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Mander Organs

What Gives An Organ Its Essential Character?


Vox Humana

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I have never played an R&D instrument which I thought was musical or well made, let alone both.

 

I know someone was singing the praises of Holy Trinity, Brompton as being a "good" R&D... Are there any others?

 

 

Malvern Priory is excellent.

The Brompton job suffers from being more openly laid out now than it was in its original home (St.Mark's North Audley Street).

I've never heard The Holy Rude, Stirling in the flesh, but understand that the R&D there is very fine indeed.

 

There is quite a bit of R&D at St.Michael's Cornhill - and a lot of it is good. However, some of that job was not put back right when it was rebuilt/restored in around 1975. The reeds have never been the same as they were before - in particular, several chorus reeds are now much too loud for their true roles (and significantly louder than they were pre-1975). There was a big fuss at the time: Richard Popplewell had to enlist the support of Harold Darke and George Thalben Ball; together they kicked up a joint stink, demanding to have the reeds (as left by R&D) put back as they were at R&D's expense - an amount of remedial work was done for free. Actually, though improved somewhat, these stops have not been 'right' ever since.

 

Rushworth's best period was the 30s and at one time there were a lot of instruments of this vintage around - Oxford, for instance had at least half a dozen.

 

To be honest, practically all the large 1930s organs have been tweaked well out of character by now, never mind which firm originally built them. Even Malvern (above) has changed rather with the latest work. I'd be hard put to name you a dozen large 1930s organs that are still as they were intended. Most of those I can think of are H&H - no surprise there. Some, of course, have been put back as they were: the large J.W.Walker at Sacred Heart, Wimbledon is marvellous. So is the Willis 3 at Farm Street.

 

These days people like me can come out publicly and say that they actually like 30's instruments; at one time this sort of talk was tantamount to heresy - like saying that you play transcriptions in public!!

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I've never heard The Holy Rude, Stirling in the flesh, but understand that the R&D there is very fine indeed.

 

 

 

Rushworth's best period was the 30s and at one time there were a lot of instruments of this vintage around - Oxford, for instance had at least half a dozen.

 

 

These days people like me can come out publicly and say that they actually like 30's instruments; at one time this sort of talk was tantamount to heresy - like saying that you play transcriptions in public!!

 

 

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

 

Holy Rude is a magnificent instrument of the period, but perhaps not to everyone's tastes. I always think this is the most "American" type of organ in the UK, but I can't quite say why.

 

I also used to like the organ of Llandudno PC in North Wales, but I have no idea what it may be like now. I heard this organ first at a recital given by, of all people, Geraint Jones: at the time, gracing the Radio 3 airwaves with his programmes about historic European organs....a landmark in organ broadcasting if ever there was one, and of which I still have some old mono recordings on tape.

 

Happy days, when we had twice weekly recitals on the Radio, and programmes of this calibre such as "Britains Cathedral and their music" with Sir John Betjamin.

 

"The train draws out from under the Malvern Hills, and into a city mercilessly assaulted by heavy traffic...."

(Hereford)

 

What prose! :mellow:

 

MM

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I have never played an R&D instrument which I thought was musical or well made, let alone both.

 

I know someone was singing the praises of Holy Trinity, Brompton as being a "good" R&D... Are there any others?

 

I would leap to the defence of Guildford Cathedral which has rather more appeal in the flesh than it does promise on paper. Whatever its paper provenance, make no mistake that this is a R&D through and through as far as voicing is concerned. There are some tonal blemishes obviously and GM had a lot of these ironed out. The Positive section however is capable of some far more delicious noises than you might expect. I found the console v comfortable and well made too. Possibly the last good R&D job - only a few years before the new console at St Peter's Bournemouth, which I suppose at least can be largely melted down at some future point...

 

The Rushworth work (mostly in the Solo, from the 1920's I think) at Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate is exquisite, almost on a par with the Salisbury solo, but the 1980's work was pretty naff and full of short cuts, sadly.

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I would leap to the defence of Guildford Cathedral which has rather more appeal in the flesh than it does promise on paper. Whatever its paper provenance, make no mistake that this is a R&D through and through as far as voicing is concerned. There are some tonal blemishes obviously and GM had a lot of these ironed out. The Positive section however is capable of some far more delicious noises than you might expect. I found the console v comfortable and well made too. Possibly the last good R&D job - only a few years before the new console at St Peter's Bournemouth, which I suppose at least can be largely melted down at some future point...

 

The Rushworth work (mostly in the Solo, from the 1920's I think) at Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate is exquisite, almost on a par with the Salisbury solo, but the 1980's work was pretty naff and full of short cuts, sadly.

 

 

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

 

I'm sure we mentioned this sometime before Christmas, but there is a lot of old Harrison & Harrison in the organ at Guildford Cathedral. Much of the instrument was obtained second-hand from Ross Street Baptist Church, Shipley, West Yorkshire. You can check via the NPOR register.

 

That's not to detract from the work R & D did at Guildford, which I personally like.

 

MM

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Guest Barry Oakley
I believe that some of the work at Holy Rude, Stirling was executed by Norman & Beard men, due to a strike at R & D. I wonder if anyone can substantiate this ?

 

H

 

Hope you don't think I'm being rude, but should it not be Holy Rood?

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I have never played an R&D instrument which I thought was musical or well made, let alone both.
At the risk of boring the pants of everyone I must mention St Andrew's, Plymouth, yet again. Much as it leaves me unmoved, a lot of people think it is a wonderful instrument - and that includes some famous names. Perhaps one of the last organs built in the truly "symphonic" style, it is the largest organ west of Bristol (just pipping Buckfast Abbey by three stops) and is, unlike Guildford, 100% R&D due to the previous IVP Hele being destroyed by a wartime bomb (only days after a rebuild had been completed; the new organ was never even heard in public). To me all the stops sound rather alike in much the same way as do those of a German Romantic organ, but, like those intruments, the St Andrew's organ is capable of very seamless stop crescendos. It is an organ built very much with blend in mind rather than sharp colours. I would have to concede that it does the job it was designed to do very well.

 

About the quality of the construction I cannot comment, except to say that it suffers niggling mechanical faults such as ciphers. Since the instrument will be 50 years old this year that is perhaps not so surprising, though it was overhauled by Deane's in 1993 (how extensively I do not know).

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At the risk of boring the pants of everyone I must mention St Andrew's, Plymouth, yet again. Much as it leaves me unmoved, a lot of people think it is a wonderful instrument - and that includes some famous names. Perhaps one of the last organs built in the truly "symphonic" style, it is the largest organ west of Bristol (just pipping Buckfast Abbey by three stops) and is, unlike Guildford, 100% R&D due to the previous IVP Hele being destroyed by a wartime bomb (only days after a rebuild had been completed; the new organ was never even heard in public). To me all the stops sound rather alike in much the same way as do those of a German Romantic organ, but, like those intruments, the St Andrew's organ is capable of very seamless stop crescendos. It is an organ built very much with blend in mind rather than sharp colours. I would have to concede that it does the job it was designed to do very well.

 

About the quality of the construction I cannot comment, except to say that it suffers niggling mechanical faults such as ciphers. Since the instrument will be 50 years old this year that is perhaps not so surprising, though it was overhauled by Deane's in 1993 (how extensively I do not know).

 

I went to the opening recital given by Peter Hurford. I don’t know for sure, but I got the impression that the overhaul was fairly extensive.

 

:mellow:

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