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Geoffrey Morgan

Pershore Abbey

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The organ for Pershore has been advertised, with a computerised picture of how the new cases will appear,  but I cannot find the proposed specification anywhere.  Perhaps they haven't got that far yet!

 

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It might just be the angle from which the computerised perspective has been created, but it's tempting to wonder if that is a full-length 8ft front in the proposed case-front.

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From the Pershore Abbey Weekly Bulletin -  27th October 2019

"A new Fratelli Ruffatti 3-manual pipe organ for Pershore Abbey

It is with great pleasure that we announce that having satisfied all the faculty conditions, the contract between the PCC and Fratelli Ruffatti for the new organ was signed by the Revd. Claire Lording on 10 October. The organ, which is to replace the Bradford Computing Organ, will be built  at the Ruffatti factory in Padua, Italy, shipped to the UK and transported to Pershore where it will be installed by their skilled craftsmen. Meantime there will be significant building works in the Abbey in preparation to receive the new organ and the whole build, installation and voicing of the organ will be completed within the next two years.

The PCC …………………………………………………………………"

 

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Synoptic stoplist from Organ Club Journal 2018/3.

Great - 16, 8, 8, 4, 2, IV. Octave, Sub, U.Off

Swell - 8, 8, 8, 4, 4, 2-2/3, 2 1-3/5, III, Trompette Harmonique 8. Octave, Sub, U.Off

Positiv - 8, 8, 4, 2, 1-1/3, Cromorne 8. Octave, Sub, U.Off

Pedal - 32 Resultant, 16, 16, 16, 8, 8, 4, Fagotto 16, 8, 4.

A

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It looks as though this might be one of those organs which rely on flue choruses carried to high pitches to achieve power and projection, but without the alternative range of dynamics and colour available from a palette of other stops including warmer unisons and quiet reeds.  If this is so, and merely expressing a personal opinion, I find that the power and projection are indeed likely to be there but the effect can become (to me) aurally wearisome and a little boring after a while.  One of the first instruments of this type I encountered in this country was a long time ago when the Marcussen arrived at St Mary's, Nottingham.  Still lauded as a landmark instrument, it might nevertheless be significant that they installed a digital a few years ago on which they seemed to rely heavily when I last took stock of the situation.  There's nothing wrong in having more than one instrument in a church of course, especially a large one, since they can be used to support different functions.  But one wonders whether the digital at Pershore will actually be disposed of, or retained for use in situations for which the new one might be less than optimum?

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The actual stoplist ‘looks’ like others from the same builder and would appear to be attempting to get ‘much’ from ‘little’. What worried me slightly was the need to have wide scale French mutations, Italian flutes and English Stopped Diapasons all coexisting to enable as wide a repertoire as possible to be played. I can’t help comparing it with the new Drake organ at Chelsea Old Church where the instrument has its own definite identity with the attendant ramifications for whoever is playing. To me at least dinky little flute choruses topped by a 1-1/3 are decidedly last century. However, one can not judge by stoplists alone.....

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4 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

But one wonders whether the digital at Pershore will actually be disposed of, or retained for use in situations for which the new one might be less than optimum?

I would find that maddening. These so called 'eclectic' instruments are all very well, but it is, surely, utterly bonkers that they have to be supported by a digital instrument for the very use for which they are primarily intended - the accompaniment of worship. I can fully understand the situation at, for example, Chichester, where concerts are held at the west end and the good old Allen is kept at that end for that sort of usage.  (Though, of course, the pipe organ scarcely carries down the cathedral for 'normal use.')

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It's good that we can explore different schools of organ building at first hand when offshore firms are retained to install their products here.  But it is also good to recall that we have our own quite distinctive traditions going back centuries, and to forget that would be a travesty.  To select just one instrument, because I have studied its sounds in great detail over 40 years, I would mention the large and beautiful Rushworth and Dreaper romantic organ not far from Pershore at Malvern Priory, fastidiously and sympathetically rebuilt by Nicholson's in 2004 with scarcely any tonal alterations.  I recorded its sounds when making what would be called today a 'sample set' way back in 1979, thanks to the courtesy of the then DoM Richard Dacey.  Then, it had been tonally reset a couple of years earlier by Rushworth's to more or less its original state in 1927, even though the money was not there to do other jobs such as major work on the action and winding system (not remedied until 2004, and how the thing managed to limp along in the meantime I do not know).  40 years later I am still exploring its beauties, such as the various flute stops (there are 8 and 4 foot flutes on each of the four manuals, all different).  As an example, those on the Solo organ are more 'orchestral' in character than most of the others, and the way this was achieved by the voicer was to encourage their even-numbered harmonics to be stronger relative to the odds compared with the other flutes elsewhere.  Then there is the glory of having 3 diapasons on the Great, meaning that you can't really criticise the largest one for being too fat when you can just select one of the others!  And the way they combine amongst themselves is endlessly fascinating.  Then, too, there are the 16/8/4 reeds on Great and Swell, whose contrasts were obviously so well thought out and implemented by someone with golden ears.  And I haven't even mentioned the rather fluty mixtures with their somewhat unusual 19th century-style compositions (which I am grateful to Andrew Caskie at Nicholson's for helping me to unravel - quite difficult when all you have are audio recordings to go on!).  And the range of beautiful quiet strings and colour reeds -  I could go on boring you all for ever ...  I realise not everyone gets switched on by organs like this, but picking up on a point made by Martin above who reminded us that organs are usually meant to accompany worship, well, you can certainly do that at Malvern - and then some.

Now that 40 years have elapsed since I recorded that pipework, means for making digital reconstructions of the sounds have become commonplace in the guise of the virtual pipe organ (unheard of in 1979), and although perhaps I should not mention it here, I have simulated the Malvern organ in this way at home.  This has enabled me to continue exploring its subtleties from an aural and musical standpoint, rather than just from the physics of its sounds.  I just hope that we do not allow our own heritage, defined by landmark instruments such as that at Malvern, to become lost or forgotten by whatever changes in fashion might take place in the future.

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3 hours ago, Colin Pykett said:

And I haven't even mentioned the rather fluty mixtures with their somewhat unusual 19th century-style compositions (which I am grateful to Andrew Caskie at Nicholson's for helping me to unravel - quite difficult when all you have are audio recordings to go on!).  And the range of beautiful quiet strings and colour reeds -  I could go on boring you all for ever ... 

Lovely to read all this Colin!  For anyone interested, the full spec of this organ, including mixture compositions, may be downloaded from http://www.nicholsonorgans.co.uk/pf/great-malvern-priory/.

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Fascinating indeed - I do love the organ at Pershore Abbey. Colin you could make a a nice little income selling the samples for a well known software product should you wish to transgress!

Interestingly one of the first instruments I learnt on was also a Rushworth and Dreaper, a modest three manual built five years later in 1932 for the great hall of Manchester Grammar School. It was in very poor condition and during my time at the school it was replaced by a smaller Peter Collins though much more suitable for learning technique on. As far as I know the Rushworth is still present - the pipework was hidden behind oak grilles above the stage so was not removed when the Collins was installed. The console used to sit where the grand piano is and my father and I, with the assistance of a physics teacher carefully dismantled it one Saturday afternoon just before the Collins was finished. You would never know there was a three manual organ behind that now! Immediately prior to dismantling the console we also recorded every pipe - somewhere I might still have the tape though I doubt I'd have the patience to process it as a sample set for aforesaid software program. The specification was much more limited than Malvern and was a very unsatisfying instrument to learn on. Maybe times have changed and it would be considered more fashionable now but I doubt it.

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Specification: https://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=N02431

 

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