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Pierre Lauwers

Worcester Cathedral's Organ

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It is here that Daniel Kern appears to be attempting just that.  His new organ seems to be, in essence, a pretty faithful copy of Gottfried Silbermann's original 3 manual scheme of 1736 with the addition of a 4th manual, a 16-stop Schwellwerk/ Récit in C-C style plus 32ft pedal Basson. 

 

Not so much a synthesis, more an optional extra, I suppose.  Let's hope organists are sensitive about when and when not to use it.JS

 

Not everybody on this list may be aware that there has been a great deal of acrimonious discussion about the Frauenkirche and its proposed new organ. To the extent that some people who had donated money towards the project demanded it back, and got it back too. One or two principled organ builders even refused to quote for such a scheme and were excluded. I have to say that I find the idea of mixing a Silbermann style organ with a Cavaillé-Coll Récit a little curious to say the least. How can one use such a department when the sounds one needs on the other departments are simply not there. One finishes up with two disconnected organs playing from one console. Where is the integrity of tonal design in such a scheme?

 

John Pike Mander

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Well,

 

It seems the project was *somewhat* discussed, but not mainly for the reasons Mr Mander mentions, I fear; rather, it was because of the choice of a foreign builder! (The people are the same everywhere...)

 

About the disposition now, I myself would of course never has choosed something like that, but this organ is intended for the dresdians, not us. Maybe they need somewhere to "try it", I mean a kind of design they didn't had the chance to have when it was time to do so.

 

Now I'm very curious to hear how Kern will sort it out. Stoplists are just that: name's lists. If the Swell is really voiced like an ACC's, and the rest "Silbermann-like", one can expect *slight* problems. I doubt Kern would take such a risk on his excellent reputation...Wait and hear.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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If the organs of the past had simply been extended by adding new divisions rather than being regularly rebuilt, revoiced, re-actioned, then we would have a much better idea about what the old organs sounded like.

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If the organs of the past had simply been extended by adding new divisions rather than being regularly rebuilt, revoiced, re-actioned, then we would have a much better idea about what the old organs sounded like.

 

I'd say: "If they had been left alone", and new instruments build in another part of the church....

 

Here is a link to the Disposition of the Kern organ for Dresden:

 

http://www.kernpipeorgan.com/francais/dresden.htm

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Undoubtedly there was some noise about the organ being built by somebody other than a German builder, but that was by no means the main complaint at the time. The main issue was that an opportunity to build a completely faithful reproduction of the organ was being missed. At one stage it was said that the new instrument was to have equal temperament, but I don't know if that still stands as the idea. Another issue which was raised was the way the Frauenkirche was to be reconstructed. The rebuilt Frauenkirche can't be built in the same way as the old building because of modern building regulations and the suggestion is that elements such as the necessity for concrete galleries would alter the acoustics in the church as well. There was a lot of heat generated in the local press about it.

 

More can be found on this at:

 

http://frauenkirche-silbermann.de/html/start.htm

 

take a look here as well (mostly in German)

 

http://frauenkirche-silbermann.de/html/reaktionen.htm

 

John Pike Mander

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I have to say that I find the idea of mixing a Silbermann style organ with a Cavaillé-Coll Récit a little curious to say the least...... Where is the integrity of tonal design in such a scheme?

 

John Pike Mander

 

Maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick but people seem to like Fisk doing things like this - what is the difference here?

AJJ

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Maybe I've got the wrong end of the stick but people seem to like Fisk doing things like this - what is the difference here?

AJJ

 

Maybe because the result is a Fisk organ!

As I said, I often noted whenever such dispositions do succeed, you neither have

one thing or the other, but something else.

 

Let's take an example: Victor Gonzalez.

Trained as a voicer by Cavaillé-Coll, he met a young german whose name was

Rudolf Von Beckerath.

A lover of the old Schnitger organs, Von Beckerath went to work in France with Gonzalez; together, the two men enjoyed "re-inventing the good ancient organ".

The result is still nowadays believed to be an incredible mixture of ultra-modern

design (no cases, but often with tracker action still during Victor Gonzalez life),

romantic, "baroque french" and "north german baroque" stops.

But a good Gonzalez organ is completely different from these three sources. It is

an instrument where Alain, Duruflé, Messiaen etc thrive.

 

Now whenever you had an "expert" who imponed his views, wanting for instance a

Positiv with pipes like this-and-that, and a Swell like (Willis/ H&H/ACC/ Walcker,

whatever), the result was a failure. One could as well have adopted aequal temperament for one part of the organ an a mesotonic one for the other.

I believe the voicing rooms should work with closed doors; no way/ no pasaran/

Eingang verboten/ toegang verboden/ entrée interdite.

 

Everyone having read what Marcel Dupré or Helmut Bornefeld wrote about tonal matters will understand. Any voicer having worked with them must have been

addicted to the timely Prozac!

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Guest Roffensis
As a matter of interest - how does what could happen at Worcester differ to what did happen at Chelmsford and Southwell (stylistically different of course but broadly similar with 'nave' and 'choir' sections) and what could be happening in the future at Sheffield? Were there similar feelings to those expressed by some list subscribers when these (in my opinion at least) very worthy arrangements were created and is anyone starting to get upset about the possible demise of the Father Willis pipework at the core of the Mander at Sheffield and its replacement by something possibly from beyond these shores? While not wanting to go over previous discussions I am interested (having worked within 'dropping in distance' to Worcester albeit sometime ago, not heard Chelmsford and Southwell in their previous incarnations and sung against Sheffield and its Tuba when all was working) in how Worcester is different.

AJJ

 

In principle true, but in all cases the organs mentioned were inferior to Worcester, and none of them had anything of a unique sound. This is what sets the latter apart.

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Certainly that was the case at Chelmsford where the organist exchanged the quite awful instrument there for an electronic organ for a while, then got sick of that and changed it for a temporary three unit extension organ placed where the current Chancel organ is.

 

John Pike Mander

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Maybe because the result is a Fisk organ!

I believe the voicing rooms should work with closed doors; no way/ no pasaran/

Eingang verboten/ toegang verboden/ entrée interdite.

 

 

I don't entirely agree with that, although it does depend on the consultant of course. I find the interaction with others in the voicing process very helpful. A good organist or consultant has all sorts of experience and knowledge that I am happy to admit I lack. Likewise, I have some knowledge they lack and if one can put the experience together (rather than the ignorance) great things can happen. I (for example) welcome the organ being taken into use as soon as the first few stops are installed and voiced. This is particularly valuable if you have a good choir of course as usually a good choir has matched itself to the building and acoustic and if you can then match the choir, you are a long way to getting the organ to match the building as well. It also helps to hear the repertoire played on the growing organ to see how that works and it gives you the opportunity to make adjustments at an early stage if you need to which is much easier than trying to do that when the organ is finished. An organ is just like a growing child which takes on its own character as it develops and whilst one may not be able to (now want to) change that, some encouragement in what we think is the right direction can be beneficial.

 

John Pike Mander

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Of course if it's possible to work that way, it is better.

I had quite other situations in mind -and another kind

of consultants!-.

Another point that may be interesting to question is it seems

the romantic organ was the voicer's thing, not the consultants's.

With Cavaillé-Coll the "King" was Gabriel Rheinburg, with Walcker

Fritz Walcker. These two men did quite a lot to build their respective

firms's reputation. And they were very well paid, which says more than

many many words.

(By the way, I'd like to know more about english voicers like Green,

Willis, the ones that worked first for Hope-Jones then H&H, William Thynne,

last but not least by Hill).

Later the classic revival organ was the triomph of the consultants. Who says

today "This organ has been voiced by...?", but everybody knows the disposition

was written by Dr...

I believe if we put more attention to the voicing and less to the scholar

knowledge, we shall automatically get more poetry from new organs

(whatever the style).

Worcester is one of the best example I know for that. From a theoretical

point of view this is a "non-sense organ". Any student organist could

propose "betterings" for it. But from an emotional standpoint I wonder if

anybody today could actually do better.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Guest Roffensis
I don't entirely agree with that, although it does depend on the consultant of course. I find the interaction with others in the voicing process very helpful. A good organist or consultant has all sorts of experience and knowledge that I am happy to admit I lack. Likewise, I have some knowledge they lack and if one can put the experience together (rather than the ignorance) great things can happen. I (for example) welcome the organ being taken into use as soon as the first few stops are installed and voiced. This is particularly valuable if you have a good choir of course as usually a good choir has matched itself to the building and acoustic and if you can then match the choir, you are a long way to getting the organ to match the building as well. It also helps to hear the repertoire played on the growing organ to see how that works and it gives you the opportunity to make adjustments at an early stage if you need to which is much easier than trying to do that when the organ is finished. An organ is just like a growing child which takes on its own character as it develops and whilst one may not be able to (now want to) change that, some encouragement in what we think is the right direction can be beneficial.

 

John Pike Mander

And of course everyone would agree that all organs should have as their priority the acompaniment of the choir. If I can indulge again in my own admiration for Chichester as a glowing example, here is a typical English organ, which doesn't blast you through the west door and into the sussex downs, but does sing perfectly and works magnificently with the choir. As a recital instrument, it lacks the power of many, but its musicality is beyond reproach. How many organs can you use full swell with the choir? of course we all went down the power fiend road, and lost our way. Wesley, and a lot of English composers have fallen by the wayside, Greene and many others are not as popular as Screamer in C with full Tuba fanfares in the Nunc! This neatly brings me to Worcester, which is what this page is about. Another English organ, but in a different style, that lends itself to many types of accopaniment, as well as being a good recital instrument. Power yes, but great subtlety as well. Chelmsford was truly pretty nasty, and not at all in the same league. No one is going to condemn that organ being replaced, and what is there now is really a very fine organ. If Worcester was a hopeless case then maybe one could agree to ditch it, but it isn't. If anyone wants to hear what can be acheieved by respecting what is there but enhancing where needed, go to Rochester. This organ sounds very akin to Worcester in many respects, but the excellent rebuild by Manders really has resulted in an organ that can hold its own. Little or no extention, put into logical order, new soundboards nd actions, but still Rocherster at its heart. One wishes.............

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Guest Roffensis
Of course if it's possible to work that way, it is better.

I had quite other situations in mind -and another kind

of consultants!-.

Another point that may be interesting to question is it seems

the romantic organ was the voicer's thing, not the consultants's.

With Cavaillé-Coll the "King" was Gabriel Rheinburg, with Walcker

Fritz Walcker. These two men did quite a lot to build their respective

firms's reputation. And they were very well paid, which says more than

many many words.

(By the way, I'd like to know more about english voicers like Green,

Willis, the ones that worked first for Hope-Jones then H&H, William Thynne,

last but not least by Hill).

Later the classic revival organ was the triomph of the consultants. Who says

today "This organ has been voiced by...?", but everybody knows the disposition

was written by Dr...

I believe if we put more attention to the voicing and less to the scholar

knowledge, we shall automatically get more poetry from new organs

(whatever the style).

Worcester is one of the best example I know for that. From a theoretical

point of view this is a "non-sense organ". Any student organist could

propose "betterings" for it. But from an emotional standpoint I wonder if

anybody today could actually do better.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

 

To give a little information on English builders. Willis organs tend towards a very vertical and bright sound. Tierce mixtures, and heavy pressure reeds dominate and in some cases almost obliterate the diapason chorus. His emphasis was seemingly more on orchestral tone, and his early instruments were very brassy. Brass weights were later fitted to his reed tongues, that allowed still higher wind pressures. His flutes were often "liquid" and his diapasons varied from excellent to pretty indifferent, and typically the bottom registers are smaller scaled, as he hated plummy basses. Hill on the other hand handled things differently, and did not push his pipes anywhere near so hard. A pronounced fifth harmonic in his pipework, and quint mixtures, are typically Hill. Reeds were not weighted, and often sound pretty French, and his diapasons have generally a singing tone. His flutes do not all come out of the same bag, and he used different styles in each department. There are precious few unaltered Hill organs left, and they are worth seeking out. Hill also created the solo tuba, but interestingly, it was not on very heavy pressure as we now know it. Harrisons are another type, thick and rather stodgy, so that care is needed in registration. His rolling open woods and leathered diapasons together with the "Harmonics" mixtures containing the flat 21st, are typical Harrison trademarks. Perhaps his finest creation is at Redcliffe, Bristol. Green organs by comparison are very unassuming, and a good green organ will never tire the ear. Unforced tone, low pressure, and a resultant sweetness are somewhat at odds with some other builders of the late 1700s. Hope Jones was of course an oddity, and although he DID create some fine stops, by and large he saw no value in anything above 4 foot. Mixtures were out of the question, and he loved a lot of 8 foot tone, which he argued were all that was needed. He had some ridiculous designs on Worcester, and carried a great deal of them out, which brings us neatly to the fact that Worcester speaks not with a Hope Jones voice, but rather, a Harrison, with Hill touches. Certain Hope Jones pipes do remain, but to reiterate a previous posting, Harrisons had gone over the job, and the final oddites that remained were basically ironed out by 1978 under Woods, who added the Great reeds, and very fine they are too. It is not often to find any organ in England that is unaltered, often by the same builder. Salisbury was altered a lot by Willis III, and both Alexandra Palace and St Georges Hall, Liverpool were drastically remodelled by Willis III, not always to their advantage. There comes a time to say enough is enough however, and to hold onto what we have left us. Radical decisions always cause controversy, and thankless comments. Willis, Harrisons, Hills, Walkers, Bishops, the list goes on, and all have something to say to us. Even that which we not entirely approve of has a historic value, and I think our Cathedral organs now, as they currently stand, represent perhaps the finest collection and variety in the world for such a small island. I think they are now at their peak, as a group nothing much could be done to improve on what is there, and all have recieved pretty good rebuilds overall. Individually, one hopes to grow old surrounded by the likes of Worcester, Hereford, Salisbury, Ely, Lichfield, Chester, and all the others that are such a important part of us all, which we are simply custodians of.

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Thanks!

 

And of course we are only custodians,not owners!

In a previous post you spoke about "subtelity". I could write at lenght about that.

I believe the german and english romantic buider did go a long way in this matter; they did indeed better than Cavaillé-Coll in this respect.

Maybe this could be discussed later.

 

As far as Hill's Tubas are concerned, we must keep in mind his organs had

tracker action; therefore, heavy pressures were not possible.

I believe Mendelssohn criticized the heavy touch of Hill's organs, so that he could

have reached a kind of limit in size and wind pressure with his largest organs.

Anyway, a Tuba that's possible with a tracker action deserves more than a little interest...

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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.....a Tuba that's possible with a tracker action deserves more than a little interest...

 

Try St Peter's Eaton Square, London - 4 manual organ by Kenneth Jones (1993). Tuba Mirabilis on tracker action in Solo box. NPOR ref. N18502. Or if you want something a little older - Turvey in Bedfordshire - 4 manual by William Hill (1846 onwards) with a Tuba Mirabilis (only) on its top manual and enclosed in the Swell box. NPOR refs. NO9400 and D07465.

AJJ

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And the Tuba Mirabilis at St. John’s College Cambridge and the Ophicleide at Chelmsford Cathedral.

 

John Pike Mander

 

Oops - sorry - how could I forget these - and on the same website as this!!

AJJ

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Quite interesting!

 

And how must such things be done? Are there some kinds of

assistance?

As far as I know, Hill did not use Barler levels at the time he introduced

his firsts Tubas. But he did certainly not use 300mm wind pressure.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Guest Roffensis
Quite interesting!

 

And how must such things be done? Are there some kinds of

assistance?

As far as I know, Hill did not use Barler levels at the time he introduced

his firsts Tubas. But he did certainly not use 300mm wind pressure.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

 

No! but certain builders would have!......one notes many a proud organist boasting with great admiration "its on 400" wind pressure, magnificent" .

 

Speaking however of Chelmsford Cathedral Organ , there is a new cd out of it, well worth hearing.

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It is not that difficult really. Although the pressures may be high, the pallets are very small and don't have to open much, so doing one stop is quite easy. You can make the pallets small because there is no fear of robbing other stops when there is only one stop. If you have more stops it does become a problem however which is why the three Bombarde reeds at St. Ignatius are on their own slider soundboard fired pneumatically from the Petit Récit soundboard.

 

John Pike Mander

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So the problems could arise if one wishes, for instance, to have a Tuba on

a complete Solo division. Or it needs a seperate chest within this division.

 

I found this about the Diaphone. It's a paper by John Compton that might be

interesting (he even cites Worcester):

 

http://atos.stirlingprop.com/kbase/diaophonenotes.htm

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So the problems could arise if one wishes, for instance, to have a Tuba on

a complete Solo division. Or it needs a seperate chest within this division.

 

I found this about the Diaphone. It's a paper by John Compton that might be

interesting (he even cites Worcester):

 

http://atos.stirlingprop.com/kbase/diaophonenotes.htm

 

Interesting, but (sorry to ask) what does such a diaphone actually sound like? Reed-like or flue-like (either case very low and 'fat')?.

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According to old LPs I have (recorded at Worcester), and of course with the limitations this implies (I visited Worcester long after the Diaphones were disabled), it seems to be somewhere between a reed and a flue stop, but rather with the power of a strong reed.

Very impressive with the full organ and a full congregation singing

(But does such a situation still obtain nowadays?).

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According to old LPs I have (recorded at Worcester), and of course with the limitations this implies (I visited Worcester long after the Diaphones were disabled), it seems to be somewhere between a reed and a flue stop, but rather with the power of a strong reed.

Very impressive with the full organ and a full congregation singing

(But does such a situation still obtain nowadays?).

 

The Schoenstein company in the USA have used Diaphones in some of their recent instruments - a note to Jack Bethards there would I am sure give you the information you need.

AJJ

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Good idea. I shall ask him for MP3s.

(Normally I should have visited them this May! halas the belgian job market

decided otherwise...)

What a pity Schoenstein does not have a website (yet)!

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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