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Colin Harvey

Wanamaker Organ

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I've just been listening to the Pipedream's broadcast on the Wanamaker organ and am completely stunned by it.

 

Go to http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/2008/0835/

 

and play it - go to the Elgar Nimrod (at about 37 minutes) - it's the most incredible crescendo and diminuendo I've ever heard (and this from a die-hard "purist"). It really is the epitome of smooth build-up and orchestral sonority. Peter Conte's introduction to playing it on this organ is very illuminating too.

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I've just been listening to the Pipedream's broadcast on the Wanamaker organ and am completely stunned by it.

 

Go to http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/2008/0835/

 

and play it - go to the Elgar Nimrod (at about 37 minutes) - it's the most incredible crescendo and diminuendo I've ever heard (and this from a die-hard "purist"). It really is the epitome of smooth build-up and orchestral sonority. Peter Conte's introduction to playing it on this organ is very illuminating too.

 

A friend recently brought me back a CD of this machine - some interesting sounds on there too - 'not at all what I expected.

 

AJJ

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A friend recently brought me back a CD of this machine - some interesting sounds on there too - 'not at all what I expected.

 

AJJ

There is an absolutely super recently-released DVD about this organ which has just come out. What I like about it is that it gives a tour of the organ assuming that the viewer has a knowledge of the subject. Hence we don't get the endless description of how pipe organs work. I got my copy from here

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I've just been listening to the Pipedream's broadcast on the Wanamaker organ and am completely stunned by it.

 

Go to http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/2008/0835/

 

and play it - go to the Elgar Nimrod (at about 37 minutes) - it's the most incredible crescendo and diminuendo I've ever heard (and this from a die-hard "purist"). It really is the epitome of smooth build-up and orchestral sonority. Peter Conte's introduction to playing it on this organ is very illuminating too.

 

Splendid!

That is exactly what a Crescendo should be (save in ancient organs of course).

 

Pierre

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There is an absolutely super recently-released DVD about this organ which has just come out. What I like about it is that it gives a tour of the organ assuming that the viewer has a knowledge of the subject. Hence we don't get the endless description of how pipe organs work. I got my copy from here

 

I see that this is from an American site. I understand that DVDs bought in/from America may not be playable in UK/European DVD players (different regional codes, or something?), but presume that this is not a problem with your copy.

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I see that this is from an American site. I understand that DVDs bought in/from America may not be playable in UK/European DVD players (different regional codes, or something?), but presume that this is not a problem with your copy.

The DVD works perfectly on my DVD/TV.

Q

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I see that this is from an American site. I understand that DVDs bought in/from America may not be playable in UK/European DVD players (different regional codes, or something?), but presume that this is not a problem with your copy.

I'm only guessing, but I would imagine that the region codes for dvds are only used for releases of major new movies so that the dvd releases can be controlled worldwide, as the cinema releases are. I've bought cheap dvds in the US that have no region code on them.

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No, you aren't alone. This belongs to the history of the organ"proper".

 

(Sounded absolutely *final*(1) somewhere in Western England as well)

 

Pierre

 

(1) Or letal maybe ?

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There is also a wonderful Cd on the Gothic label called "The Wanamaker Legacy" and Peter Conte plays music that is closely associated with the instrument. It finishes with a stunning performance of Dupre's Passion Symphony, which was recorded live at the 2002 National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.

 

Peter

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http://www.virgilfoxlegacy.com/mp3/audio01/SweetDeath.html

 

Am I alone in thinking that this is utterly gorgeous?

 

*awaits first clever reply of "yes"* :D

 

 

Agree, wholeheartedly. Have this on vinyl . definitely not one for " the Baroque Boys " !

 

Glad there are no other attempts to recreate this, to best of my knowledge anyway, in recitals or on cd. Even his protege CC hasn`t attempted.

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I have heard this organ played live several times, and to my mind the only person who really uses it's mighty resources properly is Peter Conte. For many years the organ did not have a reliable combination action, but it now has this and many of the departments and stops which did not function for years now work properly. The acoustic of the building has also been improved radically in recent years, and the tuning has always been very good when I have heard it.

 

The sound of many, many layers of shimmering strings being added is utterly magical and totally unique.

 

Apparently there is some clause in place that whoever runs the store has to maintain the organ. The only drawback is that it is usually played during shopping hours when there is a high background noise. There are one or two special recitals in a closed building, and they must be something very special.

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I have heard this organ played live several times, and to my mind the only person who really uses it's mighty resources properly is Peter Conte.

Not surprising, really. I wonder how many people ever get the chance to explore its resources fully.

 

The sound of many, many layers of shimmering strings being added is utterly magical and totally unique.

That I can well believe. A Radio 4 programme a couple of years ago gave us a taste of the massed Dulcianas and the effect was quite magical.

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P.S. If anyone is worried that they can't play DVD's out of the UK PAL region, check your machine, and then if no good, look up multi region codes on google and you can reset your player to accept DVDs from anywhere. I did it with my Philips £39 DVD player and it plays USA DVDs perfectly.

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I've just been listening to the Pipedream's broadcast on the Wanamaker organ and am completely stunned by it.

 

Go to http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/2008/0835/

 

and play it - go to the Elgar Nimrod (at about 37 minutes) - it's the most incredible crescendo and diminuendo I've ever heard (and this from a die-hard "purist"). It really is the epitome of smooth build-up and orchestral sonority. Peter Conte's introduction to playing it on this organ is very illuminating too.

 

 

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

 

 

I suppose I would have liked to have seen this under the subject of "Only in America," because the wonderous amd wonderful "Wanamaker Organ" makes a statement about an era long past in American and world history.......unlimited resources, a booming stock-market, endeavour, affluence and unbridled confidence. If I were asked to find anything else comparable, I think I would have to elect for the "Spruce Goose" flying-boat, created by the eccentric billionaire and aviator, Howard Hughes. Like the gigantic flying-boat, the Wanamaker organ defines a special period in American history, and that of the world. Interestingly, the completion of the organ almostly exactly co-incided with the great Wall Street crash of 1930. It may be "Only in America," but it may also be a case of "Never again," just like the great Picture Palaces and the "Art Deco" opulence of the Chrysler Building in New York.

 

Even by American standards, the "Wanamaker" organ is only matched by a few others, and perhaps only the celebrated Aeolian-Skinner at Yale University can match the orchestral beauty. Other vast organs, such at Atlantic City and the Cadet Chapel organ at West Point, are much less of a piece musically, but nevertheless contain many good or interesting things.

 

There is something deeply civilised and completely decadent about eating fresh salad and drinking iced-coffee, while listening to excerpts from "Parsifal," "HMS Pinafore" a Sousa March and a Vierne Toccata, after browsing among quality items in a good department store with a big acoustic. (My other, unfulfilled ambition, is to eat Pizza while listening to the giant Wurlitzer organ at Mesa, Arizona!)

 

I've listened to the whole of the "Pipedreams" broadcast, and the instrument sounds wonderful in the enormously capable hands of Peter Conte, who really is an absolute master of the transcription genre.

 

Of course, it isn't just the sheer size of the organ which is so remarkable at Macey's department store, but the incredible musical pedigree attached to the organ. What other instrument outside Paris or Leipzig, has quite so much remarkable music specifically associated with it? The list is astounding....Vierne, Jongen and Dupre just three examples; the latter famously improvising the "Symphonie Passion" on the Wanamaker organ, before writing it down. Virgil Fox recorded an outstanding LP album on the instrument, and I'm very pleased that I have a copy, if only for the transcription of Bach's "Come sweet death."

 

My great fear, is that many of these VERY large instruments are enormously expensive to maintain; some having their own maintenance people working full-time, as for example, at West Point. Wanamaker's store must be the only retail outlet ever to have had an entire organ-building factory in the attic, employing 40 people full-time, back in 1909!

 

For anyone who feels tempted to fly across the pond, always try and hear one of these huge instruments played by the resident maestro, because they are so unique and so enormous, they are usually the only ones who can find their way around the controls, and who really know how to play them to best advantage.

 

Looking back, I know how lucky I was to hear and play so many wonderful, interesting, curious and occasionally unfathomable instruments in the USA. If I were to do a pipe count of all that I played and heard, it would probably come to something like half-a-million!!!

 

Truly, "Only in America!"

 

MM

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Agree, wholeheartedly. Have this on vinyl . definitely not one for " the Baroque Boys " !

 

Glad there are no other attempts to recreate this, to best of my knowledge anyway, in recitals or on cd. Even his protege CC hasn`t attempted.

Thank you. I'm glad you agree. The recording 'sends' me.

 

There was one attempt last year at an organ recital in Liverpool Cathedral (which required as much registering as the whole of the rest of the programme put together), which elicited a certain amount of praise from the Cathedral's titulaire organist and members of the audience (who were probably being far too generous!)... ;)

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Thank you. I'm glad you agree. The recording 'sends' me.

 

There was one attempt last year at an organ recital in Liverpool Cathedral (which required as much registering as the whole of the rest of the programme put together), which elicited a certain amount of praise from the Cathedral's titulaire organist and members of the audience (who were probably being far too generous!)... :D

 

Would there be any chance you could recall the organist for this recital? Thanks.

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Guest Roffensis
A friend recently brought me back a CD of this machine - some interesting sounds on there too - 'not at all what I expected.

 

AJJ

 

 

Yes indeed. Quite a machine!!

 

R

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