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Buckfast Abbey


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"wasteful, badly thought-out and, in places, gimmicky" was how the new organ at Buckfast, on paper anyway, was described earlier - and not by me, I hesitate to add!

I presume that you wouldn't agree AJJ!

I look forward to hearing it one day and I shall make an effort the next time I am in the UK to visit Buckfast. I look forward to hearing other's opinions too once they have had a chance to hear it 'in the flesh'!!!

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Just spotted myself and wife! Interestingly, she (a musician herself who has had to put up with organs and organists for many years) usually takes no prisoners so to speak where organs recitals are concerned but was mightily impressed at this event. Not only did the player come  in for great praise but so did the instrument. Whatever we anoracks think, the instrument seems to have impressed at least one muscal member of the public.

A

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  • 1 month later...

First YouTube video featuring the new organ (I think). Worth skipping through to the last 5 minutes if you don't want to sit through the whole mass, although you would miss some nice singing if you did.

 

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  • 5 months later...

And an interesting, if slightly predictable list of music for the celebration. It will be good to watch it - from afar!!!

Messe de Minuit (Gloria, Agnus Dei) - Marc-Antoine Charpentier

Quem pastores laudavere - Hieronympus Praetorius

Ordinary: Mass IX  Cum jubilo (Kyrie, Sanctus)  

Hodie, Christus natus est - Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Voluntary: Toccata-Gigue on the Sussex Carol - George Baker       

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Riffing a bit on the topic of compact subbass registers from the house organ thread, I read that Buckfast has installed an electronic 32' stop. Now, I'm of the view that one shouldn't complain unless prepared to pay for remedying the observed shortcomings, but this is still interesting.

I have been to Buckfast once, in 1982, so have no clear idea how big the building is, but it's surprising that space or funding was not available for such a stop, considering the presence of the 32' reed in a very substantial instrument. With all due respect to the demands of confidentiality, it would be interesting to know why this approach (which is of course not unique) was taken. Considering some alternatives for fun leads to a repetition, albeit an octave lower, of the matters discussed in the house organ thread.

Firstly, why not a Compton polyphone or cube? Kenneth Jones, writing in OR years ago about one of his organs in Australia, noted that they were quite good, and almost told the voicerhow to voice them. So apart from recycling one from a cinema organ, someone knows how to build them. Oberlinger's Cubus, suitably dimensioned, could similarly be considered.

Secondly, the much-discussed technique of quinting. I imagine that most of us know the theory, but there are clearly differences in perception of its efectiveness. Personally, it works well for me, especially in a reverberant space, or on my electronic with the headphones on and the reverberation turned up - although because of this I did once absent-mindedly finish a piece on a real organ with a pedal fifth, and a real 32' stop drawn. That can really make a place rattle.

Thirdly, I have heard a youtube demonstration of a "Harmonics of 32' " stop (St James the Great, Leicester, by Nicholsons), which seemed impressive, though perhaps this is intended only for reed stops.

Just out of curiosity, as a mere dilettante, it would be interesting to know if these really are effective, non-electronic, substitutions.

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The building is not as large as it appears. Money is probably not the problem, except possibly for the will to spend any more. Space could well be. The Walker/Downes was impossibly cramped, which is why the new quire organ is divided on both sides, but the new pipework seems to take up three quire bays on either side, so I'm not sure whether there would be room for another, large rank of pipes.

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22 hours ago, petergunstone said:

That sounds quite a complicated sequence of events and some quite expensive equipment.
Perhaps it might have been easier and cheaper to make twelve wooden pipes to form the bottom octave extension of an existing 16' stop?

Of course there is the space consideration.

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I’m sure there was no mention of it in the original specification, but I suppose matching stop heads can be provided for both consoles.  The absence of a 32’ Pedal flue was vigorously debated earlier on this thread.  Paradoxically, the previous Downes/ Walker organ had one.  

There is a photograph on NPOR C00020 showing wooden pedal pipes of the former organ protruding into the aisle, but not excessively so, and they are no more obtrusive than those in the similar position at Hereford Cathedral - or the new Quire console and stairs at Canterbury Cathedral.  

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 19/11/2019 at 08:54, Rowland Wateridge said:

I’m sure there was no mention of it in the original specification, but I suppose matching stop heads can be provided for both consoles.  The absence of a 32’ Pedal flue was vigorously debated earlier on this thread.  Paradoxically, the previous Downes/ Walker organ had one.  

There is a photograph on NPOR C00020 showing wooden pedal pipes of the former organ protruding into the aisle, but not excessively so, and they are no more obtrusive than those in the similar position at Hereford Cathedral - or the new Quire console and stairs at Canterbury Cathedral.  

 

....Or they could have dispensed with one (or both) of the 32ft. reeds, and installed  twelve pipes in the 32ft. octave, to extend the Bourdon downwards. Or, they could have retained the previous perfectly serviceable 32ft. Sub Bass, from the Downes?walker instrument.

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  • 9 months later...

Having heard a very well regarded international recitalist put this instrument through it's paces, I'm afraid I was far from impressed. The quieter stops are quite ordinary and the main choruses are simply too loud for the music to be heard. We retreated to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to listen.

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1 hour ago, Achilles 3201 said:

Having heard a very well regarded international recitalist put this instrument through it's paces, I'm afraid I was far from impressed. The quieter stops are quite ordinary and the main choruses are simply too loud for the music to be heard. We retreated to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to listen.

Your a not alone in your findings!

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