Jump to content
Mander Organs
Guest Roffensis

Worcester Cathedral

Recommended Posts

Well there weren't any shortcomings according to at least one informed Organist on here who played it relatively recently as he told me, stating that it did everything he wanted it to, and was excellent with the choir

Richard,

 

I think you do a grave dis-service to those of us organists who do our very best to cover the short-comings of faulty instruments.

 

Are you seriously suggesting that we are lying about the faults on the organ?

 

A

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Andrew Butler
Richard,

 

I think you do a grave dis-service to those of us organists who do our very best to cover the short-comings of faulty instruments.

A

 

Indeed. I for one value greatly Adrian's contributions to this debate, and admire his finding time so to do. Please don't drive him the way of Stephen Farr.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Roffensis
Richard,

 

I think you do a grave dis-service to those of us organists who do our very best to cover the short-comings of faulty instruments.

 

Are you seriously suggesting that we are lying about the faults on the organ?

 

A

No, of course not. My comments are general ones concerning recordings. Of course It is also easy to make a organ sound good for a recording. I accept you will have done your best on that recording to make the job sound well also. It is not my fault when someone tells me that he played the organ not so very long ago and it was ok! If I gave any bad impression, I apologise.

 

I honestly do wish every success with the choir organ.

 

Richard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Roffensis
Please don't drive him the way of Stephen Farr.

 

 

? :( ?

 

Explain please?

 

R

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
organ builders reached a point at which for every note whose leather motor was repaired, another two or three needed further work afterwards, such was the fragility of the 80 year old leather.

 

Adrian Lucas

 

However, this is not exactly unique to Worcester. My own church instrument (yes, it is smaller and more easily accessible than the old Worcester organ) will, in the next few years, need all the motors of each department re-leathered - after forty-five years. Three or four firms have been invited to tender for this work, together with some tonal additions and a complete restoration. Nicholsons and Tickell were amongst those firms who submitted a quote. To renew the leatherwork and substantial remedial work on concussion units and for installing one or two new resrevoirs, the cost was a few thousands - not a substantial amount these days.

 

Of course I realise that to carry-out this type of work on the Worcester instrument would have been more expensive and I accept that the wind system needed major restoration; notwithstanding, this would not have been impossible to carry out and I doubt that this aspect of a full restoration would have cost more than £20,000 - £25,000 - even if H&H were commissioned to undertake the work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Richard,

 

I think you do a grave dis-service to those of us organists who do our very best to cover the short-comings of faulty instruments.

 

Are you seriously suggesting that we are lying about the faults on the organ?

 

A

 

Adrian - it is possibly me to whom Richard was referring.

 

For the record, I value your contributions to this board and, whilst I would not wish to question the veracity of your statements, I did have the great pleasure of playing the old organ for a number of services in the middle of, I believe, its last summer before it was de-commissioned.

 

I can only state that I found the instrument to be in extremely good working order. I was not troubled by wind leaks, every stop (except the Swell Gedeckt, which had been disconnected) worked perfectly well, the instrument was in good tune. The action I found to be quite responsive and with no appreciable delay. The console was as comfortable as those of Exeter and Coventry cathedrals.

 

I had to play several accompaniments (for example, RVW's Let all the world) which required, at various points, substantial volume and a quick response from the organ - it acquitted itself with honours. I played several voluntaries - mostly French symphonic music. All the combinations and timbres which I desired were there, the organ filled the building with a most glorious sound and I found it both exciting and comparatively easy to play.

 

I also found that there was a wealth of colour available, particularly for accompanying psalms and for pre- (and post-) service improvisations.

 

Adrian, I am not seeking to contradict your posts - but I can only speak truthfully as I found the instrument.

 

I, for one, would have considered it a privilege to have daily contact with this instrument - albeit after a thorough restoration of the action and wind systems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
However, this is not exactly unique to Worcester. My own church instrument (yes, it is smaller and more easily accessible than the old Worcester organ) will, in the next few years, need all the motors of each department re-leathered. Three or four firms have been invited to tender for this work, together with some tonal additions and a complete restoration. Nicholsons and Tickell were amongst those firms who submitted a quote. To renew the leatherwork and substantial remedial work on concussion units and for installing one or two new resrevoirs, the cost was a few thousands - not a substantial amount these days.

 

Of course I realise that to carry-out this type of work on the Worcester instrument would have been more expensive and I accept that the wind system needed major restoration; notwithstanding, this would not have been impossible to carry out and I doubt that this aspect of a full restoration would have cost more than £20,000 - £25,000 - even if H&H were commissioned to undertake the work.

We had a quote for releathering the Swell underaction which, because of the layout of the instrument, required dismantling of most of the entire North case. A snip under £200k if I recall... Can you now see why our course of action became an attractive alternative?

 

A

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We had a quote for releathering the Swell underaction which, because of the layout of the instrument, required dismantling of most of the entire North case. A snip under £200k if I recall... Can you now see why our course of action became an attractive alternative?

 

A

 

This is certainly a surprise. Was there no other means of access? I do appreciate that this is a vast sum, but surely, if it were to be undertaken as part of a full restoration (during which the instrument would be substantially dismantled in any case) then could it not have been worth the cost?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can only state that I found the instrument to be in extremely good working order. I was not troubled by wind leaks, every stop (except the Swell Gedeckt, which had been disconnected) worked perfectly well, the instrument was in good tune. The action I found to be quite responsive and with no appreciable delay. The console was as comfortable as those of Exeter and Coventry cathedrals.

 

I had to play several accompaniments (for example, RVW's Let all the world) which required, at various points, substantial volume and a quick response from the organ - it acquitted itself with honours. I played several voluntaries - mostly French symphonic music. All the combinations and timbres which I desired were there, the organ filled the building with a most glorious sound and I found it both exciting and comparatively easy to play.

 

I also found that there was a wealth of colour available, particularly for accompanying psalms and for pre- (and post-) service improvisations.

 

Sean,

 

The organ was certainly at its best when playing loudly on a Summer's day. On a winter's day when the humidity is at its lowest, you might have witnessed a very different experience. It was on one of these occasions that the organ let us down in a spectacularly impressive display of bad behaviour.

 

In fairness to your stated experience, I would imagine that our team of staff who play the organ for around 40 weeks of the year would be more likely to notice the missing notes in various parts of the organ, especially as we tend to stretch the instruments capabilities, using separate multi-manual configurations, often using single stops where such faults become very obvious. Add to this the whole plethora of intermittent faults from swell machines, stop motors, piston memory losses, quite apart from the winding issue (particularly on the Great and Solo) when playing loud voluntaries. There were also the electrical faults latterly whereby drawing one stop on Great or Choir would bring on 2 or 3 other stops which would not work on their own. Then there were the leaking trunks under the Swell which would sing on cold days on any note which would clash with the responses...

 

Then we move on to the experience of listening to the organ from the choir and conductor's point of view. Those Swell sounds which were so delicate to the ear of the player become harsh and, potentially, extremely loud out at the front, thereby limiting their use, particularly when you are playing for a weekday Cathedral Choir of 3 men and a maximum of 9 boys on each side.

 

I could go on... but I would much rather look forward.

 

A

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I could go on... but I would much rather look forward.

 

A

 

 

=========================

 

In some ways, this is another perpetual thorn in our collective side: the debate having gone on for years.

 

A decision has been reached and there is to be a new organ, which is really all that should concern us. Yes, the instrument had some merit, and yes, it had a unique pedigree, but without wanting to do anyone down, this was hardly a "great instrument" in absolute terms. Unfortunately, it is about 30 years since I was inside Worcester Cathedral, in the days of Harry Bramma, so I can only vaguely remember it, and being 140 miles away, it isn't exactly the nearest of places.

 

As Adrian suggests, it is far better to look to the future, and I for one would be very interested to know how the philosophy of the proposed new instrument evolved.

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I could go on... but I would much rather look forward.

 

A"

 

Yes please............let's.........

 

It is gone - there are three empty spaces...I wonder what can be achieved by turning over the soil again? I say this with humbleness as I am not the most regular of "post-ers" (ugh sorry) on the board.

Best wishes

Richard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sean,

 

The organ was certainly at its best when playing loudly on a Summer's day. On a winter's day when the humidity is at its lowest, you might have witnessed a very different experience. It was on one of these occasions that the organ let us down in a spectacularly impressive display of bad behaviour.

 

In fairness to your stated experience, I would imagine that our team of staff who play the organ for around 40 weeks of the year would be more likely to notice the missing notes in various parts of the organ, especially as we tend to stretch the instruments capabilities, using separate multi-manual configurations, often using single stops where such faults become very obvious. Add to this the whole plethora of intermittent faults from swell machines, stop motors, piston memory losses, quite apart from the winding issue (particularly on the Great and Solo) when playing loud voluntaries. There were also the electrical faults latterly whereby drawing one stop on Great or Choir would bring on 2 or 3 other stops which would not work on their own. Then there were the leaking trunks under the Swell which would sing on cold days on any note which would clash with the responses...

 

Then we move on to the experience of listening to the organ from the choir and conductor's point of view. Those Swell sounds which were so delicate to the ear of the player become harsh and, potentially, extremely loud out at the front, thereby limiting their use, particularly when you are playing for a weekday Cathedral Choir of 3 men and a maximum of 9 boys on each side.

 

I could go on... but I would much rather look forward.

 

A

 

Adrian,

 

I take your point that, under certain weather conditions the organ was likely to behave in different ways; (ironically, ours is worse in the summer).

 

I further take your point about balance and volume. However, there are many cathedral organs about which the same point could be said to apply. Ripon, for example; little of the GO can be used in accompaniment; the Choir Organ is now a little too loud - and the 32p Bombardon is deeply offensive from the decani stalls.

Coventry - the GO can be used only as a coupling clavier, for convenience. The full Swell is simply too loud for use with a moderate number of singers; it is necessary instead to concoct full Swell effects using Solo and Choir registers. Winchester - huge in the quire. The GO flutes can be used, perhaps with the second Open Diapason; Salisbury is the same. A former organ scholar told me that he was instructed to use the GO as a coupling clavier here, only.

 

I appreciate that we could both go on at length - I recognise your patience in your responses to someone who did not have to play it every day, where, in fairness, problems are likely to be more easily noticed - but it does seem a shame that quite so much pipe-work was discarded - together with that beautiful console. I realise that each one of us has different tastes, but I doubt that the Tickell console will be anything like as elegant - or as comfortable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Lee Blick
"I could go on... but I would much rather look forward.

 

A"

 

Yes please............let's.........

 

It is gone - there are three empty spaces...I wonder what can be achieved by turning over the soil again? I say this with humbleness as I am not the most regular of "post-ers" (ugh sorry) on the board.

Best wishes

Richard

 

I agree. This is turning into another Ally Pally thread. The organs have gone. The organ is no more. The organ has ceased. It is a dead organ.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adrian,

 

Thank you for your replys - most informative as ever. I am interested, when you did the recording in 2001 (date is on the back cover of the CD), was the organ considerably better than in the last two years or did you have to "nurse" it through the recording in a similar way to that which you describe during the BBC sessions in your post on the older thread?

 

You mention problems with the balance of the chorus's across the instrument - on the first track, Orb and Sceptre, the full principal chorus appears to be very piercing and "screechy" in the upper ranges, quite out of keeping with the mellow tone that is apparent in the mid range. Is this characteristic that you were describing?

 

Sorry to keep probing about the past when there is an exciting future to look forward to (and I certainly do look forward to hearing the new instrument), but I am interested in the history of the old instrument - it will help to understand just how much better the new organ is once it arrives!

 

Also, is the old Bradford computing organ still in use? I remember talking with you very briefly some years ago after a choir festival and you were not particularly complimentary about it then (with good reason)!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree. This is turning into another Ally Pally thread.

 

Not quite, Lee.

 

I hold no personal animosity towards Adrian Lucas, who is a musician for whom I have a high regard. Neither have the majority of postings on this thread displayed anything like the thinly-veiled anger and back-biting which are all-too obvious on the topic to which you refer.

 

:(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for your replys - most informative as ever. I am interested, when you did the recording in 2001 (date is on the back cover of the CD), was the organ considerably better than in the last two years or did you have to "nurse" it through the recording in a similar way to that which you describe during the BBC sessions in your post on the older thread?

At that stage, things were deteriorating and quotes were being sought, but the rapid sequence of failure amongst the softer 8' stops had not reached the fever pitch we experienced through 2004/5. As far as the winding was concerned, the tuttis required careful choice (and reduction in places) in order to avoid problems.

You mention problems with the balance of the chorus's across the instrument - on the first track, Orb and Sceptre, the full principal chorus appears to be very piercing and "screechy" in the upper ranges, quite out of keeping with the mellow tone that is apparent in the mid range. Is this characteristic what you were describing?

There were balance problems which are mainly sourced from the dilemma in voicing for both Nave and Quire. Large (no, truly immense) stops of the main great chorus (8, 4, 2) had a bright HH mixture added to try to speak down to the Nave. The secondary diapasons (rather soul-less) were at 16, 8 & 4' pitch only plus a 1978 Larigot. The rest of the Great consisted of a very small scale Stopped Diapason from a chamber organ, a tubby Hohl Flute and 4' Harmonic Flute, and "French"ish reeds at 8 & 4' pitch.

 

This left the Choir to try to fill in the gaps, but this had only diapasons at 8' pitch plus a mixture- strings (8,8,4 and celeste) and two fairly thin flutes did not add substantially to the solidity of this department, though it was badly needed. The Clarinet was sweet, when all the notes worked.

 

Finally, on the manuals at least, the Swell large diapason would have graced a large chorus on most Greats, while the small diapason was very woolly and uneven. Narrow scale strings and principal left an insipid sound which was only rounded out by the flutes - an 8' gedackt on high pressure with the H-J reeds and a 4' bland flute (my name!). The Octave Quint 2 2/3 was a useful source of colour, though other colours might have been more appropriate here. The mixture was quite appropriate to the chorus (such as it was) but the sharp mixture allowed choir members to go without formal haircuts for several years at a go. The Oboe and Cornopean were extremely useful, while the 16,8,4 heavy reeds were cumbersome and slow to speak and tended to separate from the chorus rather like curdling milk.

Also, is the old Bradford computing organ still in use? I remember talking with you very briefly some years ago after a choir festival and you were not particularly complimentary about it then (with good reason)!

We have just (since Christmas) stopped using the Bradford which has also become increasingly unreliable - apart from some youth vandalism, the organ had a tendency to play only alternate notes on either Swell or Choir (or sometimes both). Since we have the need to hold major services in the Nave over the coming months (Dean's installation, Bishop's farewell etc etc) we are shortly to take delivery of a second electronic organ to see us through until the Tickell instrument is completed in the Summer of 2008. We shall be using a completely different layout for the speakers in order to avoid the problems of the previous installation.

 

Hope that's helpful!

 

A

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sean,

 

The organ was certainly at its best when playing loudly on a Summer's day. On a winter's day when the humidity is at its lowest, you might have witnessed a very different experience. It was on one of these occasions that the organ let us down in a spectacularly impressive display of bad behaviour.

 

In fairness to your stated experience, I would imagine that our team of staff who play the organ for around 40 weeks of the year would be more likely to notice the missing notes in various parts of the organ, especially as we tend to stretch the instruments capabilities, using separate multi-manual configurations, often using single stops where such faults become very obvious. Add to this the whole plethora of intermittent faults from swell machines, stop motors, piston memory losses, quite apart from the winding issue (particularly on the Great and Solo) when playing loud voluntaries. There were also the electrical faults latterly whereby drawing one stop on Great or Choir would bring on 2 or 3 other stops which would not work on their own. Then there were the leaking trunks under the Swell which would sing on cold days on any note which would clash with the responses...

 

Then we move on to the experience of listening to the organ from the choir and conductor's point of view. Those Swell sounds which were so delicate to the ear of the player become harsh and, potentially, extremely loud out at the front, thereby limiting their use, particularly when you are playing for a weekday Cathedral Choir of 3 men and a maximum of 9 boys on each side.

 

I could go on... but I would much rather look forward.

 

A

Both Sean and I must have been amongst the last visiting organists to have had the pleasure of playing on the old Worcester instrument, and we both found its faults to be exaggerated, Forgive me for saying that I find the comments re. those who play the instument for 40 weeks of the year to be somewhat patronising. The question underlying this debate is not whether the old organ was unreliable, but whether it was worth restoring. Those of us that believe the old organ worthy of restoration clearly should by now have moved on and be sincerely hoping for great things in the future. Whether we believe Worcester have chosen their new organ builders on the basis of quality or of cost is, of course, an entirely different matter.,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest delvin146

We have just (since Christmas) stopped using the Bradford which has also become increasingly unreliable - apart from some youth vandalism, the organ had a tendency to play only alternate notes on either Swell or Choir (or sometimes both). Since we have the need to hold major services in the Nave over the coming months (Dean's installation, Bishop's farewell etc etc) we are shortly to take delivery of a second electronic organ to see us through until the Tickell instrument is completed in the Summer of 2008. We shall be using a completely different layout for the speakers in order to avoid the problems of the previous installation.

 

Hope that's helpful!

 

A

 

I don't get all this wasting of money, ripping out old organs which still played, taking second hand delivery of electronics for a farewell to some old bishop and a new dean. Can't you sing something unaccompanied or rig up a casio keyboard or something? All this wasted money at that cathedral could have gone on having the old organ put right, or at very least having the old organ pipework installed as part of a new instrument because the basis of it was all good quality material? Personally, I'd probably have got the Bradford fixed in the mean time. When I [played it way back in 1988 for a service, it didn't give a bad account of itself for a toaster. I'm sure they'd repair it if you asked them.

 

Worcester Cathedral, money wasting racket or just "jobs for the boys"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Andrew Butler
? :( ?

 

Explain please?

 

R

 

I would direct you to the relevant topic if i could remember which it was! :o

Can anyone help please...? Sorry!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't get all this wasting of money, ripping out old organs which still played, taking second hand delivery of electronics for a farewell to some old bishop and a new dean. Can't you sing something unaccompanied or rig up a casio keyboard or something? All this wasted money at that cathedral could have gone on having the old organ put right, or at very least having the old organ pipework installed as part of a new instrument because the basis of it was all good quality material?

 

Worcester Cathedral, money wasting racket or just "jobs for the boys"?

 

What an unrealistic world you live in.

 

Personally, I'd probably have got the Bradford fixed in the mean time. When I [played it way back in 1988 for a service, it didn't give a bad account of itself for a toaster. I'm sure they'd repair it if you asked them.

We did - they tried - they failed three times.

 

Your next suggestion, Maestro?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey folks - I did not intend to resurrect the previous agressive posting! Can't we keep it fairly civil?

 

Adrian - thank you for your replies, that is the information I wanted and I can now clearly hear some of these faults on the CD. Could the chorus on the Solo create its own weather as the sound on the CD suggests?

 

Interesting that you have stopped using the Bradford. It always struck me as rather tinny and unpleasant! What is your opinion of the Rodgers you now have?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must say I admire Adrian for expending the time to reply to comments on this topic. I agree that we must now look forward and be constructive with our comments. Otherwise Adrian might go the same way as the much missed SJF.

 

I must say that I look forward to hearing the new organs, especially the first 3CF they will be heard at.

 

Ed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Adrian - thank you for your replies, that is the information I wanted and I can now clearly hear some of these faults on the CD. Could the chorus on the Solo create its own weather as the sound on the CD suggests?

 

Hi John,

 

When you talk about the Solo and "weather" I guess you're talking about the wind leakages. We had some patching done in 1997 in an attempt to prolong the life of things here and it certainly improved things. The over-riding problem with the Solo in the South Transept was that, while being devastatingly loud under the tower, it barely made an impact in either Quire or Nave. If you used the Trumpet or Bombarde as a solo reed during evensong, the Chapter would here the reeds and nothing else while the quire would not hear the solo at all! The 8-4-2-III chorus would have been useful for leading a congregation had it been in a more central position but, realistically, we tended only to use the 8' diapason as an "off-stage" effect from time to time.

 

Interesting that you have stopped using the Bradford. It always struck me as rather tinny and unpleasant! What is your opinion of the Rodgers you now have?

I've not been a great fan of electronic instruments, I have to admit. When the Bradford was installed in the late 1980s it would have been cutting-edge technology and certainly served a purpose for some 17 or so years. Its biggest problem was always the location of the speakers (Nave clerestory and taking up about half the length of the Nave). The result was that balance between the organ and choir was impossible to set correctly for all listeners. Over the years the loudspeaker cones have tired and the sound was never very beautiful, especially on the diapasons and reeds. I used to describe playing good music on this instrument as holding a beautiful carving but having to wear rubber gloves - you never felt that you really connected with it!

 

The Rodgers we have bought for the Quire (later for the Nave, once the Tickell instrument is installed) has been a great success. It is flexible, reliable and colourful. It can sound a bit "gloopy" depending upon where you stand, but it has some fantastic stops - my favourite is the Flûte Harmonique on the Great which is pure liquid gold - and the 8 subwoofers can really shake the floor. That said, there are some less successful stops - I am not a fan of the American Flute Celestes and Erzahler Celestes and the organ could do with a really good Clarinet.

 

Before we took this route, we auditioned this instrument and a similar (slightly smaller) Allen and it was our opinion that the Rogers won hands down. If you were thinking of exploring this route for whatever reason, I would encourage plenty of time with the technical team to tweak the voicing to suite the building as this has proved invaluable for us in getting the sort of sound we wanted.

 

I would add that, however much we are enjoying this instrument, we still look forward to the new pipe organ in 2008, but that is not to belittle the achievements made in this area. Rodgers have done a superb job and they should be given credit for this. Also, their team here in the UK is made up of some really very experienced players.

 

A

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Rodgers we have bought for the Quire (later for the Nave, once the Tickell instrument is installed) has been a great success. It is flexible, reliable and colourful. It can sound a bit "gloopy" depending upon where you stand, but it has some fantastic stops - my favourite is the Flûte Harmonique on the Great which is pure liquid gold - and the 8 subwoofers can really shake the floor. That said, there are some less successful stops - I am not a fan of the American Flute Celestes and Erzahler Celestes and the organ could do with a really good Clarinet.

That nicely sums up the pros and cons of Rodgers' toasters. You are getting an uncompromisingly american instrument. When we were choosing for my own church a couple of years ago we took the view that we didn't want to have stops that would sing 'ooh' and sing 'Amen', but we did want a clarinet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I must say I admire Adrian for expending the time to reply to comments on this topic. I agree that we must now look forward and be constructive with our comments. Otherwise Adrian might go the same way as the much missed SJF.

 

I must say that I look forward to hearing the new organs, especially the first 3CF they will be heard at.

 

Ed

 

May I add my thanks to Adrian for his patience in spite of some provocative comment. The information has been very helpful. The loss of something familiar and comfortable is always sad, but it doesn't mean that what replaces it is necessarily worse. I think it is only sensible that we should wait to hear the new instruments rather than pre-judge them.

 

JC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...