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At Least It Was Interesting


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In what way?

 

Does this mean you would prefer an instrument tuned to (for example) Werckmeister III? I wonder how that would work with a lot of the romantic repertoire?

 

I heard an evensong from Magdalen College, Oxford, a few years ago. Personally I thought that the accompanimnet to the Howells setting they sang sounded dire - purley because of the 'unequal' temperament tuning. I realise that Howells is not the only thing sung there (or at King's). However, King's do perform the odd bit of Howells, Stanford, Bairstow, etc. To my ears, this never seems to sit well on an instrument with anything other than 'equal' temperament tuning.

 

Sorry, I was indulging in irony.

 

Personally I think the King's organ is a national treasure with some wonderful sounds (especially the choir flutes) and is a superb accompanimental instrument. There can surely be no argument that the prime function of this instrument is just that? There would surely be no point in putting a Schnitger "sound-alike" on a screen in the middle of the chapel with no wall behind it? Of course, we could put another Gloucester organ on the screen. (Much as I love the Gloucester organ, I wouldn't do it in King's Chapel.)

 

Stephen Barber

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In what way?

 

Does this mean you would prefer an instrument tuned to (for example) Werckmeister III? I wonder how that would work with a lot of the romantic repertoire?

 

I heard an evensong from Magdalen College, Oxford, a few years ago. Personally I thought that the accompanimnet to the Howells setting they sang sounded dire - purley because of the 'unequal' temperament tuning. I realise that Howells is not the only thing sung there (or at King's). However, King's do perform the odd bit of Howells, Stanford, Bairstow, etc. To my ears, this never seems to sit well on an instrument with anything other than 'equal' temperament tuning.

 

I've always thought unequal temperament doesn't necessarily do Howells a disservice. I came to this conclusion after hearing one of the Psalm-Preludes in recital on the Mander at Sydney Grammar School (Vallotti), where those crunching dissonances gain an extra bite - particularly the clashing false relations.

 

Similarly, I can't help but prefer the New College, Oxford recording of the New College Service for Priory to say, the newer Hyperion recording from Wells (Archer). The organ's temperament makes the Gloria's G-major modulation particularly luminous, as well as that wonderful chord immediately preceding 'and to the Son', which doesn't make such an impact in ET.

 

That said, I'm sure the opening of the Gloucester Service would sound hideous in Werckmeister III

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One day, maybe, it will be realized to play ancient, romantic and modern "repertoire" (i.e., the music we momentarily like) on the same organ, is a chimera, as would be chips, Caviar, Strawberry cake, Plum Pudding, oysters, corned beef, banana,Chili, pork and eggs cooked in the oven in the same plate, and then served with Chantilly, mint sauce, W... sauce, vinager and ketchup, with as drink a pint of Ale mixed with Sauternes and Vodka.

 

(Well, sorry, I have to go to the tiniest room....)

 

Pierre

If you'll pardon the truism, cuisine is purely a matter of taste. Many nations eat things or mix things that others would find unpalatable or even abhorrent.

 

Whilst a composer's music is very likely to sound best on the particular type of organ he had in mind, anyone who thinks that it cannot sound musical on anything else surely needs their musicianship broadened. It's a bit like those whose only delight in listening to a musical performance is to nitpick the things that are wrong with it. We've all met them, I'm sure - and how difficult they must find it to enjoy music.

 

Few organists are content performing only one style of music and only the habitually peripatetic can have the luxury of matching their repertoire to the instrument. Since the rest of us have to make do with what we have and it is unrealistic to expect a British church to provide a Schnitger, a Silbermann, a Cliquot, a Cavaillé-Coll and a Harrison & Harrison, we have to compromise. As everyone is no doubt sick of me pointing out, the foghorn at Plymouth Minster (or whatever we now have to call it) is appropriate for very little worthwhile repertoire, but I would never expect organists to refrain from playing Bach or Franck on it, ineffectual though they tend to sound. I do not advocate a return to the eclectic voicings of the 50s and 60s, but it mut be perfectly feasible to produce an organ that is an artistic unity, yet can cope musically with any repertoire. I have yet to hear the perfect all-purpose organ, but it is probably out there somewhere. I am looking forward to hearing Worcester at some point.

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"Whilst a composer's music is very likely to sound best on the particular type of organ he had in mind, anyone who thinks that it cannot sound musical on anything else surely needs their musicianship broadened."

(Quote)

 

This is exactly what people believed in Belgium from WWII to 1960.

As a result, 80% of the organs in southern Belgium are neo-classic

ecclectic jobs, all the same, with the same sound.

An absolute disaster.

 

This point of view is justified as a musical one -one must do with the instruments

as they are, or only Dufuflé and Messiaen are to be played in my area- but from

an instrumental one.....Disaster.

 

As for the King's organ, no panic, I am convinced we are simply joking here

in order to pur life on the board like that Ketchup on the Oysters!

 

Pierre :unsure:

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Noooo!! The Warwick West is incredible! Unlike Truro... (Harrisons should have been called in to fix it)

 

I would agree that it is incredible - but probably not in the sense you mean. It is certainly also unlike Truro - but then, I am not particularly keen on that instrument either.

 

Voicing aside, I believe that there are fundamental design flaws present in the west end organ at Saint Mary's, Warwick. In fact, I suspect that the only sensible course of action is to start again and design a new instrument - including the perfectly hideous and impractical console.

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... As for the King's organ, no panic, I am convinced we are simply joking here

in order to pur life on the board like that Ketchup on the Oysters!

 

Pierre :lol:

 

Has anyone actually ever tried this, out of interest?

 

:unsure:

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"....like ketchup on the oysters...."

Has anyone actually ever tried this, out of interest?

 

:unsure:

Or like freshly ground black pepper on halved strawberries?

It sounds weird, but it works!

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One day, maybe, it will be realized to play ancient, romantic and modern

"repertoire" (i.e., the music we momentarily like) on the same organ, is a chimera,

as would be chips, Caviar, Strawberry cake, Plum Pudding, oysters, corned beef,

banana,Chili, pork and eggs cooked in the oven in the same plate, and then served

with Chantilly, mint sauce, W... sauce, vinager and ketchup, with as drink a pint

of Ale mixed with Sauternes and Vodka.

 

(Well, sorry, I have to go to the tiniest room....)

 

Pierre

I didn't know you could get the BBC's "Master Chef" series in Belgium!

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I didn't know you could get the BBC's "Master Chef" series in Belgium!

 

I do not. This said, I do not share the criticisms against the british Cuisine;

it is very close to many others in Europe, in areas where it is not possible

to grow anything one wants, like they can in France or Italy. To have to do with less

ressources is a plan which might have some future indeed...

 

Pierre

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I do not. This said, I do not share the criticisms against the british Cuisine;

it is very close to many others in Europe, in areas where it is not possible

to grow anything one wants, like they can in France or Italy. To have to do with less

ressources is a plan which might have some future indeed...

 

Pierre

It was meant as a joke Pierre, because contestants on the programme, who are ordinary people hoping to win a career as a professional chef, are often criticised for putting too many ingredients on one plate, and for trying to combine flavours that just don't go together. So it seemed very close to the example you were using for eclectic organ design.

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This point of view is justified as a musical one -one must do with the instruments

as they are, or only Dufuflé and Messiaen are to be played in my area- but from

an instrumental one.....Disaster.

 

Do you at least accept that the neo-baroque era provoked thought, scholarship, more thought, experimentation, learning and understanding about subjects fundamental to organ design, construction and musical performance? Where would we be now, in your view, had not those experiments and discussions taken place?

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"Do you at least accept that the neo-baroque era provoked thought, scholarship, more thought, experimentation, learning and understanding about subjects fundamental to organ design, construction and musical performance? Where would we be now, in your view, had not those experiments and discussions taken place?"

 

You've missed Pierre's point. Pierre has always argued for the preservation of good organs of all sorts including the best of the neo-baroque. He is the conservator par excellence of these discussions. In Britain the neo-baroque was used as a justification for the destruction of the country's Romantic organ heritage. Elsewhere in Europe the mistakes made then (in terms of changing existing instruments) are now being reversed - pneumatic actions reconstructed, mutations thrown out in favour of the original 8' stops. In Britain, precisely because the lessons of the neo-baroque era, and their application beyond the initial wave of ideas, have never been applied in more than the most embryonic forms, (we still ask questions here about whether 'New College was a good idea?') the same misunderstandings are endlessly perpetuated, both in rebuilt and new instruments. The result is that most organs fit Pierre's description of those in Southern Belgium.

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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Noooo!! The Warwick West is incredible!

 

Yoy can't be serious although perhaps "incredible" is the right word.

 

I live fifteen minutes by car but rarely go which is a shame because the choir is very good. One well known recitalist I know played a recital there about ten years ago and described the instrument as his most unpleasant experience.

 

I once went to a performance of the Durufle Requiem there parts of the accompaniment were played on the chancel organ and parts from behind the audience on the west end division which for me ruined a beautiful performance.

 

The very worst though was a Carlo Curley battle of the organs with his touring Allen versus the Nicholson where I could not work out which I hated more.

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Yoy can't be serious although perhaps "incredible" is the right word.

 

I live fifteen minutes by car but rarely go which is a shame because the choir is very good. One well known recitalist I know played a recital there about ten years ago and described the instrument as his most unpleasant experience.

 

I once went to a performance of the Durufle Requiem there parts of the accompaniment were played on the chancel organ and parts from behind the audience on the west end division which for me ruined a beautiful performance.

 

The very worst though was a Carlo Curley battle of the organs with his touring Allen versus the Nicholson where I could not work out which I hated more.

I have not been to Warwick for many years. Please could contributors explain what it is that makes the present organ unpleasant or incredible?

JC

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"Do you at least accept that the neo-baroque era provoked thought, scholarship, more thought, experimentation, learning and understanding about subjects fundamental to organ design, construction and musical performance? Where would we be now, in your view, had not those experiments and discussions taken place?"

 

You've missed Pierre's point. Pierre has always argued for the preservation of good organs of all sorts including the best of the neo-baroque. He is the conservator par excellence of these discussions. In Britain the neo-baroque was used as a justification for the destruction of the country's Romantic organ heritage. Elsewhere in Europe the mistakes made then (in terms of changing existing instruments) are now being reversed - pneumatic actions reconstructed, mutations thrown out in favour of the original 8' stops. In Britain, precisely because the lessons of the neo-baroque era, and their application beyond the initial wave of ideas, have never been applied in more than the most embryonic forms, (we still ask questions here about whether 'New College was a good idea?') the same misunderstandings are endlessly perpetuated, both in rebuilt and new instruments. The result is that most organs fit Pierre's description of those in Southern Belgium.

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

 

This is 100% to the point.

 

As about neo-baroque organs, I am among the first concerned with what is happening to them in Germany today. It seems no one Ott organ will survivre in 10 years, and this is exactly as disastrous as what happened in Worcester.

No more, nor less.

 

The neo-baroque was a necessary move; we need organs from all periods; what would be a movie worth

without the beginning, the middle, or the end ?

How can Mr Jones-standard- music-lover be sensible to Messiaen's music if he never encountered

Bach on a credible organ ?

As a result you have areas in Belgium with organs for Messiaen and Duruflé, but in cultural

desertic contexts, towns where nobody heard Bach. Needless to say, any attempt to a Messiaen

recital ends up with a "full of emptiness" nave...

The neo-baroque era was interesting, no doubt, and actually rather innovative.

The problem was its afficionados, who imponed it to everybody, with the mandatory belief

"this was the baroque organ".

After having study the history of the organ somewhat, I soon concluded it was not a "baroque"

style at all, but something else.

We now need to understand what this "something else" actually is, in order to protect it before

it is too late.

 

This is the state of affairs here now. But I, and others it seems -first of all our dutch neighbourgs-

have sometimes the impression you are doing the mistakes we did 30 years ago, when Britain

was a relief for organ historians.

 

Pierre

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I have not been to Warwick for many years. Please could contributors explain what it is that makes the present organ unpleasant or incredible?

JC

 

I have also had a bad experience with this instrument.

 

The planning of the divisions (with regard to the specification) is odd, for a start. There is no Swell Diapason, no separate Fifteenth on the G.O. (or a separate Twelfth), the Swell has but nine stops - and no 8ft. Oboe, nor a Clarion. The G.O. reeds consist of a Trompette and a Trompeta Real (en chamade). There is only one 4ft. clavier flute. The Pedal Organ is a little weak in foundation stops - and I believe that the lowest octave of the 32ft. flue is electronic.

 

However, it is with the voicing (and volume) that this organ really begins to display its idiosyncrasies. There are few of what I would term good blending sounds. There are a number of fairly unpleasant ranks; amongst the worst are the Positive Nachthorn, the west end G.O. Principal 8ft. - and the transept Swell Mixture (for the sake of fairness). There is also a lack of homogeiety within the chorus work, admittedly not unusual in an instrument which has been rebuilt so many times.

 

In addition, the west end organ can be extremely powerful - even unpleasantly so. Whilst of course one should exercise restraint and not necessarily [ever] use the full resources of this instrument (or, God forbid, both organs combined), nevertheless, I can only wonder at the purpose of the Trompeta Real - as loud as this stop is.

 

The console is both unwieldy and impractical. It was designed to control both the west end organ and the transept organ, so there are two sets of divisional pistons, neither of which are in a useful position. The drawstops are simply daft. A dark wood was chosen for the stop heads, with off-white, red and either blue or green for some accessory controls. Naturally, it is difficult to read some of the stops at a glance. In addition, the stop jambs are hardly ergonomically designed. There are, of course, the stops for both instruments, together with a few transfers (although not as dangerous as Norwich Cathedral in this respect).

 

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... In Britain the neo-baroque was used as a justification for the destruction of the country's Romantic organ heritage. Elsewhere in Europe the mistakes made then (in terms of changing existing instruments) are now being reversed - pneumatic actions reconstructed, mutations thrown out in favour of the original 8' stops. ...

 

Bazuin

 

This may be overstating the case. There exist in this country many Romantic instruments in a variety of sizes, a number of which have either had little or no alteration (tonal or mechanical) and others which have been treated with respect by virtually any standards, save those of the most fanatical preservationists - which themselves could be considered restrictive and occasionally obstructive.

 

Take the organ of York Minster, for example. Prior to the 1960 rebuild, the Minster organist (no less a person that Dr. Francis Jackson) disocvered that several stops were falling into spectacular disuse - for the simple reason that they were virtually useless in a musical context. The G.O. heavy pressure reeds were prime offenders, here. In addition, there were a number of defects in the scheme - which were highlighted after about fifteen years' daily use by one of the country's leading players, himself widely travelled and who brought a wealth of experience to bear to the deliberations regarding the redesigning of the Minster organ.

 

I doubt that anyone would agree that Dr. Jackson's views were off-kilter or extreme, neither would it be easy to class the Minster organ as anything other than a large Romantic organ (I am aware that Pierre disagrees with regard to the period in which an English organ could be termed 'Romanitc'). However, it is certainly not either neo-classical, or neo-baroque. Neither does the term post-modernist really apply. That it was a progenitor for a number of other important projects by the same firm is undeniable; however, each subsequent instrument had its own personality - albeit with a recognisable house style, both perceived aurally and visually.

 

To argue that a particular organ should be preserved in whatever state it is found presently (with perhaps minimal restoration, in order to preserve it as a functioning entity) is not necessarily either good stewardship or viable in practical terms. In any case, this is surely a somewhat arbitrary decision. Who can say that the state in which an organ is found 'now' is any more or less valid than twenty, fifty or even a hundred years ago. I confess that I find it difficult to understand this argument. Is it not equally valid for someone to maintain that, actually, the era of Henry Willis and William Hill was the height of achievement for English organ building?

 

Of course we need to learn from past mistakes - even tragedies. However, as a practising musician, I know from experience that some organs simply make an unpleasant sound (by any standards) - or that others are virtually unplayable, either by lack of care and maintenance or by wilful damage ad neglect. I would not advocate the scrapping of foundation stops or their replacement by a plethora of mixture work. However, I have played a good number of instruments whose sound has failed to excite or please anyone, simply because they are dull and lacking in any brightness at all. In some cases, these instruments, in an earlier incarnation, would have possessed adequate chorus structures within musical confines. Why, pray, should one accept that it is incorrect or undesirable to return them to this state?

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I have also had a bad experience with this instrument.

 

The planning of the divisions (with regard to the specification) is odd, for a start. There is no Swell Diapason, no separate Fifteenth on the G.O. (or a separate Twelfth), the Swell has but nine stops - and no 8ft. Oboe, nor a Clarion. The G.O. reeds consist of a Trompette and a Trompeta Real (en chamade). There is only one 4ft. clavier flute. The Pedal Organ is a little weak in foundation stops - and I believe that the lowest octave of the 32ft. flue is electronic.

 

However, it is with the voicing (and volume) that this organ really begins to display its idiosyncrasies. There are few of what I would term good blending sounds. There are a number of fairly unpleasant ranks; amongst the worst are the Positive Nachthorn, the west end G.O. Principal 8ft. - and the transept Swell Mixture (for the sake of fairness). There is also a lack of homogeiety within the chorus work, admittedly not unusual in an instrument which has been rebuilt so many times.

 

In addition, the west end organ can be extremely powerful - even unpleasantly so. Whilst of course one should exercise restraint and not necessarily [ever] use the full resources of this instrument (or, God forbid, both organs combined), nevertheless, I can only wonder at the purpose of the Trompeta Real - as loud as this stop is.

 

The console is both unwieldy and impractical. It was designed to control both the west end organ and the transept organ, so there are two sets of divisional pistons, neither of which are in a useful position. The drawstops are simply daft. A dark wood was chosen for the stop heads, with off-white, red and either blue or green for some accessory controls. Naturally, it is difficult to read some of the stops at a glance. In addition, the stop jambs are hardly ergonomically designed. There are, of course, the stops for both instruments, together with a few transfers (although not as dangerous as Norwich Cathedral in this respect).

 

Thanks, that is a helpful insight.

JC

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"This may be overstating the case. There exist in this country many Romantic instruments in a variety of sizes, a number of which have either had little or no alteration (tonal or mechanical) and others which have been treated with respect by virtually any standads, save thos of the most fanatical preservationists - which itself could be considered restrictive and occasionally obstructive."

 

It is true to say that such instruments still exist, however this was more by luck (they don't exist in the high-profile places!). Like elsewhere in Europe the organs that were (mostly) saved were saved due to lack of money. The fanatical preservationist is only considered as such in England where organs have no state protection.

 

"Take the organ of York Minster, for example. Prior to the 1960 rebuild, the Minster organist (no less a person that Dr. Francis Jackson) disocvered that several stops were falling into spectacular disuse - for the simple reason that they were virtually useless in a musical context. The G.O. heavy pressure reeds were prime offenders, here. In addition, there were a number of defects in the scheme - which were highlighted after about fifteen years' daily use by one of the country's leading players, himself widely travelled and who brought a wealth of experience to bear to the deliberations regarding the redesigning of the Minster organ."

 

I'm really sorry but you've also missed the point. Francis Jackson's alterations of the scheme simply reflect the prevailing attitudes of the era of which he was (and still is) a key British representative. Was the organ really defective or did it just not fit the new ideals of 1960? Those Great high pressure reeds would, in 1960, have seemed useless. Were they from the 1903 Walker rebuild or where they even from Arthur Harrison? (I ask because I don't know). Either way, I don't believe they were 'bad'. My point that the mistakes are still being made is heightened by the fact the last rebuild had both narrow scale and wide scale jeux de tierces added. What on earth does that have to do with the core remainder of the instrument? The Sesquialtera allows one to play Buxtehude chorale preludes before Evensong according to the aesthetic of......1960.

 

"neither would it be easy to class the Minster organ as anything other than a large Romantic organ (I am aware that Pierre disagrees with regard to the period in which an English organ could be termed 'Romanitc'). However, it is certainly not either neo-classical, or neo-baroque. Neither does the term post-modernist really apply."

 

Precisely! Its no longer any of the above because in York there was always money to 'improve' it!

 

"I confess that I find it difficult to either understand this argument. Is it not equally valid for someone to maintain that, actually, the era of Henry Willis and William Hill was the height of achievement for English organ building?"

 

Only subjectively. The biggest lesson the second generation of the reform movement taught is that there is no hierarchy of styles or eras. All eras produced good organs, most produced plenty of bad ones (prior to 1800 in fewer numbers). The questions about which previous state the organ should be restored to have been long argued about in the Netherlands (most notably), now a good degree of common sense is saving the high-quality 19th century additions to the earlier organs.

 

"Why, pray, should one accept that it is incorrect or undesirable to return them to this state?"

 

There is only one factor. Is the organ good? Eg Is it well made of good materials? Does the 100-plus y/o pneumatic action still work? NOT "Does it conveniently what I want it to?"

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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I shall emphasize the judgments here, that is, opinions, which are subject

to changes, according to periods and taste:

 

This may be overstating the case. There exist in this country many Romantic instruments in a variety of sizes, a number of which have either had little or no alteration (tonal or mechanical) and others which have been treated with respect by virtually any standards, save those of the most fanatical preservationists - which themselves could be considered restrictive and occasionally obstructive.

 

Take the organ of York Minster, for example. Prior to the 1960 rebuild, the Minster organist (no less a person that Dr. Francis Jackson) disocvered that several stops were falling into spectacular disuse - for the simple reason that they were virtually useless in a musical context. The G.O. heavy pressure reeds were prime offenders, here. In addition, there were a number of defects in the scheme - which were highlighted after about fifteen years' daily use by one of the country's leading players, himself widely travelled and who brought a wealth of experience to bear to the deliberations regarding the redesigning of the Minster organ.

 

I doubt that anyone would agree that Dr. Jackson's views were off-kilter or extreme, neither would it be easy to class the Minster organ as anything other than a large Romantic organ (I am aware that Pierre disagrees with regard to the period in which an English organ could be termed 'Romanitc'). However, it is certainly not either neo-classical, or neo-baroque. Neither does the term post-modernist really apply. That it was a progenitor for a number of other important projects by the same firm is undeniable; however, each subsequent instrument had its own personality - albeit with a recognisable house style, both perceived aurally and visually.

 

To argue that a particular organ should be preserved in whatever state it is found presently (with perhaps minimal restoration, in order to preserve it as a functioning entity) is not necessarily either good stewardship or viable in practical terms. In any case, this is surely a somewhat arbitrary decision. Who can say that the state in which an organ is found 'now' is any more or less valid than twenty, fifty or even a hundred years ago. I confess that I find it difficult to understand this argument. Is it not equally valid for someone to maintain that, actually, the era of Henry Willis and William Hill was the height of achievement for English organ building?

 

Of course we need to learn from past mistakes - even tragedies. However, as a practising musician, I know from experience that some organs simply make an unpleasant sound (by any standards) - or that others are virtually unplayable, either by lack of care and maintenance or by wilful damage ad neglect. I would not advocate the scrapping of foundation stops or their replacement by a plethora of mixture work. However, I have played a good number of instruments whose sound has failed to excite or please anyone, simply because they are dull and lacking in any brightness at all. In some cases, these instruments, in an earlier incarnation, would have possessed adequate chorus structures within musical confines. Why, pray, should one accept that it is incorrect or undesirable to return them to this state?

 

 

At least there is life in the board now, isn't it ? :unsure:

 

Pierre

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Yoy can't be serious although perhaps "incredible" is the right word.

 

I live fifteen minutes by car but rarely go which is a shame because the choir is very good. One well known recitalist I know played a recital there about ten years ago and described the instrument as his most unpleasant experience.

 

I once went to a performance of the Durufle Requiem there parts of the accompaniment were played on the chancel organ and parts from behind the audience on the west end division which for me ruined a beautiful performance.

 

The very worst though was a Carlo Curley battle of the organs with his touring Allen versus the Nicholson where I could not work out which I hated more.

I'm very much in sympathy with the visiting organist. I'm reluctant to be too forthright because I have in the past upset another prominent organ builder which I don't set out to do. It is fair to say that when the instrument in its present form was first heard it was immediately very contraversial and attracted a great deal of negative criticism. A former teacher of mine was DOM there for a while a few years later and I believe it would be fair to say was not a great lover of the instrument.

 

My subjective opinion is that the east end organ is too quiet to be of much use, inadequate for accompanying a full sized choir (I played "The spirit of the Lord" on it a few years ago and it was impossible not to use some of the west end organ, but equally impossible to marry to west and east end sections satisfactarily), whereas the west end organ is very harsh and brash in its sounds. Again a subjective view, but I find it unpleasant.

 

pcnd is quite right in saying that the console is odd too. I can forgive the unusual stop knobs, but the overall layout, and particularly the piston placement as he has commented, make it very difficult to play. There's been a new DOM and new assistant since I last played it (actually I shall be accompany evensong there in a couple of weeks time - Watson in E and Joubert "O Lorde, the maker" (which is bound to need west end for the trumpet)) and I can only hope that the console is in a cleaner and tidier state than on previous visits!

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At least there is life in the board now, isn't it ? :rolleyes:

 

Pierre

I'm delighted that this slightly off kilter thread of mine has started some interesting discussion, although a little disturbed by the rumours and innuendos re. Kings College and Salisbury!

 

The comments regarding York Minster, an instrument which I have neither played nor heard, I find interesting. I cant help but wonder whether the comments about FJ's standing as a recitalist and his suggestions for alterations to the instrument would not apply equally to Arthur Wills and the changes made at his suggestion to Ely. Yet is it not the case (again an instrument, regrettably, beyond my immediate experience) that the majority of these changes have now been reversed?

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I'm really sorry but you've also missed the point. Francis Jackson's alterations of the scheme simply reflect the prevailing attitudes of the era of which he was (and still is) a key British representative. Was the organ really defective or did it just not fit the new ideals of 1960? Those Great high pressure reeds would, in 1960, have seemed useless. Were they from the 1903 Walker rebuild or where they even from Arthur Harrison? (I ask because I don't know). Either way, I don't believe they were 'bad'. My point that the mistakes are still being made is heightened by the fact the last rebuild had both narrow scale and wide scale jeux de tierces added. What on earth does that have to do with the core remainder of the instrument? The Sesquialtera allows one to play Buxtehude chorale preludes before Evensong according to the aesthetic of......1960.

 

Jackson considered it defective - to use your term. After fifteen years' daily experience - or does this count for nothing? I think that you too have missed the point. The organ is there to perform a job - whatever one's tastes in organ design might be. If we take the view that the music is there to serve the organ, rather than the other way around, then I am not sure that this is not equally flawed.

 

The matter of sesquialtera stops, or wide and narrow scale tierce ranks is hardly the point. On an instrument of this size, one could argue that there was no harm in adding such ranks. After all, the G.O. soundboards alone provided for a total of some twenty two stops. My own church instrument contains mutations (including contrasted tierce ranks) which make as beautiful a sound as I have heard in France, Holland or Germany - and in some cases, rather more beautiful.

 

Incidentally, the reeds in question were installed (or at least revoiced) by Arthur Harrison, in 1925. If you never either heard them, nor had to accompany a choir or congregation on the instrument - or for that matter, give an organ recital, then surely it is folly to disagree with one who had daily contact with the instrument?

 

"Why, pray, should one accept that it is incorrect or undesirable to return them to this state?"

 

There is only one factor. Is the organ good? Eg Is it well made of good materials? Does the 100-plus y/o pneumatic action still work? NOT "Does it conveniently what I want it to?"

 

Bazuin

 

Yet, if the '100-plus y/o pneumatic action' works only up to a point - or with inadequate repetition (thus rendering a lot of brisk music either unplayable or sounding absurd), is this really worth keeping? At what point did the instrument become more important that the music to be played upon it?

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I'm delighted that this slightly off kilter thread of mine has started some interesting discussion, although a little disturbed by the rumours and innuendos re. Kings College and Salisbury!

 

To allay your fears, the 'Willis' organ at Salisbury Cathedral is not under any kind of threat to the best of my knowledge. I can say no more at present.

 

The comments regarding York Minster, an instrument which I have neither played nor heard, I find interesting. I cant help but wonder whether the comments about FJ's standing as a recitalist and his suggestions for alterations to the instrument would not apply equally to Arthur Wills and the changes made at his suggestion to Ely. Yet is it not the case (again an instrument, regrettably, beyond my immediate experience) that the majority of these changes have now been reversed?

 

Not really - the Pedal and G.O. reeds were revoiced (again) with new shallotts and tongues, the Tuba was re-instated * and the Swell Sharp Mixture was replaced by an Echo Cornet (which was not in Arthur Harrison's 1908 scheme, in any case). The G.O. Cornet was replaced by a III-rank Sesquialtera (again, somewhat pointlessly). The Choir and Positive organs were substantially unaltered (except for a new Cremona on the Choir Organ). I am not really sure why the G.O. Sub Bourdon 32ft. was re-connected again. In fact, despite the explained rationale behind the 2001 scheme, it was not a strict 'restoration' to 1908 - rather, it was yet another version of a cathedral organ, as desired by the client and consultant. For example, the mixture scheme was largely untouched (save for the addition of the G.O. Sesquialtera and the suppression of the Swell Sharp Mixture). Neither do I recall reading (or hearing) that the 1908 voicing of the Solo string chorus (as altered in 1975) was re-instated. I remain unconvinced that this instrument has any valid claim to be either 'better' (whatever that may mean) or more 'historically accurate' than its immediate predecessor.

 

It is interesting to note that no-one desired the reconstruction of the Horn Quint 5 1/3 ft., which formerly resided on the Swell Organ (and which gave way to the Sharp Mixture in 1975). Perhaps, despite its passing being lamented by at least one contributor, it really did not have any musical use whatsoever....

 

 

* Well, actually the Fanfare Trumpet, which was revoiced from the old Tuba in 1975, was re-voiced once more as a Tuba.

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