was carried out by H&H.

 

Firms that stay really high-minded occasionally find it difficult to balance their books. For obvious reasons, few firms can afford to pontificate and see jobs go elsewhere. Low pressures, open-foot voicing etc. were the taste of the time. Idiots with degrees kept pushing theories that they themselves had got second-hand and had no personal experience whatsoever of actually putting into practice. Note: This is/was not only a UK problem. As has been mentioned here before, the most famous organ in the world, the Muller at The Bavokerk, Haarlem was revoiced by Marcussen and all nicking removed from each and every flue pipe because in the 1960's they were firmly convinced that the nicking they found was not original - how could it be? Their 'experts' knew best, and their favourite academics backed them up.

 

Actually they were wrong - that nicking was original. The 'renovation' was carried out most painstakingly but much of the work done took that instrument firmly in the wrong direction!

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The comments made above about his tonal work are made with hindsight, and much revoicing of what is now recognised as precious material went on in those days.

 

Ah yes, but the manner in which the revoicing was done was (1) crude, and (2) irregular. The only saving grace is that the original F & A nicking wasn't scraped away ! This (mis-)treatment of pipework demonstrated a fundamental lack of respect for original and worthy work. Small comfort to think that well-respected European firms could be guilty of the same crime.

 

H

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A case in point: in the early 1970s, Noel Rawsthorne wanted Henry Willis and Co to revoice Liverpool Cathedral organ on lower windpressures. Henry Willis 4, never one to pull his punches, squared up and told him that he would in no way be responsible for spoiling what he considered his father's greatest work.

 

What happened? Willis lost the contract and some revoicing (but not on such a scale as that requested) was carried out by H&H.

 

Could you tell me if the former voicing been re-instated on the previous pressures at some point since this date, please? If so, by whom? Thank you.

 

As has been mentioned here before, the most famous organ in the world, the Muller at The Bavokerk, Haarlem was revoiced by Marcussen and all nicking removed from each and every flue pipe because in the 1960's they were firmly convinced that the nicking they found was not original - how could it be? Their 'experts' knew best, and their favourite academics backed them up.

 

Actually they were wrong - that nicking was original. The 'renovation' was carried out most painstakingly but much of the work done took that instrument firmly in the wrong direction!

 

I think that I recall MM (or another contributor - possibly Bazuin?) mention that this has also been painstakingly reversed by Flentrop (?) - or did I just dream this?

 

Any information will be received gratefully.

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"Haarlem was revoiced by Marcussen and all nicking removed from each and every flue pipe because in the 1960's they were firmly convinced that the nicking they found was not original - how could it be? Their 'experts' knew best, and their favourite academics backed them up.

 

Actually they were wrong - that nicking was original. The 'renovation' was carried out most painstakingly but much of the work done took that instrument firmly in the wrong direction!"

(Quote)

 

This summarizes perfectly how the neo-baroque actually destroyed

the baroque organs we still had in the 20th century....Save....In

the previously "communist" areas, where 20th century advisors

had no -or at least little-say.

We can expect great things from there, now that restorations

have reached an unprecedented historic sensitivity.

 

Pierre

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"Haarlem was revoiced by Marcussen and all nicking removed from each and every flue pipe because in the 1960's they were firmly convinced that the nicking they found was not original - how could it be? Their 'experts' knew best, and their favourite academics backed them up.

 

Actually they were wrong - that nicking was original. The 'renovation' was carried out most painstakingly but much of the work done took that instrument firmly in the wrong direction!"

(Quote)

 

This summarizes perfectly how the neo-baroque actually destroyed

the baroque organs we still had in the 20th century....Save....In

the previously "communist" areas, where 20th century advisors

had no -or at least little-say.

We can expect great things from there, now that restorations

have reached an unprecedented historic sensitivity.

 

Pierre

 

Except that, for many organs, this will have come rather too late.

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Weird. I wonder if the Pedal Bombarde is really en chamade?

 

The photographs on the CD liner would indicate to me that the Bombarde 16', or at least the longer pipes thereof, is not en chamade. If one takes the longest open metal pipes in the case to be 16' then the visible chamades appear to be much shorter, although the angles from which the photographs were taken make it difficult to be certain.

 

The stop in question is certainly fiery, although perfectly in balance with the tutti.

 

Maybe someone on this board knows Rupert Gough to find out for certain...

 

P

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regarding the Bavo organ:

 

"I think that I recall MM (or another contributor - possibly Bazuin?) mention that this has also been painstakingly reversed by Flentrop (?) - or did I just dream this?"

 

Flentrop have done some considerable re-voicing. But, to repeat the most important point, the re-voicing was carried out within the boundaries of the situation created by Marcussen: ie Marcussen's wind pressure, winding system, windchests, and altered pipework. I have heard stories that the changes to the pipework were even more intrusive than simply the shaving-off of the nicks. But I don't have any documented evidence. The best article in English about this organ is that by Stephen Bicknell, on his website. In Dutch there are interesting writings by the Klaas Bolt, and also the doctoral thesis of Hans van Nieuwkoop. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of this to hand, but I remember he includes an initial proposal by Marcussen to enlarge the organ to 4 manuals, by adding a Borstwerk.

 

Last week I posted links of really fascinating online recordings of the organ from both before and after Marcussen's work, shame nobody picked up on these or commented on them.

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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Last week I posted links of really fascinating online recordings of the organ from both before and after Marcussen's work, shame nobody picked up on these or commented on them.

It was a busy week. I don't remember these links and cannot find them, please can you tell me the topic name and post number and I will listen.

JC

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"It was a busy week. I don't remember these links and cannot find them, please can you tell me the topic name and post number and I will listen."

 

Better still, I'll re-post the links:

 

Anton Heiller, 1953 Improvisation competition final:

http://orgelconcerten.ncrv.nl/ncrv?nav=vlsiuCsHtGAkBbCeBA (click on 'beluister')

 

Daniel Roth, 1965 competition final:

http://orgelconcerten.ncrv.nl/ncrv?nav=emmguCsHtGAkBbCeBuB (once again, click on beluister)

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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"It was a busy week. I don't remember these links and cannot find them, please can you tell me the topic name and post number and I will listen."

 

Better still, I'll re-post the links:

 

Anton Heiller, 1953 Improvisation competition final:

http://orgelconcerten.ncrv.nl/ncrv?nav=vlsiuCsHtGAkBbCeBA (click on 'beluister')

 

Daniel Roth, 1965 competition final:

http://orgelconcerten.ncrv.nl/ncrv?nav=emmguCsHtGAkBbCeBuB (once again, click on beluister)

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

Thanks, Bazuin.

I have a marginal preference for the Heiller both in terms of the performance and the sound, but then I have become a hopeless old romantic! From what I had read, I expected the Marcussen changes to seem much more extreme. However, it sounds magnificent in the 1965 recording and just as exciting as I remember it to be from that time. It is interesting to see how my opinions - and probably my ears - have changed over the years.

JC

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After reading pcnds's comments about the Cochereau recording of the Vierne Messe Solennelle, I bought a copy from Discovery Records, and although I've so far played it only on the West Gallery hi-fi, it blew me away. The end of the Benedictus is stunning but it's insidious really to pick out any particular section. OK, some of the singing is out of synch, on occasions the basses are a bit bar-room and one or two tenors seem to be mounted en chamade, but what the hell? The enthusiasm of the performance is infectious and the Grande-Orgue with the master in charge.....what can one say? It just about brought tears to my eyes. As soon as Mrs T. goes out I shall fire up the East Gallery system and really let rip. Thank you pcnd, for the recommendation.

 

 

P

 

You are welcome. I am glad that you are enjoying it.

 

Good luck with Mrs. T - and, perhaps, the neighbours....

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Last week I posted links of really fascinating online recordings of the organ from both before and after Marcussen's work, shame nobody picked up on these or commented on them.

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

 

Oh - actually, I listened to them - but then Easter 'happened' (before I was ready for it) and I forgot to post a comment. I recall that I was interested, but I need to listen to them again. I shall endeavour to do this in the next day or so.

 

Thank you.

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I note that there is another recording of the Vierne Messe Solenelle from NDP now available and wonder if anyone here has heard it? I know that I shall buy it...

 

Mrs T. has now come round to the Cochereau recording having heard it on the East Gallery system, and even asked to hear it once again at the weekend. Success! It bodes well for our Paris fortnight next year.

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  • 1 month later...

As predicted above, I did indeed buy that CD.

 

The Vierne is excellent with the best singing of any commercial recording I have so far heard and the organ is, well ND de P., maybe not quite as vigorous as the wonderful Pierre Cochereau recording but still spine-tingling.

 

To the second piece then; the Leguay Messe Deo Gratias. To my obviously uneducated ears much of it is little more than a cacophony. Some of the organ part seems largely to consist of a lot of random notes, one of the percussion instruments sounds spookily like the noise one makes by popping an index finger out of the corner of the mouth and the brass, well, a bit like part of the organ score, a lot of seemingly random notes flying about. With the Kyrie taking 12'10", Deo Gratias there isn't a Gloria. At one point I became aware of a gently rising glissando (of the sort made by a wooden "bird whistle" - you know, the one with a plunger) - sounding like a quiet flute stop. "How the hell did Lefebvre do that?" I thought, then remembered that our appropriately French Le Creuset kettle was on the range and just coming to the boil with a gentle whistle! (Proper kettles make much better tea than portable immersion heaters...). That'll teach me to listen on the West Gallery system in the afternoon when Mrs T has just come in from the office in need of refreshment.

 

To be fair I have heard the piece just the once and must say that there some quite exciting moments and one extraordinarily beautiful soprano solo. Some of the lovely quieter voices of the organ are also used to good effect. I shall certainly play it again and am sure I shall get much more from it in the future but do hope it's not on the menu when next I visit Paris.

 

P

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