Jump to content
Mander Organs
Guest Barry Oakley - voluntarily dereg

Holy Trinity Church, Hull

Recommended Posts

Two questions:

 

I have an LP from Salisbury's cathedral (Richard Seal playing Bach, Liszt

and Franck), recorded in January 1981. The organ was then maintained

by H&H since 1976, and before that by Noël Mander.

Was it then already "butchered"?

 

Ditto an LP from Hull city Hall (Peter Goodman playing Hollins, Kellner, Harwood, Sweelinck and Guilmant's fifth's Sonata), recorded in 1975 (published 1977).

Am I erring in liking it -as far as an LP can tell,I didn't hear it live)?.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
===============

 

...Interestingly, where the Arthur Harrison mixtures have been discarded and replaced, as at Halifax Parish Church, the end result is really not very musically satisfying, but some people just had it in their heads that "brightness" and assertiveness was required in Mixtures, when in fact, the very best Mixtures just tinkle away quite delicately, as the old Arthur Harrison ones did.

 

MM

 

This was, apparently, the case at St. Mary. Redcliffe - although I understand that they have been since partly altered/re-instated.

 

It does, however, depend on what type of organ one plays. I would not wish to lose any of the chorus mixtures on my own instrument for something that 'tinkle away quite delicately' - I would not find any use for such a mixture. In particular, my own instrument comes alive, as it were, when the Cymbal III is added and coupled to the other choruses.

 

Hull City Hall? - God, no - it is a stunning sound!

 

I have an old recording which I acquired of Peter Goodman playing it. The organ sounds fabulous - the John Cook Fanfare (with at least two different Solo reeds) is very exciting. You know - toes clench in shoes as Full Swell comes shining through the diapasons.... :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Two questions:

 

I have an LP from Salisbury's cathedral (Richard Seal playing Bach, Liszt

and Franck), recorded in January 1981. The organ was then maintained

by H&H since 1976, and before that by Noël Mander.

Was it then already "butchered"?

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

Absolutely not - Manders had previously divided the Pedal mixture into two stops of two ranks (presumably to isolate the lower-pitched ranks). H&H re-united the mixture, re-made the stop jambs and replaced the foot pedals (installed by Mander) with foot pistons. The Choir and Pedal stops also swapped positions on the jambs, I believe. As far as I am aware, no revoicing was carried out at this time.

 

The comprehensive restoration in 1934 saw some tonal alterations - a Nazard and Tierce were added to the Choir Organ and the Solo Organ was augmented by a 'cello Céleste. Apparently Walter Alcock (Titulaire at the time) was visiting Willis's works and heard this rank being voiced for (I believe) Westminster Cathedral and practically begged Willis to let him purchase it for Salisbury. I am exremely glad he did, because it is the most wonderful sound. I was playing before a service there, a year or two ago (having forgotten about the Solo Céleste) and I changed claviers (to the Solo Organ) and very nearly wet myself.... There was this glorious, warm, etherial shimmer, which just permeated the whole building....

 

The only slight disappointment from the console is the 32p reed (which speaks on a pressure of 225mm). However, its reticence is largely due to the fact that it is placed in the North Transept, behing the 32p flue (metal). Strangely, this latter stop is perfectly audible from the console.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No there was not anything wrong with it, space and accessibilty is supposedly why it went, together with the Choir and Solo mostly. A glance at the before and after specs reveals the full extent of the the work. I played it some years ago and think the swell and great, and bulk of pedal, and odd solo stops remaining(now on the choir, really a positive otherwise) would form an excellent basis  for reversal of a lot of what had been done. The Willis work always was, and is glorious. The 32 reed has certainly been toned down, not to its improvement. The fire has gone. As to space being the reason for the 32' and other work going, two bays of the triforium are now all but empty. :lol:  :D  :P

 

Thanks - that is one mystery solved. I would not have done that, though. Probably not even for aparments in Florida and Paris... :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
He was fairly trenchant in his views about instruments and players, but sometimes preferred (in public and for the sake of a perfomance at all!) to go with the flow. The Partita was first performed on the (then-new HN&B)RCO and Festival Hall organs. He said that he could not have chosen two worse instruments for the purpose. I have an autographed score with several of his comments upon it, not least interesting are his notes to show where Novellos had changed the text against his wishes. 

 

Sorry to go on!

I simply must recount the tale of The Organ Club's recent visit (? 4 years ago) to Gloucester Cathedral.  We were graced with the presence of the managing director of Nicholsons who was forced (as we all were) to hear that instrument struggle with accompanying choral evensong.  In addition to the difficulties outlined earlier on this web-site, on that day it was foully out-of-tune.  To top it all, what did we get for a voluntary?  (In my opinion, of course,) it was so unwise a choice as to be comic - we were treated to the opening movement of Whitlock's Sonata. The duplexed Great reeds and the Cornet of Manual IV having to do duty for the (missing) Tuba.

 

It was like hearing the 'best bit' of Swan Lake played by a school orchestra with the swan melody given out on massed Kazoos.

I should note that the organ does 'work' as a solo instrument provided that the music is chosen with care:  James Lancelot's (German-biased) programme recently was a triumph, I also applaud the most intelligent choice of repertoire Robert Houssart has recently recorded for a new CD.

 

I'll shut up about Gloucester now.

 

 

Well, I must agree with you regarding the choice of instruments on which the music of Howells was performed.

 

However (I am sure you were expecting this) I have a problem with your Gloucester statements!

 

Having heard/played it many times, it has never, to my ears, struggled to accompany Choral Evensong. The first time I heard a service there, DB was playing and his imaginitive and utterly musical accompaniment of Noble in B-minor was enchanting and entirely appropriate. In fact, it was the only time that I have been able to raise enthusiasm for this oft-performed setting. (Fortunately, at my own church, we do not do it too often, these days.)

 

Furthermore, I have never heard the Gloucester organ in a foully out-of-tune state - not even in the height of summer! However, any organ can have its off-days.

 

I have an old recording of Peterborough Cathedral organ. Christopher Gower is playing. I believe the last track is the Entrée Pontificale of Bossi. For the last three chords, treble E on the Tuba is hideously out-of-tune! Why? I would have checked such things before a recording. A stop speaking on 500mm is unlikely suddenly to slip so far out; and, if it did, I would have got someone to hold down the key whilst I went aloft and re-tuned the note!

 

This is not an isolated case, either!

 

I am pleased to note your comments re-recent recordings on the Gloucester organ. I shall try to obtain a copy of the Robert Houssart CD. I understand that he is also extremely gifted as an improviser, too. :lol:

 

I will try to shut up about Gloucester now.... :blink::D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an LP from Salisbury's cathedral (Richard Seal playing Bach, Liszt

and Franck), recorded in January 1981. The organ was then maintained

by H&H since 1976, and before that by Noël Mander.

Was it then already "butchered"?

 

Ditto an LP from Hull city Hall (Peter Goodman playing Hollins, Kellner, Harwood, Sweelinck and Guilmant's fifth's Sonata), recorded in 1975 (published 1977).

Am I erring in liking it -as far as an LP can tell,I didn't hear it live)?.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

Dear Pierre,

 

Why should you think you are "erring in liking it....." ? Until the thought police finally triumph and the world of George Orwell's 1984 becomes reality you are free to like whatever you wish in terms of organ timbre, action, size etc, etc. It does not matter in the slightest whether or not other people agree with you. And the impression I have gained from various postings by you which I have read is that you wish to preserve the widest possible spectrum of types of organ so that others too can have the opportunity to hear and make up their own minds, an objective which I would entirely support.

 

I also have both the LPs you refer to above and I like them too. I do not know Salisbury well (so I cannot judge how recorded sound compares with the reality as heard in the building)l but as a student I attended numerous recitals by Peter Goodman between 1966 and 1971 and got to know the Hull organ quite well. I think the LP conveys as accurate an impression of it as was possible to achieve with the technology at the disposal of Michael Smythe when he made the recording, bearing in mind that a single LP cannot possible demonstrate every facet of an organ of this size. If you have not already got it Priory Records PRCD 489 Organ Works of Whitlock Vol 1 is a CD of the Hull organ you ought to enjoy. You could have fun trying to identify which of the solo reeds is used in which of the pieces. I have it on the authority of Graham Barber himself that they all get an outing ! There was also once available a Priory CD of Adrian Lucas (of Worcester fame) playing various transcriptions , including the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker with the melody on the solo orchestral bells. Is it even possible that the new Worcester organ might have a couple of percussion stops?After all Hereford has one.

 

Best wishes

 

Brian Childs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
....Is it even possible that  the new Worcester organ might have a couple of percussion stops?After all Hereford has one.

 

Best wishes

 

Brian Childs

 

I sincerely hope not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Re: St.Bride's Fleets Street and St.George's R.C. Cathedral Southwark*

 

Thanks to correspondents who have reminded us of these two good and interesting instruments.  Incidentally, I believe that the organ at St.George's Southwark is recently much improved.  When I knew it in the 70's it was all enclosed, recent revisions have changed this, greatly to its benefit as regards effectiveness in the building....

 

....In an early issue of The Organ (my copy is currently in store so I can't give you a number) there is an advertisement from Heles of Plymouth who claimed in that advert that their voicers had recently worked right through the Truro organ when it was overhauled by them and revoiced all the reeds.  If anyone nowadays says that Truro does not sound exactly like a Father Willis I venture to suggest that this is the reason.

 

Southwark - I heard this organ on last year's Midnight Mass - it did indeed sound extremely good, even through the TV speakers.

 

There is probably some truth and some exaggeration in this. It is certainly true that the GO Tromba 8p was slightly revoiced (probably some time in the 1960s) - John Winter (former Titulaire) told me that himself - and I have also read it in another source. However, I am sceptical of their statement that they had revoiced all the reeds. However, it would be interesting to obtain further information. I will ask Lance Foy, to see if he can shed any light on the matter.

 

While on the subject of large Compton organs, I submit that St. Luke's, Chelsea is also a fine instrument, although I have not played it for a while. Consequently I do not know the current state of preservation of the instrument.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I sincerely hope not.

 

 

Oh, don't be a spoilsport. Some of us quite like tonal percussions for quiet effects. Anyway it might help it to double up as an entertainment organ and so encourage some more people to attend recitals thus helping to defray the costs. And didn't JSB ask for the addition of a set of bells to the organ at Arnstadt ?

 

BAC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I sincerely hope not.

Oh, don't be a spoilsport. Some of us quite like tonal percussions for quiet effects. Anyway it might help it to double up as an entertainment organ and so encourage some more people to attend recitals thus helping to defray the costs. And  didn't JSB ask for the addition of a set of bells to the organ at Arnstadt ?

 

BAC

 

 

Hmm.... it is often difficult enough for organists to persuade other professional musicians to take the organ seriously as it is - particularly orchestral players. I remain unconvinced that percussion effects and other toys will serve to advance our cause.

 

If one is going to add useful accessories, I would prefer a mini-bar.

 

Perhaps even JSB could be wrong! :blink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Brian,

 

My concern lies with the fact I sometimes use this LP(Salisbury) in order to give a hint to what a Willis organ is to belgian friends.

 

For instance, the 17-19-22 mixtures used in Bach! and the reed choruses

in Franck.

Pierre

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Roffensis
Hmm.... it is often difficult enough for organists to persuade other professional musicians to take the organ seriously as it is - particularly orchestral players. I remain unconvinced that percussion effects and other toys will serve to advance our cause.

 

If one is going to add useful accessories, I would prefer a mini-bar.

 

Perhaps even JSB could be wrong! :blink:

 

I hear that a Carillon is going on Southwark anyway, ideal for the Angelus and Elevation etc. It makes me feel very religious just contermplating it. I think Vierne C.d.West. should be put on, and then the organist could do that a la Virgil Fox at Wanamakers. if you haven't heard that recording its a hoot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm.... it is often difficult enough for organists to persuade other professional musicians to take the organ seriously as it is - particularly orchestral players. I remain unconvinced that percussion effects and other toys will serve to advance our cause.

 

If one is going to add useful accessories, I would prefer a mini-bar.

 

Perhaps even JSB could be wrong! :blink:

 

Dear pcnd5584

 

Since JSB was human I am certain he could be wrong but that does not mean he was this time !

 

The mini-bar (comme Ratzeburg presumably) would need to have a time lock fitted to prevent its being drawn until after the service or recital , at least if added to the instruments presided over by some I have known who would make Inspector Morse look like a babe in arms when it comes to the delights of real ale.

 

As to the point of substance you have every right to your opinion, as I have to mine. However, it is a matter of fact that tonal percussion stops have been being fitted to organs for the last 3 centuries, give or take a few years (vide Weingarten); they are not uncommonly fitted to the larger modern organs of Klais and Rieger; and they are widespread in the United States. Now tuned bird whistles and a klaxon would be a little more over the top....

 

Perhaps were I a professional musician with a need to be concerned about what other professional musicians think I would share your view. But I am only a bog standard member of the paying public /congregation. About the only right this gives me (but it is a right) is the right to vote with my wallet in the sense that no one can oblige me to pay (and certainly not £10 a throw) or even just make myself physically present even without payment in order to listen to what somebody else thinks I ought to like (or feels it is professionally respectable to play) rather than what I have learnt over the course of my life I do. How is this relevant ? Well, I have been attending organ recitals for close to 40 years now and the general trend in audiences has been relentlessly downwards. According to Gerald Brooks' letter in the current edition of Organists' Review artists of the calibre of Lionel Rogg and Daniel Roth can play to audiences of less than 50 in London. The picture here in Ulster would be much worse. We used to have FREE lunchtime recitals on the Ulster Hall organ for an audience which frequently did not make double figures. So of course we do not have them any more. The only organist in my experience who has come close to attracting the kind of attendance which was once taken for granted for the Alexandra Palace recitals by the likes of Cunningham is Carlo Curley. Go figure ! Is it possible that the desire for professional repectability has lead to the creation of an ever widening gap between the wishes of the performer and the desires of the potential audience ? If so the normal economic principle of consumer sovereignty would indicate that it is the performers who will have to give way: the usual result of continuing to produce something for which the market does not exist is bankruptcy !

 

A final confession and last thought. The confession : I am a member of the Cinema Organ Society with a distinct fondness for Christies, Comptons and Wurlitzers and Sydney Torch playing Hot Dog would be one of my 8 Desert Island discs. { I also much prefer the authorised version of the Bible and the BCP 1662 -people are complex!}The thought : that those worried by the prospect of being outed in favour of drums and synthesizers might do worse than install a percusion section and toy counter : at least then the effects would be under their own control ! (And I do not expect this thought to be taken too seriously !)

 

Best wishes,

Brian Childs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha! ha!

 

Well I would certainly concur with your thoughts on the BCP (1662) and the King James Version. At least it does not have those dreadful line drawings which are present in the Good News Version. We once had to hurriedly remove all the orders of service for a Confirmation from the choristers, most of whom were helpless with laughter. This was due to the rather innocent church secretary who had provided a cover design consisting of a line drawing of a candidate kneeling between a bishop's legs. The bishop had his hands on the candidate's head and...

 

CENSORED!

 

I am sure that you get the idea....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[Various quotes:- =

 

Hmm.... it is often difficult enough for organists to persuade other professional musicians to take the organ seriously as it is - particularly orchestral players.

 

..... it is a matter of fact that tonal percussion stops have been being fitted to organs for the last 3 centuries

 

Now tuned bird whistles and a klaxon would be a little more over the top....

 

About the only right this gives me (but it is a right) is the right to vote with my wallet in the sense that no one can oblige me to pay (and certainly not £10 a throw) or even just make myself physically present even without payment in order to listen to what somebody else thinks I ought to like

 

I have been attending organ recitals for close to 40 years now and the general trend in audiences has been relentlessly downwards.

 

The only organist in my experience who has come close to attracting the kind of attendance which was once taken for granted for the Alexandra Palace recitals by the likes of Cunningham is Carlo Curley. Go figure !

 

Is it possible that the desire for professional repectability has lead to the creation of an ever widening gap between the wishes of the performer and the desires of the potential audience ?

 

If so the normal economic principle of consumer sovereignty would indicate that it is the performers who will have to give way: the usual result of continuing to produce something for which the market does not exist is bankruptcy !

 

Sydney Torch playing Hot Dog would be one of my 8 Desert Island discs.

 

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

 

 

The organ of St.Thomas', Leipzig had both a "Vogelgesang" (bird song) register and a Cimblestern. Weingarten was almost the first theatre organ, and in 1746, Stumm had included a Glockenspiel at Kircheimbolanden. I'm sure there are many other examples of similar vintage.

 

Technically, the first theatre organs were "straight" classical instruments, and didn't Fr.Willis install one somewhere? (Sheldonian?)

 

However, to address a more serious point, even "light music" played on the organ now fails to attract more than a few dozen, unless it is Phil Kelsall doing his "Blackpool" bounce, someone of the quality of Simon Gledhill or one of the better USA organists performing. The decline now seems to have expanded to include the once vibrant world of electronic organ performances, which have now been totally dropped, it would seem, from Nigel Ogden's Radio 2 presentation.

 

Only a few years back, I recall a conversation with Robert Wolf, the theatre organist, who said sadly, "The organ world is just dying on its' feet."

 

Now in my mid 50's, I'm just glad that I managed to sneak in towards the end of an era in which organs and organ-recitals (not to mention live theatre organ concerts) were still well-attended, often exciting and occasionally brilliant....the likes of Jiri Ropek, Fernando Germani, Francis Jackson, Flor Peeters, Jane Parker-Smith, G Thalben-Ball ...world-class performers who had a devoted following.

 

Carlo Curley is something of a phenomenon, and perhaps his secret is an ability to welcome people genuinely, joke with them and TALK to them...he communicates an infectious enthusiasm, which people readily take on board.

 

I'm told that in certain areas of the old Eastern Bloc, organ concerts can be very well attended, and certainly, there have been audiences of thousands counted in Budapest, for example. I've seen over 1,000 people at St.Bavo, and never less than 200 for a lunch-time konzert.

 

The RAH re-opening, and its' extensive exposure in the Proms Season was no bad thing....they even talked about it on air.

 

It seems to me, that the organ, as an instrument, is now boxed into two corners; one of which appeals to the elderly, and one which appeals to the musically academic. With a church which broadly (and in my view stupidly) attempts to ape "yuff culta" by placing old wine in new bottles, the organ has rapidly been displaced by almost any collection of instruments which can stir up the baser emotional responses of rhythm and superficial, repetitive melody and sequences. It's the same world as binge drinking, discos and rock-concerts, but with the added pretention of "the way" "the truth" and "the life."

 

However, organists must also take some responsibility for the decline. When almost every recital in Britain consists of, Bach, Vierne, Widor and Howells, one might be forgiven for thinking that the organ is an instrument for "dead" composers. They have also become like the endless repeats on TV...familiar, cosy, keep it in the club, let's not rock the boat sort of mentality.

 

If I perform, which isn't often these days, I try to entertain a little. When I attend as a listener, maybe I don't want to be pious, reflective and high-minded all the time. Sometimes I want to chuckle, as I often do at Carlo Curley's more extravagent gestures, sometimes I want to get up and boogie to the Jig Fugue or a Petr Eben "number" and, with at least one piece, I want to be gob-smacked by the "show."

 

Ask yourselves which pieces really "rock and roll" and they are very unlikely to be British ones or German ones.

 

There is an alternative. How many people know the Brixi organ concertii?

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/su3741-2_1_01.mp3

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/su3741-2_1_08.mp3

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/su3741-2_1_12.mp3

 

Why can't someone write something as effective for the organ as the following, by Hurnik?

 

http://www.hurnik.cz/music/Hotsuita%20Bigbeat.mp3

 

If you know a mezzo-soprano, how about these, by Klement Slavicky?

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/up0059-2_1_04.mp3

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/up0059-2_1_06.mp3

 

Got a baroque organ? Try this little number!

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/cr0217-2_1_08.mp3

“Angles on the organ case” - Radek Rejsek – from “A while with an antique organ”

 

Got a couple of decent trebles? You too can be a language teacher!

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/su3660-2_1_03.mp3

Pochvalen bud Jezis Kristus

 

I think it's time we put "Entertains" back into "The Organist"

 

The music exists, but do we have any organists who are not as dead as the composers they play?

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Roffensis
I have an LP from Salisbury's cathedral (Richard Seal playing Bach, Liszt

and Franck), recorded in January 1981. The organ was then maintained

by H&H since 1976, and before that by Noël Mander.

Was it then already "butchered"?

 

 

It was 1934 I think, under Willis III. of course it is still a incredibly fine organ, but to call it a "Father" Willis and to say it is original with no pipe having left the building with Alcock being so ardent that no alteration must take place, is to reveal a very large red herring. It also sounds very much finer live in the building than on any recording, and that much can be said of all organs if we're honest.

Richard

 

Ditto an LP from Hull city Hall (Peter Goodman playing Hollins, Kellner, Harwood, Sweelinck and Guilmant's fifth's Sonata), recorded in 1975 (published 1977).

Am I erring in liking it -as far as an LP can tell,I didn't hear it live)?.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

Dear Pierre,

 

Why should you think you are "erring in liking it....." ?  Until the thought police finally triumph and the world of George Orwell's 1984 becomes reality you are free to like whatever you wish in terms of organ timbre, action, size etc, etc. It does not matter in the slightest whether or not other people agree with you. And the impression I have gained from various postings by you which I have read is that you wish to preserve the widest possible spectrum of  types of organ so that others too can have the opportunity to hear and make  up their own minds, an objective which I would entirely support.

 

I also have both the LPs you refer to above and I like them too. I do not know Salisbury well  (so I cannot judge how recorded sound compares with the reality as heard in the building)l but as a student I attended numerous recitals by Peter Goodman between 1966 and 1971 and got to know the Hull organ quite well. I think the LP conveys as accurate an impression of it as was possible to achieve with the technology at the disposal of Michael Smythe when he made the recording, bearing in mind that a single LP cannot possible demonstrate every facet of an organ of this size. If you have not already got it Priory Records PRCD 489 Organ Works of Whitlock Vol 1 is a CD of the Hull organ you ought to enjoy. You could have fun trying to identify which of the solo reeds is used in which of the pieces. I have it on the authority of Graham Barber himself that they all get an outing ! There was also once available a Priory  CD of Adrian Lucas (of Worcester fame) playing various transcriptions , including the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker with the melody on the solo orchestral bells. Is it even possible that  the new Worcester organ might have a couple of percussion stops?After all Hereford has one.

 

Best wishes

 

Brian Childs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The organ of St.Thomas', Leipzig had both a "Vogelgesang" (bird song) register and a Cimblestern. Weingarten was almost the first theatre organ, and in 1746, Stumm had included a Glockenspiel at Kircheimbolanden. I'm sure there are many other examples of similar vintage.

 

Technically, the first theatre organs were "straight" classical instruments, and didn't Fr.Willis install one somewhere? (Sheldonian?)

 

However, to address a more serious point, even "light music" played on the organ now fails to attract more than a few dozen, unless it is Phil Kelsall doing his "Blackpool" bounce, someone of the quality of Simon Gledhill or one of the better USA organists performing. The decline now seems to have expanded to include the once vibrant world of electronic organ performances, which have now been totally dropped, it would seem, from Nigel Ogden's Radio 2 presentation.

 

IN ULSTER WHERE WE ONLY HAVE ONE WORKING THEATRE ORGAN AT PRESENT THE AUDIENCES STILL REGULARLY REACH THREE FIGURES BUT THE ORGAN (EX -TONIC , BANGOR) IS INSTALLED IN THE ASSEMBLEY HALL OF A LOCAL BOY'S SECONDARY SCHOOL WHICH IS CLOSING SO THE ORGAN WILL HAVE TO BE MOVED. WHEN THE OTHER INSTALLATION WILL BE READY FOR PUBLIC USE OR EVEN WHETHER IT WILL PROVE FEASIBLE SO TO USE IT SEEMS TO REMAIN AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY.

 

Only a few years back, I recall a conversation with Robert Wolf, the theatre organist, who said sadly, "The organ world is just dying on its' feet."

 

SADLY AND LITERALLY SO IT WOULD SEEM. I KNOW THAT IN TERMS OF THE CINEMA ORGAN SOCIETY BEING IN MY 50S MAKES ME ONE OF THE YOUNGER MEMBERS SO AN INEVITABLE DECLINE IN MEMBERSHIP CANNOT BE LONG DELAYED.

 

Now in my mid 50's, I'm just glad that I managed to sneak in towards the end of an era in which organs and organ-recitals (not to mention live theatre organ concerts) were still well-attended, often exciting and occasionally brilliant....the likes of Jiri Ropek, Fernando Germani, Francis Jackson, Flor Peeters, Jane Parker-Smith, G Thalben-Ball ...world-class performers who had a devoted following.

 

Carlo Curley is something of a phenomenon, and perhaps his secret is an ability to welcome people genuinely, joke with them and TALK to them...he communicates an infectious enthusiasm, which people readily take on board.

 

I'm told that in certain areas of the old Eastern Bloc, organ concerts can be very well attended, and certainly, there have been audiences of thousands counted in Budapest, for example. I've seen over 1,000 people at St.Bavo, and never less than 200 for a lunch-time konzert.

 

The RAH re-opening, and its' extensive exposure in the Proms Season was no bad thing....they even talked about it on air.

 

It seems to me, that the organ, as an instrument, is now boxed into two corners; one of which appeals to the elderly, and one which appeals to the musically academic. With a church which broadly (and in my view stupidly) attempts to ape "yuff culta" by placing old wine in new bottles, the organ has rapidly been displaced by almost any collection of instruments which can stir up the baser emotional responses of rhythm and superficial, repetitive melody and sequences. It's the same world as binge drinking, discos and rock-concerts, but with the added pretention of "the way" "the truth" and "the life."

 

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE! ONE OF THE REASONS I LIKE THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER IS THE SENSE OF CONTINUITY GENERATED BY USING A FORM OF WORSHIP FAMILIAR TO THOSE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE AND WHICH RETAINED A CERTAIN DIGNITY AND DECORUM. I SOMETIMES FEEL THAT ITS DISPLACEMENT SEEMINGLY EVERYWHERE HAS PRODUCED AN EFFECT NOT DISSIMILAR TO THAT PRODUCED BY THE ABOLITION OF THE CODE OF "GOOD MANNERS" INSTILLED IN THOSE OF US OF A CERTAIN AGE - THE CERTAINTY OF BEING ABLE TO GO ANYWHERE AND KNOW WHAT WAS ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOUR IN A PARTICULAR SITUATION HAS SIMPLY DISAPPEARED, TO BE REPLACED BY WHAT ?

However, organists must also take some responsibility for the decline. When almost every recital in Britain consists of, Bach, Vierne, Widor and Howells, one might be forgiven for thinking that the organ is an instrument for "dead" composers. They have also become like the endless repeats on TV...familiar, cosy, keep it in the club, let's not rock the boat sort of mentality.

 

SURELY THE SITUATION IS NOT QUITE THAT BLEAK? GIVEN ALL THE EFFORT THAT CERTAIN PEOPLE HAVE PUT IN RECENTLY TO LEARN THE WHITLOCK SONATA THAT MUST TURN UP FROM TIME TO TIME ? SURELY SOMEONE MUST BE PROGRAMMING MOZART, ALAIN, FRANCK, AND MESSIAEN ? AND WHAT ABOUT BOELLMAN , GUILMANT AND RHEINBERGER. BUT I BEING HERE AM IN NO POSITION TO CHALLENGE THE ACCURACY OF YOUR ASSERTIONS, THOUGH I AM SUSPICIOUS YOU ARE EXAGGERATING A LITTLE FOR THE SAKE OF EFFECT.

 

If I perform, which isn't often these days, I try to entertain a little. When I attend as a listener, maybe I don't want to be pious, reflective and high-minded all the time. Sometimes I want to chuckle, as I often do at Carlo Curley's more extravagent gestures, sometimes I want to get up and boogie to the Jig Fugue or a Petr Eben "number" and, with at least one piece, I want to be gob-smacked by the "show."

 

I THINK THIS HAS TO BE THE CRUCIAL POINT. CONCERT ORGANISTS ARE IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY BUT THE WAY THAT SOME OF THEM SPEAK AND WRITE WOULD LEAD YOU TO BELIEVE THEY THINK THEY ARE IN THE EDUCATION INDUSTRY WITH A MISSION TO ELEVATE THE TASTES OF THE UNWASHED MASSES.WELL YOU CANNOT ELEVATE MY TASTES IF I WON'T GO, AND I WILL NOT PART WITH MY HARD WON "BRASS" TO BE BORED, DEAFENED OR TREATED TO 10 MINUTES OF SOMETHING WHERE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO TELL HOW GOOD THE PERFORMANCE WAS BECAUSE THERE IS NO WAY OF KNOWING WHETHER THE NOTES ACTUALLY PLAYED WERE THOSE INTENDED BY THE COMPOSER OR NOT. THE FUNCTION OF THE CHURCH ORGANIST IS DIFFERENT, OF COURSE, BUT YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE SOLEMN IN ORDER TO BE SERIOUS.LOOKING AROUND ME I FIND IT IMPOSSIBLE TO BELIEVE THAT GOD DOES NOT HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR. HAVE YOU HEARD LYN LARSEN'S PERFORMANCE OF BWV 578 ON THE SAN FILIPPO WURLITZER - STARTS QUIETLY AND CONTINUOUSLY CRESCENDOS TO THE END WHICH IS IN NO SENSE QUIET - COMPLETELY INAUTHENTIC AND UTTERLY CAPTIVATING FOR ANYONE WHOSE PRIMARY CONCERN IS NOT HISTORICAL AUTHENTICITY.

 

Ask yourselves which pieces really "rock and roll" and they are very unlikely to be British ones or German ones.

 

IS THIS STATEMENT CONFINED TO THE HERE AND NOW , OR IS IT INTENDED TO APPLY TO THE LAST 150 YEARS ? IF THE LATTER, I THINK THAT HOLLINS, WHITLOCK, NORMAN COCKER'S TUBA TUNE, AND LIKEWISE THAT OF C.S LANG(OR IS HE BEING TREATED AS AN ANTIPODEAN) SHOULD QUALIFY FOR SOME SORT OF HONOURABLE MENTION . OR ARE THESE THE EXCEPTIONS WHICH PROVE THE RULE ? FOR THE GERMAN'S I AM STUCK, ALTHOUGH SOME KARG-ELERT WOULD QUALIFY SURELY ?

 

There is an alternative. How many people know the Brixi organ concertii?

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/su3741-2_1_01.mp3

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/su3741-2_1_08.mp3

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/su3741-2_1_12.mp3

 

Why can't someone write something as effective for the organ as the following, by Hurnik?

 

http://www.hurnik.cz/music/Hotsuita%20Bigbeat.mp3

 

If you know a mezzo-soprano, how about these, by Klement Slavicky?

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/up0059-2_1_04.mp3

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/up0059-2_1_06.mp3

 

Got a baroque organ? Try this little number!

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/cr0217-2_1_08.mp3

“Angles on the organ case” - Radek Rejsek – from “A while with an antique organ”

 

Got a couple of decent trebles? You too can be a language teacher!

 

http://www.musicabona.com/samples/su3660-2_1_03.mp3

Pochvalen bud Jezis Kristus

 

I AM GOING TO FOLLOW THESE UP TOMORROW WHEN THE DOMESTIC MANAGEMENT IS OUT. SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED (AT LEAST IF ONE WISHES TO CONTINUE TO ENJOY EDIBLE MEALS SERVED ON A REGULAR BASIS) DOES NOT HAVE AN EQUAL ENTHUSIASM FOR MUSIC WHICH INVOLVES THE ORGAN.

 

I think it's time we put "Entertains" back into "The Organist"

 

The music exists, but do we have any organists who are not as dead as the composers they play?

 

I

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

SURELY THE SITUATION IS NOT QUITE THAT BLEAK? GIVEN ALL THE EFFORT THAT CERTAIN PEOPLE HAVE PUT IN RECENTLY TO LEARN THE WHITLOCK SONATA THAT MUST TURN UP FROM TIME TO TIME ? SURELY SOMEONE MUST BE PROGRAMMING MOZART, ALAIN, FRANCK, AND MESSIAEN ? AND WHAT ABOUT BOELLMAN , GUILMANT AND RHEINBERGER. BUT I BEING HERE AM IN NO POSITION TO CHALLENGE THE ACCURACY OF YOUR ASSERTIONS, THOUGH I AM SUSPICIOUS YOU ARE EXAGGERATING A LITTLE FOR THE SAKE OF EFFECT.

 

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

 

Perhaps I was being economical with the truth, but my point was simply that the standard recital fayre is predictable. The Mozart K608 is certainly one which I have played a fair few times in recital.

 

However, all the above composers are still dead!

 

How many people ever include modern or contemporary works?

 

It isn't all cacophony by any means, and I think I have heard the Francis Jackson "Diversion for Mixtures" performed once (by Francis Jackson and by request) and the Fricker "Pastoral" once. I'm sure some people do play it, but I've never once heard a recitalist give an organ-work by Petr Eben an airing, and I don't think I would ever have heard the "Victime Pascale" by Jiri Ropek, but for the fact that he played it at one of his recitals in the UK, many years ago.

 

MM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

 

Perhaps I was being economical with the truth, but my point was simply that the standard recital fayre is predictable. The Mozart K608 is certainly one which I have played a fair few times in recital.

 

However, all the above composers are still dead!

 

How many people ever include modern or contemporary works?

 

It isn't all cacophony by any means, and I think I have heard the Francis Jackson "Diversion for Mixtures" performed once (by Francis Jackson and by request) and the Fricker "Pastoral" once. I'm sure some people do play it, but I've never once heard a recitalist give an organ-work by Petr Eben an airing, and I don't think I would ever have heard the "Victime Pascale" by Jiri Ropek, but for the fact that he played it at one of his recitals in the UK, many years ago.

 

I do not think we disagree about anything fundamental. I have heard the Fricker played a couple of times and I think the Ropek once (by Jennifer Bate?) and Eben's Moto Ostinato (Graham Barber ?)(also according to an insert in Organists' Review Johannes Geffert played Finale from Sunday Music at Westminster Abbey on 2 August in their Summer Organ Festival programme) but there is certainly an apparent lack of music by living composers being programmed except for Naji Hakim whose name appears with a certain degree of frequency . Unfortunately what I have heard of his music has not particularly appealed. I suppose laziness is a factor, and also that there is not the same incentive to work at understanding something which is not immediately appealing UNLESS the composer has an established reputation so that the effort is likely to be repaid. What I mean is that in the visual arts I have to work at Turner in a way that I do not with Constable, but I know (in the sense of being aware of the cultural consensus) that Turner is a great artist and so I am prepared to put the work in to understanding his pictures. I think the same must hold good for music : modern composers whose work is not immediately accessible at at least one level (whatever hidden depths may be there to be revealed by further study) are not going to have the time alloted to them. But a lot of tripe is also being written, particularly in the sub French Toccata mode where Loud - Soft -Loud and a "tune" (though rarely a hummable one) in the pedals is all that is seemingly required.

 

Kevin Bowyer has recorded several CDs of modern organ music by living composers. I have listened to them but they have not usually gone straight back on the turntable for another hearing. Would you recommend persevering with any of these pieces ?

 

I suspect it may be necessary for a piece to secure a champion and appear on a CD recorded by him or her so as to become more widely known so that it can then be requested.

 

On a different tack it occurs to me that part of the reason for the decline of the theatre organ is simply that a great deal of modern popular music hardly lends itself to presentation via the medium. In fact it could be plausibly argued that modern popular music has very little to do with music at all , if one understands music to be something which can be performed by a variety of different artists, and a great deal to do with the marketing of an image, so that reading from the phone book could at some stage be top of the pops. Of course there are always exceptions, but it seems to me that so much today is artist specific in a way that was not true in the past. Perhaps I am just getting old and grumpy but whilst I can quite easily envisage a programme devoted to the works of Lennon and McCartney, who is there today enjoying an equivalent following amongst the young whose work could be used ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And I think on the HN&B Positive at Bath Abbey which seemingly had little done to it when Klais rebuilt.

AJJ

 

Correct.  Ditto the Great Gemshorn 8 and Blockflute 4, two of the most outstanding stops on the instrument.  PS - concert series coming up at Westbury on Stephen's Bevington rebuild - they asked me to do but I can't - there's Robert Fielding, Henry Parkes, Peter Barley, Matthew Martin and David Coram.  Some I've heard of, some not - anyone know any more?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I have an LP from Salisbury's cathedral (Richard Seal playing Bach, Liszt

and Franck), recorded in January 1981. The organ was then maintained

by H&H since 1976, and before that by Noël Mander.

Was it then already "butchered"?

 

Ditto an LP from Hull city Hall (Peter Goodman playing Hollins, Kellner, Harwood, Sweelinck and Guilmant's fifth's Sonata), recorded in 1975 (published 1977).

Am I erring in liking it -as far as an LP can tell,I didn't hear it live)?.

 

Best wishes,

Pierre Lauwers.

 

Dear Pierre,

 

Why should you think you are "erring in liking it....." ?  Until the thought police finally triumph and the world of George Orwell's 1984 becomes reality you are free to like whatever you wish in terms of organ timbre, action, size etc, etc. It does not matter in the slightest whether or not other people agree with you. And the impression I have gained from various postings by you which I have read is that you wish to preserve the widest possible spectrum of  types of organ so that others too can have the opportunity to hear and make  up their own minds, an objective which I would entirely support.

 

I also have both the LPs you refer to above and I like them too. I do not know Salisbury well  (so I cannot judge how recorded sound compares with the reality as heard in the building)l but as a student I attended numerous recitals by Peter Goodman between 1966 and 1971 and got to know the Hull organ quite well. I think the LP conveys as accurate an impression of it as was possible to achieve with the technology at the disposal of Michael Smythe when he made the recording, bearing in mind that a single LP cannot possible demonstrate every facet of an organ of this size. If you have not already got it Priory Records PRCD 489 Organ Works of Whitlock Vol 1 is a CD of the Hull organ you ought to enjoy. You could have fun trying to identify which of the solo reeds is used in which of the pieces. I have it on the authority of Graham Barber himself that they all get an outing ! There was also once available a Priory  CD of Adrian Lucas (of Worcester fame) playing various transcriptions , including the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker with the melody on the solo orchestral bells. Is it even possible that  the new Worcester organ might have a couple of percussion stops?After all Hereford has one.

 

Best wishes

 

Brian Childs

I have a copy of that Adruian Lucas cd and its excellent, also I have an lp of a young mr Preston play it, I believe it has Liszt BACH on and I recorded it myself with a polish organist playin prelude & fugue in E flat with the mass for the parishes and other bits played inbetween. The city hall organ also plays a thrilling improvised march complete with drum rolls etc, ( a riend of mine improvised there for an hour, and I recorded it :mellow: )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
According to Gerald Brooks' letter in the current edition of Organists' Review artists of the calibre of Lionel Rogg and Daniel Roth can play to audiences of less than 50 in London.

In my view Brooks shoots himself in the foot in the OR letter since for his recital series at All Souls, Langham Place, the only information one ever gets is the name of the recitalist plus, if we're lucky, some crumbs about the programme (i.e. "including Franck's Trois Pieces"). Try the All Souls website and there is no mention anywhere about the organ or the recitals. Plus he does hold them on Monday nights, a notorious dead spot in the week where even Central London cinemas offer reduced prices to try and lure the punters in.

 

Jeremy Jones

London

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In my view Brooks shoots himself in the foot in the OR letter since for his recital series at All Souls, Langham Place, the only information one ever gets is the name of the recitalist plus, if we're lucky, some crumbs about the programme (i.e. "including Franck's Trois Pieces"). Try the All Souls website and there is no mention anywhere about the organ or the recitals. Plus he does hold them on Monday nights, a notorious dead spot in the week where even Central London cinemas offer reduced prices to try and lure the punters in.

 

Jeremy Jones

London

 

Thank you for the additional information. Obviously if you leave people to find out for themselves that an event is taking place there are many possible attenders who will never find out. On the other hand publicity costs money BUT making use of a web site you have already is free to all intents and purposes so there is no explanation in terms of cost that I can think of for not making use of it. Being where I am I would not have picked up on this since I tend to skip information on London recitals because there is no realistic prospect of my attending, being located here in Ulster, and anyway I am too scared after 7 July. My mother would never visit me here saying she had been through one war and did not want to take part in another. Now I feel the same in reverse!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

Some thoughts on John Compton's work, from one with no specialist knowldge or expertise whatsoever...

I remember attending a recital in the early 80's at St George's, Stockport, shortly after the organ had been shorn of most of it's Comptom additions and returned more or less to its late 19C specification (give or take a few mutations and pedal stops). I perused the the programme notes and nodded sagely as they waxed eloquent about how the mistakes of the past had been rectifed, the organ had been retored to its former glory, it used to be far too loud anyway, etc. Then the (first rate) recitalist began his programme. There was, it must be said, clarity and cohesion to the sound, and there were some lovely registrations to be heard. However, full organ sounded as if it was being borne on the wind from the centre of Manchester. One might say that something had been lost in the pusuit of artisitc purity.

I was interestd by the comments made on the effctiveness of JC's extended mixtures. The only monster Compton I've ever played myself is the west end organ at Derby Cathedral. I ended up playing a Bruhns praeludum after the service, mainly because the verger had warned me that ther Director of Music was in the congregation and that he got annoyed with visiting organists who over-did the tubas. The Gt plenum turned out to be a wonderful, sparkly sound that was superbly fit for task.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Barry Oakley
Hi,

Some thoughts on John Compton's work, from one with no specialist knowldge or expertise whatsoever...

I remember attending a recital in the early 80's at St George's, Stockport, shortly after the organ had been shorn of most of it's Comptom additions and returned more or less to its late 19C specification (give or take a few mutations and pedal stops).  I perused the the programme notes and nodded sagely as they waxed eloquent about how the mistakes of the past had been rectifed, the organ had been retored to its former glory, it used to be far too loud anyway, etc.  Then the (first rate) recitalist began his programme.  There was, it must be said, clarity and cohesion to the sound, and there were some lovely registrations to be heard.  However, full organ sounded as if it was being borne on the wind from the centre of Manchester.  One might say that something had been lost in the pusuit of artisitc purity.

I was interestd by the comments made on the effctiveness of JC's extended mixtures.  The only monster Compton I've ever played myself is the west end organ at Derby Cathedral.  I ended up playing a Bruhns praeludum after the service, mainly because the verger had warned me that ther Director of Music was in the congregation and that he got annoyed with visiting organists who over-did

the tubas.  The Gt plenum turned out to be a wonderful, sparkly sound that was superbly fit for task.

 

 

Glad you enjoyed the Derby Cathedral Compton, Paul. I have heard it on a number of occasions, most recently when Ian Hare gave a wonderful recital and exploted the instrument's many colours.

 

The Holy Trinity, Hull, Compton is a much larger organ with an even greater pallete of colours. I hope that after it is refurbished, possibly in 2008, more people in the organ world will know about it by way of CD's and in real time. I can tell you that Paul Derrett is doing a wonderful job there and gradually bringing more parts of the organ back to life, although it still requires major work. His recital last Saturday in Holy Trinity was quite outstanding, given the organ's overall condition.

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...