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Which British Organ For Europe?


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Ever since I first heard the 16/8/4 Bombarde reeds Harrisons installed at Westminster Abbey in 1987, I have had a picture in my mind of the Abbey console with these 3 stops encased and under lock and key. Shrinking violets they are not!

 

On the other hand, the Titulaire at the time (SP) felt that they were necessary.

 

Perhaps, on the (many) ceremonial occasions, when the Abbey is full of people, the main organ really does need some extra help. In such circumstances, the 'startling' efect of the Bombarde division may be slightly tamed by the enormous increase in the amount of absorption provided by a huge congregation and the subsequent effect on the acoustic probperties of the building.

 

The alternative, of course, is to persuade people to attend such occasions au naturel.

 

Hmmm, on second thoughts....

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:D

 

Yeh, and I can imagine some kinky black booted vampire cape wearing romantic organist working himself up into such a Howells Rhapsody No3 lather, his hands trembling in absolute extacy as he reaches for... the TUBA MAGNA!  :o

 

 

I doubt that anyone who aspired to be a successor to Virgil Fox (and play to auditoria not 90% empty -in the UK anyway since I understand our European neighbours have not given up on the instrument) would seriously believe that Howells Rhapsody 3 was likely to do the job. GTB's Elegy, a good many of Whitlock's shorter pieces, and organically orchestrated JSB are much more likely to attract the paying public.

 

BAC

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I doubt that anyone who aspired to be a successor to Virgil Fox (and play to auditoria not 90% empty -in the UK anyway since I understand our European neighbours have not given up on the instrument) would seriously believe that Howells Rhapsody 3 was likely to do the job. GTB's Elegy, a good many of Whitlock's shorter pieces, and organically orchestrated JSB are much more likely to attract the paying public.

 

BAC

 

I can say that in Belgium at least the reverse would be true...

Pierre

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Here is another french project:

 

Pedal

Double Open Bass 32 (A)

Stopped Bass 32 (bomb.)

Open Bass 16 (A)

Sub Bass 16 (:D

Stopped Bass 16 (Bomb.)

Dulciana 16 (Choir)

Violoncello 16 (Solo)

Quint 10 2/3

Principal 8 ©

Stopped Flute 8 (:o

Bourdon 8 (Bomb.)

Cello 8 (Solo)

Tierce 6 2/5

Seventh 4 4/7

Fifteenth 4 ©

Open Flute 4

Neuvième 3 7/9

Mixture IV

Bombarde 32 (D)

Regal 32 (Solo)

Trombone 16 (D)

Ophicleide 16 (Tuba Solo)

Trumpet 8

Tromba 8 (Solo)

Clarion 4

Chamades 8 (Bomb.)

Chamades 4 (Bomb.)

Chamades 2 (Bomb.)

 

Choir

Contra Dulciana 16

Open Diapason 8

Stopped Flute 8

Dulciana 8

Principal 4

Lieblich Flute 4

Nazard 2 2/3

Fifteenth 2

Tierce 1 3/5

Quint 1 1/3

Seventh 1 1/7

Fourniture II

Cymbal III

Clarinet 16

Trumpet 8

Cromorne 8

Clarion 4

 

Great

Stopped Bass 32 (bomb.)

Double Open Diap. 16

Open Diapason I 8

Open Diapason II 8

Clarabella 8

Octave 4

Octave Quint 2 2/3

Super Octave 2

First Mixture (32’) II

Second Mixture (16’) II

Third Mixture (8’) III

Cymbale V

Double Trumpet 16

Trumpet 8

Clarion 4

 

Swell

Quintaton 16

Open Diapason 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Traverse Flute 8

Viola di gamba 8

Celeste 8

Octave Geigen 4

Harmonic Flute 4

Twelfth 2 2/3

Fifteenth 2

Sifflote 1

Harmonics IV-VI

Contra Fagott 16

Cornopean 8

Oboe 8

Vox Humana 8

Clarion 4

 

Solo

ViolonBass 16

Harmonic Flute 8

Gedackt Celestes 8

Violoncello 8

Cello Celestes 8

Concert Flute 4

Octave Gamba 4

Hohl Flute 2

String Mixture III

Regale 32

Cor Anglais 16

Orchestral Oboe 8

Corno di Bassetto 8

Orchestral Trumpet 8

French Horn 8

hors boîte :

Tuba Magna 8

 

Bombarde

Bourdon 32

Bourdon 16

Principal 8

Gemshorn 8

Flute 8

Nazard 5 1/3

Hohl Flute 4

Tierce 3 1/5

Seventh 2 2/7

Spire Flute 2

Neuvième 1 7/9

Grand Cornet V

French Bombarde 16

French Trumpet 8

French Clarion 4

Chamades 8

Chamades 4

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I believe, however, that "the traditional British organ" (although an instrument like St. Ignatius certainly isn't  one of those) does a better job of French organ music than a German romantic organ does, and a better job of German romantic organ music than a French organ does.....

 

Then I recommend that you purchase a copy of the Daniel Roth CD, recorded at S. Sulpice, on which he plays several major works by Liszt. The organ and the performance are superb.

 

Before you start jumping up and down, I know that Liszt was Hungarian - but I think that his music sounds like German romantic music....!

 

:D

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Then I recommend that you purchase a copy of the Daniel Roth CD, recorded at S. Sulpice, on which he plays several major works by Liszt. The organ and the performance are superb.

 

Before you start jumping up and down, I know that Liszt was Hungarian - but I think that his music sounds like German romantic music....!

 

:D

I agree with every word of this. Except the very last one. :o
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And I live in Rieger-land, where they have half a monopoly on big organs (Klais has the other half)....and I have never encountered a Rieger that was REALLY good for Bach! Especially one of 4 manuals, which is trying to be an eclectic instrument, otherwise what would you really need the fourth one for?

 

No, Bach organs are by other builders, sorry!

 

Bamberg Cathedral has a superb instrument by Rieger - partly revoiced and re-balanced by Glatter-Götz. Having played it - and heard it on a CD (played by the Titulaire) I can only say that this organ must be the exception which proves the rule. It also has four claviers!

 

Surely an organ cannot be judged to be eclectic simply by the total number of claviers - particularly if the tonal design of each deparment is of one particular style, the whole organ speaking with a single personality. Yes, it has two undulating ranks - but such stops have been known for centuries; for example, the Italian Fiffaro.

 

Personally, I think that it does a tremendous job (as does Herr Willinger) of two major (in the sense of 'great') pieces by JSB and a transcription of his Chaconne in D minor.

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Here is another french project:

 

Pedal

Double Open Bass 32 (A)

Stopped Bass 32 (bomb.)

Open Bass 16 (A)

Sub Bass 16 (:)

Stopped Bass 16 (Bomb.)

Dulciana 16 (Choir)

Violoncello 16 (Solo)

Quint 10 2/3

Principal 8 ©

Stopped Flute 8 (:D

Bourdon 8 (Bomb.)

Cello 8 (Solo)

Tierce 6 2/5

Seventh 4 4/7

Fifteenth 4 ©

Open Flute 4

Neuvième 3 7/9

Mixture IV

Bombarde 32 (D)

Regal 32 (Solo)

Trombone 16 (D)

Ophicleide 16 (Tuba Solo)

Trumpet 8

Tromba 8 (Solo)

Clarion 4

Chamades 8 (Bomb.)

Chamades 4 (Bomb.)

Chamades 2 (Bomb.)

 

Choir

Contra Dulciana 16

Open Diapason 8

Stopped Flute 8

Dulciana 8

Principal 4

Lieblich Flute 4

Nazard 2 2/3

Fifteenth 2

Tierce 1 3/5

Quint 1 1/3

Seventh 1 1/7

Fourniture II

Cymbal III

Clarinet 16

Trumpet 8

Cromorne 8

Clarion 4

 

Great

Stopped Bass 32 (bomb.)

Double Open Diap. 16

Open Diapason I 8

Open Diapason II 8

Clarabella 8

Octave 4

Octave Quint 2 2/3

Super Octave 2

First Mixture (32’) II

Second Mixture (16’) II

Third Mixture (8’) III

Cymbale V

Double Trumpet 16

Trumpet 8

Clarion 4

 

Swell

Quintaton 16

Open Diapason 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Traverse Flute 8

Viola di gamba 8

Celeste 8

Octave Geigen 4

Harmonic Flute 4

Twelfth 2 2/3

Fifteenth 2

Sifflote 1

Harmonics IV-VI

Contra Fagott 16

Cornopean 8

Oboe 8

Vox Humana 8

Clarion 4

 

Solo

ViolonBass 16

Harmonic Flute 8

Gedackt Celestes 8

Violoncello 8

Cello Celestes 8

Concert Flute 4

Octave Gamba 4

Hohl Flute 2

String Mixture III

Regale 32

Cor Anglais 16

Orchestral Oboe 8

Corno di Bassetto 8

Orchestral Trumpet 8

French Horn 8

hors boîte :

Tuba Magna 8

 

Bombarde

Bourdon 32

Bourdon 16

Principal 8

Gemshorn 8

Flute 8

Nazard 5 1/3

Hohl Flute 4

Tierce 3 1/5

Seventh 2 2/7

Spire Flute 2

Neuvième 1 7/9

Grand Cornet V

French Bombarde 16

French Trumpet 8

French Clarion 4

Chamades 8

Chamades 4

 

 

Sorry to re-post the whole of this large stop-list again.

 

Surely the larger an organ is, the easier it is to design - which seems to have been the fallacy expressed in several posts on a couple of related threads, recently.

 

In one sense, I agree with MM - it is good to keep our perspective - and our sense of fun. Sometimes it is good to wallow in billows of sound emanating from an instrument half the size of the Titanic. On the other hand, it is arguably rather more difficult convincingly to design a moderately large organ - in which there is not room for one of everything!

 

Whilst the above scheme may be capable of making some grand sounds, the design itself does seem rather wasteful. I know that a similar accusation was levelled at the RFH organ after RD had revised the stop-list of the Solo Organ. However, in some ways the RFH organ, on paper, appears to have a greater artistic integrity. There is, of course, the vexed question of the grafting of French reeds on to what is basically Dutch flue-work; yet the result, in the dreadful acoustics - worked extremely well - probably better than it strictly should have!

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Hi Brian

 

Thanks for your reply. You make some valid points - although I would question the relevance of the Deut. verse you quote. I'm well aware that the issues of decline in church attendance are more complex that my brief outline in my post - but the fact remains that church attendance in America is vastly higher than here - and no-one, to my knowledge, has yet been able to explain why there's such a difference.

 

One point though - at least in some areas of the country, there is a growing desire for churches of different denominations to co-operatte and to work together. This is something that I'm very keen on, and would like to see more of. I'd better stop now - this is an organ list after all!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

[

 

 

Dear Tony,

 

Since I read your post I have been reflecting (a popular thing to do this weekend) on why Church attendance in America is higher than here. Whilst I do not claim to KNOW the answer I suspect that both the habit and the social pressure factors which I advanced as reasons in my original post continue to have an impact there in a way that they do not here, to reinforce what is quite possibly a higher number of genuine believers. Other peculiar features of the history of the USA also probably contribute thus

 

(1) Some of the earliest colonists went there in search of a religious freedom that they were not accorded in Europe (Pilgrim Fathers, Mayflower and all that). It is not inconceivable that the intensity of puritain religious experience has proved more capable of surviving into the modern world than some other manifestations of it, whilst the celebration of the folk memory aspect will certainly have reinforced the HABIT of church attendance.

 

(2) The US population has been built up through successive waves of immigration but the "melting pot" approach with its focus on creating a single American culture must have meant in a number of instances that communities discouraged from maintaining links based on ethnicity used the fact of their shared faith instead, especially in a country with a constitutional guarantee of freedom of worship for all.

 

(3) |As anyone who has been to Lancaster County in Pennsylvania or the Waterloo/ Guelph area of Ontario can testify there is a tendency for those who share a particular religious viewpoint to concentrate in particular areas. Likewise the various "territorial divisions" into which New York City is split. This makes it easier to maintain the sense of communal involvement which has to be an essential feature of keeping up a widespread practice of public religious observance , even if it is not a requirement for a personal religious faith

 

 

Whilst this is slightly off message, it is not totally irrelevant to this site, since the majority of UK organs are located in churches, which to survive need to maintain the attendance of a congregation, so that factors which encourage church attendance tend to being favourable to the interests of organ builders whilst factors which discourage church attendance tend to being unfavourable to those interests.

 

Finally, I do like some worship songs. However, I remain to be convinced that the piano is a suitable instrument for accompanying a congregation of 200 untrained and unpractised singers, whatever its undoubted virtues in providing subtle nuanced accompaniments to small groups of trained singers. In my experience pianists who can maintain beauty of tone while playing constantly at ff or louder are not all that common.

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Sorry for this Titanic, Pcnd,

 

this is another one from Mr Dupont of Toulouse.

Maybe we are arriving to a time when there will obtain two kinds

of british organs: one in the UK, another in Belgium, France and the

Netherlands. Why not?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
in some ways the RFH organ, on paper, appears to have a greater artistic integrity. There is, of course, the vexed question of the grafting of French reeds on to what is basically Dutch flue-work; yet the result, in the dreadful acoustics - worked extremely well - probably better than it strictly should have!

 

 

This is a matter of opinion.

Did pcnd ever hear it all before H&H voicers 'went over it' in the 70's? According to 'Baroque Tricks with the Organ Builders' (a splendid read, if unwittingly naive in several places!) Downes himself agreed that some of the Mixtures and Rochesson's 'French' reeds fought with each other. After the 70's 'go' the organ was still somewhat bracing and agressive, but at least it hung together better. It remains true that selective registration is necessary - something that your average 'good' organ needs far less!

 

I do not deny that this instrument gave the whole insular UK organ-world a good kick up the backside, and audiences responded very well to being able to hear the actual notes of decent music played by a long list of decent recitalists. The RFH is certainly a vital instrument in our heritage and I would not wish to see anything changed now but...

it remains very much a matter of opinion on whether this experiment (North German/G.Donald Harrison/Dutch Mixtures with French reeds) was in fact the best policy to adopt.

 

I reckon the really successful Ralph Downes schemes remain those in decent acoustics - Brompton Oratory, Paisley Abbey and Gloucester Cathedral for example. I object to Gloucester for different reasons - (sorry for this repetition) while a fine solo instrument it remains IMHO an unsatisfactory accompanimental instrument and a needlessly vandalistic act perpetrated on the existing organ.

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This is a matter of opinion.

Did pcnd ever hear it all before H&H voicers 'went over it' in the 70's?

If you'll pardon me for jumping in, I never played the RFH organ (alas!), but I did go to every recital there for a couple of years in the late 60s and, while the tone did rather grab you by the lapels, as it were, I can't say I ever thought of the instrument as being incoherent. Maybe it was all down to registration and anyway, as you say, I suppose it's all in the ear of the auditor. If I heard it now I suspect I might have different views, but my tastes have changed since those days.
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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
If you'll pardon me for jumping in, I never played the RFH organ (alas!), but I did go to every recital there for a couple of years in the late 60s and, while the tone did rather grab you by the lapels, as it were, I can't say I ever thought of the instrument as being incoherent. Maybe it was all down to registration and anyway, as you say, I suppose it's all in the ear of the auditor. If I heard it now I suspect I might have different views, but my tastes have changed since those days.

 

The RFH organ was a marvel of its age and the sound was the source of many dreams when I was a student and then working in London. It was an experience-and-a-half to play and I realized that all the time I had heard it in the auditorium, the best place was always on the stage - about the 3rd desk of the Violas! Therefore, only the Strings of the LSO were privy to the 'real' sound. Of course the greatest drawback was the acoustic but had this new instrument been in a fine acoustic such as from the back of Bristol Cathedral (what a place! but not enough room of course) we would be saying better things about it. To 'warm up' the sound it was necessary to really couple the 4th manual to Great.

But this reminds me of a lovely rememberance which I can share with you, if you don't mind.

Rehearsal times for Wednesday afternoon concerts were not too long. When I played, RD was retired but still was always about. During my first session the door flung open on top right of stage and there was RD holding a screw driver and invited me to see the inside of the organ. I declined as I was still getting to grips with things. He asked me if I minded him doing a little maintenance inside. Off he went. Some 15 mins later, a proper Voix humaine called from inside the latticework urging me once again to make a visit to the inside. I declined again. The voice became more plaintive and positively insisted. Then there was the utterance "Help me Nigel! I am stuck" So at last I did find my way in only to be confronted with RD lying tummy down on a tuning board and with great difficulty keeping his feet from smashing into rows of mixture pipes. Had I been any longer he would have been the destroyer as well as the instigator of the great organ. I had to pull him out by his feet and drag him along the board to safety. And then back to practice....

 

NJA

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Then I recommend that you purchase a copy of the Daniel Roth CD, recorded at S. Sulpice, on which he plays several major works by Liszt.

:)

 

I have it. And I would not dream of saying that Liszt's music was not German; he himself termed his collection of Weimar groupies at the time he wrote his organ works the "New german School".

 

I also agree that the playing is excellent.

 

But it still sounds much more "wrong" than it would on an English organ. It is another question altogether whether that is important or not. Do you like hearing Scarlatti on the piano? (I didn't say Bach, because someone is then going to bring up Glenn Gould...) most people, or at any rate many people, would probably say , yes, if I'm honest, I'd rather hear it on the piano than on the harpsichord..... so that's an easy one. How about rachmaninov on the harpsichord? Mozart on the Mbira, Tschaikovsky on the Sheng?

 

"Inappropriate" music on any instrument is possible if the instrument has adequate compass, can play enough notes etc. It can sound terrific, interesting, blisteringly good; I have heard the "Rite of Spring" on two guitars and it was very interesting, if not quite loud enough. Very .... transparent. There are boundaries, but where are they? Even that is a matter of taste. The English organ is the voice of compromise; its reeds are a good deal more prominent than German ones, but less dominant than the French ones. Even the HW trumpet of a Sauer organ is likely to be less loud than the 8' principal; other manuals sport at the most a clarinet or an oboe. Ladegast's reeds are no more prominent. So a tutti that is driven by the reed chorus is, in a certain sense, "inappropriate" for this music. I am sure Liszt wouldn't have minded a bit, but it isn't what he heard in Merseburg.

 

Of course, I am aware that the "English organ" is not a standardised beast; a Puget is not a Cavaille-Coll either. I spent my most formative years as an organist at two instruments: a four manual Hill and a 3 manual Beckerath. I loved both, but I miss the Hill more.

 

Cheers!

Barry

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Bamberg Cathedral has a superb instrument by Rieger - partly revoiced and re-balanced by Glatter-Götz.

 

Personally, I think that it does a tremendous job (as does Herr Willinger) of two major (in the sense of 'great') pieces by JSB and a transcription of his Chaconne in D minor.

 

I know it. Caspar Glatter-Götz's work on it did it a world of good - anyone got any work for him, incidentally?

 

Sure, most German organs since the 70's will do a good job of Bach (I know Rieger is actually an Austrian firm) . But if one subscribes to the idea that a real "Bach" organ has a chorus more in the thuringian tradition of builders like Stertzing, Trost or Hildebrandt, then the clangy, overbright tone of these organs, and the badly blending pedal reeds, which have far too little fundamental, are far from ideal for the music of JSB.

 

"Nichts für Ungut"........

Barry

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This is a matter of opinion.

Did pcnd ever hear it all before H&H voicers 'went over it' in the 70's?  According to 'Baroque Tricks with the Organ Builders' (a splendid read, if unwittingly naive in several places!) Downes himself agreed that some of the Mixtures and Rochesson's 'French' reeds fought with each other.  After the 70's 'go' the organ was still somewhat bracing and agressive, but at least it hung together better. It remains true that selective registration is necessary - something that your average 'good' organ needs far less!

 

Only on recordings - but I was aware of the changes in the mixtures and some of the reeds. There are still certain ranks which fight - I believe that the Swell Cymbel does not like being used at the same time as the Solo trumpets, for example.

 

I reckon the really successful Ralph Downes schemes remain those in decent acoustics - Brompton Oratory, Paisley Abbey and Gloucester Cathedral for example.  I object to Gloucester for different reasons - (sorry for this repetition) while a fine solo instrument it remains IMHO an unsatisfactory accompanimental instrument and a needlessly vandalistic act perpetrated on the existing organ.

 

Interesting - I found the Oratory organ thin and insubstantial, even for Downes - who was not known for designing organs with excessive tonal weight.

 

Paisley and Gloucester I like very much - though you all know that!

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I have it. And I would not dream of saying that Liszt's music was not German; he himself termed his collection of Weimar groupies at the time he wrote his organ works the "New german School".

 

I also agree that the playing is excellent.

 

But it still sounds much more "wrong" than it would on an English organ. It is another question altogether whether that is important or not. Do you like hearing Scarlatti on the piano? (I didn't say Bach, because someone is then going to bring up Glenn Gould...) most people, or at any rate many people, would probably say , yes, if I'm honest, I'd rather hear it on the piano than on the harpsichord..... so that's an easy one. How about rachmaninov on the harpsichord? Mozart on the Mbira, Tschaikovsky on the Sheng?

 

Of course, I am aware that the "English organ" is not a standardised beast; a Puget is not a Cavaille-Coll either. I spent my most formative years as an organist at two instruments: a four manual Hill and a 3 manual Beckerath. I loved both, but I miss the Hill more.

 

Cheers!

Barry

 

Well, we shall just have to differ - I greatly prefer the Ad nos from the S. Sulpice recording, as opposed to Peter le Huray's from Salisbury - from the point of view of the sound of the organs, that is.

 

Glenn Gould - well, if you like groaning all the way through the music of JSB....! I prefer the Andreas Schiff recordings.

 

As for Rachmaninov on the harpsichord, or Chaikovsky on the Sheng - I think that this is a slightly extreme comparison!

 

Your last comment - I would have probably said that I only missed the Hill!

 

:)

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Guest Roffensis

The St Sulpice recording is excellent, I was amazed how remote the organ is in the church though. I think it should be outed and a new organ put in, as the flutes are too remote at the east end, and the mixtures are too loud for the Gloria. :D:) The le Huray is very good though, very well paced and not overblown to make it sound like an old warhorse. He did two Saga issues at Salisbury, both of which I have, and which are long overdue to be reissued, particularly given some of the modern recordings that are simply not in the same class.

 

Ze Organists ze come and ze go, yea, and ze take ze organs with them.

 

There has just been issued a new CD of the Canterbury organ by the way, Robert Crowley, and again all modern, making two from there in the past year or so from him, which can't be bad, and enough to convince anyone what a fine organ Canterbury still is.

I think we should start a thread on the most desired organ records deserving of reissue. All the more poignant when so many are so rapidly biting the dust with only recrdings to remind us what was. :D

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" All the more poignant when so many are so rapidly biting the dust with only recrdings to remind us what was. blink.gif"

 

(Quote)

 

He he he!!!

Like playable ones classified as unplayable ones? (I tought sur-realism was

a belgian speciality; I was wrong).

We could produce some CDs titled "this is not an organ".

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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