Author Topic: Organs that train our ears  (Read 23554 times)

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pcnd5584

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2012, 10:20:51 PM »
... What I do know, is that when I hear an organ with hugely prominent tierces, fairly unattractive reeds, experimental labial stops and a chorus ensemble which just doesn’t work, it isn’t my ear which needs re-training. My ear knows only too well that the organ is the work of a tonal amateur.

Indeed, the Trost “experiment” cannot, I believe, be considered a success. It has all the unfortunate side-effects of an instrument built to provide specific novelty sounds, which finds a certain resonance in the master-works of Robert Hope-Jones, where tonal integrity was sacrificed on the altar of mismatched solo colours, extreme gravity and colossal basses.

Without wishing to initiate a pitched battle, I would agree with this viewpoint to an extent. I do not know whether Trost was a tonal amateur - I do know that, if he were alive and trading today, there is nothing on this earth which would induce me to employ him to build an organ. The recordings I have heard of his instruments sound both eccentric and unattractive to my ears.

Were I the organist at Walterhausen, I think I would have to install a very violent tremulant and a revolving statue of Marlene Dietrich; playing nothing but excerpts from Johnny Kander’s “Cabaret.”

MM

Alternatively, one could contact a well-spoken young man with a north-country accent who, in the company of an older gentleman of military bearing, would come and rebuild the organ, scrapping much of its fearsome tonalities and installing new chorus work, including nine new ranks of mixtures on the G.O. ....
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 10:29:17 PM by pcnd5584 »
Pierre Cochereau rocked, man

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2012, 11:29:21 PM »
Has anyone here heard the Trost organ of the Altenburgschlosskapell? My experience of it is confined to YouTube but I think it's a clearer sound than Walterhausen, while being notable for its warmth and the power of its Pedal department. It is well-known as Bach's personal favourite.

Personally, I'll take Masaaki Suzuki's recordings on the Joachim Wagner organ at Angermuende... just sublime.

MusingMuso

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2012, 07:40:06 AM »
I think we might probably have understood that you do not like Trost organs, dear MM.
It is your right !
But this kind of sound was not really Trost's experiment, as there are many others organs in Thuringia
that share precisely this style -by the way, did you notice the last one above was not a Trost ?-
So you like Bach's music, but not the organs he heard and played 99% of his life's time.
It is certainly not a problem, but it should be held in mind !
(Perhaps Bach would have liked Wurlitzers after all, who knows ?)
Best wishes,
Pierre


Pierre's knowledge  of instruments is obviously restricted to organs, because the statement highlighted in red is not so absurd as it may seem.

What do we know of the Wurlitzer company?

They didn't just build pipe-organs and eventually electronics....Oh no!

If you had a Stradivarius violin, and an auctioneer found a Wurlitzer label inside the body certifying the authenticity and quality of the violin, it would be accepted at the major auction houses as proof of origin and maker. In fact, Wurlitzer were a huge organisation musically, and the music shop was famous across the world.

More interetsingly, the Wurlitzer roots in music manufacture and retailing extend back to Germany, as early as the 16th century, when they made violins of good quality.

It is therefore entirely possible that Bach would know of Wurlitzer violins, and may even have played one, but of course, the idea could never be anything other than speculation.

Wurlitzer was a fascinating company with an amazing, international reputation.

MM

« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 07:46:18 AM by MusingMuso »

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2012, 07:59:42 AM »
Of course, that sentence was a provocative one, MM. Like some of yours maybe ?

A little rehersal with an original 1737 organ without too many tierces ?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbI3Uww6HHs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=2sfQSrISI-o

The Specifications is interesting, with five 8' foundation flue stops on the first manual,
plus a celeste on the Rückpositiv. Typically baroque !
And no, this one is not a Trost. And even not in Thuringia:

http://www.instrument-und-kontext.de/ik-orgel/sueddt/maihingen_disposition.php

Best wishes,
Pierre
« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 08:08:54 AM by Pierre Lauwers »

MusingMuso

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2012, 02:45:15 PM »

We end up with a dilemma. How often have I heard the phrase, "If only Bach had known an organ like this!"

The phrase is usually restricted to older gentlemen who play organs built by Arthur Harrison.

I'm as quilty as they I suppose, but the problem with "historical research" is that it teaches us almost nothing relevant to the music, and may even mislead.

From what I know of Bach, he was constantly interested in new instruments, which at the time, were undergoing considerable development; as with music notation etc.

So when I suggest that Bach would never have heard his own music on the best organs, I am in danger of straying into the area of "projection," in the possibly misguided assumptiuon that Bach would have preferred the "best organs" to those he knew and played regularly in his native Thuringia.

But is this any different from those who would poroject the same belief concerning Bach and Arthur Harrison?

I believe it would be different, because there would probably be some degree of concesus, if one asked, "What are the finest organs for Bach?

You've only got to watch the faces of those who listen to great performances of Bach at the Bavokerk or Alkmaar; (perhaps evena fine Hinsz or the F C Schnitger instrument at Zwolle).  The organs may not strictly be "Bach organs" as such, but there is something utterly compelling and "right" in the sounds of these instruments, which doesn't require further elaboration. People are stirred and moved by what they hear, (given a good performer), and that should be enough for us to-day.

I think that is different to the Arthur Harrison comparison, because with later baroque instruments, we are comparing like for like  in concept and execution, without all the tonal and mechanical developments which belong to a very different age and style of music-making.

I could go on to describe the best romantic organs as being those in which the classical sense of tonal architecture is preserved, which would apply very much to T C Lewis, Thomas Hill and even, with a few reservations, to the organs of Father Willis and others .

That isn't such an alarming prospect as it may seem.

MM

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2012, 03:31:24 PM »
An original 1737 organ without too many tierces:

http://www.instrument-und-kontext.de/ik-orgel/sueddt/maihingen_disposition.php

Are those front-pipes in the side-flats (Pedal pipes?) made of pure rust?!  :o

MusingMuso

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #26 on: April 27, 2012, 04:41:00 PM »
It's probably arsenic in the lead reacting with the atmosphere.

MM

Andrew Dewar

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #27 on: April 27, 2012, 05:07:44 PM »
The pedal pipes are wooden and were originally covered by a thin layer of tin. Traces of this can still be seen today.

Regards,

Andy

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2012, 05:14:56 PM »
Welcome, Mr Dewar ! I appreciate highly the videos you posted recently on Youtube,
both the playing and the historical interest of the instruments, the romantic ones as well as
the baroque ones.
This one here is rather special. Built "cheaply", with those wooden facade pipes....And the absence
of any access into the organ -which is probably a main reason for its unaltered state-.
But what for a "cheapo"!!!!!

http://www.instrument-und-kontext.de/ik-orgel/sueddt/maihingen_text.php

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #29 on: April 28, 2012, 12:04:42 AM »
If you can't get into the organ, how on earth are you supposed to tune it?  :o

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2012, 02:11:48 AM »
I could describe the best romantic organs as being those in which the classical sense of tonal architecture is preserved, which would apply very much to T C Lewis, Thomas Hill and even, with a few reservations, to the organs of Father Willis and others.

Presumably the same applies to the great Yorkshire firms, Brindley & Foster, Isaac Abbott, Wordsworth & Maskell, Keates, even some Binns organs... but is it really so far from a Lewis to certain examples of Arthur Harrison's work? From Southwark to Newcastle City Hall via the Michell & Thynne at Tewkesbury... NCH has a very full Great diapason chorus, deliberately modelled on that at the Schulze at Armley, starting with a 16ft Geigen, working up through 3x8ft O.D., Octave 4', Octave Quint 2 2/3', Superoctave 2' to a big 5-rank mixture (15.19.22.26.29). There's also a flute chorus - 16' Double Stopped Diapason, 8' Hohl Flute, 4ft Wald Flute.

The Swell chorus, designed not to be subservient to the Great, starts at 8ft (the lone 16' being a Quintaton), going through a 4ft Geigen Principal and a Fifteenth to another five-rank mixture (12.19.22.26.29). There's also an 8ft Rohr Gedeckt and 4ft Rohr Flute to go with the Quintaton. There's a chorus of sorts on the Choir too - Contra Dulciana 16', OD8 or Echo Salicional 8', Salicet 2', Mixture 15.19.22 - the last a feature characteristic of Lewis organs. Even the Pedal has a five-rank mixture (12.15.17.19.22) to go with its otherwise plain 32-16-8 spec.

Sadly, all this is academic as none of it is playable. I'm working on a group which I hope can change that - forgive the somewhat off-topic plug/plea, but I really need as much support as possible, so I'd be much obliged if all forum members who're on Facebook (beside the four who have already joined - thank you so much, Peter, Pierre, Eric & Sean) would hit the "Like" button on the following page and take part in the poll pinned to the top left: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-the-Newcastle-City-Hall-Organ/272899419467146

MusingMuso

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2012, 04:41:31 AM »
The pedal pipes are wooden and were originally covered by a thin layer of tin. Traces of this can still be seen today.

Regards,

Andy




Thanks for the information Andrew....it makes sense.

I wonder what happened to the tin?

Almost certainly, the tin and wood would react together badly; the tin staining the wood and the acids in the wood encouraging "tin pest."

I'm going from memory, but tin is usually mnined where there is also lead, and the chemical make-up of what would be fairly impure tin would include lead, possibly traces of silver, arsenic and all manner of nasties.

Only the best (Cornish) tin seems to have lasted well, and the 32ft front at Haarlem is the perfect example.

MM

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2012, 08:52:02 AM »
If you can't get into the organ, how on earth are you supposed to tune it?  :o

There are no reed stops in this organ.

Best wishes,
Pierre

revtonynewnham

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2012, 12:39:43 PM »
If you can't get into the organ, how on earth are you supposed to tune it?  :o

There are no reed stops in this organ.

Best wishes,
Pierre

Hi

And it's well known that cone tuned pipework (or pipes cut to exact length) will stand in tune for several years.  The Wingfield organ (one of the Early English Organ Project reconstructions of a Tudor organ) has - for reasons of portability - pipes cut to exact length.  The tuning is was just beginning to shift very slightly after 10 years - and a Spurden-Rutt organ that I used to play regularly never needed the open metal pipes tuning in the 5 years that I knew it - just the reed and an occasional note on the wooden pipes.

Every Blessing

Tony

Pierre Lauwers

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2012, 03:35:49 PM »
A new video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akUyqTIw-u0

Thanks, Mr Dewar !

Pierre

pcnd5584

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2012, 05:45:54 PM »
Pierre Cochereau rocked, man

MusingMuso

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #36 on: April 28, 2012, 08:42:05 PM »
Presumably the same applies to the great Yorkshire firms, Brindley & Foster, Isaac Abbott, Wordsworth & Maskell, Keates, even some Binns organs... but is it really so far from a Lewis to certain examples of Arthur Harrison's work? From Southwark to Newcastle City Hall via the Michell & Thynne at Tewkesbury... NCH has a very full Great diapason chorus, deliberately modelled on that at the Schulze at Armley, starting with a 16ft Geigen, working up through 3x8ft O.D., Octave 4', Octave Quint 2 2/3', Superoctave 2' to a big 5-rank mixture (15.19.22.26.29). There's also a flute chorus - 16' Double Stopped Diapason, 8' Hohl Flute, 4ft Wald Flute.


Apart from Keates, I have known or played organs built by all the others, and I can tell you that they are VERY different animals to the work of Arthur Harrison. More than that, without realising it at the time, I was organist at a church which marked, very precisely, the change in the Harrison style from what they had been doing in the 1880’s, and what they started doing after perhaps 1910 or so. The organ in question was that, (now destroyed), at Holy Trinity, Keighley, West Yorkshire, where a typical “old” Harrison two manual, was enlarged to include what was, in effect, an orchestral division placed above the Swell, but labelled “Choir Organ.” That manual included some quite dreadful orchestral reeds of no great quality, a fat Claribel Flute, a characterless Dulciana, a very undistinguished String, a Lieblich Flute (I think) at 4ft, and an Harmonic Picollo at 2ft; the reeds only being enclosed. I suspect that the voicing was done by Casson, but who ever did it, it was a move towards the later, orchestral style.

The voicing and scaling of the individual registers were a complete mismatch with the rest of the instrument, and I don’t think I EVER used the third manual other than as a book-shelf. It did not belnd with anything; not even with itself, and was probably one of the  most unmusical sounds I’ve ever come across. Interestingly, the Swell Organ was typical of Victorian organ-building in the North of England, but very subdued indeed....a hang-over from the Schulze influence I suspect. The Great Organ was good....very good...with a fine Diapason chorus and a decent low-pressure reed, but not at all like the work of Arthur Harrison.

When compared with other instruments from other builders, the old Harrison was actually less distinguished than the best from all the other companies mentioned, but of course, there was that wonderful Harrison build-quality.

Now to suggest that Harrison and Schulze are somehow linked musically, is to stretch belief somewhat. Yes, you will find the same outright power and many of the features of Schulze at Newcastle City Hall, but what you will not hear is the canned-lightning effect of open-toe voicing, modest nicking and massive  straight-line scaling.The Schulze at Armley  almost makes one’s hair stand on end; especially when that famous V rank Mixture is added for the final chords, which has the effect of almost doubling the power of the Great, due to the fact that the Mixture is right at the front of the organ rather than at the back of the Great windchest.

Lewis copied this style, but not slavishly; quite happy to temper the wilder elements slightly in the interests of English “refinement,” but without much compromise in the champagne quality of the full choruses, which still bubble with vitality and harmonic interest. (Part of that harmonic richness also come from the fact that Schulze and Lewis Diapasons are set “slow and interesting” in their intonation: almost string-like in several respects, and especially so at close-quarters. This is a radically different approach to what Harrison did later, where leathered lips, increased wind-pressures and meticulous voicing could be refined into the typical Harrison chorus, Arthur Harrison’s scaling was quite different, and in the case of the bigger Diapasons, so were the wind-pressures.  It produced a more controlled, refined element of power, but make no mistake, Arthur Harrison Great choruses are very loud indeed, but with only limited harmonic development in the individual ranks. That again, was far removed from what Fr Willis did, with his narrow scales and heavy pressures.


On the basis that a few sounds are worth a thousands words, here are a few comparisons:-

First, the Schulze at  Armley     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWMWpXBeEY    The “Kir Royale” of German organs.

Next, the T C Lewis at Ashton-under-Lyne    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sheru4hrgeE   More Moet Chandon and angostura with a splash of Cognac. Just wait for that Plein-Jeu to be drawn!

Father Henry Willis   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdMJH1SZOBg&feature=related    No 3 London Dry Gin; powerful and made to a unique family recipe.

Arthus Harrison     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCdrt5Bc-oY    Finest reserve Port and a King Edward Imperial. The “Gentleman’s organ.”

I think I would have to say that the one big leap forward from Schulze and the provincial builders who followed his example, was the dramatic  increase in the power of later Swell organs; first with the reeds akin to those of Father Henry Willis and then with the more extended chorus-work; usually including a 5 rks quint mixture on the larger instruments.

MM
« Last Edit: April 28, 2012, 09:13:59 PM by MusingMuso »

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #37 on: April 30, 2012, 03:25:02 AM »
One must observe that NCH is not a typical Arthur Harrison organ - nor, if the voicing of its Orchestral department was as bad as you say, was Holy Trinity Keighley. At NCH, the Great chorus (build on the Open Diapason No2, or so I'm told) is very bold, its scaling copied pipe-for-pipe from Armley (according to greater experts than I), all the pipe toes wide open and only modest nicking used. The five-rank quint Mixture is also right at the front, just behind the facade - the Harmonics (of the usual four-rank variety) is much further back, along with the usual 16-8-4 Trombas (which are, I'm told, much brighter and fierier than the Arthur Harrison norm).

I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the individual instruments to which you refer - I've heard Armley in recordings and the St Mary Redcliffe Elgar "Imperial March" I've listened to many times. However...

I do know the Lewis in Southwark's Anglican Cathedral quite well. I would certainly agree with you in your assessment of "the champagne quality of the full choruses, which still bubble with vitality and harmonic interest". My own metaphor for the experience of standing in the South Transept at Southwark, near the case, as a florid toccata is played on Full Great to mixture (the sharpest four of the Armley five-ranker), is one of standing under a crashing waterfall of the greatest, most beautiful purity and clarity. Much nicer than any narrow-scale tin-dominated modern chorus, in my opinion. It is a pity that Jonathan Scott could not better demonstrate the wonderful Ashton organ: the Boellmann is staggeringly banal (and infuriatingly common - I HATE it with a passion!) and he also takes it a good 50% faster than it should be.

Father Willis' work I know principally through the organ he built in 1889 for Saint Augustine's Highbury: it was the subject of an article in a 1936 edition of The Organ, but was moved to Saint Mary's Ewell in Surrey in 1975, where its similar 1860s Willis predecessor (rebuilt by Norman & Beard in 1903) had been destroyed by fire two years previously. This instrument embodies the classic sound of a late Father Willis - scorching chorus reeds (those on the Great right at the front, just behind the facade), perhaps smoother than those of an 1860s Willis but still astonishing in their power and fire, those wonderful, cheerfully-jangling tierce mixtures capping them (thankfully moderated in the treble compared to some more strident earlier examples), the bold, singing Great diapason chorus topped by a very bright Fifteenth and underpinned by a large-scaled Double Open, the gorgeous open and harmonic flutes, acid-drop Lieblichs, flawless orchestral reeds, sensuous strings (those on the Swell perhaps excessively gentle in tone, the big-scaled Choir Gamba at the other extreme), a Vox Humana that just melts in a dark chocolatey stream out of the Swell box, growling smoothly but malevolently in the bass - the only disappointments in the whole organ are the Swell 16ft and 8ft Hautboys (milder and quieter than one might expect or want) and the Choir Dulciana, utterly anodyne and too small in scale to make an effective undulant against the Gamba. The Pedal has only 16ft and 8ft stops, but is effective nevertheless - a mild, even-speaking Bourdon (with independent partner Bass Flute), a gorgeous, purring Violone (metal, I think - might have been one of the facade ranks), a truly Herculean Open Wood at the back alongside the Bourdon and Bass Flute, plus a fabulous Ophicleide at the front, just behind the Great Double Open, which adds a shattering cap to the tutti.

With regard to the video of the ex-Birkenhead Willis in the Netherlands: the piece on the video is John Cook's Fanfare. There is a recording of it on the Salisbury organ on YouTube, too - though this is not it. Nor is it the Willis we see in the video - neither the Birkenhead church whence it came nor the home from which it was recently removed were blessed with much reverberation. I consider it likely one of the following four instruments, two in Liverpool: that city's Anglican cathedral or St George's Hall, or, both in London, the Alexandra Palace or Saint Paul's Cathedral. If the last, it seems we don't hear the big Dome Tubas: it's either the Chancel Tubas on the Solo manual or it's the pre-2008 Dome chorus reeds, which were Tubas in all but name (and marked as such on the resonators), smooth and rounded in tone.

My experience of Arthur Harrison organs is confined to three specific instruments. The first that I encountered was that in the huge Giles Gilbert Scott-designed chapel at Charterhouse School, near Godalming, Surrey, which I believe was also our host's introduction to the organ. Get down there before they scrap it - there are enough good organs in the area to make for a rewarding organ crawl, including that of Godalming PC. My recollections are dim, being now over fifteen years old (and I am not quite twenty-one), but I do recall some very orchestral sounds as well as very great power in the diapasons and reeds. As a school chapel noise machine, it was remarkably economical considering its effectiveness: vast decibels from only thirty-six stops. I ought to try to get to hear it again.

One H&H instrument in whose company I have spent many hours is that of All Saints, Woodham, near Woking: a very typical 1928 H&H of three manuals and twenty-three stops. Its synoptic specification is like this: Ped 16.16.8.8, Ch 8.8.4.8, Gt Bdn 16.8.8.Fl8.4.2 2/3.2., Sw 8.8.8.8.4.III (15.19.22.).16.8. plus octave coupler (73 note chest) and unison off, Oboe 8' by piston - very predictable, Durham churned out dozens if not hundreds of instruments with exactly (or very nearly so) this specification. However, it is saved from ignominy by the sheer quality of its execution: the build quality is typical H&H (I'm not sure if it would even notice a bomb going off beside it) and the voicing so utterly perfect as to almost rob it of character (a matter which, as in the world of cars, is a subject of much debate - is it a good thing or is it just a term used to paper over poor execution?) - its is a rich sound, the Pedal department noticeably weighty, the Great chorus quite bright (particularly if coupled to Swell to mixture, especially if the octave coupler is drawn), the Swell Trumpet fairly fiery and quite powerful, the other two reeds rich, colourful and moderately powerful (both can be moderated with expression pedals), the strings (two on the Swell, one on the Choir) all gorgeous, the Great Large Open a nice, big, warm stop: the flutes, however, are a bit bland and not up to Willis standards. Nothing on the whole organ is on more than 4" w.p. or so I recall. What is most interesting about this instrument is the letter framed and mounted on its side, from one Ronald W. Reagan of 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington NW20500, District of Columbia (an address at which, incidentally, can be found a famous house designed by an architect whose first ever building is home to our host!): it is dated some time in 1988 and is written in very friendly, personal terms, "Nancy and I" giving their very best wishes to the church and all those involved in the organ's restoration and encloses a cheque (of which I think a copy is preserved at the foot of the letter) for $1000 (equivalent to $1900 today) from personal funds.

I've also spent quite a lot of time listening to the Westminster Abbey organ and got to tinker around on it a little on one occasion. Suffice to say, I don't like it much. Very rich, very powerful, quite bright but there's just something missing. Technically, I think it's a better organ than the Willis III at the nearby RC Cathedral, but that organ is ultimately more bold in its choruses and injects more raw excitement into its tutti. With the Abbey, I hear it thundering away in a big piece and I wonder when the player is going to add the big Pedal reeds. The piece ends and I realise they were on already - but they're so smooth in tone as to rob excitement. They're useful for more than the huge Bombardes at the Cathedral, I'm sure, but why can't there be another 32/16 to really roar at you? Plus the Bombarde division is pretty pointless - almost all of it is borrowed, so it really doesn't add much to liturgical accompaniment (unlike its counterpart at St Paul's) and those brassy trumpets are just awful, not to mention a total misfit with the rest of the organ. I'd much rather they used the top manual and stop jamb space to reconnect the Hill Celestial division, which still sits in the South Transept Triforium, awaiting an end to its so-far 76-year-long silence.

I'm afraid your alcoholic-beverage metaphors are somewhat meaningless to me - if they referred to ciders or single-malt whiskies I'd understand! My recommendations on that front (in terms of what's widely available in supermarkets etc) are a Somerset scrumpy from Thatchers and an excellent single malt called the Macallan. One day I plan to go to Somerset and, without the use of a car, somehow do a big crawl of organs, pubs and cider farms, sample as many different ciders as possible without harming more than my liver...
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 07:28:16 AM by AnOrganCornucopia »

pcnd5584

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2012, 11:45:12 PM »
... I've also spent quite a lot of time listening to the Westminster Abbey organ and got to tinker around on it a little on one occasion. Suffice to say, I don't like it much. Very rich, very powerful, quite bright but there's just something missing. ...  Plus the Bombarde division is pretty pointless - almost all of it is borrowed, so it really doesn't add much to liturgical accompaniment (unlike its counterpart at St Paul's) and those brassy trumpets are just awful, not to mention a total misfit with the rest of the organ. I'd much rather they used the top manual and stop jamb space to reconnect the Hill Celestial division, which still sits in the South Transept Triforium, awaiting an end to its so-far 76-year-long silence. ...

An interesting post.

Just to pick up on one point: the Bombarde Organ at Westminster Abbey. For the record, 'alomst all of it' is not borrowed - the three  G.O. Posaunes and the Solo Tuba Mirabilis are playable from this division., the rest is entirely straight - and separate. This includes foundations at 16ft., 8ft., 4ft. and 2ft, a IV - VI rank Mixture, a Grand Cornet V and three (straight) chorus reeds, viz: Bombarde 16ft., Trumpet 8ft. and Clarion 4ft.

You also appear to have mis-understood its true function. It is not supposed to add anything to liturgical accompaniment - it is primarily for leading a large congregation in the Nave - when the brassy trumpets are jsut the thing to cut trhough everything else and give a clear, incisive lead. In order to do this, it is, by its very nature, likely to stand apart from the rest of this instrument.

However, I do agree regarding the 32ft. reed. A larger, more Bombarde-like (i.e., free-toned - but not a free reed, naturally) stop would be ideal.

The Celestial Organ - I fear that, at twenty-three stops (including couplers), there would not be room anywhere on the jambs for this section, however interesting it might be to have it re-connected. Stop-keys on this console would look (and indeed did look) tacky.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 11:48:00 PM by pcnd5584 »
Pierre Cochereau rocked, man

AnOrganCornucopia

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Re: Organs that train our ears
« Reply #39 on: May 02, 2012, 02:24:56 AM »
Ah, quite right too. When I said liturgical accompaniment, I meant precisely what you say, leading a large congregation. The brassy trumpets don't so much give a clear, incisive lead as take an angle-grinder to the West end wall... they're HORRIBLE.

Looking on the NPOR, it's also apparent how much else has been spoiled about the Abbey organ - Large Open Diapason removed (ALWAYS a BAD THING), Choir organ mucked about, split in two with a sort of Positiv department that stands out like a sore thumb, Trombas revoiced and renamed but the Harmonics retained... this organ needs an historic restoration back to its original 1937 ethos. Build a new console for it, too, with six manuals and enough stop-jamb space to reconnect the Celestial (which is only 17 stops, including a split 16ft Dulciana, a spare slide and two percussions) - or make it a floating department on the existing console, there should be stop-jamb space when all the neoclassical fripperies have been thrown in the Thames (preferably with Conservative Party front bench ministers and News International executives tied to or shoved inside the pipes)... they would hopefully form not so much a floating department as a sinking one!
« Last Edit: May 02, 2012, 08:47:03 PM by AnOrganCornucopia »

 


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