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Guest Roffensis

St. George's Hall, Liverpool

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...  this organ was hailed as the "Poe of Organs"  :rolleyes: whatever that means ... .

R

 

Liszt said that the organ (not any particular one) was the pope of instruments. So I suppose the reference to the St George's Hall organ meant that it was the capo di capi.

 

Regards.

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Guest Roffensis

Other than his great rival William Hill, could anyone have done it as well?

 

 

Yes. I have read that Gray and Davison made pipework for Willis I, and regardless of that, think Hill was an infinitely better builder by far. This may shock the Willis finatics out there, and there are many jobs by him I respect, but musically, in terms of balance, not relying on reeds for power, properly balanced Diapason choruses, interesting and different flute families and decent scales not petering out below tenor C, feel Hill rivalled him and was grossly underated.

The loss of organs by such as Gray and Davison, such as Leeds Town Hall, is very sad indeed.

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Thank you Michael, for confirming what I had already read about the Hereford instrument.  ;)

 

In my post, I expressed the view that the additions had not enhanced the organ, and I'll stick by that. As ever, this is a matter of personal taste.

 

For me, there are a couple of phrases in the text you quote which give the game away: 'opportunity was taken to provide a few additions to amplify the original tonal concept' and 'This division was brightened by...'.

 

It's all very well to suggest that additions need not be used by players wishing to convey the 'original' sound of the instrument, but in practice this is unlikely. It's not ususally intended that such additions are obvious to the visiting player!

 

All that said, I don't think you're alone in rating this instrument very highly indeed, and I have never been fortunate enough to hear the organ in a liturgical context.

 

So apologies for any offence caused.

 

---------------

 

All of the views regarding the H&H great mixture at Hereford demonstrate to me how little you can sometime rely on recordings. I have heard Hereford more than any other large organ and have played it several times. The H&H mixture is a bright stop but the voicing blends far better with the organ than the Graham Barber recording suggests. Indeed, the mixture is quite necessary as the jump from the Willis 3 rank to the fiery great reeds is a big one. The H&H mixture really cuts the mustard for hymn playing.

 

I was quite disappointed when I listened to the Graham Barber recording, whilst the playing is supurb, the organ sounds overbright, harsh and unbalanced. When you hear the organ live the first things that strikes you is the great warmth of the instrument. I have heard Neil Collier from Priory records speak in the past and he stated that he generally likes the microphone to be very close to the instrument. Whether this was happened in this case, I'm not sure but it certainly is not a good representation of the organ's tones.

 

If you want to hear the organ at it's best, try and get a copy of the Roy Massey Moonlight and Roses LP, played by the organist who knows it best. This recording sounds as you hear it live and is an excellent entertaining piece of playing containing many rarely heard 'unfashionable' gems.

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Guest Roffensis
---------------

 

All of the views regarding the H&H great mixture at Hereford demonstrate to me how little you can sometime rely on recordings. I have heard Hereford more than any other large organ and have played it several times. The H&H mixture is a bright stop but the voicing blends far better with the organ than the Graham Barber recording suggests. Indeed, the mixture is quite necessary as the jump from the Willis 3 rank to the fiery great reeds is a big one. The H&H mixture really cuts the mustard for hymn playing.

 

I was quite disappointed when I listened to the Graham Barber recording, whilst the playing is supurb, the organ sounds overbright, harsh and unbalanced. When you hear the organ live the first things that strikes you is the great warmth of the instrument. I have heard Neil Collier from Priory records speak in the past and he stated that he generally likes the microphone to be very close to the instrument. Whether this was happened in this case, I'm not sure but it certainly is not a good representation of the organ's tones.

 

If you want to hear the organ at it's best, try and get a copy of the Roy Massey Moonlight and Roses LP, played by the organist who knows it best. This recording sounds as you hear it live and is an excellent entertaining piece of playing containing many rarely heard 'unfashionable' gems.

 

 

The organ sounds particularly fine on the Guy Weitz CD, I don't think it needed the added mixture work though, I far preferred it as left in 1933. Of course, one does not have to use the new material.

 

R

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---------------

 

All of the views regarding the H&H great mixture at Hereford demonstrate to me how little you can sometime rely on recordings. I have heard Hereford more than any other large organ and have played it several times. The H&H mixture is a bright stop but the voicing blends far better with the organ than the Graham Barber recording suggests. Indeed, the mixture is quite necessary as the jump from the Willis 3 rank to the fiery great reeds is a big one. The H&H mixture really cuts the mustard for hymn playing.

 

I was quite disappointed when I listened to the Graham Barber recording, whilst the playing is supurb, the organ sounds overbright, harsh and unbalanced. When you hear the organ live the first things that strikes you is the great warmth of the instrument. I have heard Neil Collier from Priory records speak in the past and he stated that he generally likes the microphone to be very close to the instrument. Whether this was happened in this case, I'm not sure but it certainly is not a good representation of the organ's tones.

 

If you want to hear the organ at it's best, try and get a copy of the Roy Massey Moonlight and Roses LP, played by the organist who knows it best. This recording sounds as you hear it live and is an excellent entertaining piece of playing containing many rarely heard 'unfashionable' gems.

 

I agree. (Sorry, Richard!)

 

Having played the Willis organs at Truro and Salisbury cathedrals on many occasions, I greatly dislike the irritating, reedy jangle of the (identical*) tierce mixtures - give me the clarity and true brightness of a good 19-22-26-29 quint mixture any day.

 

I quite like the H&H mixture at Hereford although, as Richard states, one can always choose not to draw it. Unfortunately at Truro or Salisbury one does not have this option.

 

* The one exception being the GO mixture at Salisbury, which also contains a Fifteenth rank.

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Having played the Willis organs at Truro and Salisbury cathedrals on many occasions, I greatly dislike the irritating, reedy jangle of the (identical*) tierce mixtures

Surely they shouldn't be a problem if you use them as intended - adding them with or after the reeds. Of course if you try to use them without the reeds...

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Surely they shouldn't be a problem if you use them as intended - adding them with or after the reeds. Of course if you try to use them without the reeds...

 

However, as I have mentioned before, the reeds on both of these instruments reign supreme. They neither need nor appear to welcome the addition of the mixtures. Whilst these mixtures can be heard, they do not serve to strengthen the reeds or, for that matter, effectively to form a bridge between the reeds and the 8p, 4p and 2 diapasons; once the reeds are drawn, everything else is very much of an 'also-ran'.

 

I think what I am trying to say, is that it is a little like attempting to fit wheels to a tomato.

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However, as I have mentioned before, the reeds on both of these instruments reign supreme. They neither need nor appear to welcome the addition of the mixtures. Whilst these mixtures can be heard, they do not serve to strengthen the reeds or, for that matter, effectively to form a bridge between the reeds and the 8p, 4p and 2 diapasons; once the reeds are drawn, everything else is very much of an 'also-ran'.

 

I think what I am trying to say, is that it is a little like attempting to fit wheels to a tomato.

 

I am not knowledgable about mixtures at all. But, on my own instrument, I have 3 mixtures, the GO one is a tierce - 17|19|22 - which I find to be a chocolate teapot, and 2 on the swell - 12|15|19|22 and 24|26|29. The IV rank on the swell is wonderful - just adds a bit of brightness and colour, and can be drawn with or without the reeds. The III rank, though, is brash and breaks all over the place, and can really only be drawn with the reeds.

 

What's so bad about a tierce mixture - serious question ; I know a lot of people don't like them - why?

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
I am not knowledgable about mixtures at all. But, on my own instrument, I have 3 mixtures, the GO one is a tierce - 17|19|22 - which I find to be a chocolate teapot, and 2 on the swell - 12|15|19|22 and 24|26|29. The IV rank on the swell is wonderful - just adds a bit of brightness and colour, and can be drawn with or without the reeds. The III rank, though, is brash and breaks all over the place, and can really only be drawn with the reeds.

 

What's so bad about a tierce mixture - serious question ; I know a lot of people don't like them - why?

 

 

Assuming that they're properly tuned, of course, the main problem with a tierce mixture drawn without the reeds is that the perfectly tuned thirds in the mixture clash with tempered thirds in chords. In equal temperament, all thirds are sharp. If you play a simple triad of C (with tierce mixture drawn) you'll get two versions of the note E - and they do not agree!

 

I think the point is, in Father Willis's day, the mixture was drawn either with or after the reeds. The earliest reference to drawing the mixture before the reeds in modern times (that I've come across) is a review of a recital by Marcel Dupre playing in London in about 1920. His use of mixtures was thought so unusual it was commented upon.

 

Going back a deal further to origins:

In France, the use of the Tierce is deliberately encouraged to support and brighten the Grand Jeu (this is in firm contrast to the strictly tierce-less Plein Jeu - a straight, quints and unisons chorus).

In Germany the reedy tang given off by Sesquialteras and Cornets covered the (quite common) absence of manual reeds at all.

In Holland a number of large baroque organs (e.g. St.Jans at Herzogenbosch) have no manual mixtures without Tierces.

In 18th century England, both Smith and Harris used Tierce Mixtures, though not exclusively. In small organs, a mixture might contain a Tierce to enable it to do duty in Cornet voluntaries.

 

Mind you, at this time, equal temperament was unheard of.

 

As I read it, with equal temperament, you get a better blend if you top your chorus with a quint/unison mixture. However, once the reeds are on, a Tierce Mixture adds both richness and brilliance. Since Father Willis and his successors were interested in a complete all-encompassing tutti, the Tierce Mixture makes total sense.

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Guest Roffensis

I think what I am trying to say, is that it is a little like attempting to fit wheels to a tomato.

 

Yes, but there are people out there who could fit wheels to a Tomato. or even an orange.

 

*Goes to try*

 

:lol:

 

R

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Pardon my Scouse, as I've never heard the organ in St George's Hall live, but from what I have heard on CDs recorded by Christopher Dearnley, Ian Tracey and David Briggs, I remain resolutely underwhelmed by what I have heard. I know, I know, you should never judge an organ by a recording, but to me it has sounded like a poor mans Lincoln Cathedral, with out of tune reeds and an insufficient supply of wind. Were there in fact ever the glory days when this organ was in full working order, and is there anybody still alive who can remember them. And finally, if this organ is such a gem, why haven't the famously generous people of Liverpool dug deep into their pockets (and I do mean the people, not the local authority) and raised the necessary funds to put the sparkle back in this so-called jewel in their crown?

 

As one who grew up on Merseyside in the '60s, able to attend monthly recitals at SGH for either 3d or 6d, I forget which, & now in the Diocese of Lincoln, I think I can honestly say that SGH knocks the "harmonium" (Dr Philip Marshall) at Lincoln into a cocked hat. SGH was brilliant, loud, exciting, & noted national and international recitalists made glorious music on it. Regre was much in vogue, never my favourite composer, but players like Noel Rawsthorne & Brian Runnett communicated great sense out of it. Jeanne Demessieux improvised a symphony in a ball gown & high heels. Happy memories. The thing at Lincoln is a feeble waste of space, & ugly, to boot. It's inaudible in a full nave.

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Guest Andrew Butler
I don't think the character of the Hereford instrument was very much altered by the rebuild in the late 70's. A mixture stop was added to the great and a few extra ranks on the pedals I believe, but nothing else was changed so if you don't use the new mixture its pretty much original Willis.

 

What about the 16' Dulzian on the swell? NPOR survey makes no comment on its provenence, but I do not think of a Dulzian as a Willis stop? My understanding of a Dulzian is a slightly "buzzy" sound, but I am open to correction....?

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What about the 16' Dulzian on the swell? NPOR survey makes no comment on its provenence, but I do not think of a Dulzian as a Willis stop? My understanding of a Dulzian is a slightly "buzzy" sound, but I am open to correction....?

 

No, a Dulzian is a fairly rich contra-fagotto type stop. I have one on my Willis III.

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Guest Voix Mystique
I stand corrected.

The Dulzian on the Swell is a 1970s addition, the original was a Vox Humana. Bring back the VH!

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