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Hypothetical rebuild/restoration - suggestions


Aeron Glyn Preston

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I'd be very interested to see what members of this board would consider if they were in charge of a rebuild/restoration of this organ, with a generous budget. I'm thinking about changes to the stoplist.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=D02032

 

The organ itself, is, if I remember correctly, from the late 1840's. BOA notes improvements by Hill in 1892. The current console is, AFAIK, from the late 60's/early 70's. The mechanical action on the organ at the moment (possibly from the last restoration) is not very reliable: the pedal coupling to the Swell is particularly erratic. Space for a Great double seems to have been prepared.

 

My ideas:-

- Great double (Bourdon or Bourdon/Tenoroon in mid-19C style?)

- New Great mixture without tierce, with a separate Seventeenth stop.

- Stopped diapason bass to replace the Lieblich Gedeckt bass on the Great.

- Complete compass of Flute 4' on the Great.

- New Great trumpet in a style fitting the rest. (The current Great trumpet honks rather unpleasantly, does not seem to be in the right style.)

- Entirely new pedal division. My suggested scheme (no extension): Contrabass 16'; Subbass 16'; Quint 10 2/3' (soft enough to be used with the Subbass); Open Flute 8'; Octave Flute 4'; Trombone 16'; Trumpet 8' (perhaps from Great?).

- Full-compass Quintatön 16' on the Swell.

- Mixture on the swell, completing the small principal chorus.

- Salicional and Voix célestes (TC) on the swell.

 

Though someone has messed about with the organ quite a bit, the essential character of the organ is still audible, and I wouldn't want to replace it, if it were my decision.

 

Any thoughts?

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I'd go with the Great Double if there really is space on the soundboard - but how likely is it that the space could have been vacated by the Cremona alluded to? I would also re-complete the Gt Mixture as 12.15.17 (I presume the two ranks NPOR gives in the treble is as a result of one being removed, as seems to have been fashionable). The Stopped Bass should probably be called just that, but knowing Wadsworth anything would be possible.

 

With F compass and non-overhanging keyboards it would be a reasonable guess that the action just needs some time setting up *properly*, something which virtually nobody seems able to do. It would seem unusual for the action to have been replaced, especially without the opportunity being taken to provide extra notes to G, which can quite often be fitted onto a soundboard.

 

In restoration terms I would make a more appropriate pedalboard.

 

The Trumpet voicing can be sorted. The Flute compass ought probably to stay as it is, since it's likely that the racking space for a bottom octave has already been allocated to the Lieblich Gedact.

 

The chorus is as complete as the maker intended it to be, so I would certainly not be adding anything else. Wadsworth made fine quality organs.

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I'd go with the Great Double if there really is space on the soundboard - but how likely is it that the space could have been vacated by the Cremona alluded to? I would also re-complete the Gt Mixture as 12.15.17 (I presume the two ranks NPOR gives in the treble is as a result of one being removed, as seems to have been fashionable). The Stopped Bass should probably be called just that, but knowing Wadsworth anything would be possible.

 

With F compass and non-overhanging keyboards it would be a reasonable guess that the action just needs some time setting up *properly*, something which virtually nobody seems able to do. It would seem unusual for the action to have been replaced, especially without the opportunity being taken to provide extra notes to G, which can quite often be fitted onto a soundboard.

 

In restoration terms I would make a more appropriate pedalboard.

 

The Trumpet voicing can be sorted. The Flute compass ought probably to stay as it is, since it's likely that the racking space for a bottom octave has already been allocated to the Lieblich Gedact.

 

The chorus is as complete as the maker intended it to be, so I would certainly not be adding anything else. Wadsworth made fine quality organs.

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I'd go with the Great Double if there really is space on the soundboard - but how likely is it that the space could have been vacated by the Cremona alluded to? I would also re-complete the Gt Mixture as 12.15.17 (I presume the two ranks NPOR gives in the treble is as a result of one being removed, as seems to have been fashionable). The Stopped Bass should probably be called just that, but knowing Wadsworth anything would be possible.

 

With F compass and non-overhanging keyboards it would be a reasonable guess that the action just needs some time setting up *properly*, something which virtually nobody seems able to do. It would seem unusual for the action to have been replaced, especially without the opportunity being taken to provide extra notes to G, which can quite often be fitted onto a soundboard.

 

In restoration terms I would make a more appropriate pedalboard.

 

The Trumpet voicing can be sorted. The Flute compass ought probably to stay as it is, since it's likely that the racking space for a bottom octave has already been allocated to the Lieblich Gedact.

 

The chorus is as complete as the maker intended it to be, so I would certainly not be adding anything else. Wadsworth made fine quality organs.

 

Hi

 

BOA only shows Wadsworth as having tuned the organ in the 1870's - and if this organ dates from the 1840's, that's too early for Wadsworth (1860 is earliest known date of operation of the firm). It could be by them - or have been rebuilt by them, but there's no documentary evidence for this, it could be by another builder altogether from the info on NPOR.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

BOA only shows Wadsworth as having tuned the organ in the 1870's - and if this organ dates from the 1840's, that's too early for Wadsworth (1860 is earliest known date of operation of the firm). It could be by them - or have been rebuilt by them, but there's no documentary evidence for this, it could be by another builder altogether from the info on NPOR.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

Organ is definitely from 1845-6, and was moved to the chancel sometime in 1880-2 when George Street refurbished the church. (http://www.cpat.demon.co.uk/projects/longer/churches/montgom/16880.htm)

 

I think the pedal organ would be priority. Any one else got any thoughts?

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Organ is definitely from 1845-6, and was moved to the chancel sometime in 1880-2 when George Street refurbished the church. (http://www.cpat.demon.co.uk/projects/longer/churches/montgom/16880.htm)

 

I think the pedal organ would be priority. Any one else got any thoughts?

 

Oh, well if it was moved, then I would spend every penny moving it back! Especially if George Street provided his customary outhouse in a distant ditch for the organ to go.

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Oh, well if it was moved, then I would spend every penny moving it back! Especially if George Street provided his customary outhouse in a distant ditch for the organ to go.

 

Luckily, there's no outhouse, but someone clearly sawed bits off the Gothic-style tops of the façade, in order to jam the organ underneath the archway at the end of the arcade from Abbey Cwmhir. I'd be interested to see what Hill did to it - I might go to consult the material in the BOA archives soon. This might be important in the case of the Great Mixture, for example. Wasn't Hill fond of Mixtures with Tierces in the bass only? Could he have removed a Tierce rank from the top of the Mixture?

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Luckily, there's no outhouse, but someone clearly sawed bits off the Gothic-style tops of the façade, in order to jam the organ underneath the archway at the end of the arcade from Abbey Cwmhir. I'd be interested to see what Hill did to it - I might go to consult the material in the BOA archives soon. This might be important in the case of the Great Mixture, for example. Wasn't Hill fond of Mixtures with Tierces in the bass only? Could he have removed a Tierce rank from the top of the Mixture?

 

If Hill had found a Mixture with a Tierce throughout, odds are he'd have left it that way. I take it you don't know whether or not there's a vacant row on the rackboard?

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It's really difficult to give any meaningful advice without seeing the organ and fully understanding the organ's history. However, I felt Hecklephone gave largely sensible practical advice above.

 

I would start by uncovering the organ's history fully and determining the provenance of every aspect of the organ. With that knowledge you can start to make informed decisions about what to do next. Starting with a wish-list of stops to add, as you have done, is definitely not the place to start! Build up your understanding of the organ first.

 

Though someone has messed about with the organ quite a bit, the essential character of the organ is still audible, and I wouldn't want to replace it, if it were my decision.

If this is the case, I would aim to restore the organ's character so it can be experienced in its best light and expunge the "messed about" bits that are at odds with it.

 

I would concentrate first on getting the basics of the organ right first - frame, soundboards, wind system, actions, console, casework and the preservation of the pipework, making sure that everything is in keeping, to the smallest detail. On the tonal side, I would aim to respect/restore the organ's tonality, making sure that nothing incongruous is added. So this:-

 

- Entirely new pedal division. My suggested scheme (no extension): Contrabass 16'; Subbass 16'; Quint 10 2/3' (soft enough to be used with the Subbass); Open Flute 8'; Octave Flute 4'; Trombone 16'; Trumpet 8' (perhaps from Great?).

Is a definite no-no. This ridiculous pedal organ is completely out of keeping with this style of organ. It looks like an "extensio ad absurdum" pedal organ of the 1950s-1980s: Although I know you say no extension, this type of specification was only ever found in the UK on pedal organs that had been extended beyond the Styx and back. The eclectic mix of continental and British nomenclature suggests a fundamental lack of understanding of stylistic issues.

 

If the pedal organ really needs enlarging (and for that you'll need space and a way to do it that is in keeping with the rest of the organ), I would think in terms of how Hill or Wadsworth (whichever's more appropriate) would have done it: The first stop they would had added to the Bourdon would be a wooden 16ft Open Diapason, then an 8ft Principal or Violoncello, then a 16ft Trombone - but this last stop, though very desirable, would only start to be found on mid to large sized 3 manual organs. Thinking in these terms will beget a more harmonious and musically successful pedal division for this organ.

 

Don't worry about the stories of wooley, booming, Open Woods. These stories were borne out of the organ reform movement in the UK in the 1950s to the 1990s and they had an agenda, rather than really refering to good examples. You can get good, well-defined notes out of these sorts of pipes and the best examples are extremely useful. I would find a few good examples from which to copy and learn. There may be the possibility of finding pipes of the right provenance to use rather than making new pipes - this option shouldn't be overlooked.

 

Space will probably prevent your suggested additions to the Swell Organ, which can only be a good thing as they are unecessary and would only serve to obscure the character of the organ further.

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If this is the case, I would aim to restore the organ's character so it can be experienced in its best light and excise the "messed about" bits that are at odds with it.

 

I would concentrate first on getting the basics of the organ right first - frame, soundboards, wind system, actions, console, casework and the preservation of the pipework, making sure that everything is in keeping, to the smallest detail. On the tonal side, I would aim to respect/restore the organ's tonality, making sure that nothing incongruous is added.

 

'Agree totally - although there are certainly a few builders who would do anything you wanted to the instrument in the name of improvement One only has to compare the work of our hosts along with, for example, the instrument played by the author of the above with some of the jobs around with massive 'wandering' consoles, thousands of pistons, over extended reed ranks in the centre of which hides a perfectly respectable Victorian two decker to see that the former are far better than the latter from every point of view. Integrity of design, 'honesty' as to where everything comes from (derivation- wise) and above all musicality.

 

A

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I'd tend to err on the side of what Colin is suggesting. Without seeing the instrument and hearing it, it's all a degree of supposition but there's something about what I'm reading which says tread lightly. Get a close assessment of what's there. 1840's pipework and mechanism is fairly easy to identify compared to, say, Hill 1870's, so I don't reckon it would be a hard job.

 

You can see enough evidence to guide you with what has been changed over time, some of which might be with good reason, or a fad response.

 

Concentrate on good winding, good action, good soundboards then good layout if it's a problem. In terms of sounds, it looks close to OK on paper. If it turns out to be 1840's, in principle untouched, then do go carefully, you're not dealing with easy come, easy go, stuff here. I could possibly countenance completion of the Swell basses outside the box if no space inside. A pedal Bourdon 16 and Principal 8. Much beyond that, as Colin has suggested, is totally out of proportion.

 

You might find that your money needs to be spent on the winding and soundboards to put them in the best condition. If not, save yourself a whole hill of money that doesn't need to be spent on the organ rebuild, and put it into a maintenance fund.

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