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Thread: Forthcoming CD recording in London - which organ would you recommend?

  1. #1
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Forthcoming CD recording in London - which organ would you recommend?

    First of all, I'm a composer, not an organist, but I hope this forum will assist me with my enquiry.

    A piece of mine for organ and orchestra, Gwylmabsant, has been performed and broadcast several times (most recently on Radio 3). I'm now compiling a commercial CD of orchestral works and would like to include this piece on it. As is the case so often, the organ will have to be recorded separately from the orchestra and mixed in later, so I have a more or less free choice as to which organ to select for the job.

    However, it would be best if it were in London or its environs, and the organist's first choice - St John's Smith Square - is not really ideal because a) the venue is extremely expensive to hire, b) it will be closed for a large part of the summer for building work.

    The short (6 minute) piece is a kind of celebratory overture, and is more showy than subtle, and an exultantly loud sound is required at the end! If you have any recommendations, I'd be most glad to receive them so that I might make further enquiries.

    Thanks,

    Gareth Glyn.

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    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    Try http://www.jonathanscott.co.uk he is a concert organist and part of the scott brothers duo team.... He plays a concert series at Bridgewater Hall I believe is in Manchester.. But he may well be interested as well as know of organ suitable for your needs.... Good Luck,,, can hear him on you tube also. as they have site there too.( scottbrothersduo )
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
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    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

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  3. #3
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Thanks! I'll investigate.

    Gareth

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    Admiral of Fugues Contratrombone64's Avatar
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    This is a useful resource ... (Manchester is no where near London, at least not since my last visit to the U.K.)

    http://www.londonorgan.co.uk/
    I'm not an atheist and I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.
    —Albert Einstein.

  5. #5
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Thanks! I'll take a look.

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    Midshipman, Forte
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    Quote Originally Posted by GarethGlyn View Post
    As is the case so often, the organ will have to be recorded separately from the orchestra and mixed in later, so I have a more or less free choice as to which organ to select for the job.

    However, it would be best if it were in London or its environs, and the organist's first choice . . .

    The short (6 minute) piece is a kind of celebratory overture, and is more showy than subtle, and an exultantly loud sound is required at the end! If you have any recommendations, I'd be most glad to receive them so that I might make further enquiries.
    Hi!

    Your answer might be in the Harrison and Harrison organ of Charterhouse Chapel
    http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsear...c_index=A00924

    It's one of the last instruments of this interwar breed un-tampered with and the Tuba stop and Ophicliede are supreme for a showy sound. The instrument is designed to compete with 700 teenage males belting out Jerusalem and other favourites. The tuba is like a load of tuned juggernaut hooters! But full organ without the Tuba is also amazing. The acoustics are brilliant - 7 second reverb - and the chapel accommodates an orchestra. The silence is brilliant also - no local noisy roads and top musicians choose the chapel for a variety of such reasons.

    However, you might find
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe_eJ60PmtM
    of interest with controllable acoustics and a most versatile range of sounds:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9usBggyS5Nk
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bi2pdYou-Rs
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1YcEjz8Xro
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8m2ok1Hlh0and, yes it does have a good tuba stop too.

    Best wishes

    David P

  7. #7
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    David - thank you so much for your detailed and informative reply, and also for the wealth of clips, which has given me a great insight into the huge variety of timbres available from these marvellous instruments.

    I've now been able to add decisively to my shortlist!

    Best wishes,

    Gareth

  8. #8
    Midshipman, Forte
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    Quote Originally Posted by GarethGlyn View Post
    David - thank you so much for your detailed and informative reply, and also for the wealth of clips, which has given me a great insight into the huge variety of timbres available from these marvellous instruments.

    I've now been able to add decisively to my shortlist!

    Dear Gareth

    Thanks

    To some extent it depends on the nature of the flourish you want. If you're looking for the traditional English sounds in reeds, then the battery of fog-horns, perhaps enhanced by a piquant mixture (sadly Septieme harmonics have often been removed) then traditional English organs are brilliant.

    But if you're looking for that Brass Band battery of blazing trumpets the French Baroque is fantastic, and that is what I have tried to enspirit at Hammerwood which is just 30 miles from London, on the inspiration of
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSf7-4t_SWc and
    and
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPGDiA3fidA
    and to this end the organ at Rieti near Rome will be amazing and I will report back when I have heard it on the Dom Bedos thread on the Organ Matters forum.

    The instrument at Hammerwood is intended to bring choices of all these tonalities into England, as far as one is able to do so without £4M to commission an equivalent new instrument but I hope that it will inspire a major venue into doing so.

    The Charterhouse instrument is on
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIl-LRafVO4
    - however, this is a poor quality camera recording (as also is the Albi clip) in contrast to most of the other clips

    Best wishes

    David P

  9. #9
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Thanks again, David.

  10. #10
    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Organ Matters View Post
    Dear Gareth

    Thanks

    To some extent it depends on the nature of the flourish you want. If you're looking for the traditional English sounds in reeds, then the battery of fog-horns, perhaps enhanced by a piquant mixture (sadly Septieme harmonics have often been removed) then traditional English organs are brilliant. ...

    David P
    This is more typical of the work of Arthur Harrison (with the occasional copy by HN&B or Rushworth & Dreaper). Harrison's opaque and harmonically dead Trombe are not necessarily regarded as traditional English - at least not since men habitually wore handlebar moustaches and women took delight in fabricating underclothing from Crinoline. These stops, together with the fearful Harmonics (17-19-flat 21-22) were usually capable of immense power. Extant examples are Crediton Parish Church, Devon (G.O. at 8ft. and 4ft.), Ripon Cathedral (G.O. at 16ft., 8ft. and 4ft.) and, clearly, Charterhouse. These stops were generally voiced on a wind pressure which could range from 250mm to 450mm.

    Whilst it could be said that the Harmonics (when present) helped to make these stops blend with the rest of the G.O., I would argue that, in reality, these reeds and the companion mixture were fundamentally flawed. Due to the impenetrable nature of the tone of the reeds, together with their tendency utterly to swamp just about everything else, with the exception of an equally turbid and loud Tuba, blending was about the last thing of which they were capable.

    Thankfully, there are rather more examples of the type of chorus reed which was favoured by 'Father' Henry Willis left to us today. Notwithstanding his debt to Cavaillé-Coll, these reeds are arguably more truly representative of the (favoured) traditional English sound. They were usually voiced on a pressure of approximately 175mm, and were given a rather more open tone - still powerful, but with greatly superior blending qualities, as compared to H&H Trombe.

    I was slightly surprised at your organist's original choice of venue. To all intents and purposes, Saint John's, Smith Square contains an oversized instrument by Klais, which has been unceremoniously stuffed, tardis-like, into an unsuitably small eighteenth century case and placed on a gallery in this elegant concert hall. Originally built as a church, it was completed in 1728. The architect was Thomas Archer - or perhaps not. Folklore has it that Archer enquired of Queen Anne what she wanted the church to look like. Apparently she kicked over her footstool and announced peremptorily "Like that!" It must be said that, viewed from the exterior, the four corner towers do give the building some resemblance to an upturned footstool.

    For an instrument which may fit your requirements, I suggest the following:

    Croydon Parish Church (H&H, IV/P); the organist is Harrisons' tuner for London and the South of England.

    Saint Giles, Cripplegate (Mander, III/P). The tutti is bright and clear on this English version of a neo-Classical organ. The organist is Anne Marsden Thomas.

    If you desire a louder tutti (and perhaps one which is a little more reed-dominated), the following two instruments may be worth considering:

    Saint Alban's, Holborn (Compton, III/P). This organ is widely regarded as the loudest church instrument in London. After many years of perfecting the art of construction organs which were to be sited in chambers, Compton apparently found the transition to an open, west end site somewhat problematical. Apparently, at one point, thick wood baffles were installed around the pipework of the G.O., simply as a desperate measure to avoid listeners being plastered against the east wall of the church with their hair and general appearance looking as if they were testing a wind tunnel for British Aerospace.

    Saint Luke's, Chelsea (Compton, III/P). This vast three clavier instrument is one of the most successful essays in the extension principle which is known to me. Compton's careful experimentation and thoughtful design (and inspired voicing) resulted in a large, colourful organ with a great personality. I doubt that this church would be expensive to hire, either. One caveat - it is a while since I last played this organ, so I do not know in what state it is currently maintained. The only malfunction which happened whilst I was playing for a service was that, on the luminous light-touch console, the Contra Posaune cyphered. I was able to persuade this stop to retire gracefully about three seconds prior to the start of Howells' Collegium Regale setting of the Nunc Dimittis. (For those who are unfamiliar with this work, a 32ft. reed at this point would be about as desirable as being trapped in a lift* with a dead horse.)

    Other organs within Greater London which you may wish to consider:

    Saint Stephen, Walbrook (Hill/HN&B, III/P). This instrument is situated at the west end of this comparatively intimate church. However, the acoustic ambience is glorious. This building, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, may have been used as the prototye for Saint Paul's Cathedral - the one common architectural feature being a central dome (although the treatment is rather different to that at Saint Paul's). The organ is a fair sized three clavier instrument, basically Romantic in character. The full organ is quite powerful enough for its location - aided by the superb acoustics.

    Saint Anne's, Limehouse (Gray & Davison, III/P)
    may be worth investigating, now that it has received a sympathetic restoration in 2006, at the skilled hands of William Drake. It still has the original console, but the tutti, which is largely dominated by G&D's superb Pedal and G.O. reeds (Grand Bombarde 16ft., with Posaune 8ft. and Clarion 4ft.), is breathtaking.

    If you feel that you really must have a tutti containing H&H Trombe, these two instruments may be just what you are looking for:

    The Temple Church (H&H, IV/P). Sir George Thalben-Ball was Organist and Choirmaster here for many years. This organ (installed after WWII, to replace the Rothwell instrument which became 'rebuilt' courtesy of the Luftwaffe) was originally constructed for the ballroom of Lord Glentanar's private residence, in Scotland. It is a large and colourful instrument - oh yes, is has Trombe at 8ft. and 4ft. on the G.O.

    All Saints', Margaret Street (H&H, IV/P). This church is a fine example of the type of architecture favoured by the Tractarian movement. In this comparatively small building, Arthur Harrison installed a large four clavier instrument, replete with a 32ft. Double Open Wood on the Pedal Organ, a colourful, enclosed Choir Organ, a family of (enclosed) Trumpets at 16ft., 8ft. and 4ft. pitch on the G.O. and a thrilling Orchestral Trumpet 8ft. played from the Solo Organ. It was restored recently, again by Harrisons, who altered the composition of the mixture stops - including, I believe, re-instating the G.O. Harmonics.

    For a brighter, clearer sound, you could try this instrument:

    All Souls, Langham Place (Willis/H&H, IV/P). This large organ stands in the west gallery of this, the 'BBC' Church (so-called, because of its close proximity to Broadcasting House). It is generally used for the broadcast of the Daily Service, on British radio. The instrument is tonally very complete, spread over four claviers, with two 32ft. ranks on the Pedal Organ (one being a Contra Trombone), a Positive Organ, large G.O. and Swell and a colourful Solo Organ, culminating in an unenclosed Tuba and a Fanfare Trumpet. The only possible drawback is that the building possesses an acoustic ambience which makes the Royal Festival Hall sound warm and fluffy.

    If you prefer something a little closer in sound to a 'Father' Willis organ, this may be worth considering:

    Saint Augustine's, Kilburn (Willis/H&H, III/P). This moderately sized instrument has a fairly complete G.O. and Swell. However, the Pedal Organ (as was often the case with FHW) consists of only a handful of stops - although one is Willis' trademark Ophicleide - a veritable thunderbolt. The Choir Organ has seven registers, including a Clarinet. The Solo Organ has never been installed. The instrument is sited on the north side of this large edifice, designed by John Loughborough Pearson (who was also the architect for Truro Cathedral, in Cornwall).

    One further organ:

    Saint John's, Upper Norwood (Lewis, III/P). This fine instrument was restored sympathetically by Harrisons, a number of years ago. It is an excellent example of the work of T.C. Lewis and produces a magnificent sound in a reasonably favourable acoustic.

    I hope that the above is of some use to you.

    I have played, at some point, many of these instruments and, if you desire, I can probably provide a specification and further details of any or all of them.

    Naturally, I am unable to state whether or not the relevant authorities for each building would grant permission to record - or, for that matter, whether the organs are of a sufficiently reliable standard to be used. Notwithstanding, I believe that most, if not all of these instruments are kept in good playing condition.

    You are welcome to contact me by PM, if you should require further details.



    * Or, if you prefer, an elevator.


    Last edited by pcnd5584; Apr-16-2010 at 09:42.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

  11. #11
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Hi pcnd,

    Thanx for the info on St. Alban's in Holborn. Sounds like a good instrument on which to perform *Apparition de l'Eglise Eternelle*

    Seriously, you have contributed a wonderful review of some organs in London which I found very helpful - You very succinctly and adequately described what an informed organist would find.

    Cheers,

    CD
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

  12. #12
    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corno Dolce View Post
    Hi pcnd,

    Thanx for the info on St. Alban's in Holborn. Sounds like a good instrument on which to perform *Apparition de l'Eglise Eternelle*

    Seriously, you have contributed a wonderful review of some organs in London which I found very helpful - You very succinctly and adequately described what an informed organist would find.

    Cheers,

    CD
    Thank you, Corno Dolce. I appreciate your kind words.

    If you did ever visit Saint Alban's Church in Holborn, you may wish to take some kind of hat - preferably one with side flaps to cover your ears....
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

  13. #13
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Blessed pcnd,

    You're welcome sir. I've got just the hat for it:

    http://www.bigfurhats.com/catalog/si...at.product.JPG


    Cheers,

    CD
    *If a man wants God to hear his prayer quickly, then before he prays for anything else, even his own soul, when he stands and stretches out his hands towards God, he must pray with all his heart for his enemies. Through this action God will hear everything that he asks* -Abba Zeno-

    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

    *Socrates: "My opinion is: Truth is absolute, not opinion, and that you are in absolute error. Since this is my opinion, then according to your philosophy you must grant that it is true."

    "Improvisational Art": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSxVO3EoCRM

  14. #14
    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corno Dolce View Post
    Blessed pcnd,

    You're welcome sir. I've got just the hat for it:

    www.bigfurhats.com/catalog/silver.fox.russian.hat.product.JPG


    Cheers,

    CD
    Is that really a hat - or is it actually an extremely patient raccoon seeking a higher vantage point....?
    Last edited by pcnd5584; Apr-16-2010 at 14:15.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

  15. #15
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    pcnd - I'm immeasurably grateful to you for replying to my post in such detail. Interesting point about St John's Smith Square - I suppose all organists have their own 'favourite' instruments, or ones they're familiar with, and that might colour their choice. Anyhow, I now have an impressive list of candidate organs that she and I can discuss, thanks to your contribution and those of others on this list.

    Kind regards,

    Gareth

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