Author Topic: A Day of Contrasts  (Read 2137 times)

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A Day of Contrasts
« on: June 21, 2010, 09:57:11 AM »

Saturday was the Bradford Organists' association's annual trip (and organ crawl!)  This year, at my suggestion, we went to Chester and North Wales - and saw, heard and played three very different organs - but all interesting and inspiring in their own way.

First stop was St. Mary, Mold,

This is one of Rushworth & Dreaper's rare excursions into neo-baroque territory -  not a style of organ that some of our members like!  However, this was an interesting instrument to hear and play (and see - the casework is nice - and the Brustwerk enclosure is sliding/folding doors - operated by the swell pedal!  A surprisingly effective arrangement.  The choruses were clear and bright - and solo tone colours could be found.  As usual on these trips, no-one gets to play for very long - but as President, our "tradition" is that the president gets first crack at the open console sessions. I played the Bacj Chorale prelude "O Mensch, Bewein dein Sunde Grosb" - Solo on the Swell Stopped Flute & Larigot, with Great Flutes 8 & 4 and Pedal 16 for the other parts.  The Brustwerk arrangement made it easy to balance the voices.  This organ is the typical neo-Baroque "screamer" - although undoubtedly brightly voiced.

Next stop (after lunch in a local hotel) was St Peter, Ruthin.  This is an absolutely unique organ - the details are on NPOR, so I won't waste space here - suffice to say that it's an English Victorian "take" on a French romantic organ.  Does it sound French?  No - although a couple of the reeds do have a French flavour to my ears.  Does it sound typically English?  Again, not really - although all the sounds are there for the Anglican repertoire - and solo organ repertoire - but sometimes not where you expect them.  One quirk is that there is no coupler from the choir to any other manuals - due to the fact that Pyne (the designer) used the "thumbing down" te3chnique heavily, so he specified a closer than normal spacing for the manuals.  For the same reason, there are only general pistons (16 under the choir manual, duplicated by toe levers - with a ridiculous number of memory levels.  I had played this organ a few years ago - I had a morning on it when we were on holiday in the area.  It's not the sort of organ that you can just sit down and play - it takes some time to get used to its idiosyncratic layout - but there are some absolutely beautiful solo voices, as well as good choruses on Great & Swell.  I played the Daquin Noel (the famous one) - but I did chicken out of the variation with all the semiquavers!  Lack of practice!  The Choir Cor Anglais (an unusual stop - one of Wadsworth's specialities) with the Choir Oboe made a fair substitute for the Cromhorne - and everythingelse was there with no problems - I'm told that the echo passages in the finale came of extremely well down in the church.  If you're going to be in this area of Wales, I would recommend any organist contacting the church and arranging a visit - but give yourself plenty of time!

The final call was St Werburgh Catholic Church  in Chester.  A rescued Binns - and again a very interesting installation - although it did serve to remind me why I hate detached consoles at the other end of the church to the pipes!  Very much a typical English church organ - and none the worse for that.  My contribution here was a hymn prelude on Diadem by Rosalie Bonighton.  The parish priest here - who called in briefly to say "hello" before rushing off to take a Mass in another church - had previously been at St Cuthbert's, Bradford - the Catholic church just round the corner from where I live.  It's a small world!

Altogether, Saturday was an interesting and inspiring day.

Every Blessing



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