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Pierre Lauwers

Worcester Cathedral's Organ

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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.............

 

As someone who grew up in Chelmsford and worshipped at the Cathedral during the tenures of Philip Ledger and John Jordan perhaps I might be allowed to own up to a sneaking fondness for the old organ. Of course I was less knowledgeable about organs then but having, as a student in the East Riding, made the acquaintance of the organs of Hull City Hall and Beverley Minster amongst others , I have some basis for comparison and I do not think the old organ was as bad as all that, certainly from the point of view of the listener in the pew.(We had them then!)I do not know what it was like to play and its reliability must have been suspect I suppose, but I have heard far more unpleasant sounds since,not all the fault of the player! Having lived and worked in Northern Ireland for 30 years, returning but rarely, I have not heard the new organ but my Aunt , a cathedral parishioner for close to 60 years , tells me it is certainly loud. Whether it has charm as well as power I hope to discover for myself some day.

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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.............

 

As someone who grew up in Chelmsford and worshipped at the Cathedral during the tenures of Philip Ledger and John Jordan perhaps I might be allowed to own up to a sneaking fondness for the old organ. Of course I was less knowledgeable about organs then but having, as a student in the East Riding, made the acquaintance of the organs of Hull City Hall and Beverley Minster amongst others , I have some basis for comparison and I do not think the old organ was as bad as all that, certainly from the point of view of the listener in the pew.(We had them then!)I do not know what it was like to play and its reliability must have been suspect I suppose, but I have heard far more unpleasant sounds since,not all the fault of the player! Having lived and worked in Northern Ireland for 30 years, returning but rarely, I have not heard the new organ but my Aunt , a cathedral parishioner for close to 60 years , tells me it is certainly loud. Whether it has charm as well as power I hope to discover for myself some day.

 

Well its nice to have power and loudness when required, but a skilled organist will ever use the sensitive accompaniment and registration refinements needed to create a musical and pleasing effect. For me in church, the words come first, and in recitals the music and composers wishes, and not my ego. Sad then to hear when any organ is being judged on being loud, but thats life. There a lot of power finatics out there. As to Chelmsford, I have also to say that although the new organ is very fine in the right hands, I would have thought some ranks could have been salvaged, but I may be mistaken. Its also worth mentioning that the old organ was not generally up to cathedral standards of versatility, being rather limited for that new purpose, having been built for a parish, rather than cathedral use. I personally only heard bad reports of it, and it was certainly not in the class of Worcester, which is very versatile and musical.

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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?).

 

I do not think Diaphones have any place in a cathedral organ, and although a curiosity, it was wise to disable them and stick to proper pipework, leaving the curios to Blackpool Tower. I also feel that nothing should ever be done to any organ that results in inferior work to what is there. A recent rebuild of Blackburn saw two electronic stops added to it, which were really not needed, and also a swell sub octave coupler. Firstly, it is wrong to use anything electronic in a pipe organs tonal palette, and speakers are never perfect, and the results a cheap and inferior. Diaphones were used principally on space grounds, but also for the ridiculous power they have, but are not really usable at a musical level. Back to Blackburn, the sub coupler thickened the tone, and of course many will choose not use it, but listening to recent recording many do, and the verticle sound this organ had is compromised. It becomes fat. It was not on the original spec and wasn't needed, it was not the original builders "dream" to stodge up the sound, but whims dictate things at later dates in some cases. So, the moral is, if it aint broke dont fix it, if it is broke use equal to the job. This has implications for poor Worcester.

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Yes; octave couplers do really work only if the organ was designed with them from scratch. This has implications in the disposition and the scaling (halving rates).

When added later on an existing instrument the results are never satisfying.

I know of...One organ in which the octave couplers really work: a 1942 Delmotte, with an electro-pneumatic action copied on Johannes Klais's, and 73 pipes chests so that

the super-octaves work really up to the 61th note on the keyboards.

Even the mixtures's designs were adapted; there are no really high pitches, but fewer breaks. Without the super-octave coupler they are just deep, grave mixtures. With the coupler they sound a bit more "classic".

The swell reeds are all 8' in pitch.

But I do not believe any recitalist would want of such an organ today...

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers

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As someone who grew up in Chelmsford and worshipped at the Cathedral during the tenures of Philip Ledger and John Jordan perhaps I might be allowed to own up to a sneaking fondness for the old organ. Of course I was less knowledgeable about organs then but having, as a student in the East Riding, made the acquaintance of the organs of Hull City Hall and Beverley Minster amongst others , I have some basis for comparison and I do not think the old organ was as bad as all that, certainly from the point of view of the listener in the pew.(We had them then!)I do not know what it was like to play and its reliability must have been suspect I suppose, but I have heard far more unpleasant sounds since,not all the fault of the player! Having lived and worked in Northern Ireland for 30 years, returning but rarely, I have not heard the new organ but my Aunt , a cathedral parishioner for close to 60 years , tells me it is certainly loud. Whether it has charm as well as power I hope to discover for myself some day.

 

Well its nice to have power and loudness when required, but a skilled organist will ever use the sensitive accompaniment and registration refinements needed to create a musical and pleasing effect. For me in church, the words come first, and in recitals the music and composers wishes, and not my ego. Sad then to hear when any organ is being judged on being loud, but thats life. There a lot of power finatics out there. As to Chelmsford, I have also to say that although the new organ is very fine in the right hands, I would have thought some ranks could have been salvaged, but I may be mistaken. Its also worth mentioning that the old organ was not generally up to cathedral standards of versatility, being rather limited for that new purpose, having been built for a parish, rather than cathedral use. I personally only heard bad reports of it, and it was certainly not in the class of Worcester, which is very versatile and musical.

 

I have never heard Worcester live, only on records, but I am certainly not arguing that Chelmsford was a better or even an equal organ, only that it was not the complete rubbish that seemed to be implied. Chelmsford Cathedral is , of course, a Parish Church. It was built as such and its elevation in status did not miraculously transform the fabric or the furnishings - I think successive generations of Provosts might have been grate had that been the case. Anyway that is a side issue. The purpose of this thread seems to be to defend the Worcester Organ from being scrapped, an objective I completely support.

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Thanks Brian,

 

Well, it seems we are a little more than "a few nostalgics" to like this instrument. Normally we should have the possibility to convince even more people from the middle of next week.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Thanks Brian,

 

Well, it seems we are a little more than "a few nostalgics" to like this instrument. Normally we should have the possibility to convince even more people from the middle of next week.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

 

BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong is being broadcast live from Worcester Cathedral this week on wednesday at 4 pm. It will be most interesting to hear how the organ sounds. Given that the transept organ was restored by Nicholsons quite recently, and that the organ sounded glorious in a Regent organ CD made a couple of years ago, I fully expect to hear severe windleaks, runnings, and out of tune pipework, together with very obvious ciphers...............maybe it will be so bad that it cannot be used at all!..........

Of course the job is splendid, and let's hope the builders give it the care and attention due it, so that it continues to impress and reveal itself as more than adequate for the work it is put to. I shall listen on wednesday with great interest.....

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BBC Radio 3 Choral Evensong is being broadcast live from Worcester Cathedral this week on wednesday at 4 pm. It will be most interesting to hear how the organ sounds. Given that the transept organ was restored by Nicholsons quite recently, and that the organ sounded glorious in a Regent organ CD made a couple of years ago, I fully expect to hear severe windleaks, runnings, and out of tune pipework, together with very obvious ciphers...............maybe it will be so bad that it cannot be used at all!..........

Of course the job is splendid, and let's hope the builders give it the care and attention due it, so that it continues to impress and reveal itself as more than adequate for the work it is put to. I shall listen on wednesday with great interest.....

 

Fine!

 

At least they did not like in Brussels: to cut the cables....I shall be

very interested with these cyphers -could be a feature of a new style-.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Fine!

 

At least they did not like in Brussels: to cut the cables....I shall be

very interested with these cyphers -could be a feature of a new style-.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

Well! By rights the organ should sound in tip top condition, just like on the recent recordings. Of course there is many a new organ that has suffered from cyphers!

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A new four manuel organ is to be built in the quire by Kenneth Tickell. Work is to start in 2007. It is expected that the new organ will be ready for the 2008 Three Chiors Festival.

 

Alan

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A new four manuel organ is to be built in the quire by Kenneth Tickell. Work is to start in 2007. It is expected that the new organ will be ready for the 2008 Three Chiors Festival.

 

Alan

SHould be interesting. Are there any more details/plans yet?

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Orgue-l at present has quite an interesting thread on it about plans for Worcester including details from Kenneth Tickell and Ian Bell etc. - well worth a look!

AJJ

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Orgue-l at present has quite an interesting thread on it about plans for Worcester including details from Kenneth Tickell and Ian Bell etc. - well worth a look!

AJJ

 

Well the Evensong voluntary was, expectedly quite foul sounding in places, as the tuning was very poor, but the organ did not lose wind. I should have thought the job would have been gone over to give the best impression possible of this grand instrument. It came as a very great surprise to me that this wasn't the case........

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A new four manuel organ is to be built in the quire by Kenneth Tickell. Work is to start in 2007. It is expected that the new organ will be ready for the 2008 Three Chiors Festival.

 

Alan

 

Really? so English Heritage have given the go ahead to drill out the cathedral walls for it, and the planned spec is public knowledge is it? the appeal is all perfectly clear about its proposals is it? everything is finalised is it? I think not!!! Hopefully, it will never happen, they haven't had money to restore it in the past, so where are they going to fund this little red herring from?

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Have you got the full web address please?

Thanks,

Richard

 

 

Put Orgue-l into Google and follow the links etc. - it's quite a good list to subscribe to.

AJJ

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Splendid!

 

If there is money for a big Thickell - and I have nothing against such an organ, quite to the contrary- there must be just enough to restaure the historic one!

 

Why cannot we have a direct link here?

I found this:

http://cdmnet.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/orgue-l

 

No access to the topics without registration. Wâow!

(I personally never accept that so I apologize I won't join. I don't speak

of answers of course, just reading. Anyone can read my too many posts here...

But I personally may not see what's happening there.)

 

I have got some news from Germany. They found the link to the musical files too .

It seems they have some questions.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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Thanks. I have just subscribed to the board, and it should make most interesting reading. The musical files you refer to would make anyone with an ounce of sense question the replacement of Worcester. I also have nothing in the least against other organ builders, whover they may be. The world is a big place. I think the general concern remains the removal of a perfectly suitable organ at Worcester.

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Incidentally, the Saint Saens Messe A Quatre Voix is on the "plenum" site reffered to earlier by Pierre, together with a lot of Wesley. Before anyone criticises more the Worcester job, do go and listen to these recordings, made in 1978, after the woods rebuild, which in itself was not thorough. The results speak for themselves. Rest assured I heard the organ reopened in 1978, and these recordings are perfectly faithful to the sound of this instrument. Nothing will match the sheer brilliance and grandness of this fine English Harrison organ.

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I too have just subscribed to Orgue-l, the information there re. Worcester is quite depressing really. Of course if the organ really has to be replaced it is good that the contract has gone to a british builder, but the reasons being given to justify the need for a new organ remain unconvincing.

 

The saddest information on Orgue-l is that the present organ is about to fall into silence as the cathedral have bought a Rogers digital organ to use from now until the new organ is completed.

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An electronic organ to replace -even momentarily- an organ such as that?

This looks like relegating a Rolls Royce to go for a Moped.

 

Maybe it is time to realize this: If you ever wanted to see musicians and amateurs from abroad visiting your churches and Cathedrals, attending concerts; if you ever want english organs to be built in Europe, your best marketing tools may be illustrated with the files mentionned above.

 

Scraping an organ like Worcester's would be to deprive yourselves of an asset. Just like with your rose gardens, that must fight everyday for one Penny after the other to maintain invaluable, unique collections the rest of the world envies.

 

Don't deceive your friends!

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I too have just subscribed to Orgue-l, the information there re. Worcester is quite depressing really. Of course if the organ really has to be replaced it is good that the contract has gone to a british builder, but the reasons being given to justify the need for a new organ remain unconvincing.

 

The saddest information on Orgue-l  is that the present organ is about to fall into silence as the cathedral have bought a Rogers digital organ to use from now until the new organ is completed.

 

I am glad you are on the other site, well done!. I have already posted my thoughts on it. The other Worcester comments are indeed very sad however, and the silencing is really to be seen as nothing other than political. There is no other reason for it. I also note that the plans are not being made public until the cathedral announces it officially. This all is very sad, almost clandestine, and one could say more. To decry the job as unfit for its purpose is a hoot, all they need is a new nave organ. Problem solved. Note also the very small amount of pipework being retained, all the "historic" stuff........by whose judgement is anything "historic". I did predict a foul sounding organ on wednesday, and to the average man on the street, nay even clergy, it will be enough to convince that the job is fully "shot". The only hope remains in permission being refused to butcher the fine cases, and install taller ones blocking the vistas no doubt, and money just not coming forward. I genuinely hope the whole sorry saga flops dramatically.

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Precisely: silence and near-clandestinity express weakness. People do "feel" they could not answer convincingly.

It is a situation we had in Belgium 20 years ago, when a handfull people destroyed hundred of instruments to suit their peculiar taste. And now we have 90% "Neo-X" organs, while the young organists commence to dream of something else.

 

And round and round...

 

There are already some comments worth noting from France and Germany:

 

-Germany is very poor in such organs. They destroyed them from about 1935

up to the 80'. It's likely if it was there today, Worcester's would be placed under

"Denkmalschütz". This is an extremely severe protection, which means even a bolt

you replace must be exactly the same as the previous one.

 

-A comparison has been made with the Mirepoix's Link organ. A late-romantic 1891 organ, completely original and intact. The Link brothers were among the best pupils of Eberhard Friedrich Walcker. Their organs are well known for their longetivity -be they tracker or pneumatic- and superb voicing. Halas a vast majority has been

destroyed. The "top three remaining" are Mirepoix, Giengen and Andernach/Koblenz.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

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