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Mander Organs

The 10 Organs You Would Most Like To Play/hear?


MusingMuso

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In no particular order:

 

1. Royal Festival Hall, London

2. St Louis Vichy

3. St Ouen, Rouen

4. St Sernin, Toulouse

5. Auckland Town Hall

6. Sint Laurenskerk, Alkmaar

7. Groote Kerk, Zwolle

8. St Bavo, Haarlem

9. Washington National Cathedral

10. West Point Military Academy

 

Happy New Year........

 

G

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In no particular order:

 

1. Royal Festival Hall, London

2. St Louis Vichy

3. St Ouen, Rouen

4. St Sernin, Toulouse

5. Auckland Town Hall

6. Sint Laurenskerk, Alkmaar

7. Groote Kerk, Zwolle

8. St Bavo, Haarlem

9. Washington National Cathedral

10. West Point Military Academy

 

That's a very good list. Mine would include additionally, and perhaps before your nos. 9 and 10

 

1. Norden, St. Ludgeri

2. Freiberg, Dom

3. Dresden, Hofkirche

4. Ottobeuren, Abbey church (Riepp twins)

5. Riga, Dom

6. Schwerin, Dom

7. Poitiers, cathedral

8. Sydney, Town Hall

9. Southwark Cathedral

10. Boston, Church of the Advent

(11. ex Boston, ex Immaculate Conception -- in storage, alas)

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Having asked the question, I then began to ponder my own answer, and it has proved quite difficult. I'm not sure, for instance, why I would want to play or hear a particular instrument, and what I am likely to get from the experience. If I just wanted to hear great organ sound, I would happily retrace my steps to Haarlem, Alkmaar and Groningen, but knowing the way I am, I think I would want to venture into new personal territory and actually learn something I didn't know previously. A single organ can sometimes inspire in a way which no other instrument can, and I think that this is what I would be looking for.

 

I don't quite know where I would want to start, but as the bed linen is usually clean in America and the food is good, that might be the place.

 

With a vast range of organ-styles and organ-scholarship, I think I would have to place the Newberry Organ at Yale University at the top of the list, as this represents the ultimate in tonal quality at a particular time and place in history.I'm not sure that I would learn much musically, but the sheer enjoyment of such peerless orchestral voicing would inspire an extended improvisation.

 

From there, I think I would have to visit St Ignatius Loyola, NY, to hear the new Mander organ, which has been so warmly received and universally admired. I think I would learn from that, the fact that organs are not just historic, dusty old things. That would give me hope for the future; knowing that some things still matter.

 

Thirdly, I would be getting hungry by then, and so a quick dash to Arizona would be in order, to the famous "Organ Stop Pizza," where a huge Wurlitzer organ entertains the diners. I think I would struggle to play such a massive console without a lot of practice, so I think I would have to hear Charley Balough playing "The Pink Panther Theme" by Mancini; making full use of the percussions and switching on the mechanised dancing-cats which prance around on the wall. For pure, unadulterated fun and delight, this would take some beating, I suspect. Of course, I would forget to eat the Pizza, and be forced to take the remains with me in a doggy-bag.

 

I am quite into the German Romantic repertoire, yet I have never played a Walcker or a Sauer; my first-hand knowledge restricted to Schulze. I used to admire the work of Steinmeyer when I was young, and when they hadn't changed them all and closed down the factory in Germany. This could be resolved with a trip to Altoona, in the States, where there is a large Steinmeyer in more or less original condition, speaking into a big acoustic. That would satisfy an urge, but I would have to dust off a bit of Reger for the occasion.

 

A quick flight back to Heathrow and London would have to be next, because I've played most of the other seriously big organs in the UK, (Norwich, Hull City Hall, Liverpool etc), save for St Paul's and the Royal Albert Hall. Much as I admire both instruments, I think the Willis/Harrison/Mander at the Albert Hall would be the one to go for, and of course, I would just have to play something suitable, such as the 'Etude Symphonique" by Bossi.

 

Then I would have to put on my thinking-cap and travel to Europe, but for once, missing out the Netherlands. (I can hop onto a plane and go there anytime, very quickly).

 

As I am fairly ignorant of most things French, and have only been there to transport Formula One racing-cars to Mangy Coeurs, somewhere in the bowels of Burgundy. All I know, (apart from the circuit, the pits and the Holiday Inn hotel), is the way to Hockenheim from there. (Head towards Switzerland, turn left, grab a pot of mustard in Dijon and trudge north into Germany). I'm not sure where I would want to go, but life would remain incomplete, I suspect, without a visit to the Cavaille-Coll at Rouen, and the Cliquot at Poitiers. I think I would want to play the Vierne "Berceuse" at the one, and something "inequality et fraternity" at Poitiers.

 

That leaves three to enjoy, and knowing how good it is, a very expensive journey to Australia would have to be made, for the obvious reason of visiting Sydney Town Hall and the magnificent Thos.Hill instrument. Devoid of the slightest interest in surfing, speed-drinking and venomous creatures, I would make a hasty departure thereafter, but the single memory of Australia would, I feel sure, stay with me for the rest of my days.

 

The final two would have to be a little different, and perhaps a visit to Shanghai and the 'Hall of the People' would be fascinating. In a country with millions of young and aspiring pianists, perhaps a few hundred thousand will convert to the organ eventually; who knows? It would be fascinating to find out if that is beginning to happen, and what level of enthusiasm has been generated by a rather good instrument in a rather big hall.

 

Finally, a visit to Olemouc in the Czech Republic, to see one of a very few remaining instruments by Michael Engler, and to hear how that instrument was complimented by later pipework from the Czech firm of Rieger-Kloss. It may well be that this instrument will change in the years ahead, if the exceptional, (largely unspoiled), Engler is restored to near-original condition. From hearing recordings of this complimented instrument, (rather than one which has been enlarged), I get the impression that old and new have been blended superbly, and that's what I would like to hear while it lasts, because I feel that there are lessons to be learned from it.

 

MM

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We all have our 'pipedreams'.........what would yours be for an extended world tour?

 

MM

 

Organs heard live or played, in no particular order

 

1. Naumburg, St Wenzel

2. Hamburg, St Jakobi

3. Sydney Town Hall

4. Toulouse, St Sernin

5. Braja, Cathedral

6. Deptford, St Paul

7. Coventry Cathedral

8. Oxford, The Queen's College

9. Copenhagen, Garrison Church

10. Kampen, Choir organ (Reil)

 

JS

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"Organs heard live or played, in no particular order"

 

Are we doing organs we've already played or ones we want to play?

 

"10. Kampen, Choir organ (Reil)"

 

But the Hinsz organ at the other end of the same church is so much more beautiful...

 

I'll restrict my list to the organs I've played rather than the ones I've heard from downstairs. After no 1) the list is in no particular order.

 

1) Alkmaar, the larger

2) Alkmaar, the smaller

3) Anloo (Garrels 1717, but mostly Henk van Eeken 2002)

4) St Antoine L'Abbaye (Samson Scherrer/Bernard Aubertin)

5) Toulouse, St Sernin

6) Kampen, the larger

7) Freiberg Dom

8) Orgryte Nya Kyrka, Goteborg (North German reconstruction)

9) Kotka (Martti Porthan reconstruction of no 7)

10) Edinburgh, St Stephen's Church Centre (1880 Father Willis in 4 seconds of acoustic, neglected by its owners and to a lesser extent by the Edinburgh organ fraternity who seem to prefer the far less beautiful but more politically correct contributions by Rieger and Frobenius in other parts of the city).

 

(The list of honourable mentions would be much longer and would include Altenburg, Schlagl, Naumburg, the big Akerman at the Maria Magdelena in Stockholm, Glasgow/Kelvingrove, the John Nicholson organ at Schagen, the Ahrend organs in Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Toulouse etc etc)

 

My want-to-play list in no particular order:

1) Bologna

2) Omaha (Pasi)

3) Collegedale (Brombaugh)

4) Merseburg (which I've least heard from downstairs)

5) Rouen

6) Poitiers

7) St John the Divine, NYC

8) Ottobeuren

9) Hamburg, Jacobi

10) Groningen - der Aa-Kerk (which will remain a pipedream for many I fear)

 

Bazuin

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10) Edinburgh, St Stephen's Church Centre (1880 Father Willis in 4 seconds of acoustic, neglected by its owners and to a lesser extent by the Edinburgh organ fraternity who seem to prefer the far less beautiful but more politically correct contributions by Rieger and Frobenius in other parts of the city).

 

Well, a pleasant surprise, but I must pick up on your comment about the organ fraternity in Edinburgh, having been a member sometime ago. Indeed, I've played the organ in an all-French concert and it is really a fantastic instrument. However, the 4 second acoustic is no longer there. It is one of the churches that sprung up in the Newtown when everyone went to church and they all competed for the best organ/organists around, the opening recital attracted over a thousand people and the doors were shut with people still queuing in the street. However, like many city centre churches, as population trends and their Sunday habits have changed, a number of fine instruments/churches have gone. It is a miracle the thing is there at all, having had the building split into two with a mezzanine for 'other activities' and similar buildings are now branches of chain pubs!

 

Yes, I like the Rieger (sort of) and the Frobenius has its place, but give me the McEwan/St Stevens/Usher Hall any day!

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"However, the 4 second acoustic is no longer there."

 

I haven't been there for about 5 or 6 years. The acoustic was still there last time I was there (as documented on Priory's '12 organs of Edinburgh discs). I don't know if anything has changed in the interim. The building itself is remarkable, and its division on two levels (which happened already 50 years ago I think) suggests potential for an excellent concert venue (chamber music, choral music etc) with substantial front-of-house facilities (like the Orgelpark in Amsterdam but better!). The organ is to die for but its future may be doubt again I believe. It badly needs somebody local and high-profile to champion its cause.

 

Bazuin

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Further to the last reply by Bazuin, what exactly is the position with the wonderful Aa-kerk orgel?

 

I gather that it is in storage.

 

I have a magnificent recording of the instrument, and I've stood in the church and admired the casework.

 

MM

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"However, the 4 second acoustic is no longer there."

 

I haven't been there for about 5 or 6 years. The acoustic was still there last time I was there (as documented on Priory's '12 organs of Edinburgh discs). I don't know if anything has changed in the interim. The building itself is remarkable, and its division on two levels (which happened already 50 years ago I think) suggests potential for an excellent concert venue (chamber music, choral music etc) with substantial front-of-house facilities (like the Orgelpark in Amsterdam but better!). The organ is to die for but its future may be doubt again I believe. It badly needs somebody local and high-profile to champion its cause.

 

Bazuin

 

Agreed! The problem is its in the wrong part of town now. I like your idea of a mini concert hall, but with the city council's massive spend on the ill fated tram project, this seems highly unlikely. The more I think about it, the church has more going for it than the Queen's Hall on the other side of Edinburgh, and it would really showcase the organ, especially if they could take out the divider you mention. Perhaps we can dream...there must be someone with pots of cash in Edinburgh who would take it on. Who would have thought a few years ago a new organ in the RC cathedral courtesy of all our flat tyres and failing brakes.

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..................there must be someone with pots of cash in Edinburgh who would take it on. Who would have thought a few years ago a new organ in the RC cathedral courtesy of all our flat tyres and failing brakes.

 

Change of tack momentarily - has anyone played this? I have a recording and it sounds very impressive.

 

A

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Change of tack momentarily - has anyone played this? I have a recording and it sounds very impressive.

 

A

A number of my old Edinburgh colleagues have and all are impressed. The website was interesting, thanks for the link, as this appears to be so much bigger and more ambitious than any of the other projects done by Copley. This must have been a bit of a risk (albeit worthwhile by the sounds of it), especially when Glasgow attempted something similar which we have discussed before, and the same happy result was not achieved.

 

Which recording have you got, is it the one on Pro Organo with the DVD?

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A number of my old Edinburgh colleagues have and all are impressed. The website was interesting, thanks for the link, as this appears to be so much bigger and more ambitious than any of the other projects done by Copley. This must have been a bit of a risk (albeit worthwhile by the sounds of it), especially when Glasgow attempted something similar which we have discussed before, and the same happy result was not achieved.

 

Which recording have you got, is it the one on Pro Organo with the DVD?

 

This one - though I didn't get a DVD with it.

 

A

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RC Cathedral in Edinburgh - not heard it, but seen it in the flesh. The organ is absurdly large for the room (larger even that St Giles' in a room half the size at most). Mr Copley omits to mention on his website that the majority of the pipework came from the tragically lost Wilkinson organ at Preston Public Hall. The flamed copper 32' foot front looks (IMHO) completely ridiculous in the room. Three 32s in a church so small is surely a triumph of ego over reason.

 

Back to a truly wonderful organ at St Stephen's - I'm not sure the divider needs to be taken out. The room sounds (perhaps by accident rather than design) fantastic as it is and has a certan panache - the audience sitting 'in the round' on what was previously the church's gallery. The whole downstairs could then be the front of house. It's only just outside the city centre as well (10 minutes walk from Princes Street). The current situation is too tragic to believe, one of the best-preserved Father Willis organs (III/30-ish) anywhere in a great-sounding room and nobody seems to care. In France they would organise a festival.

 

There are noises in Edinburgh that the Queen's Hall may be replaced at some point with a new hall. However things move SLOWLY in Edinburgh as well as being late and over budget. So don't hold your breath. They were arguing in the pages of the Scotsman about the Norman and Beard organ in the Usher Hall 30 years before it was finally restored.

 

Bazuin

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RC Cathedral in Edinburgh - not heard it, but seen it in the flesh. [...] Three 32s in a church so small is surely a triumph of ego over reason.

Armchair theorist? Bearing in mind Guilmant's report above, perhaps you should hear it too before making such a judgemental statement?

 

I do not know the building or the instrument, so suspend judgement.

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Armchair theorist? Bearing in mind Guilmant's report above, perhaps you should hear it too before making such a judgemental statement?

 

I do not know the building or the instrument, so suspend judgement.

 

Hmmm.... I seem to remember Bazuin taking me to task for thinking that I had done just this.

 

 

Pot

 

 

Kettle

 

 

Black

 

:rolleyes:

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I offered no judgement of the aural effect, only the concept, which, knowing the Cathedral, I think I am entitled to comment on. Cavaille-Coll would have hesitated to build 20 stops in that church. An organ with 60+ stops and three 32's in a small-ish parish church sized room is outlandishly unnecessary. Period.

 

Bazuin

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I offered no judgement of the aural effect, only the concept, which, knowing the Cathedral, I think I am entitled to comment on. Cavaille-Coll would have hesitated to build 20 stops in that church. An organ with 60+ stops and three 32's in a small-ish parish church sized room is outlandishly unnecessary. Period.

 

Bazuin

 

However, as you say, you have not yet heard the organ in this building. I have not been there, but since we have no idea what Cavaillé-Coll might have wished to build here, I am not sure how helpful such a statement is. Certainly, from studying photographs of the interior, the building looks as if it could quite happily accommodate an instrument somewhat larger than twenty speaking stops. A list of internal dimensions (or at least the cubic capacity) would be more useful.

 

I can think of at least one very moderately sized Cornish church, the organ * in which possesses both a 32ft. extension of the Sub Bass (one of the best which I have ever heard or played) and a French style Bombarde. The G.O. culminates in a four-rank Mixture (22-26-29-33 at C1). This instrument, confronted with a full church is barely adequate - I know, because I have played it for both service and recital work.

 

 

 

* This instrument contains twenty one speaking stops.

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I offered no judgement of the aural effect, only the concept, which, knowing the Cathedral, I think I am entitled to comment on. Cavaille-Coll would have hesitated to build 20 stops in that church. An organ with 60+ stops and three 32's in a small-ish parish church sized room is outlandishly unnecessary. Period.

 

Bazuin

 

I had meant to start another thread with this but....does the reverse of the above apply too - how does this work in a building of considerable size when one's normal expectation could be for something with twice the resources.. or more. There is a lot of talk about instruments being too large for their situation - can an organ builder/designer underestimate?

 

A

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I had meant to start another thread with this but....does the reverse of the above apply too - how does this work in a building of considerable size when one's normal expectation could be for something with twice the resources.. or more. There is a lot of talk about instruments being too large for their situation - can an organ builder/designer underestimate?

 

A

 

Others will correct me, but I'm sure Ralph Downes mentions (in 'Baroque Tricks') that the Great Rohrflute (?) of this organ has all the presence in the Nave of the old Walker Tuba. I think the implication is that this is not a compliment to either instrument.

 

Perhaps this instrument might be described as small but assertively voiced...?

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I offered no judgement of the aural effect, only the concept, which, knowing the Cathedral, I think I am entitled to comment on. Cavaille-Coll would have hesitated to build 20 stops in that church. An organ with 60+ stops and three 32's in a small-ish parish church sized room is outlandishly unnecessary. Period.

 

Bazuin

 

 

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

 

Does anyone rememer the Willis 3 at St Jude's, Thornton Heath? What a monster THAT was in a building about the size of a rabbit hutch.

 

There's another very large Willis, assuming it still to be there, at Haslingden PC in Lancashire, which isn't an especially large church.

 

Of course, nothing quite compares with a Wurlitzer organ in the front room, with the pipes under the floor or in the garage!

 

20+ ranks of Wurlitzer is a fairly devastating sound!

 

As for His Grace the Duke of Marlborough....did his grandfather really need an organ of that size?

 

I wonder what the largest house-organ is in America....I have a feeling it must be either the Hammond Castle, Aeolian-Skiner, (which I've seen and heard), or the 5-manual Sanfillipo Residence theatre-organ.

 

Size isn't everything of course, but it does save on dusting and buying new carpets.

 

MM

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"I have not been there, but since we have no idea what Cavaillé-Coll might have wished to build here,"

 

If you've been about a bit and seen what Cavaille-Coll did in different situations, and know, for example, of his refusal to match the number of stops offered by Schyven or Walcker at Antwerp Cathedral (C-C offered 75 stops, Walker 102 and Schyven 87, the jury asked him to increase the number of stops, C-C refused stating that his 75 stops would be perfectly adequate) then you can assert with some certainty that C-C would have built an organ of around 20 stops for the church in question.

 

Christ Church, Port Sunlight springs to mind as a highly decadent PC organ (albeit a marvellous one - the specification has a Truro-like discipline). The Edinburgh organ is 20 stops larger and the church is approximately the same size (CCPS is longer, Edinburgh is higher and slightly broader).

 

Bazuin

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