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32's In 2-manual Schemes


Guest Andrew Butler

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Guest Andrew Butler

I have noticed a number of "standard spec" toasters (and more than a few custom-designed ones) with 32' pedal reed stops. I have come across some 2-man pipe organs with a 32' flue, acoustic or otherwise, but can only immediately think of one with a 32' reed (Liverpool Cathedral Lady Chapel) Anyone know of any others?

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I have noticed a number of "standard spec" toasters (and more than a few custom-designed ones) with 32' pedal reed stops. I have come across some 2-man pipe organs with a 32' flue, acoustic or otherwise, but can only immediately think of one with a 32' reed (Liverpool Cathedral Lady Chapel) Anyone know of any others?

 

There are a few 2-manual organs I know of with 32' reeds in England:

 

-Worksop Priory - an early Collins tracker. The 32' is fractional length, and makes an extraordinary noise! The rest of the stoplist is a direct crib from the Marcussen at St Mary's Nottingham (not a criticism of course - they had the same consultant, and it works well in both cases - just a fact!).

 

-Milton Abbey - an 1860s Gray and Davison which has been restored with a curious mix of conservationism and megalomania! Actually it's a superb organ (in a superb acoustic), even though it looks odd on paper. But I haven't played it since the 32' reed was added; can anyone comment?

 

-Malmesbury Abbey Not played this one, but if I'm honest I'm not usually a fan of Johnson organs...

 

regards

 

SC

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There are a few 2-manual organs I know of with 32' reeds in England:

 

-Milton Abbey - an 1860s Gray and Davison which has been restored with a curious mix of conservationism and megalomania! Actually it's a superb organ (in a superb acoustic), even though it looks odd on paper. But I haven't played it since the 32' reed was added; can anyone comment?

 

Yes - I can. I usually play it for at least part of the Milton Abbey Festival. The stop (Contra Reim) is named after the Swell 16p reed in the organ of St. John's, Glastonbury, which had been built by Rest. Cartwright & Co. Hovever, the actual draw-stop is blank - which is odd, since Bishops had managed to match the engraving (Gothic script with red upper-case characters) for the Octave, Super Octave and Fagotto, which were added in 1978. The other slightly odd feature of this stop is that the Abbey Organist, Trevor Doar, is quite protective of it - an ignition-style lock isolates the electric action for it and therefore a quick telephone call to request its availability is necessary.

 

It is not a big sound. Extended from the Fagotto, it is sited in the well on the south side of the pulpitum. It is a little thin and the regulation is slightly uneven at the (original) console. However, in full organ it sounds well enough - it is even possible (although perhaps a little inartistic) simultaneously to play the fifth above the fundamental for several of the lower notes - the resulting sound is not too offensive....

 

-Malmesbury Abbey Not played this one, but if I'm honest I'm not usually a fan of Johnson organs...

 

regards

 

SC

 

This one was a surprise - I was unaware that Malmesbury Abbey had acquired a new organ. It looks interesting; thank you for the detalis.

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[]This one was a surprise - I was unaware that Malmesbury Abbey had acquired a new organ. It looks interesting; thank you for the detalis.[/font]

 

I heard this about 15 years ago at a recital by Ian Tracey - his playing was ok but the organ sounded quite horrid. Leaking wind everywhere and toe-curlingly out of tune. It may be different now however.

 

AJJ

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re. Milton

 

Aha! in which case the 32' probably had in fact been installed when I played it (which would have been around 1997 ... 10 years ago ... I can't believe it...), it's just that I didn't realise about the protection system: I do remember the blank stop knob being there. How curious... Maybe it's to protect the organ to a certain extent from the mischievous pupils at the abbey school?

 

Thanks for the write-up: I did feel that the (16') pedal reed was the weakest link in the organ (especially next to the wonderful narrow-scale Open Wood; so much better than a Bourdon!), so I did suspect that the 32' might have the same weaknesses.

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re. Milton

Aha! in which case the 32' probably had in fact been installed when I played it (which would have been around 1997 ... 10 years ago ... I can't believe it...), it's just that I didn't realise about the protection system: I do remember the blank stop knob being there. How curious... Maybe it's to protect the organ to a certain extent from the mischievous pupils at the abbey school?

 

Ummm.... no - since there is also a substantial steel security gate near the base of the stairs to the organ loft; this gate is kept padlocked. If the boys wished to perform some serious mischief, they would first have to liberate an angle-grinder from the workshops....

 

I think that it might be fair to say that the Abbey organ is a little over-secured. Still, there really is no danger of little (or large) fingers straying where they should not.

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[i was unaware that Malmesbury Abbey had acquired a new organ. It looks interesting; thank you for the detalis

New - 1984 - gosh you're really moving with the times on this one!

 

This was in my neck of the woods. I grew up in Tetbury, about 5 miles from Malmesbury and deputised at the Abbey on the old Willis organ a number of times in my teens. It was a very undestinguished instrument (as is the awful instrument in nearby Cirencester. I'm a great fan of Willis, but these were not good examples!). I've never played the new organ so can't comment on it from experience. However, I know the Abbey well, and its not a large building. All that remains of the ancient abbey is a fragment of the nave. Its a smaller space than either of the parish churches at nearby Tetbury or Cirencester. I can't imagine that a 32' could really be justified on a 2M scheme in this building.

 

Dare I add that not all toaster designers go overboard on these things either. Even on a digital instrument every additional voice adds to the cost. My own church's new toaster (to my specification) includes a 32' flue - as the previous electronic instrument had done, which is certainly a luxury we would not expect had we been able to commission a new pipe organ. Yet I think a 32' reed would have been over the top. Equally the "Great" organ has a single reed at 8' when it would have been easy to suggest 16' and 4' chorus reeds too. The need to "go digital" does not necessarily represent a complete lack of restraint - although undoubtedly one will squeeze in a little more than would be accommodated in a pipe scheme.

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New - 1984 - gosh you're really moving with the times on this one!

 

This was in my neck of the woods. I grew up in Tetbury, about 5 miles from Malmesbury and deputised at the Abbey on the old Willis organ a number of times in my teens. It was a very undestinguished instrument (as is the awful instrument in nearby Cirencester. I'm a great fan of Willis, but these were not good examples!). I've never played the new organ so can't comment on it from experience. However, I know the Abbey well, and its not a large building. All that remains of the ancient abbey is a fragment of the nave. Its a smaller space than either of the parish churches at nearby Tetbury or Cirencester. I can't imagine that a 32' could really be justified on a 2M scheme in this building.

 

Just found some lovely photos of Malmesbury abbey on flickr.com here.

 

I see there's not much left of the building left in terms of what there must have been once, but what's there looks quite architecturally ambitious (eg. stone vaulting, triple arcade etc). Is there much acoustic? If the building sounds spacious, then I reckon you'd get away with the 32'.

 

 

SC

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I don't remember their being any acoustic to speak of, but its a long time ago. In my view, biased no doubt by the local rivalry between my own home town (Tetbury - very fine 3M Nicholson/Binns) and Malmesbury, it that what remains of the abbey just doesn't work as a coherant building and that the people of Malmesbury would have been far better served if the whole abbey had been destroyed and they could have started from scratch.

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A choir I was in gave a concert in Malmesbury Abbey in 1986 or 87 on a wonderful midsummers night. I seem to recall there was what looked like a relatively new organ, although it looked and I thought sounded a bit of a cheap job. Ton Koopman was due to give a recital about that time, so it may not have been that bad!

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
There are a few 2-manual organs I know of with 32' reeds in England:

 

Milton Abbey[/url] - an 1860s Gray and Davison which has been restored with a curious mix of conservationism and megalomania! Actually it's a superb organ (in a superb acoustic), even though it looks odd on paper. But I haven't played it since the 32' reed was added; can anyone comment?

 

Malmesbury Abbey[/url] Not played this one, but if I'm honest I'm not usually a fan of Johnson organs...

 

regards

 

SC

 

Just after the Malmesbury Johnson was built there was a wizard BBC3 broadcast by Peter Le Hurray from there. Perhaps he was involved, as of course, his own college instrument is a Johnson (still jolly nice to play and teach on, even though the wind trunk up the stairs reminds that you might be in Steerage on the Mauritania). I was Director of Music at Milton Abbey and Trevor Doar adores this organ (even I had difficulty sometimes in getting on it!). Trevor is a legend - came straight from Trinity Hall in the 1950's and still is the School Organist I believe. Extraordinary sight reader and fine brain in the Common Room. Those in Dorset will know him well. As for the place - is there hardly any finer setting in which to vegetate? The lock on the 32' is totally in keeping with it's curator.

 

As for 32's - there are a number on the continent - but shall not make you drool here.

All the best,

Nigel

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Thanks Nigel. If PlH was involved at Malmesbury then maybe there is hope!

 

I know the Catz organ fairly well and I agree it's got a lot going for it - I think it's a bit misleading to describe it as a Johnson really. It's more of a Bishop/leHuray/Johnson, and it was really le Huray's brainchild to mix up those disparate elements. I gather he supervised the 1970s work very closely.

 

btw, some people have over-emphasised the impact of the recent Flentrop work, which was mostly remedial. I'm suprised Flentrops wanted to take such a minor job on ... I suppose they wanted a foot in the Oxbridge door. I think they were originally proposing a complete replacement from the pipe-feet down. That would have been marvellous, but of course the money wasn't there.

 

SC

 

ps. You and I once had a conversation about Milton Abbey's 32' reed in a pub in Ilkeston! Am I scaring you?

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Just after the Malmesbury Johnson was built there was a wizard BBC3 broadcast by Peter Le Hurray from there. Perhaps he was involved, as of course, his own college instrument is a Johnson (still jolly nice to play and teach on, even though the wind trunk up the stairs reminds that you might be in Steerage on the Mauritania). I was Director of Music at Milton Abbey and Trevor Doar adores this organ (even I had difficulty sometimes in getting on it!). Trevor is a legend - came straight from Trinity Hall in the 1950's and still is the School Organist I believe. Extraordinary sight reader and fine brain in the Common Room. Those in Dorset will know him well. As for the place - is there hardly any finer setting in which to vegetate? The lock on the 32' is totally in keeping with it's curator.

 

As for 32's - there are a number on the continent - but shall not make you drool here.

All the best,

Nigel

 

 

I agree, the Milton Abbey G&D is a glorious instrument in a glorious building. I remember being bowled over by the sound effortlessly filling the vast vaulted space at a BIOS Conference in 86 or 87, soon after it was moved aloft to the screen.

 

I believe TD was once taken to task over his choice of name 32ft Contra Reim. "What the heck", he said, "I paid for it, so I'll call it Double Doars if I like..."

 

JS

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I agree, the Milton Abbey G&D is a glorious instrument in a glorious building. I remember being bowled over by the sound effortlessly filling the vast vaulted space at a BIOS Conference in 86 or 87, soon after it was moved aloft to the screen.

 

I believe TD was once taken to task over his choice of name 32ft Contra Reim. "What the heck", he said, "I paid for it, so I'll call it Double Doars if I like..."

 

JS

 

He paid for it??!

:rolleyes:

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