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Most bizarre specifications?

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Thanks for the information regarding Cowing at Barnet Baptist. I can't remember if it was Bernard Edmonds, Gordon Paget or Laurence Elvin who reckoned that Wimbotsham was his only solo job. I will drop a note to NPOR accordingly.

 

Stephen Ridgely-Whitehouse's cats were indeed called Felix and Sylvester, both of whom are commemorated on stop-konbs at Eaton Square.

 

Renatus Harris specified "Cart" - as you say, an anglicisation of 'Quarte" - which would be appropriate in view of his French training.

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The oddity in the organ Andrew mentions at Clifford, Yorkshire, arises, I think, from it having been a residence organ. Originally, the secondary manual was designated "Solo" and had just one stop, called "Solo Open Diapason", which would have worked quite well in the style of registration then in use. Today, with the added 8' flute, it would be very suitable for the responsorial type of Roman liturgy, provided that the cantor isn't a Mr. Caruso type who bellows into a mike and snuffs out any disposition the rest of the congregation might have had to join in.

 

Gwas Bach's example in Gloucestershire is not quite as unusual as might be thought. The Revd. F.H. Sutton, a member of the ecclesiological Sutton family which included Sir John (of Jesus College) and Augustus (of West Tofts), was quite keen on the idea of a Choir Organ instead of a Great, relying on a big Swell for the major effects. It makes sense if you've got a chancel choir to accompany. The Wordsworth & Maskell at Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire, where Suttons (including F.H.) were incumbents for many years is another example. The Choir Organ was apparently preferred to a Great because F.H. liked plainsong. W&M were popular with ecclesiologically-minded clergy (as was Miller of Cambridge) and the organ has a fine Bodley case.

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The oddity in the organ Andrew mentions at Clifford, Yorkshire, arises, I think, from it having been a residence organ. Originally, the secondary manual was designated "Solo" and had just one stop, called "Solo Open Diapason", which would have worked quite well in the style of registration then in use. Today, with the added 8' flute, it would be very suitable for the responsorial type of Roman liturgy, provided that the cantor isn't a Mr. Caruso type who bellows into a mike and snuffs out any disposition the rest of the congregation might have had to join in.

 

Gwas Bach's example in Gloucestershire is not quite as unusual as might be thought. The Revd. F.H. Sutton, a member of the ecclesiological Sutton family which included Sir John (of Jesus College) and Augustus (of West Tofts), was quite keen on the idea of a Choir Organ instead of a Great, relying on a big Swell for the major effects. It makes sense if you've got a chancel choir to accompany. The Wordsworth & Maskell at Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire, where Suttons (including F.H.) were incumbents for many years is another example. The Choir Organ was apparently preferred to a Great because F.H. liked plainsong. W&M were popular with ecclesiologically-minded clergy (as was Miller of Cambridge) and the organ has a fine Bodley case.

 

Thanks David - I hadn't taken on board that it had been a residence organ.

 

Another with a Choir and no Great is http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N08486

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When you look at them, a lot of organs from the turn of the last century have a lower manual which is basically a Choir Organ plus a big diapason "to lead the singing". The registration would be additive, as on a French organ, with the Swell to Great on most of the time and the swell-box used to cover up the addition of stops. In other words, the spec would be the stops the local cathedral organist used most often on his four-manual Willis/Hill/Walker/Harrison to accompany his choir, plus the diapason to keep the hymns going.

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When you look at them, a lot of organs from the turn of the last century have a lower manual which is basically a Choir Organ plus a big diapason "to lead the singing". The registration would be additive, as on a French organ, with the Swell to Great on most of the time and the swell-box used to cover up the addition of stops. In other words, the spec would be the stops the local cathedral organist used most often on his four-manual Willis/Hill/Walker/Harrison to accompany his choir, plus the diapason to keep the hymns going.

Yes, and if you take it even further you get the sort of one manual job than can be found in many villages down this way. In chancel with choir if there is one - 8' OD and possibly 4' unenclosed with 8' and 4' flutes, 8' string or Dulciana with possible Celeste, 2', maybe Mixture and an Oboe all enclosed. Solitary 16' on the Pedal with coupler. Even the sometimes lowest octave missing from the 8's is not always a problem as the separate drawing stopped 8' bass can be creatively used with the pedal coupler. It always amazes me what these little gems can actually do - great for the more 'village' end of the choir repertoire and able to cope with a surprising ammount of 'proper' organ repertoire. They can also keep a moderate sized congregation in time.

 

A

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I have played (briefly) and listened to (with much more pleasure when someone else was playing) the Gray and Davison at Huntley that Gwas Bach mentions. The "Choir" seems almost to be incorrectly labelled. I recall it being a nice, fairly strong "rosbif" division which suits the not large but rather lovely church nicely - perhaps the addition of a Fifteenth might be too much. I don't recall there being any indication that a Great was prepared for or even considered. But the whole instrument sounded just right. And it did indeed acquit itself with the required raucousness with Lefébure-Wély at my cousin's wedding there a good few years ago :-)

 

As for other oddities, the organ which my wife first played at as a 12-year old at Witton Park in County Durham, http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N15085, has a Swell of 8,8,2,8 to go with an 8,8,8,4 Great. The 2' is just about noticeable above the Great 8+4, but seems to work nicely along with the other Swell stops in the building. Looks odd, sounds nice. Trust your ears, they always say. More about that instrument when I get around to addressing the drought of letters in Organists' Review.

 

In a good number of small instruments seen here in the Netherlands and in Germany, one often sees really odd specs such as 4,2 (1 1/3, or 1/2), 8 (regal), and mostly on neo-baroque instruments. Sometimes this is found on the "second" manual of smaller instruments. Bourgarel made a few, such as this http://www.france-orgue.fr/orgue/index.php?zpg=org.doc.fch&ido=792, and there are some Iberian examples such as this http://www.france-orgue.fr/orgue/index.php?zpg=org.doc.fch&ido=792. Odd to my eyes, but common enough to appreciate that there is a repertoire for these instruments of which I'm wholly ignorant, apart from having fun playing Batallas badly, beyond just making a compact study organ.

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When you look at them, a lot of organs from the turn of the last century have a lower manual which is basically a Choir Organ plus a big diapason "to lead the singing". The registration would be additive, as on a French organ, with the Swell to Great on most of the time and the swell-box used to cover up the addition of stops. In other words, the spec would be the stops the local cathedral organist used most often on his four-manual Willis/Hill/Walker/Harrison to accompany his choir, plus the diapason to keep the hymns going.

 

This is an interesting example, which sounds a lot better in the church than at the console:

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N09233

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This is an interesting example, which sounds a lot better in the church than at the console:

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N09233

Yes, that looks very promising. As usual, it relies on the Swell to Great coupler for flexibility. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, after all it's a feature of Cavaille-Coll organs and Sam Clutton used to wax eloquent about a small 18th century organ which had a similar spread, giving a one manual organ spread over two keyboards.

 

Going off on a slight tangent - the Dulciana borrows its bass from the gedact, which gives a very noticeable change of tone in the bottom octave. This is so very common, particularly with Swell basses, but Bernard Edmonds pointed out a clever solution used by that much under-rated firm, Taylor of Leicester. Instead of running the string into the gedact, they stopped the Open Diapason at tenor C and borrowed the bass from the gedact and the string together. Bernard said that if he hadn't known, he would never have noticed. HN&B did something similar (in what Henry Willis 4 is said to have referred to jokingly as "John Norman's bassless organs") to save space and cost.

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I last week played one of the instruments in our benefice for the first time having been asked to play for a few services in the near future. I don't think that it's especially bizarre but there are some odd features and the keys are the yellowest I have ever seen.

 

The Open Diapason finishes at bottom F, the Dulciana and Claribel Flute finish at tenor C and the Stopped Diapason Bass is just the bottom octave so needs to be drawn all the time. The principal chorus is powerful and I think will need to be used with care in this relatively small church. The 4' Principal is a little too large to use with either the Claribel Flute or Stopped Diapason, a combination that I use a lot in my own church, but I shall need to hear it from the body of the church before deciding what will and will not work.

 

The pedal board is awkward being short compass, straight, with the notes closer together than usual and shifted to the right by about 4 notes so that bottom C is about where one would expect bottom F to be. I've never had any problem with looking at my feet whlle playing but it will be particularly essential here.

 

http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N05881

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