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Thread: very intense music from Liverpool Cathedral....

  1. #16
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcnd5584 View Post

    You are welcome.

    Sorry - I have only just seen your post....
    Hey guy,

    No probs
    *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

  2. #17
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    Going back to the swapping out the dulcianas in favour of the Positif...

    Quote Originally Posted by pcnd5584 View Post

    I think that it was more a case of bending to the fashion of the times. Many organs in the UK sprouted Positive departments at this time - some more successful than others.
    Good point, pc. LivAng's example being one of the most successful. America's biggest reason for doing this, is just getting on the Neo-Baroque bandwagon (no pun here) and getting all those high pitches. UK's reason? ... (like to know)

  3. #18
    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    Wonder if she is still there? I must say, it was a "first" for me - maybe she was RC ...
    To be fair to her, the building is used much of the time for services, rehearsals and concerts. She and other voluntary helpers (and staff), have to do their jobs, often in trying conditions. If the organ is being played loudly, it is quite difficult to carry out a conversation in any part of the building.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

  4. #19
    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilingvox View Post
    Going back to the swapping out the dulcianas in favour of the Positif...



    Good point, pc. LivAng's example being one of the most successful. America's biggest reason for doing this, is just getting on the Neo-Baroque bandwagon (no pun here) and getting all those high pitches. UK's reason? ... (like to know)
    Well, probably in part as you state above. However, it was also a reaction (partly engendered by the advent of the organ in the RFH) against the opaque tubbiness of many Edwardian organs. (If you are not sure what they sound like, try searching on YouTube for soundclips from Saint Mary, Redcliffe, Bristol, Crediton Parish Church, Chartehouse School Chapel, Repton School Chapel - or Saint Chad's, Headingley). I am fairly sure that five minutes in the company of a pair of Arthur Harrison Trombe, a heavily-blown Open Wood and a fearsome 'Harmonics' (17-19-flat 21-22) will shed some light on the matter. Not that all English organs were like this; for example, the Walker instrument at Bristol Cathedral (1907) is a real aristocrat, beautifully voiced and thoroughly musical.

    I think that in the UK in the 1960s-70s, there were a number of organists and organ builders (often in key positions) who felt that the time had come to 'let the daylight' into the British organ. As far back as 1948 (and even before this, at Buckfast Abbey), Ralph Downes (at the time Organist at Brompton Oratory) was working on the scheme for a new concert hall organ in London. This was to be that at the RFH. Having returned from Princeton, NJ, a few years previously, Downes, impressed by the work of G. Donald Harrison, had become filled with an almost missionary zeal, and set about to turn the English organ establishment on its head. When it was opened, the new H&H organ at the RFH proved to be even more shocking than its planning had led the musical cognoscenti to believe. However, whilst not spawning any direct copies, it was the progenitor for the classical revival of the British organ - which, initially, had to be dragged out from amongst its leathered diapasons and thundering Ophicleides kicking and screaming.

    As with many such reactions, views (and instruments) became polarised; the initial response was, with hindsight, an over-reaction. This, in turn, resuled in some frankly hideous instruments, with barely more than one or two slender foundation stops amongst them, but which almost always culminated in multiple ranks of mixtures, usually pitched at levels high enough to drive the local canine population to howling distracion.

    The middle ground, when it came, was far more satisfying and included such instruments as that at Coventry Cathedral (perhaps somewhat ironically, by H&H, in 1962, who by this time, had changed their tonal ethos to something rather more musically versatile) and York Minster (JW Walker, 1960).

    In fact, it was this latter firm who, in several cases, showed arguably the most sensible approach. They became adept at producing thoroughly musical and most useful Positive divisions, of which those at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool and Wimborne Minster are perhaps the most successful examples - in fact, rather better than that at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, which, considering the size of the rest of the instrument, is a meagre little section, seemingly almost grudgingly included as a small acknowledgement of the Classical revival.


    In fact, the middle ground could be said to be still in the process of being established. It took several years before the initial reaction became more tempered. Firms such as Grant, Degens and Rippin (subsequently Bradbeer) were building or re-building instruments such as those at Saint John's, Boscombe (Dorset) and New College Chapel, Oxford. These instruments were often termed 'brutalist' - perhaps in much the same way as that at Clare College, Cambridge (von Beckerath, 1971). In fact, this latter instrument replaced a vintage Harrison of 1911.

    Most of the larger firms produced some essays in the Classical style: for example, Harrisons (Wells Cathedral, 1974; Ely Cathedral, 1976), Hill, Norman & Beard (Gloucester Cathedral, 1971), Walker (Blackburn Cathedral, 1967; Paisley Abbey, 1968), Rushworth & Dreaper (Guildford Cathedral, 1961-62; Chester Cathedral, 1969-70). Mander installed a Positive in all but name in the North Choir case, at Saint Paul's Cathedral, London (1974-77). However, all were in reality eclectic instruments; all retained much of their former Romantic character, the new voices often sitting uneasily in juxtaposition with the older ranks.

    However, there were still some isolated examples which clung to a more Romantic tradition; at Peterborough Cathedral in 1980-81, Harrisons showed commendable restraint when rebuilding the large four-clavier Hill organ. Again, at Bristol Cathedral in 1989-90, Mander rebuilt the vintage Walker organ in an entirely sympathetic and conservative manner. The pendulum was swinging more gently now, with a number of other important instruments showing certain leanings towards the Romantic organ - or, perhaps, post-Romantic might be more accurate. This manifested itself in such things as a greater percentage of foundation stops, several new high-pressure reeds and many lower-pitched compound stops.

    This latter point is an interesting one. If one examines stop-lists of British organs over the last five decades, mixtures appear to be getting lower in pitch. In the 1960s, it was common to see stops labelled 'Fourniture (19-22-26-29)', 'Scharf (22-26-29-33)' and even 'Cymbale (29-33-36)'. Now, many organs have been shorn of much of this upperwork - or else it has been re-cast, commencing at somewat lower pitches. Carlisle Cathedral, Exeter Cathedral, Lichfield Cathedral and Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin are but four examples. In the cases of Carilsle and Dublin, two Positive divisions (both, as it happens, by JW Walker) have had their high-pitched Cymbale mixtures re-cast. At Exeter Cathedral, the Cimbel (26-29-33) was removed entirely and a Clarinet substituted. Given that this department also had its 1ft. Twenty Second re-pitched as a fairly pointless Larigot, much of the sparkle of this division has now gone. At Lichfield, the situation was somewhat more complicated. Here there was a largely unspoiled Hill organ (1884/1908), which, in 1974 had been given a Classical 'make-over'. Fortunately, the 'Hill' choruses were so good that the Pedal, Great and Swell organs escaped largely unscathed. However, the Choir Organ was subjected to the indignity of being turned into a Positive Organ (again, in all but name). In addition to a Gedeckt, a Spitz Principal and a Recorder, there were three mutations and a Cymbale (29-33-36). At the most recent restoration (2000), Harrison & Harrison re-instated two ranks (albeit with new pipes), revoiced five others and replaced the Cymbale with a somewhat lower-pitched compound stop.

    A number of new or drastically rebuilt cathedral organs over the last ten years have shown a more Romantic trend in both the stop-lists and the treatment of the voicing. However, in some cases, the results are less than satisfying. Whilst there are arguably less 'niche' instruments (or, if you prefer, those designed after a single style), there are a number of examples which show eclectic stop-lists. The aim is, presumably, to make these organs as versatile as possible. The British cathedral organ is of necessity called upon to do many things: accompany choirs, lead congregational singing, serve as a vehicle for solo recitals, even play with orchestras and other instrumental ensembles. It is perhaps foolhardy to attempt, within a single instrument, to meet each of these requirements with complete success.
    This can (and has, in a few cases) led to somewhat bland results. At least three new large organs built within the last few years have been described as 'bland', 'dull' and 'inadequate', by a number of those who have heard or played them. Whilst consoles, actions and the physical parts of the instruments are, in most cases, well-constructed, it is in the key area of voicing where the British organ could be said, once again, to be losing its way. Perhaps in an effort to avoid the mistakes and extremes of past decades, several builders seem lately to favour a rather middle-of-the-road approach, in which there are no really colourful ranks - or even ensembles; rather, everything is homogenous and rather inoffensive. The inescapable corollary is that such instruments are also flavourless and uninspiring.

    Yet there are also bright stars on the horizon. The new organ in Keble College Chapel (Tickell, 2011) sounds stunning. On paper, it is difficult to label this instrument as belonging to any particular style; however, it is intrinsically 'English' - in the best sense, with warm, yet lively choruses, good foundation work and a wealth of colourful stops. In addition to a fourth clavier, on which is situated a solo reed (Posaune) and a Cornet V, there is an enclosed Solo-Choir Organ, which possesses three quiet orchestral reeds. The tutti is both inspiring and majestic.

    Where the British organ will go from here is purely a matter of conjecture. One thing is sure: if more instruments such as that at Keble are built, by the best of our craftsmen, we shall be the richer for it.
    Last edited by pcnd5584; Oct-29-2012 at 02:47.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

  5. #20
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    "Pitched high enough to drive the local canine population to howling distraction"...

    Priceless


    Oh how many "orgelbewegung" instruments or divisions or pipe ranks that have been grafted onto existing instruments...I too howl because my ears are being punctured by all those "Schreiwerk"...
    *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

  6. #21
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    lol... I like that bit about the local canines. Reminds me of a small 3-manual Rieger (1970s), which has the worst trumpet stop I've ever heard. My simile for that is South Park's Erik Cartman squealing in a tantrum at his Mum, or Erik at a Barbra Streisand concert (he hated her so)..... It's that bad!

    But seriously, I really appreciate your long response and found it very educational, pc.

    I am very well aware of the sound of organs like St. Mary's Redcliffe, Bristol Cath. & the like. These were built during what I feel was Britain's greatest hour of organ building (from around 1870 to WWII). I have a great penchant for heavy pressures.

  7. #22
    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilingvox View Post
    ... I am very well aware of the sound of organs like St. Mary's Redcliffe, Bristol Cath. & the like. These were built during what I feel was Britain's greatest hour of organ building (from around 1870 to WWII). I have a great penchant for heavy pressures.
    Well, of course, this is your choice. However, if you had to live with one each week, and accompany a choir - or even if you wished to play Buxtehude, Bruhns, Bach, etc - you might find that you tired of opaque Trombe, leathered diapasons and mixtures which contained both tierces and flat twenty-firsts.

    I suppose that there may be some initail thrill with big, heavy pressure reeds, etc; but I would be surprised if you did not yearn for something more blending and musical - and less destructive - after a short time.

    For the record, I deliberately separated the superb JW Walker organ at Bristol Cathedral from Redcliffe and the other Harrison organs - for they are worlds apart. Bristol is an aristocrat; Edwardian in its voice, it is true - but it is a thoroughly musical instrument, without one ugly sound.

    A colleague went recently to play several instruments (including Redcliffe and King's, Cambridge), since his 'own' church organ is due for major work and he is not really conversant with either the mechanics or the ethos of the voicing. In each case, he came back and, whilst praising the quiet registers, he criticised the chorus and big solo reeds (and the diapason choruses), for their lack of blend, musicality and aural tolerance (on the part of the player).

    Incidentally, I am glad that you found my previous post helpful - thank you.
    Last edited by pcnd5584; Oct-29-2012 at 22:58.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

  8. #23
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    I thought about what you said at the beginning of your last post while listening to M. Durufle's Fugue sur le...... Carillon..... de Soissons being played on the organ at the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, Warwick, on youtube earlier to-day. Indeed, this is one good example where, if there aren't any mixtures or anything else that has splash, there would be no electricity in this piece (and I wouldn't get goose pimples everytime I listen to it).

    Also, I'm a big fan of J. S. Bach, and much of his works call for the use of mixtures.

    I guess, perhaps, I've heard one too many bad sounding examples of mixtures, whether placed in the wrong settings or improperly voiced and/or balanced with the rest of the stops, and as a result, a bad taste was left in my mouth. My ears probably just needed some "re-balancing" in the form of orchestral tones, hefty diapasons & flutes, etc. The above-mentioned clip told me that I was ready to receive the mixtures once again.

  9. #24
    Seaman, Mezzoforte hauptwerkIII's Avatar
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    Thank-you for your post pncd! Useful info on 20th century British organ building.

  10. #25
    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hauptwerkIII View Post
    Thank-you for your post pncd! Useful info on 20th century British organ building.
    Thank you for your kind comments, hauptwerkIII - they are much appreciated.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

  11. #26
    Captain of Water Music pcnd5584's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilingvox View Post
    I thought about what you said at the beginning of your last post while listening to M. Durufle's Fugue sur le...... Carillon..... de Soissons being played on the organ at the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, Warwick, on youtube earlier to-day. Indeed, this is one good example where, if there aren't any mixtures or anything else that has splash, there would be no electricity in this piece (and I wouldn't get goose pimples everytime I listen to it).

    Also, I'm a big fan of J. S. Bach, and much of his works call for the use of mixtures.

    I guess, perhaps, I've heard one too many bad sounding examples of mixtures, whether placed in the wrong settings or improperly voiced and/or balanced with the rest of the stops, and as a result, a bad taste was left in my mouth. My ears probably just needed some "re-balancing" in the form of orchestral tones, hefty diapasons & flutes, etc. The above-mentioned clip told me that I was ready to receive the mixtures once again.

    I am pleased to hear this, smilingvox.

    See if you can find some examples of Bach, as played by David Briggs, at Gloucester Cathedral - this organ is simply stunning for many types of music, but it 'is particularly good as a vehicle for the music of Bach. The eight-second reverberation in this beautiful cathedral adds wamth, yet does not blur the sound.
    Pierre Cochereau rocked, man.

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