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biggestelk

Who, where & when?!

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I am not sure - but there are some pointers.

 

1) The building is not particularly resonant

 

2) The reeds sound English; the Pedal reeds are loud and fat enough to be Willis or Harrison reeds, although the clavier reeds sound more like Willis reeds (particularly the quieter Trumpet stop used for the middle section). However, they could also be Harrison reeds which have been revoiced.

 

3) The weight of the Pedal flues again suggests a large Romantic English organ.

 

4) The Pedal 32ft. reed is quite fundamental, with little harmonic development and probably high pressure, or leathered shallots, perhaps. However, it is not enormous. such as that at King's, or the two louder 32ft. reeds at either Durham or Redcliffe. In any case, the acoustic is completely wrong for Durham. However, the big G.O. reeds do not sound like the Trombe at Redcliffe.

 

5) The organist is good, playing at a quite brisk pace and with no obvious mistakes.

 

6) The clavier flue-work has a certain weight, but no real brightness, so it still sounds like a Romantic English organ. perhaps by Willis. Colin Walsh recorded this piece at Salisbury; however, I know this instrument fairly well - and this recording sounds nothing like it.

 

 

 

This is where you post a reply, informing me that it was played by a blind one-armed twelve-year-old Portuguese girl, on the two-clavier neo-Classical electronic organ in the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Toenails, Rochester, NY, USA....

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Oops - post part deleted - 'didn't read the whole of pcnd's post - I thought it might be the Salisbury recording though - I have found the Salisbury organ live and on CD to sound quite differently on occasions.

 

A

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I ask on behalf of a Facebook user who runs a organ recording business in the States. He has this recording on tape but knows little more than what the piece is and that it is written in French on the tape...

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I was thinking E. M. Skinner myself.

 

 

I enjoyed the performance.

 

I also considered this, but I think that the chorus reeds are better than Skinner's. HWIII was particularly disparaging of Skinner's Diapason chorus work - and his chorus reeds.

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Well I wouldn't go to war over it. I have only played a couple of vintage E. M. Skinners, but neither were inferior to what I hear in the Soundcloud link. That performance also bears more than a passing resemblance to the recordings of the Hauptwerk Mount Carmel Skinner that you can find on YouTube. Furthermore, I hear upperwork to what I think is Great Twelfth and Fifteenth, but I'll stick my neck out and suggest that there isn't a Great Mixture. That would be typical of Skinner too. These are only my impressions and quite probably wrong. I thought the reeds weren't fiery enough for Willis, but I could go along with Harrison.

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THE ANSWER!!!!

#pipeorgan mystery solved. It was not in France or England, but in Brooklyn!! olrbrooklyn.org

 

thanks for your all your thoughts!

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This is where you post a reply, informing me that it was played by a blind one-armed twelve-year-old Portuguese girl, on the two-clavier neo-Classical electronic organ in the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Toenails, Rochester, NY, USA....

 

Hahaha as these mystery identifications often result... :D

 

 

 

I also considered this, but I think that the chorus reeds are better than Skinner's. HWIII was particularly disparaging of Skinner's Diapason chorus work - and his chorus reeds.

What did Willis have to say about Skinner's work?

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Hahaha as these mystery identifications often result... :D

 

 

What did Willis have to say about Skinner's work?

 

The best source for this is to read The American Classic Organ - A History in Letters, by Charles Callahan. It is published by The Organ Historical Society, Richmond, Va. (1990). The ISBN catalogue number is: 0-913499-05-6 This will give a good idea of exactly what HWIII felt about Skinner's work. In particular, he criticised Skinner's Diapason choruses - or lack of them. Skinner loved the sound of an orchestra and he was passionately fond of orchestral music. He (like some other builders) made the grave error of treating the organ like an orchestra, thus robbing it of the very thing which sets it apart from this medium. By concentrating on producing many sounds, both flue and reed, which attempted to imitate the sounds of orchestral instruments, he neglected the backbone of the instrument. The result was that, whilst a Skinner organ contained several beautiful registers and was perhaps a good accompanimental instrument (albeit after a certain style of accompaniment) his instruments came to be considered rather less useful for the performance of music by Bach and his contemporaries. *

 

In addition, HWIII was unimpressed by Skinner's chorus reeds. When Skinner first made his acquaintance with 'Willis' reeds (I believe this was with regard to the instrument in Saint George's Hall, Liverpool), he was bowled over by their fiery sound and power. In later years, he confessed that he had once been shown how to obtain this sound (by HWIII), but had forgotten the art.

 

Since I have only ever heard recordings of 'vintage' Skinner organs, Vox Humana is probably your best source for an appraisal of what these stops (and his original diapason choruses) sound like; for I believe that he has played a few of them, largely in their original tonal conditions.

 

 

 

* Even back as far as 1924, Skinner had requested (and received) from Willis scaling, voicing and other details necessary in order to construct a chorus mixture in the manner of the Grand Chorus (15-19-22-26-29) stop, which HWII had included on the G.O. of his instrument in Westminster Metropolitan Cathedral. Initially, when Skinner had heard this stop in situ, he disliked it - being at that time unable to see the point in a proper chorus and mixture structure; (he was then still equating an organ to an orchestra). However, by 1924, he had come around to the thought that perhaps the sound was something which he should include in his instruments. However, it becomes clear that HWIII also felt that Skinner had not yet got his sub-structure correctly in balance, so that the imposition of a superstructure of a big mixture stop would still result in an unsatisfactory sound. In particular, Willis criticised the voicing (and power ratio) of Skinner's Diapason, Principal and Fifteenth ranks. Willis felt strongly that they were incorrectly balanced - generally being weak, in comparison to those on a Willis organ.

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Since I have only ever heard recordings of 'vintage' Skinner organs, Vox Humana is probably your best source for an appraisal of what these stops (and his original diapason choruses) sound like; for I believe that he has played a few of them, largely in their original tonal conditions.

 

Alas, as I mentioned above, I have played only a couple of vintage Skinners. What is more, these were on tours with a choir many years ago now and the timetables did not allow the degree of exploration that I would have liked. Nevertheless I can relate to your comments. One of these organs, St Luke's Cathedral, Portland, Maine, had had a Great Mixture added at a later stage. IIRC it was a genuine Skinner stop from elsewhere. It blended well enough and I was thankful for it, but somehow it also seemed not wholly in keeping with Skinner's generally octopodian aesthetic. If you want Romantic diapason choruses in which the 4' and 2' stops fit like a glove without usurping the 8' fundamental, look no further than Father Willis. His organs hardly emphasised a vertical structure either. I don't think there is any great aesthetic difference between Skinner and FHW diapason choruses - both seem to be aiming for the same general effect - but FHW's scaling is sheer perfection. Was HW3 just keeping the family end up, I wonder?

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Yes, that was the other one - and a very fine instrument of its type it was too. The Pedal Bombarde was indeed a pew-rattler, even though not of the fiery type.

 

I cannot find the original specification for St Luke's Cathedral either, but the current one is here.

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Thanks for the information. I will try and find that book. Being fairly new to the organ (I have only been taking lessons since around October), I am trying to absorb as much as I can.

 

The organ to which I normally have access is the one in the Princeton University Chapel, which was apparently was built after Harrison joined Skinner (and later modified several times, including by Mander).The Solo organ, which I believe has many of the various original Skinner pipes, has many very beautiful stops, but it would definitely be difficult to build any kind of chorus using them alone.

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