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Mander Organs

Diapasons


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"Interesting! I would like to talk to this person and learn more."

(Quote)

 

Nothing is easier: it is Mr Richaud on "Organographia", on which you are

registred. Suffice to go there, fetch a post from "Richaud", click on the name,

and then "message privé".

 

Pierre

 

Thank you, Pierre.

 

Actually, one thing could be easier - can he write in English? My written French is rather less impressive than your written English!

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I have no idea whether this tonal quality is more English than French since there is a dearth of English examples to compare it with (unless someone has made the Stanford-on-Avon pipes speak ...

 

Whilst the pipe-work of my GO Open Diapason II dates from 1664 (and is of ordinary pipe-metal), I do not know to what extent it may have been revoiced at any of the four subsequent rebuilds.

 

One thing I do know is that they speak with a delightful, un-forced sound of which the ear does not quickly tire.

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The Renatus Harris Diapasons that I know (All Hallows' Twickenham and St.John's Wolverhampton) are all very well-finished, very slightly breathy Diapasons with a voice tending slightly towards Open Metal flutes - a tone not so different from 17/18th century French stops that I have met, this is not surprising since Renatus Harris learned his organ-building in France.

 

Have they definitely decided that the Wolverhampton OD I & II are Renatus Harris then? I seem to recall there was a certain amount of doubt. I used to play this organ a fair bit whilst at school up there - carol services and the like, and remember it as the heaviest action I've ever played...

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Have they definitely decided that the Wolverhampton OD I & II are Renatus Harris then? I seem to recall there was a certain amount of doubt. I used to play this organ a fair bit whilst at school up there - carol services and the like, and remember it as the heaviest action I've ever played...

 

Ah just read NPOR - wind pressure dropped, and more of the casework pipes put into use in last rebuild. That might explain why I thought the OD's weren't RH but are now... I'm also assuming that dropping the pressure would help lighten the action a bit?

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Actually, one thing could be easier - can he write in English? My written French is rather less impressive than your written English!

 

Don't be afraid of faults, that's the better way never to learn any language.

(And should anyone count mines on this board......aaaargh!)

 

Pierre

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Ah just read NPOR - wind pressure dropped, and more of the casework pipes put into use in last rebuild. That might explain why I thought the OD's weren't RH but are now... I'm also assuming that dropping the pressure would help lighten the action a bit?

 

I played it before the recent resotration too, and I completely agree with you!

 

It was an early J.W.W. 'back-to-tracker' job, and it featured more metal collars per note than I've ever seen anywhere else. Bear in mind that a metal collar weighs four times as much as a leather button and add the fact that the console was sited a little way out from the case front (with all the extra action that such a move requires) and you'll understand why it was so heavy. The builders (I assume) didn't realise how much extra mass they were adding to the finger workload.

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I played it before the recent resotration too, and I completely agree with you!

 

It was an early J.W.W. 'back-to-tracker' job, and it featured more metal collars per note than I've ever seen anywhere else. Bear in mind that a metal collar weighs four times as much as a leather button and add the fact that the console was sited a little way out from the case front (with all the extra action that such a move requires) and you'll understand why it was so heavy. The builders (I assume) didn't realise how much extra mass they were adding to the finger workload.

 

Blimey. Has it been "improved" since? Last time I was in St. John's, they had a Rodgers instrument down the front too, but that's because the DoM was/is technical director for Rodgers.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Blimey. Has it been "improved" since? Last time I was in St. John's, they had a Rodgers instrument down the front too, but that's because the DoM was/is technical director for Rodgers.

 

 

It has been recently restored by Trevor Tipple of Worcester.

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Guest Roffensis
The Renatus Harris Diapasons that I know (All Hallows' Twickenham and St.John's Wolverhampton) are all very well-finished, very slightly breathy Diapasons with a voice tending slightly towards Open Metal flutes - a tone not so different from 17/18th century French stops that I have met, this is not surprising since Renatus Harris learned his organ-building in France.

 

I like this sort of tone, it's easy on the ear and blends well. Hard Diapason tone can be very wearing... this usually comes IMHO from excessive pressures.

 

Some Snetzler stops, for instance, sound underscaled for the power required of them, but who can say how many times these have been messed with since his time?  I still shudder when I recollect what Denys Thurlow once told me very proudly: viz. that he had revoiced the one-time Snetzler Great chorus at St.Lawrence's Ludlow 'as loud as it would go'. His exact words! Fortunately he did not revoice all the Choir organ ranks in similar fashion.

 

 

Poor Ludlow, how delightful. Such sympathetic treatment. Should have been sued and chucked out of organ building full stop.

R

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Guest Andrew Butler

He did a similar thing at St Laurence, Hawkhurst - admittedly not a particularly distinguished instrument, but the Great OD 1 was cut up drastically and the OD 2 transmogrified into a pedal Choral Bass. The Great OD1 is now almost unusable as it drowns the choir, and the Clarabella doesn't support the 4' Principal. A washout really.

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Guest Roffensis
He did a similar thing at St Laurence, Hawkhurst - admittedly not a particularly distinguished instrument, but the Great OD 1 was cut up drastically and the OD 2 transmogrified into a pedal Choral Bass.  The Great OD1 is now almost unusable as it drowns the choir, and the Clarabella doesn't support the 4' Principal. A washout really.

 

 

I assume, as the cut up was increased, that they raised the wind pressure as well, and of course the Diapason would have taken on a probably quite disgusting more flutey quality. At best this sort of treatment can never be called organ building, more like organ tinkering/hacking/ruining, and a lot of it stems from organists who want more power, and who cannot respect what is there. If any organ was largely as built and intended to be heard then I would never alter it. Even in "restorations" what we see on paper and what is actually done differ, and there are lot of cowboy organ builders around that clearly have no idea of tonal balance.

R

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm interested in where the Swell Diapason relates to the Great chorus. This is done many different ways in the organs in my area, some much smaller (almost Violas), others are much more foundational and "meaty" to compete with the reed stops.

 

Personally, I feel the Swell Diapason is a must-have. Builders in America over the last 50 years have been rather quick to dispense with them in favor of "Flute+String=Diapason".

 

Comments?

 

- Nate

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I still shudder when I recollect what Denys Thurlow once told me very proudly: viz. that he had revoiced the one-time Snetzler Great chorus at St.Lawrence's Ludlow 'as loud as it would go'. His exact words! Fortunately he did not revoice all the Choir organ ranks in similar fashion.

 

In the interests of balance I would like to add my view that Thurlow was one of the better ones of the era and that his instruments seem to have stood the test of time better than most. We regard the butchering of Snetzler pipes as a desecration, on the basis that they're rare - but just why is that, do you think? Because previous generations had got at them, and many of his contemporaries were busy melting them down in favour of squeakboxes. I have always felt that instruments touched by him (particularly where he started from scratch) are not just trying to be trendy but retain their own unique musical integrity. Walker and Nicholson have survived to this day largely because of his tonal guidance at an uncertain time. His work was (and still is) of very great importance in the scheme of things and has helped us get to where we are now.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Greetings,

 

Okay, so I am trying to get my hands on a Diapason rank that is supposed to be by Willis - how on earth can I tell if it is or not? Although I don't have it in my hands at the moment I did go to see it. It's of a healthy scale made of spotted metal without slots, looks to be 1/4 mouth with skived upper lips. The pipes are stamped DIA, although I forgot to check the C's for any additional information.

 

Best,

 

Nathan

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Greetings,

 

      Okay, so I am trying to get my hands on a Diapason rank that is supposed to be by Willis - how on earth can I tell if it is or not?  Although I don't have it in my hands at the moment I did go to see it.  It's of a healthy scale made of spotted metal without slots, looks to be 1/4 mouth with skived upper lips.  The pipes are stamped DIA, although I forgot to check the C's for any additional information.

 

      Best,

 

              Nathan

 

Goodness... now you're asking.

I suggest you stick a few photos up on your web-page (Aquarium or whatever it is) and keep asking - the Orgue-1 forum might be worth a try too. The truth is, there's not a lot of difference between Diapasons 'of a period'. Is your vendor claiming it is by Father Willis? If so, get them to tell you exactly which organ, this would help nail down the likely truth of the claim.

 

If this turns out to be a 'bum-steer'*, I have some nice Hill Diapasons c.1880 in my reserve stock and I can tell you which little job they came from!

 

I also have some very ancient wooden flutes - but I wouldn't claim that they are by Father Smith (our 'top builder' of the 17th century). Over the years, a number of gullible folks (over here) have paid top dollar to have anonymous old organs thoroughly restored when told by opportunist organ-builders that what they have is 'Father Smith'.

 

 

* I love this expression. I hope I'm using it correctly; I assume it's of USA origin. I also thoroughly enjoy the politically correct expression: 'economically inactive' which I heard yesterday on Radio 4 - apparently it means 'unemployed'.

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Greetings,

 

      Okay, so I am trying to get my hands on a Diapason rank that is supposed to be by Willis - how on earth can I tell if it is or not?  Although I don't have it in my hands at the moment I did go to see it.  It's of a healthy scale made of spotted metal without slots, looks to be 1/4 mouth with skived upper lips.  The pipes are stamped DIA, although I forgot to check the C's for any additional information.

 

      Best,

 

              Nathan

 

If it's spotted, it's possibly NOT Willis, unless from a very special job. If it's STAMPED it's possibly NOT Willis unless from a very late job. If it's 1/4 mouth it's unlikely to be Father Willis anyway. If the Bs are stamped 'B' it's definately NOT Willis of that period.

 

Why not ask someone who would actually know what they are looking at?!?!

 

David Wyld

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Greetings,

 

When I extract the rank on Saturday, along with the rest of the organ in which it resides, I will have more information. It is a fine-sounding rank regardless, I merely was curious to know if there were any tell-tale identifiers to indicate whether or not it is a Willis rank. Perhaps it is merely patterned, however loosely, after a Willis style - much as some organs have so-called "Schulze Diapasons". Regardless, it's "Willisness" or lack thereof makes little difference to me other than that of a curiosity.

 

Unfortunately the gentleman who built the instrument has been dead for 15 years.

 

- Nathan

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Greetings,

 

    When I extract the rank on Saturday, along with the rest of the organ in which it resides, I will have more information.  It is a fine-sounding rank regardless, I merely was curious to know if there were any tell-tale identifiers to indicate whether or not it is a Willis rank.  Perhaps it is merely patterned, however loosely, after a Willis style - much as some organs have so-called "Schulze Diapasons".  Regardless, it's "Willisness" or lack thereof makes little difference to me other than that of a curiosity.

 

    Unfortunately the gentleman who built the instrument has been dead for 15 years.

 

      - Nathan

 

 

Since you'll be taking the instrument away, I would have thought that the death of the previous owner makes this less rather than more difficult.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
If it's spotted, it's possibly NOT Willis, unless from  a very special job. If it's STAMPED it's possibly NOT Willis unless from a very late job. If it's 1/4 mouth it's unlikely to be Father Willis anyway. If the Bs are stamped 'B' it's definately NOT Willis of that period.

 

Why not ask someone who would actually know what they are looking at?!?!

 

David Wyld

 

 

Dear Nathan,

to clarify the above: he means himself! David Wyld owns and manages the Willis firm. He seems to have taken offence at you asking the organ-minded fraternity in general. Ah well.......

 

P.

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Dear Nathan,

to clarify the above: he means himself! David Wyld owns and manages the Willis firm. He seems to have taken offence at you asking the organ-minded fraternity in general. Ah well.......

 

P.

 

Actually Paul, he didn't mean that at all!! First of all he doesn't have either the time or the inclination to get involved in stuff like that these days and there was certainly no offence taken!

 

What I actually meant - and having re-read what I actually SAID - was that it would need the careful scrutiny from someone, indeed anyone, who had extensive knowledge of what Willis pipework actually looks like, AND, from the various periods of manufacture.

 

All too often a local 'expert' will make an outrageous claim regarding the provenance of some grotty old pile of stuff, such opinion being totally devoid of factual accuracy but then we musn't fotget that such experts rarely, if ever, let the facts cloud their judgment. This serves neither the person seeking the information nor those left with the stuff, incorrectly labelled and which they then think they have to preserve.

 

I was recently regaled with such an opinion: a not-unpleasant Vox-Humana-type rank was proudly shown to me with the even prouder exhortation of its Cavaille-Coll origin. Indeed it DID have french 'double' or 'nut and ring' blocks, but that was where the similarity ended. It was actually virtually identical to a Wadsworth example which had passed through our works recently, also from another organ in the same area, markings and scale identical.

 

Ian Bell has, only this morning on Orgue-l, commented at his earlier amusement in finding a rank in the old Trin Coll Cantab organ, described as being by (he said Shreider but I think he meant) Schmidt/Smith, which had an enormous cut-up, with leathered upper lips!

 

So when Nathan asks an open forum such as this, whether a stop that the members he's asking haven't seen, I'm sure that I can't really be thought too far off the mark in suggesting that if he wants to have any degree of certainty, it's not the proper means that particualr end.

 

I tried to give some indicators: the mouth width for example and, if its stamped (rather than scratch-marked) the Bs should be marked with the Willis 'B-ought' mark (the musical notation for 'natural').

 

I would like to have responded to Paul's version of my intentions earlier butof the course the list was down and I've only just returned from a trip to Lagos.

 

Nathan, if you want any further information, please feel free to contact me privately either by email or at the works - 0151 298 1845

 

DW

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Met Henry Willis 4 once.

He was a nice bloke.

I'll get my coat.

 

 

Is he the gentleman who appeared on the episode of Howard Goodall's Organ Works which featured Ian Tracey and the organ in St. George's Hall (the one in which Ian Tracey was shown miming to a loud piece, the title of which I cannot now recall)? It was quite obvious that he was not playing live, because the organ was not turned on, as can clearly be seen from the close-up shots of the console.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Is he the gentleman who appeared on the episode of Howard Goodall's Organ Works which featured Ian Tracey and the organ in St. George's Hall (the one in which Ian Tracey was shown miming to a loud piece, the title of which I cannot now recall)? It was quite obvious that he was not playing live, because the organ was not turned on, as can clearly be seen from the close-up shots of the console.

 

 

I loved the HW4 interview back at Petersfield, which if memory serves went something like

 

HG 'How many men work here these days?'

HW4 'Oh, most of them.'

 

Or did I dream that?

 

Tell you what, I bet none of them dare not work nowadays.

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