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Jeremy Jones

Buckfast Abbey

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Priory have just re-issued on CD a 1987 recording of David Patrick playing the Downes/Walker organ in Buckfast Abbey. Uncharacteristically, and very remiss too, the minimal notes include nothing about the organ. The NPOR isn't much help either, the last survey dating back to the 1970s and even then not very sure of itself and a Google search on the web hasn't come up with anything either, except for something written in Dutch. If anyone knows anything about this instrument, that would be mightily helpful, not to mention interesting!

 

Many thanks.

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Priory have just re-issued on CD a 1987 recording of David Patrick playing the Downes/Walker organ in Buckfast Abbey. Uncharacteristically, and very remiss too, the minimal notes include nothing about the organ. The NPOR isn't much help either, the last survey dating back to the 1970s and even then not very sure of itself and a Google search on the web hasn't come up with anything either, except for something written in Dutch. If anyone knows anything about this instrument, that would be mightily helpful, not to mention interesting!

 

Many thanks.

 

You can post the dutch info here, and I'll translate it for you (if someone else doesn't do so before me, 'we' speak a great many languages here :rolleyes: )

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http://home.wanadoo.nl/akenfens/brit2000/b...st/n1abbey.html

 

I'll translate it whenever I have some time. In the meantime you'll find

the disposition at the bottom of the page.

 

Well, sorry Jeremy!

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

A quick one then ....

 

The original abbey was founded during the government of Canute in 1018. The community flourished until Henry VIII broke with Rome. The breakup with Rome caused the abbey to detariorate, stones were taken and used for different purposes.

In 1882 the ruines were bought by french monks who lived secluded and it were these monks who rebuild the abbey on the original foundations. On the occasion of the inauguration of the major part of the abbey in 1922, the Plymouth based firm of Hele & Co, provided a new organ. The organ comprised two manuals en pedals and was a donation of the R. Rev. Mgr. C.W.S. Smith. The choirorgan, built in 1923

, was also a donation of Smith. In 1929 the covered choirstalls were finished an

d the organ got its definitive shape. The Great organ was placed in a niche on the eastside of the choir, the pedalstops next to it, and the choirorgan was built

in the western niche of the choir. Directly above the Great in the triforium a

concrete room was built to house the Swell organ; the Solo organ was to be placed in an other room. The console got its place in the southside of the choir.

In 1938 the organs action became unreliable and early 1939 a new plan was developed by Ralph Downes and J.W. Walker & Sons installed a new modern console to connect the existing organ. This console was identical to the console that J.W. Walker installed in Doncaster Parish Church. From 1952 on until 1963 a revision of the organ took place, in cooperation with Ralph Downs, during which the windchests were renewed and the Aeolian-chest were restaured. The different sections of the organ were more logicallay regrouped and the organ got a front with speaking pipes.

(copyright Gerco Schaap)

 

That should save Pierre some time ....

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

Re:Buckfast

I recommend your enquirer to buy or borrow a copy of Baroque Tricks (Adventures with the Organ Builders) by Ralph Downes which is a wonderfully informative read. The ISBN number is 0 906894 26 3

It was published by Positif Press, Oxford in 1983 and a revised edition was published in 1999.

 

Re: Priory's Recording of David M. Patrick

This was wonderful playing when I bought it on LP, it has to be worth investing in on the new format. The organ is not 'authentic' but the playing is the full 100%. This gets my vote!

 

Re: Priory

Sneaky aren't they? They've been re-issuing a lot of stuff lately - cheap way to sell more discs without going aorund setting up equipment? Saves on doing deals with performers? I'm still waiting to be told officially that they've re-issued some of my tracks, you know! :angry:

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Priory have just re-issued on CD a 1987 recording of David Patrick playing the Downes/Walker organ in Buckfast Abbey. Uncharacteristically, and very remiss too, the minimal notes include nothing about the organ. The NPOR isn't much help either, the last survey dating back to the 1970s and even then not very sure of itself and a Google search on the web hasn't come up with anything either, except for something written in Dutch. If anyone knows anything about this instrument, that would be mightily helpful, not to mention interesting!

 

Many thanks.

 

Hi

 

And may I add a plea to let NPOR know of any errors/changes in details! (E-mail to the new address on the web site)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

And may I add a plea to let NPOR know of any errors/changes in details!  (E-mail to the new address on the web site)

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

And for other recordings of the same instrument you have

 

On LP Phillips Fourfront 4FO 7012 Nicolas Kynaston ALAIN Litanies, Deux Danses a Agni Yavishta, 1st & 2nd Fantaisies, Postlude pour l'office des Complies / LANGLAIS Suite Breve

 

On CD two from Herald

 

HAVPCD 120 Organ Music from Buckfast Abbey played by Father Sebastian Wolff, the Abbey Organist for many years

 

AND

 

HAVPCD 229 Jeremy Filsell plays Organ Music by Sebastian Wolff at Buckfast Abbey.

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I am truly grateful to heva for the Dutch to English translation, or as Pierre says, Dank U! :P

 

What Paul Derrett says about Priory Records re-issuing a lot lately is spot on, although you wont hear me complaining about them re-releasing the Michael Woodward archive. That being said, it would be nice to see more bona fide new organ recordings, preferably of instruments in the UK and not the usual suspects.

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I am truly grateful to heva for the Dutch to English translation, or as Pierre says, Dank U!  :P 

 

What Paul Derrett says about Priory Records re-issuing a lot lately is spot on, although you wont hear me complaining about them re-releasing the Michael Woodward archive. That being said, it would be nice to see more bona fide new organ recordings, preferably of instruments in the UK and not the usual suspects.

I suppose the money must be in short supply to re-record the organs that priory (and others) have already recorded. As for the Michael Woodward reissues, I remember wanting to put the lp covers of the second Liverpool recording and St Pauls recording (Dearnley)on the bedroom wall,( then I reaslised I was not 12 years old any more, lol ) they were excellent, made with all the information you could possibly want and with a really good sound quality. When these two are released I am hoping that my neighbors will forgive me when I play them with the sub woofer employed. Any one know where I can get a copy of the picture taken for John Scotts (at St. Pauls ) first Dupre cd cover. It was taken with (at the time) the worlds largest fish eye lense camera.

Peter

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Guest Roffensis
And for other recordings of the same instrument you have

 

On LP Phillips Fourfront 4FO 7012 Nicolas Kynaston ALAIN Litanies, Deux Danses a Agni Yavishta, 1st & 2nd Fantaisies, Postlude pour l'office des Complies / LANGLAIS Suite Breve

 

On CD two from Herald

 

HAVPCD 120 Organ Music from Buckfast Abbey played by Father Sebastian Wolff, the Abbey Organist for many years

 

AND

 

HAVPCD 229 Jeremy Filsell plays Organ Music by Sebastian Wolff at Buckfast Abbey.

 

For the record Patrick/Cathedral recorded also Vierne 2 at Buckfast, but this came out on Saga. He also did Vierne 6 which DID come out on the cathedral label. There were also two discs of Lenough Anderson. One is completely Franck, and another has Franck choral 2, Widor you know what, Vierne you know what and Dupre Cortge et Litanie. Patrick also did another of Durufle's Suite/ Vierne Pieces de Fantasie.

 

Lenough Anderson-CRMS 840 &CRMS 841

Patrick/Vierne 2-SAGA 5487

Patrick/Vierne 6 CRMS 866

Kynaston/Alain,Langlais CRMS 858

Patrick/Durufle,Vierne CRMS 867

 

These are all of the old Cathedral recordings, and they are all excellent, as is the organ methinks.

:P

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It is indeed a very fine instrument.

 

However, it would be even better if it had a decent 16p reed on either the GO or the Swell. The Contra Clarinet on the Swell is not bad (presumably it has French shallots) but a good Bombarde on the GO would sound magnificent in that acoustic.

 

Interestingly, there is (or was) a blank stop-key on the GO, roughly where an extra reed might go. I wonder if there is a similar blank slide on the reed chest?

 

In the '20s or '30s, the Pedal Trombone and the GO Trumpet and Clarion from Holsworthy Parish Church http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N10475 were added. However, I do not know if the pipework has been used in the present instrument. If it has, it will doubtless have been revoiced.

 

I have not played it for a few years, but the last time I did, it appeared that Dom Sebastian Wolff (the Titulaire) had put his foot through the side of the console - there being a foot-sized gash on the right-hand side, just above the foot pistons.

 

Notwithstanding the instrument's superb choruses and exciting reeds (except for the omission already noted), there is a Positive, a Choir and an Echo organ; to quote Laurence Elvin* 'The quiet effects of ethereal beauty are almost endless.'

 

*Admittedly, he was referring to the H&H at Coventry; but the quote applies here, too.

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All this talk of the reeds is interesting. I have the Kynaston LP referred to above and in all the fortissimos what you hear is mainly mixturework. Maybe it's different in the building.

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Not greatly, as far as I can remember.

 

The flue-work dominates the tutti - except, of course, for the Pedal Bombarde. This is why I personally think that the sound of the tutti would be improved by adding a Bombarde to the GO.

 

It is a good, clear sound, though.

 

David Patrick recorded the Duruflé Suite there a number of years ago - and also some Vierne Symphonies - certainly Symphonie 6me. The sound is unlike any other British organ of which I can recall - even now; very clear and bright - with a snarling, Gallic Pedal Bombarde.

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Somewhere, I have a record sleeve-insert, with details of this organ and the specification. Unfortunately, for some obscure reason, I don't actually have the record or the actual record-sleeve.

 

Let's see how we get on, but I could "probably" find it if we get desperate.

 

MM

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If you cannot find it, MM - or just do not fancy looking around your attic in January, let me know - I have it on a CD insert. Dom Sebastian Wolff is playing, amonst other things, his own music and the P&F in C minor (BWV 546).

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If you cannot find it, MM - or just do not fancy looking around your attic in January, let me know - I have it on a CD insert. Dom Sebastian Wolff is playing, amonst other things, his own music and the P&F in C minor (BWV 546).

The specification can be found on the link further up this thread.

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This is true.

 

I really must read things more carefully - I had made the assumption that it was just an article in Dutch....

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Well, I played this instrument today. What a curious affair it is. Despite lots of bright upperwork, the voicing is essentially Romantic, but a smooth build-up is next to impossible. The only real solo stop is the Clarinet, but it's on the Swell, which is the least useful place for it. And I'm sorry but the Great reeds are pathetic; they might as well not be there. In terms of style, the organ doesn't seem to know what it's meant to be. Yet for all that, it has a strong persona and it's not a bad one. As noted above, there's a wealth of very nice quiet stuff and I did enjoy playing it. Of course the acoustic helps immeasurably too.

 

It's not in the best of health. The Swell Geigen wasn't working at all, the Rollschweller was playing up (or so Fr Sebastian told me; I didn't use it myself) and the runnings were at times quite distracting, especially when full organ was prepared.

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I am sorry to hear that this instrument appears to be ailing, Vox Humana! I hope that it did not spoil your enjoyment too much.

 

I would agree about the GO reeds - they (barely) colour the flue-work and, since there is no decent 16p chorus reed, there is a distinct lack of 'bite' to the sound of the tutti.

 

Ah well, perhaps it may be restored, one day.

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Oh yes. Despite the comments above, I enjoyed it very much. It's clearly the sort of organ you need to spend time getting to know. It must be fabulous for accompanying the Catholic liturgy. But it does fall a bit short in repertoire and accompanying Anglican choral music.

 

The organ is by no means on its last legs yet, but it must be overdue for a major overhaul. It was the runnings that worried me most - it did sound like there was quite a lot of wind leaking.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Well, I played this instrument today. What a curious affair it is. Despite lots of bright upperwork, the voicing is essentially Romantic, but a smooth build-up is next to impossible. The only real solo stop is the Clarinet, but it's on the Swell, which is the least useful place for it. And I'm sorry but the Great reeds are pathetic; they might as well not be there. In terms of style, the organ doesn't seem to know what it's meant to be. Yet for all that, it has a strong persona and it's not a bad one. As noted above, there's a wealth of very nice quiet stuff and I did enjoy playing it. Of course the acoustic helps immeasurably too.

 

A chapter in 'Baroque Tricks with the Organ Builders' by Ralph Downes (who designed this organ) will explain a lot of this.

 

Apparently (and I don't know if it is still the case) when first tried after the completion of Downes' full scheme, the whole lot was found to be so loud that there was no alternative to boxing a lot of it in with thick panels. Such aspects of this organ and the specification at different stages of the work are covered interestingly in the book.

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...Apparently (and I don't know if it is still the case) when first tried after the completion of Downes' full scheme, the whole lot was found to be so loud that there was no alternative to boxing a lot of it in with thick panels...

 

Yes, you are quite right, Paul - on page 150 in Baroque Tricks , Ralph Downes makes exactly this point. However, he does go on to say that in 1963, when the organ was finally completed (and again revoiced on even lower pressures, by Walter Goodey and Dennis Thurlow) he also re-planned the disposition of the instrument - which largely soved the problem.

 

In which case, I do not know what has happened to the GO reeds - they seem to be far too quiet. This is also evident in recordings. Weird!

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