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Mander Organs

St Marylebone Parish Church


Mark Taylor

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This is just idle curiosity on my part, but I wonder if anyone can enlighten me about the 1885 Gray & Davison organ that preceded the current Rieger at St Marylebone Parish Church in London. Does anyone know why the previous organ was replaced? From the NPOR (N17052) the old organ looked (on paper) like a fine instrument. Was it unsatisfactory in some way, or in a bad state of repair?

 

I have been meaning to pose this question for sometime and I am prompted to do so now by a new priory CD of the Leipzig chorales played on the Reiger organ. The CD gets a lukewarm review in this month’s Gramophone. As a supplementary question, would anyone who has heard the priory CD like to rescue it? (I don’t feel inclined to buy on the strength of the Gramophone review).

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This is just idle curiosity on my part, but I wonder if anyone can enlighten me about the 1885 Gray & Davison organ that preceded the current Rieger at St Marylebone Parish Church in London.  Does anyone know why the previous organ was replaced?  From the NPOR (N17052) the old organ looked (on paper) like a fine instrument.  Was it unsatisfactory in some way, or in a bad state of repair?

According to the website of the Burtey Fen Collection, where the organ now with extra bells and whistles resides :lol: "...roof problems and subsequent damage caused the organ to become almost unplayable by the early 1980s."

 

There's a bit more information about the removal and rebuild on this page. :lol:

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Having played the Rieger organ at St. Marylebone Parish Church on a number of occasions, I suspect that I would have preferred to have spent the money available on restoring the old instrument.

 

As far as I am concerned, this instrument seems neither to have the tonal integrity or interest of the organs at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford or Bamberg Cathedral. I found it rather bland and oddly, rather less comfortable to play than Oxford, which I find feels very comfortable within a few minutes of renewing my acquaintance with this wonderful instrument.

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This is just idle curiosity on my part, but I wonder if anyone can enlighten me about the 1885 Gray & Davison organ that preceded the current Rieger at St Marylebone Parish Church in London.  Does anyone know why the previous organ was replaced?  From the NPOR (N17052) the old organ looked (on paper) like a fine instrument.  Was it unsatisfactory in some way, or in a bad state of repair?
I played it a few times in the late 1960s, when it had not long been renovated (or rebuilt). I can't really remember any of the detail except that I didn't like it: I found it lacking in impact and excitement. But my view may have been influenced by the detached console and the fact that, in those days, I was more inspired by the neo-Baroque. It may well have been a very good instrument for accompaniment.
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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Having played the Rieger organ at St. Marylebone Parish Church on a number of occasions, I suspect that I would have preferred to have spent the money available on restoring the old instrument.

 

As far as I am concerned, this instrument seems neither to have the tonal integrity or interest of the organs at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford or Bamberg Cathedral. I found it rather bland and oddly, rather less comfortable to play than Oxford, which I find feels very comfortable within a few minutes of renewing my acquaintance with this wonderful instrument.

 

 

I regret that my opinion is the exact reverse of yours, pcnd! I find Christ Church seriously oppressive (once the reeds come on) whereas the Marylebone organ all 'works' for both player and listener, despite being seriously big for the church.

 

Of course, the reason that the old organ went is that various well-placed and influential people saw the (unquestioned) list of faults as an opportunity to go for some thing completely different. The two main movers in this project were Sir David Lumsden and Catherine Ennis. I have to say, IMHO they did all right. Put it this way, few designers and builders did any better at the time. I also imagine that the instrument is not lining itself up for its first rebuild unlike a surprising number of other 70's/80s tracker jobs! [There's a possible new topic right there.]

 

For virtually any repertoire the Marylebone instrument is far more logical and convenient than the quasi-'Cavaille-Coll' essay over the road! This also owed its appearance to Sir D.L. I remember part of the argument for the 'C-C' was exactly that, that the RAM already had good access to a decent multi-purpose instrument already. Once again, this arrangement (Church and Academy joint project) seems to have lasted, unlike RCO at Holborn etc.

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I regret that my opinion is the exact reverse of yours, pcnd!  I find Christ Church seriously oppressive (once the reeds come on) whereas the Marylebone organ all 'works' for both player and listener, despite being seriously big for the church.

 

Have no regrets, Paul! It is the great diversity of opinion amongst those who frequent this board which is stimulating.

 

However, I would not agree that the St. Marylebone instrument is that large for the building.

 

Whilst it is true to say that the Chrust Church organ is loud, it is a thrilling, clear sound - I just find that St. Marylebone is bland and unexciting.

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