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Let's have a riot part deux


jonadkins
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I may have misread Porthead, but I took his post to mean that he did not care for the instruments mentioned.

 

Gah - you are correct. How did I miss that....? In which case, I agree - except in the case of Wymondham Abbey - or is this instrument in need of work?

 

Any takers for Buckfast? I've never heard it.

 

I have played it. It sounds quite good in the building. Having said this, the acoustic is somewhat flattering, so probably almost anything would sound good, here.

 

It is a bit of a 'Clarinet organ' - there are about six, in various pitches (although three are borrowed form the Swell to the Pedal Organ). However, the choruses are quite good. The reeds are less happy - particularly the chorus stops. It could do with a decent 16ft. clavier reed. There is a wealth of quiet effects of (mostly) etherial beauty.

 

I have not played it for several years, but even then, it was looking a little tired. I have no idea in what state it is currently.

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.... I would not call the Crediton Choir Organ a Solo Organ, although many three-manual Harrisons were treated that way. It's more like the Choir Organ on a four manual Harrison, i.e. a miniature Great, and very handy for choral accompaniment or colouring other departments.

 

11 Contra Dulciana 16

12 Open Diapason 8

13 Claribel Flute 8

14 Viole d'Orchestre 8

15 Harmonic Flute 4

16 Salicet 4

17 Harmonic Piccolo 2

18 Orchestral Bassoon 16

19 Clarinet 8

20 Tremulant

21 Tuba 8

 

Aside from the Open Diapason (and possibly the Contra Dulciana), it looks more like a number of Solo organs than any Choir Organ (apart from a Harrison organ, that is), that I have seen.

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How about St Mary's Nottingham? A modest two manual Marcussen that fills this vast church and effectively accompanies a wide choral programme.

 

I posted quite extensively about this organ in another thread not so long ago, as I attend regularly and have accompanied on it on a few occasions -

see http://www.mander-organs.com/discussion/in...ost&p=56695.

 

I certainly wouldn't say the organ 'fills the vast church'. I'm not sure any organ which has just two 16' pedal stops (a manual and a reed) is likely to do that in a space that size. To start with, the organ is sited in completely the wrong place for this (down one side) so sound is never going to project effectively to the opposite corner. For congregational singing in the nave, the only real solution would probably be to build a completely new organ on a west gallery. Perhaps if I win the Euromillions tonight I'll give them the money to do this!

 

'Effectively accompanies a wide choral programme' - well they make the best of it but I can't honestly say it effectively accompanies (I was playing Stanford in C on it only a couple of weeks ago). The lack of any registration aids means some pieces would be totally impossible, and many are quite difficult. It also lacks the sort of colours you might often make use of on a romantic organ (strings, a clarinet or indeed any soft solo reed, etc.).

 

Like I said on the other thread, not a bad instrument per se (I like 'ideosyncratic', partly because its quite a long word but also because its for me an effective descriptor) but less than ideal for what is demanded of it in so many ways.

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... Those who know more about such things than I do (e.g. Harry Bramma) have suggested recently that the Harmonics is not merely, or principally, a step on the way to the Trombas, although it was probably not intended to come on until at least some of the Swell reeds were drawn. When one sees the sort of thing that Trost provided and of which Bach approved, one wonders if pure quint mixtures really are the only way.

 

Reading this, I suddenly thought, "I wonder what has happened to Pierre Lauwers?" One of the most regular contributors in the past, we have not heard from him for ages. I hope everything is OK?

 

Mind you, we hadn't heard much from pcnd5584 lately. Last night's exchanges brought back some much missed spirit to the forum, which I greatly welcome after some difficult incidents in recent times. MM has certainly found a good way to get people talking.

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MM has certainly found a good way to get people talking.

 

 

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

 

:lol:

 

MM

 

PS: If I know these foreigners, they all go away in June and disappear. I seem to have a mental note that Pierre does a "Scarlet Pimpernel" once every so often.

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Any takers for Buckfast? I've never heard it.
I have not played it for several years, but even then, it was looking a little tired. I have no idea in what state it is currently.

Dire. At least, it was when I last played it, which was for an Advent Carol concert last... er... Advent. I ought not to discuss this on a public forum, but PM/email me if you want further info. Suffice it to say that a change of tuner/maintainer had not had the beneficial effect one might reasonably have expected. The abbey really ought to bite the bullet and get a full, proper restoration done by one of our leading firms - after all, it's a nationally important organ, still tonally as Downes left it. A few years back I was told that money wasn't a problem, though how realistic that opinion was I couldn't say. But you will gather that my info is not entirely up-to-date. I would love to be told that things are now well on the way to restoring it to its former glory.

 

I like the organ, but find it a bit of a curate's egg. As you say, there is a wealth of soft colour that makes it an absolute gem for liturgical use - or would if all the keys worked, which wasn't the case when I played it (and the keyboards were looking even more like the Himalayas than they do in the photo on NPOR). The instrument is not nearly as neo-Baroque as one might possibly think from looking at the paper specification. Essentially the voicing is "English traditional", but with seemingly neo-Baroque elements in the stoplist - there are no neo-Baroque spittings. I find it quite hard to describe. It's certainly a very individual instrument and it does work. The only real miscalculation is the Great reeds. On their own they make a half-passable Grand Jeu, but they are so underpowered that they cannot be heard in full organ. I wouldn't revoice them, but I would like to see them supplemented with something more telling - but only at 8' and 4' pitch so as not to corrupt Downes's aesthetic too much. I'm sure this would provoke howls of outrage though.

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

 

What about Leeds PC though, which has just got better and better over the years, and manages to sound utterly convincing in the most awful acoustic known to man?

 

The old "Odeon" cinema on the Headrow had more resonance.

 

It makes you proud to be a northerner.

 

MM

 

I hope we're not including case design in the equation!

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I played the Marcussen in St Mary's for services in the last century, took a couple of diplomas on it and accompanied the Durufle at least once. You certainly need a registrant or two for that sort of stuff and of course some sounds you might want are missing as they could be on any other organ, but I found it an exciting and musical instrument.

 

I've no idea of the ratio of 16 foot pedal stops to building size, but prefer quality to quantity any time!

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Maybe I was just having a bad day, but Wymondham seemed too hard and loud for the building which is why I said I didn't much care for it. I was also careful to say that I didn't totally dislike Warwick. Actually I have no real problem with the Transept organ at all.

 

Some other favourites would be St. Mary's Southampton if only it was all up together, and I don't know how the Hill in All Saints Hove hasn't got a mention yet. Likewise All Hallows Gospel Oak. I'd also have to give a mention to Farm St, and the oratory which for me at least, really works.

 

I can also mention one I particularly disliked, and apologies to any here who may know it and think differently, but the Catholic Church in Kingswinford has one of the most ill conceived, badly constructed and miserable little instruments I have yet encountered.

 

AJS

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For absolute neo-Baroque spittings, the Degens & Rippin in St Simon's, Southsea, takes a bit of beating. (I wonder if it's still there.)

 

Hi

 

Yes - it is still there (or was until very recently), but probably not for much longer. NPOR has:-

"2011 - Organ offered for sale in playable condition, although some

stops are not working;"

 

The source of the info is the IBO redundancies list.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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A couple I'm surprised not to have seen yet ...

 

:: St Bee's priory

:: Boston PC

:: Farnborough Abbey

 

I should say I've not actually heard any of these in the flesh, only that I'd expect them to have come up by now!

 

They're all thoroughbreds with good reputations. Agree? Disagree?

 

SC

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A couple I'm surprised not to have seen yet ...

 

:: St Bee's priory

:: Boston PC

:: Farnborough Abbey

 

I should say I've not actually heard any of these in the flesh, only that I'd expect them to have come up by now!

 

They're all thoroughbreds with good reputations. Agree? Disagree?

 

SC

 

 

Ooh yes! St. Bee's is superb! Just like a vintage Bentley. Whether one could call it a 'Great Church', I'm not sure. It's not very big and only the nave and transepts are in use.

 

Boston, likewise, is a fine job. Slightly post-Arthur Harrison and maybe a little brighter.

 

Don't know Farnborough. Is it really as amazing as people say? I'm quite prepared to accept that it is - I just wondered.

 

I'm not sure that 'thoroughbred' is the right word, although it infers the right quality. At St. Bee's, the Willis was completed and enlarged by Harrisons'. Although this was done in a reverend way, it involved changes to specification, scaling and wind pressures. Boston is a typical mish-mash of various bits, melded into a cohesive entity by Harrisons'. Farnborough is probably not a Cavaille-Coll, except insofar as it was made by the company long after his death.

 

Mongrels are often more efficient, more fun and easier to live with!

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I think that I should have preferred its predecessor. I have played one or two instruments by marcussen and found them rather dull and colourless. Neither their instrument at the Bridgewater Hall nor that in Tonbridge School Chapel have attracted enthusiastic reviews.

 

...odd, then, that Tonbridge has been used for many recordings, in solo and accompanimental roles. Kevin Bowyer, Dame Gillian Weir, Simon Preston, Jeremy Filsell, Iain Farrington, Isabelle Demers, Sarah Baldock and many others have made successful recordings on it - a dull and colourless instrument would be a poor choice, I would have thought.

 

Maybe we need a forum 'law' that subjective judgements are made from personal experience and that hearsay evidence is inadmissable !

 

H

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Maybe I was just having a bad day, but Wymondham seemed too hard and loud for the building which is why I said I didn't much care for it. I was also careful to say that I didn't totally dislike Warwick. Actually I have no real problem with the Transept organ at all.

 

Some other favourites would be St. Mary's Southampton if only it was all up together, and I don't know how the Hill in All Saints Hove hasn't got a mention yet. Likewise All Hallows Gospel Oak. I'd also have to give a mention to Farm St, and the oratory which for me at least, really works.

 

I can also mention one I particularly disliked, and apologies to any here who may know it and think differently, but the Catholic Church in Kingswinford has one of the most ill conceived, badly constructed and miserable little instruments I have yet encountered.

 

AJS

 

I too have a soft spot for St Mary's Southampton, but have not heard or played it for over 45 years! I was a pupil of and assistant to, D. Cecil Williams when the organ was still being 'run-in.' Does anyone know how much of it is playable these days? I do remember the enclosed 32 reed, something it had in common with another organ I consider should be in any top ten,- St Mary Redcliffe.

MK

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Some other favourites would be St. Mary's Southampton if only it was all up together, and I don't know how the Hill in All Saints Hove hasn't got a mention yet. Likewise All Hallows Gospel Oak. I'd also have to give a mention to Farm St, and the oratory which for me at least, really works.

 

I can also mention one I particularly disliked, and apologies to any here who may know it and think differently, but the Catholic Church in Kingswinford has one of the most ill conceived, badly constructed and miserable little instruments I have yet encountered.

 

AJS

 

St. Mary's, Southampton is on my wish list. One of my favourite Willis III jobs is St. Thomas a Becket, Wandsworth, which was the putting into practice of an ideal scheme for a moderate-sized organ cooked up by Willis and an organist friend (I never worked out who it was). At 38 speaking stops, I would call it quite big,though....

 

I found All Saint's, Hove, disappointing, although it is undeniably an aristocrat. I have thisaffliction that most old Hills don't do much for me (in the same week, that in Big School at Christ's Hospital left me cold, although I was pleased to renew acquaintance with the Rushworth in the Chapel). Also, I came to Hove having just played at St. Peter's, Brighton, which is a Father Willis and much more my cup of tea. (Actually, in between the two a friend and myself skived off and had a look in St. Bartholomew's, Brighton - you can hardly miss it - and played what I imagine is quite a good Walker in a building in which anything would sound pretty damn fine).

 

'You play an organ and you think it's great, you play another and think it's superb, then you come face to face with a Father Willis and everything else pales into insignificance.' I can't remember who said that....

 

Just to be contrary, I thought All Hallows, Gospel Oak was very fine indeed. I guess I am totally lacking in consistency. While I am at it, I think the Hill/HNB in Londonderry Guildhall is extremely fine and much under-rated. I prefer it to that in the Ulster Hall, Belfast.

 

A one-off, and a tribute to Arthur Harrison and his successors: Down Cathedral. A really lovely organ.

 

For an assault of Schulzian proportions, the Brindley at Kilmore Cathedral, Co. Cavan takes some beating. Slightly less terrifying, the Conacher at Kildare Cathedral, and Trim Cathedral, Co. Meath, has one of the nicest medium-sized Binns organs I have met. For an absolutely superb Binns, the Old Independent Church, Haverhill, Suffolk - a pity they altered it slightly a while back.

 

You have me intrigued with your remarks about Kingswinford RC. I can't find it on NPOR. Is it one of those flimsy little European efforts?

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I can also mention one I particularly disliked, and apologies to any here who may know it and think differently, but the Catholic Church in Kingswinford has one of the most ill conceived, badly constructed and miserable little instruments I have yet encountered.

 

Out of curiosity I've been trying to find out about this. Any info?

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Having heard in recital and played Malvern Priory I am surprised it hasn't appeared on this list yet as it is surely very fine, vintage Rushworth.

 

 

Yes - another of Rushworths' best, and very well matched to the building. I haven't heard it since it was restored and re-ordered, but I understand it's even better than it was.

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Out of curiosity I've been trying to find out about this. Any info?

I could be very terse and say that I wouldn't expect to find it in a register of pipe organs. Not that it has any electronic stops, but I hope you follow.

 

Did mi best with it guvnor.

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Absolutely. This is a really beautiful instrument - with one slight reservation. I wish that the G.O. reeds had not been revoiced in the early 1970s. With regard to the mechanical side, I would be greatly tempted to re-instate the mechanical stop and combination action. We all used to manage without general pistons - it should still be possible to play most things with four or five composition pedals, without getting tied up in knots.

 

Whilst I am probably biased, I would suggest the organ of Wimborne Minster. Whilst this did have a major rebuild in the mid 1960s, the quality of the voicing is superb - every stop blends (with the exception of the Chamade - which was never intended to blend).

 

Yesterday I had to play for a colleague at a church which possesses a large three clavier instrument, originally by Willis, greatly enlarged and rebuilt by Harrisons and finally rebuilt (arguably not particularly well) by Rushworth & Dreaper, in the mid 1970s. After returning to my own instrument in the afternoon, to play for Choral Evensong, I was struck by the apparent lack of blend in the organ at the other church. The Swell has a big Open Diapason and an enormous Trumpet 8ft - which stands apart from its neighbours. The Swell five-rank Mixture was barely audible in the full Swell. At the Minster, all the reeds blend well, yet form an exciting and utterly musical ensemble. Again, on the G.O. at the other church, there is a huge Open Diapason I, a large Hohlflöte, and two still rather fat reeds (Posaunes). Whilst the four-rank Mixture is at least audible, the chorus does not hang together convincingly, even if one omits the large Open Diapason. The Choir Organ is Romantic Solo Organ in all but name and, whilst the individual stops are for the most part pleasant, it is only really useful in choral accompaniment. The Cor Anglais (16ft.) is too quiet - it is borrowed on the Pedal Organ, where its presence is virtually pointless, there being a quiet Dulciana already.

 

On the mechanical side, this instrument is, quite frankly, beginning to resemble just so much junk, these days. The action is rather slow and lacks crispness; the piston action is also sluggish. The consloe is nothing short of a disgrace, particularly compared to the elegance of the former H&H console. It was detached to facilitate better contact between the choir and organist, and to enable the player to gain a clearer idea of the balance between singers and organ. Why they could not simply have built a case for the old H&H console and given it a new action I cannot imagine.

 

I think probably what I am trying to say is that I regard the organ of Wimborne Minster as a superb, thoroughly musical instrument.

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Good evening,

 

I am a new French member; I believe the instrument you described in this post is St Peter's Bournemouth which I knew quite a lot when (in the late sixties) I was a student and spent most of my holidays in Bournemouth.

I remember the H&H organ very well, particularly the Great Harmonics (one evening, I entered the church as I heard music being played: an lady organist was playing a Bach fugue with nearly full organ, adding the great Trombas for the last bars...I will never forget).

I wrote an article in the French quarterly "L'orgue" in January 1978, about Bournemouth's organs (at least some of them). At the time, my favorite organ was Christchurch Priory's, I mean the previous organ by Compton and Deggens.

 

I also heard the organ in Winborne Minster and its trumpet en chamade in the late 1970s or 1980s.

 

Unfortunately, my health does not allow me to travel at the moment, but I hope I will be able to come back in Bournemouth in the years to come.

 

Friendly yours.

PV

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