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Now That's A Console


Barry Jordan
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For another large beast which is all pipe try the Letourneau organ at St John the Divine, Houston.

 

Here's the spec.

 

and you can see pictures on the Letourneau website.

 

It's only a five manual console (one of two for the instrument) but 6 swell pedals must be nearing the limit...!! I visited when the instrument was being installed and had a guided trip around the innards. The most extraordinary division to look at was the orchestral string section with so many 8' ranks side by side.

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Re St John the Divine: What possible use is there for a 32' on the manual, given that the pedal organ has a 64' and two 32's already?!

 

The only instrument I have ever played with a manual 32' is Doncaster PC and the effect on the Great chorus there is one of added depth - 'all rather grand. The 32 based chorus on the Dom Bedos organ in Bordeaux is quite amazing.

 

AJJ

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The only instrument I have ever played with a manual 32' is Doncaster PC and the effect on the Great chorus there is one of added depth - a rather grand effect. The 32 based chorus on the Dom Bedos organ in Bordeaux is quite amazing.

 

AJJ

 

TWO manual 32's on this Letourneau spec no less... reed in swell too.

 

The effect of the Norwich one was not entirely unpleasant.

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Well,

 

Here is a large, over-grown console that actually HAS pipes:

 

FirstCongregationalLAConsolecloseupSMALL.jpg

 

I took this photo at the 2004 American Guild of Organists convention while attending a recital at this church, the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.

 

Really, at 320+ ranks, this instrument is overkill (the building is not huge, nor is the acoustic generous)

 

It does sound wonderful, though (except for the diesel-train horn/Chamade on 50" of wind..... :rolleyes:OUCH! )

 

Cheers,

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Guest Roffensis

I just don't find these types of organs remotely impressive, you could hardly call them musical instruments so much as overblown gadgets. Give me a nice original English organ with a good logical spec anyday. No doubt someone out there is bound to disagree however. :blink:

 

R

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Guest Lee Blick
I just don't find these types of organs remotely impressive, you could hardly call them musical instruments so much as overblown gadgets. Give me a nice original English organ with a good logical spec anyday. No doubt someone out there is bound to disagree however. :blink:

 

R

 

I agree, I think these sort of organs are ridiculous. They seem to be monuments of vanity and status than anything particularly musicial. These instruments remind me of 'Jordan' or Linda Lusardi. You expect these consoles to topple over any minute.

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Guest Andrew Butler

Surely Linda Lusardi is less well endowed than Jordan?

 

As I get older, I go more for the "cute" look - Hannah Spearitt for example. I must put my mind to which instrument she could be likened to...... !

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I just don't find these types of organs remotely impressive, you could hardly call them musical instruments so much as overblown gadgets. Give me a nice original English organ with a good logical spec anyday. No doubt someone out there is bound to disagree however. :blink:

 

R

 

 

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

 

I disagree........... :mellow:

 

Having been "over there" for an extended period, I bumped into quite a few big consoles from time to time. (It's quite difficult not to do with some of them!)

 

Unfortunately, the best of them all I neither heard nor saw, at Yale Uni. (The Newberry Memorial organ)

 

However, wherever the instrument, if the nameplate read Skinner of Boston, or Aeolian Skinner, it was like approaching a vintage Harrison, because you could take it for granted that it would be a good organ even before the blower(s) were switched on.

 

What always impressed me about these organs, was the fact that the acoustic of the building was almost an irrelevance with these instruments, because the best American builders were (are) the masters of producing

the grand romatic effect in the sort of acoustic normally reserved for the furniture or carpet departments of Harrod's.

 

Of course money and the monstrous egos of hugely wealthy benefactors possibly played a major part in the whole thing, but when Skiner built an organ with 5-manuals, 400 stops and 10,000+ pipes, it was always a MUSICAL instrument first and foremost.

 

The whole ethos of the symphonic-organ is about ultimate expression and tonal variety. Thus, on the one instrument, you may find not just one Clarinet, but three or four Clarinets; each quite different to the next. There are Horns, French Horns, English Horns and Muted Horns, or perhaps Oboes, Oboe d'Amours and Orchestral Oboes. There are smooth chorus reeds and fiery chorus reeds, big Tubas with a lot of harmonic development and smooth Orchestral Tubas with not much at all.....and so it goes on. You will never hear finer string tones than on a Skinner organ; from purring Violones to astringent Violes. Then there are large numbers of mutations, which provide an endless wealth of colour (color?) and variety; often in combination with other basic registers.

 

So of course, coming from England, it is like approaching a dense forest, where you are obliged to explore the only safe path through to the other side, and finding it isn't easy.

 

You don't use all the stops, and you never draw more than perhaps an eighth of the stops at any one time, but hearing a master "symphonist" re-invent Bach or Handel is an extraordinary musical experience, and one which derives from that great German tradition of Middelschulte and Straube.

 

In a word, it is "luxurious" organ-playing; rather like opening a vast box of exclusive chocolates, where you search for just the right burnt Seville orange-cream, encased in dark, bitter Belgian-chocolate, rather than just any old Cadbury's orange-cream, and it IS an art-form which still has the power to say something and stir the soul, even if the more "respectable" academic-organists re-discovered the classical-organ, and then sat upon the musical pedastels of their own asetic creating.

 

Personally, I loved hearing this type of playing, because when I was over there (1981), it was still easy to find the true masters of the genre at work, as indeed it was still possible to hear very orchestral playing in British cathedrals.

 

Perhaps the most impressive thing of all, was the way in which such vast tonal resources were integrated into such a musical whole, and really, I can only think of three organ-builders in history who could consistently get that big romantic result time after time: Ernest Skinner, Arthur Harrison and Walcker in Germany.

 

That is what made my recent comment about Ernest Skinner all the more poignant, because when he was sadly isolated at an organist convention, happy to talk about "his era" in a corner of the room (should anyone care to stroll across), others were happy to gather in lumps to discuss this or that new neo-Schnitger "masterpiece."

 

I would simply suggest that in a world full of identical Fords, Oldmosbiles, Chevrolets and Chryslers, there were only ever one Duesenberg, one Rolls-Royce and one Bugatti......not only exclusive, opulent and outrageously expensive, but also very great musical works of art.

 

MM

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  • 6 months later...
Guest Voix Mystique
I just don't find these types of organs remotely impressive, you could hardly call them musical instruments so much as overblown gadgets. Give me a nice original English organ with a good logical spec anyday. No doubt someone out there is bound to disagree however. :rolleyes:

 

R

 

Hear, hear!

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