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Guest Barry Williams
There were a couple of Binns organs in the area where I grew up (at Great Missenden and The Lee, Bucks) and because these were the only examples of his work that I'd met, I thought he was a second- (or even third-) rate builder. Some years later, I was appointed to St.Mary's Shrewsbury where there is a four manual Binns of 60 stops or so. Interestingly, the less-sociable tonal qualities were apparent there too but in an instrument of some size they 'made sense'. Binns' speciality was imitating Schulze and his Diapasons are always pretty bold. When building a smaller organ, he rarely gave it much upperwork - a Flautina (for instance) might be your only Great stop above 4'. The swell mixture might well be pretty low-pitched...but then so were the Schulze examples he was copying.

 

That there are some truly first-rate Binns organs around I have no doubt now. St.Mary's (referred to above) is not his best - but the situation there (25 feet up and virtually without tonal egress) militates against that. The quality of his voicing is very fine and very consistent. Both reeds and soft fluework are outstanding. Similar jobs at The Albet Hall, Nottingham and Rochdale Town Hall are really superb and (in their own ways) as fine as anything by any other firm from the same period.

 

I only know one outstanding 'small' Binns; this is at Clungunford, a village near Craven Arms in Shropshire. This has been carefully restored but never altered and (although it is voiced very boldly throughout and therefore not to everyone's taste) I think it is an outright winner.

 

There is an equivalent Binns organ to your Cambridge example in Oxford - it is at Hertford College. Checking today on the NPOR the only one stop that appears to have been changed there since installation, viz. the Swell Mixture which would appear to be much too high-pitched to be by Binns - any one of several big names of the 70s could have substituted this in an attempt to make the organ suitable for playing Bach!!

 

Binns organs were certainly very long-lived. I used to maintain the Shrewsbury job and all essential parts seemed to be made of hardwood (Beech, particularly) or wrought iron. We had an adjustible piston system dating from 1912 which still worked without problems and although the key action was on the slow side, the only notes that ever gave trouble were on the Great - I put this down to a much greater exposure to dust and damp.

 

By all accounts, Binns had a chemist friend who devised a special treatment with which Binns pickled the leather for all his organs which seems to have prolonged its working life. Anyone poking around in a Binns can expect to see plenty of old leather (because it still works after nearly 100 years!!) and it is an unusual russet colour. Beware modern leathers, some don't last thirty years, never mind 100!

 

 

 

The Binns organs at Olney and Great Missenden have both had historic restorations recently, retaining the pneumatic action. They are fine examples of this builder's work.

 

Barry Williams

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There is an equivalent Binns organ to your Cambridge example in Oxford - it is at Hertford College.

 

 

Hertford is by Hunter Paul.

 

Binns's tonal work is extremely variable in my own view: the fluework is usually voiced within an inch of its life and can really scream, especially in the treble octave. The reeds are generally excellent though, nicely made and extremely stable but they don't like to be knocked about at the spring much - we've also noted that they tend to suffer badly from sugar of lead at the block. On the organbuilding front though, built like battleships!

 

A merry Christmas to everyone.

 

David Wyld.

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Guest paul@trinitymusic.karoo.co.uk
Hertford is by Hunter Paul.

 

Binns's tonal work is extremely variable in my own view: the fluework is usually voiced within an inch of its life and can really scream, especially in the treble octave. The reeds are generally excellent though, nicely made and extremely stable but they don't like to be knocked about at the spring much - we've also noted that they tend to suffer badly from sugar of lead at the block. On the organbuilding front though, built like battleships!

 

A merry Christmas to everyone.

 

David Wyld.

 

 

Whoops!

You're absolutely right.....I'm a twit.

Derrett goofs again. :D

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Just to get back to the King's instrument a la 'Romantic slush bucket'. In parts this is still a great instrument, particularly the Choir Organ. But in a previous thread it has been noted that the zing of the Great mixture was toned down considerably in the early nineties adjustments. I think this was a mistake. Certainly on the old recordings with Ledger the Great diapason chorus had real punch. Other adjustments were made as well to produce the hazy mush we hear today.

 

And those Great trombas. Grrrrr. Even boxed in with the solo doesn't detract from the fact that the noise from them is totally horrendous. Please, can we dump all the H&H trombas in the North Sea? or perhaps give them to Belgium? I'm sure they'd like them :D

 

I only have one Ledger recording on the instrument. It was made whilst I was living in Cambridge and going to all the Saturday evening recitals and the odd midweek evensong. I can only say there must have been some very imaginative microphone placement for that LP, because on it the organ sounds nothing like it ever did in the chapel. In particular, the Great mixture sounds much more glittery. I remember playing it (the LP, not the organ) to a friend of mine, without telling him which organ it was; he was incredulous when I told him it was King's. So I wouldn't rely on those recordings to inform you what the instrument actually sounded like in the building.

 

Hands off the H&H Trombas! They aren't my favourite sound in the world, either, but they are an integral part of the instrument.

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I only have one Ledger recording on the instrument. It was made whilst I was living in Cambridge and going to all the Saturday evening recitals and the odd midweek evensong. I can only say there must have been some very imaginative microphone placement for that LP, because on it the organ sounds nothing like it ever did in the chapel. In particular, the Great mixture sounds much more glittery. I remember playing it (the LP, not the organ) to a friend of mine, without telling him which organ it was; he was incredulous when I told him it was King's. So I wouldn't rely on those recordings to inform you what the instrument actually sounded like in the building.

 

Hands off the H&H Trombas! They aren't my favourite sound in the world, either, but they are an integral part of the instrument.

 

The Leicester Cathedral H&H Trombas (arguably worse than the King's specimens) may have been considered an integral part of that instrument but were wisely put in storage at the last rebuild and replaced by much more musical ranks of the same name. Can't see that happening at King's alas.

 

A

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Just to get back to the King's instrument a la 'Romantic slush bucket'. In parts this is still a great instrument, particularly the Choir Organ. But in a previous thread it has been noted that the zing of the Great mixture was toned down considerably in the early nineties adjustments. I think this was a mistake. Certainly on the old recordings with Ledger the Great diapason chorus had real punch. Other adjustments were made as well to produce the hazy mush we hear today.

 

And those Great trombas. Grrrrr. Even boxed in with the solo doesn't detract from the fact that the noise from them is totally horrendous. Please, can we dump all the H&H trombas in the North Sea? or perhaps give them to Belgium? I'm sure they'd like them :D

I lived in Bishops Stortford for a couple of years just over 20 years ago and was able, easily, to attend a number of services at both Johns and Kings. I always thought the kings organ sounded absolutely superb although entry to the chapel for evensong reminded me somewhat of when the doors opened at rummage sales in my rural 60's childhood.

 

Personnally I consider your comments re. Belgium to be regretable, and hope you were perhaps making a joke which I have clearly failed to see.

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I think Mark was just having a friendly dig at Pierre. I hope we can all take a bit of teasing in good humour.

 

In the past I have made no secret of my dislike for Trombas, but I have to admit that in the recent carol services from King's they sounded very well. They suit that instrument and that acoustic. I think it would be a great mistake to replace them.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I think Mark was just having a friendly dig at Pierre. I hope we can all take a bit of teasing in good humour.

 

In the past I have made no secret of my dislike for Trombas, but I have to admit that in the recent carol services from King's they sounded very well. They suit that instrument and that acoustic. I think it would be a great mistake to replace them.

 

Are you certain that these ranks were used during the broadcast service? They often seem not to go above G.O. to Mixture IV.

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The Leicester Cathedral H&H Trombas (arguably worse than the King's specimens) may have been considered an integral part of that instrument but were wisely put in storage at the last rebuild and replaced by much more musical ranks of the same name. Can't see that happening at King's alas.

 

A

 

I am not sure about that - the King's ranks speak on a pressure of 450mm - which is very high for G.O. reeds in a building of that size. Even with the slightly attenuating effect of encolsure, the sound is fat, opaque and harmonically dead.

 

I was interested to learn that the Leicester ranks have been replaced. I had assumed that H&H had simply revoiced the three G.O. reeds. I must admit that I am relieved that they did not alter the quint mixture at the same time.

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N04497

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
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I was interested to learn that the Leicester ranks have been replaced. I had assumed that H&H had simply revoiced the three G.O. reeds. I must admit that I am relieved that they did not alter the quint mixture at the same time.

 

http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch...ec_index=N04497[/font]

 

I have just been playing for a couple of weeks at the cathedral. Yes - the old Trombas are in a box and located somewhere in the building. Spooky - a little like a cathedral in Transylvania I should say. I trust the daylight falls on them.

The Harmonics were abolished a few decades ago. But as it was the instrument of my early playing days, the Trombas certainly required the Harmonics to add brightness. But to me the Ophicleide (15"?) and its upward extension is too strong as the Gt Reeds have been diminshed. All rather self-defeating I suppose. Change one thing and little uneven qualities appear when the original concept becomes tweaked.

The instrument is at the West End and the choir used to be at the East. Heaven help congregations between. Now some re-ordering has been done to make musical resources more of an ensemble. Although the Trombas have been replaced, the Tuba in its prominent position and still on 15" (these stops can surely never go metric) can wake the dead - in the Coventry Diocese as well. Anyway, I never used it as I didn't want to frighten the angels away either.

 

Nigel

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I have just been playing for a couple of weeks at the cathedral. Yes - the old Trombas are in a box and located somewhere in the building.

Nigel

 

What an excellent place for them to reside....

 

:wacko:

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