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Pierre Lauwers

Herbert Howells Registration

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Was Durham the second favourite only post-1970 or before? On the face of it, everything you would want for Howells was there before (except the second 32' reed) and, judging by the earlier post, he would have preferred the Great mixture at the original (15?-)17-19-22 rather than the new 19-22-26-29.

 

I know he liked Redcliffe (another organ with two 32' reeds . . .) - did he ever hear/play Bristol Cathedral, that anyone knows of?

 

Paul

(Asst, Bristol)

 

We may think the 17-19-22 Mixture to be more appropriate than the 19-22-26-29; the concepts differ

radically, as the 17-19-22 is to be drawn after the chorus reeds (save special effects of course).

I do not think it is appropriate to use Mixtures in Howells without the reeds. This music needs

dark colors.

 

Pierre

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Though having missed out on first hand experience, I believe, quite appropriately in the context of this discussion, that you are describing the legendary (around here anyway) playing of Herbert Sumsion.

 

 

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

 

 

I have a recording or two of Herbert Sumsion. I expect he was typical of his generation, who worked to a very high standard, and in the Anglican context, "knew how to do things right."

 

As "nfortin" is close to the legacy of Herbert Sumsion, would he happen to know if there was another Sumsion in the area; perhaps a relative?

 

The reason I ask is simple. I have an open-score work for organ, which appears to be unplayable as written, and I'm sure the composer was called Sumsion, but not Herbert Sumsion. I don't actually know where the piece is in my collection, or I would give further details.

 

MM

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We may think the 17-19-22 Mixture to be more appropriate than the 19-22-26-29; the concepts differ

radically, as the 17-19-22 is to be drawn after the chorus reeds (save special effects of course).

I do not think it is appropriate to use Mixtures in Howells without the reeds. This music needs

dark colors.

 

Pierre

 

 

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

 

 

Who says that the 17-19-22 mixture (presumably by Willis originally) should be drawn AFTER the reeds?

 

On a Fr Willis, the Great reeds (usually quite fiery Trumpets) ALWAYS blend perfectly with the chorus, which of course, Harrison reeds seldom did without the aid of one of those dreadful "Harmonics" registers.

 

MM

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We may think the 17-19-22 Mixture to be more appropriate than the 19-22-26-29; the concepts differ radically, as the 17-19-22 is to be drawn after the chorus reeds (save special effects of course).

Or with the reeds, as in the common French practice of the time.

 

Somehow I very much doubt that Howells would have been at all worried about whether the mixture was a tierce mixture or not, so long as the sound was acceptable to him.

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Who says that the 17-19-22 mixture (presumably by Willis originally) should be drawn AFTER the reeds?

I think Relf Clark says this in the article already referred to. I do not know the authority for the statement.

 

There were certainly organists of the time who would not touch mixtures. This is well documented. Hope-Jones thought similarly of course.

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Somehow I very much doubt that Howells would have been at all worried about whether the mixture was a tierce mixture or not, so long as the sound was acceptable to him.

 

Except that Cynic has said:

I gathered that he was happy with the standard combinations of the time - H&H's pistons at Gloucester (his favourite organ) included the old Willis Mixtures with 17.19.22 composition. He liked these. Put it this way, he said he greatly preferred them to the 1970s style - 19.22.26.29.

 

Paul

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

I have a recording or two of Herbert Sumsion. I expect he was typical of his generation, who worked to a very high standard, and in the Anglican context, "knew how to do things right."

 

As "nfortin" is close to the legacy of Herbert Sumsion, would he happen to know if there was another Sumsion in the area; perhaps a relative?

 

The reason I ask is simple. I have an open-score work for organ, which appears to be unplayable as written, and I'm sure the composer was called Sumsion, but not Herbert Sumsion. I don't actually know where the piece is in my collection, or I would give further details.

 

MM

I'm not an expert on Sumsion, although my first organ teacher was a direct pupil of his at the cathedral and my second organ teacher (Paul Trepte) was a pupil of another pupil of Sumsion's (Donald Hunt). I'm also, I suspect, one of a very small number of people that have conducted the orchestral piece "At Valley Green" in live performances.

 

I'm not aware of any other composing Sumsions. There's a fairly informative biography on Wikepedia, it mentions no children. My first organ teacher, also now deceased, remained a close friend and confident of both Herbert and Alice Sumsion throughout their lives and I certainly never heard him refer to any other family members. Strangely though, Sumsion himself was always referred to as "Daddy" by those that were close to him.

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I'm not an expert on Sumsion, although my first organ teacher was a direct pupil of his at the cathedral and my second organ teacher (Paul Trepte) was a pupil of another pupil of Sumsion's (Donald Hunt). I'm also, I suspect, one of a very small number of people that have conducted the orchestral piece "At Valley Green" in live performances.

 

I'm not aware of any other composing Sumsions. There's a fairly informative biography on Wikepedia, it mentions no children. My first organ teacher, also now deceased, remained a close friend and confident of both Herbert and Alice Sumsion throughout their lives and I certainly never heard him refer to any other family members. Strangely though, Sumsion himself was always referred to as "Daddy" by those that were close to him.

 

According to the third paragraph of this http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn41...12/ai_n12680031, Sumsion had three sons - at least one of whom was a talented amateur musician.............

 

Graham

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There was a Corbett Sumsion, but I can't remember exactly what relation to Herbert - possibly older brother.

 

Paul Walton

 

The University of Melbourne uncatalogued organ music collection shows "Sumsion, C Corbett (1890-ca.1943), brother of Herbert - 4 Preludes (1925)." Could one of these be MM's mystery piece?

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Except that Cynic has said:

I gathered that he was happy with the standard combinations of the time - H&H's pistons at Gloucester (his favourite organ) included the old Willis Mixtures with 17.19.22 composition. He liked these. Put it this way, he said he greatly preferred them to the 1970s style - 19.22.26.29.

 

Paul

So he did. Attention span of a hamster, I have. <_<

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Guest Cynic
So he did. Attention span of a hamster, I have. <_<

 

 

...and sentence structure of a Jedi master you use!

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So he did. Attention span of a hamster, I have. <_<

 

Awer watt bedeitet datt ? Ech konnt sinnen ausse d'bachter de Kuppe reed'n,

damatt woert'n ons noch ni' auss d'n Kaff gereed, seg efkes... :P

 

Peter

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...and sentence structure of a Jedi master you use!

 

<_<

 

Awer watt bedeitet datt ? Ech konnt sinnen ausse d'bachter de Kuppe reed'n,

damatt woert'n ons noch ni' auss d'n Kaff gereed, seg efkes... :P

 

Peter

 

Do what, mate?

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"Do what, mate?"

(Quote)

 

I only took the rare opportunity to write in my own language, dear Holz.

(Not easy, because nor is it dutch, nor french, nor english, nor chinese...)

 

Peter <_<

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Reading through this thread, I'm just in awe of anyone who had the privilege of meeting or knowing HH. He died just under 10 months before I was born!

 

David

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It was awesome having the privilege of studying with him (which I did around the same time as Cynic, so he wasn't quite the only first study organist on Howells's books - not in his first year anyway <_<). But I didn't study with him for as long as Cynic did and I didn't get to know him so well.

 

I wonder how many people really did know HH. In a radio programme a few years back it emerged that he had told one of his confidantes, "It is very necessary to have a public voice". Outwardly his persona was very urbane, debonair and professional. Few saw the boiling cauldron of emotions underneath - the passion, the despair, the elation. I never really penetrated the veneer, but flickers of another Howells would surface occasionally. I remember one lesson when a stunningly attractive blonde knocked on the door, entered, gave him some music and, after a brief exchange of words, left. As soon as the door was shut HH, continuing to stare in her direction said lightly and with evident appreciation, "That's a very attractive girl!" Not knowing as much then as I do now, it wasn't quite what I expected to hear from a white-haired 78-year old with a walking stick!

 

My greatest regret - and how I regret it - is that I never discussed any of his own compositions with him. In those days I was very reserved and too shy to raise the subject. There is so much I should have asked!

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I only took the rare opportunity to write in my own language, dear Holz.

(Not easy, because nor is it dutch, nor french, nor english, nor chinese...)

 

 

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

 

 

Don't worry, his suggestions for cuisine are even worse!

 

<_<

 

MM

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There was a Corbett Sumsion, but I can't remember exactly what relation to Herbert - possibly older brother.

 

Paul Walton

 

 

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

 

 

That's the name!

 

The odd thing about this "work" is the fact that it is written in open-score, and I've tried to play it but cannot. It just doesn't fit beneath the fingers, and I somehow doubt that he ever tried playing it after writing it.

 

I shall have to dig it out and remind myself of the percularities.

 

MM

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"Few saw the boiling cauldron of emotions underneath - the passion, the despair, the elation."

(Quote)

 

....But we hear and feel it troughout his music !

That is what makes it grand. But this is not very british,

this lack of "restrain". This could be one of the reasons

I see more chances for this works the other side of the "Chunnel",

the other being it has been much heared in the UK of course.

"Nul n'est prophète en son pays".

The problem is there are no proper organ in continental Europe.

Some (Ieper Cathedral, Dudelange, Giengen an der Brenz...) can

do well, but only in dedicate parts.

 

Pierre

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Guest Cynic
The problem is there are no proper organ in continental Europe.

Some (Ieper Cathedral, Dudelange, Giengen an der Brenz...) can

do well, but only in dedicate parts.

 

Pierre

 

 

I know that I haven't travelled anything like as widely in Europe as others here, but I think while soft fluework and some choruses abroad could readily do justice to Howells/Parry/Stanford/Vaughan Williams et al, I think it is with reeds that players will find difficulty. Members of this forum will remember what trouble Barry Jordan took to have a proper English Tuba for his wonderful new organ at Magdeburg, something virtually unknown outside the English-speaking world, but there are other rare reed effects necessary too.

 

One tradition over here is the concept of Oboes that blend, even subsume themselves into 8' and 4' principals. I remember being told that the voicer who was responsible for the tonal finishing at St.Paul's Cathedral when the four-manual Father Willis in the Chancel was being restored by Manders (?1977) had three separate attempts to get the Swell Oboe sufficiently smooth for the late Christopher Dearnley before he was happy with it.

 

The registration schemes referred to earlier as 'Dark Arts' quite often rely on a smooth (seriously-well-blending) Oboe. The build up, starting with strings, of course, adds other 8's (not always removing the Celeste in the early stages). 4' flutes may well be added before principals, but often before the Fifteenth would come the Swell Oboe. Therefore, when another 8' reed is added on the way towards Full Swell, reed tone is already part of the aural mix. Therefore, with a good swell-box one could go from Swell 888442Oboe (with or without Mixture or 16' flue) straight to the Full Swell Piston (shutting the box immediately as one did so) and there would be little appreciable difference downstairs, enabling the swell to be opened gradually over the next page or two of music, with the effect of greatly increased excitement as well as volume.

 

The Mixture was considered essential to Full Swell, as was (in particular) the 16' reed. Mind you, these mixtures were not particularly high pitched, a 2' would be the top rank from Treble C if not earlier.

 

Hope this tallies with other folks' method/memory!

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So far, so good.

Now those "traditional ways which seem self-evidences" are completely ignored

outside the UK (and the United States, Australia, New-Zealand...), and will soon

be in the english-speaking world when a next generation of organists will have

been trained entirely on modern organs.

 

Let me assure Pierre that New Zealand has several players who really do know how to play Howells- especially with registrational subilties. Some of these players are English born or trained and several are not, including several rather gifted organ scholars in NZ at the moment!!

 

We also have the instruments; the 1906 N&B at Wellington Town Hall for instance, the Dunedin Town Hall Organ, ANY instrument in original preservation by Lawton & Osborne, a 1910 William Hill & Son in Christchurch. Indeed, any any board reader who wants a late romantic organ playing experience should consider a holiday in Aotearoa. For further evidence see the web site of the New Zealand Organ Preservation Trust or www.organz.org.nz

 

Best wishes

Michael Cox

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One tradition over here is the concept of Oboes that blend, even subsume themselves into 8' and 4' principals. I remember being told that the voicer who was responsible for the tonal finishing at St.Paul's Cathedral when the four-manual Father Willis in the Chancel was being restored by Manders (?1977) had three separate attempts to get the Swell Oboe sufficiently smooth for the late Christopher Dearnley before he was happy with it.

 

The Swell Hautboy at St Paul's Cathedral is unique in its sound, and I remember it appearing early in the crescendo sequence of the Swell pistons. I tried to copy the piston settings on another instrument, and it just didn't work; the timbre of the Hautboy in the tonal ensemble of the St Paul's Swell cannot be equalled.

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@ Mr Cox: I meant I included New Zealand with the areas where H.H. is still known

and played, of course.

 

"it is with reeds that players will find difficulty."

(Quote)

 

Absolutely. The soft passages will be fine on any german romantic organ -not on

french ones, though, that lack seriously of a sufficient number of soft stops-; the

problem are the Climaxes.

Either the reeds are not strong enough (german organs), either they are too crude

by far (french organ). Howells on a Cavaillé-Coll should be very, very questionnable

("PWAAAAPPP!!!"), i.e., transform accent into shouts.

 

Pierre

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