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Bridlington Priory Organ


Guest Barry Oakley - voluntarily dereg
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Guest Barry Oakley

Tommy Trotter's playing aside, did anyone get to Bridlington Priory last Saturday and come away as I did, feeling that the organ was found somewhat wanting. Several people I was with felt that the instrument had lost some brilliance.

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It has been quite a few years since I was last at brid, I will have to listen to a couple of cd's to remind myself what the old organ sounded like. Talking to Mike Smith, Paule Hale and Alan Spedding afterwards, it was a unamamous success, but they would say that I suppose. Reading the booklet, it seems that after all the succesive rebuilds / additional work, the sound was altered in some way, I personally think that when it has bedded in and the more it is heard it will improve.

<_< I did not realise that the Bach / Vivaldi Concerto had so many ornamentations in

Peter

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It has been quite a few years since I was last at brid, I will have to listen to a couple of cd's to  remind myself what the old organ sounded like. Talking to Mike Smith, Paule Hale and Alan Spedding afterwards, it was a unamamous success, but they would say that I suppose. Reading the booklet,  it seems that after all the succesive rebuilds / additional work,  the sound was altered in some way, I personally think that when it has bedded in and the more it is heard it will improve.

<_<  I did not realise that the Bach / Vivaldi Concerto had so many ornamentations in

Peter

 

 

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

 

 

I'm beginning to wonder if I am one of the few remaining living-links between the old sound of Charles Anneseens and the few remnants of his work which survive in the UK.

 

I wish there was a way of plugging our memories into a computer and producing a CD, but I knew two substantial organs in Bradford by the Belgian builder, a two manual which I used to help tune in Lancashire, and the Compton re-build at Bridlington Priory.

 

I never felt that the Compton re-build spoiled the character of the original 1899 organ, which compared favourably with the two other big Anneseens organs I knew. The Swell Organ, for instance, was entirely reed dominated, with only a two rank Mixture atop the chorus. (I'm not sure if it wasn't a 12:17). Compton added, amongst other things, a Dulciana extension rank, which served the usual purpose of providing high-pitched "switched" Mixture-work of great subtlety on the Choir Organ. The Great gained a few more registers, but I forget the exact details which gave rise to a Fourniture Mixture and a degree of added brilliance.

 

However, even with the usual derived Mixtures and mutations, Bridlington still had that slightly dark sonority, heavy basses and fiery reed-tone which may still be heard in Belgium to-day.

 

The point of departure came with the work of Laycock & Bannister (completed in 1968); the organ consultantcy shared, I believe, between a certain Mr.Brown who was organist of Skipton PC and the head of music at Ermysteds Grammar School. He had a fine grasp of organ-building and tonal matters, and at Skipton PC, he had the vision and good sense to utilise some old Wordsworth & Maskell pipework, to which was added newer pipework by Rodgers of Bramley, Leeds: the end result truly superb.

 

Enter stage right a very wealthy benfactor, in the form of a certain Mrs.Couldthurst, who had been left quite a fortune by her deceased husband and who went about financing a number of organ-rebuilds. I believe it was her money which enabled the 1968 work at Bridlington to proceeed, and I seem to recall that Mr.Brown and the then organist, Ramond Sunderland (who died at the console one Christmas Eve, in the style of Vierne) collaborated in the re-design of the instrument.

 

With all respect the the late Frank Bannister, who was the sole proprieter of L & B at the time (even though a Mr.John Laycock still worked with him as an employee), he was a complete numpty when it came to things tonal. He knew how to re-build things however, and there can be no doubt that the workmanship was thorough enough.

 

So when Bridlington was re-built and enlarged in accordance with the fashions of the day, the new pipework was really not a match for the rest of the instrument; being fiercely bright and rather screechy. The end result amounted to two organs mis-matched: the original Annessens which was still recognisable, and all the stuff which had been added as an afterthought.

 

Fortunately, there was a complete collapse of the church heating-system, and I seem to recall that the organ became heavily polluted with paraffin oil, which didn't do the instrument a lot of good. Again, I forget the exact details, but the funds (insurance money?) were made available for the organ to be once again "restored" in, I believe, 1976, after Denys Thurlow had taken over L & B.

 

I played the organ shortly after this, and a lot of the "screech" had been reigned in and the 1968 pipework blended rather better with the older Belgian and Compton pipework, but not entirely convincingly.

 

So in essence, the "brightness" of the "old" organ, was actually a phenomenon which dated only from the period 1968 & 1976-2005; prior to which, it was sonorous and reedy in tone, but certainly never dull.

 

"If" the organ has now lost some brightness, I for one would welcome that, because I should imagine that it may have resulted in a more homogenous and musical instrument.

 

I look forward to hearing it again when I can find the time, but this time around, I hope they have done the right thing, and not attempted to create a neo-baroque organ from a late 19th century one.

 

MM

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Guest Barry Oakley
=========================

I never felt that the Compton re-build spoiled the character of the original 1899 organ, which compared favourably with the two other big Anneseens organs I knew. The Swell Organ, for instance, was entirely reed dominated, with only a two rank Mixture atop the chorus. (I'm not sure if it wasn't a 12:17). Compton added, amongst other things, a Dulciana extension rank, which served the usual purpose of providing high-pitched "switched" Mixture-work of great subtlety on the Choir Organ.  The Great gained a few more registers, but I forget the exact details which gave rise to a Fourniture Mixture and a degree of added brilliance.

 

However, even with the usual derived Mixtures and mutations, Bridlington still had that slightly dark sonority, heavy basses and fiery reed-tone which may still be heard in Belgium to-day.

 

MM

 

Inded, MM. My initial memory of the organ goes back to the time immediately after the rebuild by John Compton around 1950/51 when I had the enormous pleasure of hearing Norman Strafford, the consultant behind the Compton rebuild, play the organ. It had wonderful singing qualities which I feel it no longer has. But you must hear for yourself by visiting the Priory and come to your own conclusions.

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Tommy Trotter's playing aside, did anyone get to Bridlington Priory last Saturday and come away as I did, feeling that the organ was found somewhat wanting. Several people I was with felt that the instrument had lost some brilliance.

 

 

The forthcoming May issue of Organists' Review has a feature by Paul Hale on a couple of recent rebuilds for which he acted as consultant, Bridlington being one. It explains the basic philosophy underlying the rebuild from his perspective. I do not know whether it will add to the information in the programme notes but it may give you some clues as to the explanation for your perception of the rebuilt organ.

 

BAC

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Paul Hale's recital at Bridlington on 29 July looks a good bet. The organ should have bedded in a bit by then, the sun will hopefully be shining down on Brid's beaches. B) All that stands between a weekend in North Yorkshire is the shutdown of the railways at weekends! B)

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There is a discussion about this organ on the french forum,

and we wonder why the Mixtures are so high-pitched.

We would like to know if these mixture's specifications

are still from 1968, or if changes have been made lately.

 

Thanks and best wishes,

Pierre

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There is a discussion about this organ on the french forum,

and we wonder why the Mixtures are so high-pitched.

We would like to know if these mixture's specifications

are still from 1968, or if changes have been made lately.

 

Thanks and best wishes,

Pierre

 

 

++++++++++++++++

 

 

The newly completed re-build almost certainly contains the Laycock & Bannister Mixtures from 1968, but as tamed a bit by Denys Thurlow in 1976 (?) (Check my previous posting for the date).

 

Pierre may like to know that Deny Thurlow was a voicer for J W Walker when they did some of their finest work, as at Blackburn Cathedral, and then became a director of Nicholson's. They bought up the Laycock & Bannister name in the late 1960's (1967?), and it was in the immediate period following this, that emergency remedial work had to be done at Bridlington Priory due to the heating-system disaster I mentioned in my previous post.

 

Denys Thurlow's mixtures are usually especially good, and I cannot fault the one on the organ I play.

 

That said, I really wonder whether such mixtures really should have been installed in the Anneseens instrument at Bridlington, for it has changed the character of the organ considerably.

 

Of course, the original mixtures are still there, so one doesn't have to use the newer ones.

 

As I stated previously, I look forward to hearing the instrument once again, but a few hours ago, at about 11pm last night, was not, I felt, the best time to contact the organist as I drove past the priory; looking very pretty with the floodlights on.

 

More importantly, the fish & chip shop was closed!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I was heartbroken!

 

MM

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Guest Barry Oakley
++++++++++++++++

 

More importantly, the fish & chip shop was closed!!!!!!!!!!! 

 

I was heartbroken!

 

MM

 

This was the second of our disappointments after attending the inaugural recital. The fish and chip shop was closed, too, but we managed to find an excellent alternative on the south bay.

 

I believe Dennis Thurlow would have regarded Brid Priory as one of his "specials," having the ear of the late Raymond Sunderland who, if I am correct, was connected by marriage to Dennis's family.

 

I know that DT retired from Nicholsons a few years back and I wonder if he still has any hands-on involvement with the company?

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This was the second of our disappointments after attending the inaugural recital. The fish and chip shop was closed, too, but we managed to find an excellent alternative on the south bay.

 

I believe Dennis Thurlow would have regarded Brid Priory as one of his "specials," having the ear of the late Raymond Sunderland who, if I am correct, was connected by marriage to Dennis's family.

 

I know that DT retired from Nicholsons a few years back and I wonder if he still has any hands-on involvement with the company?

 

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

 

Forget the organ. ....they're ten a penny.

 

Bridlington Fish & Chips are the best in the known world, and whilst I am a fast-driver, I think the organist of Halifax PC and myself eventually finished off OUR "Specials" (with chips) as we exited Malton, on the way back home after a recital at the Priory.

 

The funny thing is, I can't recall who was playing the recital or what it was like.

 

B)

 

MM

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Guest Barry Oakley
==================

 

Forget the organ. ....they're ten a penny.

 

Bridlington Fish & Chips are the best in the known world, and whilst I am a fast-driver, I think the organist of Halifax PC and myself eventually finished off OUR "Specials" (with chips) as we exited Malton, on the way back home after a recital at the Priory.

 

The funny thing is, I can't recall who was playing the recital or what it was like.

 

B)

 

MM

 

If you ever venture south from Bridlington I can recommend the fish and chips at Hornsea's Sullivans where I believe they still use good old beef dripping. The Forster & Andrews organ at the local parish is not bad either.

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Bridlington Fish & Chips are the best in the known world, and whilst I am a fast-driver, I think the organist of Halifax PC and myself eventually finished off OUR "Specials" (with chips) as we exited Malton, on the way back home after a recital at the Priory.

I'm going to Halifax on Saturday night to hear James Lancelot play the Harrison at HPC. Any recommendations for post-recital grub in Halifax? What do they eat in that part of the world? Pies? B)

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I'm going to Halifax on Saturday night to hear James Lancelot play the Harrison at HPC. Any recommendations for post-recital grub in Halifax? What do they eat in that part of the world? Pies?  B)

 

 

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

 

Pies, did you say?

 

Nay lad.....tripe & onions!

 

Of course, the famous "Harry Ramsden's" is certainly within striking distance by automobile, but if you're travelling by train, I'd just go for good pub-grub in town.

 

MM

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Guest Barry Oakley
I'm going to Halifax on Saturday night to hear James Lancelot play the Harrison at HPC. Any recommendations for post-recital grub in Halifax? What do they eat in that part of the world? Pies?  B)

 

And before you attend the recital visit a local charity shop and get yourself a cloth cap and choker. Oh, and don't forget to visit Hull and Hell.

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And before you attend the recital visit a local charity shop and get yourself a cloth cap and choker. Oh, and don't forget to visit Hull and Hell.

No worries as Hell is covered. :rolleyes:

 

As well as HPC, my weekend organ crawl oop north takes in the City Hell in Hall to hear Carol Williams and to Nottingham on Sunday to hear Daniel Cook put the Albert Hall Binns through its paces.

 

By eck, it'll be good to get back to the smoke after that triumvirate. B)

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Mmmmmm, Sulivans fish and chips, used to go every 2 weeks, they are all rubbish round here near York :rolleyes: Does anyone know what Jimmy Lancelot is playing at halifax on Sat nite?? As the Mrs has asked me if I am going ( thats just so she can have total control over the tv remote ) I know he is doing my favourite Mendelssohn (the sixth sonata) at Armley in july

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Mmmmmm, Sulivans fish and chips,  used to go every 2 weeks, they are all rubbish round here near York  :rolleyes:  Does anyone know what Jimmy Lancelot is playing at halifax on Sat nite?? As the Mrs has asked me if I am going ( thats just so she can have total control over the tv remote ) I know he is doing my favourite Mendelssohn (the sixth sonata) at Armley in july

 

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

 

I'll be there..............

 

MM

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

Having read on this site of suspicions that the essential character of the Bridlington Priory organ has changed, I went with all my critical faculties primed last night when Alan Spedding gave a decent-sized audience a varied and interesting programme. There didn't seem to be anything on the (90 minute) programme that didn't come across absolutely fine. I should note here, I am not a Nicholson fan - or more accurately, I have been put off the firm in recent years, so you will not finding me rushing to compliment them on inadequate work - which I have occasionally encountered from them since Andrew Moyes appeared at the helm.

 

As far as I am concerned, the features I liked best about the Brid. organ are still there and the rest seems better 'bedded in' than before. The only fault that I could find was that the 32' reed is not so uniformly and regularly audible in the building as before - but mind you, it has been deliberately moved further into the case so as to allow whole manual divisions to sound out more clearly.

 

IMHO the organ is not less brilliant, but slightly less 'edgy'. I still like it very much. There is talk about removing some pews and replacing the boards beneath them with proper stone flags. This would make a deal of difference. One still comes away with the sorrow that you have a monster organ suffering from a less than flattering acoustic to speak into. Mind you it's far from being the worst - Lichfield Cathedral and Lancing College Chapel are the biggest disappointments still for me.

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Mind you it's far from being the worst - Lichfield Cathedral and Lancing College Chapel are the biggest disappointments still for me.

I know it's off subject, but I'm hoping to stop off at Lichfield in June to hear Roy Massey's recital en route to Glasgow for Paul Hale's lecture recital on the refurbished Willis in the University Memorial Chapel. So I would be interested to hear your views on what is wrong at Lichfield. I have a couple of CDs at home of the post-Harrison organ played by Philip Scriven and Alex Mason and it sounds superb, but I do recall someone saying that the acoustic was poor due to the type of stone used to build the cathedral. Is this true?

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I know it's off subject, but I'm hoping to stop off at Lichfield in June to hear Roy Massey's recital en route to Glasgow for Paul Hale's lecture recital on the refurbished Willis in the University Memorial Chapel. So I would be interested to hear your views on what is wrong at Lichfield. I have a couple of CDs at home of the post-Harrison organ played by Philip Scriven and Alex Mason and it sounds superb, but I do recall someone saying that the acoustic was poor due to the type of stone used to build the cathedral. Is this true?

 

 

I really love the Lichfield job now H&H have done a major number on it. Obviously, go to hear it if you can. The fact remains, the acoustic is far less than most of us would expect from the size and look of the building. Actually, the organ fares a little better than the choir - particularly now that the sound of the main organ is reinforced by (extremely well-matched 'Hill style' pipework in) the new Nave section. Unless they are in the nave stalls, singers at Lichfield have to work especially hard to make much impact.

 

You could say that L. is almost the opposite of Bristol Cathedral, there the (far from cavernous) building does nothing but flatter the organ and singers! Not that they don't deserve this, of course.

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I know it's off subject, but I'm hoping to stop off at Lichfield in June to hear Roy Massey's recital en route to Glasgow for Paul Hale's lecture recital on the refurbished Willis in the University Memorial Chapel. So I would be interested to hear your views on what is wrong at Lichfield. I have a couple of CDs at home of the post-Harrison organ played by Philip Scriven and Alex Mason and it sounds superb, but I do recall someone saying that the acoustic was poor due to the type of stone used to build the cathedral. Is this true?

 

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

 

I've studied a bit of Geology. I had this idea of promoting "Rock Concerts"

 

However, I'm sorry to blow the myth, but I think the sandstone used at Lichfield Cathedral is possibly Devonian (It could be Bunter sandstone?)

 

If it's Devonian, then it's the same bedrock material used for Liverpool Cathedral.

 

I can't recall what colour Lichfield Cathedral is, because it was many years ago that I went there, when it was all black.

 

I suspect the design of Lichfield is the culprit, because it is quite small and quite narrow as old cathedrals go; yet very beautiful.

 

MM

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I know it's off subject, but I'm hoping to stop off at Lichfield in June to hear Roy Massey's recital en route to Glasgow for Paul Hale's lecture recital on the refurbished Willis in the University Memorial Chapel. So I would be interested to hear your views on what is wrong at Lichfield. I have a couple of CDs at home of the post-Harrison organ played by Philip Scriven and Alex Mason and it sounds superb, but I do recall someone saying that the acoustic was poor due to the type of stone used to build the cathedral. Is this true?

 

Lichfield is a wonderful organ to play - I used to practice on it regularly - but there is no acoustic to speak of. It's a struggle to sing in (not helped by the pitch of the organ) too, particularly in the nave stalls.

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However, I'm sorry to blow the myth, but I think the sandstone used at Lichfield Cathedral is possibly Devonian (It could be Bunter sandstone?)

 

If it's Devonian, then it's the same bedrock material used for Liverpool Cathedral.

Presumably that's what they used for Crediton PC, which looks very red and has no acoustic to speak of. Apologies if not - my knowledge of geology is limited to the Flintstones.
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=====================

 

I've studied a bit of Geology. I had this idea of promoting "Rock Concerts"

 

However, I'm sorry to blow the myth, but I think the sandstone used at Lichfield Cathedral is possibly Devonian (It could be Bunter sandstone?)

 

If it's Devonian, then it's the same bedrock material used for Liverpool Cathedral.

 

I can't recall what colour Lichfield Cathedral is, because it was many years ago that I went there, when it was all black.

 

I suspect the design of Lichfield is the culprit, because it is quite small and quite narrow as old cathedrals go; yet very beautiful.

 

MM

 

 

I am not sure that your latter point is the reason, MM.

 

I have been in a fair number of French churches of varying sizes, but all with stone vaulting throughout; the buildings often appear to be constructed of Caen stone. Without exception, even the small village churches have a wonderful acoustic.

 

I had also heard that the type of sandstone used at Lichfield made for a poor sound-reflecting surface. Exeter is also constructed from sandstone (in addition to Purbeck marble and a few other types of stone); I have found this building also to be disappointing in terms of resonance and acoustic ambience. However, like Lichfield, I find Exeter to be stunningly beautiful.

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