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Which Organ Would You Most Want To Marry?

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We all have instruments which we cherish, but the thought came to me to-day, that certain organs are very special to us, and often for quite different reasons.

 

I wonder which instruments the board-members would most like to live with every day, but to make it slightly more interesting, perhaps we should each have a list of six, with the reasoning behind the choices. The other five could be specific organs for specific music, or they could be organs that we admire or grew up with.

 

Some could be so bad that they have a special place in our affections.

 

I will list mine later!

 

MM

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I wonder which instruments the board-members would most like to live with every day, but to make it slightly more interesting, perhaps we should each have a list of six, with the reasoning behind the choices. The other five could be specific organs for specific music, or they could be organs that we admire or grew up with.

 

The trouble is, some wonderful organs are placed in buildings where you get very little chance to actually play them! Tewkesbury Abbey is one that immediately springs to mind - in practice this is a harder organ for practice purposes than Westminster Abbey or St.Paul's. I love getting little stories off my chest, and this one is a peach! A Peach!

 

I used to harbour secret lusts after the Tewkesbury Abbey post in the days of Michael Peterson. I love the quirkiness and richness of The Grove, and adored the subtlety of the J.W.Walker 1948 Milton and Apse - although the console (which is now mine, by the way) was pretty uncomfortable. Of course, the nearer I actually got to the building and its staff, the less the job appealed to me.

 

John Belcher got the job and had a relatively rough time, mind you, being a patient man he survived but the pecking order in the Abbey is/was extremely strange. Most places the appointed Organist and Choirmaster would have some say in what goes on. At TA first place on the pecking order goes to the Book Shop Manager! Second and third places (even specifically concerning music) also go elsewhere.

 

This is/was so much the case that when John Belcher left to go to Godalming and the time came for auditions (+ Roy Massey) for his successor, they wanted to test the candidates' ability as an accompanist during the day - more convenient: Abbey School Choir available, etc. They wanted to use the Abbey organ - answer: 'No.'

 

They, viz. The Abbey School Choir, the Vicar (now Dean of Hereford Cathedral) Roy, the Director of Music at The Abbey School, the rest of adjudicating panel and all the candidates had to go round to the Methodist Church. I kid you not.

 

 

So - assuming that all tourists, book shop managers, dodgy clergy and sensitive listeners were to be magically spirited away, here are some I wouldn't mind being left with for days on end:

 

(in no particular order)

Hereford - stunning at all volume levels - amazing acoustic for not such a large building

Liverpool - fairly obvious reasons

Peterborough - hope it's as good now as it was before

Westerkerk Amsterdam - best Bach organ I know

St Ouen, Rouen or St.Suplice (I've never played either but would dearly love to)

Trinity College, Cambridge

 

 

 

I could go on and on, so had better stop.

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Riga Cathedral (Walcker)

Berlin Cathedral (Sauer)

St-Michel Etterbeek, Brussels (Kerkhoff)

St-Julienne, Namur (Walcker)

Tewkesbury (Grove!)

W...(H-J-A. Harrison)

Mirepoix Cathedral (Link)

Giengen an der Brenz (Link)

 

Oh, I have already too much.

And, and, and...

 

Pierre

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Beverley Minster - lots of Snetzler pipework but plenty of romantic stuff as well. Sounds better from the console than anywhere else in the building!

 

St Mary and St Everilda, Everingham - unaltered since built in 1838 (apart from electric blower). Long compass Great, short compass Swell. Excellent for 18th century English music.

 

St Andrew, Little Snoring - only small (one manual, three stops) but they are all complete gems and date from circa 1800. Really a chamber organ, great for Byrd, Gibbons, Tomkins etc.

 

St Catherine's College, Cambridge - brilliant for early French and German repertoire and an excellent acoustic.

 

Ripon Cathedral - a lovely instrument that can cope with most repertoire.

 

Our Lady and the English Martyrs, Cambridge - wonderful romantic instrument designed by Stanford and now restored to his spec (almost) and in a BIG acoustic. Almost blows your head off at the console!

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Trying to think of 6 organs which surpass all understanding, is hard enough, but then to pop one at the top of the list is almost impossible.

 

However, in my thinking, I went from the musical point of view.....organs which are perfectly suited to specific types of music and irrespective of the period in which they are/were built.

 

For instance, I COULD prefer St.Ouen or Tolouse as the best French sounds of Cavaille-Coll, but then, so many newer organs do it almost as well and without particular musical compromise.

 

I COULD go for Schulze, but then, I'm not devoting my life to Mendelssohn or Rheinberger. Superb though the remaining Schulze organs are, I simply wouldn't want to live with one for the rest of my days.

 

Willis is certainly a name to reckon with; especially those at Liverpool and St.Paul's, and they must therefore rank high.

 

Bach and Reger were the most important contrapuntal organ-composers, and whilst the organs for which they were composed were radically different, certain instruments seem right for the task.

 

Then there is accompaniment work; so beautifully appropriate when playing on a Harrison instrument, and quite difficult on many newer instruments such as Blackburn.

 

Maybe the "good all-rounder" is a wise choice, or some small gem of an organ which stirs the soul but which may have limitations.

 

With all this in mind, there are certain instruments which can do special justice to certain kinds of music, and therefore, my list must include the following:-

 

For the French school, I suspect that Blackburn would still come out as one of the best, for not only is French music very convincing on this very special instrument, it can do much more and yet still remain an essentially British cathedral organ.....just. But would I go for this, or perhaps Olomouc in the Czech Republic? Maybe some other elsewhere?

 

Like so many more before me, St.Bavo, Haarlem would have to be the organ for Bach and Reger; for which music it was not created. Nevertheless, for the music of both composers, this organ has everything that could be required, whilst "possibly" making the music sound better than either composers could ever dare hope.

 

For the English romantic school there are no organs better than Liverpool Cathedral or St.Paul's Cathedral, and of course, both have absolutely every possible accompaniment sound available.

 

For "absolute Bach" it would have to be a non-Bach organ, but one of the finest sounds in the world, the Martinikerk, Groningen.

 

That's four....just two left to go, but what a difficult choice. For the "smaller gem" I COULD quote St.Joseph's RC church, Keighley.....a gorgeous instrument in an acoustic to die for, but then, is it the best? The Frobenius of Queen's College, Oxford, would certainly match or exceed its' special qualities. Maybe some other, in another country?

 

As for the all-rounder, I cannot help but think that St.George's Chapel, Windsor, is about the most rounded organ I know, capable of just about anything, and user friendly on a daily basis. Yes, I could live with this organ.

 

So in an order of 1 to 6, I think the list would look like this as a personal preference:-

 

1) Way out on top....St.Bavo, Haarlem.

 

2) For French repertoire AND German romantic repertoire, that wonderful-sounding instrument at the rival church of St.Bavo Basilca,Haarlem; originally built by Adema. (A surprise new entry in the best organ stakes, and in any event, Olomouc (CZ) has to be excluded because I haven't heard it live as yet)

 

3) Just for the glittering chorus-work and the hair-raising richness of the sound, I think I would choose the Schnitger at Groningen; an organ which immediately excites every fibre.

 

Thus far, the score is Holland 3 Rest of the world 0.

 

4) St.Paul Cathedral, I think pips Liverpool, largely because of the acoustic....this is perhaps the most difficult choice of all.

 

5) The all-rounder, as mentioned above, must be the H & H at Windsor.

 

6) The jury is out on this one, possibly because I don't know the name of the church or the place where the organ is!!

I haven't heard it live, but I just KNOW that I would never tire of it; even on the evidence of recordings. However, I "think" it is the new Robert Ponca organ at Louka in the Czech Republic, and if it is, it is 20-stops of pure joy.

 

http://www.ponca-organs.com/new/index2.php?id=music

 

 

 

I'm delighted (and relieved) that Mr Mander and his team made it onto the list.

 

Final score: Holland 3 England 2 Czech Republic 1

 

 

MM

 

I want a 7th....the Castro Wurlitzer!

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A certain amount of overlap with MM here.

 

1) If I had the choice of only one organ it would have to be St George's, Windsor. For an all-rounder you really can't beat it. It really can play anything. I daresay there are other organs that can produce a roundly Romantic full organ in Howells and a thoroughly French one in Messiaen, but I've yet to come across them.

 

There are a few tweaks I'd want done, though. It needs a new Great Cornet for a start (unless that's been done since Sidney Campbell's time). I'm fairly sure H&H cobbled it up from leftovers from the Rothwell/Walker. At any rate it's rather nasty.

 

And if I remember rightly, the Solo Cor de Nuit 8ft was the old Great Open III revoiced. It works, but could be bettered.

 

Then there's the Swell Mixture. Being a French Plein Jeu (22.26.29.33) in all but name it doesn't work with the flues alone. I wouldn't want to get rid of it, but there is a need for a lower-pitched flue chorus Mixture too.

 

For the rest I just haven't the first-hand experience to make a definitive choice, but for the moment I think it would have to be:

 

2) The Hildebrandt at Naumburg. What an organ! Surely the ideal Bach instrument (whether or not he had any say in the spec). Wonderful choruses, real gravitat in the pleno and some wonderful sonorities possible by blending 8ft stops.

 

3) St Bavo, Haarlem

 

4) St Ouen, Rouen, or St Sulpice.

 

5) Sidney Town Hall for a good old English Romantic instrument with bags of brilliance and a wealth of quieter colours.

 

6) The "Wetheringsett" organ. Essential if you want to understand the early English repertoire properly. Wouldn't want it as my only instrument, but I'll take it in conjunction with any of the others.

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Guest Lee Blick
Which Organ Would You Most Want To Marry?

 

Would this be covered under the new Civil Partnership legislation :(

 

This morning I have a new organ installed in my flat:

 

Great Organ

16 Bourdon

8 Principal

8 Rohr Gedackt

4 Octave

4 Rohr Flute

2 Superoctave

1 1/3 Quint

Vrks Mixture

8 Trumpet

8 Chimes

Swell to Great

 

 

Swell Organ

8 Bourdon

8 Viole

8 Viole Celeste

4 Principal

4 Chimney Flute

2 2/3 Nazard

2 Octave

2 Flautino

1 3/5 Tierce

IIIRks Cymbal

8 Oboe

Tremulant

 

 

Pedal Organ

16 Principal

16 Sub Bass

8 Octave

8 Gedackt

4 Superoctave

2 Blockflote

IVRks Mixture

16 Fagotto

8 Trumpet

4 Schalmei

Great to Pedal

Swell to Pedal

 

So this is the organ I am betrothed to till 'death us do part'.

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Guest acc

In no particuliar order:

  • Freiberg (D), Petrikirche (Silbermann)
  • Kevelaer (D), Marienbasilika (Seifert)
  • Philadelphia (USA), Wanamaker store
  • Riga (LV), Cathedral (Walcker)
  • Rouen (F), St-Ouen (Cavaillé-Coll)
  • Toulouse (F), Notre-Dame du Taur (Puget)

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I wonder which instruments the board-members would most like to live with every day, but to make it slightly more interesting, perhaps we should each have a list of six, with the reasoning behind the choices. The other five could be specific organs for specific music, or they could be organs that we admire or grew up with.

 

 

MM

 

 

How about the following?

 

1 Naumburg (D), St Wenzel - as played by JSB

 

2 Hamburg (D), St Jakobi - a sound to bring one to one's knees - stylus phantasticus really makes sense on this organ

 

3 Sydney (Aus), Town Hall - the ultimate Victorian masterpiece

 

4 Studley Royal, North Yorks (GB) - beautifully restored IIP Lewis is jewelled Wm Burges church

 

5 Albi Cathedral (F) - glorious classical French sounds in a stunning building

 

6 Coventry Cathedral (GB) - the most exciting of British cathedral organs and more subtle than most

 

I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate (and undeserving) to have played all but the last.

 

JS

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Well, I've never looked at organs in quite this light before but the idea of polygamy does appeals...

 

Ok, here are mine:

1, Laurenskirk, Alkmaar. Does this count as 1 or 2?

2, Kings College, Cambridge. Never played it but heard it a few times and I guess it has to come with the rest of the building.

3, Pembroke College, Cambridge. This will raise a few eyebrows but I played this organ a couple of times and loved it.

4, Sacre Coeur, Paris.

5, Adlington Hall. I've heard this organ on tape only but it just sounds so cool.

6, A small practice organ, as built by Peter Collins, Ken Tickell and others. As Beatrice said when the Prince offered his hand to her in marriage in Much Ado: "But I would need another husband for week days. Your majesty is too grand to wear every day of the week." And I would want a little organ where I could learn new pieces in the comfort of my home and get them right before playing those other organs at the weekend... I'd probably ask H&H to build it.

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6  Coventry Cathedral (GB) - the most exciting of British cathedral organs and more subtle than most
Next best thing to Windsor! The specifications are very similar indeed, except that Coventry's Solo Organ is really another chorus division - I've never worked out what the point of it was. Also when I played it it felt a lot more "spongy" owing to the detached console. Apart from that, yes, a great instrument! :(

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I wonder which instruments the board-members would most like to live with every day, but to make it slightly more interesting, perhaps we should each have a list of six, with the reasoning behind the choices. The other five could be specific organs for specific music, or they could be organs that we admire or grew up with.

MM

How about the following?

 

1 Naumburg (D), St Wenzel - as played by JSB

 

2 Hamburg (D), St Jakobi - a sound to bring one to one's knees - stylus phantasticus really makes sense on this organ

 

3 Sydney (Aus), Town Hall - the ultimate Victorian masterpiece

 

4 Studley Royal, North Yorks (GB) - beautifully restored IIP Lewis is jewelled Wm Burges church

 

5 Albi Cathedral (F) - glorious classical French sounds in a stunning building

 

6 Coventry Cathedral (GB) - the most exciting of British cathedral organs and more subtle than most

 

I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate (and undeserving) to have played all but the last.

 

JS

 

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

 

 

John Sayer's list is interesting. Naumburg seems to be the "in" Bach sound at the moment, and quite possibly more authentic than most.

 

St.Jakobi, Hamburg, I've never heard unfortunately, but I suspect it is a grander version of Groningen, and klnwoing this organ well, I feel sure that Hamburg is the organist's equivalent to a stun-gun.

 

I "almost" included Sydney TH in my list, but as I haven't travelled to hear it, I excluded it, but from what I heard from recordings, I think I almost certainly would include it if ever I heard it.

 

Studley Royal is indeed a gem, but all that marble must be the best stop on the organ! I first played that organ when it was hand-pumped back in the 1960's, and it was remarkable then, but in a fairly dubious state. Again, I thought of Southwell and Ashton-under-Lyne Cong.Church., but decided that brilliant though these organs are, they are just TOO transitional in tonal-design to represent a definitive type of instrument. I think my exclusion of the same had more to with the character of the instruments than the undoubted tonal quality of them.

 

Albi Cathedral I know nothing about.

 

Coventry is an interesting choice, but I always feel that it is let-down by a lack of real climax. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful instrument, but IMHO, just ever so slightly second-best to Windsor.

 

MM

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Next best thing to Windsor! The specifications are very similar indeed, except that Coventry's Solo Organ is really another chorus division - I've never worked out what the point of it was. Also when I played it it felt a lot more "spongy" owing to the detached console. Apart from that, yes, a great instrument!  :(

 

Well OK, but personally, I think that Coventry is rather better than Windsor, having played for services on both and recitals on Coventry. Windsor also has a detached console! I found no problems with apparent lag at Coventry - just that it was the most comfortable console anywhere.

 

My six, in order of preference, are:

 

*Nôtre-Dame de Paris (Even without the chorus mixtures on the Récit.) I was listening to another recording of it again to-day. It really is the most fantastic instrument.

 

*Coventry Cathedral (Reasons as above - except that the Solo Orchestral Trumpets would have to have the original H&H voicing re-instated.)

 

*Bamberg Cathedral (This Rieger organ is truly a superb musical instrument - it even has 8p and 4p chamades on the Hauptwerk.)

 

*Exeter Cathedral (I grew up having lessons on this one - it does everything that I wish and just has a very distinctive voice and personality.)

 

*S. Sernin, Toulouse (The most awesome tutti of any original C-C - anywhere! For me, it even eclipses S. Sulpice or S. Ouen. Oh yes - and it has a couple of chamades....)

 

*Antwerp Cathedral (The Pierre Schyven four-clavier instrument, situated in the West Gallery of this cathedral is excellent - there is not an unpleasant sound anywhere - and, what a console! True, one does not have the brash, rich roar of a C-C - but it is pretty close!)

 

*S. Sulpice (Yes, I know - but organists are notoriously bad counters....) This super-C-C is wonderful; from etherial strings and flûtes harmoniques, to a majestic, thundering tutti.... um.... oh, there is a chamade rank on the fifth clavier, which is now home to the Solo Orgue.)

 

OK - if I really cannot have seven, then I will have to choose between S. Sulpice and Antwerp.

 

Hmmm....

 

Give me some time on that one....

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In no particular order:

 

 

Laurencekirk, Alkmaar (tonally, it has been lovingly untouched over the years)

St Ouen, Rouen

Westminster Cathedral (the big one)

St Ignatuis Loyola, New York

St Sernin, Toulouse

A very nice Ken Tickell 3 stop continuo organ I saw used at St John's Smith Square once. Good for portability and adjustable pitch, including an extra pipe to allow a bottom C when working at A=415.

 

I wouldn't mind also playing the Wurlitzer at the Winter Garden in Blackpool.

 

St Ignatius happens to be my local parish church, so I get to hear it frequently.

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Amongst many others making it impossible to choose only 6, I would definitely place the Isnard organ in St.Maximin-la-Ste.Beaume in the upper part.

 

As sunny, warm, and fiery as the Provence itself ....

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Thinking about this made me realise just how many instruments there are that I like purely based on recordings as I have never heard them live. They might include St Eustache (Paris), St Patrick's Cathedral (Dublin), Lichfield, Salisbury, Winchester, Durham, Ely, Hereford. But based purely on organs I have heard in the flesh (the first 3) or actually played (the latter 3):

 

WESTMINSTER ABBEY Sounds quite different, depending on whether you are in the Nave, in the organ loft, or in the Quire, but all equally splendid, especially in anything by British composers.

 

WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL The most uncompromising instrument I have ever heard - it doesn't do mystery - and best heard from a seat at least halfway down the building!

 

LIVERPOOL CATHEDRAL In the right hands, this is a superb organ; the only organ to have made me physically cringe at the sheer volume of sound produced at full organ.

 

ROYAL ALBERT HALL I managed to play this twice in my teens when a neighbour was the President of the RAH and could fix that sort of thing. At the console, you just have no idea of the power of this instrument, something I only realised when I stood at the back of the hall and heard someone else play it. An instrument re-born after Manders fantastic work.

 

ST MARY REDCLIFFE, BRISTOL Arthur Harrison regarded this organ as his "finest and most characteristic work" and from a seat in the Nave it is a dream of an instrument to listen to. From the player's perspective, it's bit of a dog, as the console is just across the north aisle from the Swell box which includes 32ft and 16ft Trombones. Plus, because the Swell box is so far away from where the Choir sings, all the beautiful quiet registers usually found on a Harrison Swell, i.e. the Lieblich Flutes, Salicional and Vox Angelica, are on the 4th Echo and Solo manual. A nightmare for visiting organists to remember. Nonetheless, it remains one of my very favourite organs.

 

CLIFTON COLLEGE CHAPEL, BRISTOL This 46 stop 4 manual Arthur Harrison from 1911 was the instrument I learnt to play the organ on, and to be honest, it spoilt me rotten for what I have played since. Of course, it has the idiosyncracies expected of such an instrument, notably Great 8/4ft Trombas that you never really know what to do with and a full Swell that is slightly underpowered and needs the Octave coupler drawn to balance with the Great. However, it is a gem of an instrument and one that others will have the chance to judge for themselves when Adrian Partington's recording of works by Basil Harwood on this organ is released by Priory Records.

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"Adrian Partington's recording of works by Basil Harwood on this organ is released by Priory Records."

 

(Quote)

 

Noted!

Do you have an idea when this is due?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

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"Adrian Partington's recording of works by Basil Harwood on this organ is released by Priory Records."

 

(Quote)

 

Noted!

Do you have an idea when this is due?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

Sometime during this year, I believe.

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"Adrian Partington's recording of works by Basil Harwood on this organ is released by Priory Records."

 

(Quote)

 

Noted!

Do you have an idea when this is due?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

It seems to be out now - the CD you want is there - page 2 of the 'Complete Organ Works' category of the catalogue.

 

Try this!

 

http://www.priory.org.uk/

 

AJJ

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Here is a direct link; but it seems it is not on the same organ.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre

 

Hi Pierre,

 

The website you posted only links to the volumes currently released , that is Volumes 1 and 2. (PRCD 683/684). The Bristol CD will be Volume 3 PRCD 781 and the catalogue lists it as to be released during 2006 along with two further Volumes in the Karg-Elert Series and the start of one devoted to Lefebure-Wely from Liverpool Metropolitan (ie RC) Cathedral.

 

Regards '

 

Brian Childs

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Mine will be pretty obvious to anyone who knows me!

 

1) Romsey Abbey, beyond any shadow of a doubt just THE most amazing combination of instrument and building I have ever found (as long as you mostly avoid the Tuba). There is no restriction on when you can use it, and the stewards and gift shop people are very nice! Despite slightly limiting and Victorian specification I have found almost no occasion when I can't get exactly the sound I want from it. In my humble opinion, it's the English equivalent of...

 

2) St Antoine l'Abbaye, France. I went on one of Nigel Allcoat's do's there about 10 years ago and was blown away by this incredible Aubertin instrument which went on and on and on in the darkened abbey.

 

3) Wimborne Minster. A lot of people hate it and think it's a jangly 1960's thing but I am hugely fond of it. I think it has among the nicest choruses I know and a great deal more integrity than many more recent instruments. I always find my time on it very rewarding.

 

4) The Metzler in St Mary (University Church) Oxford. It's just... amazing.

 

5) New College Oxford. Perhaps I could have fun revoicing it.

 

6) Clifton Cathedral. Again, small spec but voiced with huge integrity. I never tire of it.

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