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Mander Organs
Neil Crawford

Canterbury Cathedral & Manchester Cathedral, New organs

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On 3/11/2017 at 01:06, innate said:

It’s like the 1930s never went away. I’d prefer OD, Gamba, SD, Harmonic Flute, Gemshorn. Or even an undulant.

 

Of the two IV compounds on the Gt is one a Cornet or a high mixture?

With reference to the G.O. compound stops, one is almost certainly the 15-17-19-22 IV-rank Mixture retained from the Willis instrument, and the other is probably a standard 19-22-26-29 quint Mixture.

The G.O. foundation stops - maybe. However, there are seventeen 8ft. flues throughout the instrument. That should provide more than enough variety of tone-colour. In a building of this size, I should expect to find two Open Diapason ranks on the G.O. - even if the instrument is primarily voiced to be heard from the Quire.

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I went to see (and hear) the new Manchester Cathedral organ this morning, accompanied by the long-suffering wife.

I was quite impressed.  I have to say that I found the organ rather 'in your face' although, to be fair, we were sitting on the front row in order to have a good view of the pulsator organum.  Certainly, it is not without power although, on the other hand, I didn't hear any really quiet sounds that I should imagine would be important during certain services and even recitals.  I don't think we had the opportunity to hear the Solo organ either, at least not on its own.  We did, however hear the Choir organ (on the other side of the organ - we were in the nave) which, surprisingly, came through very clearly.

One slightly amusing comment, or at least I thought so, came from a lady sitting near to us at the front.  Prior to the performance I mentioned to her that in our location I wondered whether the organ might be a little too loud (it was).  Her response was, "I suppose it depends on where the loudspeakers are".  :rolleyes: 

I suppose, though, that ought to be expected these days with so many 'cheap alternative' toasters around, although it occurred to me to wonder what she thought the purpose was of the large organ case dominating the whole cathedral.

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Reminds me of a comment I heard once from someone bemoaning the fact the new organ had to be so big when it only had perhaps a couple of dozen pipes. They clearly hadn't appreciated that there were far more pipes in it than on it!

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3 minutes ago, Contrabombarde said:

Reminds me of a comment I heard once from someone bemoaning the fact the new organ had to be so big when it only had perhaps a couple of dozen pipes. They clearly hadn't appreciated that there were far more pipes in it than on it!

That sounds like a former priest of our main city church with its large four-manual in two cases either side of the nave: "Can't we sell half of it and raise some money?"

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It can be useful to show people what's inside, and by raising their awareness it might help to find funds for restoring an ailing instrument or even save one that's under threat of disposal.  I once played at a church that had a respectable 3 manual and I made it known that members of the congregation could have a look inside it if they contacted me - it had recently been overhauled and that itself had already created some interest, what with piles of pipes and sundry mechanism in the side aisles.  Obviously I didn't let them roam about freely, but quite a lot could be seen from the tuner's access door in the panelled casework (which was kept locked so they couldn't get in themselves!).  One of the things they seemed to enjoy was putting their hand into the mouth of CCC on the 16 foot pedal Open Wood when I played it, as well as hearing it at close quarters.  This rank stood on the floor near to the door.  The sheer size of the organ, its crowded innards and the feeling of suppressed power conveyed by the faint noises of escaping wind and blower rumble were also talking points as they departed.  I got the impression it helped them to appreciate that the church had something of real value there, something to be treasured perhaps more than they had realised.

But I've no idea what all this has to do with Canterbury and Manchester cathedrals - sorry for the digression.

CEP

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9 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

It can be useful to show people what's inside, and by raising their awareness it might help to find funds for restoring an ailing instrument or even save one that's under threat of disposal.

One of the things they seemed to enjoy was putting their hand into the mouth of CCC on the 16 foot pedal Open Wood when I played it, as well as hearing it at close quarters.  This rank stood on the floor near to the door.

That's an excellent idea, as I'm sure many people seem to believe that only the pipes they can see actually exist.

Getting back to Manchester, that reminded me of the 32' wood and reed in that cathedral which are situated in a side aisle and to which I naturally gravitated.  What I found rather surprising was that visitors can approach those pipes unhindered and can easily reach the tuning springs of the reed!  It only takes an inquisitive visitor to wonder 'what are these strange pieces of wire?' and 'I wonder what happens when I push this one up and down?'

And, no, I resisted the temptation!

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10 hours ago, Neil Crawford said:

Details of the Canterbury project now emerging ( see work in progress specification below ) 

 

https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/support-us/supporting-us/the-canterbury-voice/the-cathedral-organ-project/

4404D219-816C-4D27-A2A2-00F20EDC7261.jpeg

There seem to be a couple of typo's on the Solo stops.  Concert Flute should be 4ft and Piccolo Harmonique 2ft, I think.

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6 hours ago, Neil Crawford said:

But your topic hasn’t been update since 2006!

Yes, it's odd that the preview is showing that when the last post was last Tuesday! Quirks of the system...

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I notice that the specification includes a Transept division, but no mention is made of a case in the transept. I'm guessing that this may be pipes in the triforium with the rest of the organ that are arranged to speak into the transept. Does anyone have any further inof?

Here's a link to a leaflet giving more information about the organ project: https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/QO-tri-fold-spread-v6.pdf

Although Harrisons now list the work on their website there are no details as yet. They usually have extensive photographs of each project so I'm looking forward to seeing this develop.

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Re Transept division.  Anyone know where in the building this is?  North East or South East Transepts (ie nearer the main altar)?  Are the areas north and south of the steps at the front of the Nave also known as transepts?  

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Interesting point!  The present Nave Organ does a pretty good job and I was wondering what the logic was behind a division in the western transepts.  Now, in the eastern transepts makes some sense, as at the moment, with a service in the Quire it is necessary to couple the Choir Organ ( most of which is at the east end of the south triforium - Tubas are near the Pulpitum) to support singing near the High Altar.

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More info and some photos of early work including some of the new pipework are available now on the H&H website under Gallery, including an up to date Spec. It says that the Transept Organ is going in the North Triforium along with the unenclosed Choir, Solo and new 32ft Open Wood. An interesting accessory is something called 'Tuba Shutters on.'

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It rather reminds one of the control "Oberwerk unenclosed" on the Grant, Degens & Bradbeer organ at the Servite Priory, Brompton (I think), with visions of a little man in a flat cap sitting up in the organ with a screwdriver....

The danger with detached divisions is that one can forget that they are on.  I once sat in the nave at Canterbury on a Sunday morning when the organist for a visiting choir forgot that he had the Nave Organ coupled to the Pedal although it was not sounding on the manuals.  It's the sort of thing that could (and probably has) happened to all of us.

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4 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

It rather reminds one of the control "Oberwerk unenclosed" on the Grant, Degens & Bradbeer organ at the Servite Priory, Brompton (I think), with visions of a little man in a flat cap sitting up in the organ with a screwdriver....

 

That's right David. The 'little man' operating 'Oberwerk unenclosed' is, in fact, a hitchdown pedal! Lovely image!!!!

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I'm more than mildly astounded: 89 stops and ONE separate (Choir) tierce in the whole instrument (?),

How has the Cornet Voluntary offended ? And, large swathes of the continental repertoire are 'inaccessible', with only inaccurate rendering possible.

I'm sure it will sound grand . . . but, somehow, incomplete.

 

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2 hours ago, John Furse said:

I'm more than mildly astounded: 89 stops and ONE separate (Choir) tierce in the whole instrument (?),

How has the Cornet Voluntary offended ? And, large swathes of the continental repertoire are 'inaccessible', with only inaccurate rendering possible.

I'm sure it will sound grand . . . but, somehow, incomplete.

 

 

Presumably the whole scheme was drawn up by the Master of the Choristers who works in the Cathedral every day, knows the building, the acoustics and has a vision of how the new organ should perform, in conjunction with a consultant, the organ builders and other cathedral authorities. I suspect there would not be an 'open cheque book' and, in the end, those bodies have to make a decision about what there is - and what there isn't!!

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3 hours ago, John Furse said:
Quote

I'm more than mildly astounded: 89 stops and ONE separate (Choir) tierce in the whole instrument (?),

How has the Cornet Voluntary offended ? And, large swathes of the continental repertoire are 'inaccessible', with only inaccurate rendering possible.

I'm sure it will sound grand . . . but, somehow, incomplete.

I'm a bit confused by your comment, there is a Tierce, so therefore ample means to play both the Cornet Voluntary and the continental repertoire that require the Cornet, as well as other registrations that a Cornet alone would not allow for. Surely the principle reason for the instrument is the accompaniment of the Opus Dei, and as such, the specification appears not only complete but comprehensive. The Mander organ and the Willis organ before that both had a Tierce, but only one. 

 

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3 hours ago, John Furse said:

I'm more than mildly astounded: 89 stops and ONE separate (Choir) tierce in the whole instrument (?),

How has the Cornet Voluntary offended ? And, large swathes of the continental repertoire are 'inaccessible', with only inaccurate rendering possible.

I'm sure it will sound grand . . . but, somehow, incomplete.

 

I’m in sympathy with your concerns. Three tierces, separate or in Cornets, would be useful, if only for that movement in Les Corps Glorieux.

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3 hours ago, Jonathan Lane said:

....and frequently a 17:19:22 mixture can be used in the treble as a passable solo Sesquialtera. There are two of these at Canterbury. Salisbury is similarly endowed with a single Tierce and Lincoln has a Tierce with quint mixtures only. A recent Messaien CD from Lincoln shows Colin Walsh not phased by this.

A

 

 

 

Quote

 

 

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Clutton & Niland  (The British Organ): "All Father Willis's mixtures [they were forgetting Lincoln and a few others] contain 17, 19, 22 at bottom C and break to 12, 15, 17 at middle C. These make quite a useful solo cornet when combined with 8 ft and 4 ft flutes, or the 8 ft flute and principal.  Many of these tierce mixtures (Willis's excepted) are of larger scale than is really desirable for chorus purposes, and are therefore more effective in solo use." 

Henry Willis III (letter to Emerson Richards July 1935):"...the appalling mixtures as carried out by Hill's for instance..."  Amen to that, especially those where the tierce appears in the bass and disappears further up (e.g. St. Thomas, Belfast), resulting in the worst of both worlds.

I observe in passing that there is no separate tierce at Peterborough Cathedral, neither was there in the old organ at Worcester, although both had Great Cornets.

The Willis Mixtures on Great and Swell at Canterbury have tierces. Nevertheless, I would agree that it is useful in so many ways to have a good range of mutations n different divisions of a large organ.  Paul Hale, among others, has more than once emphasised the difference between a wide-scale cornet and a narrow-scale sesquialtera.  I myself would miss a larigot very much (the present one seems to be coming out).  Apart from its usefulness without the tierce (8.4.1 1/3 is nice, and so is 4. 1 1/3 - mutation effects don't always need an 8'), French cornet combinations often benefit from having a larigot on top to take the rough edge off the tierce.

For myself, I would sooner see some sort of tierce effect in place of the Great Piccolo, although the original Willis had a Piccolo (I have rarely been on good terms with any 2' flute that was actually fluty in tone), but here is the heart of the matter.  As S_L pointed out above, the scheme has doubtless been carefully prepared by those who know the building and its requirements. Speculation by such as myself is idle gossip, although quite fun.  I hope no one in authority takes any notice!

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11 hours ago, David Drinkell said:

 Speculation by such as myself is idle gossip, although quite fun.  I hope no one in authority takes any notice!

I respectfully disagree.  I find the views of professional musicians such as David with long and wide experience to be a valuable feature of this forum, and I trust he will continue to express them!  My interest in mixtures and mutations arises mainly from the physics of music which is where my expertise (such as it is) lies, but it needs to be augmented by knowledge from 'the other side', i.e. from musicians who have to actually cope with and use the things for real.  I'm also keen on getting information from yet a third source, organ builders, which is another area where this forum is so helpful.

CEP

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