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Arundel Opening Recital


Guest Roffensis

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Guest Roffensis

Just wondering if anyone went to the reopening of the Hill organ at Arundel Cathedral , I have not heard it post rebuild yet, nor have I been able to find a spec of the job as it now stands. Can anyone enlighten me?

 

Thanks,

 

Richard

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Just wondering if anyone went to the reopening of the Hill organ at Arundel Cathedral , I have not heard it post rebuild yet, nor have I been able to find a spec of the job as it now stands. Can anyone enlighten me?

 

Thanks,

 

Richard

 

 

 

As A matter of fact yes I went to hear James O Donnell give the opening recital . It was a long night for me as I came down From Brum and went back the same night as I had 2 High Masses to contend with being the feast of Pentecost. The recital went well considering this Organ has only 39 stops ! There is virtually no mutations on this instrument there was some wonderful moments in the Alain Fantasie and the L Ascension Messiaen. However, several of us being Organists did have reservations about the lack of wind on Full Organ and also the fact the Organ is tuned Sharp. The addition of the Solo Trumpet certainly packs some punch to the instrument and actually the overall sound is very subtle and not forced even with the full organ. James is a very gifted player and the encore carrillon de westminster said it all and crowned a truly wonderful evening.

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Guest Roffensis
As A matter of fact yes I went to hear James O Donnell give the  opening recital .  It was a long night for me as I came down From Brum and went back  the same night as I had  2 High Masses to contend with being the feast of Pentecost.  The recital went well considering this Organ has only 39 stops !  There is virtually no mutations on this instrument there was some wonderful moments in the Alain Fantasie and the L Ascension Messiaen.  However, several of us being Organists did have reservations about the lack of wind on Full Organ and also the fact the Organ is tuned Sharp.  The addition of the Solo Trumpet certainly packs some punch to the instrument and actually the overall sound is very subtle and not forced even with the full organ.  James is a very gifted player and the encore carrillon de westminster said it all and crowned a truly wonderful evening.

 

Thanks for that. A lot of Hills are sharp, but it would be wrong to alter that. Lichfield is another example, and Chester should be. Pity about the wind, but maybe that could be sorted at a later date? As to the mutations, it was tweaked up in past rebuilds with albeit some pretty inoffensive squeeks, but I gather David Wells wished to return as much as possible the original scheme, which I very much applaude. I heard it live twice in its "old" incarnation, and it was never blatant and certainly refined, with a wonderful singing quality as per Hill. I well recall the "roll" it had, and the richness. The flutes were in particular charming. It is most reassuring to know that these qualities, by your implications, remain, and that its character has been respected. Thanks for taking time to answer my question, does nnyone know where I may obtain the spec on line, as the cathedral site only lists the old strangely. :blink:

All best,

Richard

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Guest Roffensis
Chester isnt' all that bad actually, I think David and his team are gradually bringing the pitch of the instrument down with every tuning session.

 

Really, well it should be left sharp as it was. That job needs a really good restoration, and chucking off the 1971 stuff, and returning it to it's old self. That includes the pitch as well. One gets stuffed with constant tinkerings. That job has had a lot in past years. It would never happen with famous European organs where the pitch is anything but standard.

R

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Really, well it should be left sharp as it was. That job needs a really good restoration, and chucking off the 1971 stuff, and returning it to it's old self. That includes the pitch as well. One gets stuffed with constant tinkerings. That job has had a lot in past years. It would never happen with famous  European organs where the pitch is anything but standard.

R

 

Indeed, Richard. Comparing the Whitely specification (1876) with that of Hill (1910), I cannot help but think that tonally it is somewhat of a mess. I have played the organ and whilst there is clearly a vestige of the noble Hill sound, the chorus-work has been altered - in particular the mixtures. I also feel that the re-casting of the Solo Organ as an enclosed quasi-positive with strings was a mistake. The enclosure had a detrimental effect on its ability to act as a foil to the GO whilst the discarding of a number of the former romantic voices meant that this department was less effective at performing tasks such as 'lining-out' in the Psalms - the presence of a Regal and Schalmei were, I suspect, hardly more useful than the oft-maligned Cremona at Gloucester.

 

Incidentally, it is interesting to note that seven ranks formerly in the Solo box are now unenclosed. According to the NPOR, this apparently includes the Céleste - but not the Viola. I trust that this is a mistake and it is the Bourdon which is also unenclosed.

 

I note that the chorus mixtures have been altered yet again - the GO now being reduced to five ranks, instead of the former eight. Whilst this could be seen as a return to something approaching the state in which Hill left it, coupled with the alteration to the Choir mixture* and the reduction of the Solo Cimbel from III to II ranks, it looks rather more like further messing around with the instrument. I cannot immediately call to mind another British cathedral organ which has suffered so many tonal alterations and 'fiddlings' as this poor instrument at Chester.

 

Added to this, no matter how useful they may be, the proliferation of ugly, black square thumb pistons, quite out of character with the elegance of the former Hill console, merely serves to highlight the apparent lack of respect which has been accorded to this instrument.

 

 

* Given in the NPOR as III ranks, but in another source as II ranks.

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Chester isnt' all that bad actually, I think David and his team are gradually bringing the pitch of the instrument down with every tuning session.

 

I think that this is unlikely, Richard.

 

Unless the organ is only very slightly sharp (in which case, it would not be worth the effort), this would almost certainly necessitate making a new pipe for the bass end of the compass of every stop. Such a course of action would need very careful consideration by the cathedral authorities, David Poulter and David Wells, since it would also affect the scaling and the subsequent timbre of the ranks. It would, in addition, be likely to prove prohibitively expensive.

 

Insofar as slightly lowering the pitch of the enitre instrument is concerned, I would be surprised. Since this is not something which can be achieved with ease, it would be extremely time-consuming. One cannot simply lower the pitch of the GO flues (for example) on a particular tuning visit by a few beats but retain the status quo over the remainder of the instrument - this would render the GO unusable until such time as the rest of the organ was brought into line with it. However, effectively to lower the pitch of an instrument of this size would take days - even if it could be achieved without recourse to making new pipes.

 

However, I did enjoy the recording of your Dupré - it was well played and at a good speed. The registration was also effective.

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Unless the organ is only very slightly sharp (in which case, it would not be worth the effort), this would almost certainly necessitate making a new pipe for the bass end of the compass of every stop. Such a course of action would need very careful consideration by the cathedral authorities, David Poulter and David Wells, since it would also affect the scaling and the subsequent timbre of the ranks. It would, in addition, be likely to prove prohibitively expensive.

 

The better - and even more expensive and time-consuming method - is to individually lengthen every pipe, rather than bung all the pipes up a note or two. Not an easy task, but I believe they did this at Southwark. I guess it probably still affects scaling a little but not as much as moving the pipes up a note.

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The better - and even more expensive and time-consuming method - is to individually lengthen every pipe, rather than bung all the pipes up a note or two. Not an easy task, but I believe they did this at Southwark. I guess it probably still affects scaling a little but not as much as moving the pipes up a note.

 

I might well be missing the point here, but moving the pipes up a note is effectively changing only the name of the pipe and not changing its scale or character at all. It is merely saving the organist the trouble of transposing everything a semitone. Apart from questions of temperament the organbuilder's and voicer's creation is maintained.

 

There is, as far as I know, nothing inherent in any pitch standard so that an A has some sort of "A quality". See the appendix to Helmholtz which lists in pitch order a great many different pitch standards over the centuries and countries.

 

Michael

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Guest Roffensis
I might well be missing the point here, but moving the pipes up a note is effectively changing only the name of the pipe and not changing its scale or character at all. It is merely saving the organist the trouble of transposing everything a semitone. Apart from questions of temperament the organbuilder's and voicer's creation is maintained.

 

There is, as far as I know, nothing inherent in any pitch standard so that an A has some sort of "A quality". See the appendix to Helmholtz which lists in pitch order a great many different pitch standards over the centuries and countries.

 

Michael

 

Well actually it DOES change the character of an organ by moving pipes up or down a semitone. Up and it will be thicker, down and it will be thinner. The pipe scale relative to the note will be altered quite obviously. The RAH was rescaled several notes as it lacked power so we are told, listen to that vile thing now. I pity any organ builder having to try to make a musical instrument of it.

R

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Well actually it DOES change the character of an organ by moving pipes up or down a semitone. Up and it will be thicker, down and it will be thinner. The pipe scale relative to the note will be altered quite obviously. The RAH was rescaled several notes as it lacked power so we are told, listen to that vile thing now. I pity any organ builder having to try to make a musical instrument of it.

R

 

But isn't scale fundamentally to do with the ratio of the length to the circumference and only incidentally connected to absolute pitch? Of course a "B major" chord will sound lower and therefore slightly thicker than a "C major" chord but what is it that makes a chord inherently "C major"?

 

As I understand it, in Bach's time the pitch for insruments in the court was a full tone lower than the pitch of the organs in the churches, so when the orchestra played with the organ in church the organist had to play a tone lower than the orchestra. Which was the "real" E minor of the opening of the St Matthew Passion? The E minor of the orchestra or the D minor of the organ? Or is the question rather: which is the real E minor, the E minor of the St Matthew Passion or the E minor of the Wedge Fugue?

 

Rescaling the RAH organ as you describe must mean changing the length of a pipe with regard to its circumference. Simply moving the pipes up or down would just change the pitch, not the volume.

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Rescaling the RAH organ as you describe must mean changing the length of a pipe with regard to its circumference. Simply moving the pipes up or down would just change the pitch, not the volume.

 

However, since a new bass pipe will have to be made, the scale is effectively increased by one note. This may not sound as if it is worth worrying about. Neverthless, it is a change that will contribute to a slight alteration in the sound of the instrument as it is perceived.

 

Therefore, much consideration has to be given to such a measure as it can be argued that the 'original' (or perhaps 'long-established' is better) sound of the instrument has been modified.

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The better - and even more expensive and time-consuming method - is to individually lengthen every pipe, rather than bung all the pipes up a note or two. Not an easy task, but I believe they did this at Southwark. I guess it probably still affects scaling a little but not as much as moving the pipes up a note.

 

Yes Colin, I agree - but here it was clearly a restoration of the status quo, as Willis had considerably modified the instrument from a tonal aspect in the 1950s - unfortunately so, in my view.

 

Just how successful the H&H restoration is we will probably never know. There is probably no-one alive who can remember accurately the sound of the organ as T.C. Lewis left it. Even Downes may well have viewed it through 'rose-tinted ears' - and the mellowing passage of time.

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Yes Colin, I agree - but here it was clearly a restoration of the status quo, as Willis had considerably modified the instrument from a tonal aspect in the 1950s - unfortunately so, in my view.

 

Just how successful the H&H restoration is we will probably never know. There is probably no-one alive who can remember accurately the sound of the organ as T.C. Lewis left it. Even Downes may well have viewed it through 'rose-tinted ears' - and the mellowing passage of time.

 

I think that, in technical terms, Willis raised the wind pressure and then used 'compensator amplifiers' on the top of the pipes to restore the speech and stop the pipes from overblowing. I don't think that the mouths were altered so that restoration was a relatively straightforward operation of reversing the procedure.

 

There was a similar thing with the reeds, but I'm not quite so sure what that involved. The wonderful thing is that the organ didn't sounded quieter after the restoration, just nicer and more relaxed. there's no reason to believe that the final result was wide of the mark in terms of restoration.

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There was a similar thing with the reeds, but I'm not quite so sure what that involved. The wonderful thing is that the organ didn't sounded quieter after the restoration, just nicer and more relaxed. there's no reason to believe that the final result was wide of the mark in terms of restoration.

 

The Pedal reeds were revoiced - in a style somewhat alien to the original spirit of the Lewis ranks.

 

Of course it is a matter of taste, but Willis simply imposed their 'house style' on what was actually (as far as I am concerned) a masterpiece - and should have simply been restored.

 

We shall have to agree to disagree over the effect of the organ after Willis' tender ministrations - I did not find it nicer or more relaxed - just fatter and rather spoiled. Whilst it may not have sounded quieter, what is certainly not in dispute is that it sounded different - against which runs my argument. Personally, I wish that Willis had left Southwark well alone tonally and just carefully restored the mechanical side of the organ.

 

Even Arthur Harrison was known to treat a genuine masterpiece with more respect. A young visitor to the organ loft at Exeter Cathedral (when H&H were in the process of restoring it) had said "I expect you have revoiced the organ." To which Harry Wood (I think that it was he) responded "When we find perfection we leave it alone."

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The Pedal reeds were revoiced - in a style somewhat alien to the original spirit of the Lewis ranks.

 

Of course it is a matter of taste, but Willis simply imposed their 'house style' on what was actually (as far as I am concerned) a masterpiece - and should have simply been restored.

 

We shall have to agree to disagree over the effect of the organ after Willis' tender ministrations - I did not find it nicer or more relaxed - just fatter and rather spoiled. Whilst it may not have sounded quieter, what is certainly not in dispute is that it sounded different - against which runs my argument. Personally, I wish that Willis had left Southwark well alone tonally and just carefully restored the mechanical side of the organ.

 

Even Arthur Harrison was known to treat a genuine masterpiece with more respect. A young visitor to the organ loft at Exeter Cathedral (when H&H were in the process of restoring it) had said "I expect you have revoiced the organ." To which Harry Wood (I think that it was he) responded "When we find perfection we leave it alone."

 

We seem to be talking at crossed purposes

 

I was referring to the RESTORATION of the organ by H&H back to the Lewis original, both voicing and specification (e.g. mutations on the choir were removed and the original sonorities, albeit with pipes from another redundant organ of the same period by Lewis).

 

It has been returned back to its former sound - I was responding to one contributor's query of how successful that was.

 

N.B H&H also restored the very similar intact, and with unaltered pipework, Lewis organ in St Paul's Cathedral Melbourne at the same time so they had a good bench-mark.

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We seem to be talking at crossed purposes

 

Possibly. The exact sense of your original second paragraph was unclear, since you did not mention H&H in either paragraph - only Willis. I made the (reasonable) assumption that your second paragraph concerned the effect of the instrument after the Willis rebuild. :huh:

 

I was referring to the RESTORATION of the organ by H&H back to the Lewis original, both voicing and specification (e.g. mutations on the choir were removed and the original sonorities, albeit with pipes from another redundant organ of the same period by Lewis).

 

It has been returned back to its former sound - I was responding to one contributor's query of how successful that was.

 

 

However, this was my point. How do we know that it has been returned to its original sound? H&H have researched carefully and attempted to restore it as faithfully as possible to what was documented to have been the state of the instrument before Willis altered it. But, since there is probably no-one alive who remembers accurately the precise sound of the instrument - (a memory which is bound to be subjective, in any case) - we cannot truly say that it has been restored to its former sound.

 

Whilst I appreciate that some of the restoration which was undertaken on the pipe-work involved (to put it crudely) 'reverse-engineering', Willis had renewed the action, possibly altered some of the wind pressures (I am not certain of this latter point, since I cannot presently recall the article in The Organ) and, as you observed, fitted 'compensator-amplifiers' to many of the ranks.

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Possibly. The exact sense of your original second paragraph was unclear, since you did not mention H&H in either paragraph - only Willis. I made the (reasonable) assumption that your second paragraph concerned the effect of the instrument after the Willis rebuild.  :lol:

However, this was my point. How do we know that it has been returned to its original sound? H&H have researched carefully and attempted to restore it as faithfully as possible to what was documented to have been the state of the instrument before Willis altered it. But, since there is probably no-one alive who remembers accurately the precise sound of the instrument - (a memory which is bound to be subjective, in any case) - we cannot truly say that it has been restored to its former sound.

 

Whilst I appreciate that some of the restoration which was undertaken on the pipe-work involved (to put it crudely) 'reverse-engineering', Willis had renewed the action, possibly altered some of the wind pressures (I am not certain of this latter point, since I cannot presently recall the article in The Organ) and, as you observed, fitted 'compensator-amplifiers' to many of the ranks.

 

Two things - 1) the wind pressures were raised by Willis and restored by H&H and 2) the compensator amplifiers were removed - they are easily taken off and as they don't affect the physical integrity of the body of the pipe or its mouth, the original speech was restored once the pipes recieved their original wind pressure. In as much as any restoration can be proven to be a return to the original sound, this is one of the simplest of procedures and the effect is immediate.

 

And you seem to forget that they had the twin of this organ available in the factory for cross reference of voicing style.

 

As for lack of clarity - if you read the post I quote in my reply you will see the subject is restoration, and that I am answering that by referring to a restoration reversing the procedures that Willis had done on this organ.

 

Anyway, who gives a ****?

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Guest Roffensis
Two things - 1) the wind pressures were raised by Willis and restored by H&H and 2) the compensator amplifiers were removed - they are easily taken off and as they don't affect the physical integrity of the body of the pipe or its mouth, the original speech was restored once the pipes recieved their original wind pressure. In as much as any restoration can be proven to be a return to the original sound, this is one of the simplest of procedures and the effect is immediate.

 

And you seem to forget that they had the twin of this organ available in the factory for cross reference of voicing style.

 

As for lack of clarity - if you read the post I quote in my reply you will see the subject is restoration, and that I am answering that by referring to a restoration reversing the procedures that Willis had done on this organ.

 

Anyway, who gives a ****?

 

 

True, who does give a @*&%?

R

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True, who does give a @*&%?

R

 

 

 

The Arundel new specification is as follows

 

 

Pedal - Swell

Open Diapason (wood) 16 Open Diapason 8

Open Diapason (metal )16 Hohl Flute 8

Bourdon 16 Viola da gamba 8

Octave 8 Stopped Diapason 8

Flute 8 Octave 4

Fifteenth 4 Flute 4

Mixture (17-19-22) Fifteenth 4

Trombone 16 Mixture (15-19-22)

Horn 8 new

Oboe 8

Clarion 4 new

 

Great - Choir

Double diapason 16 Dulcianna 8

Open Diapason 8 Vox Angelica (TC ) 8

Cone gamba 8 Gedecket 8

Stopped Diapason 8 Suabe flute 4

octave 4 Harmonic flute 4

Wald Flute 4 Flageolet 2

Twelfth 2 2/3 Clarinet 8

Fifteenth 2 Solo Trumpet reconstructed

Full Mixture (17-19-22 ) new

Sharp Mixture (26-29) 2 rks

Trumpet 8 1931 harmonic trebles removed

Clarion 4 1931 harmonic trebles removed

 

Usual couplers but with the addition of six generals and a setter board hidden

under the Console in a drawer. apologies for the layout on here but to simplified things pedal stops is the ones on left of this and great choir and swell to the right of the columns.

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Guest Barry Williams
I think that this is unlikely, Richard.

 

Unless the organ is only very slightly sharp (in which case, it would not be worth the effort), this would almost certainly necessitate making a new pipe for the bass end of the compass of every stop. Such a course of action would need very careful consideration by the cathedral authorities, David Poulter and David Wells, since it would also affect the scaling and the subsequent timbre of the ranks. It would, in addition, be likely to prove prohibitively expensive.

 

Insofar as slightly lowering the pitch of the enitre instrument is concerned, I would be surprised. Since this is not something which can be achieved with ease, it would be extremely time-consuming. One cannot simply lower the pitch of the GO flues (for example) on a particular tuning visit by a few beats but retain the status quo over the remainder of the instrument - this would render the GO unusable until such time as the rest of the organ was brought into line with it. However, effectively to lower the pitch of an instrument of this size would take days - even if it could be achieved without recourse to making new pipes.

 

However, I did enjoy the recording of your Dupré - it was well played and at a good speed. The registration was also effective.

 

 

Listening to the Arundel organ is extremely disconcerting, for everything comes out in the wrong key.

 

Bruce Buchanan told me that no-one could tell the difference in tone of an adjustment of about a third of a tone downwards and that only an expert could tell at the voicing machine. He said that even an expert could not tell the difference in tone ten feet away from the pipe.

 

Pitch has become standardised in the last fifty years. Sharp/flat pitch is seriously disconcerting and renders the organ unuseable with other instruments - such as Reading Town Halll.

 

Whilst this might be acceptable in a purely historic situation, churches are never in that position. What is the point in making life difficult?

 

Barry Williams

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Listening to the Arundel organ is extremely disconcerting, for everything comes out in the wrong key.

 

Bruce Buchanan told me that no-one could tell the difference in tone of an adjustment of about a third of a tone downwards and that only an expert could tell at the voicing machine.  He said that even an expert could not tell the difference in tone ten feet away from the pipe.

 

Pitch has become standardised in the last fifty years.  Sharp/flat pitch is seriously disconcerting and renders the organ unuseable with other instruments - such as Reading Town Halll.

 

Whilst this might be acceptable in a purely historic situation, churches are never in that position.  What is the point in making life difficult?

 

Barry Williams

 

A third of a tone? Obviously talking to the wrong experts!

 

Listening to "sharp" instruments is extremely disconcerting, playing them even more so, and trying to arrange concerts around them immensely frustrating. We have had to hire a symphony orchestra for Rutter Requiem in Salisbury cathedral next month, as an oboe that can go a third of a tone sharp hasn't yet been invented. Edington Priory is another - I don't know how much of the Festival music gets transposed down a semitone, but I believe some does.

 

"Standard" pitch seems to go around all over the place - a piano tuner told me recently that A=443 is increasingly accepted as the norm, presumably to make one piano sound "brighter" than its neighbour in the showroom or overcome the non-resonance of modern piano materials (i.e. plastic)?

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"Standard" pitch seems to go around all over the place - a piano tuner told me recently that A=443 is increasingly accepted as the norm, presumably to make one piano sound "brighter" than its neighbour in the showroom or overcome the non-resonance of modern piano materials (i.e. plastic)?

...which contrasts with what a conductor told me many years ago - that orchestras were always pushing the pitch to the sharp side in the interests of brightness. Perhaps that proves your point!

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