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Exeter Cathedral Organ


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The Llandaff organ was totally new, the old one going to Usk Parish Church where it still is.

 

David: I think you’ll find that the 1861 Gray & Davison went to Usk in 1900.

 

The NPOR blurb for 1958 says “rebuilt, incorporating parts of the organ damaged by a land mine in WW2”.

 

If you compare the 1900, 1928, 1938 and 1958 incarnations, you can clearly see upperwork ‘growing’ above the Hope-Jones originals.

 

All seemed to agree that the Positive division behind the Epstein Majestas was a mistake.

 

Not so much that the Positive was closer to the congregation (not really any closer than many Choirs, or Rückpositivs), but that the rest of the organ was too far away. Cornet voluntaries, for example, were very successful- if you stood at the back of the nave !

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To return to the organ of Exeter Cathedral: does anyone have any further details of the work to be carried out, please? I have looked once again and can see no mention of the impending rebuild on the H&H website - which is still rather strange.

 

One of the main reasons for undertaking this work is to re-order the interior layout. Having seen inside the instrument on a number of occasions, it is certainly cramped. However, interestingly, the 1891 organ was in some respects larger. The Choir and Solo organs lost a rank each - as did the G.O. In the latter case, I suspect that at the 1965 rebuild, H&H planted the new Mixture IV (19-22-26-29) on two slides - one formerly occupied by Open Diapason I (there were originally three Open Diapason ranks). The old Mixture (17-19-22) was re-cast as the Sharp Mixture (29-33-36).

 

If this scheme (1891) http://www.npor.org....ec_index=D05099 is compared with the present stop-list (2002-3) http://www.npor.org....ec_index=R00458 it will be seen that the Choir and Solo organs were formerly both of ten stops. (I realise that the 1965 Solo Organ had ten stops - but this included the Trompette Militaire in the Minstrels' Gallery; the soundboard itself appears to have lost a stop.) The same goes for the Choir Organ; this, prior to 1933 also had ten stops on the soundboard - and there was room for a shutter-front, since the Salicional, Vox Angelica and Clarinet were enclosed. They remained so, until 1965, when the Choir strings were moved to the Swell Organ, replacing the Echo Gamba and Voix Céleste - although the Vox Angelica was re-named Voix Céleste. (Oddly, if this stop is drawn, it also activates [blind] the Salicional slide.)

 

At the 1933 rebuild, a number of Choir and Solo stops exchanged places - whilst others were discarded. This made for a more sensible scheme (the 1819 Solo Organ contained four 4ft. flues - including a Gemshorn; this was possibly the only example of this stop on an English cathedral Solo Organ).

 

In 1965, the Choir Organ was again partly re-cast; this time as a sort of flute-Positive. Whilst the balance between this and the G.O. was quite acceptable in the Quire. the Choir Organ was almost useless for Nave services and the summer recital series. Interestingly, the Pedal Fifteenth (a separate rank, added in 1965) was placed on its own chest in the west-facing Solo Organ case (itself added in 1891 as a replica chaire case) - directly behind the front pipes and in front of the Solo expression louvres. The Fifteenth was originally intended to form the lowest rank of a three-rank Mixture, but Lionel Dakers changed his mind and (sensibly) had it made available as a separate stop.

 

With regard to the present scheme of the Pedal Organ, the latest NPOR survey has incorrectly assumed extension on the Pedal Violone rank. Whilst the 32ft. Contra Violone is extended from the 16ft. Violone, the Violoncello (8ft.) is of independent pipes throughout. The G.O. Double Open Diapason borrows its lowest eight notes from the Pedal Violone.

 

Given a sum of £1,000,000 for this restoration and re-ordering, I wonder if this work will include any tonal alterations or additions? I hope that the cathedral authorities will take the opportunity to exchange the Choir Organ soundboard with that of the Solo Organ. My own thoughts would be thus:

 

PEDAL ORGAN

 

Contra Violone (Ext.) 32

Major Bass (W) 16

Violone 16

Bourdon 16

Quintadena (Swell) 16

Violoncello 8

Flute (Ext.) 8

Fifteenth 4

Flute (Ext.) 4

Mixture (22-26-29) III

Contra Trombone (Ext.) 32

Trombone (M) 16

Fagotto (Swell) 16

Tromba (Ext.) 8

Choir to Pedal

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

Solo to Pedal

Solo Octave to Pedal

 

COMBINATIONS

 

Pedal to Great Pistons

Great to Pedal Pistons

Pedal to Swell Pistons

Generals on Swell Foot pistons

 

CHOIR ORGAN

(Now facing West)

 

Wald Flute 8

Stopped Diapason (Old Swell) 8

Prestant 4

Nason Flute (Old Swell) 4

Nazard 2 2/3

Flageolet 2

Tierce 1 3/5

Octavin 1

Cymbale (26-29-33) III

Cremona 8

Tremulant

Swell to Choir

Solo to Choir

 

GREAT ORGAN

 

Double Open Diapason 16

Open Diapason I 8

Open Diapason II 8

Stopped Diapason 8

Octave 4

Principal 4

Flûte Harmonique 4

Twelfth 2 2/3

Fifteenth 2

Mixture (19-22-26-29) IV

Sharp Mixture (29-33-36) III

Double Trumpet 16

Trumpet 8

Clarion 4

Great and Choir Exchange

Great Reeds on Pedal

Great Reeds on Choir

Choir to Great

Swell to Great

Solo to Great

 

SWELL ORGAN

 

Quintadena 16

Open Diapason 8

Lieblich Gedeckt (Old Choir) 8

Salicional 8

Vox Angelica (C13) 8

Principal 4

Lieblich Flute (Old Choir) 4

Fifteenth 2

Mixture (22-26-29-33) IV

Hautboy 8

Vox Humana (Old Solo) 8

Tremulant

Contra Fagotto 16

Cornopean 8

Clarion 4

Sub Octave

Unison Off

Octave

Solo to Swell

 

SOLO ORGAN

(Now facing East)

(Enclosed)

 

Viole de Gambe 8

Viole Céleste (A10) 8

Claribel Flute 8

Flûte Harmonique 4

Corno di Bassetto (70 pipes) 16

Orchestral Hautboy 8

Tremulant

(Unenclosed)

Tuba Magna 8

Trompette Harmonique 8

Sub Octave

Unison Off

Octave

Great to Solo

 

MINSTREL ORGAN

PEDAL

Sub Bass 16

MANUAL

Open Diapason 8

Rohr Flute 8

Octave 4

Super Octave 2

Full Mixture (12-19-22-26-29) V

Trompette Militaire 8

Minstrel on Pedal

Minstrel on Choir

Minstrel on Great

Minstrel on Solo

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES

 

On the Pedal Organ, the 8ft. extension of the Open Diapason (W) has been discontinued. The Open Diapason has been re-named Major Bass. The Mixture has gained a rank and been re-cast at a slightly higher pitch. The Pedal Organ also gains a second (quieter) 16ft. reed, in the form of the borrowed Swell Contra Fagotto.

 

The Choir Organ now speaks West and has been slightly enlarged (the Solo Organ has been reduced in size, in order to accommodate this). The Wald Flute replaces a rank which appeared on the old Choir Organ until 1965. Once again, there is now an 8ft. open metal flute on an open soundboard. The 8ft. and 4ft. flutes have exchanged places with those on the Swell Organ. Now the FHW Lieblich ranks are back with the old Choir strings. In any case, the Swell Stopped Diapason and [Nason] Flute 4ft. will make a better foundation for the revoiced chorus - which I intend to be brighter and stronger than previously. The Flageolet and Cymbale are new. The Larigot has been restored to 1ft. pitch and revoiced. The Cremona is new.

 

On the G.O., the Mixture IV is composed of new pipe-work. The stop breaks one rank on each C. The old Mixture IV was unsatisfactory - it produced a very 'fifthy' sound, whilst imparting no real clarity or brilliance to the chorus.

 

The Swell Organ flute ranks have already been mentioned. The fairly pointless Twelfth has given way to the old Solo Organ Vox Humana - where it is more useful, particularly in French music. The compound stop has been re-cast and the breaks re-arranged. It now resembles its 1965 state.

 

The Solo Organ (as has already been mentioned) has been slightly reduced in size. The 2ft. Piccolo was unsatisfactory, tending to unsteadiness in speech. The Viole d'Orchestre has been re-named, but not re-voiced; it was not particularly acidic and so has been left alone. The Corno di Bassetto gains a new 16ft. octave (whilst retaining the old treble octave for use with the Octave and Unison Off couplers). The Tuba has been re-named only. The Trompette Harmonique is new. It is intended that this stop shall be placed horizontally on top of the Swell box and facing West. (In a similar manner to the Solo Orchestral Trumpet 8ft. at Ripon Cathedral.)

 

I am not convinced of the usefulness of the Minstrel Organ. There are often discrepancies in tuning between this chorus and the main organ. The pipes are situated about forty-five feet above pavement level and they are partly enclosed in a tone cabinet which, whilst serving to focus the sound, also restricts air flow. However, I have left it largely as it was. The Mixture loses a Fifteenth and gains a Twelfth and the Trompette Militaire has been restored to its 1965 state.

 

There are several new couplers and transfers. The Pedal Organ gains an independent Solo Octave to Pedal. The Pedal and G.O. Piston couplers have been separated (partly though perceived usefulness and also because I hate abbreviations on stop- and piston-heads).

 

The G.O. gains a G.O. and Choir Exchange - thus reversing the order of the lowest two claviers - and their divisional pistons.

 

The Solo Organ gains the useful Great to Solo coupler.

 

The Minstrel Organ gains a Minstrel on Pedal 'transfer'. (Since it does not have its own clavier, this description is not strictly accurate.)

 

Wind pressures have been left largely as they were. The Pedal reed unit speaks on a pressure of 375mm. The G.O. reeds and the Swell Cornopean and Clarion are voiced on a pressure of 175mm. The Solo Tuba Magna also speaks on 375mm. The Trompette Harmonique is to be voiced on 300mm of wind, the Trompette Militaire on 225mm. I think that this was the wind pressure which was employed in 1965; but I cannot now recall where I read this. (All pressures are approximate.)

 

I cannot imagine for one moment that this is how the organ of Exeter Cathedral will look on paper, by 2014. However, I rather like this scheme; I feel (knowing this instrument well) that it addresses most of the perceived flaws of the 1965/2002-3 schemes, whilst resulting in a versatile musical instrument - and retaining its essential character.

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Yes, this is correct - had you seen the RSCM literature, or do you have a photograph of the old console?

 

As your prize for the first correct answer, I would offer you an evening on the organ of Wimborne Minster. Unfortunately, I am unable to include the air fare to make this a practical proposition.... However, if ever you happen to find yourself in this area, you are welcome to claim your prize.

 

No, I'd not seen any of the RSCM literature, nor a photograph, but I recall it being mentioned here before.

 

As for the prize, I shall have to put a rain-check on that. I'll make a point of coming to Wimborne when I get around to travelling to England!

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No, I'd not seen any of the RSCM literature, nor a photograph, but I recall it being mentioned here before.

 

As for the prize, I shall have to put a rain-check on that. I'll make a point of coming to Wimborne when I get around to travelling to England!

 

Ha! If you ever do get around to visiting this part of the world, you will be most welcome.

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I've been told by more than one person that the Exeter one is a good deal less ferocious than most, which would seem reasonable, since the organ itself is (without being in any way too small for the building) one of the least brash of its kind.

 

Many would say that it is indeed inadequate for the building. It certainly barely fills the cathedral even when empty and this is surely the reason why the minstrel division did not stop with the Trompette. I have in fact accompanied a big civic service there with a packed nave (for the Queen's 80th birthday in 2006) and found that the fewer stops on the Minstrel division that I used, the harder work it was. Not by any means impossible, but it does test your herdsmanship. The corollary is that the main, screen, organ is one of my very favourites for accompanying a choir in the stalls, simply because you can use so much of it without drowning the singers. It's a bit of a nuisance that the Solo faces the wrong way though. I wonder whether this will be altered?

 

Given a sum of £1,000,000 for this restoration and re-ordering, I wonder if this work will include any tonal alterations or additions?

I understand (indirectly from a good source, but nevertheless via the bush telegraph, so with all the usual caveats, etc, etc) that it will not. Work is apparently to be confined to the winding, chests and action; the pipework and console will not be touched (though I imagine the pipes will get a good cleaning). Whilst I am pleased that the screen organ will not be altered further, I would have hoped that the opportunity would have been taken to make the 32' reed octave sound a little less like FHW's bones rattling in a sepulchre. I have never been convinced that the organ needed this extension in the first place. It is not a Cavaillé-Coll...

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I have not heard the Exeter organ many times but when I have, in the context of a service in the Quire I felt it to be quite effective in a diffused Anglican sort of way. Certainly there are some nice 'service' sounds but the sum of the whole seems to have had so many tinkerings over the years as to have lost its sense of direction somewhat - also the case with other similar instruments. The fact though that the Swell and Great are both speaking through the side of the instrument rather than directly into Quire or Nave adds to this 'neither one thing nor the other' feel - Wells is similar in this situation.

 

A

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I think these nave divisions need very careful handling especially by visiting organists. I had a pretty excruciating experience at Lichfield attending a service which was accompanied by a local organist rather than a resident organist and there was no thought given to any varying of the registration in the hymns at all - I think they have a particularly large nave division at Lichfield - and it was awful. I think the main issue arises when the nave organ obliterates the sound of the main organ. (Actually, on the Lichfield occasion, I am sure the chappie had forgotten all about the nave being in use at all as it was possible to discern mild changes in registration from verse to verse on the main organ.) I have always rather enjoyed playing on stops that are in distant and remote parts of the building (the Dearnley influence at St Paul's) but it is all too easy to forget, listening to the distant echo that the sounds can be pretty powerful closer at hand.

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Many would say that it is indeed inadequate for the building. It certainly barely fills the cathedral even when empty and this is surely the reason why the minstrel division did not stop with the Trompette. I have in fact accompanied a big civic service there with a packed nave (for the Queen's 80th birthday in 2006) and found that the fewer stops on the Minstrel division that I used, the harder work it was. Not by any means impossible, but it does test your herdsmanship. The corollary is that the main, screen, organ is one of my very favourites for accompanying a choir in the stalls, simply because you can use so much of it without drowning the singers. It's a bit of a nuisance that the Solo faces the wrong way though. I wonder whether this will be altered?

 

It is true that this organ could be said to be under-powered for this building. However, whilst the Minstrel Organ does address this shortcoming in theory - for the reasons I stated above it does not work so well in practice. Paul Morgan used it as little as possible - precisely because of the discrepancies in tuning. As soon as the weather begins to warm up, the tightly-packed tone cabinet becomes rather like an airing cupboard. The result was clearly audible both downstairs and at the console.

 

I understand (indirectly from a good source, but nevertheless via the bush telegraph, so with all the usual caveats, etc, etc) that it will not. Work is apparently to be confined to the winding, chests and action; the pipework and console will not be touched (though I imagine the pipes will get a good cleaning). Whilst I am pleased that the screen organ will not be altered further, I would have hoped that the opportunity would have been taken to make the 32' reed octave sound a little less like FHW's bones rattling in a sepulchre. I have never been convinced that the organ needed this extension in the first place. It is not a Cavaillé-Coll...

 

Well, fair enough; although the news report in your link does say this: 'The cathedral said the inside layout of the organ was to be completely re-designed as it was "extremely cramped, and some sections are virtually inaccessible for maintenance".'

 

with regard to the 32ft. reed - I could not disagree more, Vox. I think that it is a superb stop and, whilst I would suggest that Truro is one cathedral organ which does not really need a 32ft. reed, I had felt for years that Exeter was crying out for such a stop. Having not only played it countless times, but also attended many of the summer recitals, it was apparent that there was a distinct lack of gravitas - particularly with pieces in G, or higher keys. This is exacerbated by the fact that the Open Diapason (actually nothing of the sort - it is an open wood stop) is not a typical Harrison 'boomer'. In addition, I was once told that the basses of the Contra Violone and the 16ft. octave (in the South Transept) speak on only about 35-40mmmm of wind. Whilst this does seem incredibly low - and I doubt that this is entirely accurate - it is true that this is a very gentle stop. the corollary is that it is all the more useful, as a result.

 

I do hope that, if the internal layout is to be re-configured, the positions of the Choir and Solo organs will be exchanged - even if the opportunity to make tonal alterations is not taken up.

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the whole seems to have had so many tinkerings over the years as to have lost its sense of direction somewhat - also the case with other similar instruments . . . the Swell and Great are both speaking through the side of the instrument rather than directly into Quire or Nave

 

I may well be missing something, here, but the Exeter instrument is fundamentally good. Does not some of it date back to the 17th century- or even earlier? Yes, it desperately needs cleaning and ‘sorting out’- as do several other famous instruments (see AJJ above). Fortunately, it seems it won’t be subject to the radical change ‘suffered’ (in the opinion of many) by Gloucester- even if that does sound magnificent.

 

I’m sure that far better minds than mine will already have decided to enable Great and Swell to speak clearly to west and/or east, for the first time in decades (?). (When were they turned though 90 degrees?)

 

I also wonder why the Choir division should not be in the Choir case- which is the traditional location in an English organ? The majority of occasions such an instrument is used is surely in choral evensong and the Sunday services, when its accompanimental function, speaking into the Quire, is surely desirable- if not necessary. That is, of course, unless the Choir always now sings from west of the case.

 

Truro is one cathedral organ which does not really need a 32ft. reed

 

Again, I must respectfully disagree. Having taken my choir there to sing choral evensong in the 1980s, I can only lament, in a half-hearted way, the lack of thunderous rumblings at the end of the Stanford in C Glorias. (And not just underpinning the last chord, either.) But, what a superb instrument in a marvellous acoustic, nonetheless!

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To return to the organ of Exeter Cathedral: does anyone have any further details of the work to be carried out, please?

 

There's a little more information here, which reveals that the soundboards will be replaced: http://www.thisissou...tail/story.html

 

Apparently the organ is not expected to be back in action until Advent 2014. One wonders why it will take so long.

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I may well be missing something, here, but the Exeter instrument is fundamentally good. Does not some of it date back to the 17th century- or even earlier? Yes, it desperately needs cleaning and ‘sorting out’- as do several other famous instruments (see AJJ above). Fortunately, it seems it won’t be subject to the radical change ‘suffered’ (in the opinion of many) by Gloucester- even if that does sound magnificent.

 

I’m sure that far better minds than mine will already have decided to enable Great and Swell to speak clearly to west and/or east, for the first time in decades (?). (When were they turned though 90 degrees?)

 

I also wonder why the Choir division should not be in the Choir case- which is the traditional location in an English organ? The majority of occasions such an instrument is used is surely in choral evensong and the Sunday services, when its accompanimental function, speaking into the Quire, is surely desirable- if not necessary. That is, of course, unless the Choir always now sings from west of the case.

 

I would agree that the Exeter instrument is fundamentally good. In fact (notwithstanding the scheme I posted earlier), if nothing was done to it other than cleaning and restoration, it would still be one of the most comfortable and satisfying instruments to play.

 

A glance at the stop-lists (since 1965), may answer your question regarding the exchanging of the Choir and Solo organs. (This was something which Paul Morgan also wished to see.) The Choir Organ is actually not much use for accompanying a choir. However, the Solo organ, with its three quiet orchestral reeds (including a sublime Corno di Bassetto and an equally superb Orchestral Oboe), wonderful strings (including an undulant) and beautiful orchestral flutes, is extremely useful. This division would be even more commodious if it projected directly into the Quire. Conversely, the Choir Organ would be of infinitely greater value were it to speak west - and had the 1ft. and the compound stop restored.

 

 

Again, I must respectfully disagree. Having taken my choir there to sing choral evensong in the 1980s, I can only lament, in a half-hearted way, the lack of thunderous rumblings at the end of the Stanford in C Glorias. (And not just underpinning the last chord, either.) But, what a superb instrument in a marvellous acoustic, nonetheless!

 

I respect your opinion. However, I have also played the Truro organ on a number of occasions. I have to say that I found it highly over-rated. Exeter is, as far as I am concerned, a far more balanced and versatile instrument - and not merely because it is substantially larger. My argument for not needing a 32ft. reed at Truro, is that there is an enormous (and therefore almost useless*) 16ft. Ophicleide, which dominates the tutti. Extending this down to 32ft. pitch would simply provide an equally pointless, gigantic reed. It would take a very large and powerful choir to be able to stand up to this aural onslaught. However, if one provided an independent reed - perhaps in the manner of the slender Contra Posaune at Salisbury Cathedral, I am not sure that this would be satisfactory, either. That at Salisbury is somewhat disappointing - and not just from the console. It is well known that FHW abhorred big 'blurty' 32ft. reed effects. but I think that it could be said that at Salisbury, he went too far in the other direction.

 

Another reason that I dislike Truro (aside from the wretched tierce mixtures), is the fact that the Solo Organ is not enclosed. I recall John Hosking posting to the effect that he would play a melodic line on the Solo Clarinet, and then transfer to the Choir Corno di Bassetto (which is quieter), in order to give the effect of a decrescendo. However, in practice, it does not really do this - the melody suddenly becomes softer. The subtle nuances of expression which this type of stop needs (in order to be really useful) are only available with an enclosed division. I cannot imagine why FHW did not enclose this department; there is enough room for a box and, whilst I understand that the organ was not made any larger due to a shortage of funds, a box would not have been that much more expensive. In any case, only eight years later, FHW did enclose (from new) an almost identical Solo Organ at Saint Alban's, Holborn.

 

 

 

* Unless one also has the full organ drawn.

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How wonderful to read. Back to Loosemore in this wonderful case (without the West projection)?

Does prayer work?

 

I possess a photograph of the west front of the Exeter case, prior to the addition of the duplicate chaire case for the Solo Organ (in 1891). Whilst it did not look particularly offensive, neither does it look so now. At the 1891 rebuild, the main case was raised and the depth increased once again*, in order to accommodate additional pipe-work. In any case, I certainly would not wish to lose the wonderful (and extremely useful) Solo Organ, simply to restore the case to its previous aspect.

 

Would I be correct in stating that this case (in its present position) is unique? I can think of no other double-fronted case, with two chaire cases. That at Saint Paul's Cathedral would have qualified - until it was sawn in half by FHW in 1872. Therefore, surely it (Exeter) deserves to stay intact. Furthermore, the quality of the carving of the 'new' Solo case is at least as good as the original.

 

There are two other interesting points about this case. The first is that there is no figure carving; all the decoration consists of foliage or scroll-work. Secondly, almost all the pipe-shades are engrailed. I can think of no other example where this has been carried out so consistently.

 

 

 

* It had been made deeper by Speechley, in 1877, when the lowest pipes of Loosemore's Double Diapason were removed from the sides of the Pulpitum screen and placed inside the main case.

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My argument for not needing a 32ft. reed at Truro, is that there is an enormous (and therefore almost useless*) 16ft. Ophicleide, which dominates the tutti. Extending this down to 32ft. pitch would simply provide an equally pointless, gigantic reed.

 

I agree. I remember listening to the Gigout Toccata there. Once the Ophicleide was drawn you couldn't hear much else. Not a nice ensemble, I thought. However I do like the organ otherwise.

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I agree. I remember listening to the Gigout Toccata there. Once the Ophicleide was drawn you couldn't hear much else. Not a nice ensemble, I thought. However I do like the organ otherwise.

 

I agree also. I would say that the flutes are uniformly beautiful - as is almost always the case with FHW.

 

Another possible weakness is that the Choir Organ is very quiet - almost too quiet to be effective in an accompanimental role. with regard to solo repertoire, I should say that this is definitely the case.

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Another possible weakness is that the Choir Organ is very quiet - almost too quiet to be effective in an accompanimental role. with regard to solo repertoire, I should say that this is definitely the case.

 

No doubt I shall be howled down, but in my view the traditional, delicate English Choir Organ is generally a pretty insipid affair and often not a lot of use for either repertoire or accompanying. They can be useful in psalms, I suppose, but IMO the most important divisions for accompanying are always the Great, Swell and Solo. However, if you have a Choir Organ voiced with enough presence to add body to the Swell when the two are coupled, that can indeed be very useful.

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No doubt I shall be howled down, but in my view the traditional, delicate English Choir Organ is generally a pretty insipid affair and often not a lot of use for either repertoire or accompanying. They can be useful in psalms, I suppose, but IMO the most important divisions for accompanying are always the Great, Swell and Solo. However, if you have a Choir Organ voiced with enough presence to add body to the Swell when the two are coupled, that can indeed be very useful.

 

Not by me, at any rate. I agree heartily, Vox.

 

In fact, I greatly prefer my 'own' Positive Organ, here. The only drawback being, of course, that there is no Romantic Solo Organ. However, it is possible by careful (and unconventional) registration, to achieve a surprising number of very useful solo and accompanimental effects - some even under expression. For a 1960's neo-Classical instrument, the Minster organ is surprisingly versatile. I even have a faux Tuba to hand, if I so desire.*

 

 

 

* This was realistic enough to cause my previous colleague to whip his head round in astonishment, during my play-over of the first hymn at an Evensong several years ago. After the service, he came up to me and said 'Where the hell did you get that Tuba from?' Apparently, he was almost convinced that one had appeared, as if by magic, overnight.

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I was hoping that pcnd5584, with his obvious and intimate knowledge of the Exeter instrument, would respond in elucidation. It is a long time since I heard it live; and even longer since I last played it.

 

As with the organ, Choral Evensong was also always a wholly ‘satisfying’ experience, under both Lionel and Lucian (even if I could never make out the latter’s beating)- particularly since one of my confrères from undergrad days was a lay clerk and would furnish the latest gossip.

 

I can now understand the rationale about the seemingly perverse positioning of Choir and Solo divisions. Thank you.

 

in my view the traditional, delicate English Choir Organ is generally a pretty insipid affair and often not a lot of use for either repertoire or accompanying. However, if you have a Choir Organ voiced with enough presence to add body to the Swell when the two are coupled, that can indeed be very useful.

 

I suppose it depends how far you go back in time. The traditional Chair is something that many English builders have preserved- with very good musical reasons- as is stated in the latter half of the quote above. Not that they now inhabit the majority of English cathedrals, of course. In some ways, the ‘rot’ started with the introduction of electricity: organs, and bits of them, could be put in all sorts of convenient (and inconvenient) places, with often disastrous musical consequences.

 

[Astonishingly, I find that the Choir division at King’s College, Cambridge, is not, apparently, in its homonymous case. Is this correct?]

 

As to the ‘enormity’ of the Ophicleide at Truro: surely the answer would be to have it ‘tamed’, so that a 32’ could be provided that is in balance with it. “Firmly I believe and truly” such a magnificent acoustic cries out for such a stop.

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As to the ‘enormity’ of the Ophicleide at Truro: surely the answer would be to have it ‘tamed’, so that a 32’ could be provided that is in balance with it. “Firmly I believe and truly” such a magnificent acoustic cries out for such a stop.

 

Or to do as H&H have done in some recent organs, borrow the G.O. 16ft reed to the Pedal and extend the 32ft reed from that. This way you could also have a softer alternative to the Ophicleide. Does anyone have any first-hand experience of this?

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I was hoping that pcnd5584, with his obvious and intimate knowledge of the Exeter instrument, would respond in elucidation. It is a long time since I heard it live; and even longer since I last played it.

 

As with the organ, Choral Evensong was also always a wholly ‘satisfying’ experience, under both Lionel and Lucian (even if I could never make out the latter’s beating)- particularly since one of my confrères from undergrad days was a lay clerk and would furnish the latest gossip.

 

I can now understand the rationale about the seemingly perverse positioning of Choir and Solo divisions. Thank you.

 

You are welcome. Regarding Lucian's beat - you are far from alone there. He once (for some reason) conducted our local orchestra - the BSO - and, during a rehearsal of a piece in twelve-eight, the leader tentatively requested that Lucian make his beat (in four) a little more clearly defined. Lucian responded, obligingly and quite seriously, 'Of course - would you like me to divide it into twelve?' Apparently, this was even less help....

 

 

I suppose it depends how far you go back in time. The traditional Chair is something that many English builders have preserved- with very good musical reasons- as is stated in the latter half of the quote above. Not that they now inhabit the majority of English cathedrals, of course. In some ways, the ‘rot’ started with the introduction of electricity: organs, and bits of them, could be put in all sorts of convenient (and inconvenient) places, with often disastrous musical consequences.

 

[Astonishingly, I find that the Choir division at King’s College, Cambridge, is not, apparently, in its homonymous case. Is this correct?]

 

I had also read something regarding this. I think that the shutter front is vertically aligned with the impost of the main case. The space between this and the reverse of the front pipes is clear space. Just the place for a six-rank Sharp Mixture and a Trompette Harmonique 8ft. ....

 

As to the ‘enormity’ of the Ophicleide at Truro: surely the answer would be to have it ‘tamed’, so that a 32’ could be provided that is in balance with it. “Firmly I believe and truly” such a magnificent acoustic cries out for such a stop.

 

The problem is that this is, to all intents and purposes, a tonally untouched FHW - and thus a rare survival. (Claims by Hele & Co., in The Organ, around 1926 or so, to have revoiced the reeds of the Truro organ were wildly exaggerated. A few pieces of felt were removed from the resonators of various chorus reeds several years ago.) There are still a number of people who regret the re-siting of the Tuba at the 1991 restoration, by Mander Organs. Whilst the pipes were not touched tonally, the re-siting alone has given this stop a considerably larger voice - and better projection. However, the fact remains that, for whatever reason, FHW originally sited this stop alongside the rest of the Solo Organ, in the depths of the chamber.

 

In one sense I would agree with you - I regard this Ophicleide as just too loud and too fat; therefore, it could benefit from revoicing. However, I would also, without any qualms whatsoever, re-cast both compound stops as chorus quint mixtures - that of the Swell with a somewhat higher composition. Then I would want to enclose the Solo Organ (except for the Tuba), make various manual doubles available on the Pedal organ and add a Trompette Harmonique to the Solo unenclosed chest. it would then have lost its original identity, and could no longer provide future generations of musicians with this vital link to an instrument by a master builder at the height of his powers.

 

So, where would one stop....?

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Or to do as H&H have done in some recent organs, borrow the G.O. 16ft reed to the Pedal and extend the 32ft reed from that. This way you could also have a softer alternative to the Ophicleide. Does anyone have any first-hand experience of this?

 

This was formerly the case at Bath Abbey, after the HN&B rebuild, in 1972-73. However, I think that when Johannes Klais Orgelbau completely reconstructed the organ in 1997, this was partly discontinued.As far as I can tell, the secondary Pedal reed was new at that time. However, it also looks as if the half-length bass of the former Double Trumpet was retained for the 32ft. octave. This was, at this time, a downward extension of the G.O. Double Trumpet - which was also made playable on the Pedal Organ, at 16ft. pitch. The NPOR survey for the 1972-73 rebuild http://www.npor.org....ec_index=N05918 omits (in error) the primary Pedal Reed - a Trombone, which was an old Hill stop, of wood.

 

For the reasons given in my post above, I would suggest that this should not be attempted in the case of the Truro instrument.

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How wonderful to read. Back to Loosemore in this wonderful case (without the West projection)?

Does prayer work?

 

And can we have the embossed pipes back please? AG Hill provides six example illustrations in his 1891 book on what they (all or some?) looked like. Sir George Gilbert Scott writing in 1879 said that 'It is however vexatious that, in renewing the pipes of the choir-organ which were decayed, they have not reproduced the embossed patterns. I fear now they will never do it.'

 

I expected that Willis might have got rid of them in his 1891 rebuilt and enlarged organ but given the date it seems that Speechley may have been responsible for this in 1877 and this is suggested in Betty Matthews little book from the early 1960's(?).

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And can we have the embossed pipes back please? AG Hill provides six example illustrations in his 1891 book on what they (all or some?) looked like. Sir George Gilbert Scott writing in 1879 said that 'It is however vexatious that, in renewing the pipes of the choir-organ which were decayed, they have not reproduced the embossed patterns. I fear now they will never do it.'

 

I expected that Willis might have got rid of them in his 1891 rebuilt and enlarged organ but given the date it seems that Speechley may have been responsible for this in 1877 and this is suggested in Betty Matthews little book from the early 1960's(?).

 

I think that this was indeed the case. I too would like to see the embossed pipes replaced.

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