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Mander Organ Builders Forum

University of Birmingham

Philip J Wells

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Where are the open 8' sounds, which were available on all the organ lofts of the past? I'm always happy to see purchases of chest organs having an open 8', and be it in the descant only. Intonation of vocal soloists or ensembles gets better, too, and more effectively than by pulling the 4' stop.

Lorenzo Ghielmi makes use of quite substantial, if still chamber-style, instruments in his latest Händel concerto recording, and I quite like the sound which is more serious and grown-up, so to speak. Too much chirping on the organ’s part has marred many a Bach cantata experience for me. Christophe Coin and his Limoges Baroque Ensemble recorded one of the Cantatas that include an organ-concerto movement in a church in Saxony with a fully-grown 8' Silbermann, and that’s another kind of satisfaction altogether.


I once read an article about a clever chamber-organ design by Reil that included an open 8' from TG up; the real joker, however, appeared to be an open 4' flute that was designed to go with the chorus as well as with the flutes. The organ was in a full-size cabinet, though, and not for transport.


Taking up this idea, I imagine something like this could work as a more full-sounding, transportable continuo organ:


Stopped Diapason 8'

Open Diapason 8' from TC or TG, Bass shared

Open flute 4'

Flute 2'

Mixture II 2' (+ 1 1/3', middle C 3' + 2')


One could even add one rank and one manual and have an echo:

Stopped Diapason 8' (shared)

Stopped Flute 4'


The stopped 8' rank would have to sound not too timid in the bass, but could lose weight when going up the scale, because there the OD could take its share of the unison load. The 4' Flute would need some clever scaling and voicing, of course.


Oh to have something along these lines in one’s living room …





(who has been deprived of any kind of keyboard since 1 January.)

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It'll probably be a nice organ, yet somehow it seems strange to me, having an organ in the ELGAR hall, on which you cannot play his sonata (well, stylisticly etc.etc.) ...


....though some time ago the 1st movement of the Sonata was broadcast from New College Oxford after a choral evensong - it actually worked quite well!



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  • 1 year later...

I’m surprised no-one else has posted this, yet- so, I will: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ri9HSwhN9Wc. It is a partial recording of the second inaugural concert, from last November, by Henry Fairs. This includes a performance of (Bach’s) Wachet auf, which could hardly go any quicker, and the première of a piece utilising beating between tones and other ‘extended techniques’, on the Mitteltönigeswerk (!).


The first piece, a Fantasia & Fugue by C. P. E. Bach, is the one which demonstrates the range of the instrument most fully.


There is also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICh7MJD7Iyk, which solely features the Mitteltönigeswerk.


Interestingly, I cannot find a website for M. Garnier’s company.

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