Jump to content
Mander Organ Builders Forum

Organ In The Round ?


Westgate Morris
 Share

Recommended Posts

Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I think it is wonderful that Harrisons were still producing such gloriously anachronistic organs as this at the same time as being involved in producing such forward-looking instruments as those at the RFH, St Albans, Windsor, Coventry etc.

 

As always, it is a question of what the customer wants! So many organists were asking for neo-baroque organs after the RFH, you must not automatically blame firms for trying to build them. I reckon J.W.Waker were the most successful, though they often got it wrong with actions - especially in their over use of metal collars - which (let us not forget) are four times the weight of leather buttons. Attheir restoration at St.John's Wolverhampton a new JWW action used to have a minimum of four collars on every note.

 

Along with the Harrow job, the most obviously anti-RFH organ to come from Durham immediately afterwards was The Colston Hall, Bristol. It is amusing to see the folks there trying to publicise their present concerts under the soubriquet

'The Big Bellow' - hardly flattering, I would have thought.

 

If it is a challenge to find the loudest town hall organ - I reckon the outright winner has to be The Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. An absolute 'take-no-prisoners' rip-snorter!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Along with the Haroow job, the most obviously anti-RFH organ to come from Durham immediately afterwards was The Colston Hall, Bristol. It is amusing to see the folks there trying to publicise their present concerts under the soubriquet

'The Big Bellow' - hardly flattering, I would have thought.

 

Interestingly - having spent a happy half day on the Colston organ not so long ago - I found that in the flesh the voicing in places is quite 'fresh' and that with a bit of thought a great sense of vitality can be extracted from what on paper looks as if it could be decidedly 'four square'. The concerts mentioned above have a reasonable sized and dedicated following and the local organists' association is much involved in the organ's welfare to its credit. The city authorities also seem quite on board too which is healthy.

 

AJJ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Along with the Harrow job, the most obviously anti-RFH organ to come from Durham immediately afterwards was The Colston Hall, Bristol.

Yes, the Colston Hall organ did spring to mind when I read the Harrow spec. Having both had the opportunity to play this organ (albeit with the curtains shut - apparently they are really difficult to open and close) and heard superb recitals on it by Peter Hurford and Carlo Curley, I must say that this really is a favourite organ of mine. It's mainly due to the voicing of the diapasons, which are surprisingly lively and give the choruses some bite. Well worth hearing live, as the recordings don't do it justice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Call me thick, but Westminster Cathedral hasn't been mentioned yet?  I've not been in it since the age of about 11 so I don't know how far apart they are.

 

 

Do they count? Yes, but.....

They're indeed a good long way away from each other - maybe around 100 yards. Enough to give a delay of around half a second!

 

In theory one can play both organs from the little two-decker console in the Apse, but for years they were tuned to two quite different pitches. The present team love improvising, so I'm sure the idea of playing both organs at once appeals to them, even so, there's no stop control for the West End at the Apse console. The only control you do have are a few pistons using settings 'borrowed' from the other end - as it were. Sorry, can you follow this garbled explanation?

 

The short answer to all this is: organs 'in the round' are great fun for anyone who is not a card-carrying purist. They 'work' surprisingly well, and even obvious placement differences can be used to great effect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do they count? Yes, but.....

 

In theory one can play both organs from the little two-decker console in the Apse, but for years they were tuned to two quite different pitches.  The present team love improvising, so I'm sure the idea of playing both organs at once appeals to them, even so, there's no stop control for the West End at the Apse console. The only control you do have are a few pistons using settings 'borrowed' from the other end - as it were.  .

 

Sorry to contradict you, but there are stop controls for part of the Grand organ (some of the Great and Pedal + the Tuba, of course) from the Apse console, and via the piston system you can access all the Grand organ stops, and all of the piston memories on the west organ so in theory you can select any combination. One drawback is that you can't operate the swell boxes at the west end from the apse console, that is unless things have changed in the last few years. See NPOR N12733.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

re Westminster Cathedral

 

I remember a concert by the RSCM Westminster Abbey Cathedral Course choir in Westminster Cathedral in August 1971 conducted by John Bertalot. The choir was in the apse for most of the concert and the choir organ was joined by the grand organ at the climax of Ireland's Greater Love. Had the organs been at different pitches it would have been, ahem, Grater Love, but I remember no discrepancy. The organs were played by two organists, I think; one of them was Simon Wright and the other possibly Michael Fleming.

 

Michael

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the Westminster Cathedral website it says: "Last year these improvements were continued with another overhaul of the action and with the installation of a 256-level capture system with a cross-channel advancer making registration changes much easier. The 1996 work also enables much fuller and more comprehensive use of the Grand Organ from the (2 manual) Apse console."

 

Not sure about control of the Swell boxes, though. In addition to Stephen Smith's comprehensive history to this organ at http://www.organrecitals.com/westcath.php there is a photograph of the original 4 manual Apse console. This appears to have 4 swell pedals, presumably for the Swell, Choir and Solo on the Grand Organ and the enclosed division on the Apse organ.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do they count? Yes, but.....

They're indeed a good long way away from each other -  maybe around 100 yards. Enough to give a delay of around half a second!

 

In theory one can play both organs from the little two-decker console in the Apse, but for years they were tuned to two quite different pitches.  The present team love improvising, so I'm sure the idea of playing both organs at once appeals to them, even so, there's no stop control for the West End at the Apse console. The only control you do have are a few pistons using settings 'borrowed' from the other end - as it were.  Sorry, can you follow this garbled explanation?

 

The short answer to all this is: organs 'in the round' are great fun for anyone who is not a card-carrying purist.  They 'work' surprisingly well, and even obvious placement differences can be used to great effect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Sorry to contradict you, but you but there are stop controls for part of the Grand organ (some of the Great and Pedal + the Tuba, of course) from the Apse console, and via the piston system you can access all the Grand organ stops, and all of the piston memories on the west organ so in theory you can select any combination. One drawback is that you can't operate the swell boxes at the west end from the apse console, that is unless things have changed in the last few years. See NPOR N12733.

 

 

I bow, scrape, grovel and apologise. Derrett goofs again!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I bow, scrape, grovel and apologise. Derrett goofs again!

 

Sorry Paul!

 

To answer Jeremy's query about swell pedals, the old remote swell pedal action from the apse console to the west organ was removed at the main restoration. All the swell fronts on both organs are mechanically operated now, so the last time I played the apse organ only the apse swell shutters were controllable. I don't think things have changed ... using the west organ from the east is more about grand gestures than extreme subtlety!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...