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Leeds Cathedral

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Any more news on Leeds?

 

According to the Cathedral website, voicing is presently in progress and the Inaugural Concert will take place on 16th May 2010 given by Benjamin Saunders. There is also a small picture of the handsome 4 manual console.

 

A

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All voicing completed except for the Reeds which are being done over the next month and then scaffolding removed. If you don't live in Leeds, you can hear the organ:

 

2009

24 December - 11.30pm

BBC RADIO 4

Christmas Midnight Mass, Cathedral Girls' and Adult Choirs

 

2010

10 February - 4.00pm

BBC RADIO 3 (live)

Choral Vespers , Cathedral Boys' and Adult Choirs

 

14 February - 4.00pm

BBC RADIO 3 (repeat)

Choral Vespers , Cathedral Boys' and Adult Choirs

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Guest Roffensis
"As for the british builders, the potential is there -see the numbers of used organs

exported from Britain to Europe-. The victorian style fits extremely well

in the today's trends in Europe."

 

Dare I suggest that if anyone in the UK could build with the artistic and stylistic sense of confidence and quality which their (better) Victorian predecessors did, then we wouldn't be having this discussion?

 

"Given the growing popularity of English cathedral music in some areas of northern Europe, it is surprising that English builders are not more active there."

 

I refer the right honourable gentleman to the comment I made a moment ago. That said, there are hints of British builders starting to take a serious interest in the Victorian style at the expense of the 'pan-European stoplist style'. Willis in Florence is an interesting example, as is Colin's organ in Twyford. Perhaps most interesing is Harrison's project in Glasgow which involves reconstructing in every detail a Father Willis organ 'improved' by Willis III. This includes a new action including Barker machine (made in house), and a new console re-creating in detail, and from scratch the Willis I original (including trigger swell). This level of historically-aware organ building will surely raise interest in the British product elsewhere.

 

"The two firms were chosen after a lengthy tendering process from British and other European builders.

We have been relatively insulated from exchange rate changes through contractual agreements."

 

With the greatest of respect, Skrabl get their contracts because they are remarkably cheap. This due to their location and the economic advantages of working there. Their operation is enormous and allows them abnormally quick delivery times.

 

Klais get contracts because they do their PR well. Please note that every one of their near-identical loud neo-modernist organs gets maximum coverage in the organ press, even in the UK. It would be interesting to know why, from a artistic standpoint they qualify to do anything to a Norman and Beard organ, a style with which they have no experience whatever.

(No, Bath doesn't count, it's a new organ with some old pipes, it sounds and behaves like a Klais).

 

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

 

No it does not B) . A very great deal of the old organ was kept, and it may be of interest to learn that the old sound can still be recreated. So much for a new organ. We heard much the same re Rochester. Again, most was kept and it sounds very much as it did. Concerning Leeds, I have it on good authority that it sounds very good, very English in fact. I was told the old pipework has been kept. Whether that is a good thing or not I leave to to others to decide. Just because a foreign firm rebuilds an organ, does not mean they are going to destroy its character. Heaven knows there are enough English builders around who can do that, and often have.

 

R

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Bath is an interesting case. I have played both the old (i.e., pre-Klais) and the new organ (the latter, including service work). The G.O. chorus still bears traces of its former incarnation (in other words, it is still huge), but most of the reeds are all virtually unrecognisable - and not just those on the Pedal Organ, either.

 

To be honest, I suspect that much of the old pipework which was re-used was 'processed' through Klais' voicing machine first.

 

Mind you, the tutti is still one of the loudest organ sounds in England (perhaps after Ripon Cathedral, Saint Alban's, Holborn and Westminster Abbey - with its Bombarde section).

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Guest Roffensis
Bath is an interesting case. I have played both the old (i.e., pre-Klais) and the new organ (the latter, including service work). The G.O. chorus still bears traces of its former incarnation (in other words, it is still huge), but most of the reeds are all virtually unrecognisable - and not just those on the Pedal Organ, either.

 

To be honest, I suspect that much of the old pipework which was re-used was 'processed' through Klais' voicing machine first.

 

Mind you, the tutti is still one of the loudest organ sounds in England (perhaps after Ripon Cathedral, Saint Alban's, Holborn and Westminster Abbey - with its Bombarde section).

 

Yes Bath is an interesting case of organs being spoilt by English organ builders. I have the 1973 rebuild book, which rather infers it to then to have been the ideal organ if you like, but what was done with the original Hill makes for interesting reading!! Certainly, the 1973 job "stood away" from the earlier incarnation, and it is the latter instrument that I recognise in the current, not the old Hill. I do not know what a English builder would have done to the organ in the latter rebuild. Personally I would have liked to have seen a historical rebuild, but even so I think what has emerged under Klais is immensely musical and very eclectic, even if probably a large amount of older pipework was revoiced?

 

What I do find sad is that we have builders here who will do a good decent historical rebuild, but for some reason it does not happen so much. I think of at least one mammoth organ begging to be completed, restored back to it's Edwardian state, and what a organ it would be, indeed is, even now. I mention no name. Money seems in short supply for such a venture. Why? And why should other organs get enormous funding allocations, not least new instruments. It appears there is an imbalance.

 

R

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A chance for us all to hear it this Wednesday at 4pm on Radio 3 when Choral Vespers is broadcast...

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"As for the british builders, the potential is there -see the numbers of used organs

exported from Britain to Europe-. The victorian style fits extremely well

in the today's trends in Europe."

 

Dare I suggest that if anyone in the UK could build with the artistic and stylistic sense of confidence and quality which their (better) Victorian predecessors did, then we wouldn't be having this discussion?

 

"Given the growing popularity of English cathedral music in some areas of northern Europe, it is surprising that English builders are not more active there."

 

I refer the right honourable gentleman to the comment I made a moment ago. That said, there are hints of British builders starting to take a serious interest in the Victorian style at the expense of the 'pan-European stoplist style'. Willis in Florence is an interesting example, as is Colin's organ in Twyford. Perhaps most interesing is Harrison's project in Glasgow which involves reconstructing in every detail a Father Willis organ 'improved' by Willis III. This includes a new action including Barker machine (made in house), and a new console re-creating in detail, and from scratch the Willis I original (including trigger swell). This level of historically-aware organ building will surely raise interest in the British product elsewhere.

 

"The two firms were chosen after a lengthy tendering process from British and other European builders.

We have been relatively insulated from exchange rate changes through contractual agreements."

 

With the greatest of respect, Skrabl get their contracts because they are remarkably cheap. This due to their location and the economic advantages of working there. Their operation is enormous and allows them abnormally quick delivery times.

 

Klais get contracts because they do their PR well. Please note that every one of their near-identical loud neo-modernist organs gets maximum coverage in the organ press, even in the UK. It would be interesting to know why, from a artistic standpoint they qualify to do anything to a Norman and Beard organ, a style with which they have no experience whatever.

(No, Bath doesn't count, it's a new organ with some old pipes, it sounds and behaves like a Klais).

 

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

 

 

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

 

 

This afternoon (Sunday, 16th May), we got the answer without need for PR.

 

I was talking to the Klais voicer for a while after the Opening Recital on the new organ, played by the excellent Banjamin Saunders (Board Member).

 

It was very striking that what is now exists is very much an Edwardian instrument in character, with the original Norman & Beard still intact and in fine voice. What I found remarkable was the blend of old and new pipework; a task in which the voicer had relished.

 

"It was very interesting to hear and work with this untouched pipework and voicing, " was his comment.

 

The end result is a credit to his skills.

 

As for the recital itself, superlatives abound. It was Ben Saunders playing at his brilliant best, and showing off the organ to best advantage, with a programme of music which strayed well away from the predictable. Three pieces stood out in the programme; the first being a true masterwork from the pen of the Russian composer, Christophore Kushnariov (1890-1960). A fascinating Passacaglia & Fugue, in formal style, seemed to owe a great deal the chromaticism of Reger and the contrapuntal discipline of Bach; perhaps with more than a hint of Glasunov.

 

Philip Glass is not my favourite composer....my favourite composer Philip Glass is not; abounding in repetition upon repetition, and yet more repetition. It had a certain something.....something it had certainly, but apart from atmosphere and a plodding harmonic rhythm wearily plodding along as plodding harmonic rhythms tend to do, it was difficult to get away from things repeated: repeated again and again. Still, it was good to hear the Riesman arrangement of the operatic finale to "Satyagraha," if only once. I'm not sure whether I would enjoy a repeat listening; especially with all those repeats.

 

The "Largo" from Dvorak's "New World," arranged by Ben himself, was very effective and marvellously played, while the final work was the well known Fantasia & Fugue by Boely.

 

As for the effect of the organ in the nave of this almost square but not overlarge building, the sound is huge, and to some extent, clarity is lost, no matter what the music; whether sung or played. It's a big acoustic and a clean acoustic, but not one which does what other similar acoustics do. For instance, a couple of notes played on a quite powerful 8ft Flute, actually caused distortion in my left ear. I quickly turned my head around, and lo and behold, I got identical distrotion in my right ear......like wearing headphones with the volume turned too high. There must be something about the shape and the nature of the acoustic, which really re-inforces notes in the tenor spectrum.

 

There is no doubt but that this is a big Edwardian sound, with some wonderfully effective reeds; presumably voiced by Arthur Rundle: he of the famously volcanic temper. (It is said that when an apprentice annoyed him or disturbed him, he would grab a fistful of freshly cut brass reeds and hurl them in their direction, like shrapnel).

 

So congratulations to Ben Saunders and the people of Leeds Cathedral, who can now once more enjoy the sound of a real pipe-organ in fine fettle.

 

MM

 

PS: Ben had to rush off, but just to complete what I was saying to him, Georgi Mushel was from the Ukraine, worked in Moscow, and was then sent to Tashkent in Uzbekistan, where he "converted" the natives to Russian music and helped to establish the authority of Moscow. Mushel apears to have written most of his output, (operas, piano music, concerti etc), while working in the Tashkent music academy.

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"It was very striking that what is now exists is very much an Edwardian instrument in character, with the original Norman & Beard still intact and in fine voice. What I found remarkable was the blend of old and new pipework; a task in which the voicer had relished. "

 

I had a conversation two weeks ago with the consultant who said exactly the same thing. Although I stand by my comment a year ago that Klais were not the obvious choice to undertake such a project, I now know why they were chosen and they have clearly achieved something quite fascinating there!

 

Regarding Satyagraha, it's worth checking out the late Donald Joyce's recording of the piece (on a CD of Glass organ works) recorded on the big Brombaugh organ in Collegedale - it's really something.

 

Bazuin

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There's a good article on this organ in the May 2010 edition of Organists' Review by Ben Saunders. It looks like a very interesting project, with a lot of thought into this organ.

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