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New Oxford Aubertin


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Does anyone know what the proposed stoplist of the new Oxford Aubertin is going to be. I understand that it will have some items new on Aubertin organs, such as a swell box, Dulciana etc. Can anyone enlighten me?

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Does anyone know what the proposed stoplist of the new Oxford Aubertin is going to be. I understand that it will have some items new on Aubertin organs, such as a swell box, Dulciana etc. Can anyone enlighten me?

 

A Personal Message to Nigel Allcoat (member of this forum) should do the trick.

 

AJJ

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT

Today, the President of France created Bernard Aubertin Chevalier, Legion d'Honneur of France. I thought that some news concerning how one country respects the endeavours of such people should be noted.

 

All best wishes for this Christmastide,

Nigel

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Today, the President of France created Bernard Aubertin Chevalier, Legion d'Honneur of France. I thought that some news concerning how one country respects the endeavours of such people should be noted.

 

All best wishes for this Christmastide,

Nigel

 

Excellent news. What price a knighthood for Bill Drake?

 

JS

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT

For readers with much time on their hands, they might enjoy perusing this link below, where a large number of photographs chart the progress of the building on the Saint-Louis-en-l'Isle (Paris) organ. It was completed in 2004 and for it Aubertin was given the Gold Medal of the City of Paris. The photos are quite technical too, so there might be something for everyone - even those who enjoy steam railways (because he has built one to transport materials about the extensive grounds of the Priory which is the vast workshop). Aberdeen gave him a Doctorate honoris causa for providing them with their instrument.

 

http://forumorgue.free.fr/phpwebgallery/ca...t=1&expand=

 

All the best.

Nigel

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Today, the President of France created Bernard Aubertin Chevalier, Legion d'Honneur of France. I thought that some news concerning how one country respects the endeavours of such people should be noted.

 

All best wishes for this Christmastide,

Nigel

 

A well earned recognition - just play one of his instruments and you'll know why - and what a fantastic looking place to build them in - My wife wondered whether he does B & B as well!

 

 

Excellent news. What price a knighthood for Bill Drake?

 

JS

 

Good idea!

 

AJJ

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A well earned recognition - just play one of his instruments and you'll know why - and what a fantastic looking place to build them in -

 

AJJ

 

What a coup for the organ world. Alas, English acolades seem tainted at the moment. Mr Drake must wait. But you can really see why Aubertin has been elevated when you see that link Nigel Allcoat has given - the building in the workshop and after the erection in the church - http://forumorgue.free.fr/phpwebgallery/ca...t=1&expand=

quite mind-blowing to go through. How does he do it? You can see him hand-drawing a huge template for the woodcarving! I can't wait to be back in UK to see his finished product for Oxford. September is it?

D H-P

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What a coup for the organ world. Alas, English acolades seem tainted at the moment. Mr Drake must wait. But you can really see why Aubertin has been elevated when you see that link Nigel Allcoat has given - the building in the workshop and after the erection in the church - http://forumorgue.free.fr/phpwebgallery/ca...t=1&expand=

quite mind-blowing to go through. How does he do it? You can see him hand-drawing a huge template for the woodcarving! I can't wait to be back in UK to see his finished product for Oxford. September is it?

D H-P

 

Haha - I shall see it in April, in the company of Mr Drake, as it happens. As for accolades, a very full order book and a Royal Warrant probably suffice for the moment. British gongs seem to be something that get dished out closer to retirement.

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For readers with much time on their hands, they might enjoy perusing this link below, where a large number of photographs chart the progress of the building on the Saint-Louis-en-l'Isle (Paris) organ. It was completed in 2004 and for it Aubertin was given the Gold Medal of the City of Paris. The photos are quite technical too, so there might be something for everyone - even those who enjoy steam railways (because he has built one to transport materials about the extensive grounds of the Priory which is the vast workshop). Aberdeen gave him a Doctorate honoris causa for providing them with their instrument.

 

http://forumorgue.free.fr/phpwebgallery/ca...t=1&expand=

 

All the best.

Nigel

 

It all looks very impressive - apart from the cheap-looking paper labels gummed to the stop-jambs, complete with slightly shaky writing in a not particularly elegant script. Sorry to sound a slightly negative note, but for me it utterly spoils the look of the console - which is what organists are likely to spend most of their time looking at whilst playing this instrument.

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It all looks very impressive - apart from the cheap-looking paper labels gummed to the stop-jambs, complete with slightly shaky writing in a not particularly elegant script. Sorry to sound a slightly negative note, but for me it utterly spoils the look of the console - which is what organists are likely to spend most of their time looking at whilst playing this instrument.
I don't think I would be so hasty to apply the all-or-nothing rule. The metal lever finished in a fleur-de-lys is a very nice touch indeed. Is it a coupler? At least this looks like proper calligraphy in the right inks on what looks like vellum, rather than laser printer on pretentious printer paper...

 

I had a look though the photos. It's very French. It's beautifully made. All that oak! A magnificent case, too, superbly executed. This is what building organs should be like. I wish Bernard Aubertin the very best.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
I don't think I would be so hasty to apply the all-or-nothing rule. The metal lever finished in a fleur-de-lys is a very nice touch indeed. Is it a coupler? At least this looks like proper calligraphy in the right inks on what looks like vellum, rather than laser printer on pretentious printer paper...

 

I had a look though the photos. It's very French. It's beautifully made. All that oak! A magnificent case, too, superbly executed. This is what building organs should be like. I wish Bernard Aubertin the very best.

 

Indeed, the script is the builder's own hand - down to the last accent. The fleur-de-lys is also indeed a coupler that takes Manual II up to III or for III to descend to II. All easily mechanical. The 2 woods predominantly used are oak (Burgundian mostly I think) and Chestnut. The consoles are 'in house' hand-crafted style and thus like everything connected with these instruments, a computer comes nowhere near the job except to produce the estimate. All simple and well tried methods in fact, one might say.

 

I have just heard today that a Cambridge College is about to purchase a new organ from him. I await more news from there.

 

All best wishes,

Nigel

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Indeed, the script is the builder's own hand - down to the last accent. The fleur-de-lys is also indeed a coupler that takes Manual II up to III or for III to descend to II. All easily mechanical. The 2 woods predominantly used are oak (Burgundian mostly I think) and Chestnut. The consoles are 'in house' hand-crafted style and thus like everything connected with these instruments, a computer comes nowhere near the job except to produce the estimate. All simple and well tried methods in fact, one might say.

 

I have just heard today that a Cambridge College is about to purchase a new organ from him. I await more news from there.

 

All best wishes,

Nigel

What a charming personal touch. I remember reading about the use of chestnut to make the keys for a clavichord - a successful experiement, chestnut was just the right density for the keys, was found to be nice to work and very stable.

 

It was very refreshing to see what is quite a small workshop make every part of the organ for a particular instrument by hand. Really, very little seems to have changed since the days of Dom Bedos making this organ. I assume that Bernard Aubertin doesn't use a computer to calculate pipe scales. :mellow:

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What a charming personal touch. I remember reading about the use of chestnut to make the keys for a clavichord - a successful experiement, chestnut was just the right density for the keys, was found to be nice to work and very stable.

 

We shall have to agree to differ on this facet of the instrument's construction, Colin. I also think that the labels (if it was felt absolutely necessary to use a conscious anachronism) should have been smaller - and written by someone with a finer hand. I am also not convinced by the draw-stops; whilst the arrangement illustrated may serve better to differentiate between the various divisions, I would prefer the uniformity of a single colour.

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
I assume that Bernard Aubertin doesn't use a computer to calculate pipe scales. :mellow:

 

Too true, although I have seen an employee committing the scales for each rank and organ on to a computer for a secondary form of safe keeping.

 

As for another reader's comments and personal preferences concerning stops and labels, this is a house style and shows the designer's uncompromising attitude towards detail from the very start to the very finish. But however you feel about such things - there is a glorious age-old luxurious quality for grasping and the vision of the beautiful polished woods (I think Pear makes an appearence with others here), of the stops with their handwritten names in Paris is a sight to behold. To some, this rightly complements the casework and sound that one hopes and wishes to hear from such facets of construction.

 

All best wishes,

Nigel

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As for another reader's comments and personal preferences concerning stops and labels, this is a house style and shows the designer's uncompromising attitude towards detail from the very start to the very finish. But however you feel about such things - there is a glorious age-old luxurious quality for grasping and the vision of the beautiful polished woods (I think Pear makes an appearence with others here), of the stops with their handwritten names in Paris is a sight to behold. To some, this rightly complements the casework and sound that one hopes and wishes to hear from such facets of construction.

 

All best wishes,

Nigel

 

A fair comment, Nigel. As you say - it just comes down to a personal preference. Certainly the quality of the work is not in question. My own preference would be for a different style of console; I assume that in this case, the console pictured is in a style favoured by the titulaire.

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A fair comment, Nigel. As you say - it just comes down to a personal preference. Certainly the quality of the work is not in question. My own preference would be for a different style of console; I assume that in this case, the console pictured is in a style favoured by the titulaire.

 

Hi Sean

 

I suggest you re-read Nigel's post again. I don't think the console design details has got very much to do with the individual preferences of the titulaire. The photos I've seen of Aberdeen show almost identical console details and design.

...this is a house style and shows the designer's uncompromising attitude towards detail from the very start to the very finish. But however you feel about such things - there is a glorious age-old luxurious quality for grasping and the vision of the beautiful polished woods (I think Pear makes an appearence with others here), of the stops with their handwritten names in Paris is a sight to behold. To some, this rightly complements the casework and sound that one hopes and wishes to hear from such facets of construction.

However, you're quite welcome to your own preferences for consoles, that's fine by me. I think Nigel's sentance sums it up for me - the console should complement the casework, sounds and character of the organ.

 

Of course, if I were titulaire of the church, I would insist absolutely on a combination action and sequencer, which it really needs - far more important than pearwood stops!! You could save a few bob in the process, too and it would make the organ so much more flexible. Why don't they make all consoles the same these days?? (btw, those with foreign or no sense of humour, I am taking the piss...)

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Of course, if I were titulaire of the church, I would insist absolutely on a combination action and sequencer, which it really needs - far more important than pearwood stops!! (btw, those with foreign or no sense of humour, I am taking the piss...)

 

One might jest, but only a few years ago a most influential UK establishment in the UK with a young D of M had the very opportunity of purchasing an Aubertin with 28 stops. The money was there. The agreement was there. All that this person wanted was 256 levels of memory and innumerable pistons added. The letter saying that the establishment wanted this although "the instruments played were the finest that they had ever played" left me so disappointed that over musicality one seems to put electronic wizardry. How on earth an instrument of such humble numbers of stops needed so much help to control it, totally defeated me. The instrument eventually built has one keyboard department of only 5 stops and 5 pistons. I imagine that mathmatically we are in the realms of the Lottery odds with these 5 stops, pistons and memory. What ever happened to good old hands? But again, the personal preferences came to the surface. I am of the feeling that only the builder knows what to build. I demand that a builder builds me the most musical instrument which thus becomes the vehicle for interpretation and the exciting of my inspiration. Across the world there are a few builders who do this for me and I would say that in almost every instance (except at Roskilde and Elsingore) the builders were left to their own devices to build the very best instrument (or tender) without hinderence of consultants - necessary as they are to stop the excesses sometimes of the resident organist. If choosing a builder such as Bernard Aubertin (and others), you are putting all faith in what only they can provide for you. When Cavaillé-Coll died, the sound died with him, no matter how many exercises afterwards through the decades on paper with specification, scaling and console design tried to imitate or rekindle the DNA of the famous workshops. Many a student of mine has dreamed of the sound they wanted in a rebuild or a new organ. The builder puts all into perspective surely when he says what is necessary for the acoustic and situation. Often the player must use what is provided. Is that a bad thing?

 

Sorry to be so lengthy. And just in case some might think I only favour only B A as a builder. I don't. I enjoy the works of all builders and their ability to design and conceive such amazing machines. The only hope that I have from all is that the instrrument exudes the greatest musicality to inspire me.

 

Again - all the best,

Nigel

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One might jest, but only a few years ago a most influential UK establishment in the UK with a young D of M had the very opportunity of purchasing an Aubertin with 28 stops. The money was there. The agreement was there. All that this person wanted was 256 levels of memory and innumerable pistons added. The letter saying that the establishment wanted this although "the instruments played were the finest that they had ever played" left me so disapointed that over musicality one seems to put electronic wizardry. How on earth an instrument of such humble numbers of stops needed so much help to control it, totally defeated me. The instrument eventually built has one keyboard department of only 5 stops and 5 pistons. I imagine that mathmatically we are in the realms of the Lottery odds with these 5 stops, pistons and memory. What ever happened to good old hands? But again, the personal preferences came to the surface. I am of the feeling that only the builder knows what to build. I demand that a builder builds me the most musical instrument which thus becomes the vehicle for interpretation and the exciting of my inspiration. Across the world there are a few builders who do this for me and I would say that in almost every instance (except at Roskilde and Elsingore) the builders were left to their own devices to build the very best instrument (or tender) without hinderence of consultants - necessary as they are to stop the excesses sometimes of the resident organist. If chosing a builder such as Bernard Aubertin (and others), you are putting all faith in what only they can provide for you. When Cavaillé-Coll died, the sound died with him, no matter how many exercises afterwards through the decades on paper with specification, scaling and console design tried to imitate or rekindle the DNA of the famous workshops. Many a student of mine has dreamed of the sound they wanted in a rebuild or a new organ. The builder puts all into perspective surely when he says what is necessary for the acoustic and situation. Often the player must use what is provided. Is that a bad thing?

 

Sorry to be so lengthy. And just in case some might think I only favour only B A as a builder. I don't. I enjoy the works of all builders and their ability to design and conceive such amazing machines. The only hope that I have from all is that the instrrument exudes the greatest musicality to inspire me.

 

Again - all the best,

Nigel

 

Well, I was not actually thinking of pistons and multi-level combination systems, just something more practical. Some of the stop labels will be partially obscured by the large stop-heads. I would prefer one colour of stop-head - and engraved, as opposed to the deliberately anachronistic large gummed labels (even if they are of fine vellum....). I was thinking more along the lines of the beautifully restored Cavaillé-Coll consoles of Bayeux and Perpignan cathedrals. To me, the Aubertin labels look as if they have been supplied by slightly myopic twelve-year-olds. I intend no disrespect to M. Aubertin - but I am not convinced of his prowess as a calligraphist.

 

As you will no doubt be aware, I am extremely fussy about console design - of whatever style and period. I would not be so gauche here as to expect a 1920s style H&H console, or even a 21st century style Tickell console, complete with pistons and lots of switch-plates with flashing digital displays - merely an elegant and un-cluttered design, using the best available materials and with a practical layout.

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Well, I was not actually thinking of pistons and multi-level combination systems, just something more practical. Some of the stop labels will be partially obscured by the large stop-heads. I would prefer one colour of stop-head - and engraved, as opposed to the deliberately anachronistic large gummed labels [...] I intend no disrespect to M. Aubertin - but I am not convinced of his prowess as a calligraphist.

 

Why does it matter if they are 'anachronistic'? What difference does it make? What do you mean by 'practical'?

 

Bernard Aubertin's organs are shot through with all sorts of palpable historic influences, as well as refreshingly original touches. This is not being challenged in the tonal schemes, so why is it so in the consoles? Aubertin is clearly well aware that the way that a console looks (and feels) exerts a strong effect on how players will think subconsciously of his organ.

 

I well remember first playing the Metzler in Trinity College Cambridge: I was so shocked to discover it had a true 'Schnitger'-style console with enormous stop-heads in horizontal rows! It made me abruptly revise the way I felt about playing this organ.

 

St Louis-en-l'Ile is not an organ for accompanying Anglican Cathedral Psalms! Its console is clearly designed to encourage players to treat the organ as though it were a Baroque instrument, and thus register it like one. If the stop-labels have apparently not been designed for maximum readability, then must we not assume that readability is not the first priority in Aubertin's mind?

 

Maybe we could think of the stop-labels as an intimately personal touch, a bit like Aubertin's signature! Who knows, but in any case surely they are designed to convey more than mere information of what the stops are. We might conclude that players aren't supposed to be wasting their precious mental focus during performance with reading stop labels! Maybe we are being discouraged from changing stops too much in the middle of pieces? Maybe we are being encouraged to spend more time familiarising ourselves properly with the organ before even beginning to play?

 

OK, some of this is a bit far-fetched! But I'm convinced something along these lines is going on, because of the colour variation in the stop-heads - a clear indication that Aubertin wants us to use our natural visual/spatial skills (rather than our slow, learned, pedestrian reading skills) to register this organ.

 

I rather suspect that to accuse this console of not being 'practical' is to miss the point a bit. It also divorces and abstracts console design from organ design to (I think) an unfortunate extent. The personality of the console (although I don't really think the term 'console' applies very well to this sort of organ - 'key-table' perhaps?) should really represent the personality of the instrument, and give the player helpful, sometimes subliminal, hints on how it should be played and heard.

 

Perhaps an interesting comparison would be the Early English organs being discussed elsewhere here. I was very lucky to play these when they were in Fotheringhay church recently (and a glorious summer evening it was too!). And (particularly on the larger 'Wetheringsett' organ) there was no effort made whatsoever to make the stop levers available for use at the keys - you almost had to get up and go round the corner of the organ to reach them. There was certainly no way of reading the labels - in fact on the smaller 'Wingfield' organ, there were none at all!

 

Contrast that with (say) the Nicholson at Southwell Minster... Another very successful organ I would say, but surely all the toys reflect specific preferences of its designers and builders, and they encourage us to use the organ in specific ways. Now there's an organ which IS excellent for psalms! And it has a superb console, there's no doubting it.

 

That's plenty from me for now...

 

regards, SC

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But however you feel about such things - there is a glorious age-old luxurious quality for grasping and the vision of the beautiful polished woods (I think Pear makes an appearence with others here), of the stops with their handwritten names in Paris is a sight to behold. To some, this rightly complements the casework and sound that one hopes and wishes to hear from such facets of construction.

 

Too true - and as one who was lucky enough to be able to spend a fabulous hour at S.Louis in the Autumn with the opportunity to play and watch/listen to an organist familiar with this instrument from recital work and recording I can testify that for me it was like playing no other organ I have ever experienced. In a sense it was like playing Baroque music on any other instrument designed for the purpose - even with my decidedly dubious technique it all started to sound really quite promising. As far as I was concerned the console felt like a natural extension of the whole playing experience.

 

AJJ

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Why does it matter if they are 'anachronistic'? What difference does it make? What do you mean by 'practical'?

 

Bernard Aubertin's organs are shot through with all sorts of palpable historic influences, as well as refreshingly original touches. This is not being challenged in the tonal schemes, so why is it so in the consoles? Aubertin is clearly well aware that the way that a console looks (and feels) exerts a strong effect on how players will think subconsciously of his organ.

 

I well remember first playing the Metzler in Trinity College Cambridge: I was so shocked to discover it had a true 'Schnitger'-style console with enormous stop-heads in horizontal rows! It made me abruptly revise the way I felt about playing this organ.

 

St Louis-en-l'Ile is not an organ for accompanying Anglican Cathedral Psalms! Its console is clearly designed to encourage players to treat the organ as though it were a Baroque instrument, and thus register it like one. If the stop-labels have apparently not been designed for maximum readability, then must we not assume that readability is not the first priority in Aubertin's mind?

 

Maybe we could think of the stop-labels as an intimately personal touch, a bit like Aubertin's signature! Who knows, but in any case surely they are designed to convey more than mere information of what the stops are. We might conclude that players aren't supposed to be wasting their precious mental focus during performance with reading stop labels! Maybe we are being discouraged from changing stops too much in the middle of pieces? Maybe we are being encouraged to spend more time familiarising ourselves properly with the organ before even beginning to play?

 

OK, some of this is a bit far-fetched! But I'm convinced something along these lines is going on, because of the colour variation in the stop-heads - a clear indication that Aubertin wants us to use our natural visual/spatial skills (rather than our slow, learned, pedestrian reading skills) to register this organ.

 

I rather suspect that to accuse this console of not being 'practical' is to miss the point a bit. It also divorces and abstracts console design from organ design to (I think) an unfortunate extent. The personality of the console (although I don't really think the term 'console' applies very well to this sort of organ - 'key-table' perhaps?) should really represent the personality of the instrument, and give the player helpful, sometimes subliminal, hints on how it should be played and heard.

 

Perhaps an interesting comparison would be the Early English organs being discussed elsewhere here. I was very lucky to play these when they were in Fotheringhay church recently (and a glorious summer evening it was too!). And (particularly on the larger 'Wetheringsett' organ) there was no effort made whatsoever to make the stop levers available for use at the keys - you almost had to get up and go round the corner of the organ to reach them. There was certainly no way of reading the labels - in fact on the smaller 'Wingfield' organ, there were none at all!

 

Contrast that with (say) the Nicholson at Southwell Minster... Another very successful organ I would say, but surely all the toys reflect specific preferences of its designers and builders, and they encourage us to use the organ in specific ways. Now there's an organ which IS excellent for psalms! And it has a superb console, there's no doubting it.

 

That's plenty from me for now...

 

regards, SC

 

Wow. That's some post. The use of the organ is important and this echoes not only with the EEOP thread but also the one on registrants; all the etchings I can immediately recall of very old organs being played have invariably shown (as well as the frock-coated, pointy bearded player) five or six people stood around the console, partially in awe and wonder no doubt, but also fulfilling a functin? Groups of singers and supplementary instrumentalists or even complete laymen would surely have been given subsidiary roles, an argument extended not a very great deal when it was considered a layman could control a barrel organ (with little or no training, and often treated in a fairly disposable manner)?

 

On the usage point, this applies also to the compass. A twinkly-eyed organbuilder recently justified the removal of top F# and G from an existing soundboard (they had been later additions) as being to "stop people playing the Widor on it" - a joke concealing the serious point about the builder being responsible for setting the limitations within which an organ is intended to work, and the expectations of those who come to play it or judge it in any other way. Hence the disappointment sometimes felt, I suppose, when you encounter a reasonable or good Victorian job which has had a remote control flight deck added to it - often the feel of there being something missing, with all these controls and aids but no particular musical help in getting the sounds you want and usually a loss of "connection" with the instrument?

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Interesting argument. Probably strongest in the case of the original builder: I agree that M.Aubertin has the absolute right to build his organs any damn way he likes: he is also responsible for finding customers for them. However, when you're talking about an instrument that has been built, altered to suit different needs and is now being re-altered back to an earlier period: well I'm not so sure that the third builder has such a strong claim to responsibility for setting the working parameters.

 

Anyway, I think if I were paying - or even playing - I might beg to differ with both the original builder and the rebuilder! Which brings us back to familiar territory: the tension between the liturgical demands the organ has to fulfil, the repertoire that the titulaire might want to be able to play, the desire to preserve - or return to - what has been handed down to us and thereby respect the artistic vision of its creator...and the budget.

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Interesting argument. Probably strongest in the case of the original builder: I agree that M.Aubertin has the absolute right to build his organs any damn way he likes: he is also responsible for finding customers for them. However, when you're talking about an instrument that has been built, altered to suit different needs and is now being re-altered back to an earlier period: well I'm not so sure that the third builder has such a strong claim to responsibility for setting the working parameters.

 

Anyway, I think if I were paying - or even playing - I might beg to differ with both the original builder and the rebuilder! Which brings us back to familiar territory: the tension between the liturgical demands the organ has to fulfil, the repertoire that the titulaire might want to be able to play, the desire to preserve - or return to - what has been handed down to us and thereby respect the artistic vision of its creator...and the budget.

 

It depends how the third builder sees their role - either to work with/augment what is already there, or to take the organ back to a time when it had a distinctive identity and leave it in that mould, without compromise. (Personally I tend to fall halfway between the two camps, which is most annoying and inconsistent.) In the case of the second, then I would disagree that the third builder has no right to impose restrictions; it's their duty. If you are re-constructing an instrument of the 1840s and leaving it with stoplist, console aids, pedalboard, swell controls and action to suit, then I think it is entirely reasonable to say that you are effectively adopting the mantle of the earlier builder whose standard you are taking as your own, and therefore that it would be just as wrong to retain extra notes added to the compass by others as it would be wrong to retain electric action extended pedal stops, a capture system, and so on. The third builder should, and absolutely must, be as faithful as is practically possible to the earlier work, the only acceptable compromises in my hard-line mode being 30 notes in the pedals and a Swell bottom octave. The repertoire the titulaire wants to play and the role the organ has to fulfil are questions to be answered by the choice of builder and choice of organ; if you want a reconstructed period organ, have a reconstructed period organ. If you can't live with f compass manuals and a trigger swell, get a new one from someone who provides what you want, or find a builder in the "first mode" whose aim will be to take what is there and make the best of it. As long as you aim for integrity, you won't have a problem; if you aim for a Snetzler but retain later keyboards to c4 and an orchestral string division, you will.

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Why does it matter if they are 'anachronistic'? What difference does it make? What do you mean by 'practical'?

 

As a player of reasonably wide experience, it would matter greatly to me. My use of the word anachronistic was intended to imply a redundancy in style and design - I can see little point in this aspect of the instrument's design being anachronistic. By 'practical' I meant usable or workable - without recourse to unusual or complex means to achieve a desired end.

 

St Louis-en-l'Ile is not an organ for accompanying Anglican Cathedral Psalms! Its console is clearly designed to encourage players to treat the organ as though it were a Baroque instrument, and thus register it like one. If the stop-labels have apparently not been designed for maximum readability, then must we not assume that readability is not the first priority in Aubertin's mind?

 

I feel that my point regarding the visibility of the stop-labels was valid. I can see no point in designing stop-labels and positioning them in such a way that several are partially obscured from the point of view of the player. This I find both impractical and unhelpful. It is yet another example of organ builders making the job of the organist more difficult, apparently because it was desired to provide a consciously archaic style of console. In any case, with regard to baroque instruments such as Sint Bavo, Haarlem (or newer examples, constructed as conscious copies - for example, the west end organ in Stavanger Cathedral) these instruments generally tend to have consoles designed in a manner that renders it perfectly possible easily to read all the stop-labels*.

 

I had considered the probability that this organ was not designed with a view to accommodating the accompanimental requirements of the Anglican psalter....

 

 

Maybe we could think of the stop-labels as an intimately personal touch, a bit like Aubertin's signature! Who knows, but in any case surely they are designed to convey more than mere information of what the stops are. We might conclude that players aren't supposed to be wasting their precious mental focus during performance with reading stop labels! Maybe we are being discouraged from changing stops too much in the middle of pieces? Maybe we are being encouraged to spend more time familiarising ourselves properly with the organ before even beginning to play?

 

In a perfect world.... However, this is likely to prove unduly limiting with regard to concerts performed by anyone other than the titulaire; considerably more rehearsal time would be required than is customary for many other instruments. I remain un-convinced that this can be regarded as an advantageous facet of the design of the instrument.

 

I rather suspect that to accuse this console of not being 'practical' is to miss the point a bit. It also divorces and abstracts console design from organ design to (I think) an unfortunate extent. The personality of the console (although I don't really think the term 'console' applies very well to this sort of organ - 'key-table' perhaps?) should really represent the personality of the instrument, and give the player helpful, sometimes subliminal, hints on how it should be played and heard.

 

Sorry - you have lost me here. Arguing the toss between calling the console a 'console' or a 'key-table' is largely irrelevant. I find your last point somewhat immured in obfuscation. I can see no merit in an organ console dictating (subliminally or otherwise) to the player the way in which pieces may effectively be performed. If the console is designed in such a personal manner that it renders the organist with yet more hurdles to overcome then I fail to see how this is anything other than detrimental to the music which is to be played.

 

Contrast that with (say) the Nicholson at Southwell Minster... Another very successful organ I would say, but surely all the toys reflect specific preferences of its designers and builders, and they encourage us to use the organ in specific ways. Now there's an organ which IS excellent for psalms! And it has a superb console, there's no doubting it.

 

That's plenty from me for now...

 

regards, SC

 

Interesting - I am not particularly impressed by either this instrument or its console. There are too many gadgets for my taste; I also dislike square-headed pistons and wooden stop-heads with plastic, bone or ivothene inserts.

 

I further note that apparently you failed to observe the comparison which I drew between the consoles of the superbly restored Cavaillé-Coll instruments in the cathedrals of Bayeux and Perpignan on the one hand, and the console of the Aubertin organ in the church of S. Louis-en-l'Ile on the other. The two Cavaillé-Coll consoles have an elegant simplicity - there are no gadgets whatsoever; the only aids to registration are the usual Pédales de Combinaisons which Cavaillé-Coll provided in his instruments. However, both of these organs have fewer pedals than became customary on later examples of his craft. Furthermore, both consoles are beautifully proportioned. Everything is accessible and visible; and, whilst both consoles do impose some limitations on the manner of interpretation of certain works, they are much more practical in design and, in my view, rather more versatile in their application.

 

If one wishes to play instruments on which a movement may have to be performed on a single registration (or where it is necessary to employ registrants) and where one must cease playing in order to read and locate the precise position of certain stops, then clearly S. Louis-en-l'Ile would provide a suitable medium.

 

It is simply a matter of taste.

 

 

 

* No doubt MM will be able to cite examples of instruments which contradict my assertion - I do not claim to have carried-out an exhaustive study of the console appointments of baroque organs.

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  • 3 months later...
Guest Nigel ALLCOAT

Having just been to the workshop in Courtefontaine, I have put together a number of ordinary pictures in an album for those interested in the progress of the organ. Having had a number of requests to send photographs, I thought this the easiest way to let folk see how things are progressing. Here is the link:

St John's Photo Album

I think a page with 4 thumbnails appears. Click a picture to make it slightly larger and then click that to make a larger one if you want to view in closer detail. I shall put some titles to pictures sometime where a little more explanation might be needed. Happy looking.

All the best,

Nigel

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