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Mander Organs
David Pinnegar

Organs in Portugal - the 6 at Mafra

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Are there any experts on Portuguese instruments?

Many are reputed to be old . . . 

Does anyone have any information on the 6 instruments commissioned for the Palace at Mafra? All 6 appear to have En Chamade trumpets and apparently there was music specifically written for the set of six instruments that cannot be performed anywhere else . . . 

Best wishes

David P

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Three by J. A. P Fontanes, three by Antonio Xavier Machado e Cerveira, 1807. Restored by Dinarte Machado 1999-2010. There's a book/recording of 2010 The Six Organs in the Basilica of Mafra (2010). It includes pieces for the six organs by António Leal Moreira (1758-1819), João José Baldi (1770-1816) and the contemporary organist João Vaz (who's a very fine player, by the way). 

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I’ve looked before and it’s not easy to find but there is some information here.

https://www.cm-mafra.pt/cmmafra/uploads/writer_file/document/420/dossier_tecnico__1_.pdf

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Thank you SO MUCH for the pointer to Mafra. What an amazing place it is - a palace generally unknown that's the equal of Versailles and, yes, six organs in one Basilica designed to be played together. Quite a spectacle. Perhaps one day it might be possible to hear them in person.

Other organs in other places have similar en chamade trumpets and oboes. Notably at the university town of Coimbra and in Porto also.

Coimbra

https://www.centerofportugal.com/poi/st-michaels-chapel-of-the-university-of-coimbra/ 1737

https://myportugalholiday.com/coimbra-portugal/igreja-santa-cruz-coimbra-monastery-church.html - rather an extraordinary claim made there . . . 

 

The instrument at the Mosteiro de São Bento da Vitória in Porto is exceptional.

The restoration of the six Mafra organs was sponsored by Barclays Bank and won the Europa Nostra Award in 2012 for conservation. A DVD and book is available about the organs with specification of each instrument. If of interest I'll copy out some specs. My knowledge of Portuguese being non-existent what does "Flautado de 24 aberto" and "Flautado de 24 cheio" mean?  

No doubt others may find others, recordings and specifications but these instruments are clearly a genre worthy of attention.

Best wishes

David P

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9 hours ago, David Pinnegar said:

 My knowledge of Portuguese being non-existent what does "Flautado de 24 aberto" and "Flautado de 24 cheio" mean?  

Open and stopped.

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Thanks. I thought Aberto was open and Cheio looked like stopped . . . until I saw  Cheio IV and Cheio V with Cimbala IV and Recimbala IV

And what do the 12 and 24 mean?

Presumably the Flautado is a more flutey sort of Diapason like the French. And what might be a Flauto Romano?

The appear to be quite exotic animals . . . 

Best wishes

 

David P

 

 

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4 hours ago, John Furse said:

Open and stopped.

No.  'Stopped' in Portugese is parado (parada). Cheio (cheia) means 'full' whilst aberto (aberta) is, indeed, 'open'

But what the difference between a flautado di cheio (full flute) and a flautado di aberto (Open Flute) is, I'm not sure!!

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7 hours ago, David Pinnegar said:

Thanks. I thought Aberto was open and Cheio looked like stopped . . . until I saw  Cheio IV and Cheio V with Cimbala IV and Recimbala IV

And what do the 12 and 24 mean?

Presumably the Flautado is a more flutey sort of Diapason like the French. And what might be a Flauto Romano?

The appear to be quite exotic animals . . . 

Best wishes

 

David P

 

 

Rather than designate stop lengths in feet, the Portuguese, uniquely, I think, do so in 'palmas', or hand palms, the span from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger, nominally 8 inches. Thus, 12 palms equal 8ft and 24 palms are 16 ft.

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Thanks so much. That makes sense. Another puzzle is that the largest pipe of each organ is said to be 7m tall . . . Bottom note on keyboard is C.

In addition to ranks labelled 12 there's a Dozena. 8ft or 12th? Then a Quinzena so assume 15th.

Then there's fun with the Cornets . . . 

Corneta real VI

Corneta 

Corneta eco (echo perhaps)

And rhyming with that a Rebecao

Corneta Inglesa - V and VI versions

Some Cimbala seem intriguing too, accompanied by Recimbala and Sobrecimbala. . . 

At Porto I was able to sneak a visit to the console of the monastery organ and photograph the stops of a more conventional nature than the set of 6.

Best wishes

David P

 

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Mea culpa - possibly.

One of the translations of Cheio is 'stuffed'. This is why I assumed what I assumed.

For two neighbouring and related languages, Portuguese is very different from Spanish. Perhaps I should stick to the latter.

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😉 Not at all!

But are there experts on historic Spanish organs here? I've been fortunate enough to be able to look at a simulation of one or two and haven't been able to make much of a head or tail of them. What similarities and potential differences are there between the typical 18th century early 19th century Portuguese instrument and the Spanish?

Best wishes

David P

 

 

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Whilst I've played a fair number of Spanish instruments, and performed on a few, I had a substantial interest in them in an earlier incarnation. I wouldn't, however, claim to be an expert.

There is an entity known by some as the 'Iberian organ'. Yes, there are similarities between the instruments of these neighbours: horizontal reeds (not solely of a fanfare-type); an undeveloped pedal department; many instruments are one-manual; divided stops on the manuals;  wide-scale principal stops, measured as above; a panoply of cornet-type stops; Epistle and Gospel organs in many larger buildings. I'm sure I've forgotten lots, but this will do for a start.

The music has, as might be expected, a marked individuality. Sombre Tientos (with meandering solos, in right or left hand and on a variety of stops) and coruscating battle-scenes (with flashing Trompetas - not, by any means, all en chamade) are two of the most characteristic.

I blame E Power Biggs, and a certain LP, for my interest !

 

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Thanks so much for this. Now searching Iberian Organs on Google you've opened up the can of mysteries. 

https://www.thediapason.com/content/early-iberian-organ-design-and-disposition has some interesting information about the disposition of the typical instrument. 

Not wanting to bore everyone in asking questions of interest perhaps only to the most obsessive of organ nerds I'll merely quote a passage which opens up some technical differentiation that looks rather fascinating to me, and perhaps leave others to ask the questions that perhaps all of us may or may not like to know the answers to - 

Quote

The term tubo is divided into two distinct classifications, as tubos de boca (labials) and tubos de lengua (linguals). Tubos de boca (or labials) can then be divided into two defined families: flautados (principals) and nasardos (nasard as in the Netherlands, nachsatz), which form two distinct choruses of labial pipes: the coro estrecho or claro, and the coro ancho. The terms estrecho or claro refers to cylindrical open pipes with a 1/4 mouth to circumference relationship. The terms estrecho and ancho refers to the diameter of the pipe in relation to the length.

In my opinion looking sideways at lineage of other heritage can be really magic in bringing to life instruments as well as other interpretations, and giving expansion to sources and areas of enthusiasm. 

Best wishes

David P

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Today I received the DVD of these organs, which contains the (re-)inaugural concert linked earlier and an hour-long documentary on the restoration.  The DVD is at the back of a 64-page hardcover book (in Portuguese and English) with articles on the history of the basilica and its organs, full specifications, concert details, and copious colour photos, the whole printed on good quality gloss paper.  The audio on the DVD is in PCM, not a compressed format.

I bought it from here.  It was a curious experience.  The web site is in Portuguese, so I had to get the browser to translate, and there appears to be no easy way to pay.  But I persevered, and completed the order, selecting an unintelligible payment method (which was the alternative which was not COD).  I got no email to confirm the order, but if I tried to order it again, I could see the earlier one.  I heard nothing for over two months, and presumed the enterprise was a failure; but then I got an email (in Portuguese) apologising for the delay, and giving me the bank details to make a transfer, after which it would be shipped.

And now I have it!  Highly recommended if you have the stamina...

I learnt from the book that the total number of pipes is 11,444 - so in toto substantially more than the UK's largest organs (c 10,000).

Paul

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I have the DVD and book as well Paul from when I purchased it while in Lisbon on holiday. Very good indeed.

Dave

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