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DouglasCorr

St Pauls Cathedral

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The redication recital last night at St Pauls was another organ concert not to have been missed!

 

Oliver Latry played a programme, mostly from memory, showing the features of the new organ. Bach G maj P&F primarily on the Dome choruses - who would have thought such clarity would be possible!?

 

In the Franck 2nd Chorale and other works, the new tubas were much in evidence - and blended in so effectively.

 

The new mobile 5 manual console. with its magnificent carpentry and proportions, allowed a clear view of Latry.

 

I was amazed at how Latry could successfully play pieces like the Dupre P&F in g min and the Boellman Toccata at top speed - without any any concession to the ~6 second echo - technique? good acoustics?

 

Having just heard the Royal Albert Hall organ last week (John Scott), one realises how superior St Pauls is, in terms of its beauty of tone and in its cohesive and useful range of colours and volumes. I don't know why this should be. Perhaps the flying saucers have not improved the RAH acoustics. Maybe it is intrinsically different in concept, through being a concert organ..? And possibly St Pauls is better because of the experience gained by Willis in builidng the RAH first?

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Certainly a very enjoyable evening. I was particularly impressed with the overall balance of the various sections (Chancel and Dome) when played together. This is due no doubt perhaps to the position of the console under the Dome, so that the player was actually able to hear what was going on!

 

I agree Douglas the St Paul's organ stands head and shoulders above the Royal Albert Hall instrument. It is, in any event, our finest instrument in Great Britain, and by a very considerable margin. The recent restoration and improvements emphasise this further. I would not go quite as far to say (as Simon Bates alluded to re W.L. Sumner) that it is the 'finest church organ in Europe', but it is certainly in the top five, imho.

 

And it was nice to see the Mander Team acknlowleged at the Concert. A very interesting position you placed yourselves gentlemen, I have always favoured the Dome South side/South Transept entrance! Will try your spot next time!

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Apologies - Posting copied from "Playing From Memory"

 

In St Paul's, Olivier Latry last night played Bach P & F in in G Major (BWV 541), César Franck Chorale No. 2 in B Minor, Vierne Carillon de Westminster, Widor's Andante Sostenuto (Symphonie Gothique) and Dupré P & F in G Minor Op 7 without the scores.

 

He did use paper for Messiaen Apparition du Christ..... and Thierry Escaiche - Deuxieme Évocation. The latter of these was new to me and absolutely stunning. I look forward to hearing M. Escaiche playing in Symphony Hall next Spring.

 

More of the organ and concert later in the weekend, but those who condemned the new work, especially the Tubas, without the benefit of hearing it should go along and be prepared to eat their words. What a superbly revitalised instrument it is. The new mobile console is absolutely beautiful and must be a great boon to the cathedral and any recitalist fortunate enough to play there.

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Certainly go along with that handsoff! No doubt the 'balance' I alluded to earlier is down to both the genius of the performer and the position of the mobile console under the Dome. And the organ certainly sounds revitalised! Without any doubts our greatest instrument in the United Kingdom today!

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Certainly go along with that handsoff! No doubt the 'balance' I alluded to earlier is down to both the genius of the performer and the position of the mobile console under the Dome. And the organ certainly sounds revitalised! Without any doubts our greatest instrument in the United Kingdom today!

 

 

Just got back last night from a week in London, which included the St Paul's Cathedral recital on Thursday. I can only concur with everything that Mark, Douglas and handsoff have said. I sat about three rows in front of the Mander team under the dome. Olivier Latry's playing was everything you would expect and more - and mostly without a score. The highlight for me was the Thierry Escaich Deuxieme Evocation where at times I just looked up at the dome as the sound came at you from different places in turn, I really found it quite electrifying. And I'd agree about the organ. You certainly knew when the dome tubas came on, and the full is now definitely reed dominated, but what a sound!

 

As an aside, did anyone else notice the BBC outside broadcast van lurking around the north side of the cathedral? I monder if this means we can expect this to be broadcast at some future date? Anybody know?

 

R.

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A very interesting position you placed yourselves gentlemen, I have always favoured the Dome South side/South Transept entrance! Will try your spot next time!

 

Actually, the spot was chosen for us. My favourite position has always been the south west area under the done, but sufficiently towards the central axis of the cathedral to afford some impression of the Royal Trumpets. Ralph Downes also used to sit near there.

 

I thought it was very generous that we could be acknowledged and sad that so many of my colleagues (away on the installation in Atlanta) were not to be able to enjoy it as well. Tonally, of course, with exception of the new Dome Reeds, no changes have been made at all. I see that as testament to the work done under Christopher Dearnley, Sam Clutton, my father and of course Ian Bell, who also deserved an acknowledgement but sadly didn't get it publicly on the night.

 

John Pike Mander

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Guest Roffensis

Without any doubts our greatest instrument in the United Kingdom today!

 

:o

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As an aside, did anyone else notice the BBC outside broadcast van lurking around the north side of the cathedral? I monder if this means we can expect this to be broadcast at some future date? Anybody know?

 

R.

 

Mrs Handsoff pointed it out to me as we went back to the tube station. I do hope it will be broadcast - I imagine that such an important event would not be overlooked...

 

Did we hear a little tuning of reeds at about 18.20, just as we arrived?

 

We sat in South side Dome row G - a decent view of the console and a nearly central position to hear the antiphonal effects. Brilliant! Just one regret, in that M.Latry didn't make us all jump with a blast from the West Gallery at the start of his improvisation - the theme from the Agincourt Song would have sounded well on the Royal Trumpets, methinks.

 

I did enjoy the comments about the Tubas printed in the programme!

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Guest Roffensis
Actually, the spot was chosen for us. My favourite position has always been the south west area under the done, but sufficiently towards the central axis of the cathedral to afford some impression of the Royal Trumpets. Ralph Downes also used to sit near there.

 

I thought it was very generous that we could be acknowledged and sad that so many of my colleagues (away on the installation in Atlanta) were not to be able to enjoy it as well. Tonally, of course, with exception of the new Dome Reeds, no changes have been made at all. I see that as testament to the work done under Christopher Dearnley, Sam Clutton, my father and of course Ian Bell, who also deserved an acknowledgement but sadly didn't get it publicly on the night.

 

John Pike Mander

 

 

I think the '77 work was a drastic improvement on what was, while retaining so much of the original, and rationalising it. I am delighted the last rebuild has also been so conservative. This is the way forward with other organs also due for rebuild. We don't want to throw any more babies out with the bathwater.

 

R

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Just one regret, in that M.Latry didn't make us all jump with a blast from the West Gallery at the start of his improvisation - the theme from the Agincourt Song would have sounded well on the Royal Trumpets, methinks.

 

I agree. Before the concert I mused on what an excellent opportunity an improvisation would be to demonstrate the Royal Trumpets. As it turned out - perhaps they could have helped shape an improvisation which, while being technically masterful, had a structure which I have to say I could not follow..

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I was not really sure whether the Royal Trumpets were used at all in the Thierry Escaich 'Deuxieme Evocation' or the Improvisation, so from what you say Douglas they clearly were not! Certainly the overall impact in the Dome where I was sitting suggests it may now be difficult to hear them at all if used, such is the rich and powerful sound now coming from the Dome. But I still think an interesting balance has been achieved between the Chancel and Dome sections that perhaps wasn't there before. Either way it was extremely impressive and enjoyable.

 

John Mander notes that no changes were made to the Chancel pipework at all, except for cleaning. Was it my imagination or did Diapason I come across as more powerful and pervasive than before? Also the beauty of Diapason II really did make its presence felt. This really is such a beautiful stop, and is a real gem in its own right.

 

As a further aside both the narrative in the Programme, together with the specification provided, confirm that the two Dome chorus reeds (Contra Posaune 16' and Trumpet 8') have also been replaced with brand new stops. So together with the new tubas 16.8.4 there are now five brand new Mander reeds in the Dome! (The St Paul's website by the way does not reflect the replacements for the two chorus reeds). This is a quite dramatic change to the Dome section, and may explain the reed-dominated impact of the Dome section in the recital!

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Mark Wimpress asks if the Chancel Open Diapasons were more powerful or persuasive than before. I can assure you they were not changed. Bear in mind the Cathedral itself has been cleaned, removing a lot of dust and dirt which may have had an absorbent influence. Also, now that the Dome Dais is there, there are perhaps less bodies under the dome to absorb the sound, so that may have had an influence.

 

The Contra Posaune 16' and Trumpet 8' have indeed been replaced. This was something I pressed for when it came to the discussions. Whilst undoubtedly good stops in their own right, they didn't really work in the role to which they had been assigned. Some of them are actually marked as tubas and they lacked the clarity and brightness which was demanded of them to sit on top of the dome chorus. Now they do work much better in that respect and the result is more dominance of reed tone in the overall ensemble, but I think rightly so.

 

I have to admit that I didn't notice the use of any of the Royal Trumpets during the recital. However, I was told that they had been used at one stage by somebody sitting in the Nave. Where we were sitting, it would have been difficult to tell, bearing in mind the power of the Dome section. I would be interested to know if anybody can confirm or otherwise if they were used.

 

John Pike Mander

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Mark Wimpress asks if the Chancel Open Diapasons were more powerful or persuasive than before. I can assure you they were not changed. Bear in mind the Cathedral itself has been cleaned, removing a lot of dust and dirt which may have had an absorbent influence. Also, now that the Dome Dais is there, there are perhaps less bodies under the dome to absorb the sound, so that may have had an influence.

 

Hadn't thought of that one!

 

I have to admit that I didn't notice the use of any of the Royal Trumpets during the recital. However, I was told that they had been used at one stage by somebody sitting in the Nave. Where we were sitting, it would have been difficult to tell, bearing in mind the power of the Dome section. I would be interested to know if anybody can confirm or otherwise if they were used.

 

Given the power now of both the Chancel and Dome sections, I wonder if the West End reeds need just a little bolstering to enable them to keep up with the rest of the ensemble?

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Given the power now of both the Chancel and Dome sections, I wonder if the West End reeds need just a little bolstering to keep up with the rest of the ensemble?

I don't think so! The West End section still remains to be cleaned by the way. It is not currently scheduled actually.

 

John Pike Mander

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I don't think so! The West End section still remains to be cleaned by the way. It is not currently scheduled actually.

 

I remember hearing the West End reeds for the first time back in 1979. Christopher Dearnley played a magnificent Entrada on the Royal trumpets, and the sound filled the entire nave and came very well into the Dome area. Well, it must be my hearing (or lack of it), I am getting older, but these reeds do not seem to have the same presence as before? I am sure the wind pressures are the same today as they were back then? Or perhaps I'm missing something else?

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Its good to read such glowing comments, but inevitably to suggest that any one instrument is the best in the country is to invite controversy, and clearly tastes differ. I haven't heard St Paul's for some years and, no doubt would love it. But for me, a personal choice, the organ in Westminster Cathdedral is by some margin the outstanding instrument in this country.

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"Its good to read such glowing comments, but inevitably to suggest that any one instrument is the best in the country is to invite controversy, and clearly tastes differ. I haven't heard St Paul's for some years and, no doubt would love it. But for me, a personal choice, the organ in Westminster Cathdedral is by some margin the outstanding instrument in this country."

 

I heard St Paul's live before the recent work and, of course, the hairs on the back of the neck do stand on end. I'm sure the work by our hosts has only increased the thrill-factor. But the acoustic is surely the key here! And if one considers the evolution of the organ, its place of affection among the organ-lovers is perhaps surprising - it has been rebuilt 5 or 6 times since 1872, the 1949 Dome chorus consists (supposedly - is this true?) of second hand Lewis pipes, the Trompette Militaire is supposed to be a genuine Wurlitzer post-horn....

 

I would never nominate a single organ as the best in this or that country, but in general, organs where the vision of the original builder (or in the case of the RAH the visions of 2 significant builders) are preserved, interest me more than an endlessly rebuilt organ, even in a spectacular space like St Paul's.

 

That said, I would have loved to have been at Latry's concert!

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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"Its good to read such glowing comments, but inevitably to suggest that any one instrument is the best in the country is to invite controversy, and clearly tastes differ. I haven't heard St Paul's for some years and, no doubt would love it. But for me, a personal choice, the organ in Westminster Cathdedral is by some margin the outstanding instrument in this country."

 

I heard St Paul's live before the recent work and, of course, the hairs on the back of the neck do stand on end. I'm sure the work by our hosts has only increased the thrill-factor. But the acoustic is surely the key here! And if one considers the evolution of the organ, its place of affection among the organ-lovers is perhaps surprising - it has been rebuilt 5 or 6 times since 1872, the 1949 Dome chorus consists (supposedly - is this true?) of second hand Lewis pipes, the Trompette Militaire is supposed to be a genuine Wurlitzer post-horn....

 

I would never nominate a single organ as the best in this or that country, but in general, organs where the vision of the original builder (or in the case of the RAH the visions of 2 significant builders) are preserved, interest me more than an endlessly rebuilt organ, even in a spectacular space like St Paul's.

 

That said, I would have loved to have been at Latry's concert!

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

 

Just to make a small correction to this post - the original dome diapason chorus was created from second hand pipework and this was situated in the south east quarter dome away from the dome pedal and dome tubas. A new chorus was provided in 1977 by Mander and positioned with all the other dome pipework in the north east quarter gallery. This new dome diapason chorus was supplemented in 1977 with the Contra Posaune and Trumpet from the old Solo organ and these have now been replaced with new pipework along with the dome section Double Tuba, Tuba and Clarion. I am not sure if it is true that the Trompette Militaire was produced by Wurlitzer bt it certainly came from the USA.

Martin.

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it has been rebuilt 5 or 6 times since 1872, the 1949 Dome chorus consists (supposedly - is this true?) of second hand Lewis pipes, the Trompette Militaire is supposed to be a genuine Wurlitzer post-horn....

 

The Lewis pipework was replaced in the 1977 rebuild Bazuin. The origins of the Trompette Militaire have been much discussed on here (and elsewhere). It would be nice to hear it sometimes though, last time I heard it was ten years ago I think. Perhaps it's not there at all really, and they're just not telling us :o

 

I would never nominate a single organ as the best in this or that country, but in general, organs where the vision of the original builder (or in the case of the RAH the visions of 2 significant builders) are preserved, interest me more than an endlessly rebuilt organ, even in a spectacular space like St Paul's.

 

I agree with you here Bazuin 100% I think this such an important point. The replacement of all the 1900 Father Willis manual reeds in the Dome (chorus reeds 16.8 and tubas 16.8.4) with brand new Mander stops is a good example. Certainly the character of the Dome section is now significantly different. I'm not saying it's a bad development, in fact it sounded impressive to me this Thursday, but it is very different. I would say these replacements are more 'revolutionary' than 'evolutionary' in terms of the Grand Organ's development. Whether you think such replacements of supposed historic pipework from one of our historic organ builders is a good thing or not is certainly open to question. At this rate, will anything be left of the Willis pipework by the end of this century? :o

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The Lewis pipework was replaced in the 1977 rebuild Bazuin. The origins of the Trompette Militaire have been much discussed on here (and elsewhere). It would be nice to hear it sometimes though, last time I heard it was ten years ago I think. Perhaps it's not there at all really, and they're just not telling us :o

 

 

 

I agree with you here Bazuin 100% I think this such an important point. The replacement of all the 1900 Father Willis manual reeds in the Dome (chorus reeds 16.8 and tubas 16.8.4) with brand new Mander stops is a good example. Certainly the character of the Dome section is now significantly different. I'm not saying it's a bad development, in fact it sounded impressive to me this Thursday, but it is very different. I would say these replacements are more 'revolutionary' than 'evolutionary' in terms of the Grand Organ's development. Whether you think such replacements of supposed historic pipework from one of our historic organ builders is a good thing or not is certainly open to question. At this rate, will anything be left of the Willis pipework by the end of this century? :o

 

Pictures of the old dome stuff here:

 

http://www.willis-organs.com/History/HW4.JPG

 

As regards:..... "Whether you think such replacements of supposed historic pipework from one of our historic organ builders is a good thing or not is certainly open to question".

 

We absorbed Lewis in 1919. This 'second-hand' pipework was 'gone over' by Willis Voicers of the day (Deekes, father and son). It should not be forgotten that, at that time, it was not possible to use new materials - this was only a very short time after the end of the WW2

 

The Trompette Militaire was purchased from Gottfried. The information is all extant in our archive.

 

DW

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We absorbed Lewis in 1919. This 'second-hand' pipework was 'gone over' by Willis Voicers of the day (Deekes, father and son). It should not be forgotten that, at that time, it was not possible to use new materials - this was only a very short time after the end of the WW2

 

I am sure you are referring to the Lewis chorus binned in 1977 in favour of the new NPMander diapason chorus.

 

The 'historic pipework' I was referring to was the 'Father' Willis reeds of 1900: (1) Contra Posaune 16' and Trumpet 8', originally installed in the Solo box in 1900 and transferred to the Dome in 1977; (2) The Dome tubas 16.8.4 also installed in 1900. It is these five ranks which have been replaced in the 2008 Mander restoration.

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I am sure you are referring to the Lewis chorus binned in 1977 in favour of the new NPMander diapason chorus.

 

Quite - I was answering this:

 

The Lewis pipework was replaced in the 1977 rebuild Bazuin.

 

The picture, along with others, was taken in about 1953 we think.

 

DW

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