Jump to content
Mander Organs
Guest delvin146

Organs For The Bin

Recommended Posts

Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

Wow! I trust you are more forgiving with human beings than you seem to be with musical instruments - you're taking no prisoners today, are you?! I hope tomorrow will find you in a more cheerful mood.

 

I will stand up for a few of these, although I can see why you have included several of them.

St.Alban's has always been a surprisingly effective organ considering its size. Yes it's biased in favour of one or two styles of music, but aside from a little careful re-voicing and a few additions, I don't think it needs much.

 

Christchurch Oxford: one must remember that this is not the organ (or the firm) that Simon Preston originally had in mind. To my ears the reeds are much too rough for the building, but it is a very difficult acoustic for anything other than refined reeds. Pity these were thoroughly out of fashion at the time.

The case and action are superbly made and the fluework is very fine, so this isn't an overall loser in my book.

 

Portsmouth Cathedral I know quite well. I am not a Nicholson supporter, but I find this a very exciting and effective instrument. I played its predecessor and this one's streets ahead! I suppose I have to ask, who have you heard playing it?

Kingston Parish Church - I found it a bit surprising, but a fine organ IMHO. Did you see the television documentary that covered its commissioning and inauguration? I think it was called 'a pipe dream no more'. Considering the brief Frobenius were given, I consider that they did extremely well. The craftsmanship and imagination shown on that job make it well worth the money the church paid for it (250k). Once again, you should have seen/played/heard the previous instrument! Fortunately those responsible at the time were wise enough not to throw more money at it! Incidentally - comparison with a previous instrument is a pretty fair guide - after all, it is the acid test of whether something 'works' in a given acoustic.

 

Bromley Parish Church I don't know well - I only played it once but did get to listen to it down in the church. I found some of it disappointing - all the (many) Trumpets sounded identical and I couldn't tell which department was in use when listening. Burn it if you must - even so, rather an expensive bonfire.

 

Brecon Cathedral is a surprising organ. I know it very well and have played it every year for the last 25 years, so have got used to it (and the building) well before any recent work. First of all, it was an extremely budget job. Second, I reckon that it is a classic case of quart out of a pint pot. It is suprising that the tone gets out of the chamber, but it does and the tone remains noticeably still in accordance with the Hill tradition despite how many stops are (in fact) additions. Once again, who have you heard playing it? Balances between divisions and stops are good - better than almost any other cathedral organ I know - and the solo reed is startling but a splendid effort. Handle with care, mind you!

 

Don't know Tonbridge or Symphony Hall well enough to comment. If you don't like them, don't bother to attend recitals or buy CDs of them. Others do approve, so it clearly takes all sorts.

 

Hexham and Nottingham are both cases where a large (arguably) worn-out romantic organ has been replaced with something more musical but rather limiting. I believe that Hexham supporters continually overstate their case, but IMHO it is not a bad organ. The Marcussen at Nottingham is a gorgeous musical instrument, it was just a very strange choice for a church where they have always had a strong choral tradition.

 

You mention two of my personal betes noir, so I will join you in condemning St.John's Smith Square and St.Martin in the Fields. In both cases, the fault is with the advisers (Simon Preston and Dame Gillian Weir respectively) who demanded much more volume and specification than those buildings (and cases) required. I find St.John's Smith Square, above all, as a real wasted opportunity. A classic English organ (of the Mander, Drake or Tickell style) could have fitted that case properly and could have been positioned more appropriately for use with orchestra in tasteful concerti etc. Indeed, I thought that Noel Mander found the case for this purpose years before an outsized organ was crammed into it.

 

You missed a few:

Gloucester Cathedral - obviously (case aside). The nastiest accompanimental organ associated with any really good choir.

St.Lawrence Jewry - those horrid (totally alien-sounding) reeds in such an elegant church!

The Bridgewater Hall - I remember the (arrogant, patronising and OTT) advance publicity and the authority's refusal to allow any British firms to tender. They don't deserve any sympathy at all.

Llandaff Cathedral - the bomb dropped just short in WW2, shame!

 

I'd better cease nominating fresh victims before I offend any more people.

 

If the point of your topic is that you miss 'the traditional romantic British organ', then I tend to agree. Don't lose hope, there are several still left....though some are only just hanging in there. If you want one for your church, there has never been a cheaper time to pick one up second-hand! I find it particualrly ironic that the homes of the best choirs in our country, viz. cathedrals and Oxbridge college chapels are where you have been most likely to have your ears bruised by coarse reeds and un-nicked upperwork in recent years - the sounds least likely to blend with the human voice. However, I think that the worm is beginning to turn...... I have recently seen some very intelligently-designed new instruments where high-pitched upperwork has been given the boot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kingston Parish Church - I found it a bit surprising, but a fine organ IMHO. Did you see the television documentary that covered its commissioning and inauguration? I think it was called 'a pipe dream no more'. Considering the brief Frobenius were given, I consider that they did extremely well. The craftsmanship and imagination shown on that job make it well worth the money the church paid for it (250k). Once again, you should have seen/played/heard the previous instrument! Fortunately those responsible at the time were wise enough not to throw more money at it! Incidentally - comparison with a previous instrument is a pretty fair guide - after all, it is the acid test of whether something 'works' in a given acoustic.

 

I can find a lot to admire in this organ (with the definite exception of the 32' reed) - and it does attract some top recitalists - but I don't really like it; there is something missing and I find it leaves me cold. I'm not really sure why - but I know a few people who feel the same way.

 

As a separate matter, it is rather unattractive and inappropriate visually IMHO.

 

JJK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

St Albans is in my opinion a really rather splendid instrument - you just need to use your ears rather than preconceived ideas when registering on it. Many years ago I sang there - along with about 1,000 other 'youths' with Simon Lindley at the console - it managed to keep the whole of that massive nave 'going' without the advantage of the soon to be added triforium section and it still sounded perfectly civilized. At the hands of Hurford it could sound magical in everything from Couperin to Franck - likewise with Simon Johnson the present assistant when 'backing up' their choir. It will be even better when its soon to be done restoration/enlargement work has been completed. Don't forget it wasn't just Downes - Peter Hurford had a large ammount of input and the minor adjustments to the mixtures since then have taken an ammount of youthful 'zing' away to good advantage.

 

AJJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest delvin146

I think your line which says "If you want one for your church, there has never been a cheaper time to pick one up second hand" says it all really. I do think opportunties have been lost and some really good English Romantic organs have been sawn up to make way for instruments quite unsuitable for the context in which many are used in church buildings.

 

I did used to suffer with PMT so I suppose I still get off days. I had "Fiat Lux" from Portsmouth but I chucked it in the bin some years ago as I thought it was particularly dull. Can't remember who was playing I'm afraid, and I don't wish to upset the player of course.

 

Brecon I remember hearing live about 15 years ago. It was the organist of the time playing it. I just remember it sounding boxy and if I remember rightly quite "Percy Daniels". I didn't see the programme about Kingston PC, perhaps you have a copy?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear english friends,

 

I find this sery of posts deeply shocking.

 

Although I know some (very nice) organs in your country, I did not visit the ones you are speaking about.

 

I do not really want to behave as a moralist, but think that at a time when we can buy english organs from redundant churches on ebay or others, it would really be time to defend and promote your instruments, instead of writing such things, which just divide people instead of uniting them.....

 

There are many english styles, all of them very rich, please just defend them instead of speaking about bins, crap, or others.

 

In any country, you would find instruments moreless successfull. But perhaps those ones also have something to say.

 

I do not want to be offensive anyway, and english is not my mother language, please excuse anything you would feel rude.

 

Best regards

 

PF Baron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest delvin146
Needless to say, I FULLY support Mr Baron's comments.

(But you know that already...)

Pierre

 

I forgot to add Notre Dame Paris to the list, that thing's far too raucous <_<

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kingston Parish Church - I found it a bit surprising, but a fine organ IMHO. Did you see the television documentary that covered its commissioning and inauguration? I think it was called 'a pipe dream no more'. Considering the brief Frobenius were given, I consider that they did extremely well.

I saw this. My goodness, that was a few years ago! I know one should never take any of the media at face value, but the programme gave the impression that Frobenius were given a brief to design an organ fit to accompany an Anglican service. I recall wondering why, if that was what they wanted, they didn't choose a British firm. The impression given was that the organist had set his heart on having "one of these wonderful instruments" (I think those were the exact words) and that that consideration over-rode all else. It was, without doubt, an impressive bit of fund-raising, but on each of the few occasions I have heard it (never live, unfortunately) I find found it disappointing. Mind, you, I never heard its predecessor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I forgot to add Notre Dame Paris to the list, that thing's far too raucous <_<

 

Although Jeanne d'Arc has been dead for long, we still have the channel between us, and the tunnel can be easily sunk... ! (That's obviously a joke)

 

I will not make unpleasant comments finding Harisson's reeds dull and opaque, or Father Willis' fluework e.G. in Salisbury somehow brutal or Westminster Cathedral "far too loud" (compared to what could be their french equivalents),.... Those organs just do mean something for a country, and are beautiful in their own style.

 

So does and is also Notre Dame de Paris

 

Sorry for being insistant

 

PFB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I forgot to add Notre Dame Paris to the list, that thing's far too raucous :P

 

 

Now just a minute, there....

 

I think that you should lie down in a darkened room for a while.

 

For the record, it now sounds far too civilised for my liking - God alone knows what you would have made of it, had you heard it live in the mid-1970s. <_<

 

I will not bother to rise to the 'Gloucester bait' - otherwise we will have Chamades at dawn....

 

However, if you really wish to add organs to the list, you can gladly have the Orgue-de-Choeur from Chartres Cathedral. I defy even Pierre to find anything good to say about this execrable pile of junk. (Trust me, I had to play a concert on it once - which was quite enough.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I do think opportunties have been lost and some really good English Romantic organs have been sawn up to make way for instruments quite unsuitable for the context in which many are used in church buildings.

 

I wasn't going to bother putting anything; I agree with Paul, but in rather stronger terms.

 

Your not liking it, believing it to be no good and wishing to chuck it out are EXACTLY the same reasons why the OLD instruments got replaced with what is there now! If you really want to stop the rot, you have to start now - or we will just get another raft of instruments for another generation to call "inappropriate".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"However, if you really wish to add organs to the list, you can gladly have the Orgue-de-Choeur from Chartres Cathedral. I defy even Pierre to find anything good to say about this execrable pile of junk. (Trust me, I had to play a concert on it once - which was quite enough.)"

(Quote)

 

The Orgue de choeur?

Really?

Pierre.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If naming and shaming organs that you really don't like, please put an asterisk beside those of which you have personal experience. Thank you.

 

H

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"However, if you really wish to add organs to the list, you can gladly have the Orgue-de-Choeur from Chartres Cathedral. I defy even Pierre to find anything good to say about this execrable pile of junk. (Trust me, I had to play a concert on it once - which was quite enough.)"

(Quote)

 

The Orgue de choeur?

Really?

Pierre.

 

Oh yes, Pierre!

 

Apart from the fact that it is caseless and sited in what I will choose to call coal bunkers (replete with angled lids) on the North side of the Quire, there is an expression pedal - but no box; the console electrics are alive with interesting malfunctions and dumb notes. Tonally, if I were to be both polite and extremely charitable, I might call it 'undistingushed'. If, however, I were to be rather more frank, then I should settle for 'appalling'. For once, here is an organ with genuinely 'screamy' upperwork. There are one or two reeds (as far as I can remember) and I found them to be 'scratchy' and unpleasant*. The ensembles do not hang together convingingly (in fact, they do not even hang together un-convincingly). In all, it sounds as if it were quite literally thrown together from the detritus of a war-damaged instrument.

 

I wonder if Llandaff was twinned with Chartres about sixty years ago?

 

<_<

 

* I believe that there was a Trompette on either the G.O. or the 'Récit' (sans boite). This stop perhaps most closely resembled a sick cow moo-ing into a bucket of porridge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk

I know an organ where the reeds all sound like ducks on a pond.

If it didn't stand in an exceptional acoustic even pcnd might find it offensive.

P.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I know an organ where the reeds all sound like ducks on a pond.

If it didn't stand in an exceptional acoustic even pcnd might find it offensive.

P.

 

Hmmm.... the jury is still out on that one. However, bear in mind that the Orgue-de-Choeur at Chartres does speak in a favourable acoustic - and it is still, frankly, pants.

 

In fairness, I will admit that I recently purchased a copy of the new recording of the RFH organ (with Dame Gillian Weir playing) - and thought that the organ sounded quite bizarre at several points; quite different, in fact, to the way I remember it sounding on Wednesday evenings some years ago.

 

Incidentally, the acoustic at you-know-where appeared to have a slightly un-flattering effect on the old organ. It did, to my ears, accentuate the broadness and dullness of the big reeds and Pedal and G.O. foundations. I am only able to judge from recordings. However, according to a previous assistant organist (who knew the instrument in both incarnations extremely well), there were many genuine music-lovers who found the old organ oppressive and un-musical, especially when played loudly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"oppressive and un-musical, especially when played loudly"

(Quote)

 

And round and round we go....As already said, this we-know-where

organ was perfectly suited to who-we-know's music -Yes you

do not like, but tastes matter little-.

 

(By the way, we are piling up taboos like in a polynesian island,

with already W..., ,now G......... not to mention HH)

Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"oppressive and un-musical, especially when played loudly"

(Quote)

 

And round and round we go....As already said, this we-know-where

organ was perfectly suited to who-we-know's music -Yes you

do not like, but tastes matter little-.

 

(By the way, we are piling up taboos like in a polynesian island,

with already W..., ,now G......... not to mention HH)

Pierre

 

Ha!

 

Actually, I do like his choral music - some of it very much indeed - I find his Te Deum (Collegium Regale) very exciting to play. I also like playing for pieces such as Like as the Hart and his early Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, in G (1917). I even occasionally play some of his organ pieces - I just do not wish to play them often, because I find them rather similar in a number of respects.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow! I trust you are more forgiving with human beings than you seem to be with musical instruments - you're taking no prisoners today, are you?! I hope tomorrow will find you in a more cheerful mood.

 

Kingston Parish Church - I found it a bit surprising, but a fine organ IMHO. Did you see the television documentary that covered its commissioning and inauguration? I think it was called 'a pipe dream no more'. Considering the brief Frobenius were given, I consider that they did extremely well. The craftsmanship and imagination shown on that job make it well worth the money the church paid for it (250k). Once again, you should have seen/played/heard the previous instrument! Fortunately those responsible at the time were wise enough not to throw more money at it! Incidentally - comparison with a previous instrument is a pretty fair guide - after all, it is the acid test of whether something 'works' in a given acoustic.

 

 

I can find a lot to admire in this organ (with the definite exception of the 32' reed) - and it does attract some top recitalists - but I don't really like it; there is something missing and I find it leaves me cold. I'm not really sure why - but I know a few people who feel the same way.

 

As a separate matter, it is rather unattractive and inappropriate visually IMHO.

 

JJK

 

This sort of thing is very subjective and a personal. I’m with JJK on this one. There is something about the organ at Kingston that just doesn’t work for me. I can’t put my finger on it, but I find it “leaves me cold” too.

 

<_<

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Deleted by moderator: this post displayed bad manners towards the host.

 

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

 

Oh dear!

 

Anyway, this one should be on safe ground because the Organ Builder is long dead and the company gone.

 

My nomination is Otley (West Yorks) Methodist Church.

 

Here is a splendidly built instrument by Laycock & Bannister, with a fairly awful exhaust-pneumatic action (assuming it still to be in situ).

 

It has about 45 stops, all of which are completely characterless and fail to blend AT ALL. Opaque diapasons, full-bodied flutes, heavy basses, horrendously nasty reeds, mixtures which can't be heard beyond a couple of metres distance, no real power....it's a mess.

 

Musically, it is the sort of organ which begs the question as to what sort of music was ever written for such an instrument.

 

Perhaps it is THE definitive Caleb Simper instrument!

 

It may as well be, because no-one ever wants to listen to it or play it.

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest delvin146
Deleted by moderator: this post displayed bad manners towards the host.

 

I'm sorry that the host saw my posting as bad mannered. I don't recall ever having mentioned a job which Mander rebuilt. I would refrain as a matter of courtesy from naming such organs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I did not see anything whatever in Delvin's original post that could have possibly caused offence to anyone. It was his opinion surely.

 

Enough on here had slated Worcester, and I know of no censorship there.

 

So much for free speech.

 

I am sure Delvin was earmarking organs and not builders.

 

A explanation would be most welcome.

 

R

 

The Worcester discussion had as object how not have it into the bin.

Besides this, should I post on this board or one of mines all the names of the organs

I do not like, advocating their scrapping away, this would be "playing god", and lacking

respect for the people who made/like(d) them etc.

No Manders cited?

Really?

Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest delvin146
Deleted by moderator: this post displayed bad manners towards the host.

 

I am quite certain I did not mention any mander organs in my original post. However, I don't expect an apology. Let's change the subject and talk about organs in the Isle of Man which never get a mention. I don't even know what's out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Let's change the subject and talk about organs in the Isle of Man which never get a mention. I don't even know what's out there.

 

Well I think Harrisons recently built a new 2m organ in Douglas. That's all I know.

 

JJK

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...