Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Birmingham Town Hall Organ


CT_Worcester
 Share

Recommended Posts

I attended a magnificent recital by David Sanger at the Town Hall last night. It was the first time I have heard the organ since the hall re-opened. I must say the old girl was in terrific voice, though, sadly, the audience fell short of the usual numbers of Birmingham organ enthusiasts. I know that the changes made in 2007 were not extensive, but it seemed to me that the organ had more 'presence' in the hall than formerly, and the choruses, right up to full organ with bombarde division, were impressive. Maybe the refurb of the hall has given it a more sympathetic acoustic: I always felt the sound fell a bit flat formerly.

 

The programme was as follows:

 

J.S. Bach Toccata, Adagio & Fugue

Mendelssohn Andante in D, with Variations

Franck Grande Pièce Symphonique

Bingham Roulade

Schumann Four Sketches for Pedal-Piano

Vierne Tempo di Scherzo, Largetto & Final (From Symphony No 5 in A minor)

 

There was an encore - Leo Sowerby's 'Carillion', which showed off the new Whitechapel bells to great effect.

 

What particularly struck me about the recital was the way in which a British 19th-century town hall organ can deal with the French romantic repertoire in a thoroughly authentic way - as another member of the audience put it, "He got sounds out of the organ that I've never heard before!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CT - Regarding your comment on the organ's ability to deal with French repertoire, I can recommend the latest CD by Ben van Oosten, Volume 10 of the complete Dupre, which he has chosen to play at Birmingham. At times I have to listen very carefully to convince myself it's not a French organ.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's definitely a warmer acoustic in there now: TT was kind enough to give the Birmingham Organists Association an afternoon on it shortly after it was reopened and even just standing on the stage and talking in normal voices you could hear the difference in the hall.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if anyone else here was at Robert Gower's recital on Monday lunchtime. Apologies to Robert if he reads this blog, but the first part of the programme consisted of his own arrangements of music by Bliss. I have to say I was disappointed, I didn't know the music in the first place and, to me, it didn't suit the organ as an instrument. I would be interested to hear any views of people more knowledgeable than I am.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's definitely a warmer acoustic in there now: TT was kind enough to give the Birmingham Organists Association an afternoon on it shortly after it was reopened and even just standing on the stage and talking in normal voices you could hear the difference in the hall.

 

I wonder if this is a function of the perspex lighting gantry suspended from, and virtually hiding the best bits of, the ceiling and the new seating being less absorbent (in the acoustical sense!) than the old?

 

I go to the lunchtime concerts probably three weeks out of four and think that one gets used to TT's style of registration; this is in no way a criticism just an observation. When Peter Gould played a quite superb recital late last year, the organ sounded totally different. Amongst many registrations differing from those that TT may have used, Peter favoured the 32' Bombardon at the end of really loud bits where TT might have used the Contra Trombone and this certainly sounded more French. I never tire of hearing the TH organ and am looking forward to next Monday's presentation. I'm sure that the Bombardon will feature in the Mulet....

 

I had decided that transcriptions of Bliss weren't really to my taste so went instead to Wednesday's recital by Paul Hale at Walsall Town Hall and enjoyed every moment. There was a much larger audience than is normal here, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Walsall, and despite the Great 8' Tromba and one of the mixtures being a bit of of tune (hardly surprising given the temperature in the hall) a good time was had by all. Paul's witty introductions to the music added greatly to the atmosphere and his flawless playing was a joy to hear. He ended with an encore by Nigel Ogden based on "The Saints Go Marching In" which included the first part of the Final from Widor V but with "The Saints" tune in the pedal. Terrific! There was a large screen showing both the manuals and pedals in turn but unfortunately this was achieved by a digital projector linked to the cameras on the console back-projecting onto a standard translucent screen. This meant that the right/left axis was transposed....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was a large screen showing both the manuals and pedals in turn but unfortunately this was achieved by a digital projector linked to the cameras on the console back-projecting onto a standard translucent screen. This meant that the right/left axis was transposed....

 

Hi

 

No excuse for that - data projectors have a setting in the menus to flip the image for back projection.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi

 

No excuse for that - data projectors have a setting in the menus to flip the image for back projection.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

Thanks Tony,

 

I suspect that the use of the screen was a last-minute thing as on my previous visits a large pub-style TV screen was used. The chap was still setting up the hardware only a couple of minutes before the start time and I gather that he had been brought in with little notice so maybe in the panic.....? He was operating the system from behind the screen so the picture would have been OK to him.

 

It was worth the error if only to hear a few of the whispered comments from some of the audience!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CT - Regarding your comment on the organ's ability to deal with French repertoire, I can recommend the latest CD by Ben van Oosten, Volume 10 of the complete Dupre, which he has chosen to play at Birmingham. At times I have to listen very carefully to convince myself it's not a French organ.

 

Yes this is another top of the tree release from MD&G and I'm glad Vol. 10 has come from the Birmingham Town Hall, as it's put this organ on the map a bit. I think that although it sounds convincing for the French Romantic side it does unmistakably sound British, simply because of it's good scalings and fantastic internal layout, thus achieving a good solid sound. I think this is an instrument at least Birmingham ought to be proud of….

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...