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SinaL

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I am very fond of Christ Church, which I hear at least once a week. My son is a chorister there........It is a fine instrument, and it makes an admirable account of itself even when the cathedral is full, and the limited acoustic is reduced to almost nothing.

 

In the hands of the two organ scholars, and Mr Driskill-Smith, who know the instrument so well, it is very seldom that I miss the 'thundering English cathedral organ sound', preferring to hear the clarity of the inner parts of contrapuntal writing, and the bold choruses. In the hands of someone (including some VERY famous and skilled organists) who does not know the instrument, the results are less appealing, however. It really sorts out the men from the boys, technique wise, too!

I agree - I have had the pleasure of playing this instrument many times for visiting choirs (and having the privilege of a key to the cathedral and to Great Tom Quad, in order that I could practise late at night). I love it, although I would prefer a Basson-Hautbois 8ft, instead of the Voix Humaine on the Récit-Expressif.

 

Actually, the night-time practice was an interesting test - I could only find switches for minimal cathedral lighting, and so playing on reverse-coloured keyboards - where the only white was an inlay in the sharps which could only be seen from above - was a little taxing under these conditions, particularly after 23h00.

 

I have also almost knocked myself senseless on the absurdly low impost at Exeter College. However, on that occasion, it was necessary for the college chaplain to perform a short re-consecration ceremony in the building....

 

To Bin? New College. Sorry, but I just cannot make myself like anything about it.

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To Bin? New College. Sorry, but I just cannot make myself like anything about it

 

Excellent! Just waiting to hear someone to say that so I could agree! Not just the sound, but also the looks...isn't it just terrible when you see it from behind!

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To Bin? New College. Sorry, but I just cannot make myself like anything about it

 

Excellent! Just waiting to hear someone to say that so I could agree! Not just the sound, but also the looks...isn't it just terrible when you see it from behind!

 

Here's someone willing to stick up for New College. It is what it is - no escaping that. But imagine for a moment a similarly-specified 3m with that much upperwork by Collins or HNB or Church or just about anyone and you will begin to see what a remarkable achievement that instrument is. It's almost the only neobaroque job I know where you can pull just about any combination and play in just about any octave and it won't make you shriek with laughter. Queens also achieves this. The only other instrument on that scale or larger which I know from first-hand experience to be the same is St Mark's Cathedral Seattle - a vast Flentrop machine significantly rebuilt with new actions (and just a little light revoicing) by Paul Fritts. Now if he could come and do New College, it would finally have the action it deserves... For appearances, I am always happy to see something brave enough to be a statement of its time. Whilst it's brutally unsympathetic to its surroundings, it is at least brave and consistent and well exectued. The same cannot be said of so many instruments of its type trying to be bold statements.

 

In conclusion, while pcnd and Richard find themselves unable to make themselves like it, I'm unable to make myself dislike it because, crucially, I can see what they were trying to achieve and they did so to a good standard.

 

I'm staggered that nobody else has had anything to say about Jesus College. I have never encountered any other instrument anywhere so well suited to its space. It seems to be ignored or overlooked as being in some way quirky because of a lack of pistons and Celestes. Like a lot of Drake's other instruments, it still feels brand new. Go and play it at once!

 

Metzlers - I used to adore the University Church instrument, mostly because my main experience of it was playing on 8 and 4 only. When you add upperwork, it does become catastrophically big. I am told there was some kind of feud in the Metzler firm at the time and one of the project's leading lights (the case designer I think) left midway through. Up until about 5 years ago, it still felt like new. Last time I was there it was starting to show its age - not in a bad way, just a little baggy round the edges like any 25 year old machine would be.

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I'm surpried that no-one has yet mentioned Great St.Mary, Cambridge.

 

I like that instrument a great deal, and it's ever so slightly unusual in concept.

 

MM

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I'm assuming you mean the Kenneth Jones at the East End. But it's also worth mentioning the rather wonderful West Gallery Hill/Mander. A very slightly bigger brother of the Kidderminster Town Hall organ, it's colourful, has beautiful individual stops and choruses, and sounds superb playing all sorts of stuff. French romantic works well, as well as English. Action is, I think, all mechanical, and a bit heavy when coupled, but not unbearably so (at least it wasn't when I knew it, just after its restoration in the mid-1990s). A very under-known/under-used organ!

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I'm assuming you mean the Kenneth Jones at the East End. But it's also worth mentioning the rather wonderful West Gallery Hill/Mander. A very slightly bigger brother of the Kidderminster Town Hall organ, it's colourful, has beautiful individual stops and choruses, and sounds superb playing all sorts of stuff. French romantic works well, as well as English. Action is, I think, all mechanical, and a bit heavy when coupled, but not unbearably so (at least it wasn't when I knew it, just after its restoration in the mid-1990s). A very under-known/under-used organ!

 

Is only the east end organ played for services?

When do they use the West-end one? I've heard, its under Mr. Cleobury's control.

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Here's someone willing to stick up for New College. It is what it is - no escaping that. But imagine for a moment a similarly-specified 3m with that much upperwork by Collins or HNB or Church or just about anyone and you will begin to see what a remarkable achievement that instrument is. It's almost the only neobaroque job I know where you can pull just about any combination and play in just about any octave and it won't make you shriek with laughter. Queens also achieves this. The only other instrument on that scale or larger which I know from first-hand experience to be the same is St Mark's Cathedral Seattle - a vast Flentrop machine significantly rebuilt with new actions (and just a little light revoicing) by Paul Fritts. Now if he could come and do New College, it would finally have the action it deserves... For appearances, I am always happy to see something brave enough to be a statement of its time. Whilst it's brutally unsympathetic to its surroundings, it is at least brave and consistent and well exectued. The same cannot be said of so many instruments of its type trying to be bold statements.

 

In conclusion, while pcnd and Richard find themselves unable to make themselves like it, I'm unable to make myself dislike it because, crucially, I can see what they were trying to achieve and they did so to a good standard.

 

Fair enough - I had remembered that you like this one.

 

However, I find that listening to it, I dislike just about any combination; and, no - I do not wish to shriek with laughter; rather, question what was in the designer's (and voicer's) 'inner musical ear' - for want of a better term.

 

At the conclusion of one Radio Three Evensong, the voluntary (from New College) was the first movement from Elgar's Organ Sonata (No. 1). I have to say that I found the pairing to be aurally bizarre. I would struggle to think of a less appropriate vehicle for this work.

 

On the other hand, my own church instrument, which is in a somewhat less forgiving acoustic ambience, but has a good amount of upperwork (although falling short of the 23-25 rank total at New College), can give a musical and credible account of virtually any mainstream repertoire - including the Elgar.

 

I would agree that it is brave and honest in its design - I just wish that it was not currently spoiling the beautiful medieval interior of New College.

 

Incidentally, how good is the action (and the general 'feel' of the console) at present?

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... One couldn't imagine the King's sound being what it is without the Harrison.... ...

 

Although I do wonder how often we hear the big reeds, these days - or, for that matter, how often they are used in the normal course of a week's services. The Pedal 32ft. rank, the G.O. reeds and the Tuba, in addition to being very opaque and lacking in harmonic development, are prodigiously powerful. The G.O. reeds alone are voiced to speak on a pressure of 450mm. w.g. Still, at least they are enclosed, I suppose. I seem to recall that this year's organ scholar (who played extremely well), refrained from the usual, somewhat hackneyed idea of drawing the Double Ophicliede for the last chord of every big congregational carol.

 

I think that I would like the Choir Organ and a lot of the other flue work, together with the quiet solo reeds - and possibly thet Swell reeds. The rest - I probably would not notice if it was there or not.

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One couldn't imagine the King's sound being what it is without the Harrison....

I think it is a great shame that the rumours of its replacement (was that in the 1970's or 80's) came to nought. We seem to have lots of organ scholars trained there who now all want H&H organs in their cathedrals. It makes for a standardized boring british organ scene.

PJW

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... I'm staggered that nobody else has had anything to say about Jesus College. I have never encountered any other instrument anywhere so well suited to its space. It seems to be ignored or overlooked as being in some way quirky because of a lack of pistons and Celestes. Like a lot of Drake's other instruments, it still feels brand new. Go and play it at once! ...

 

I would be interested to hear and play this instrument. On paper (which is, I realise, no reliable touchstone) it appears to be less suitable for Romantic repertoire - and the French symphonic school, for example.

 

I am sure that one could play a Vierne or Widor symphony movement on it (the compasses are quite adequate); but there are a number of things missing which I should wish to have. (More Pedal foundations, clavier flue doubles, strings. 4ft. clavier reeds - if not at least one 16ft. reed; and at least a few combination pedals.)

 

Obviously I would not suggest that every organ has to be able to cope well with large-scale Romantic music in order to be acceptable. However, I think that I should become ever so slightly bored by this organ after a few weeks' acquaintance. I think that I would almost prefer the stop-list as left by Gray & Davison, in 1934 - which was probably virtually identical to the original instrument by Binns. £48 would not have provided much in the way of stop changes, even in 1921.

 

Pity about thet bright red woodwork of the case, too.

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I think it is a great shame that the rumours of its replacement (was that in the 1970's or 80's) came to nought. We seem to have lots of organ scholars trained there who now all want H&H organs in their cathedrals. It makes for a standardized boring british organ scene.

PJW

 

I would agree with this - to an extent.

 

Whilst a vintage H&H is superbly good at choral accompaniment of a particular repertoire and a distinct style [of accompaniment], there are many other things that, arguably, such an instrument does somewhat less well.

 

Having said this, I am not sure that I would describe the British organ scene as standardised or boring - certainly not anywhere near as much as it appears to have been in the first half of the twentieth century, when one either seemed to play a Willis or a Harrison* - with one or two exceptions. Now we have Coventry, Gloucester, Blackburn, York, Wells, Chichester, Westminster Cathedral, Liverpool Metropolitan and Lichfield, for example. I do not necessarily like all of these instruments, but they do show a certain diversity in styles of voicing and specification - and, it should be said, varying degrees of success in the suitability of their designs to the job which they are called upon to perform.

 

 

 

* Each with ther own 'house' style of voicing and stop-list - which were so standardised as to be tedious.

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Is only the east end organ played for services?

When do they use the West-end one? I've heard, its under Mr. Cleobury's control.

 

The University owns the organ at the west end. The University Organist plays it for University services.

 

In the 1970's when the old east end organ was getting past it, the vicar asked the University Organist if the parish could use the west end organ for its services. The answer was along the lines of "yes, of course, if you will make application on each occasion on which you wish to use it." In other words, "No!"

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At the conclusion of one Radio Three Evensong, the voluntary (from New College) was the first movement from Elgar's Organ Sonata (No. 1). I have to say that I found the pairing to be aurally bizarre. I would struggle to think of a less appropriate vehicle for this work.

 

http://www.newcollegechoir.com/webcasts.htm

 

Incidentally, this is the voluntary for the webcast they have just added here. Will pcnd change his opinion?

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http://www.newcollegechoir.com/webcasts.htm

 

Incidentally, this is the voluntary for the webcast they have just added here. Will pcnd change his opinion?

Highly unlikely, I would have thought.

 

I agree with pcnd's original verdict. For me the sound lacks any of the richness and colour that the music surely requires. A sort of "size zero" Elgar.

 

JC

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On NC - I don't think I'd like to try and play Elgar on it, certainly not on the wireless. There is masses and masses of music appropriate for it - virtually everything up to 1850 and everything after 1950. Whatever are they thinking of? The action is definitely a weak point, as is the voicing after it was 'gone over' in the 80s. The recordings which exist from before that time suggest an altogether different creature.

 

On Jesus - the casework isn't bright red. There seems to be only one photograph of this organ extant, and it's been brightened up somewhat. There were at one time plans to restore the architrave on the gallery, I believe. It's probably not the best instrument in the world for the French symphonic school, but it's far more musical than most of its contemporaries (especially the monster over the road) and I will pay you a million strings and doubles for that added bonus. To be honest, your Vierne is unlikely to fare any better at Brasenose, Queens, Univ, Magdalen, Wadham, Lincoln, Merton or any other 2 manual sub-20 stop instrument I can think of.

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Here's someone willing to stick up for New College. It is what it is - no escaping that. But imagine for a moment a similarly-specified 3m with that much upperwork by Collins or HNB or Church or just about anyone and you will begin to see what a remarkable achievement that instrument is. It's almost the only neobaroque job I know where you can pull just about any combination and play in just about any octave and it won't make you shriek with laughter. Queens also achieves this. The only other instrument on that scale or larger which I know from first-hand experience to be the same is St Mark's Cathedral Seattle - a vast Flentrop machine significantly rebuilt with new actions (and just a little light revoicing) by Paul Fritts. Now if he could come and do New College, it would finally have the action it deserves... For appearances, I am always happy to see something brave enough to be a statement of its time. Whilst it's brutally unsympathetic to its surroundings, it is at least brave and consistent and well exectued. The same cannot be said of so many instruments of its type trying to be bold statements.

 

In conclusion, while pcnd and Richard find themselves unable to make themselves like it, I'm unable to make myself dislike it because, crucially, I can see what they were trying to achieve and they did so to a good standard.

 

 

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

 

 

 

We finally agree on something, because I've always liked the New College organ, even though I've only heard it in the flesh three times: the rest from recordings.

 

When built, it was a real breath of fresh air, in a world dominated by war-horses at that time.

 

I probably like it because it is one of the few "continental" style instruments suited to Reger, much of the German Romantic school, and of course,(by default), much of the Eastern European music which is of interest to me. On those grounds alone, it deserves a place in the affections of the city academics, and may at least encourage organists to discover a vast world of organ-music from beyond France and about as far away from Edwardian England as might constitute a sensible and safe musical distance.

 

MM

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I would be interested to hear and play this instrument. On paper (which is, I realise, no reliable touchstone) it appears to be less suitable for Romantic repertoire - and the French symphonic school, for example.

 

I am sure that one could play a Vierne or Widor symphony movement on it (the compasses are quite adequate); but there are a number of things missing which I should wish to have. (More Pedal foundations, clavier flue doubles, strings. 4ft. clavier reeds - if not at least one 16ft. reed; and at least a few combination pedals.)

 

Obviously I would not suggest that every organ has to be able to cope well with large-scale Romantic music in order to be acceptable. However, I think that I should become ever so slightly bored by this organ after a few weeks' acquaintance. I think that I would almost prefer the stop-list as left by Gray & Davison, in 1934 - which was probably virtually identical to the original instrument by Binns. £48 would not have provided much in the way of stop changes, even in 1921.

 

Pity about thet bright red woodwork of the case, too.

But why would you want to play Vierne and Widor et al on it [Jesus, Oxford], when there's an equally rich native repertoire for which the instrument was created, which works superbly, and when you can play the former 10 yards over the road? It's an English Classical organ (with the concept extended downwards in the pedals for more flexibility, modern hymn performance and choral accompaniment, no doubt). At least this instrument has STYLE and a unique voice, something sadly lacking in some more eclectic designs. I never got bored of the Real Thing in Gloucester (St Mary de Lode), even with the constraints of a short compass Swell, G-compass Great, no strings, no doubles and one pedal stop.

 

And may I stick up for Exeter? I like it. It does what it set out to do, and when I last played it (circa 2004) it sounded pretty refined and far closer to the Real Thing than some so-called Cavaillé-Coll copies I've heard, notwithstanding some inevitable compromises. Moreover, it was in every way an improvement on its predecessor! I found it musical, sensitive and exciting; an organ that made me want to play it for hours (in the right repertoire) and be taught by it.

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... One couldn't imagine the King's sound being what it is without the Harrison.... ...

 

Does anyone have the wonderful Ord Evensong recording with Stanford in G, My Beloved Spake etc. with Hugh McLean at the organ? To my ears, at that point, it sounds more Arthur Hill than Harrison - wonderful!

 

mpk

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But why would you want to play Vierne and Widor et al on it [Jesus, Oxford], when there's an equally rich native repertoire for which the instrument was created, which works superbly, and when you can play the former 10 yards over the road?

 

Surely my post made this clear?

 

My point was that, yes, of course there is a native repertoire for this - but that I might get bored after a few weeks. I quite like the odd bit of Walond, Wesley et al - but I think that I would find it a little restrictive after a short while. I expect that one could play Bach and Buxtehude on it quite nicely - which is good. However, even its predecessor managed two or three 16ft stops. The G.O. is, for my taste, somewhat out of proportion to the Pedal Organ.

 

I am glad that you like the organ at Saint Mary de Lode - looking at it, I think that it is not the organ for me. I did, for a few years as a student, play a small two-clavier organ with mechanical action (direct electric to the Pedal Organ), with three stops on the Pedal Organ (all extended), four on the G.O. and five (including an undulating rank) on the Swell Organ. I quite enjoyed it, but did find that I enjoyed even more the times when I was able to play on larger instruments.

 

And may I stick up for Exeter? I like it. It does what it set out to do, and when I last played it (circa 2004) it sounded pretty refined and far closer to the Real Thing than some so-called Cavaillé-Coll copies I've heard, notwithstanding some inevitable compromises. Moreover, it was in every way an improvement on its predecessor! I found it musical, sensitive and exciting; an organ that made me want to play it for hours (in the right repertoire) and be taught by it.

 

I also like Exeter College - but I take it that you had the sense not to hit your head on the impost?

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My point was that, yes, of course there is a native repertoire for this - but that I might get bored after a few weeks. I quite like the odd bit of Walond, Wesley et al - but I think that I would find it a little restrictive after a short while. I expect that one could play Bach and Buxtehude on it quite nicely - which is good. However, even its predecessor managed two or three 16ft stops. The G.O. is, for my taste, somewhat out of proportion to the Pedal Organ.

 

It's most comfortable with everything up to and including Mendelssohn, and a fair bit since (the Hurford/Jackson English school, convincing Hindemith, etc). It's got two 16ft stops, and doesn't need three because the two it's got (Stopped Diapason and Trumpet) are so good. The same is true of St John's Aubertin (3m, Pedal Bourdon + reed), University Church (3m, Pedal Subbass + reed) et al. The Great looks out of proportion in terms of number of stops because it has a divided Trumpet and a solo Cornet.

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It's most comfortable with everything up to and including Mendelssohn, and a fair bit since (the Hurford/Jackson English school, convincing Hindemith, etc). It's got two 16ft stops, and doesn't need three because the two it's got (Stopped Diapason and Trumpet) are so good. The same is true of St John's Aubertin (3m, Pedal Bourdon + reed), University Church (3m, Pedal Subbass + reed) et al. The Great looks out of proportion in terms of number of stops because it has a divided Trumpet and a solo Cornet.

 

I had noticed the divided reed - the Cornet still counts as a separate stop. (I suspect that some players will include it in the full G.O. - whether this is inartistic or not may not sway them....)

 

I am not convinced that a single 16ft. flue is adequate for the G.O. and Swell stop lists. I would be concerned that, either it would be too loud for quiet stops, or inadequate for fuller registrations - or that one would have to draw the reed before it was (musically) desirable. In a smallish organ, a 16ft. pedal reed can easily become wearisome.

 

I should still prefer the resources of the previous instrument (what was wrong with it, incidentally?). This appeared to possess three 16ft. flues - unless, of course, the Contra Dulciana stopped at C13 - or it also served as the Pedal Contra Bass.

 

I know that an organ need not be large and eclectic in design, in order to qualify as 'exciting' or 'worthy'. My point is simply that I would prefer a different ratio of Pedal stops to those on the G.O. and Swell. (And, to be honest, a greater variety of foundation stops.) On an organ of this size, I should prefer Swell strings, rather than yet another Cornet. Yes, I know there is at least English and French repertoire in which contrasting cornets are useful, but the member who started the thread asked for other members' likes and dislikes. I would simply find this organ too limiting in its specification.

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1) I am not convinced that a single 16ft. flue is adequate for the G.O. and Swell stop lists. I would be concerned that, either it would be too loud for quiet stops, or inadequate for fuller registrations.

 

2) I should still prefer the resources of the previous instrument (what was wrong with it, incidentally?).

 

3) On an organ of this size, I should prefer Swell strings, rather than yet another Cornet.

 

4) I would simply find this organ too limiting in its specification.

 

In haste, not out of rudeness but because I have the aftermath of sausage-frying to deal with -

 

1) It is, take my word for it. As are the others I mentioned in Oxford, plus other notable ones like Clifton Cathedral.

 

2) It was knackered (action and soundboards) and the gallery was collapsing under the weight of all the additions.

 

3) You could do that, but it wouldn't be an English organ in the 18th century style any more.

 

4) It's got more variety than Romsey, if you trade a choice of Tierce or Quint mixtures for a tenor C Cremona. You could add doubles and Clarions, but it would then be too large for the building it's in, so what's the point? Plenty of other larger buildings where such things are useful.

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In haste, not out of rudeness but because I have the aftermath of sausage-frying to deal with -

 

1) It is, take my word for it. As are the others I mentioned in Oxford, plus other notable ones like Clifton Cathedral.

 

2) It was knackered (action and soundboards) and the gallery was collapsing under the weight of all the additions.

 

3) You could do that, but it wouldn't be an English organ in the 18th century style any more.

 

4) It's got more variety than Romsey, if you trade a choice of Tierce or Quint mixtures for a tenor C Cremona. You could add doubles and Clarions, but it would then be too large for the building it's in, so what's the point? Plenty of other larger buildings where such things are useful.

 

Briefly (because it is late and I have to be in school fairly early tomorrow):

 

1) Sorry - I do not like Clifton, either....

 

2) Well, OK. It seems a shame, though. Regarding the problem of weight - it is often surprising what an ingenious structural engineer can achieve with some carefully hidden steel joists and a little underpinning. Think what we would have lost if a previous Dean and Chapter of Winchester Cathedral had taken a similar view (or if William Walker had suffered from hydrophobia).

 

3) Yes, but I expect that there are still compromises. I would be interested to hear of an English 18th century organ which had a 16ft. Pedal reed - or even an independent 4ft stop, as originally constructed. (Or, for that matter, possessed a 'C oriented' 30/56-note compass. Neither would it have had electric light or electric blowing. If one is intending to make a copy, it seems to me that it should have total integrity. Otherwise, if one is to 'cheat' on some bits, why not cheat on others?

 

4) Sorry, but I cannot agree with this. The scheme for Jesus College looks to be a little repetitive. Romsey is a superb instrument, with (as I am sure you know) more than one Pedal 16ft. flue - and a full length 32ft. wood rank. (Yes, I have remembered that it leaks and that several notes are somewhat ineffective.) It also has a choice of 8ft. flutes on the G.O. - as opposed to endless Stopt Diapasons.

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Briefly (because it is late and I have to be in school fairly early tomorrow):

 

3) Yes, but I expect that there are still compromises. I would be interested to hear of an English 18th century organ which had a 16ft. Pedal reed - or even an independent 4ft stop, as originally constructed. (Or, for that matter, possessed a 'C oriented' 30/56-note compass. Neither would it have had electric light or electric blowing. If one is intending to make a copy, it seems to me that it should have total integrity. Otherwise, if one is to 'cheat' on some bits, why not cheat on others?

 

The pedals are treated as a logical downward extension of the manuals, and the stop names (Trumpet, Stopped Diapason) reflect this. Because of this the manual notes GG-BB become redundant. A different approach was taken at Grosvenor Chapel the previous year.

 

It doesn't have electric light btw :lol:

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