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pcnd5584

Exeter Cathedral Organ

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It does, indeed.

 

It is interesting to note that the main case was raised and deepened (I think at the time of the Willis rebuild in 1891) on order to accommodate the substantially enlarged instrument.

 

I have, somewhere, a couple of interesting photographs showing what it looked like before it was raised and the Solo case added. There were originally three blank arches on the lower front of the case - it also looked a liitle dumpy. Neither of these photographs is that which appears in the (rather out-of-date) booklet which the late Betty Matthews wrote on the cathedral organ.

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I've played for several evensongs at Exeter in the last year or so, and as an occasional visitor would not list it amongst my favourite instruments. My main problem is that its all but impossible to judge the balence of the departments from the console. For my taste "full swell" is far too quiet, although again this may be affected by the console position. Having said that, if you try quiet accompaniment on swell strings & 8' flute for example its more or less inaudible in the quire.

 

I accompanied quite a small choir (conducted by Barry Rose) recently and was asked to couple through onto the choir even in the psalms because the swell couldn't be heard.

 

I would agree that the console is very comfortable, although the one going for scrap up the road remains my favourite. I would however suggest that its getting a bit shabby now.

 

One other gripe, clearly not affecting the tonal quality, is that the CCTV system is just dreadful. Its like watching the conductor through a snowstorm. Surely this could be sorted out at minimal cost.

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For my taste "full swell" is far too quiet, although again this may be affected by the console position. Having said that, if you try quiet accompaniment on swell strings & 8' flute for example its more or less inaudible in the quire.
On the other hand it does mean that you can use Full Swell freely without overbalancing the choir (except in psalms). I do agree about the swell flute and strings and the CCTV.

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I was interested to hear about the CCTV. Personally, I almost prefer the old mirrors - the camera 'globe' and stand spoil the outline of the case.

 

With regard to the Swell strings (which were originally on the Choir) - yese, they are very soft; this is why I recommended exchanging the Solo Viole Octaviante for a Viole Céleste - which was carried-out in 2001. In fact, all Harrisons did, was to move up the Viole Octaviante and tune it sharp. Considering that this rank was originally the Swell 4p Celestina, it has come up remarkably well.

 

Whilst there are problems with balance, it does mean that it is possible to use a reasonable amount of organ when accompanying. The Swell shutters are vertical, and open west, incidentally. Coupling the Swell (and Solo) to the Choir also means that there is a really good variety of softer stops available.

 

With reference to the console, it is rather less shabby than it was before the 2001 restoration. The draw-stops in particular were in quite a bad state, with discoloured and faded engraving - and, in the case of one Pedal stop, smudging.

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As you are well aware, I'm not a great fan of the Gloucester organ, nevertheless having swell shutters on both west and east fronts when the organ is on the pulpitum seems to have a lot going for it. Separate swell pedals, as at Gloucester, may be going too far, but being able to select which set of shutters were in operation (similar to Birmingham) would be beneficial.

 

I'd still rather have a more potent & full blooded swell and rely on discretion, rather than a weak swell with the "advantage" that it can be used flat out without swamping the choir.

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As you are well aware, I'm not a great fan of the Gloucester organ, nevertheless having swell shutters on both west and east fronts when the organ is on the pulpitum seems to have a lot going for it. Separate swell pedals, as at Gloucester, may be going too far, but being able to select which set of shutters were in operation (similar to Birmingham) would be beneficial.

 

I'd still rather have a more potent & full blooded swell and rely on discretion, rather than a weak swell with the "advantage" that it can be used flat out without swamping the choir.

 

 

Again, it is, as you previously mentioned, the perception of balance at the console. From the Nave, the Exeter Swell is not that weak. Gloucester is more potent, but the problem there is that, from the console, the C side sounds louder than the C# side - which initially I found more disconcerting until I was used to the instrument. Personally, I would keep both expression pedals - an interchangable switch is one more thing to remember (or forget) and the layout of the pedal 'sweep' is quite well-planned and not particularly cluttered.

 

Obviously at Exeter, having two sets of shutters is not an option; nevertheless, from the Nave, the balance is rather better. In that situation, arranging the shutters to open eastwards would be unacceptably to weaken the egress of tone as heard in the Nave. With an organ on a central screen (and speaking in at least five different directions) there will always be an element of compromise.

 

Possibly the best place to hear the Exeter organ is at the east end of the South Nave Aisle - by Bishop Brewer's (?) door.

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I have just discovered some interesting information - from an impeccable source.

 

There is an appeal for the organ.

 

In 2001, the organ was not cleaned or overhauled; the action was restored and partly converted to Solid-State, the console was restored and the combination system upgraded with a stepper-system and there were a number of tonal alterations which have already been listed.

 

The last cleaning and overhaul took place in 1985.

 

The plan is to dismantle, thoroughly clean and overhaul the organ; worn parts will be replaced and a full schedlue of restoration work will be implemented. In addition, Harrisons wish partially to re-dispose the interior layout. Over successive rebuilds the organ has grown, like Topsy, which has resulted in over-crowding and has rendered access to several ranks somewhat less than convenient. This will, of course, entail the construction of new sound-boards in several (if not all) cases. It is hoped that, by so doing, not only will routine maintenance be made more convenient, but that the instrument will speak more clearly.

 

It is not envisaged that any further tonal alterations will be carried-out at this time.

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... With an organ on a central screen (and speaking in at least five different directions) there will always be an element of compromise. ...

 

This beautiful Rieger

 

http://www.rieger-orgelbau.com/dbbilder/ro...jakob-1-g-h.jpg

 

(and, for some more views and a stoplist)

 

http://www.orgelsite.nl/kerken42/rothenburg.htm

 

at Rothenburg, Germany, appears to cope reasonably well without compromise. It is built as a four-story tower: The large swell box forms the base of the instrument; above it, there is the built-in main playdesk and the divided Rückpositiv; then comes the Brustwerk box; then, on the uppermost level, the main case for the Great and Pedal organs.

 

The front shown in the first picture faces the nave. The Swell and Brustwerk shutters, when controlled from the main playdesk, open in the same direction. The back wall of the main case is formed by wood pipes that help to project the sound into the nave.

 

There is a second, free-standing console with two manuals and pedal facing the chapel behind the organ. From there, the Swell and Brustwerk are played, together with a secondary pedal division in the same position as the Rueckpositiv, only facing backward. This results in a flexible two-manual organ for accompaniment of small services. The shutters, when controlled from the two-manual console, open to the chapel.

 

This is the kind of engineering Joseph von Glatter-Götz and architect Jakob Schmidt were acclaimed for.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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If the swell pedal of the two-manual console operates the shutters on the choir side what happens to the nave-facing shutters? Do you have to go to the three-manual console first to close them?

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If the swell pedal of the two-manual console operates the shutters on the choir side what happens to the nave-facing shutters? Do you have to go to the three-manual console first to close them?

Sorry, my mistake. I checked again, and the swell pedals on both consoles move all shutters, front and back. I don't know if this results in poor projection, but anyway the organ is held in high esteem by everyone who played it.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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It does look rather fine. http://www.exeter-cathedral.org.uk/Admin/Organ.html

 

The case is by John Loosemore and dates from 1665, hence the reason why some pedal pipes are outside the case.

 

The Violones in the South Transept are out of sight to most members of the congregation. It's a pity the same cannot be said of the new 32ft reed on the north side of the screen. This ugly pile of plumbing is clearly visible from the nave, despite being painted in a stone colour, and only a little less so from the choir. I'd like to know how the CCC allowed it, though I have heard it was a miscalculation on H&H's part. Whatever the reason, it is a disgrace.

 

JS

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
The Violones in the South Transept are out of sight to most members of the congregation.  It's a pity the same cannot be said of the new 32ft reed on the north side of the screen.  This ugly pile of plumbing is clearly visible from the nave, despite being painted in a stone colour, and only a little less so from the choir.  I'd like to know how the CCC allowed it, though I have heard it was a miscalculation on H&H's part.  Whatever the reason, it is a disgrace.

 

JS

 

John - I am shocked that something like this has happened to such an extraordinary vista. Is there a picture? I am not able to visit until about 2009.

 

N

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It is visible, Nigel, but only just - the pipes are horizontal and the top one (or row) barely rises above the walls of the pulpitum. If you weren't looking with a critical eye you might not notice them.

 

I was told that the Fabric Committee wasn't told anything about the new 32ft, but was presented with a fait accompli. Don't take that as Gospel though.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
It is visible, Nigel, but only just - the pipes are horizontal and the top one (or row) barely rises above the walls of the pulpitum. If you weren't looking with a critical eye you might not notice them.

 

I was told that the Fabric Committee wasn't told anything about the new 32ft, but was presented with a fait accompli. Don't take that as Gospel though.

 

These pipes (full length?) are en chamade or have they just been a bit of homework for Uri Gellar? N

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Yes. It's a half-length rank. There simply wasn't room for a full-length one. I've no idea whether it's en chamade or mitred - there's simply no way of seeing the feet.

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Yes. It's a half-length rank. There simply wasn't room for a full-length one.  I've no idea whether it's en chamade or mitred - there's simply no way of seeing the feet.

 

The bits visible from about halfway down the nave appear to be horizontal and catch the eye as soon as one enters the building from the west end. The line of the pulpitum is already disfigured by the console and ugly black camera globe on the south side and now this further intrusion on the north. Together they spoil one of the most glorious vistas in any English cathedral.

 

JS

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The 32p reed is half length and disposed horizontally - so, yes, it is a chamade rank!

 

The console has been in its present position (or similar) since at least 1891. The camera globe is a distraction - but apparently many visitors simply do not notice the 32p reed resonators. They do protrude slightly above the Pulpitum. However, I cannot agree that they ruin the vista.

 

Hereford has its 32p reed screwed to the wall of an aisle. Salisbury, both 32p stops in the east aisle of the North Transept. Several cathedrals have parts of their organs placed at various parts around the building. Personally, I think that Exeter is not nearly so bad as some - certainly not as bad as has been stated here. I Have just looked at a photograph in the latest guide book. The reed pipes are just visible - if one is looking for them. Naturally, the view is slightly different when one is standing towards the back of the Nave. However, I simply do not agree that these very useful pipes have ruined the vista.

 

The reed itself was a much-desired addition. There was, quite simply, nowhere else it could go. Personally, I think it is a small price to pay.

 

I have known Exeter Cathedral since I was a child. I like the building very much indeed. Personally, I find the ridiculous 'flying saucer' light/speaker combination fittings far more of a visual excrescence than any part of the organ. They are ugly, quite large and look entirely out of place in this absolute jewel of a building.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

The 32p reed is half length and disposed horizontally - so, yes, it is a chamade rank!

 

The console has been in its present position (or similar) since at least 1891. The camera globe is a distraction - but actually many people simply do not notice the 32p reed resonators. They do protrude slightly above the Pulpitum. However, I cannot agree that it ruins the vista.

 

Hereford has its 32p reed screwed to the wall of an aisle. Salisbury, both 32p stops in the east aisle of the North Transept. Several cathedrals have parts of their organs placed at various parts around the building.

 

 

32p?

 

The only explanation for you referring to a 32' reed as 32p is that you're thinking French as in 'pied'. Why so? Is is coz we iz all europeans now? Lord, save us!

IMHO it's like saying 'Pretentious, moi?'

 

It's only an opinion, sorry.

 

Actually, I have another use for 'p'

In noting down registrations I use p and f as shorthand for principals and flutes, so

a scribbled 8f 4p 2p might be Stopped Diapason, Principal and Fifteenth.

32p by that terminology would be 32' Open Metal.

 

I find this a useful system: 8of is an open flute if there are both kinds on the division, 8v is a keen string, 88s is a pair of strings - reeds sometimes need a little more identification - viz. 8ob or 8cl etc.

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The only explanation for you referring to a 32' reed as 32p is that you're thinking French as in 'pied'. Why so? Is is coz we iz all europeans now? Lord, save us!

IMHO it's like saying 'Pretentious, moi?'

 

It's only an opinion, sorry.

 

 

====================

 

 

Absultely right Paul!

 

Keep it British.

 

Now how many Hogs & Barrels could they get in that half-length 32 pied at Exexter?

 

:)

 

 

MM

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As far as I can recall, I have been using that method of denoting 'feet' since I joined this board.

 

Had I so desired, I could have taken several contributors to task on a number of occasions with regard to incorrect grammar and spelling - I chose not to, since I felt that it was both churlish and rather petty! Since I am also half Russian, I could have used a Cyrillic abbreviation, for that matter....

 

A few months ago, either MM or another contributor decided to have a brief conversation with Pierre in Flemish, if I remember correctly - at which could easily be laid the charges of pretentiousness and exclusionism. Touché!

 

In any case, I can see no harm in using the abbreviation which I chose - there are plenty of British organs with Flûtes Harmoniques galore - not to mention a goodly number of organs which have a Flauto Traverso, to mention only two examples of foreign nomenclature.

 

Whilst I am not remotely offended, I could think of more important subjects on which to post.

 

 

 

Я играю на органе

 

:)

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In any case, I can see no harm in using the abbreviation which I chose - there are plenty of British organs with Flûtes Harmoniques galore - not to mention a goodly number of organs which have a Flauto Traverso, to mention only two examples of foreign nomenclature.

:(

 

Do mention that possibly most British of all names 'Lieblich Gedeckt' :)

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googling for pncd's phrase (I have no Cyrillic, alas) brings up a rather charming picture of a kitten. bless.

 

 

Um.... no - it has nothing to do with pussies....

 

:)

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