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I read on 'Slipped Disc' that Oliver Latry will not be playing at the Proms this year. His place seems to have been taken by Martin Baker who will play three Bach works interspersed by three improvisations.

Also Andrew Davis (ex Kings Organ scholar), who is in mourning for the death of his wife, has pulled out. 

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Good to hear the Poulenc Concerto last night at the First Night of the Proms with Daniel Hyde giving a wonderful performance. And Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music, such beautiful serene music alongside Sibelius' mighty 2nd Symphony (the outside sections of the 3rd movement are a s*d to play and I don't think I have heard the finale crafted better in performance!!!) with a new work by James McMillan. 

Good programming I thought!!

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It was great - and the organ was well enough recorded to hear all the solo bits - in the past some of those have been completely inaudible on broadcast.  Fantastic string playing in the Poulenc as well.

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Totally agree about the Poulenc. A wonderful performance – and it was so good to have the organ featured on the first night. My music teacher at school didn't like the Poulenc, despite being an organist. He found it too bitty.  That never worried me: I've always loved it.  But what on earth was Katie Derham on about it requiring 'such a level of virtuosity'? For heaven's sake, it's  completely straightforward! For difficulty it doesn't even begin to compare with the great piano concertos. I don't know why the BBC insists on parading inane presenters who talk down to us. The Beeb should have put the commentating in the hands of Anna Lapwood. Now there's someone who knows how to do a professional job without patronising, as she showed on BBC Young Musician.

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A powerful, compelling performance, that included a vast amount of intelligent detailing from both soloist and the rest.

A critic in the Hall made remarks to the effect that the Strings were overwhelmed. Even on the radio, there were one or two occasions (only) when this was apparent. But, when both are supposed to be playing ‘loudly’, isn’t this almost inevitable - and a point the composer wished to make use of ? Notwithstanding, I cannot recall their phrasing ever being so well shaped. Much credit to the conductor.

I found that the Organ sounded curiously English. Is this a criticism ? I’m not sure. Poulenc, with all his marvellous quirkiness, is one of my favourite composers. Hyde, Stasevska and the BBC SO did him proud: one of the best performances I’ve heard.

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12 hours ago, Vox Humana said:

Totally agree about the Poulenc. A wonderful performance – and it was so good to have the organ featured on the first night. My music teacher at school didn't like the Poulenc, despite being an organist. He found it too bitty.  That never worried me: I've always loved it.  But what on earth was Katie Derham on about it requiring 'such a level of virtuosity'? For heaven's sake, it's  completely straightforward! For difficulty it doesn't even begin to compare with the great piano concertos. I don't know why the BBC insists on parading inane presenters who talk down to us. The Beeb should have put the commentating in the hands of Anna Lapwood. Now there's someone who knows how to do a professional job without patronising, as she showed on BBC Young Musician.

I think she wasn't talking to organists, but to Joe public, who probably have no idea what an organ is (apart from that box of whistles that makes a noise), or how it works

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8 hours ago, Peter Allison said:

I think she wasn't talking to organists, but to Joe public, who probably have no idea what an organ is (apart from that box of whistles that makes a noise), or how it works

I'm sure she was. Heaven knows I've nothing against educating people, but, if you are going to do that, don't you have a moral duty to present accurate, reliable information? 

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As far as Katie Derham's virtuosity comment is concerned, I completely take the point that the organ writing probably isn't exactly taxing for an experienced performer, but it's certainly something I'd be very proud indeed myself to even get right, let alone musically. Plus, it's a very public BBC primetime pat on the back for an instrument which needs a lot of equally public encouragement in the UK, so I'm inclined to be gentle on that score. :) 

Where I'm less inclined to be gentle is in terms of the physical treatment the RAH organ appears to be getting these days. Did anyone else watching on TV notice these damaged feet in the pedal tower - particularly the one on the left?! :o What on earth happened? It looks in need of swift corrective attention.

By the way, I really enjoyed Martin Baker's matinee today also, and wished I'd been there to hear it in person.

rah.jpg

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11 hours ago, peterdoughty said:

Where I'm less inclined to be gentle is in terms of the physical treatment the RAH organ appears to be getting these days. Did anyone else watching on TV notice these damaged feet in the pedal tower - particularly the one on the left?! :o What on earth happened? It looks in need of swift corrective attention.

A good point, Peter. I'm not clear which firm 'looks after' the RAH organ these days. Obviously, we met Michael Broadway on tv during this concert. I believe he also tunes at St Paul's but if repair work is needed at either venue, is this undertaken by Mander Organ Builders these days, or is another firm involved now?

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19 hours ago, peterdoughty said:

Did anyone else watching on TV notice these damaged feet in the pedal tower

Looks like a ladder might have positioned to change a lightbulb or place a microphone? (Are those microphones on the casework in the photograph?) Perhaps someone didn’t realise that organ pipes are softer than cast iron drainpipes in terms of ladder resting. It would have held the ladder until the climber was a few rungs up, then slipped. Force directly proportional the weight of the person plus ladder and the cosine of the angle of ladder…

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1 hour ago, OwenTurner said:

Looks like a ladder might have positioned to change a lightbulb or place a microphone? (Are those microphones on the casework in the photograph?) Perhaps someone didn’t realise that organ pipes are softer than cast iron drainpipes in terms of ladder resting. It would have held the ladder until the climber was a few rungs up, then slipped. Force directly proportional the weight of the person plus ladder and the cosine of the angle of ladder…

Microphones?   well, if they were then I certainly have full admiration for the technical brilliance of the sound engineer!

My overall impression of the concerto was that it was quite good; the Holst though is definitely showing signs of being from an almost forgotten age.

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I had some involvement at RAH during the final stages of planning the re-build around 20 years ago. Ian Bell asked me to look at the front pipes and the their distorted feet with my Structural Engineer's hat on.  My recollection is that at first  I really couldn't understand why they had not collapsed completely.  If I'd been tasked with designing a component that was guaranteed to have structural problems, I would probably have suggested a tall, thin, soft metal tube with an inverted cone at its base!  Access inside the instrument was not easy, but I found enough nooks and crannies from which to get a reasonable impression of what was going on, and that made me feel better.  Some of the feet had clearly been renewed in thicker metal than the original. The pipes had multiple restraints on their inside faces, all based on the standard lateral restraint detail, comprising a small diameter vertical tube soldered to the surface of the pipe and fitted over a vertical pin that was fixed to the timber frame.  That detail is normally involves just one pin per pipe, and is intended just to provide lateral restraint.  In this case there were multiple small diameter tubes which were fitted right down at the base of the pins, gaining vertical support from the frame.   The style and workmanship varied, suggesting that there had been multiple attempts at mitigation by different people, and the locations were somewhat ad-hoc, based on where there were  sturdy bits of frame to connect to.  I recall suggesting that this arrangement appeared to be working, but that it defied structural analysis.  A greater margin of safety could be achieved by increasing the number of restraints and adding support points to the frame.  I called this "Structural Velcro!"     I had no further involvement, but it sounds as if that suggestion was taken up, and that it's come in handy with this recent damage.

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15 hours ago, Adnosad said:

 

the Holst though is definitely showing signs of being from an almost forgotten age.

I'm puggled ! I've searched the BBC website (not the fastest to navigate) and cannot find Holst in this programme. Is there summat I'm missing, please, Adnosad ?

What I did notice, when watching (having previously listened), was that the Timps were offset and to one side of the orchestra, behind the Basses. I would have placed them in the centre. Does anyone know if there a musical or acoustical reason for this or, in the vastness of the RAH, doesn't it matter ?

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1 hour ago, John Furse said:

I'm puggled ! I've searched the BBC website (not the fastest to navigate) and cannot find Holst in this programme. Is there summat I'm missing, please, Adnosad ?

What I did notice, when watching (having previously listened), was that the Timps were offset and to one side of the orchestra, behind the Basses. I would have placed them in the centre. Does anyone know if there a musical or acoustical reason for this or, in the vastness of the RAH, doesn't it matter ?

Thanks for that; yes, Williams, not Holst.  Same point made by myself still applies.

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15 hours ago, Robert Bowles said:

I had some involvement at RAH during the final stages of planning the re-build around 20 years ago. Ian Bell asked me to look at the front pipes and the their distorted feet with my Structural Engineer's hat on.  My recollection is that at first  I really couldn't understand why they had not collapsed completely.  If I'd been tasked with designing a component that was guaranteed to have structural problems, I would probably have suggested a tall, thin, soft metal tube with an inverted cone at its base!  Access inside the instrument was not easy, but I found enough nooks and crannies from which to get a reasonable impression of what was going on, and that made me feel better.  Some of the feet had clearly been renewed in thicker metal than the original. The pipes had multiple restraints on their inside faces, all based on the standard lateral restraint detail, comprising a small diameter vertical tube soldered to the surface of the pipe and fitted over a vertical pin that was fixed to the timber frame.  That detail is normally involves just one pin per pipe, and is intended just to provide lateral restraint.  In this case there were multiple small diameter tubes which were fitted right down at the base of the pins, gaining vertical support from the frame.   The style and workmanship varied, suggesting that there had been multiple attempts at mitigation by different people, and the locations were somewhat ad-hoc, based on where there were  sturdy bits of frame to connect to.  I recall suggesting that this arrangement appeared to be working, but that it defied structural analysis.  A greater margin of safety could be achieved by increasing the number of restraints and adding support points to the frame.  I called this "Structural Velcro!"     I had no further involvement, but it sounds as if that suggestion was taken up, and that it's come in handy with this recent damage.

So, translated into Standard English - a bodge up.

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16 hours ago, Robert Bowles said:

I recall suggesting that this arrangement appeared to be working, but that it defied structural analysis.  A greater margin of safety could be achieved by increasing the number of restraints and adding support points to the frame.  I called this "Structural Velcro!"     I had no further involvement, but it sounds as if that suggestion was taken up, and that it's come in handy with this recent damage.

Thank you for this interesting info, Robert. I've also posted about this on the British Pipe Organs group on Facebook, and Michael Blighton and others have chipped into the conversation. Summary: when Mander did the restoration, the Hall authorities balked at what would have been the astronomical cost of removing the 32' front pipes from the case and/or hall for repair. Two firms had quoted to repair them, and both said they'd ideally have preferred to replace the pipes with new ones. The feet and mouths had already started to collapse, so instead, they were all fitted with large steel braces at the back to stop them collapsing further, and the matter was left there! Such a shame more couldn't have been done, but you have to cope with the funds available, I suppose.

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I may be wrong, but I'm sure I read somewhere that those 32' pipes were made of tin which, I assume, would be pretty strong certainly compared to lead or lead-tin.  Perhaps, if so, they're just too thin!

Incidentally, are they the pipes of the Violone or the Diapason?

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I've always heard that they're the Great Contra Violone (but there's also one mention that I've seen online which suggests that the facade is actually made up of a mixture of that and the Pedal Double Open Diapason - see here).

Unfortunately, there's no word anywhere via google regarding the composition of the pipe metal... but there is an interesting previous thread on this very forum that I've just found here!

Edited by peterdoughty
Added mention of Double Open Diapason
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The case has both metal 32' stops in it.

Trivia time: It has been thought that this (2 x 32' on casefront display) makes it unique in the world, but there is at least one other.

https://www.danmillermusic.com/calvary-organ.html

And - of course - at least one other with two cases, each with a different metal 32' on display.

(If one was willing to stretch the definition of 32' on casefront display to include both open and stopped woods, then there was actually one case with three. It no longer exists)

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12 hours ago, peterdoughty said:

I've always heard that they're the Great Contra Violone (but there's also one mention that I've seen online which suggests that the facade is actually made up of a mixture of that and the Pedal Double Open Diapason - see here).

Unfortunately, there's no word anywhere via google regarding the composition of the pipe metal... but there is an interesting previous thread on this very forum that I've just found here!

Actually, in that thread there is a quote from John Mander stating that the pipes are of 90.4% tin.

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15 hours ago, swalmsley said:

And - of course - at least one other with two cases, each with a different metal 32' on display.

(If one was willing to stretch the definition of 32' on casefront display to include both open and stopped woods, then there was actually one case with three. It no longer exists)

My goodness. The mind boggles! I pay for access to Martin Doering's excellent Die Orgelseite and there are excellent high-resolution photo galleries including some very 'creative' cases and pipe displays...

And back to the RAH - 90.4% tin - certainly a surprise to me when I read that! I wonder how bright and/or shiny the facade would have looked in its virgin state... In other news, I've sent a tweet to the Royal Albert Hall to ask whether they've any repair plans. Not a sausage in response, not even a 'thanks for your question' message. 🙄

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