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pcnd5584

Canterbury Cathedral Organ And 32' Flues

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... Did you find it a comfortable instrument to play, perhaps you've played it before. I've had a few goes now and remain of the opinion that it was far more comfortable, and better suited for choral accompaniment, pre Klais. Having played it a few times now I've sort of got used to the odd positioning of the pedal board, but hadn't quite realised until this last time quite how deeply set the thumb pistons are and how awkward this is. The toe pistons are IMHO for the occasional visitor too strangely positioned to come into consideration. ...

 

No, I found it less comfortable than it was as HN&B left it. I could not see the point of the mechanical action on this instrument - I could play Cochereau-type repeated chords faster than the Solo action could manage, for example. I also preferred the sound (and specification) of its previous incarnation.

 

I do not recall having particular problems with the pistons, but then, the Minster toe pedals are not user-friendly, either.

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No, I found it less comfortable than it was as HN&B left it. I could not see the point of the mechanical action on this instrument - I could play Cochereau-type repeated chords faster than the Solo action could manage, for example. I also preferred the sound (and specification) of its previous incarnation.

 

I do not recall having particular problems with the pistons, but then, the Minster toe pedals are not user-friendly, either.

Interesting.

 

I don't recall there having been a great debate as to why the "old" Bath instrument was not worthy of restoration. Perhaps it predated this discussion board. As is the case with another instrument only some 90 minutes at most away on the motorway network, there's no use crying over spilt milk, and the new instrument has many virtues. As a personal preference I think I preferred the HNB instrument which always seemed to me to be some way beyond "fit for purpose".

 

With respect to the thumb pistons on the new console, I particularly noticed on this last occasion that they are both:-

  • very deeply recessed due to the unusually deep overhang on each manual keyboard
  • very small, of a size that one would associate with the bottom end of the electronic market

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...but then, the Minster toe pedals are not user-friendly, either.[/font]

 

I beg leave to alert all contributors, readers and national publications that the Minster organ is not perfect, and you heard it here first!!

 

I too have ultra fond memories of the HN&B. It was comfortable and a good deal quieter, just a complete mess mechanically and fairly structurally unsound. Sheer volume is of course not the only contributing factor in how much you can use in accompaniment; tone quality has much to do with it. The old thing was so leaky that I don't suppose any of us knew what it was really capable of towards the end.

 

Mr Klais, in discussion with a British organbuilder at the opening of a new organ of his in the London area, was asked if he thought the instrument was, er, a bit loud. "Oh yes, we always voice our instruments as loud as possible so the client thinks they are getting the value for money" is alleged to have been the response, though I cannot vouch for the source.

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I beg leave to alert all contributors, readers and national publications that the Minster organ is not perfect, and you heard it here first!!

 

I too have ultra fond memories of the HN&B. It was comfortable and a good deal quieter, just a complete mess mechanically and fairly structurally unsound. Sheer volume is of course not the only contributing factor in how much you can use in accompaniment; tone quality has much to do with it. The old thing was so leaky that I don't suppose any of us knew what it was really capable of towards the end.

 

Mr Klais, in discussion with a British organbuilder at the opening of a new organ of his in the London area, was asked if he thought the instrument was, er, a bit loud. "Oh yes, we always voice our instruments as loud as possible so the client thinks they are getting the value for money" is alleged to have been the response, though I cannot vouch for the source.

Interesting again, even if we have strayed 150 miles west of the original topic. It must be at least 20 years, probably 25, since I played the "old" Bath instrument and I'm quite willing to admit that memory is subjective and often rosy tinted. You refer to the HN&B as being "a good deal quieter" and yet I remember it as being a very imposing and impressive instrument. Certainly in terms of tonal quality it was less agressive and therefore much easier to use for choral accompaniment. I once played Bairstow "Blessed City" on it, most enjoyable. Whilst one could still let rip in the organ-only passage just before the final quartet on the present instrument the sound would hardly be what Bairstow had in mind.

 

It still seems a shame that a bit of wind leakage should result in an instrument being scrapped rather than restored.

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Guest Echo Gamba
I have managed this at Bath Abbey, with the Minster choir (during parts of Stanford, in A). In fairness, I should also mention that we had both the boys' and the girls' choirs, together with twelve to fourteen gentlemen. In addition to a few loud boys, some of the girls also managed successfully to match the noise I was making upstairs.

 

In defence of any perceived lack of taste or restraint on my part, my boss at the time would have been the first to tell me if the sound was organ-heavy downstairs.

 

And, no, of course I did not use the Tuba....

 

I suppose someone could have stayed "at home" and played the appropriate bit at the right time on the Chamade. 60-ish miles at a guess; balance probably perfect at Bath! :lol:

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I suppose someone could have stayed "at home" and played the appropriate bit at the right time on the Chamade. 60-ish miles at a guess; balance probably perfect at Bath! :lol:

 

The funny thing is that the chamade at the Minster isn't actually awfully loud (unless sitting on the front row on the south side). It's just very piercing. None the worse for that.

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IIt must be at least 20 years, probably 25, since I played the "old" Bath instrument and I'm quite willing to admit that memory is subjective and often rosy tinted. You refer to the HN&B as being "a good deal quieter" and yet I remember it as being a very imposing and impressive instrument.

The old Bath Abbey organ was indeed an impressive instrument, certainly at the console. I seem to recall it being a perfectly big enough sound down in the abbey well too, though I never had much experience of it from the floor and none at all from the far west end. This was all in the earlyish 70s, so my memory may be playing tricks, but I seem to remember it feeling a little spongy to play, owing to different bits of it speaking at slightly different times (or at least one heard different bits at different times at the console). At any rate it certainly wasn't as crisp as what I was used to. I do remember the Positive being good for Handel concertos. Can't speak on what it was like for accompaniment - never did any there. I used to reckon it an exceedingly fine instrument and I was sorry to see it go. Dudley Holroyd loved it.

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Mr Klais, in discussion with a British organbuilder at the opening of a new organ of his in the London area, was asked if he thought the instrument was, er, a bit loud. "Oh yes, we always voice our instruments as loud as possible so the client thinks they are getting the value for money" is alleged to have been the response, though I cannot vouch for the source.

 

Was it the Klais in St Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall which to me always sounds too big for the building?

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Guest Cynic
Was it the Klais in St Lawrence Jewry next Guildhall which to me always sounds too big for the building?

 

 

I totally agree with you - mind you, what would we know?

:lol:

 

P.

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I totally agree with you - mind you, what would we know?

:lol:

 

P.

Well in my case I was an occasional attendee of recitals there but have stopped going. Last time I went I had to move under the gallery on which the organ sits. If I remember correctly there are some nice individual registers but it is all too loud. Sorry, nothing to do with Canterbury.

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I beg leave to alert all contributors, readers and national publications that the Minster organ is not perfect, and you heard it here first!!

 

But of course this is not the case - it is, naturally, a deliberate ploy on our part, in order to keep visiting orgaists in a state of discomfort.... :lol:

 

I too have ultra fond memories of the HN&B. It was comfortable and a good deal quieter, just a complete mess mechanically and fairly structurally unsound. Sheer volume is of course not the only contributing factor in how much you can use in accompaniment; tone quality has much to do with it. The old thing was so leaky that I don't suppose any of us knew what it was really capable of towards the end. ...

I am not sure about this. I recall the old organ being just as loud - the G.O. chorus in particular was immense, and on one Open Diapason, too. In addition, there was rather more variety in the timbre of the chorus reeds. Now they all sound rather similar, notably the G.O. and Pedal ranks.

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Guest Roffensis

It never fails to amaze me how we all get off the subject track on here!!!

 

I personally love Bath, a vast improvement on the old, which IMHO was not an improvement on the older still! I think in the right hands it is an incredibly musical and balanced job.

 

And although Bath Abbey isn't in Canterbury Cathedral, it may well fit, organ as well!! :lol:

 

R

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It never fails to amaze me how we all get off the subject track on here!!!

 

Staying well off topic (!), I visited All Saints Northampton shortly after the two 1980s Walker trackers had been installed but hadn't followed the church's history since then. So when on a recent organ crawl I discovered that the smaller of the Walkers had been removed and replaced with a 1939 HNB I was a bit surprised, maybe even disappointed, thinking that a 1930s HNB wouldn't exactly be my first choice if offered a redundant organ. But I was actually really surprised and impressed at how lovely the sound was (admittedly skillfully repositioned by Kenneth Tickell). Reading about the forlorn memories of the old HNB at Bath makes me smile - how tastes change!

 

Contrabombarde

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I used to reckon it an exceedingly fine instrument and I was sorry to see it go. Dudley Holroyd loved it.

Here's the shame of the thing. (This is in no way a comment on the qualities of the new instrument.) That a very fine and effective organ can be, too all intents and purposes, scrapped on the whim of some new DOM who just doesn't like it, despite the fact that many more people, including a long serving and destinguished predecessor in the post, have found it to be superbly equipped for the job in hand.

 

I've been encouraged by the responses on this thread. albeit off the original subject, in support of the old Bath organ. However fine a new organ may be (or however limited!) this doesn't in itself justify scrapping its predecessor. See you on Saturday!

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Guest Cynic
Here's the shame of the thing. (This is in no way a comment on the qualities of the new instrument.) That a very fine and effective organ can be, too all intents and purposes, scrapped on the whim of some new DOM who just doesn't like it, despite the fact that many more people, including a long serving and destinguished predecessor in the post, have found it to be superbly equipped for the job in hand.

 

I've been encouraged by the responses on this thread. albeit off the original subject, in support of the old Bath organ. However fine a new organ may be (or however limited!) this doesn't in itself justify scrapping its predecessor. See you on Saturday!

 

 

No doubt you know this, but I believe that quite a substantial amount of the original pipework was kept when Klais reworked the Bath instrument. Compared to other radical rebuilds, more was kept here than usual. Typical keepings in similar situations would be one stop (a Viole) at Worcester, two stops (32's) at Edinburgh and a pair of strings (New College, Oxford). Others where several ranks of pipes were kept, these were reworked so far as to be totally unrecognizeable - e.g. Father Willis reeds at Gloucester.

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Guest Echo Gamba

I think we are nearly back on topic, in discussing re-use of ranks! Are there not still some Greene pipes at Canterbury?

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Guest Roffensis
I think we are nearly back on topic, in discussing re-use of ranks! Are there not still some Greene pipes at Canterbury?

 

 

The Green pipes at Canterbury ate the Choir Dulciana, and very fine it is too.

 

To reply to Cynic however, I fully endorse his view. The Bath rebuild certainly did keep a very great deal of the old organ, and it is surpriing how much of the old sound can be recreated, as there is still so much of it. The organ is still instantly recognisable as Bath, and the the new work does blend very well with it. Above all it is a very fine musical instrument in its own right. A lot of other organs have fared far worse than this one, and I mention no names! :P

 

Dudley Holroyd may well have loved the old organ, but that actually was a 1972 rebuild of the old Hill organ, and that organ no one should have altered, and indeed I wonder today if anyone would. :P 1972 was the start of decades of spiking up, over mixturing, revoicing, chopping choir organs up, sawing pipes in half, throwing out Large Open Diapasons, putting 32 foot reeds on 2 inches wind, finding organs unfit for the liturgy all of a sudden, lamenting the abscence of a 2 foot flute and chucking out a Vox Humana for one, saying an organ was past it, soundboards shot, and so on, and on, and on. :lol: I do not point any of this at Bath in 1972, but the rebuild of that year saw a lot of work done, that one hopes would be questioned and refused today. :lol:

 

So often a organist does not like his organ, and sees to a radical rebuild, only to move on himself. I have seen many organs wantonly destroyed in just this way, when it would be far easier for such a person to simply move on himself and leave the organ alone.

 

I well recall students at Oxford, and I quote "If only we had the old Willis back". :(

 

I still believe as I have said numerous times before, there will come a time when even those instruments we hold in high esteem, such as Salisbury, Durham, Hereford, Canterbury, you name it, will be suddenly seen as out of date, not fit for their purpose, too loud, too quiet, too bright, too thin, too fat, etc etc, and out they will go. It has happened before, and will continue to, even if more slowly, unless some law is put in place to stop it. This is why I say this. I have seen it happen, I have heard the negative remarks about perfectly good organs, and there is nothing whatever in place to stop any of it.

 

"Those who have ears to hear, listen".

 

And think. It's our heritage.

 

R

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Guest Echo Gamba
really???

 

P

 

Must have been recently - the Dulciana was still there last time I played it. :lol:

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Here's the shame of the thing. (This is in no way a comment on the qualities of the new instrument.) That a very fine and effective organ can be, too all intents and purposes, scrapped on the whim of some new DOM who just doesn't like it, despite the fact that many more people, including a long serving and destinguished predecessor in the post, have found it to be superbly equipped for the job in hand.

 

This isn't entirely accurate for the reasons Cynic has already mentioned - a huuuge amount of the old pipework was kept. Also, it wasn't exactly a whim of a new DOM - PK has been there since 1986.

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Guest Roffensis
This isn't entirely accurate for the reasons Cynic has already mentioned - a huuuge amount of the old pipework was kept. Also, it wasn't exactly a whim of a new DOM - PK has been there since 1986.

 

 

Quite, and the whole thing was obviously incredibly well thought out, so hardly a whim. The quality of the resulting instrument speaks for itself. Both the old and the new pipework.

 

IMHO it's a gem.

 

I love Gloucester as well :lol:

 

R

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This isn't entirely accurate for the reasons Cynic has already mentioned - a huuuge amount of the old pipework was kept. Also, it wasn't exactly a whim of a new DOM - PK has been there since 1986.

OK, I stand corrected. I wasn't aware how much pipework had been reused, I'll have to buy a book on the history of the instrument next time I'm there.

 

Also agree that the new instrument is of great quality and integrity. Its a bit agressive for my personal taste but that's subjective of course.

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Also agree that the new instrument is of great quality and integrity. Its a bit agressive for my personal taste but that's subjective of course.

 

And mine, as it happens. Of course there is sometimes a difference between what an organbuilder says is all their own work because they happen to like it (and prefer to think of themselves as a builder of new organs rather than an overhauler of old ones) - and what they have actually changed in any meaningful way. To my ears the Positive and quite a lot of the rest of it (especially soft stuff) has had no more than a good cleaning.

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OK, I stand corrected. I wasn't aware how much pipework had been reused, I'll have to buy a book on the history of the instrument next time I'm there.

 

Also agree that the new instrument is of great quality and integrity. Its a bit agressive for my personal taste but that's subjective of course.

Having myself given recitals and accompanied services both before and after the Bath rebuild, all that needs to be said is that the organ sounded - and still sounds exciting. But why is the 1997 work being questioned after so many years: the reasons were well-documented at the time. Mechanically, it was in such a dire state that remedial work was essential. There were also structural changes and repositioning of many departments - all for the better, I might add. It requires more care though to accompany a choir on the rebuilt organ, as the balance between the manual departments can be disconcerting. The sound can seem 'aggressive' at the console, but from the choirstalls - and also from the nave, the ensemble blends extremely well.

 

I attended the day of events and services which marked its inauguration one Saturday in 1997, and the consensus was (and is) that the rebuild is a resounding success.

 

To get back on topic, does anyone know if there are plans to bring back a 32' flue in any projected work at Canterbury?

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Guest Echo Gamba
OK, I stand corrected. I wasn't aware how much pipework had been reused, I'll have to buy a book on the history of the instrument next time I'm there.

 

Also agree that the new instrument is of great quality and integrity. Its a bit agressive for my personal taste but that's subjective of course.

 

I am assuming the latest NPOR survey is accurate? That gives a stop-by-stop "history" of the origin of the pipework. Why did I think the Tuba was new Klais? Or am I thinking of somewhere else?

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