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It's not the first time the organ has had problems with its electronics, though the background was different then:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg14619731-800-notre-dames-organ-falls-silent/

Then things got even worse:

https://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/03/world/paris-journal-notre-dame-s-organ-and-computer-are-no-duet.html

Though M Boisseau's reported jest at the end of this piece now sounds particularly unfortunate.

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8 hours ago, Damian Beasley-Suffolk said:

Vierne's console is still there, in some side room in the tower, along with the restored positif case. You never know ...

https://www.atelier-quoirin.com/NDP-Positif.php

Yes, it has been (sort of) preserved. Well, more or less just dumped there, probably because so many of the most famous French organists (not just Vierne) have played it. However, I too have always thought that the modern console was totally out-of-keeping with the style of the Cavaillé-Coll case. In fact it might now be found more financially and aesthetically more astute to take the Vierne console out of its shadowy resting place and restore it to its full original glory. If this was to happen then I know a great many organists who would welcome this more than just enthusiastically, especially some of the younger generation of serious players who would just love to place their hands on the same keys as used by many of the great French masters. I experienced that kind of joy when still a music student when I was able to play some pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach on some organs still in original condition that he is known to have played, and for some reason it gave me much more incentive to want to perform on any organ even better. 

So hear's hoping with fingers crossed!   

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3 hours ago, Ian van Deurne said:

Yes, it has been (sort of) preserved. Well, more or less just dumped there, probably because so many of the most famous French organists (not just Vierne) have played it. However, I too have always thought that the modern console was totally out-of-keeping with the style of the Cavaillé-Coll case. In fact it might now be found more financially and aesthetically more astute to take the Vierne console out of its shadowy resting place and restore it to its full original glory. If this was to happen then I know a great many organists who would welcome this more than just enthusiastically, especially some of the younger generation of serious players who would just love to place their hands on the same keys as used by many of the great French masters. I experienced that kind of joy when still a music student when I was able to play some pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach on some organs still in original condition that he is known to have played, and for some reason it gave me much more incentive to want to perform on any organ even better. 

So hear's hoping with fingers crossed!   

Its all well and good to employ modern technical devices, but a lot of the younger organist have come to expect a more modern consoles. I met a very young organist who would not play for a well funded recital, because the organ had no aids at all, bar a couple of combination pedals, and no pistons.... his loss prob. And the Polish organ friend who came over, and played a few recitals, and needed a registrant/page turner, apart from the 2 Leeds Town Hall gigs

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It all went wrong when organists discovered how to change their combinations without moving their feet.
Whatever happened to showmanship?

Sequencers?  Electronically adjustable pistons? Multi channel pre-sets?

No! No! No!

There were no finer combination presets than carefully spaced fingers. This man knew how to do it!
1503360259_belalagosi.jpg.6564fc2466d492abc2e90de1580ef7ab.jpg

Then there was Virgil Fox!

MM

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10 hours ago, MusoMusing said:

It all went wrong when organists discovered how to change their combinations without moving their feet.
Whatever happened to showmanship?

Sequencers?  Electronically adjustable pistons? Multi channel pre-sets?

No! No! No!

There were no finer combination presets than carefully spaced fingers. This man knew how to do it!
1503360259_belalagosi.jpg.6564fc2466d492abc2e90de1580ef7ab.jpg

Then there was Virgil Fox!

MM

I well remember my days as a boy chorister at Holy Trinity, Hull, (Hull Minster), and watching in awe the late and great Norman Strafford, also City Organist, hand register even though he had a plethora of pistons. He was Masterful. But I’m reminded of a YouTube video of the brilliant Thomas Ospital playing the organ at St Eustache, Paris, and making great use of a sequencer. I just don’t know how he could have played such a piece without the availability of the facility.

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To make a serious point, the availability of instant registration changes at the touch of a button, has some quite serious musical implications.  I was just humming my way through bits of the Reubke Sonata  (as you do) where it demands fairly rapid changes of registration.  When I play it, I always have in mind`the sort of organs Reubke played, and the thought occurred, that there need to be breathing-spaces in the form of largely unspecified changes to tempo, which can add an amazing sense of drama if one uses one's ears rather than just one's eyes and fingers. Hammering through the notes and pressing a button or two, can so easily lead to mechanical and wooden performances; not to mention over-rapid ones.

Sadly, I never heard Norman Strafford perform, but he had quite a legendary reputation, and people who had,  talked about him in hushed tones.

On the other hand, thumb-pistons and sequencers would be fairly indispensable in the attached link, behind which is a fascinating story.

To be serious for a moment, Quentin Maclean had studied composition with Max Reger and organ with Karl Straube, and he was assistant at Westminster RC Cathedral under C S Terry.  Obviously keen to earn a bob or two (like his father Alec Maclean "The God of Scarborough') he took up playing theatre-organ, and was probably the best of his generation.

What could any of us do, when the BBC Producer yells, "Keep going.....we're under-running."

Well, there are improvisations and there are improvisations.

Fortunately, someone recorded it for posterity, and young David Gray learned it from the recording. I don't think he touches a single stop-tab!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZl_odkVXnY

MM

 

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3 hours ago, MusoMusing said:

To make a serious point, the availability of instant registration changes at the touch of a button, has some quite serious musical implications.  I was just humming my way through bits of the Reubke Sonata  (as you do) where it demands fairly rapid changes of registration.  When I play it, I always have in mind`the sort of organs Reubke played, and the thought occurred, that there need to be breathing-spaces in the form of largely unspecified changes to tempo, which can add an amazing sense of drama if one uses one's ears rather than just one's eyes and fingers. Hammering through the notes and pressing a button or two, can so easily lead to mechanical and wooden performances; not to mention over-rapid ones.

Sadly, I never heard Norman Strafford perform, but he had quite a legendary reputation, and people who had,  talked about him in hushed tones.

On the other hand, thumb-pistons and sequencers would be fairly indispensable in the attached link, behind which is a fascinating story.

To be serious for a moment, Quentin Maclean had studied composition with Max Reger and organ with Karl Straube, and he was assistant at Westminster RC Cathedral under C S Terry.  Obviously keen to earn a bob or two (like his father Alec Maclean "The God of Scarborough') he took up playing theatre-organ, and was probably the best of his generation.

What could any of us do, when the BBC Producer yells, "Keep going.....we're under-running."

Well, there are improvisations and there are improvisations.

Fortunately, someone recorded it for posterity, and young David Gray learned it from the recording. I don't think he touches a single stop-tab!

https:/
MM

 

The Notre Dame topic, like many topics on this forum, is somewhat a victim of digression. I hold my hand up. But I had previously referenced the late Norman Strafford who was from 1929 to 1951 Peter Goodman’s predecessor both as Organist & Master of Choristers at what is now Hull Minster and also the City Organist. Strafford was a charismatic figure, particularly as a fine choir trainer, building a huge reputation as Chorus Master of the Hull Choral Union and was also no mean organist. He acted in a consultancy capacity for the rebuild and enlargement of the Minster’s magnificent organ in 1938, the Hull City Hall organ in 1950 and, I believe, the 1948 rebuild by Compton of the instrument at Bridlington Priory. Hailing from Leeds, he was a onetime music master at Woodhouse Grove School and had an association with the Leeds Festival Chorus where he was, I also believe, either Chorus Master or accompanist. Strangely, there is no mention of him amongst their notable musicians. Strafford had amongst his musical friends the likes of Stanford and Beecham.

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9 hours ago, Barry Oakley said:

I well remember my days as a boy chorister at Holy Trinity, Hull, (Hull Minster), and watching in awe the late and great Norman Strafford, also City Organist, hand register even though he had a plethora of pistons. He was Masterful. But I’m reminded of a YouTube video of the brilliant Thomas Ospital playing the organ at St Eustache, Paris, and making great use of a sequencer. I just don’t know how he could have played such a piece without the availability of the facility.

Well, as it happens, Thomas Ospital gave a brilliant recital at St Olave’s, York three days ago almost entirely hand-registered.  A very varied programme: Mozart Fantasia in F minor; JSB Trio Sonata No 5 in C; Liszt BACH; Duruflé Prelude and Fugue on the name Alain; his own transcription of Bartok Six Romanian Dances and an improvisation on three submitted themes - entirely without a sequencer!  It was, by any standards, a breath-taking performance and he received a standing ovation!  I can’t recall that happening before at an organ recital. 

Especially for our northern friends, these were the three submitted themes:  (1)  Plainchant: “Tu es Petrus”  (Communion for the Feast of SS Peter and Paul 29th June); (2)  York Tune (Scottish Psalter 1615)  “Pray that Jerusalem may have peace and felicity”; (3) “Gentleman Jack” (Yorkshire folk tune).  These were woven into a masterly improvisation concluding in true French style with the theme in the pedals.

All of which proves that a top player (I don’t think he had seen the organ before that morning!) could still manage without a sequencer.

By an extraordinary coincidence, Olivier Latry was playing at exactly the same time at the Temple Church in London.

Back to Notre Dame!  A reminder that David Briggs is giving a ‘benefit’ recital in aid of Notre Dame in Liverpool Cathedral tonight, 7.30 pm.

 

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On 29/06/2019 at 08:17, Rowland Wateridge said:

" he received a standing ovation!  I can’t recall that happening before at an organ recital. "

James Lancelot received one at York Minster, a couple of years ago

On 29/06/2019 at 08:17, Rowland Wateridge said:

 

 

 

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Standing ovation - Rachel Mahon received one at her final Chester Cathedral recital last September before leaving for Coventry, although some members were hesitant, not sure if it was the thing to do!

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The Ovation has its origin in Classical Antiquity. It came second only to a Triumph, granted to returning victorious generals. Whilst the Bible gives us authority to praise God with clapping, singing and the playing of musical instruments, there seems to be no biblical justification for doing the same for visiting organists in a church. The following article from the New York Times gives an interesting insight into the origin and nature of the modern standing ovation:

https://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/21/theater/theater-the-tyranny-of-the-standing-ovation.html

 

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There was a standing ovation at the end of Dame Gillian Weir's inaugural recital on the Tickell organ at Worcester Cathedral. I was seated in front of the tomb of King John on an especially hard seat with no back support and was one of the first to leap to my feet... 

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10 hours ago, handsoff said:

There was a standing ovation at the end of Dame Gillian Weir's inaugural recital on the Tickell organ at Worcester Cathedral. I was seated in front of the tomb of King John on an especially hard seat with no back support and was one of the first to leap to my feet... 

😂😂😂

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Hmm, the last posting that was primarily about Notre Dame was from last Thursday!  We are a discursive lot!

Thanks to SlovOrg for the link to M Cattiaux's facebook page.

Re. the C-C console and mechanism: as I understand it, the stop-list has changed a lot since it was last in use (addition of 18-stop Resonance Expressive, loss of Recit chorus work, addition of Recit classique, loss of G-O Bassons (did they go to the Resonance?), Transfer of Clicquot Trompettes 16,8,4  from Solo to G-O (replaced by mixture-work), addition of chamades duplexed all over the place etc.), so it would definitely need re-modelling to a greater or lesser extent.  The key actions are presumably now electro-pneumatic (though presumably the transmission between the console and the organ could in theory be down-graded from fancy-pants electronic to plain old direct electric) and the stop action is presumably electro-magnetic, so C-C's mechanism would all need to be replaced inside the console.  It might therefore not make much sense to re-instate the C-C playing aids. Also looking at this picture there doesn't seem to be much room for thumb pistons between the keyboards - surely they would be missed!

Basically you'd be rebuilding the console from scratch, but keeping the keys and the external woodwork.  My feeling is that this is more of an act of historic vandalism than keeping the C-C console where it is now.  I would guess that something along these lines was the reason why the old console wasn't recommissioned in 2012 when the all-new flashy modern console was built (which I rather like btw!).

I wonder why they don't have a second console downstairs like at St-Eustache?   It's surely perfectly possible technically?  As it is, the organists have use the self-recording features in order to hear the organ from downstairs.

I speak in the present tense as if the organ were still in use today!  We can dream ...

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I’m sure there has been more than one new console at Notre Dame since Vierne’s was displaced.  Surely no one would contemplate inserting thumb-pistons - quite apart from all the other logistical problems of up-dating without compromising its original integrity.

I thought my ‘plug’ for the David Briggs recital counted as ‘Notre Dame’ rather than on the ‘Recitals’ thread - which seems to be only spasmodically used, and the fact that Notre Dame and St Eustache organists were playing in England at the same time was news-worthy.  

So far, no reactions to DB’s programme.  Was anyone else there?

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On ‎03‎/‎07‎/‎2019 at 14:51, Rowland Wateridge said:

So far, no reactions to DB’s programme.  Was anyone else there?

 

It looks like there wasn't!!

Are you going to tell us about it? What did he play? Was it packed?

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The programme (as previously notified!) plus the encore:

Pierre Cochereau (1924-1984) trans. David Briggs:  Two improvisations on  ‘La Marseillaise’

Pierre Cochereau trans. Jeanne Joulain:  From Neuf Pièces improvisés en form de ‘Suite Française’:

                     Kyrie (sur le Grand Plein Jeu) - Offertoire sur le Grand Jeu - Cromorne en taille 

                                      Basse et Dessus de Trompette - Grand Plein Jeu

Antoine Calvière (1685-1755):  Pièce en trio 

Louis Vierne:  Pièces de Fantaisie:

                                       ‘Etoile du Soir’ - Impromptu - Toccata in Bb minor

Léonce de S Martin (1886-1954):  Méditation sur le Salve Regina 

Pierre Cochereau trans. David Briggs:  Variations on “Alouette, gentille Alouette”:

                             Theme - Fileuse (Spinning Wheel) - Lent - Agité (Fonds 16’ 8’ 4’)

                                 Tierce en Taille - Trio - Scherzo - Flutes - Intermezzo - Final

Encore:

David Briggs:  Improvisation in free style (or in the spirit of that evening) en style libre!

 

As might be expected, the Liverpool organ coped effortlessly with all of this.  One realised what a remarkable instrument this is.  I don’t know Notre Dame well enough to suggest how closely they compare.  There was an audience of several hundred - I can’t guess how many - it’s difficult to judge in that huge building.  There were spare seats. 

All of the Cochereau improvisations, and David Briggs’ performances were tours de force.  In the ‘Suite Française’ he employed ‘authentic’ French Classical registrations in a 20th century idiom, i.e., louder and fuller but recognisably faithful to the originals.  Solo flutes came across with total clarity in the Calvière trio.  The Vierne was, of course, familiar fare.  S Martin’s Meditation on the Salve Regina was a simply beguiling work.  In “Alouette, gentille Alouette” we heard the theme, very staccato, on the Trompette Militaire - I suppose in lieu of a chamade at Notre Dame - speaking antiphonally from behind most of the audience (in my case, also a first experience of that stop), a very dramatic effect!  The balance was excellent, and the trompette was certainly not as devastating as one has sometimes been led to expect!  A simply thrilling sound!

Well, of course, the playing was all superlative and, as previously mentioned, he received a standing ovation.  

 

PS   It’s worth adding, as an indication of his prodigious efforts in transcribing “Alouette, gentille Alouette”, David Briggs’ programme notes say: “I transcribed this fantastic piece from LP, taking about 6 months, bar by bar.  It is scarcely possible to comprehend how such brilliant, effervescent and memorable music could be conceived on the spur of the moment. Transcribing it was truly ‘a labour of love’ taking an average of four hours to reconstruct one minute’s music”.

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I'm sorry - but I missed the previous post with details of the programme.

It sounds as if it was  a magnificent evening - and, presumably, enjoyed by a huge audience?

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Absolutely no apology necessary!  You, in fact, supplied the programme for Thomas Ospital’s recital at St Olave’s York only three days earlier, and it was my good fortune to be at both.  Thomas Ospital also improvised brilliantly on three different themes - plainchant, metrical psalm and one other very secular!

Several hundred in the audience for David Briggs is my best estimate and, yes, greatly enjoyed by all.

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David's playing was astonishing and his mastery of the music quite amazing.  The organ sounded fabulous and he really threw it around the building all night, so much so that top g# of the solo  tromba blew out of its boot - I found it lying on the passage board when I tuned today!

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7 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

As might be expected, the Liverpool organ coped effortlessly with all of this.  One realised what a remarkable instrument this is.  I don’t know Notre Dame well enough to suggest how closely they compare.  There was an audience of several hundred - I can’t guess how many - it’s difficult to judge in that huge building.  There were spare seats. 

Apologies for straying off-topic, but when I last attended a recital there the central space was fairly full but nowhere near to capacity, although I'm sure it is sometimes though.

What I'd really like to know is how often the nave (beyond the bridge) is occupied, either for recitals or services.  Certainly, there is capacity for enormous numbers if the whole building were to be used, nave and possibly chancel included, but I wonder whether the nave is really surplus to requirements in practice.  Has anyone here had first-hand experience of the nave being occupied?

As I understand it, the nave was designed to be at a lower level than the central space in order to afford a better perspective from there of the high altar.  However, I suspect that if the central space is full, people sitting in the nave would see very little other than the backs of the audience in the central space.

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I have hardly missed a recital here for the last 30 years and every one has had a very respectable number in the audience, although in this Great Space where the capacity of each area is so huge, even respectable numbers can look thin!

The Well, as the Nave is known, is an important part of the building.  It is used as a stand-alone space for concerts, services and exhibitions as well as overspill seating for major services and concerts.  The Palm Sunday service starts off here and moves into the main space, and Maundy Thursday services are usually held here to name but two.  A large toaster provides service  since the planned Bridge Organ never materialised.

When this area is in use as overspill for services and concerts, screens (and sound re-inforcement) are set up so that the people can have an idea what is going on half a mile in front of them!  Certainly for the major Christmas services every part of the building is full - Well, Transepts, the lot, and last year two sittings of Christmas Eve afternoon were needed.

I have sung at many incredible services and events in this wonderful place but  the Darkness to Light service, (Advent Sunday) where the Choir gradually processes  from West to East and ends up on the Altar steps looking West, with a Cathedral full of candles held by the congregation, is the most magical sight.

Adrian

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Thanks Adrian.

I can certainly appreciate that 'the Well' can be used for stand-alone services (and, incidentally, would have liked the projected nave bridge organ to have been built as originally intended).  However, I still doubt its usefulness as an overflow area for large congregations.  The very interesting book I have detailing the design and building of that great cathedral explains that that was the original intention for its addition  as the building progressed.  However, I feel that it would have been better made to be on the same level as the central space for the reasons I gave earlier.  Just a personal opinion, but I feel that having its floor much lower than the central space produces a feeling of being isolated from the main body of the cathedral and, as I said, would restrict the vision of the occupants of the nave.

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