Author Topic: Cranleigh School Mander organ temperament alterations  (Read 12050 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1656
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Cranleigh School Mander organ temperament alterations
« on: June 20, 2011, 08:03:02 PM »
Hi!

I reported earlier in the year on the exciting instrument built by Mander at Cranleigh School in Surrey. Adventurously it was built and installed using a good unequal temperament.

Rumour had abounded that it was to be converted to equal temperament and I was politely asked by John Mander not to publish this further at that stage.

However, I heard from members of the Surrey Organists Association at Matthew Copley's talk confirmation of the ongoing nature of the threat to the temperament of the instrument which is now confirmed from an authoratitive source.

From my own researches within the piano repertoire www.hammerwood.mistral.co.uk/concerts.htm using a similar temperament, the tuning adds very greatly to the colour of the music and does so subliminally rather than obviously as far as most of the audience are concerned, although I am aware of two musicians who won't come to concerts here as a result. In my personal opinion this is a reflection of the nature of their musicality rather than upon the use of a temperament which composers certainly till the middle of the 19th century and some even later, expected to be used in the appreciation of their music.

It is most regrettable in my opinion that there has not been greater opportunity for organists and audiences to hear the Mander instrument in its intended form before the changed to revert to the system of tuning which excites mechanical boredom and removes a musical dimension from our appreciation.

In other places, an authentic instrument has been retained and an electronic instrument installed in order to cover the function possibly required as a result of a limitation imposed by authenticity. Could not an electronic here be used likewise in order to preserve the educational and musical value of retaining the Mander instrument as built?

Does anyone know Philip Scriven http://www.cranleigh.org/music-news/1338-mander-organ-inaugural-recital who must have been involved in the decision making process in order to encourage him, perhaps, to join this forum and give comment here?

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

dragonser

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 284
  • Karma: +31/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ recordings
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2011, 09:00:27 AM »
Hi,
I don't know anything about the situation at Cranleigh, but it would be nice if the Organ could be recorded before any changes to the temperament and then at least there would be a record of how it sounds.
that raises the question, are there any existing recordings of the organ ?

regards Peter B

Barry Williams

  • Guest
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2011, 10:54:43 AM »
Whilst sympathetic to the issue of temperament, it must be borne in mind that organs are working instruments with specific functions.  If, when tuned to a particular temperament the organ cannot reasonably do its job, then that it must be re-tuned. 

Some places have had to buy an electronic instrument because of the pitch of the pipe organ.  A few conservationists have expressed fears that lowering pitch by a third of a tone would alter the quality.  (One of the most experienced organ voicers in this country assured me that he could not tell the difference when standing ten feet away - he has tried the experiment many times.)

Therefore, I do ask that any discussion of temperament is always related to the use envisaged by the owners of the organ.  It is their instrument, it belongs to them, and they are perfectly entitled to make that judgment in the light of its use. 

I recall deputising at a church in Surrey where the tracker organ was tuned to a particular (and seemingly extreme) temperament.  The setting of the Holy Communion Service sounded absolutely terrible because of the temperament, which had been designed for playing early organ music, rather than accompanying the service.  When the organ was re-tuned everyone said how much nicer the organ sounded, when played for the service, which is what it was installed for.

Anyway, re-tuning an organ is not an irrevocable step.  Removing ranks of pipes and replacing them with others is a much more expensive alteration.

Barry Williams

KB7DQH

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1377
  • Karma: +39/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2011, 11:11:05 AM »
There are no sound files up on the Mander website, but there is thishttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ0M_UKe1TM

on Youtube...  Otherwise deeper digging may be required to locate "professional" recordings, if any. :(

Consideration may need to be given to the organ's location, as it is installed in the Chapel as opposed to their music performance facilities...  Could the "mildly unequal" temperament be perceived as "unsuitable" for use in their religious services?  This would surprise me as a large instrument completed here in the USA at about the same timeframe (and played by a U.K. organist in its inaugural concert) and is also tuned to an unequal temperament, and is located in a Catholic Cathedral...  Surprisingly it is equally "at home" rendering German and French Baroque material as well as considerably more modern compositions.  I have heard recordings of everything from Buxtehude and Bach, through Alain, Reubke, and Cochereau...

On changing the temperament based on my own, rather brief observations...
Like David, I ask, "Why" ???  One can only speculate they have some good reason.

Eric
KB7DQH
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 12:19:57 PM by KB7DQH »
The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1656
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2011, 11:34:38 AM »
Hi!

This is the importance of getting Mr Scriven on board, if possible, to tell of his experiences in this. However, it would be helpful similarly to have the opportunity for access to the instrument to play and to record so that others can benefit from this experience.

Whilst I have no hesitation in untuning pianos to an unequal temperament - for all 19th century composers work well and certainly not adversely on a good temperament - and Prokofiev and Berg are so untempered they don't care on what temperament the instrument is tuned  ;) - whilst there is considerable repertoire which calls for and benefits from an unequal temperament there is a substantial oeuvre written entirely without regard to coloured keys.

For this reason it would be very helpful for organists with electronic facilities, especially Hauptwerk, to go through repertoire in unequal temperaments of which possibly Young, Vallotti, D'Alembert, Kellner, Werkmeister and Kirnberger are to greater and lesser extents in the "Good Temperament" category, and identify areas of repertoire that are precluded. However, in order for this to be valid, it has to be a facility that speaks with the authority of a pipe organ in contrast to a transistor radio.

Does anyone have contact with Mr Scriven?

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Barry Williams

  • Guest
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2011, 12:29:19 PM »
"...removes a musical dimension... "

If re-tuning permits the use of the organ for the repertoire its owners intend, then the result is an increase in the musical dimension, not a decrease. 

There is no doubt that many temperaments preclude the performance of the whole repertoire.  Equal temperament, or something quite close to it, does not preclude doing so, albeit at the price of a certain loss of colour.  It would be wrong for a teaching establishment not to be able to use its pipe organ for teaching the wider repertoire, as is required by the ABRSM and other examining bodies.  After all, that is what it is there for, apart from any use in accompanying voices.

There can be no objection to a second instrument being tuned to a temperament, but the main organ should be as versatile as is possible. 

I know Philip Scriven, but I would not wish him to be drawn into this thread.

Barry Williams

PS I note that this thread is in 'Organs in Danger'.  What is the danger here?  There is no danger of damage to the instrument nor of it being removed.  Surely, such a designation is seriously 'Overkill'.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 02:47:03 PM by Barry Williams »

David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1656
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2011, 02:53:46 PM »
"...removes a musical dimension... "

If re-tuning permits the use of the organ for the repertoire its owners intend, then the result is an increase in the musical dimension, not a decrease. 
. . .
Equal temperament, or something quite close to it, does not preclude doing so, albeit at the price of a certain loss of colour.
. . .
I know Philip Scriven, but I would not wish him to be drawn into this thread.

Dear Barry

Whilst it is often, indeed always, dangerous or unwise to take issue with a Moderator of a forum  ;) please forgive me for doing so.

The certain loss of colour is the dimension about which I speak - and its effect is profound - and it's for this reason that I am in demand "untuning" pianos to a Good Temperament even beyond these shores . . . Cranleigh has a great educational and musical privilege in having such a fine instrument so tuned and it's about to throw it away.

It would be very interesting for all concerned to have Philip Scriven's perspective on the subject if you could possibly persuade him to inform us.

I'm not at all dogmatic about unequal temperaments on the organ as I have not experienced them on a continuous basis on the whole repertoire as I have on the piano, and one cannot take an informed opinion without having had the experience that clearly Philip Scriven has . . . and it's for that reason that dissemination of his observation and experience of this instrument would be most interesting and generally instructive.

It would also be great if a 6 month moratorium on the work could be negotiated so that local organists' associations etc could have the opportunity of visiting if possible to experience the fragile endangered tuning environment currently at Cranleigh.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1656
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2011, 11:24:06 PM »
PS I note that this thread is in 'Organs in Danger'.  What is the danger here?  There is no danger of damage to the instrument nor of it being removed.  Surely, such a designation is seriously 'Overkill'.

Dear Barry

I appreciate the sentiment but in my limited and amateur view the instrument is clearly a landmark instrument. Its conception is adventurous and as such deserves to be treated with respect.

When one commissions the invention of a work of art, it is great to have enough faith in the artist and its inventor to see how one can live with it and harness its good points. I'm not at all sure that we would generally like to see the Mona Lisa overpainted with blonde hair. . .

We are witnessing what appears to be something outstanding being reduced to the ordinary . . . and for that reason I felt it appropriate to post in this thread.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Barry Williams

  • Guest
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2011, 11:09:27 AM »
I have not heard the organ so must defer to your personal knowledge of the instrument. 

It is always possible to re-tune, (unless the pipes are cut to exact length, which is unlikely,) so any reduction 'to the ordinary' would only be temporary.  Over-painting the Mona Lisa is not a parallel to re-tuning an organ.

It is important to distinguish between those alterations that are easily reversible and permanent changes.  Changes to temperament are, in my view, temporary alterations.  Changes to ranks of pipes are expensive to alter and in quite a different class altogether. 

It would be good to have a couple of identical pipe organs in one room but tuned to different temperaments, so that the benefits or otherwise could be appreciated.  I have some experience of the 'temperament' (probably better termed 'tuning') of groups of unaccompanied singers, particularly of the Russian repertoire with its very characteristic tone, achieved by a certain tuning effect.  Likewise, pianos can be in tune yet have far more colour, even with equal temperament.  This is a very interesting area and one that merits our attention.

Barry Williams

David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1656
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2011, 12:21:26 PM »
Dear Barry

Yes - I would agree with you on a superficial basis but there are two issues
1. the intention of the instrument at the time it was conceived and built - and that is permanent and
2. permanence of physical manifestation of the conception

Having been tuned to a Good Temperament before and then changed to Equal, it's most unlikely that the mens rea will ever be there for it to be returned.

Whether the change in physical manifestation is permanent or temporary depends on whether it is cone or slider tuned. Were it to be slider tuned, retuning would, I agree with you, be a temporary matter and the alteration by 10 cents or so on the C, being the worst affected from Equal Temperament would be accommodated without permanent alteration, but were the instrument be a Frobenius, the change would most certainly be permanent.

One hopes that changes of mind and of temperament are but temporary aberrations.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Barry Williams

  • Guest
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2011, 05:57:54 PM »
Dear David,

Thank you for continuing this interesting discussion.

You refer to a 'Good Temperament' and then to 'Equal' as though one were correct and the other incorrect.  Surely, it is matter of use as to which is the more suitable? 

Does it behove any of us to tell the owner of an organ that they should not use the organ for certain purposes?  According to NPOR the temperament was Kellner.  That is eclectic and limited to a certain repertoire.  There is no certainty that is was 'the Bach' temperament.

When did you play this organ?  Have you made specific representations to the owners about your perceptions in this matter?

" permanence of physical manifestation of the conception"  I do not understand this phrase at all.  If the instrument is slide tuned then it is relatively easy to re-tune it at any time.

We all want organs to be popular and pipe organs especially so.  Advocating a temperament that tends to exclude  a part of the repertoire seems, to me at least, to be advocating the exclusion, rather than the inclusion, of organ music and thus the use of the organ.

Do, please, tell us when you heard or playedt he organ to form the impression you have of it.

I have not heard this organ at all, though I am familiar with the Kellner temperament.

Barry Williams


David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1656
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2011, 07:20:30 PM »
Dear Barry

I accept your valid objection to my having raised this topic without either hearing or playing the instrument but know that you would not have called for such rigour were you not to have confidence in my being able to answer it: the instrument as installed and its temperament was sufficiently of general interest to be trumpeted in "The Organ" magazine.

As a result it is appropriate to raise the issue of its change as a matter of general interest here.

In view of the publicised enthusiasm for this instrument, by reason of its inclusion in the major relevant magazine, it's akin to look at it in terms of a work of art, perhaps in the allied nature of a listed building. The British Museum comes to mind where doing away with the agglomeration of random temporary buildings surrounding the Library was particularly appropriate and the Norman Foster roof transformed the courtyard area in a spectacular manner. Were it to be proposed to remove the roof to make it a boring outside courtyard again, it would be a matter of public interest.

There is a justified debate as to whether modern and even new buildings should qualify for listed status. Were anyone to decide to replace the glass panels of The Gherkin in London by other building materials, it would be a matter of public interest.

In the same way, an instrument conceived and built as a historic instrument (and all the rarer for that) is a gem as built and of considerably wide musicological value.

Clearly those responsible for the decision to change the instrument have experienced particular problems in relation to what the instrument cannot do within the repertoire or within its wider use and their experience is valuable. It would be of interest to learn what those experiences have been and this forum is a public invitation to those with such experience to enlighten us further. . .

Exploration of unequal temperaments is increasingly essential: the contribution of temperament to the experience and appreciation of music is profound. That is the value of the instrument under discussion here as well as the experiences of its users.

No doubt when the inevitable change has taken place, it will then be appropriate to move this topic into the temperament section of this forum.

For that reason I am extending this response to your call for rigour as to whether it is appropriate to refer to this instrument as being "in danger" into consideration of temperaments.

- - - - - - - - -

I am not alone in referring to the Vallotti, Young, D'Alembert, Kellner, Werkmeister and Kirnberger family of temperaments as "Good Temperaments", following the terminology of di Veroni who objects quite rightly to reference to "Well Temperaments", as being temperaments in which all keys can be played in contrast to Meantone Temperament in which at least four keys are unplayable.

A few evenings ago, I experimented with early English organ music in Meantone temperament and whilst much French music is audibly superb with its use, much of the English repertoire was intolerant to it. It was in this way that Bach was contrasting the Well Tempered keyboard with an intolerant one.

Were Kellner to be found to be too strong, other alternative Good Temperaments exist of which D'Alembert is both good yet mild and that which is in use at St Maximin is superb and yet mild enough to permit even the Boellmann Priere a Notre Dame to be played _enjoyably_ in A flat. Traditionally in the development of temperaments A flat major was a neglected key and therefore on e of the keys which could by neglected by a temperament: in his book "Tuning the Historic Temperaments by Ear" Jorgensen makes the case that G sharp was the last accidental to come into use in western music. Whether the St Maximin temperament is actually D'Alembert or akin to it I'm not entirely sure and it would be much appreciated if anyone reading this forum could elucidate further on this. Perhaps our member here DeGrigny may be able to assist . . . ?

On the St Maximin temperament, I understand that the thirds C-E and G-B are nearly just. The information I have is that a certain Dr Raber and the builder responsible for the restoration opted for a modified meantone composed of 7 quints tempered flat by a 1/5 comma and 2 quintes raised by the same value and it is said that this was noted by Rameau in his Nouveau systeme de musique théorique of 1726. This choice was based upon examination of three octaves of the 4ft rank of pipes of the facade of the positive which had been inaccessible for tuning since the 1770s.

I tested the tuning of the organ by Grinda, pupil of Isnard, builder of St Maximin, at Villefranche sur Mer which was also restored by Yves Cabourdin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwoglLif3ps I made notes which may or may not be comprehensible . . .
C-F perfect C-G D-A F#-B F#-C#
Ab-Eb 60
Fast D-G E-A
B-E 90
Thirds FA EG# GB BbD CE - presumably noting near perfect thirds here.

This temperament was a well behaved temperament in which all keys were playable and pleasantly so whilst retaining good key colour, and was in line with my experience of temperaments that I have had in tuning pianos.

In my opinion, equal temperament results in blandness and makes much music boring where an unequal temperament gives relief to the ears in the shape-shifting of chords. To revert to equal temperament therefore rather than a milder good temperament, if the current temperament is considered possibly to be too strong for the wider repertoire, is a retrograde step in my humble and amateur opinion.

This is a subject which deserves wider musicological consideration and debate and it is all credit to the organ builder concerned that he is adventurous enough to build instruments not tuned to equal temperament as standard de rigeur.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Barry Williams

  • Guest
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2011, 07:57:54 PM »
Dear David,

Thank you, again, for your interesting and erudite response.

For my part I doubt whether this, or indeed any other organ, has been 'built in a temperament'.  Temperament, surely, is merely the tuning.  It can be altered according to need.

I agree that ".. a milder good temperament.." may have a more general application, but that is not what you are advocating in this case.  Having played instruments that were simply not fit for their purpose, due to Kellner and other temperaments,  I cannot take the extreme conservationist view that you advocate, especially when it is applied to an instrument belonging to someone else, whose use is not being considered at all, let alone in context.  It is far more important to have working pipe organs than to get hung up about temperaments or, indeed, as some folk do, forms of action.  Perhaps I play too wide a repertoire!

For my part I have nothing further to add to this debate - for the time being!  However, as you know June and I will be taking up your very kind offer to visit Hammerwood House and to experience temperaments, and to have the results tested, (warts and all) and reported by you on this Forum.

With every good wish,

Yours most sincerely,

Barry

David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1656
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2011, 08:29:41 PM »
I agree that ".. a milder good temperament.." may have a more general application, but that is not what you are advocating in this case.

:-) Well perhaps it might be!

Perhaps it might be the subject of consideration by those responsible for this instrument and if you know the people involved, perhaps it might be helpful to have a word, even if without response on this forum.

Best wishes

David P
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

KB7DQH

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1377
  • Karma: +39/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2011, 08:40:51 PM »
Quote
an instrument conceived and built as a historic instrument (and all the rarer for that)

It is my observation that too few "new historic instruments" are being conceived in the U.K. :'(

(Likely a result of the place being awash in "homeless old historic instruments")

It seems "all the rage" in the rest of Europe and in particular the USA...  The Fritts organ at Pacific Lutheran University (Tracker, "German Neobaroque", and Kellner temperament) is one example I have heard "in person"... Twice...  And it is installed in the Lagerquist Concert Hall... above and behind the orchestra stage...  more than a decade ago.  A Concert hall instrument tuned Kellner :o :o :o

And one of the most recent and largest creations of Martin Pasi (and certainly one of the most technically challenging and innovative installations) has recently been installed and inaugurated
in Houston, Texas, (in a Catholic Cathedral) and tuned to a unique unequal temperament which is colorful enough to be interesting, consonant enough to be truly a thing of beauty to my ears at least, and mild enough to be usable in all keys ;)  It is referred to on the builder's website as "Mark Brambaugh Mild"...



Quote
This is a subject which deserves wider musicological consideration and debate and it is all credit to the organ builder concerned that he is adventurous enough to build instruments not tuned to equal temperament as standard de rigeur.

Or the "customer" for that matter... The stoplist is intriguing enough for an instrument built in the U.K. what with all the "french" pipework ;D 

I guess this is one of the problems of being a "monday night armchair quarterback" :o :o :o ;)
In light of what has been said the "on paper" compromise might be to find that "milder good temperament" and, funds and pipework willing, give it a try ???

Eric
KB7DQH







The objective is to reach human immortality—that is, to create things which are necessary to mankind, necessary to the purpose of the existence of mankind, and which have become the fruit that drives the creation of a higher state of mankind than ever existed before."

Jonathan Lane

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 156
  • Karma: +34/-1
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #15 on: June 24, 2011, 11:03:34 PM »
This is an interesting question, and I too am not going to speculate or comment on the Cranleigh situation.  I haven't heard it, but played the old GDB occasionally for chapel.  The GDB whilst being a product of its time, was in fact a very good organ, however, it wasn't fit for purpose!  At the console you could hardly hear it on full organ whilst the whole school was singing.

Anyway, back to the interesting question, what is historic.  Surely historic is something that will be considered by others in the future with hindsight.  I think what Eric means is what those in other musical circles might call pastiche.  There have been a number of attempts to build historic 'pastiche' organs in the UK over the past two decades, some successful and some not so.  For me, one of Mander's other instruments, that at St Andrew Holborn, is one of their best, possibly because I passed my ARCO on it, but also because at one point I practiced on it for 3-4 hours a week and really got to know it.  It is fun to play.

But, historic to me, is really the organs being built now, to the needs of the local environment, which will survive the centuries and be held up by future generations.  Many, such as that done by Ken Tickell at Worcester will, I am sure, be looked on as major achievements.  They provided an organ which is 'fit for purpose', and consequently has improved matters no end.

Jonathan

Jonathan Lane

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 156
  • Karma: +34/-1
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #16 on: June 25, 2011, 09:03:45 PM »
It was a combination of the size of the chapel, and more importantly the size of the congregation of boisterous boys (and girls) singing loudly.  When the chapel was empty the GDB was a lovely instrument, just not fit for purpose.

Jonathan

Marcus Pashley

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #17 on: July 02, 2011, 07:09:20 PM »
Having read with great interest the forum discussions on this topic, I hope you don't mind if, as Director of Music at Cranleigh and thus with ultimate responsibility for this decision, I contribute on behalf of the School to allay any fears that the decision to request the wonderful Mander instrument to be retuned to equal temperament has been taken lightly, or without exhaustive consideration of the pros and cons on both sides.

Tomorrow it is actually a year to the day since the new Mander organ was first heard in public in all its glory and it is a very fine instrument indeed. We could not be more delighted with the work John and his team have done and the enhancement to both music and worship it has brought to the school is quite remarkable. Jonathan Lane (June 25th) is quite right that the high quality of congregational singing, of which we are proud, had long out-volumed the modest output of the GDB to the extent that I had to personally conduct all congregational singing to ensure we didn't part company! The new instrument is a fine combative partner for the "boisterous boys (and girls)" of the congregation and indeed for the 70-strong Chapel Choir, not to mention an excellent recital instrument.

However, throughout the last year, Philip Scriven (Organist in Residence at Cranleigh) and I have spent many long hours discussing the temperament issues. The results of our discussions and our own feelings are actually summed up rather well by Barry Williams in his post of 21st June. We love the colours that Kellner brings to a wide range of repertoire and the importance of exposure of this repertoire to young organists is not to be underestimated. However, proportionally this repertoire does not form a truly significant enough percentage of the musical requirements of a working Public School chapel to warrant a dedicated temperament. If we were an Eton College with several pipe organs around the school this would of course be a very different matter.

The majority of hymn tunes in our current usage are late nineteenth or twentieth century creations and much the same could be said of our choral repertoire. Elgar, Howells, Stanford, Britten etc. feature strongly and the pupils adore singing this music. I recall a recent "I was glad" (one of the choir's favourites) which was passing fair in B flat but became rather 'eye-watering' (one could argue, appropriately) when we prayed for the peace of Jerusalem. I know I risk accusation of heresy here, but the wide modulatory requirements of this repertoire, like it or not, far from merely adding interesting colouration, to modern ears steeped in ubiquitous equal temperament just sound out of tune.

However, hopefully to show that we do take this issue very seriously indeed, we have asked John Mander to delay the retune for a further year until the summer of 2012. During the next academic year, Philip Scriven will be performing the complete organ works of Bach in a series of 26 Lunchtime and Evening Recitals (details here: http://cl.ly/3t2v3d1A2z1O241O3I2N )  and we felt it highly appropriate to retain the unequal temperament specifically for this very special and exciting project. We would be thrilled if you could bring this to the attention of fellow organ enthusiasts who may like to hear the organ, Philip's remarkable playing and the Kellner temperament over the next year.

I hope you will not think me ill-mannered if I don't contribute to any further discussion. The above is intended as a clarification for the benefit of forum members and as a statement of intent, rather than as a further catalyst.

With vey best wishes

Marcus Pashley
Director of Music
Cranleigh School



David Pinnegar

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1656
  • Karma: +66/-3
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ alterations
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2011, 12:27:46 AM »
Dear Mr Pashley

THANK YOU so much for taking the trouble to join the forum to post your very helpful and considered explanation which is entirely understood.

At the end of the day, I hope that my having raised the "heads up" about your instrument and its temperament will have drawn attention usefully to the very high standard of music and of the very go-ahead decision to commission a wonderful new instrument and be adventurous enough to try a historical temperament.

I have had considerable experience tuning pianos to unequal temperaments with great success for concerts. On the piano a "Good Temperament" seems to fit the model of what most composers up to the late 19th century were writing for - certainly up to Chopin, Liszt, Schubert although I have not yet had enough experience of Schumann to come to a valid conclusion there, and later piano repertoire does not suffer from its use.

However, the organ is not a percussive instrument in which the sound dies away and for this, therefore, the subject of temperament has to be one of "proceed with caution" - which is why your experiences are so musicologically valuable as to my knowledge it's the only _pipe-organ_ so tuned within 100 miles of London. . .

Whilst a teenager I rebuilt a pipe organ at my parents' home and tuned it to Werkmeister III which I found so severe as to cause me to hate it - so whilst having raised the issue in this forum, it is with that understanding - but Kellner is an altogether softer temperament. This week I was asked to tune a piano in the South of France for a concert tonight for an eminent pianist and a singer with a 20th century light repertoire. On the one hand I was disappointed - the pianist hardly heard the colouration and merely remarked that he liked my bright tuning of the treble and of the bass resonances and complimented me on tuning a Yamaha so well, they being notoriously difficult to tune, he said. Meanwhile the singer said she couldn't hear it. And yet, on the other, I was delighted as it was not audible enough to cause distress to them but I know from now numerous concerts using it that the subliminal emotional effect on an audience can make the difference between an ordinary concert and a moving one . . .

It would be a surprise for B flat major to cause distress as it's a pure key, whilst B flat minor of course is the key which Chopin used to convey the dismal winds whistling over the gravestones in the 4th movement of his 2nd Sonata. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iw8FjHvHu30

This is a world away from the organ repertoire, which is why the Cranleigh instrument is so interesting and valuable. I have always felt that the Mendelsohn sonatas and possibly Cesar Frank should be heard in an unequal temperament - and perhaps . . . this might be cause for inspiration for other concerts . . . ?

Provided all in the organ world do actually take up the opportunity of taking advantage of the experience that your generous and magnanimous year's delay in retuning the instrument will provide, I hope that the publicity for your department and for your interest and efforts will bring great credit, as well as interest from future pupils.

Whilst not wishing to take your time in further reply, nor catalysing further need for such, it would be great if you might possibly organise someone to post details of concerts perhaps in the concerts section of this forum and the calendar facility, and also on www.organrecitals.com . . . and certainly I am aware of a number of people specifically interested in the use of temperament who will be enthusiastic about encouraging people to come.

Perhaps in the meantime, if I can persuade you to experience the temperaments at St Maximin (which is available as a Hauptwerk simulation if going there poses difficulties) where Philippe Bardon is most experienced and helpful, and at Villefranche. Both are possible even with a day-trip from Gatwick to Nice. There are recitals at St Maximin throughout the summer to the end of September (from memory) every sunday at 5pm, leaving enough time to get back to Nice airport for an 8pm checkin . . . and at Villefranche, Claudine Grisi is helpful, charming and hospitable.

Meanwhile, Barry Williams is planning to schedule a trial of Valotti, D'Alembert, Kellner, Werkmeister and Kirnberger at Hammerwood and if I can find a table of the St Maximin and Villefranche tunings in cents, we may even be able to try those as well.

Were you possibly to be able to take the time to list items of the organ repertoire that are giving particular problems beyond the generalities you've outlined, it would enable organists with electronic facilities to experiment further. The central portion of the Norman Cocker Tuba tune must also be an acid test.

With very many thanks and best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

David P.

Postscript: I hope that the good publicity that your organ is bringing to Cranleigh does not cause the powers that be at Charterhouse to be envious in seeking further the eradication of the wonderful and out of fashion Harrison and Harrison there . . . a subject also raised on this forum. Perhaps Carthusians should come to Cranleigh for Bach and Cranleighans come to Charterhouse for Howells!  :) Were they to want to compete, however, a teaching instrument in old Concert hall might provide a great creative opportunity ;) and the Percy Daniels extension instrument in Founders Chapel there (for which I'm sure many would agree that there would be no love lost) would be very usefully replaced . . . .
« Last Edit: July 03, 2011, 02:36:28 AM by David Pinnegar »
David Pinnegar, BSc ARCS

Jonathan Lane

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 156
  • Karma: +34/-1
    • View Profile
Re: Cranleigh School Mander organ temperament alterations
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2011, 11:07:15 PM »
Thank you Marcus for a well explained reasoning behind the decision.  It is exciting that Philip Scriven is to play the complete Bach, both for the school and the organ world, it doesn't seem to happen very often these days!  Perhaps there may also be an opportunity to record the instrument in the current temperament for an historical record.  However, I should imagine, once re-tuned 'I was glad' would sound more authentic. 

For one, I will endeavour to attend at least one of Philips recitals, work permitting.

Jonathan

 


Locations of visitors to this page

Organ Design


Latroba Holidays