PipeChat Digest #5343 - Monday, May 16, 2005
 
Re: Rollschweller and cone valve chests. - the response
  by <TubaMagna@aol.com>
Big organs, spewing, and Yale...
  by <TubaMagna@aol.com>
Sauer Organ - Jahrhunderthalle
  by "Charlie Lester" <crl@137.com>
Re: Organs in Sicily
  by <RMB10@aol.com>
Re: BIGNESS BASHING *All Read Please*
  by "Tim Bovard" <tmbovard@earthlink.net>
Re: Organs in Sicily
  by <Adivds@aol.com>
 

(back) Subject: Re: Rollschweller and cone valve chests. - the response From: <TubaMagna@aol.com> Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 12:21:26 EDT     In a message dated 05/16/05 9:29:30 AM, cmys13085@yahoo.co.uk writes:   << Hello,   I suppose it's good to be put on the spot; especially since I wrote of something I have very little experience of ie:- cone valve chests and rollschwellers. Thus, in "knowing" something about it, I really know nothing, since I've never really had the chance to explore a big German romantic organ built after 1900.   I think possibly only "Brindley & Foster" ever used cone-vale chests here in the UK, but there may well have been others. Brindley had, of course, worked closely with the German organ-builder Schulze, and there was an interchange of workmen between the two firms whilst Schulze was in England.   However, not to be daunted, I "think" I know at least some of the answers to the questions posed.   Forgive me if I am wrong, but doesn't a cone-valve arrangement shut off the wind supply to each pipe individually, using charge and discharge registration wind supplies within the chest?   That, of course, would eliminate any sag or "bounce" in the larger areas of air associated with slider-chests and ventil chests, and would allow seamless addition and subtraction of registers.   Assuming that I am right (!).......the next conundrum is to explain the essential nature of (say) a German Walcker organ, and the way in which they differ to other types of organ. (I think the same can be said of Sauer instruments and other contemporary German Romantic organs of the period).   On my last but one trip to Holland, I heard Reger performed on the big Walcker instrument at Doesburg; close to the German border. This was fascinating, because I heard the type of instrument for which Reger's music was properly intended. "Amazing" is the word which springs to mind.   The impression I got was of hugely heavy bass registers, a great whirl and swirl of sound from the great mash of 8ft tones combined, and chorus-work which only added brightness to the 8ft tones, but without any real sense of a chorus effect, such as would normally be found even in French or English romantic organs (and also, early romantic German ones too).   Everything, it seems, is subservient to the intention of creating an "orchestral" effect rather than an "organ chorus" effect.   In England, as in France, we are conditioned by the absolute dominance of the Swell Organ and an abundance of other enclosed divisions; capable not only of acting as a volume control, but allowing a wide dynamic expressive control of a type virtually unknown on German organs. To get the expressive crescendo or diminuendo, the German Romantic organist only has recourse to the addition or subtraction of stops; made much easier by the provision of setter-actions and rollschweller controls, and virtually impossible to achieve by hand or with normal thumb/toe pistons.   We move on....   I have mentioned that I live quite close to the great Schulze masterpieces at Doncaster and at Armley; two very different organs. Armley is all "donner und blitzen" with a smattering of ethereal effects and a positively angelic Echo division, but at Doncaster, there is a veritable wealth of quieter flutes (exquisite) and mild string tones, subtle mixtures and, for the most part, (except the replacement Great reeds and a Solo Tuba by J W Walker in the 1950's) rather thin reeds which do not add a great deal of power or weight to the whole. (The Full Swell at Armley is quite restrained, with no 16ft reed and, in its original form, no super or sub couplers.)   HOWEVER, bring on those open-foot, big-scale, un-nicked Schulze Great Diapasons, and you are soon in "canned lightning" territory.....wow! It is a sound like no other, and has made the Armley Schulze especially famous across the world. (The Doncaster Great chorus is less strident, but rings around the building nevertheless).   That essentially "baroque" Diapason (Principal) type of chorus was to become heavily suppressed over the next 50 years, and is not really in evidence in the Walcker organ at Doesburg. Instead, the emphasis has shifted towards 8ft tone and very subtle upperwork which adds just a wee bit of brightness, but more importantly, and upwardly expanded dynamic which counteracts the massive 32ft and 16ft pedal tones.   In fact, ITS ALL ABOUT DYNAMICS rather than terraced choruses.   Because the name of the game is expression, each register can be freely added to another with some impunity. Thus, Flutes and strings blend, the Principal (Diapason) registers just add power to the softer registers, and the whole behemoth is just one great oozing, seething mass of dynamic sound as a result......the very thing which brought about the German baroque organ-revival.   OK....let's jump on a jet plane and head across England and Stateside, armed with our Reger tome which, of course, we have practised to perfection!   First to a big Harrison & Harrison organ. Impressively powerful Diapasons, slider-chests, fiery Swell reeds enclosed in a massively effective swell-box, big Great reeds, huge Tuba sounds and Pedal basses which have more rock and roll than Elvis. Then there is a stupid little enclosed Choir organ, a collection of attractive Solo stops (all enclosed except the Tuba) and lots of thumb pistons, swell pedals and pretty ivory stop heads.   The seamless increase and decrease in dynamics can only be achieved by using the very effective Swell organ coupled through to Great. Even then, the whole sound is forceful and BRIGHT as compared to a Walcker organ, for example. The BIG sound is that of Swell reeds burning through the gloom and bursting out into the building with impressive effect.   No matter what one does, it does not, and cannot sound like a big German organ of the Reger period. Thus, to achieve any sort of dynamic increase or decrease, we have to resort to specific "points" in the score to add or subtract registers or manual divisions.   Authentic Reger has gone out of the window, and we are suddenly in the land of TRANSCRIPTION.   We fly on to Yale University.......   American organs (even very large ones) are essentially modelled around the same blend of English style chorus-work with a French-style dominant Swell,as their smaller brethren are in the UK. OK, there are differences in specific detail, but WE would recognise YOURS, and YOU would recognise OURS. Obviously, on such a huge instrument as the Newberry Memorial organ at Yale, there is a vastly increased availability of orchestral effect, which moves such an instrument one step closer to the German romantic organs of Walcker or Sauer. Nevertheless, without cone valve chests, it is unlikely that registration changes would be totally "seamless" even if set up that way on a General Crescendo pedal. For a start, the reeds, when brought into operation, would be totally out of balance and would predominate. There would be the previously mentioned problems of wind sag and bounce as ventils open and close.....and this WOULD BE HEARD!     It just doesn't happen like that on German organs of the period.....the changes are so subtle as to be almost done by magic.   I cringe to think what great clunks,plops and hisses would emerge from an organ such as Yale, if the great dynamic "pulses" found in Reger's music were to be replicated as if it were a German romantic organ. I guess that Reger would begin to resemble a Yorkshire "clog dance." (Apologies to Jarle Fagerheim in Norway)   However, let's be a little less pessimistic musically.   Did Reger actually KNOW what he was doing when he wrote for the organ?   As I stated previously, his organ-works were a bit of a committee effort; the chairman of the committee being Karl Straube, who really DID know what he was doing. ("The maker of organists")   Emotionally, Reger was complex, intense, hard-drinking and melancholic genius....perhaps he was "on the dark side" of the divide between sanity and madness. I would argue that unless one can have an extraordinary empathy with the tortured nature of his inner-being, then Reger is not for you.   Perhaps of equal importance, is the fact that he somehow encapsulated the madness of the age, the imperial ambitions of Germany and the agony of an escalating world war.   He was also a crap organist, apparently!   Max Reger was a Symphonist and Pianist, where dynamic control is virtually instantaneous and unlimited; even in a brief moment of the scoring. The fact that the rollschweller made this sort of dynamic control POSSIBLE, does not necessarily mean that it is DESIRABLE, in my honest opinion.   Does Reger's wonderful music become less if it is TRANSCRIBED to a different style of instrument?   Maybe that's the wrong question?   Perhaps I should ask, did the music of Bach suffer at the hands of Virgil Fox?   Somehow, in spite of all the artistic licence and romantic/orchestral excesses, the music of Bach shone through like a beacon, no matter what he did to it. I believe the same to be true in reverse with Reger.   Take OUT some of the romanticism and exact dynamic detail, and the music of Reger still shines through, and being honest, I think to much better effect very often. Call me names or throw old wooden trackers at me, but I suspect that the music of Reger often IMPROVES with the aid of the eraser pencil and the less frantic use of dynamic change made possible by the rollschweller.   I mentally go back to those early formative years, when I heard the great Fernando Germani lift the lid on the inner soul of Reger.....I was 15 years of age, overwhelmed by the intensity of the music and virtually speechless by what I heard.   I have loved Reger's organ music ever since (with a few somewhat tedious exceptions), and yet, I was hearing Reger TRANSCRIBED by Germani and played on a big Harrison organ totally "unsuited" to the music.   I would also point out, that when I travel to Holland, I go to hear Bach and Reger, as well as anything else I may discover. To hear Bas de Vroome or Jos van der Kooy,playing Reger at Haarlem, is to hear something extraordinary IN TRANSCRIPTION (a word Jos van der Kooy uses in describing performances of romantic organ music on that instrument). The fact that the performers and assistants plan the registration meticulously beforehand, says so much about the integrity of the true artistry of each, and they come pretty darned close to what Reger intended, I feel sure, but without a single registrational aid in sight.....just a lot of hands grabbing at stops, and replicating the effect of a German rollschweller.   Wonderful stuff indeed!   As a final thought, perhaps Reger should have done what Bach did, and not put any dynamic markings or other details on the manuscript. That way, we'd not have to sit for hours worrying about how to play the music. Instead, we'd sit for hours discussing the reasons why he left the dynamics out!   Meanwhile, the REAL organists would just "KNOW" from the dots what Reger intended!   Does that answer the question(s)?   I do hope so.....   Did I cover everything?   No, I forgot something!   Reger belched and farted a lot!!!!!   However, here's something to enjoy which I bet very few have yet stumbled across.....a real recording, done in 1937, of the celebrated 5-manual Sauer instrument in the "Jahrhunderthalle" at Breslau, on which can be heard Bach and Reger....fascinating!   http://www.dra.de/dok_1002.htm   Enjoy!   Regards,   Colin Mitchell UK I suppose it's good to be put on the spot; especially since I wrote of something I have very little experience of ie:- cone valve chests and rollschwellers. Thus, in "knowing" something about it, I really know nothing, since I've never really had the chance to explore a big German romantic organ built after 1900.   I think possibly only "Brindley & Foster" ever used cone-vale chests here in the UK, but there may well have been others. Brindley had, of course, worked closely with the German organ-builder Schulze, and there was an interchange of workmen between the two firms whilst Schulze was in England.   However, not to be daunted, I "think" I know at least some of the answers to the questions posed.   Forgive me if I am wrong, but doesn't a cone-valve arrangement shut off the wind supply to each pipe individually, using charge and discharge registration wind supplies within the chest?   That, of course, would eliminate any sag or "bounce" in the larger areas of air associated with slider-chests and ventil chests, and would allow seamless addition and subtraction of registers.   Assuming that I am right (!).......the next conundrum is to explain the essential nature of (say) a German Walcker organ, and the way in which they differ to other types of organ. (I think the same can be said of Sauer instruments and other contemporary German Romantic organs of the period).   On my last but one trip to Holland, I heard Reger performed on the big Walcker instrument at Doesburg; close to the German border. This was fascinating, because I heard the type of instrument for which Reger's music was properly intended. "Amazing" is the word which springs to mind.   The impression I got was of hugely heavy bass registers, a great whirl and swirl of sound from the great mash of 8ft tones combined, and chorus-work which only added brightness to the 8ft tones, but without any real sense of a chorus effect, such as would normally be found even in French or English romantic organs (and also, early romantic German ones too).   Everything, it seems, is subservient to the intention of creating an "orchestral" effect rather than an "organ chorus" effect.   In England, as in France, we are conditioned by the absolute dominance of the Swell Organ and an abundance of other enclosed divisions; capable not only of acting as a volume control, but allowing a wide dynamic expressive control of a type virtually unknown on German organs. To get the expressive crescendo or diminuendo, the German Romantic organist only has recourse to the addition or subtraction of stops; made much easier by the provision of setter-actions and rollschweller controls, and virtually impossible to achieve by hand or with normal thumb/toe pistons.   We move on....   I have mentioned that I live quite close to the great Schulze masterpieces at Doncaster and at Armley; two very different organs. Armley is all "donner und blitzen" with a smattering of ethereal effects and a positively angelic Echo division, but at Doncaster, there is a veritable wealth of quieter flutes (exquisite) and mild string tones, subtle mixtures and, for the most part, (except the replacement Great reeds and a Solo Tuba by J W Walker in the 1950's) rather thin reeds which do not add a great deal of power or weight to the whole. (The Full Swell at Armley is quite restrained, with no 16ft reed and, in its original form, no super or sub couplers.)   HOWEVER, bring on those open-foot, big-scale, un-nicked Schulze Great Diapasons, and you are soon in "canned lightning" territory.....wow! It is a sound like no other, and has made the Armley Schulze especially famous across the world. (The Doncaster Great chorus is less strident, but rings around the building nevertheless).   That essentially "baroque" Diapason (Principal) type of chorus was to become heavily suppressed over the next 50 years, and is not really in evidence in the Walcker organ at Doesburg. Instead, the emphasis has shifted towards 8ft tone and very subtle upperwork which adds just a wee bit of brightness, but more importantly, and upwardly expanded dynamic which counteracts the massive 32ft and 16ft pedal tones.   In fact, ITS ALL ABOUT DYNAMICS rather than terraced choruses.   Because the name of the game is expression, each register can be freely added to another with some impunity. Thus, Flutes and strings blend, the Principal (Diapason) registers just add power to the softer registers, and the whole behemoth is just one great oozing, seething mass of dynamic sound as a result......the very thing which brought about the German baroque organ-revival.   OK....let's jump on a jet plane and head across England and Stateside, armed with our Reger tome which, of course, we have practised to perfection!   First to a big Harrison & Harrison organ. Impressively powerful Diapasons, slider-chests, fiery Swell reeds enclosed in a massively effective swell-box, big Great reeds, huge Tuba sounds and Pedal basses which have more rock and roll than Elvis. Then there is a stupid little enclosed Choir organ, a collection of attractive Solo stops (all enclosed except the Tuba) and lots of thumb pistons, swell pedals and pretty ivory stop heads.   The seamless increase and decrease in dynamics can only be achieved by using the very effective Swell organ coupled through to Great. Even then, the whole sound is forceful and BRIGHT as compared to a Walcker organ, for example. The BIG sound is that of Swell reeds burning through the gloom and bursting out into the building with impressive effect.   No matter what one does, it does not, and cannot sound like a big German organ of the Reger period. Thus, to achieve any sort of dynamic increase or decrease, we have to resort to specific "points" in the score to add or subtract registers or manual divisions.   Authentic Reger has gone out of the window, and we are suddenly in the land of TRANSCRIPTION.   We fly on to Yale University.......   American organs (even very large ones) are essentially modelled around the same blend of English style chorus-work with a French-style dominant Swell,as their smaller brethren are in the UK. OK, there are differences in specific detail, but WE would recognise YOURS, and YOU would recognise OURS. Obviously, on such a huge instrument as the Newberry Memorial organ at Yale, there is a vastly increased availability of orchestral effect, which moves such an instrument one step closer to the German romantic organs of Walcker or Sauer. Nevertheless, without cone valve chests, it is unlikely that registration changes would be totally "seamless" even if set up that way on a General Crescendo pedal. For a start, the reeds, when brought into operation, would be totally out of balance and would predominate. There would be the previously mentioned problems of wind sag and bounce as ventils open and close.....and this WOULD BE HEARD!     It just doesn't happen like that on German organs of the period.....the changes are so subtle as to be almost done by magic.   I cringe to think what great clunks,plops and hisses would emerge from an organ such as Yale, if the great dynamic "pulses" found in Reger's music were to be replicated as if it were a German romantic organ. I guess that Reger would begin to resemble a Yorkshire "clog dance." (Apologies to Jarle Fagerheim in Norway)   However, let's be a little less pessimistic musically.   Did Reger actually KNOW what he was doing when he wrote for the organ?   As I stated previously, his organ-works were a bit of a committee effort; the chairman of the committee being Karl Straube, who really DID know what he was doing. ("The maker of organists")   Emotionally, Reger was complex, intense, hard-drinking and melancholic genius....perhaps he was "on the dark side" of the divide between sanity and madness. I would argue that unless one can have an extraordinary empathy with the tortured nature of his inner-being, then Reger is not for you.   Perhaps of equal importance, is the fact that he somehow encapsulated the madness of the age, the imperial ambitions of Germany and the agony of an escalating world war.   He was also a crap organist, apparently!   Max Reger was a Symphonist and Pianist, where dynamic control is virtually instantaneous and unlimited; even in a brief moment of the scoring. The fact that the rollschweller made this sort of dynamic control POSSIBLE, does not necessarily mean that it is DESIRABLE, in my honest opinion.   Does Reger's wonderful music become less if it is TRANSCRIBED to a different style of instrument?   Maybe that's the wrong question?   Perhaps I should ask, did the music of Bach suffer at the hands of Virgil Fox?   Somehow, in spite of all the artistic licence and romantic/orchestral excesses, the music of Bach shone through like a beacon, no matter what he did to it. I believe the same to be true in reverse with Reger.   Take OUT some of the romanticism and exact dynamic detail, and the music of Reger still shines through, and being honest, I think to much better effect very often. Call me names or throw old wooden trackers at me, but I suspect that the music of Reger often IMPROVES with the aid of the eraser pencil and the less frantic use of dynamic change made possible by the rollschweller.   I mentally go back to those early formative years, when I heard the great Fernando Germani lift the lid on the inner soul of Reger.....I was 15 years of age, overwhelmed by the intensity of the music and virtually speechless by what I heard.   I have loved Reger's organ music ever since (with a few somewhat tedious exceptions), and yet, I was hearing Reger TRANSCRIBED by Germani and played on a big Harrison organ totally "unsuited" to the music.   I would also point out, that when I travel to Holland, I go to hear Bach and Reger, as well as anything else I may discover. To hear Bas de Vroome or Jos van der Kooy,playing Reger at Haarlem, is to hear something extraordinary IN TRANSCRIPTION (a word Jos van der Kooy uses in describing performances of romantic organ music on that instrument). The fact that the performers and assistants plan the registration meticulously beforehand, says so much about the integrity of the true artistry of each, and they come pretty darned close to what Reger intended, I feel sure, but without a single registrational aid in sight.....just a lot of hands grabbing at stops, and replicating the effect of a German rollschweller.   Wonderful stuff indeed!   As a final thought, perhaps Reger should have done what Bach did, and not put any dynamic markings or other details on the manuscript. That way, we'd not have to sit for hours worrying about how to play the music. Instead, we'd sit for hours discussing the reasons why he left the dynamics out!   Meanwhile, the REAL organists would just "KNOW" from the dots what Reger intended!   Does that answer the question(s)?   I do hope so.....   Did I cover everything?   No, I forgot something!   Reger belched and farted a lot!!!!!   However, here's something to enjoy which I bet very few have yet stumbled across.....a real recording, done in 1937, of the celebrated 5-manual Sauer instrument in the "Jahrhunderthalle" at Breslau, on which can be heard Bach and Reger....fascinating!   http://www.dra.de/dok_1002.htm   Enjoy!   Regards,   Colin Mitchell UK  
(back) Subject: Big organs, spewing, and Yale... From: <TubaMagna@aol.com> Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 12:36:37 EDT   Hey, Bob. Now that this bizarre exchange of unsubstantiated pronouncements has spread to two lists, it would be helpful to us ignorant Americans to know = why the Yale organ is, in your opinion, such a waste of money and so unnecessarily =   large for its function. We might also wish to be enlightened as to why you = placed it in the same dungheap with overwrought combination organs with an additional hundred digital "ranks." What about your experiences at Yale make you so critical of the organ? = Or is it simply that you feel that the organ has no place in a University, or = in a concert hall? Since your opinion is so at odds with some of the most established musicians, historians, organbuilders, and academics who have played, = inspected, and heard the organ, it would be helpful to us all if you educated us, rather = than just hoping that we would put our faith in your opinions, no matter how respected and valid they might be. Even those who do not build in the symphonic electropneumatic idiom = are frequently in awe of the tonal achievements in evidence, and the emotional = and musical impact provided, at Woolsey Hall. Do we not have the right to ask what it is you heard, saw, and experienced that made the organ such a waste of money and so = inappropriate?   Still curious, Sebastian M. Gluck New York City  
(back) Subject: Sauer Organ - Jahrhunderthalle From: "Charlie Lester" <crl@137.com> Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 09:39:17 -0700   Colin Mitchell said,     > Reger belched and farted a lot!!!!!   hahaha yes, that's a well-known anecdote about him. Funny it is how many otherwise refined and artistic people oftentimes revel in crudeness. Personally, I -never- indulge in such coarseness. [HAHAHA!!!]       > However, here's something to enjoy which I bet very few have yet stumbled across.....a real recording, done in 1937, of the celebrated 5-manual Sauer instrument in the "Jahrhunderthalle" at Breslau, on which can be heard Bach and Reger....fascinating!   Thx for directing our attention to this very interesting page. I had wondered what this "beast" sounded like and, as I suspected, the reality apparently fell short of the fantasy. The organ sounds muffled and strangled. Even taking into consideration the old recording technology and the 3rd-generation digital version. And those very strong tierces in the mixtures are not at all pleasant to most people's ears, especially today. The full organ sounds like a giant calliope.     ~ C    
(back) Subject: Re: Organs in Sicily From: <RMB10@aol.com> Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 12:41:22 EDT   The Cathedral in Monreale has a 6 manual Ruffatti organ and the Cathedral = in Messina has a HUGE 5 manual Tamburini.   I'm not sure where those cities are in relation to where you'll be, but = the instruments would be worth checking out. The Ruffatti console is worth = seeing just for the carvings. I've heard a recording of the Tamburini and it = sounds like a big English cathedral organ.   Monty Bennett  
(back) Subject: Re: BIGNESS BASHING *All Read Please* From: "Tim Bovard" <tmbovard@earthlink.net> Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 12:31:26 -0500   PLEASE NOTE that all Pipechatters are, of course, free to flame away at = Mr. Elms to their heart's content...   --> *IF* <--   and only *IF* --   said flaming takes place by PRIVATE EMAIL.   We don't need Mr. Elms' mess in here today.   Now, back to our normally scheduled Pipechatting -- :-)   Tim Bovard Co-Administrator     At 10:35 AM 5/16/2005, Bob Elms wrote: However that is only my opinion and the flames don't even singe my whiskers. Fire away boys!!! My skin is tough!      
(back) Subject: Re: Organs in Sicily From: <Adivds@aol.com> Date: Mon, 16 May 2005 14:16:36 EDT   Monty, Thanks for the info, I knew about the VI manual Monreale organ, but is at =   the other end of the island, so I'm not sure if I'll get there. However, = I'm staying in a villa on the slopes of Mount Etna, which is not very far from = Messina, I've driven along that road two years ago. Interesting to hear that the Tamburini sounds like an English cathedral organ, I'll certain;y pay a visit. Thanks, Adrian.