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A Rather Small Cathedral Organ

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David - would you be willing to post some details about your instrument including spec? I'd love to hear a bit more about it - I'm assuming it's quite an original old Casavant. That's very rare here in Toronto. Despite the fact that Casavant built 160 instruments in this city, hardly half a dozen 3 or 4 manual instruments are fully original. The ones that remain 100% intact are almost completely forgotten about. It seems that many people wrote them off years ago as dull and uninteresting, but when used well they needn't be so.

 

When seeing this thread I immediately thought 'Old Casavant' because they actually did produce quite a large number of versatile and impressive sounding small 4 manual specifications - my suggestion was a made up one but not untypical, though the Doppel Flute would have been more unusual in a scheme of this size.

 

OK, here goes:

 

Hope-Jones & Ingram 1904, Norman & Beard 1915, Casavant 1927 Op.1178

 

Great(68 note soundboards): Double Open Diapason 16A, First Diapason 8, Second Diapason 8, Doppel Flute 8, Hohl Flute 8, Gemshorn 8, Octave 4, Flute Harmonique 4, Twelfth 2 2/3, Fifteenth 2, Mixture 15.19.22.26, Tromba 8, Clarion 4, G/G 16.8.4, S/G 16.8.4, C/G 16.8.4, So/G 16.8.4

 

Swell (73 note soundboards): Lieblick Gedeckt (sic) 16B, First Diapason 8, Second Diapason 8, Clarabella 8, Bourdon 8, Viola de Gamba 8, Voix Celeste (G8) 8, Principal 4, Traverse Flute 4, Piccolo 2, Cornet 8.12.15.17, Double Trumpet 16, Cornopean 8, Oboe 8, Vox Humana 8. Tremulant S/S 16.8.4

 

Choir (68 note soundboard, enclosed): Dulciana 16, Violin Diapason 8, Chimney Flute 8, Spindle Flute 4, Nazard 2 2/3, Flageolet 2, Tierce 1 3/5, Clarinet 8. Tremulant. C/C 16.8.4, G/C 8, S/C 16.8.4, Solo/C 8

 

Solo (68 note soundboard,enclosed, including the Tuba): Stentorphone 8, Grosse Flote 8, Viole d'Orchestre 8, Viole Celeste (full compass) 8, Harmonic Flute 4, Tuba Mirabilis 8. Tremulant. So/So 16.8.3, G/So 8, S/So 8.

 

Pedal: Double Open Diapason 32C, Tibia Profunda 16C, Double Open Diapason 16A, Bourdon 16D, Dulciana 16, Lieblick Gedeckt 16B, Tibia Plena 8C, Stopped Flute 8D, Tromba 16, Trumpet 8. G/P, S/P 8.4, C/P, So/P 8/4

 

5 thumb pistons each to G, S and P

3 thumb pistons each to C and S

5 general toe pistons

Reversibles to major couplers

Full Organ reversible

General Crescendo

General Release

Compass: 61/32

 

The organ occupies two bays on the south side of the Quire, with the Choir Organ opposite on the north. There is a pair of identical cases, supposed to be by one of the Gilbert Scotts, but I don't think they are. There layout is very similar to Blomfield's case at Southwark Cathedral, but the style is different. Pictures on our website:

 

www.stjohnsanglicancathedral.org

 

Thre are some very quirky features, quite apart from some aspects of the specification. The Pedal reeds are not in unit, but two 32 note ranks. The Pedal Dulciana is independent of that on the Choir and stands in the case, less than eight feet away from the manual stop, which is enclosed. It's not a scheme which anyone today would specify, but it's amazing how well it works. There isn't anything that wouldn't be missed if it wasn't there, including all those 8' flutes and the two Swell Opens. My two previous organs were a Willis and a Harrison - quite notable examples of their respective breeds - but I enjoy this one much more than either of them.

 

The surviving Hope-Jones work is unique in Canada and inspection of the pipes suggests that it includes the Great Second Diapason and Hohl Flute, Swell First Diapason, Principal and Vox Humana, Choir Violin Diapason and Clarinet and Pedal Tibias. It was the last English-built Hope-Jones, as Ingram apparently caught HJ in flagrante in the voicing shop during its construction and the latter had to flee the country, turning up unannounced in Newfoundland shortly afterwards trying to sell the Vestry a different organ by Austin.

 

Norman & Beard pipe-work includes the Great Double Open, Swell Second Diapason and Pedal Dulciana. The Choir Chimney Flute, Spindle Flute, Nazard and Tierce were supplied by Casavants’ in 1997, replacing Hope-Jones’s 8’ Wald Flute and 8’ Dulciana and Casavant’s 8’ Quintadena and 4’ Traverse Flute. They work in very well indeed with the older stuff. At the same time, the Great Mixture was reconstituted and the Tromba and Clarion revoiced (they are now quite fiery - like a mid-period Father Willis).

 

An article by Charles Stobie appeared in "The Organ' in the seventies, but it is peppered with inaccuracies (including the specification) and gives a mistaken impression of much of the effect, including the balances between various stops.

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OK, here goes:

 

Many thanks for that David - very interesting to read. Nice to see the photos on the website too.

 

CD

 

PS - isn't it quaint how Casavant used the phrase 'General release' instead of Cancel!

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PS - isn't it quaint how Casavant used the phrase 'General release' instead of Cancel!

 

 

Yes - it was some considerable time before I noticed that!

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Why, in this day and age, with the benefit of modern scholarship, do people even contemplate a speciication for an instrument which lacks a proper pedal department?

 

Are they nonodexters or merely legless?

 

I would want a proper pedal organ even with only 20 stops in total, let alone the luxury of 35.

 

MM

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PS - isn't it quaint how Casavant used the phrase 'General release' instead of Cancel!

 

I believe it was once the favoured term with English builders, but was swiftly abandoned due to sniggering amongst the lay clerks. :)

 

Funny how the 'English Choral Tradition' dictates in unexpected ways...

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Why, in this day and age, with the benefit of modern scholarship, do people even contemplate a speciication for an instrument which lacks a proper pedal department?

 

MM

 

Define 'proper'...

 

I don't believe scholarship - modern or otherwise - is always beneficial.

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I don't believe scholarship - modern or otherwise - is always beneficial.

Are you suggesting that it a good thing to suppress knowledge? I find it hard to believe that knowledge is a bad thing. What you do with it might be, but that's a different issue altogether.

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Are you suggesting that it a good thing to suppress knowledge? I find it hard to believe that knowledge is a bad thing. What you do with it might be, but that's a different issue altogether.

 

I didn't say that knowledge is a bad thing - only that it does not always prove beneficial. Having said that, the world is indeed littered with examples of a little knowledge being a bad thing, and the organ world has not been spared that.

 

As you say, it's all about what you do with it. But many follies have been perpetrated in all good faith, on the basis of 'scholarship' which has not stood the test of time.

 

Musicians have more need of ears than scholarship, and a surplus of the latter cannot make up for a deficit in the former. There are organs (and organists) which are well researched yet tedious to listen to, and others that defy logic yet delight the ear. Which would we rather entertain? Where do we think Bach stood in this?

 

Of course we should ideally be both artistic and well informed, but knowledge is dangerous when we confuse education with schooling...

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Define 'proper'...

 

I don't believe scholarship - modern or otherwise - is always beneficial.

 

 

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

 

 

Well it is in the case of the English pedal organ, which threatened to become highly developed in the 19th century; especially in the work of Hill/Gauntlett and certain northern builders in Manchester and the surrounding area.

 

The fact that the organ was relegated to the role of being a poor orchestral synthesiser, may well explain why English organ-music is not generally highly regarded in the world to-day, with one or two notable exceptions.

 

European and even American organ-music is of a much higher calibre, by and large.

 

Now if we had stayed on course and absorbed the European tradition, perhaps we might have a decent school of organ composition.

 

MM

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Define 'proper'...

 

I don't believe scholarship - modern or otherwise - is always beneficial.

 

Couldn't agree with you more. At last someone has said it !

 

One is NOT suggesting ignorance. Musicianship and common sense, the search for the beautiful and the expressive are of soooooooo much more value.

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I didn't say that knowledge is a bad thing - only that it does not always prove beneficial. Having said that, the world is indeed littered with examples of a little knowledge being a bad thing, and the organ world has not been spared that.

 

As you say, it's all about what you do with it. But many follies have been perpetrated in all good faith, on the basis of 'scholarship' which has not stood the test of time.

 

Musicians have more need of ears than scholarship, and a surplus of the latter cannot make up for a deficit in the former. There are organs (and organists) which are well researched yet tedious to listen to, and others that defy logic yet delight the ear. Which would we rather entertain? Where do we think Bach stood in this?

 

Of course we should ideally be both artistic and well informed, but knowledge is dangerous when we confuse education with schooling...

 

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

 

 

What on earth has this got to do with pedal organs?

 

Fact: European organs had, and still have, extensive pedal organs

 

Fact: Most of the mainstream music written for the organ, (including that from the normally contrapuntally lazy French), calls for a decent pedal organ.

 

Fact: Bach is dead and we cannot ask him

 

Fact: Many drivers cannot steer properly, but they still build cars with steering-wheels.

 

So on the basis that the existence and USE of a PROPER pedal organ, (rather than a set of boom boxes), is general knowledge rather than the stuff of scholarship, could someone please tell me why it is usually the last thing on an organist's shopping list?

 

MM :)

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........the search for the beautiful and the expressive are of soooooooo much more value.

 

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

 

 

That can be fraught with problems. A very pretty young lady listened to me playing Vierne's "Berceuse," and foolishly claimed that, on the basis of just this one performance, she could fall in love with me.

 

"I think there's something you need to know......." I replied. :)

 

MM

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I can't remember the last time that MM contributed a piece without worth or humour or both. The above is a testament to same. He is correct, as always. BUT -

 

I'm sure MM would admit that Thuringian Pedal Organs as well as those of the great C-C (St. Sulpice !) are, at best, skeletal. They are superior to ours in their balance and clarity. The Dutch and North-German school give us well-developed Pedal Organs that can, for many of us, be a pleasant experience. The automatic manual / pedal balance is perhaps the greatest dividend that this pays. But however admirable these well-developed choruses appear on paper, they remain, for me, the last thing on my list of desirables.

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So on the basis that the existence and USE of a PROPER pedal organ, (rather than a set of boom boxes), is general knowledge rather than the stuff of scholarship, could someone please tell me why it is usually the last thing on an organist's shopping list?

Maybe because, as Thomas Murray famously said, "Pedals are for bass!" Now there's nothing I like more than good, complete pedal choruses - reeds as well as flues - and, as I've bored everyone to tears by saying more than once before, none more so than the organ I used to play where the Great to Pedal coupler was never ever used because of the balance problems it created. But if I had to economise then I'm afraid the Pedal is the first to suffer. Not ideal, but, after all, you can sometimes recover something of what you've lost by coupling down from the manuals.

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

 

 

Well it is in the case of the English pedal organ, which threatened to become highly developed in the 19th century; especially in the work of Hill/Gauntlett and certain northern builders in Manchester and the surrounding area.

 

The fact that the organ was relegated to the role of being a poor orchestral synthesiser, may well explain why English organ-music is not generally highly regarded in the world to-day, with one or two notable exceptions.

 

European and even American organ-music is of a much higher calibre, by and large.

 

Now if we had stayed on course and absorbed the European tradition, perhaps we might have a decent school of organ composition.

 

MM

 

But you still haven't said what you mean by a proper pedal division. I'm not being obtuse (I could guess, but guessing is not scholarship!), I would really like to know what would be essential on a modest sized instrument, in your view.

 

Is this "an extensive pedal division"? (Interesting article by the way)

http://www.albany.edu/piporg-l/FS/sr.html

 

In my view the essentials are 2 or 3 16's an 8' and a 16' reed. Anything else depends on the style of instrument and what you want from it.

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Is this "an extensive pedal division"? (Interesting article by the way)

http://www.albany.edu/piporg-l/FS/sr.html

It is not, but is in keeping with many organs of the time and area. Immediately after Arnstadt, Bach came to Mühlhausen, where he played a luxurious 16, 16, 8, 4, 1, IV, 16, 8, 2, and still desired a 32 flue; and after that, in Weimar, where he was court organist and apparently wrote most of his organ music, it was something like 32, 16, 8, 16, 8, 4. One of his late favourites, at Naumburg (1746), had 16, 16, 16, 8, 8, 4, 2, VII, 32, 16, 8, 4. Not to mention the Hamburg instruments of St Katharinen – which he expressedly loved – and St. Jakobi with their »Greats for the feet«. So, Arnstadt cannot be used against the assumption that Bach liked a good lot of pedal.

In my view the essentials are 2 or 3 16's an 8' and a 16' reed. Anything else depends on the style of instrument and what you want from it.

Of course, and what you specify is met, e. g., by most of Silbermann's two-manuals. But those were really small, had big pedal sounds available (open wood Subbasses and large Posaune and Trompete reeds), and a coupler Gt to P with its own wind box and valves. Furthermore, in service they were used to play improvised pre- and postludes and accompany Figuralmusik and not much more. From a cathedral organ, I expect grandeur, not coupling.

 

I am with MM here. You cannot get from a coupled-down or borrowed manual 16' or 8' flue, let alone a reed, what is needed in the pedal, not without painful musical compromises. Cavaillé-Coll's pedal organs can get a lot of work done before any tirasse comes into play, due to healthy scales, soft but growing volume and proper winding – and, quite often, a 4' flue rank.

 

I admit, I love well-developed pedal lines and must keep myself from humming along with them. I do suffer when I hear a Bach prelude where there is no proper Posaune to carry a grand chorus, and where the Swell Fagotto, even with the Trumpet drawn, has to meagerly substitute for what's missing down there. I love good pedal principals 16+8+4 providing a healthy, un-coupled fundament for anything.

 

That's proper, to my ears.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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But you still haven't said what you mean by a proper pedal division. I'm not being obtuse (I could guess, but guessing is not scholarship!), I would really like to know what would be essential on a modest sized instrument, in your view.

 

Is this "an extensive pedal division"? (Interesting article by the way)

http://www.albany.edu/piporg-l/FS/sr.html

 

In my view the essentials are 2 or 3 16's an 8' and a 16' reed. Anything else depends on the style of instrument and what you want from it.

 

 

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

 

 

I've read many things which Stepen Roberts has written, and he is a fine scholar and organist. He has also toured extensively in Eastern Europe, which is why we have conversed about many things over the past few years. I shall have to study the Arnstadt article closely when I have time, but I just wonder if I may dare to question a basic assumption about "Bach Organs?"

 

I suspect that Bach didn't regularly play the best organs, but he was certainly aware of them. I further suspect that Bach was ever keen to improve his lot, which really meant seeking court positions first and foremost. (He even applied for a position in Poland). I have not the slightest evidence for suggesting this, but I just wonder if the quality of this or that organ really made any difference to Bach's life, work and output. What we do know, is that he travelled, and would certainly have known the great Schnitger organ at Hamburg, as well as various Silbermann instruments. Indeed, he may have been envious of the wealth of the Hanseatic ports, as compared with his native, rather rural Thuringia.

 

The period 1650-1725 was a formative period, when so many developments and changes occured in music; just as changes and developments were taking place in the art of organ-building.

 

Might I be bold enough as to suggest that the finest "Bach Organs" were built after his death?

 

However, this is a bit of an irrelevance, because we are in the area of speculation.

 

What we do know, is that Bach certainly had at his command various instruments with fully developed pedal sections, and that is vital knowledge to all those who would play Bach's music.

 

There is a considerable difference between the sound and sonorities of an organ (such as the one I play), which requires manual to pedal couplers, and one which has a full pedal chorus, scaled independently of the manual choruses. It is a truly breath-taking experience to draw the full pedal at Haarlem, Zwolle or Alkmaar, and play a Bach pedal solo such as the F major Toccata. They have a depth and grandeur which cannot be obtained in any other way, and which are so perfectly suited to the music of Bach.

 

So to partially answer the question, I would suggest that a "proper" pedal organ is one which balances the manual fluework, both in terms of range and in terms of the appropriate sonority. So if we see a large manual chorus at 16, 6,4, 2.2/3, 2 VI and III (reeds often NOT used with the chorus), then I would suggest that the "proper" pedal would be 32,16,8,4 and a good sized Mixture, with perhaps 16ft and 8 reeds.

 

Proportion and independence is surely the key?

 

If the manual chorus is only 8,4,2 & IV, then 16,8,4,and IV is the appropriate balance without couplers: it being possible to drop the pedal Mixture in favour of one or more reeds at 16 & 8. Naturally, softer piece require a softer pedal, and Chorale melodies need to be catered for, so even with a relatively modest instrument, I would suggest that a "proper" pedal organ would need at least 16,16,8,4 with at least a 16 reed and ideally an 8ft reed to provide a Cantus line when required.

 

Oddly enough, if we go back in time to the mid 19th century in England, there were organs with exactly that sort of independence; especially around Manchester/Liverpool, but then, they did have the best Bach players!

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N10787

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=R01924

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N10808

 

 

 

MM

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I think Muso's opinion of British organ music does it less than justice, but I love Howells, so thank heavens we don't all think alike!

 

If we're going to have full choruses on the Pedal, is it acceptable to have at least the unisons in unit, with at least separate quints for the mixture? Didn't Donald Harrison reckon he could provide a full chorus in less space and for no more money than EMS's extended woods?

 

I'm inclined to think that anything less than a flue chorus up to mixture is not much use, because otherwise you might as well couple anyway. My own organ has a Stentorphone on the Solo which could give me 8 and 4 on the Pedal if I coupled it down, but I hardly ever do this (it's not such a monster as the name suggests and I use it more as an alternative to the Great stops in chorus building). I could never see much point in the old British idea of hefty 16s and 8s with a 4' flute taken off the bourdon, although a 2' flute could be useful.

 

This organ, which I've quoted before, has one of the most effective Pedal divisions for its period that I've met, but it's a remarkable instrument in so many ways, anyway:

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N00613

 

My mother tells me that 'Songs of Praise' this Sunday is coming from this church, although how much it will show off the organ remains to be seen (I could tell you some horror-stories about certain recording engineers!).

 

This discussion about Pedal organs is very interesting (I particularly appreciated the link to the new Bach organ at Arnstadt) and has made me think a good deal. If I'm honest, I would have to say that a full Pedal department is more desirable in theory than in practice. I would find a good selection of melodic upperwork useful - in practice, isn't it better to have a 4' reed on the Pedal than to tie up a manual in order to couple? There are a fair number of big new organs around that don't have such a stop. Even more frustrating is the 4' Pedal reed that is too soft to be accompanied on the manuals. Bristol University and Belfast Cathedral both have these (the latter also has/had a Fagotto unit that is too thin and quiet to be of much use at all - but the Ophicleide is relatively civilised).

 

Incidentally, I used to find the Octave Wood at Belfast (not such a pervading voice as some) to be spot on as a Flute 8 in Couperin, etc, and the Tibia Plena here does much the same thing.

 

For a 'cathedral' organ with the number of stops suggested, St. Bees Priory comes pretty close - everything one could dsire for the period but with about twenty less stops.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N01634

 

If the 35 stops didn't include pedal extensions, one could probably work out something with less constrictions.

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I think Muso's opinion of British organ music does it less than justice, but I love Howells, so thank heavens we don't all think alike!

If we're going to have full choruses on the Pedal, is it acceptable to have at least the unisons in unit, with at least separate quints for the mixture? Didn't Donald Harrison reckon he could provide a full chorus in less space and for no more money than EMS's extended woods?

 

I'm inclined to think that anything less than a flue chorus up to mixture is not much use, because otherwise you might as well couple anyway. My own organ has a Stentorphone on the Solo which could give me 8 and 4 on the Pedal if I coupled it down, but I hardly ever do this (it's not such a monster as the name suggests and I use it more as an alternative to the Great stops in chorus building). I could never see much point in the old British idea of hefty 16s and 8s with a 4' flute taken off the bourdon, although a 2' flute could be useful.

 

This organ, which I've quoted before, has one of the most effective Pedal divisions for its period that I've met, but it's a remarkable instrument in so many ways, anyway:

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N00613

 

My mother tells me that 'Songs of Praise' this Sunday is coming from this church, although how much it will show off the organ remains to be seen (I could tell you some horror-stories about certain recording engineers!).

 

This discussion about Pedal organs is very interesting (I particularly appreciated the link to the new Bach organ at Arnstadt) and has made me think a good deal. If I'm honest, I would have to say that a full Pedal department is more desirable in theory than in practice. I would find a good selection of melodic upperwork useful - in practice, isn't it better to have a 4' reed on the Pedal than to tie up a manual in order to couple? There are a fair number of big new organs around that don't have such a stop. Even more frustrating is the 4' Pedal reed that is too soft to be accompanied on the manuals. Bristol University and Belfast Cathedral both have these (the latter also has/had a Fagotto unit that is too thin and quiet to be of much use at all - but the Ophicleide is relatively civilised).

 

Incidentally, I used to find the Octave Wood at Belfast (not such a pervading voice as some) to be spot on as a Flute 8 in Couperin, etc, and the Tibia Plena here does much the same thing.

 

For a 'cathedral' organ with the number of stops suggested, St. Bees Priory comes pretty close - everything one could dsire for the period but with about twenty less stops.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N01634

 

If the 35 stops didn't include pedal extensions, one could probably work out something with less constrictions.

 

 

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

 

 

 

I don't dislike ALL British organ-music by any meansl just quite a lot of it. I actually do like the "Master Tallis" epic by Howells, so credit where it is due.......once! :angry:

 

A fully independent pedal is better in theory than in practice, is it?

 

Hear these pedal organs and die happy:-

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoTBPDS1pEo

 

 

 

MM

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

 

 

 

I don't dislike ALL British organ-music by any meansl just quite a lot of it. I actually do like the "Master Tallis" epic by Howells, so credit where it is due.......once! :angry:

 

A fully independent pedal is better in theory than in practice, is it?

 

Hear these pedal organs and die happy:-

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoTBPDS1pEo

 

 

 

MM

 

Wonderful indeed, and only a fool would design an instrument in that style and neglect to provide a suitable pedal division. But would we put one of those organs into an English Cathedral where it will be used mostly for accompaniment? None of the specs suggested so far look that way.

 

What is important in one type of instrument may not be in another. The concept of a fully independent pedal is essential in some schemes, desirable in many, and virtually incompatible with others.

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

 

 

 

I don't dislike ALL British organ-music by any meansl just quite a lot of it. I actually do like the "Master Tallis" epic by Howells, so credit where it is due.......once! :angry:

 

A fully independent pedal is better in theory than in practice, is it?

 

Hear these pedal organs and die happy:-

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoTBPDS1pEo

 

 

 

MM

 

I have a box of CDs of Dutch baroque organs which I keep in the car and of which I never tire (and Canadian roads are long), but on the evidence of the Harlem clip, I would say that the Pedal mixtures stand away from the reeds and the whole Pedal stands away from the manual. I'm a terrific admirer of the Harlem organ in general, but maybe it's a one-off, like Liverpool Cathedral (where also they tend to avoid the Pedal upperwork because it obscures the texture). Alkmaar sounds much more cohesive (the performance, although excellent in its own terms, is too slow and detached for my tastes).

 

I'm told Howells sounds wonderful at Harlem, too. But before I run for cover, I should imagine that anything would.

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Wonderful indeed, and only a fool would design an instrument in that style and neglect to provide a suitable pedal division. But would we put one of those organs into an English Cathedral where it will be used mostly for accompaniment? None of the specs suggested so far look that way.

 

What is important in one type of instrument may not be in another. The concept of a fully independent pedal is essential in some schemes, desirable in many, and virtually incompatible with others.

 

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

 

 

As David Drinknell points out, the Bavo organ may be a "one off" instrument. Indeed it is, and possibly the leat "authentic" historic organ in the Netherlands; being at least as much modern Marcussen as it is Muller from the 18th century. It's also an organ which is unusually good as a vehicle for much romantic music; especially Reger, with a little help from your friends in the absence of any playing aids. So perhaps we could draw a veil over this instrument; though I have heard the music of Frank Bridge played on this organ, and choral accompaniment would certainly be possible unless a Tuba was required.

 

Of the schemes submitted thus far, I think you'll find that mine includes a 16 to 4ft pedal chorus with Mixture, in just 8 stops.

 

I really don't undertand why a complete and independent pedal organ should be incompatible with anything; assumning that we are referring to a "small cathedral scheme."

 

The detail would be in the voicing rather than the stop-list, surely?

 

Glorious, (peerless?) though Alkmaar may be, I can absolutely guarantee that as an accompaniment organ, it would be utterly useless.

 

Amusingly, though the Netherlands has so many historic instruments, barely nothing was ever written specifically for them, and they did not inspire a national style of organ-composition, unlike the organs of Cavaille-Coll and our friends in Paris. Their main role was as accompaniment to the congregations and as instruments for metrical psalm improvisation.

 

So returning to our "small cathedral organ," what possible style of instrument would not benefit from a fully independent pedal organ?

 

Early romantic like the organ built by Holdich at Lichfield Cathedral?

 

Full bodied romantic like the Gray & Davison stop-list at Chester Cathedral?

 

Late romantic, like the Compton organ of Wakefield Cathedral? (In spite of 5 manuals, really quite a small cathedral organ).

 

What exactly is so special about the accompaniment role, that it renders an independent pedal chorus redundant?

 

I just don't understand, possibly because I have been called "more stupid than chicken."

 

It seems to me, that around 1900, everything went bananas, and the tradition of the organ was abandonded in favour of pretty noises and extreme expression. This is precisely why the work of Hope-Jones led so readily to the orchestral and cinema style of instruments, which in the right hands can sound excellent, but more often sound a mess.

 

No! I'll tell you what is incompatible. It is the belief that you can combine exceedingly powerful, Schulze-inspired chorus-work, with orchestral tones and opaque flutes and reeds: something akin to musical alchemy. It's a tribute to Arthur Harrison that he made it work after a fashion, but I can't help but think that we might all have benefitted if Lt Col Dixon had been shot with his own gun.

 

Meanwhile, Thomas Hill and T C Lewis were building PROPER organs, but few recognised the fact.

 

 

MM

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I have a box of CDs of Dutch baroque organs which I keep in the car and of which I never tire (and Canadian roads are long), but on the evidence of the Harlem clip, I would say that the Pedal mixtures stand away from the reeds and the whole Pedal stands away from the manual. I'm a terrific admirer of the Harlem organ in general, but maybe it's a one-off, like Liverpool Cathedral (where also they tend to avoid the Pedal upperwork because it obscures the texture). Alkmaar sounds much more cohesive (the performance, although excellent in its own terms, is too slow and detached for my tastes).

 

I'm told Howells sounds wonderful at Harlem, too. But before I run for cover, I should imagine that anything would.

 

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

 

OK then, be blown away by this, in spite of a bit of distortion in places:-

 

 

 

 

I find this quite stunning; especially since it doesn't rely on either couplers or pedal reeds.

 

I think Bach, lying in state a few feet below, would be very happy with this.

 

MM

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

 

OK then, be blown away by this, in spite of a bit of distortion in places:-

 

 

 

 

I find this quite stunning; especially since it doesn't rely on either couplers or pedal reeds.

 

I think Bach, lying in state a few feet below, would be very happy with this.

 

MM

 

Very nice!

 

A

 

PS There is also a good CD of Dame G. W. playing Bach here

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