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Denis O'Connor

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Some years ago I objected to a comical mis-translation by the( then) presenter of The Early Music show.The objection was in the form of a littlle limerick. Shortly afterwards the presenter moved to Classic FM.

On Sunday I heard an announcer state that the Albert Hall organ had 4,996 stops.

It could well be that my poor hearing was at fault. Did any other member hear the recital broadcast on Sunday last?  If the 'howler' was as stated,could any member of the Forum submit a suitable limerick for general consumption? I don't wish harm to the announcer but I was cross because he referred to the organ as a Father Willis. It was once.

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The true number of pipes is 9,997, not as quoted in a number of places as 9,999.

The organ is, of course a Harrison and Harrison as we tried very hard not to change its clearly H&H style. The console retains its original H&H label and there is no mention of Mander Organs on the console whatsoever. We respected the H&H work meticulously.

John

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I applaud this ethical approach by Mander Organs and am reminded of an opposite approach by the former company, of Rushworth & Dreaper (R&D). When R&D acquired the assets of the pipe organ division of the former John Compton Organ Company it chose to change the console label of the Hull City Hall organ built originally by Forster & Andrews (F&A) and rebuilt by Compton. The then new replacement label showed the R&D name in very large characters, wrongly overshadowing the names of F&A and Compton whose work represents the essential core of the organ as it stands today. I believe the matter has since been readdressed, putting the correct perspective on the organs pedigree.

 

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15 hours ago, Denis O'Connor said:

Some years ago I objected to a comical mis-translation by the( then) presenter of The Early Music show.The objection was in the form of a littlle limerick. Shortly afterwards the presenter moved to Classic FM.

On Sunday I heard an announcer state that the Albert Hall organ had 4,996 stops.

It could well be that my poor hearing was at fault. Did any other member hear the recital broadcast on Sunday last?  If the 'howler' was as stated,could any member of the Forum submit a suitable limerick for general consumption? I don't wish harm to the announcer but I was cross because he referred to the organ as a Father Willis. It was once.

I, too, heard that the organ now had 4,996 stops. 

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After the RAH Organ Day on 15 May, I received a message from the RAH asking for feedback.  Amongst other things, I replied that there were quite a few 'howlers' in the programme, not least that the  emphasis on the organ being a Father Willis was simply wrong - that the case and about 2/3 of the pipes are Willis, about 1/3 of the pipes and the console are H&H, the tonal picture is H&H with Mander tweaks and one stop, and mechanically it's a Mander.  Perhaps this is just considered too difficult for the general public and that inaccurate generalisations are necessary?  (2/3 and 1/3 are generalisations.....).

It can sound fantastic - Clive Driskell-Smith's performance of the Allegro from Widor VI at the post-restoration seminar sticks in my mind.  On 15 May, I thought Olivier Latry was superb, but although there was huge technical skill showed in the rest of the evening, I just didn't enjoy it very much.

 

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On 25/07/2018 at 17:04, bam said:

After the RAH Organ Day on 15 May, I received a message from the RAH asking for feedback.  Amongst other things, I replied that there were quite a few 'howlers' in the programme, not least that the  emphasis on the organ being a Father Willis was simply wrong - that the case and about 2/3 of the pipes are Willis, about 1/3 of the pipes and the console are H&H, the tonal picture is H&H with Mander tweaks and one stop, and mechanically it's a Mander.  Perhaps this is just considered too difficult for the general public and that inaccurate generalisations are necessary?  (2/3 and 1/3 are generalisations.....).

It can sound fantastic - Clive Driskell-Smith's performance of the Allegro from Widor VI at the post-restoration seminar sticks in my mind.  On 15 May, I thought Olivier Latry was superb, but although there was huge technical skill showed in the rest of the evening, I just didn't enjoy it very much.

 

 

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As John Mander pointed out, the organ is very much a Harrison.  One wouldn't describe Carlisle, Exeter or Gloucester Cathedral organs as "Father Willis", although perhaps Exeter retains more Willis character than the others (in my opinion, anyway, but others who know better may differ).

Nicholas Kynaston made a memorable recording of the Allegro from Widor VI on LP many years ago - one of the few LPs of the organ. I remember hearing him play the Carillon de Westminster there also (at a Carlo Curley spectacular in 1971 which also included spots by Christopher Dearnley, Jane Parker-Smith, Reginald Foort and Marcel Dupre -  I think it must have been the latter's last public performance).

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Nicholas Kynaston's 'Great Organ Music' LP was one which originally got me hooked on the organ.  It was re-released on CD in 1995 - I was going to write 'a few years ago' but checked the CD insert.....

The programmes the RAH produced for the series of recitals in the years after the restoration were accurate and informative.

The Sunday Organ Prom was repeated yesterday afternoon on Radio 3 from 2 - 3pm and by chance I was listening - yes, it's a Father Willis with 9,999 stops!  I enjoyed the performance a lot.

 

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To be honest, I wouldn't expect a layman to know the difference between a pipe and a stop.

Many seem to think that the pipes they see in the case are the sum total.

It can be quite humorous really, like the woman at the recital of the new Manchester Cathedral organ who asked me where the loudspeakers were!

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I hope the BBC isn't hiring its announcers from the local Job Centre!  But to be fair, it could just have been a momentary slip, like the (possibly) apocryphal story of the Third Programme announcer who said "the next piece is called The Bum of the Flightle Bee".  It happens to all of us.

 

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At very long last I feel that I do have something of possible interest to add to the profound and erudite discussions in this splendid forum; it is good to have returned from the brain dead.

I write to recall that during a lesson with Ralph Downes at the RCM he told me that while planning the design of the organ to be built in the RFH he looked over the Albert Hall instrument  and the quality of the H and H work convinced him that they should be the builders for the the new RFH organ.

I like the 'flight' story: it reminds me of the time, many years ago, when on Radio 3 an LP of music by Britten was thus back-announced 'that was the Simple Symphony by Benjamin Britten, played by the Boyl Need Orchestra (slowly) conducted by Boyl Need'. For those who may not know much about Dr Boyd Neel a quick flick through Wiki P will tell all.

Good to be back!

David Harrison

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Listening late evening to Radio 3 some weeks ago, in the car after a rehearsal, we distinctly heard a somewhat estuarine announcer mention that the next piece would be a 'Burkuse' (I render it a tad phonetically, for the full flavour).

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