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Pierre Lauwers

The 1908 Organ Of Ely Cathedral

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Regarding open pedal stops, bourdons only became popular after the Great Exhibition and open "Pedal Pipes" were the norm before that. As Sam Clutton pointed out, they were typically quite soft in tone but seemed to grow, depending on what was coupled to them. Around the turn of the century, Walkers' often provided a wood "diapason" and a bourdon, rather than the more typical bourdon and 16 and 8, examples being the triumvirate in Colchester: St. Botolph's, All Saints and St. Leonard-at-the-Hythe (of these three, St. Botolph's was rebuilt rather remarkably in 1966, All Saints moved across the town to St. Andrew's, Greenstead, where it lost the Pedal open due to lack of space - the pipes finally ended up at Bethesda Baptist Church, Ipswich, but St. Leonard's retains the "large boom" and "small boom"). All three also had stopped manual doubles - a divided one on the Great at St. Botolph's and one in the Swell at the other two. At St. Botolph's, in a scheme which was otherwise tracker on the manuals, the Great 8' flute and Trumpet were taken from the Pedal ranks and in 2008 the 16' "Double Diapason" has been reinstated (also from the Pedal Sub Bass). It is very effective - Colin Nicholson, the organist for over fifty years, says he wishes he had had it done years ago.

 

Interesting remarks about St. Andrew, Halstead. I haven't played there since I was a teenager, i.e. before the last rebuild, when it acquired upperwork and a Pedal Trombone (previously the Great fifteenth was the only stop above 4' pitch and it had a 16' Quintaton in the Swell, added by Willis III in 1919). I remember it as a classy old job, despite the apparent lack of top, and an interesting contrast to the rather similarly stop-listed Binns at Holy Trinity at the other end of the town. I didn't know George Oldroyd had been organist there. Colin Nicholson, who taught me, was a pupil of his (and of Harold Darke and Herbert Howells). I must remember that next time we do the Mass of the Cocktail Hour....

 

I don't think Ely has lost the ability to keep a full cathedral going, but it has become a good deal more versatile and better-balanced.

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With regard to Arthur Wills, I doubt that he had a moment's thought in the matter of restoring the 'Hill' sound at Ely Cathedral. As you observe, both he and Cecil Clutton were extremely fond of French music and wished to have an organ which could fulfill Wills' desire to play much of this repertoire.

 

Is it the case that, once again, this instrument is not quite able to cope with a full building on great occasions?

 

in the matter of 16ft. flues on the claviers, I find that a well-voiced Quintatön is often preferable to a Bourdon - although if it is a choice between having or not having any kind of 16. clavier tone, I should still prefer to have a Bourdon; at least there is then some kind of sub-unison tone.

I used to have an LP of the "old" incarnation of Ely, played by Arthur Wills. I can'[t remember what was on the disc, but I'm sure he found some "French" sounds - may have been for a Daquin Noel.....? I have never fully understood the intended use or been aware of the actual effect of the Horn Quint.....?

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I used to have an LP of the "old" incarnation of Ely, played by Arthur Wills. I can'[t remember what was on the disc, but I'm sure he found some "French" sounds - may have been for a Daquin Noel.....? I have never fully understood the intended use or been aware of the actual effect of the Horn Quint.....?

 

Neither have I, Andrew. As far as I know, the H&H/Mander at the RAH still has the Quint Trombone (10 2/3) on the Pedal Organ and the large instrument in Johannesburg Town Hall still possesses the Horn Quint on the Bombarde section of the Solo Organ (or whatever it is called). However, it is interesting to note that the Horn Quint is one stop which was not re-instated at Ely Cathedral.

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There is a pedal 32' reed on possibly the C-C at Orleans which is actually 10-2/3 but functions similarly to a flue acoustic 32'. It figures on the C-C DVD set I seem to recall. Possibly H&H were trying for a similar effect at the RAH and a fiiling out of the Swell reeds at Ely.

 

A

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"Mass of the Cocktail Hour" David...................We have it in repertoire, but never thought of calling it that!

Thanks!

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There is a pedal 32' reed on possibly the C-C at Orleans which is actually 10-2/3 but functions similarly to a flue acoustic 32'. It figures on the C-C DVD set I seem to recall. Possibly H&H were trying for a similar effect at the RAH and a fiiling out of the Swell reeds at Ely.

 

A

 

Indeed - although I was not convinced by this when Gerard Brooks demonstrated it. Fortunately, as far as I can recall, it is only acoustic below G in the 32ft. octave. I am not sure about the RAH; this instrument already has two 32ft. reeds (one of which is enclosed in the Swell expression box). At Orléans, it was more likely to be either a space-saving device - or to have been financially expedient. I do not think that Cavaillé-Coll did this anywhere else. True, the Pédale Orgue at S. Sernin, Toulouse has a quinted bass on the 32ft. flue. However, He did occasionally use a 'basse acoustique'* for a 16ft. reed on some quite large Récit divisions - Nôtre-Dame de Paris was an example; however, this was replaced with full-length resonators at the time of the 1990-92 rebuild and restoration.

 

 

 

* Although in this case, Cavaillé-Coll used the term to denote simply a half-length bass, not a quint and unison.

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Speaking from experience, you can fake a very good C-C on an Arthur Harrison organ if you have Vox and Violes!

 

As always, I claim no originality for "Mass of the Cocktail Hour" (I'm generally better at remembering silly things than originating them). I think I first saw it on here a while ago.

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... I don't think Ely has lost the ability to keep a full cathedral going, but it has become a good deal more versatile and better-balanced.

 

Oh good. Thank you, David.

 

I must admit that, on the strength of one of the Regent CDs (I realise that this can be quite unlike the actual sound and effect of an instrument in a particular building), I actually quite liked the 'restored' sound of the Ely organ. I thought that I would hate it, but the revoiced reeds do integrate better with the flue-work. (This was one of the concerns which I always had with larger schemes by Ralph Downes - I was never convinced by the superimposition of quasi-French style chorus reeds on to what was a basically Anglo-Dutch (not German) chorus. They always sounded gritty and rather stood apart. Neither could I fathom why Downes failed to observe that all the French reeds which he liked so much were speaking into vast, resonant stone buildings and that in the arid acoustic ambiance of the RFH they were likely to sound rather different. Given that, right from the earliest planning stages of the hall, the acoustics were intended to be dry, surely it was not beyond the wit of someone to conclude that a different style of chorus reed might be required, in order to counteract the deadening - and thinning- properties of the hall's acoustic.)

 

Anyway, to return to Ely Cathedral: The 2001 scheme seems to have made sensible changes - although I should have preferred a quiet 16ft. Bassoon on the Swell, instead of the Echo Cornet; this [bassoon] I would find of great use in choral accompaniment. Perhaps the only other thing which I would change would be the G.O. Quint (5 1/3). There are already two contrasting sub-unison ranks (and a 32ft. Sub Bourdon), to say nothing of two Open Diapason stops, a Hohl Flute and a Salicional. Here, I should prefer a Rohr Flute 8ft., since the Hohl Flute is likely to be rather large - although I note that it was revoiced in 1962, at the instigation of Dr. Arthur Wills.

 

One thing which I had not realised before, was that the G.O. reeds were entirely new in 2001 (a new soundboard was also constructed, since the old one was too small to accommodate the new pipe-work). I had previously thought that only the tongues, shallots and perhaps the blocks had been either replaced or modified.

 

I hope that the mixtures have not been altered too much; I think that there has been an unfortunate tendency to remove too much upper-work over the last twenty years or so. A building the size of Ely Cathedral needs one or two really bright mixtures - including in the treble regions, in order to make some impact. If all that is left above C37 is simply a smaller-scaled version of G.O. to fifteenth, then the choruses are likely to be rather lacking in excitement. A case in point is Exeter Cathedral. Prior to its latest rebuild, it had already been shorn of some of its upper-work; now, once again, apparently this has been altered - to its detriment. The G.O. Mixture (19-22-26-29) was, in any case, never very successful; it did not really supply either brilliance or clarity - it just sounded 'quinty'.

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Just a reminder, if one is needed, that Arthur Wills can be heard playing his own and French music at Ely on one of the Great Cathedral Organ series, now happily available on CD.

 

Ian

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Just a reminder, if one is needed, that Arthur Wills can be heard playing his own and French music at Ely on one of the Great Cathedral Organ series, now happily available on CD.

 

Ian

 

Indeed.

 

This is an interesting sound document, since it is a record of the instrument as it sounded between 1958 and 1975.

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Just a reminder, if one is needed, that Arthur Wills can be heard playing his own and French music at Ely on one of the Great Cathedral Organ series, now happily available on CD.

And there’s more. Vol. 9 of the Priory GEO series has Widor’s “Romane” as well as some Parry and Wills’s own “Symphonia Eliensis” which starts most impressively with the 32’ Open alone. It also does not display those very odd interplay effects of couplers and reeds that can be heard on the GCO recordings.

 

Best

Friedrich

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Someone asked about quint reeds earlier.... Here in Toronto we have two organs with a manual 'Quint Horn 5 1/3'. One is at St Paul's Bloor Street, a 1913 Casavant, with reeds voiced by Harrison and Harrison, and the other is entirely Casavant, 1930, at Metropolitan United Church (largest organ in Canada). At St Pauls it is placed with the 16,8 and 4 enclosed Tubas, there is also a much louder 8 ' Tuba Mirabilis' in addition to the enclosed chorus. At Metropolitan the quint horn 5 1/3 is alongside the 16,8 and 4 unenclosed Tubas on the Bombarde division, which are in addition to the enclosed 'orchestral' tubas which don't have a quint horn. In both cases I would say that when the 16, 8 and 4 Tuba choruses are played the addition or subtraction of the 5 1/3 quint is a little hard to detect. It adds a bit of pleasant colour to the ensemble - and particularly at St Pauls it seems to me to be effective to add it to the very usable enclosed chorus - for example in the famous 'March Funebre' section of the Willan Introduction Passacaglia and fugue - the instrument for which it was written. One would definitely not want to use the stop without the complete tuba chorus drawn - it would sound odd with just the 8 foot. Admittedly the quint horn is voiced a bit less loudly than the others, but the intention is presumably to reinforce the harmonic series. Both of these organs were built with more or less limitless budgets, and admittedly these 5 1/3 stops really are almost superfluous - I couldn't see any builder including such a stop in a scheme today.

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Post #62 was very interesting, but mysterious in that I can't see a compelling rationale for including the quint 5 1/3. It's not part of the 8 foot harmonic series, only the 16 foot one, in which it is the twelfth - the third harmonic. Therefore, in a hypothetical situation in which were no 16 foot stop (which both the St Paul's and Metropolitan organs apparently do have), then there would have been some sort of logic in that the 8 and 5 1/3 stops would produce resultant beats at 16 foot pitch. (But even so, not actual acoustic energy at 16 foot. There is no energy in a beat).

 

However, as there are real 16 foot stops available, providing an acoustic makeshift in addition as per the above seems the organ building equivalent of tautology.

 

Nevertheless, if it sounds attractive, and Clarion Doublette says it does, then that's really all that matters.

 

CEP

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I can second Clarion Doublette's remarks about the quint reed at Metropolitan UC, Toronto. It adds a certain colour to the tuba chorus, especially, indeed, in the Willan Passacaglia. I don't know the Bloor Street organ but I guess the effect would be much the same.

 

Manual quints can be puzzling anyway, because there aren't many of them around. Canterbury lost theirs fairly early on when N&B replaced it with a Salicional and the one at Tenbury was, I think discarded as late as 1975. The extant example that comes to mind is St. Fin Barre's Cathedral, Cork, where it adds a rather effective and interesting gravitas to the chorus. I am not, as forumites will perhaps know, a great Hill fan in a general way, but there are some very notable exceptions and Cork is one of them.

 

Quintatons, speaking that harmonic prominently, were a popular double in the sixties and seventies, but as Colin remarks, the effect of a 'true' quint (inherent in the voicing) would be different from that of a tempered quint provided separately.

 

Horns - proper imitative ones, not Cornopeans under an alias - are similarly rare, but genuine examples (smooth to an almost flute-like degree and fairly quiet) offer a lot of interesting possibilities in combination. The Cathedral of St. John-the-Unfinished, New York City (one of my all-time favourite organs) has such an example and the late-lamented Willis III at St. Jude's, Thornton Heath had another (I hope the Japanese appreciate it). It's possible that a Quint of this tone could be an unusual and useful member of a large instrument, although I doubt whether the 1908 Harrison example sounded like that. Johannesburg Town Hall, designed by Hollins and built by Rushworth had one, too. Hollins was no fool when it came to organ tone, so presumably he thought it would be useful.

 

In the end, however, maybe they just had the money left over for something extra - like the Burmese Gong at Holy Rude, Stirling (sounds like a saucepan-lid - I used it once in Scheidt's variations on "Ei, du feiner Reiter").

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J F Wender provided a 5 1/3 manual quint on the Oberwerk of the small 'Bach' organ at Arnstadt c. 1700. There is no 16 foot manual stop so all it does is produce a sort of '16 foot beaty growl' when used low in the keyboard with one or more of the 8 foots. The effect is not unpleasant and quite distinctive, and it can be heard in some of the pieces (notably some of the Schubler CPs) recorded by Gottfried Preller on the instrument shortly after it was meticulously rebuilt by Hoffmann c. 2000.

 

This begs some interesting questions. Since JSB himself tested and approved this organ while still just a teenager, before being appointed to the post, does this mean:

 

a. He might have had a hand in drawing up the stop list with Wender?

 

b. If so, did he make use of such effects when registering? (The stop list of the organ is also peculiar in other ways, having curiously incomplete choruses compared to some of the same period, together with a preponderance of unison colours).

 

Such questions about the Arnstadt organ have long fascinated me. What are we to make of it? Could Friedrich Sprondel throw light on it perhaps?

 

(Sorry, I know this thread is supposed to be about Ely ... )

 

CEP

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Horns - proper imitative ones, not Cornopeans under an alias - are similarly rare, but genuine examples (smooth to an almost flute-like degree and fairly quiet) offer a lot of interesting possibilities in combination. The Cathedral of St. John-the-Unfinished, New York City (one of my all-time favourite organs) has such an example and the late-lamented Willis III at St. Jude's, Thornton Heath had another (I hope the Japanese appreciate it). It's possible that a Quint of this tone could be an unusual and useful member of a large instrument, although I doubt whether the 1908 Harrison example sounded like that. Johannesburg Town Hall, designed by Hollins and built by Rushworth had one, too. Hollins was no fool when it came to organ tone, so presumably he thought it would be useful.

 

There's a gorgeous 16 foot French Horn on the Solo at Malvern Priory. One can even play chords low-ish in the compass. Rushworth's again.

 

CEP

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J F Wender provided a 5 1/3 manual quint on the Oberwerk of the small 'Bach' organ at Arnstadt c. 1700. There is no 16 foot manual stop so all it does is produce a sort of '16 foot beaty growl' when used low in the keyboard with one or more of the 8 foots. The effect is not unpleasant and quite distinctive, and it can be heard in some of the pieces (notably some of the Schubler CPs) recorded by Gottfried Preller on the instrument shortly after it was meticulously rebuilt by Hoffmann c. 2000.

 

This begs some interesting questions. Since JSB himself tested and approved this organ while still just a teenager, before being appointed to the post, does this mean:

 

a. He might have had a hand in drawing up the stop list with Wender?

 

b. If so, did he make use of such effects when registering? (The stop list of the organ is also peculiar in other ways, having curiously incomplete choruses compared to some of the same period, together with a preponderance of unison colours).

 

Such questions about the Arnstadt organ have long fascinated me. What are we to make of it? Could Friedrich Sprondel throw light on it perhaps?

If you look at the Arnstadt situation, you see a high and narrow building that was built to accommodate as large a congregation as possible, with two galleries all round the walls. You barely see any masonry, but wooden structures all over the place, including the vaulted ceiling. The organ sits very high up above the second gallery, and there is barely space enough for the open 8’. Depth space is quite restricted as well.

 

If you ask me, this organ is a power machine, planned and built to flood the building with as much and as spectacular a sound as possible under these less-than-ideal conditions. There is a long-standing Thuringian tradition of providing 12' (= 10 2/3') pedal quints; the one at Lahm is particularly famous for its grand effect. Most probably, Wender did not plan to pre-Vogler anything here and have the quint with the unisons. My guess is that he included that manual quint to go with the chorus, which is very intense and complex. Any 16-foot growl must have been welcome with a congregation of several hundred, including all those pious and musical Thuringian men, singing at the top of their voices.

 

Best wishes

Friedrich

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The large Goll organ at Engelberg Abbey, Switzerland, has two soft reed harmonics on the Swell: Dulcianquint 5 1/3’ and Euphonterz 3 1/5’. They are made to not stand out in any way, but gently colour the reed ensemble. When the organ was enlarged in 1923/24, it was voiced by former Schulze-apprentice Walter Drechsler, a legendary voicer in his day. The Swell, high up under the vaults, apparently aimed at imitating the effect of Cavaillé-Coll’s at Saint-Sulpice. The Engelberg organ, however, sounds much smoother and louder.

 

Best wishes

Friedrich

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We tend to forget that Thuringia is quite far south compared with Schnitger country and that Thuringian organs tended to have a good spread of 8' stops on the manuals.

 

I know the 16' Horn at Malvern - a lovely stop and one which can be mixed into a lot of different registrations.

 

"Rushworth's could really do it when they wanted to".

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