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Dorchesster Abbey organ


Simon Walker
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I was watching an episode of Midsomer Murders - One from October last year with a musical theme titled 'Masterclass' It mainly focuses on piano students, but the Dorchester Abbey features prominantly, and indeed it's organ does too. Whether the organ music heard is indeed the instrument on film I don't know, but I suspect it is.

 

Anyhow - it just interested me, and on doing a bit of research I found some photos of the same building on flickr where the organ was not present! Intrigued by this I found out that in fact the organ in it's present form is very recent - having been rebuilt by Peter Collins Ltd. There is a little information on the church website, but no spec, nor anything particularly technical. http://www.dorchester-abbey.org.uk/services3.htm . NPOR hasn't been updated and similarly it is not acknowledged at all on the Peter Collins Website, despite the fact it must have been completed a while ago now, and most of their other jobs, including restorations are included. http://petercollinsltd.com/index.html

 

Does anyone know anymore? It does look like an interesting one.

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PS... If you're interested in seeing the episode of Midsomer which interested me here's a link -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhwbzllRTNc...feature=related

 

you see the organ in part 4 starting from around 2:30 featuring the Bach E minor 'wedge' fugue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B819LF8lnhM...feature=related

Sorry for spelling Dorchester wrongly in the topic title... how annoying.

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Carlo Curley is giving a recital there on 16 July - an excuse to go along and find out?

 

Sadly not - I'm many many miles away. It does seem odd that a major rebuild has escaped having much of a google presence. But it must be good if he's performing there. Is anyone else able to shed a light on this?

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Sadly not - I'm many many miles away. It does seem odd that a major rebuild has escaped having much of a google presence. But it must be good if he's performing there. Is anyone else able to shed a light on this?

 

I did a show on it as part of the English Music Festival a couple of years ago. Average 3m Walker which has received ministrations over the years, which I suspect have contributed to it being considerably less wonderful than other Walkers of the era I know. Stop action has been electrified and new Collins-esque console. Action (tracker) fantastically heavy and uneven - I longed to get in there with the spring tongs! Reeds very uneven and 'edgy' too, especially the Clarinet, which felt like most notes were teetering on the description Krummhorn. Dismal winding to the Pedal Principal (which was robbed horribly by the 16's) and the Choir. Pistons were somewhat unreliable too, but probably teething trouble as it had been in less than 12 months.

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I did a show on it as part of the English Music Festival a couple of years ago. Average 3m Walker which has received ministrations over the years, which I suspect have contributed to it being considerably less wonderful than other Walkers of the era I know. Stop action has been electrified and new Collins-esque console. Action (tracker) fantastically heavy and uneven - I longed to get in there with the spring tongs! Reeds very uneven and 'edgy' too, especially the Clarinet, which felt like most notes were teetering on the description Krummhorn. Dismal winding to the Pedal Principal (which was robbed horribly by the 16's) and the Choir. Pistons were somewhat unreliable too, but probably teething trouble as it had been in less than 12 months.

 

Tut tut tut... so that's why no-ones been raving about it. I thought rebuilds were supposed to solve problems?

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Tut tut tut... so that's why no-ones been raving about it. I thought rebuilds were supposed to solve problems?

 

That largely depends on whether the problems were in the original conception, or in the later improvements of others. And whether the firm doing the work is renowned for making instruments which don't have problems.

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I played this organ for a CE in about 1973 or 1974 when most of it was "prepared for". Then it had, quite literally, too heavy an action for me to cope with. It was a real delight to get back to my TP Hewins instrument.

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I played this organ for a CE in about 1973 or 1974 when most of it was "prepared for". Then it had, quite literally, too heavy an action for me to cope with. It was a real delight to get back to my TP Hewins instrument.

 

I have just looked back, with considerable sadness, over the provenance of the instrument. The 1864 spec (which appears to have survived to 1961) gives a hint that perhaps this was another collaboration with F.A. Gore-Ouseley, who had designed the Romsey Abbey organ with Walker just six years earlier and incorporated many features from his travels on the continent. (Where else would you find an 1858 organ with a 3 rank Mixture on the pedals?) Here, I am thinking of the divided Swell Double and the Choir with just one stop enclosed (presumably in a lidded box), both things I would expect to find in France. What a shame these useful and interesting touches of detail could not have been preserved.

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I had to play this organ (in this divine Abbey) to the Diocesan Organ Advisers' Conference the other year after which a number (having tried the organ themselves afterwards - and also coming away with bruised fingers), nicknamed me The Karate Kid.

N

 

And the worst of it is that there's no damn excuse for it, a viewpoint which got me into a good deal of trouble on Orgue-L a few years back, but which I stand by.

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I have just looked back, with considerable sadness, over the provenance of the instrument. The 1864 spec (which appears to have survived to 1961) gives a hint that perhaps this was another collaboration with F.A. Gore-Ouseley, who had designed the Romsey Abbey organ with Walker just six years earlier and incorporated many features from his travels on the continent. (Where else would you find an 1858 organ with a 3 rank Mixture on the pedals?) Here, I am thinking of the divided Swell Double and the Choir with just one stop enclosed (presumably in a lidded box), both things I would expect to find in France. What a shame these useful and interesting touches of detail could not have been preserved.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

You're right about the 3 rank Pedal Mixture, but at Holy Trinity, Hulme, Manchester, there was a 4 rank (19:22:26:29) Pedal Mixture on the 1852 Kirtland & Jardine instrument.

 

 

Manchester was really at the cutting edge of fashion, and they were among the first to take an interest in Cavaille-Coll, when over t'Pennines, everything was Schulze this and Schulze that.

 

 

Amusingly, I had the wrong specs on when I read the bit about a lidded box, and mistook it for a "Lidel box"....which conjoured up some interesting mental images. ;)

 

MM

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You're right about the 3 rank Pedal Mixture, but at Holy Trinity, Hulme, Manchester, there was a 4 rank (19:22:26:29) Pedal Mixture on the 1852 Kirtland & Jardine instrument.

This, apparently unsuccessful, instrument, also an Ouseley design, intrigues me, and not just for its 5-rank Pedal mixture:

 

St Michael’s, Tenbury

 

Bet the action was heavy here with all the couplers!

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This, apparently unsuccessful, instrument, also an Ouseley design, intrigues me, and not just for its 5-rank Pedal mixture:

 

St Michael's, Tenbury

 

Bet the action was heavy here with all the couplers!

 

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

 

 

 

It really is a qite extraordinary specification, but one which doesn't completely surprise me. (I've never seen it before).

 

Clearly, the end result was not considered satisfactory, but the concept is so cosmopolitan.

 

Do we know much about Ouseley apart from his days at Oxford, his music and Tenbury, I wonder?

 

1840-1870 (or so) was a fascinating period in English organ-building, with so many continental influences being incorporated. The period which followed, although much duller in concept, was perhaps more effective in practice.

 

Perhaps only T C Lewis ever got to grips with the continental style, (somewhat watered down), as well as William Hill and Thomas Hill (especially), but it was soon swept away by the vogue for all things accompanimental and orchestral.

 

MM

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