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No - just disconnected at present.

 

Apparently, the plan is that, once even more money has been collected, the South Transept case will be moved to the North Transept, the 32ft. flue ranks reconnected and a two-claiver Transept (Nave?) Organ will be built. Presumably the pipework from the former Solo Organ will be removed at this time - unless it has gone already.

 

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

 

 

We need a campaign like they have outside St Paul's.

 

Add weight to your voices, bring back the Diaphones!

 

They'd have coach-trips full of organists queuing up to hear them.

 

MM :(

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Add weight to your voices, bring back the Diaphones!

 

They'd have coach-trips full of organists queuing up to hear them.

 

MM :(

 

Try here - they were going strong last time we stayed down there.

 

A

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Try here - they were going strong last time we stayed down there.

 

A

 

 

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

 

 

Single notes are a bit boring.

 

Now a harmonic thrutch of diaphones is....well.....interesting...... :(

 

 

Of course, with suitable upperwork, not forgetting that they are notoriously difficult to regulate and tune:-

 

 

 

Note the sound of the diesel-powered blower at the end!

 

 

 

MM

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

 

 

Single notes are a bit boring.

 

Now a harmonic thrutch of diaphones is....well.....interesting...... :(

 

 

Of course, with suitable upperwork, not forgetting that they are notoriously difficult to regulate and tune:-

 

 

 

Note the sound of the diesel-powered blower at the end!

 

 

MM

 

Very Good!

 

A

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

 

 

We need a campaign like they have outside St Paul's.

 

Add weight to your voices, bring back the Diaphones!

 

They'd have coach-trips full of organists queuing up to hear them.

 

MM :(

 

At least there would be no shortage of anoraks to keep them warm.

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How have the transfers to CD fared?

 

 

Fine sounding as the Amphion excerpts are, these are better in every way. Clear, clear, clear and much less given to distortion than the LPs.

 

The notes are fascinating esp. those by Graham Barber. He adds some nice, personal tid-bits about Norwich.

 

I believe that the standard of organ playing today is simply amazing and, by and large, better than ever. But these men had many wonderful qualities, not least of which are wonderful colour sense, fine legato and artistic use of the swell box. I was especially impressed by the last on the St. Giles recording and am wondering if the IS&G Willis swell pedals should be given the credit.

 

Other than Liverpool, are there any other instruments that use them ?

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I believe that the standard of organ playing today is simply amazing and, by and large, better than ever.

 

 

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

 

 

I was fairly blown away by Jeremny Filsell playing a transcription of the Dukas "Sorcerer's Apprentice" the other day, and other landmarks include Graham Barber, but without naming names, quite a lot of performers to-day leave me a little cold, even if they are technically perfect.

 

It's always nice to hear technical brilliance combined with astute and intuitive musicianship, and locally, board member Ben Saunders certainly fits into that category.

 

I'm probably out of touch with cathedral organists these days, but with a few notable exceptions, I've tended to regard the best music college organists as one step up; though I'm very happy to be proven wrong. (Graham Barber is ex-Royal Northern College I believe).

 

Interestingly, my little tour of Hungary as a discussion thread, brought up some extraordinary multi-talent, which I have seldom heard matched elsewhere, with perhaps the exception of Paris. What's more, when it comes to specialised baroque repertoire, I still look towards the Netherlands and Germany.

 

I think that like the proverbial pigs, all organists are good, but some are gooder than others.

 

MM

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With the greatest respect to the board and esp. MM, I'd like to report on my listening to the "records" - that is to say, really listening closely for the first time in some forty years and through a pair of top-notch head phones. As I've reached No.7, a powerful, holy and magical number, this may be the moment to compare my childish memories with the reactions of one who is now 61.

1) Liverpool: It's still thrilling on every level.

2) York: Superb and effortless playing from one of our very greatest players in his prime. Confess I'm not in love with that big Tuba but, again, it's a matter of who cares ? That stop is right for that enormous space and that very wonderful and jolly Tuba Tune. However, one is reminded of one of HWIII's crushing rejoinders, this time to The Rev'd N. Bonavia-Hunt, who had "voiced" a Tuba for the organ at his church: B-H asked "How do you like my Tuba ?" Willis replied "Which note?"

3) Westminster Abbey: Still elegant, magisterial and lofty playing.

4) Gloucester: This still encapsulates all that is fine in the English Cathedral school of organ playing. This man could PLAY and with enormous energy, vigour AND refinement.

5) Coventry: With sincere apologies to any and all that this might offend, I find this organ and playing even more unmusical and unrefined than I did as a kid. The sonorities, as recorded, sound so exaggerated that one is tempted to compare it so a cinema job. Above C37, the upperwork is impossibly thin, screaming and unblending. The Swell reed chorus sounds like Orchestral Oboes on high wind pressure. I'm told by players that I respect that they are very fond of this instrument and that the Choir Flute Harmonique is lovely. Fine. Perhaps it is the fault of the recording and player. I just don't like a thing about it.

6) Exeter: I owe the late Dr. Dakers an apology. I short-changed this number in my initial assessment. Although there is a slightly "dated" quality about the organ and much of the playing (esp. Mendelssohn) it is all very fine and shows the organ to advantage. We could use cathedral playing like this today. It is so gracious and old fashioned. One senses that the time has come for the rebuild, but it's still a very fine organ.

7) St. Giles: I have a strong feeling that there will be few that will echo my admiration for this organ and player. One can only imagine how this instrument would have sounded in the Coventry acoustic. SOME of this playing, the registration of the "baroque" pieces IS dated, but in a different way. We all remember standing on our heads to make romantic instruments sound "authentic." But it's the PLAYING here that takes my heart. One senses a MAJOR technique and a MAJOR musician. Notice the perfect legato of the inner voices. Nothing is left to chance. There is discipline in the line as well as a very vocal freedom when required. Young people today often use the word HUGE to describe my reactions to his playing. He is certainly a HUGE player and a peerless musician. There ARE occasional imperfections of one kind and another. But listen to the recordings of Alfred Cortot and Josef Hoffmann. Different players, different imperfections, both colossal.

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2) York: Superb and effortless playing from one of our very greatest players in his prime. Confess I'm not in love with that big Tuba but, again, it's a matter of who cares ? That stop is right for that enormous space and that very wonderful and jolly Tuba Tune. However, one is reminded of one of HWIII's crushing rejoinders, this time to The Rev'd N. Bonavia-Hunt, who had "voiced" a Tuba for the organ at his church: B-H asked "How do you like my Tuba ?" Willis replied "Which note?"

 

 

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

 

 

Organists and organ-enthusiasts have giggled like schoolboys over the years. We LOVE that Tuba, possibly because it is what it is. (Do any two notes speak or sound the same?)

 

Of course, at big gatherings, Francis Jackson did very naughty things with the Tuba, which you can hear at the end of the Bossi Scherzo.

 

Getting the timing to perfection, he would use the big Tuba to end a hymn, with just the briefest of blasts as he took his hands from the keys; the shock wave silencing everyone by the element of surprise......(read "Shock & Awe").

 

MM

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5) Coventry: With sincere apologies to any and all that this might offend, I find this organ and playing even more unmusical and unrefined than I did as a kid. The sonorities, as recorded, sound so exaggerated that one is tempted to compare it so a cinema job. Above C37, the upperwork is impossibly thin, screaming and unblending. The Swell reed chorus sounds like Orchestral Oboes on high wind pressure. I'm told by players that I respect that they are very fond of this instrument and that the Choir Flute Harmonique is lovely. Fine. Perhaps it is the fault of the recording and player. I just don't like a thing about it.

It may be a fault of the recording - or the placing of the microphones.

 

I have had the privilege of playing this superb instrument on a number of occasions, including service and recital work. It is, in my opinion, head and shoulders above many other cathedral instruments in Britain - I would certainly rate it far higher than, for example, York Minster (although I realise that the Coventry instrument would not fill the Minster in quite the same way - after all, it has been voiced for a far smaller edifice).

 

I must admit that I have a huge respect for the organ of Coventry Cathedral. One really cannot judge simply from a recording, particularly one re-mastered from the 1960s (which would not overcome the fact that the microphones used were probably inferior to those which are available today).

 

The upperwork, in the building, is well-voiced and beautifully regulated. Nothing screams or predoinates. The Swell reeds are fiery and exciting. It is true that they are not in the same style as those by FHW - but they are thouroughbreds nevertheless.

 

 

6) Exeter: I owe the late Dr. Dakers an apology. I short-changed this number in my initial assessment. Although there is a slightly "dated" quality about the organ and much of the playing (esp. Mendelssohn) it is all very fine and shows the organ to advantage. We could use cathedral playing like this today. It is so gracious and old fashioned. One senses that the time has come for the rebuild, but it's still a very fine organ.

 

Now here I would agree with you, Karl.

 

I was taught on the successor to this instrument (i.e., the H&H rebuild of 1965) for several years and again, I have a great respect and fondness for this instrument - which is also one of the best accompanimental instruments known to me.

 

I also like Dakers' playing - it is subtle, understated, yet thoroughly musical. Shortly after the rebuild was completed, he made a further LP recording (a copy of which I own). It is one of the nicest recordings in my collection - I even like the Tuba....

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I have hugely enjoyed rediscovering the parts of this series I bought when they first appeared (e.g. Salisbury, St Giles's), and just as much those which I have not heard before. I am not qualified to offer detailed criticism, but would point out the distinctly old-fashioned feel to the whole thing - no surprise there, really. One of the Bach performances even reminded me in detail of similar performances by Sydney Watson at Christ Church, who certainly couldn't have been accused of being modern!

 

It may be a fault of the recording - or the placing of the microphones.

I have not heard Coventry live, but this recording is startlingly inferior to the other recordings of it I have heard, and to the others in this set. I can't begin to say why, apart from presuming that Culverhouse's ability to position microphones right departed him that day. There is no need to view microphones from that time as inferior - quite simply, at the top end they were not. For instance, the AKG C12, designed in the late 50s, is very little different from its transistorised successors, which use essentially the same capsule; and the BBC 4038 ribbon - designed in the early 50s, is still considered one of the best microphones of all time, and remains in commercial production some 55 years on.

 

Paul

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I also like Dakers' playing - it is subtle, understated, yet thoroughly musical.

 

 

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

 

 

And if we add the word gentlemanly, it would sum up Lionel Dakers completely. He was utterly charming.

 

MM

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My copy arrived today, at long last. I expect Jeremy Clarkson could have beaten the Royal Mail in this case while driving a clapped out Morris Marina, but no matter! I am very grateful for this thread, else I would never have been aware of the box set (which isn't available on the Amazon US site).

 

Justin

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With the greatest respect to the board and esp. MM, I'd like to report on my listening to the "records" - that is to say, really listening closely for the first time in some forty years and through a pair of top-notch head phones. As I've reached No.7, a powerful, holy and magical number, this may be the moment to compare my childish memories with the reactions of one who is now 61.

1) Liverpool: It's still thrilling on every level.

2) York: Superb and effortless playing from one of our very greatest players in his prime. Confess I'm not in love with that big Tuba but, again, it's a matter of who cares ? That stop is right for that enormous space and that very wonderful and jolly Tuba Tune. However, one is reminded of one of HWIII's crushing rejoinders, this time to The Rev'd N. Bonavia-Hunt, who had "voiced" a Tuba for the organ at his church: B-H asked "How do you like my Tuba ?" Willis replied "Which note?"

3) Westminster Abbey: Still elegant, magisterial and lofty playing.

4) Gloucester: This still encapsulates all that is fine in the English Cathedral school of organ playing. This man could PLAY and with enormous energy, vigour AND refinement.

5) Coventry: With sincere apologies to any and all that this might offend, I find this organ and playing even more unmusical and unrefined than I did as a kid. The sonorities, as recorded, sound so exaggerated that one is tempted to compare it so a cinema job. Above C37, the upperwork is impossibly thin, screaming and unblending. The Swell reed chorus sounds like Orchestral Oboes on high wind pressure. I'm told by players that I respect that they are very fond of this instrument and that the Choir Flute Harmonique is lovely. Fine. Perhaps it is the fault of the recording and player. I just don't like a thing about it.

6) Exeter: I owe the late Dr. Dakers an apology. I short-changed this number in my initial assessment. Although there is a slightly "dated" quality about the organ and much of the playing (esp. Mendelssohn) it is all very fine and shows the organ to advantage. We could use cathedral playing like this today. It is so gracious and old fashioned. One senses that the time has come for the rebuild, but it's still a very fine organ.

7) St. Giles: I have a strong feeling that there will be few that will echo my admiration for this organ and player. One can only imagine how this instrument would have sounded in the Coventry acoustic. SOME of this playing, the registration of the "baroque" pieces IS dated, but in a different way. We all remember standing on our heads to make romantic instruments sound "authentic." But it's the PLAYING here that takes my heart. One senses a MAJOR technique and a MAJOR musician. Notice the perfect legato of the inner voices. Nothing is left to chance. There is discipline in the line as well as a very vocal freedom when required. Young people today often use the word HUGE to describe my reactions to his playing. He is certainly a HUGE player and a peerless musician. There ARE occasional imperfections of one kind and another. But listen to the recordings of Alfred Cortot and Josef Hoffmann. Different players, different imperfections, both colossal.

This is a continuation of my very personal reactions to hearing these “records” some forty years after the period when I played them incessantly and to the distraction of my poor family. None of these comments are intended to wound or offend and I apologise in advance for any statements that the board might find controversial.

 

My last included a very brief overview of nos. 1-7. I failed to mention two bonus tracks of Simon Preston playing at the Abbey. This player, more than any other, was the inspiration of my youth. Some twelve years older than I, his playing totally captured my imagination. Just to begin, has anyone ever “owned” the Abbey organ as does he ? There is total and utter naturalness in everything, every stop change, every movement of the swells. There is clarity at all times, perfect unanimity in touch, incredible evenness and absolutely NOTHING is left to chance. There is also a distinctive brilliance and élan. All is animated and “sprung.” He is a modern player in every sense, just as Lionel Dakers playing is old time, courtly and obviously of a different era. I doubt that this playing of the Howells Set 2 No.1 Ps. Prelude will ever be equaled. One is reminded of Virgil Thomson’s comment about Landowska playing the harpsichord better than anyone else plays anything.

8) Llandaff: I wish that I could find something, anything to like or admire here.

9) Durham: I found myself less fond of this number at 61 than at 18. However, Conrad Eden is a master, make no mistake. The programme is interesting, and, with the Schoenberg, unique. The Milnar and Harris pieces are beautiful and are played elegantly . My enthusiasm for the Karg-Elert has dimmed over the years, but it is a fine romp. The organ is a bit of a war-horse and its full power inclined to suggest the brutal. Boxing gloves come to mind or a giant treading on small forest creatures. One appreciates the intimacy of the Choir Organ. Pity its Open has gone away.

10) Hereford: Hard to beat the combination of this splendid organ, wonderful programme and playing which is masterly in all contexts. This is an organist who could surely go to the piano and play major works with ease. One senses a player for whom nothing is impossible and everything, no matter how difficult, is managed with ease and with plenty of room to spare. This is not to imply detachment, for Dr. Cook is a very intense player and is fully “present” as an interpreter at every moment. The music is so successfully set forth and “put over” that one never thinks about the instrument not being suited to the repertoire. Enjoyment is the byword here. And real virtuosity.

11) Salisbury: One of the great organs of the world at the hands of a golden player of imagination and sweep. We may not use Tubas in Franck today, but this organist can do nothing that is not first and last musical. Never liked the Vox Humana ? Wait ’till you hear this one. The Saint-Saens is delicious, the flutes “kissing” the vaulting. The big Nielsen work is not to be missed; powerful and formal in its message. The final C Major resolution is a thing of glory. Who was it that once said that Fr. Willis imagined a sound worthy of an English Cathedral and then built it ?

12) Norwich: One should confess that few of us who read and/or contribute here will have a career as distinguished as Heathcote Statham. Perhaps one could say that this is the other end of the spectrum from the young Simon Preston. We are listening to a very senior player, but a fine one who can still get around a bit. The Karg-Elert Pastel is lovely with superb expression and an excellent Cor Anglais. The big organ sounds nice. It’s hard for us today to understand his approach to 17th century music. I don’t believe that the Dorian Fugue should have been approved for release. The Stanley pastiche comes off best with rather jaunty use of the fine Tuba.

13) Ely: For me, this has always been the most regrettable number of the set. The liner notes did not take into consideration that the Great and Pedal reeds had been revoiced. The enormous reputation that this organ enjoyed as the first cathedral organ of the A. Harrison/Col. Dixon team is not born out by the sounds on this disc. To give the organist credit, he rarely if ever deviates from the registration called for by this largely French programme. However, one must observe that there is not one moment of beauty, never the slightest gesture toward expressive, sensitive playing. There are many false notes, split notes and melodic lines during which the feeble legato is simply abandoned. Tempi are erratic to put it kindly and there is not a single evenly played bit of passage work to be heard. It is unrelieved honking and lurching from pillar to post. The Vierne Naiades goes in and out; good for a few measures and then . . . The organist’s own Introduction and Allegro is effective and played with conviction. Toward the end, the flue chorus alternates with the crushing of rocks and the sawing of stones.

14) Worcester: Who was the wag that characterised the Harrison/Dixon concept as Hope-Jones with needles ? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, here it is in the flesh. But Christopher Robinson knows how to make it work, Diaphones and all. He is a magician and a musician. Amongst the organists of the series who attempt music not compatible to their particular instrument, he is the closest to succeeding and with distinction. I dislike on principle any mucking about with the registration of the composer. Christopher Robinson gives us what amounts to a transcription of the Franck Piece Heroique. In my opinion, it is brilliant. I wouldn’t teach a student to do this, but it is a superb conception. When this man plays, the sun shines. All is well-planned and inevitable. About the organ: to read the stoplist is to groan with dread. One can hardly believe that he obtains such convincing results. The Peeters chorale preludes are not only beautifully played but the organ sounds superb. We shall have to ask ourselves if this is lovely old Hill soft work or, horrors, something from the H-J shop. You will not be able to keep from smiling as you listen to this very enjoyable disc.

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It occurs to me that I've said nothing about the recorded sound.

 

This set was literally crying out for digital remastering and transfer. The LP really couldn't contain the info the mikes picked up. Again, some numbers were better than others. Durham must have been a bit of a trial for the engineers. Things are pushed to their limits at Salisbury as well and at various moments in almost all the numbers. But, by and large, listening to these familiar performances through the good offices of digital sound is a revelation. You will be astounded at the amount of detail captured, esp. if you listen through a high-quality set of head phones.

 

Magnificent instruments played gloriously.

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I am getting more anxious by the day and dead jealous of the rest of you...my set duly arrived, but my wife has hidden them for a Christmas present...still, it'll give me something to do over the holidays!

I have had a look at the gramophone archive and here are a couple more links:

canterbury Link.

Selby Selby.

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I am getting more anxious by the day and dead jealous of the rest of you...my set duly arrived, but my wife has hidden them for a Christmas present...still, it'll give me something to do over the holidays!

I have had a look at the gramophone archive and here are a couple more links:

canterbury Link.

Selby Selby.

Actually, the Franck Chorales are NOT amongst the bonus offerings. It's only (!) the big Reger from another LP.

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This is a continuation of my very personal reactions to hearing these “records” some forty years after the period when I played them incessantly and to the distraction of my poor family. None of these comments are intended to wound or offend and I apologise in advance for any statements that the board might find controversial.

 

My last included a very brief overview of nos. 1-7. I failed to mention two bonus tracks of Simon Preston playing at the Abbey. This player, more than any other, was the inspiration of my youth. Some twelve years older than I, his playing totally captured my imagination. Just to begin, has anyone ever “owned” the Abbey organ as does he ? There is total and utter naturalness in everything, every stop change, every movement of the swells. There is clarity at all times, perfect unanimity in touch, incredible evenness and absolutely NOTHING is left to chance. There is also a distinctive brilliance and élan. All is animated and “sprung.” He is a modern player in every sense, just as Lionel Dakers playing is old time, courtly and obviously of a different era. I doubt that this playing of the Howells Set 2 No.1 Ps. Prelude will ever be equaled. One is reminded of Virgil Thomson’s comment about Landowska playing the harpsichord better than anyone else plays anything.

8) Llandaff: I wish that I could find something, anything to like or admire here.

9) Durham: I found myself less fond of this number at 61 than at 18. However, Conrad Eden is a master, make no mistake. The programme is interesting, and, with the Schoenberg, unique. The Milnar and Harris pieces are beautiful and are played elegantly . My enthusiasm for the Karg-Elert has dimmed over the years, but it is a fine romp. The organ is a bit of a war-horse and its full power inclined to suggest the brutal. Boxing gloves come to mind or a giant treading on small forest creatures. One appreciates the intimacy of the Choir Organ. Pity its Open has gone away.

10) Hereford: Hard to beat the combination of this splendid organ, wonderful programme and playing which is masterly in all contexts. This is an organist who could surely go to the piano and play major works with ease. One senses a player for whom nothing is impossible and everything, no matter how difficult, is managed with ease and with plenty of room to spare. This is not to imply detachment, for Dr. Cook is a very intense player and is fully “present” as an interpreter at every moment. The music is so successfully set forth and “put over” that one never thinks about the instrument not being suited to the repertoire. Enjoyment is the byword here. And real virtuosity.

11) Salisbury: One of the great organs of the world at the hands of a golden player of imagination and sweep. We may not use Tubas in Franck today, but this organist can do nothing that is not first and last musical. Never liked the Vox Humana ? Wait ’till you hear this one. The Saint-Saens is delicious, the flutes “kissing” the vaulting. The big Nielsen work is not to be missed; powerful and formal in its message. The final C Major resolution is a thing of glory. Who was it that once said that Fr. Willis imagined a sound worthy of an English Cathedral and then built it ?

12) Norwich: One should confess that few of us who read and/or contribute here will have a career as distinguished as Heathcote Statham. Perhaps one could say that this is the other end of the spectrum from the young Simon Preston. We are listening to a very senior player, but a fine one who can still get around a bit. The Karg-Elert Pastel is lovely with superb expression and an excellent Cor Anglais. The big organ sounds nice. It’s hard for us today to understand his approach to 17th century music. I don’t believe that the Dorian Fugue should have been approved for release. The Stanley pastiche comes off best with rather jaunty use of the fine Tuba.

13) Ely: For me, this has always been the most regrettable number of the set. The liner notes did not take into consideration that the Great and Pedal reeds had been revoiced. The enormous reputation that this organ enjoyed as the first cathedral organ of the A. Harrison/Col. Dixon team is not born out by the sounds on this disc. To give the organist credit, he rarely if ever deviates from the registration called for by this largely French programme. However, one must observe that there is not one moment of beauty, never the slightest gesture toward expressive, sensitive playing. There are many false notes, split notes and melodic lines during which the feeble legato is simply abandoned. Tempi are erratic to put it kindly and there is not a single evenly played bit of passage work to be heard. It is unrelieved honking and lurching from pillar to post. The Vierne Naiades goes in and out; good for a few measures and then . . . The organist’s own Introduction and Allegro is effective and played with conviction. Toward the end, the flue chorus alternates with the crushing of rocks and the sawing of stones.

14) Worcester: Who was the wag that characterised the Harrison/Dixon concept as Hope-Jones with needles ? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, here it is in the flesh. But Christopher Robinson knows how to make it work, Diaphones and all. He is a magician and a musician. Amongst the organists of the series who attempt music not compatible to their particular instrument, he is the closest to succeeding and with distinction. I dislike on principle any mucking about with the registration of the composer. Christopher Robinson gives us what amounts to a transcription of the Franck Piece Heroique. In my opinion, it is brilliant. I wouldn’t teach a student to do this, but it is a superb conception. When this man plays, the sun shines. All is well-planned and inevitable. About the organ: to read the stoplist is to groan with dread. One can hardly believe that he obtains such convincing results. The Peeters chorale preludes are not only beautifully played but the organ sounds superb. We shall have to ask ourselves if this is lovely old Hill soft work or, horrors, something from the H-J shop. You will not be able to keep from smiling as you listen to this very enjoyable disc.

15) Westminster Cathedral: It’s hard to pick a winner out of so many remarkable numbers (Salisbury, Hereford, et al) but this one has always enjoyed a unique distinction. The playing is so wonderful, every moment, every phrase, that one gropes for superlatives. Suffice it to say that even where the registration has been varied from the composer’s indications, this recording would be valuable as a lesson in itself, quite beyond the pleasure it gives the listener. The naturalness and expressivity in the Franck are special. At all times one senses the full range of emotions that the composer suggests. There is rapt stillness and there is heady thrill; in short, the gamut. And then there is the organ. Have you ever imagined a crescendo from fff to ffff ? This organ can do it. Listen to the end of the Franck a minor. It is staggering power, but with a difference. It is not at all like the Durham full organ. There is considerable clang-tone from these reeds, not to mention incredibly even voicing. NK gives us some exotic moments that are a tad off the beaten path: shimmering strings, rich clarinet, enchanting mutations and fine French Horn. These are “moments” only as before very long we are back to the composer’s indications. This recording is pure music making. We were not so fussy in those days about the Sw/Ped during the dash to the end of the Franck Chorale.

16) Canterbury: These are, in my opinion, performances more to be admired than to be enjoyed, per se. Everything is intense, every moment. The First Mendelssohn Sonata is clear and driven very hard. The second movement is charming. Overall, the interpretations represent very personal views. They are convincing in their way. There is no lack of prep here. He knows where he is going and who is going with him. The organ sounds good.

17) St. Paul’s: The producer informs us in the notes that Dr. D-B had declined earlier on and so this number is also played by Christopher Dearnley. I call him the golden player. There is a burnished shine to all his playing. We are given an unforgettable tour of the reeds. Like Exeter, Worcester, Canterbury, Lincoln & Chester, there is a complete Mendelssohn Sonata. And a thing of beauty it is: playing, registration, the lot. One commentator heartily dislikes these old-fashioned, cathedral treatments. I have a hard time imagining them otherwise, although the critic is surely right. There are opportunities to hear some of the now discarded bits: the Dome Tubas, the Lewis Diapason Chorus and not least, HWIII’s chirpy little Choir Koppelflöte. The performance of the Howell’s Ps. Prelude is memorable; the build up is epic here. The old job, not long away from its major rebuild, pants now and again.

18) Lincoln: A beautiful organ, beautifully played. Everything is “central” here. The organ that seemed old-hat to the progressives of the fin de siècle is so very right to these ears. There are no exaggerated sonorities or effects. Philip Marshall seems incapable of a mis-step, of committing an unmusical act. His legato is out of the ordinary in its totally vocal quality. The Brahms chorales are superb: beautiful singing lines everywhere. The music, the organ and the player seem to inspire each other in turn. “O Welt” receives a definitive interpretation. Aside from a rather pedestrian Mendelssohn Sonata (No.5) everything here is desert island material. This last of FHW’s cathedral organs is smooth and refined but still capable of providing fireworks.

19) Chester: Both organ and organist have long been admired, one might almost say loved by those who appreciate cathedral music and fine playing. The Allegretto movement of the Mendelssohn No.4 is lovely. The final movement played at just the right tempo, everything sounding splendid and glorious, long to reign over us. The organ is fresh from the hands of R&D, and until the sharp mixtures intrude, all seems to come off decently and in order. Whatever one’s prejudices, there is something so very English about these Hill reeds. I enjoy Roger Fisher’s Stanley Voluntary very much. He must have been keen to show off his newly-acquired mutations; beautiful touch and articulation here. One of my favourite Bach P & Fs - the seldom heard g minor 535 - with spectacularly naughty manual changes in the Prelude. The programme ends with the Reubke 94th Psalm.

Bonus: Selby Abbey/Fernando Germani - This is one of those recordings that have to be heard to be believed. Few discs of the period were more popular and/or admired. We have waited too long for this reissue ! My first organ teacher had a hard policy about Reger. He felt that the Germans should show their high regard for his works by not allowing them to be played outside the Fatherland. Clearly, he had never listened to this amazing performance on a superb late Hill. It is like the stars came together and music, performer and instrument produced a miracle. When you hear this, you will realise that I am not exaggerating.

Bonus: Norwich/Brian Runnett - Personally, I prefer old-time, Novello edition treatments of Bach (my first teacher called it “cathedral” Bach) to most attempts to play Franck on the typical English cathedral organ. Oddly, there have been more successes in the above series than the expected failures ! Most have been more or less transcribed in terms of the registration. Like everything Brian Runnett touched this is nothing less than excellent. That I don’t particularly care for it is immaterial. It is immaculate playing, very carefully planned and laid out. The very tricky Brahms Fugue is, in my opinion, much better, and a better match to his sensibilities. The Reger is better yet and the organ sounds best here. I rather regard this instrument as a cut below some of the others in the series, although clearly streets ahead of one or two of them.

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It may be a fault of the recording - or the placing of the microphones.

 

I must admit that I have a huge respect for the organ of Coventry Cathedral. One really cannot judge simply from a recording, particularly one re-mastered from the 1960s (which would not overcome the fact that the microphones used were probably inferior to those which are available today).

 

The upperwork, in the building, is well-voiced and beautifully regulated. Nothing screams or predoinates. The Swell reeds are fiery and exciting. It is true that they are not in the same style as those by FHW - but they are thouroughbreds nevertheless.

 

I completely agree with pcnd5584 here. I have had the pleasure of attending many lunchtime recitals in Coventry over the past year or two and have never come away disappointed; the organ seems to suit whatever style of music is played on it and is always thrilling. The sound of the Swell reeds coming through the Great foundation chorus as the box is opened makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and the Swell Oboe used as a solo stop is sublime. If you ever visit Coventry do make a trip to hear the organ as the recordings do not do it justice. Sit a few rows down in the nave and prepare to be transfixed! (It is also one of the friendliest cathedrals I have visited with the musical staff always delighted to chat about the organ of which they are justifiably proud).

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I completely agree with pcnd5584 here. I have had the pleasure of attending many lunchtime recitals in Coventry over the past year or two and have never come away disappointed; the organ seems to suit whatever style of music is played on it and is always thrilling. The sound of the Swell reeds coming through the Great foundation chorus as the box is opened makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and the Swell Oboe used as a solo stop is sublime. If you ever visit Coventry do make a trip to hear the organ as the recordings do not do it justice. Sit a few rows down in the nave and prepare to be transfixed! (It is also one of the friendliest cathedrals I have visited with the musical staff always delighted to chat about the organ of which they are justifiably proud).

 

I've heard Coventry a couple of times at week-day services, but never 'let out', so I can't form an opinion. If, however, it's anything like its stable-mate at Windsor, I can well believe that it deserves the praise it gets. When people complain about British organs, it's usually on matters of balance, and Windsor (and presumably Coventry) manages to retain the tradition but with good balance throughout (I never liked those Solo reeds, though!).

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I completely agree with pcnd5584 here. I have had the pleasure of attending many lunchtime recitals in Coventry over the past year or two and have never come away disappointed; the organ seems to suit whatever style of music is played on it and is always thrilling. The sound of the Swell reeds coming through the Great foundation chorus as the box is opened makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and the Swell Oboe used as a solo stop is sublime. If you ever visit Coventry do make a trip to hear the organ as the recordings do not do it justice. Sit a few rows down in the nave and prepare to be transfixed! (It is also one of the friendliest cathedrals I have visited with the musical staff always delighted to chat about the organ of which they are justifiably proud).

I'm glad of this last and others who have spoken in praise of the Coventry instrument. I think that I mentioned that several players that I know and respect have great admiration and affection for this organ. So beware the Coventry number in the GCO series. Mics have a way of hearing what THEY want to hear. In the case of the voice, it can be even more perverse. Kathleen Ferrier said that the only one of her records that sounded anything like her voice was the Alto Rhapsody. The late John Steane remarked that the microphone "heard" things that his ears did NOT.

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I'm glad of this last and others who have spoken in praise of the Coventry instrument.

 

The recordings at Coventry by David M Patrick (complete Duruflé without the posthumous Meditation) and Iain Quinn (American Organ Music) are very impressive - 'sound wise' as well as 'playing wise'. In fact when I heard Duruflé played at S. Etienne du Mont in Paris a year or so ago it sounded very much like Coventry - one tends to forget about the 'neo' nature of the instrument D. was composing for.

 

A

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I am getting more anxious by the day and dead jealous of the rest of you...my set duly arrived, but my wife has hidden them for a Christmas present...still, it'll give me something to do over the holidays!

I have had a look at the gramophone archive and here are a couple more links:

canterbury Link.

Selby Selby.

 

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

 

 

Well, the revue of the Selby recording of the Reger "Hallelujah! Gott zu loben, " by Germani, almost gets a thumbs-up from the reviewer, whoever J.N.M. may be.

 

Here is what he has to say:-

 

"The most notable item is perhaps the Reger (of which this is the only available recording). The work is really an enormously extended Fantasia and Fugue woven around not only the chorale melody but its harmonisation as well. The result is no more deft or ingratiating than is usually the case with Reger's music. But Germani is able to use carefully chosen registrations and his own wonderful command of rhythm to lend the work a shapely coherence that is truly remarkable."

 

 

I have no idea who JNM is or was, and frankly, I don't care if he was the personal organist to the Pope, but the man is/was a twit. :angry:

 

The work hangs brilliantly around the Chorale, the inversion, harmonisation and augmentation of it, while the Fugue is based on a counterpoint to the Chorale, which allows the Chorale theme to thunder out in due course in all its glory, with a brilliant use of stretto. It is only 15 minutes long, and far from "enormously extended."

 

No wonder Reger read reviews and threw them down the toilet after using them appropriately.

 

I wonder what JNM had to say about Eric Thiman's music?

 

I feel sure that he would be at home with it.

 

MM

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If, however, it's anything like its stable-mate at Windsor, I can well believe that it deserves the praise it gets.

Oh, it is. Coventry is a bit more brash (though probably less so since the Solo reeds were revoiced) and feels spongier to play because you're not sitting virtually inside it like you are at Windsor. I've no recent experience of either though, but I don't suppose either has changed that much.

(I never liked those Solo reeds, though!).

But they're splendid! I did think the Trumpet could do with being just a notch louder though. But then you'd run into the danger of it swamping full organ, so I don't know...

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