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Tewkesbury Abbey

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"the octave couplers were there to increase the power and solidity of the sound, not to imitate a chorus structure."

(Quote)

 

But, Vox, this sentence is a contradiction in its own terms.

If we could go now togheter to Waltersausen, among others,

we could experiment the baroque chorus is just that: a means to

increase the power and the solidity of the tone !

 

I am not sure that it is - certainly in the case of Robert Hope-Jones. I doubt that he was even aware of a proper chorus structure; he was clearly not interested in one. With reference to instruments which contain what I would regard as 'good' choruses, the type of 'power and solidity of tone' that one can achieve is worlds away from the enormous, opaque wall of sound which the old Worcester Cathedral organ would have produced.

 

Yes, this is partly conjecture - but not unreasonably so. I have played and heard a few organs which contain[ed] pipework by Hope-Jones (in original condition, in a few cases) and I base my thoughts on this and the oldest recording I can find of the Worcester organ.

 

 

A chorus structure isn't about "brightness", this was a misunderstanding

of the second half of the 20th century.

We have organs from that period where the Mixture are practically solo stops;

you ear them, and nothing else behind, because they overpower the rest

of the would-be-chorus to the point you can forget to draw them.

And this is what composers like Olivier Messiaen precisely did. Instead

of using "choruses" made out of Cavaillé-Coll fonds and neo-classical mixtures,

he preffered to use them apart -with outstanding results-.

 

This is not entirely true - a chorus structure is not only about brightness - but if this vital element is not present, or is so subservient to the unison (c.f. Lincoln Cathedral), then I would suggest that the chorus is neither fulfilling its full potential, nor is it anywhere near as thrilling. For example, I find that my ear tires within a few minutes of the choruses at Truro Cathedral, with their identical tierce mixtures* - yet I can play all day on those of my own church instrument, notwithstanding the arid acoustic, and still revel in their beauty and clarity. And, yes, I do regard clarity as a highly desirable ingredient in a diapason chorus. I have no desire whatsoever to listen to my Bach through a confusing mush of indeterminate, thick 8ft. and 4ft. tone.

 

 

"The only way you could ever get this organ to sound bright is to scrap it and start again. Choruses? Pah! "

(Quote)

 

No, don't scrap it save the 1993 Mixture; send it in Belgium, the Netherlands or Germany instead!

I just learnt we shall have an Hook & Hastings organ in Boom, Belgium, recuperated, and we

are very proud with it.

 

Pierre

Trust me, Pierre - this is nothing like a Hook and Hastings organ....

 

 

 

* Before you respond with anything along the lines of 'these mixtures were not designed to be heard with the chorus, but only added with the reeds', please allow me to suggest that the chorus reeds at Truro (like any other FHW chorus reeds I have ever played or heard) are quite powerful and bright enough (even in the treble) and, frankly, do not need the help of these wretched mixtures.

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Interesting points, Pcnd,

 

"I do regard clarity as a highly desirable ingredient in a diapason chorus"

(Quote)

 

If the clarity isn't in the 8' already, no upper work and Mixtures will

provide it; you can add whatever you want, you won't get it. Any polyphonic

ability of an organ is determined by the very basis of its Diapason chorus,

and there lies, in Fine, the stylistic orientation of the instrument. It is up to us

to respect this, and not expect peers from an apple tree.

 

Pierre

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Interesting points, Pcnd,

 

"I do regard clarity as a highly desirable ingredient in a diapason chorus"

(Quote)

 

If the clarity isn't in the 8' already, no upper work and Mixtures will

provide it; you can add whatever you want, you won't get it. Any polyphonic

ability of an organ is determined by the very basis of its Diapason chorus,

and there lies, in Fine, the stylistic orientation of the instrument. It is up to us

to respect this, and not expect peers from an apple tree.

 

Pierre

 

No - but the corollary is equally true. Badly voiced, scaled or designed upperwork can destroy any clarity (and upset the balance) of a chorus.

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