Going even farther into the organ weeds: the original St. Thomas organ (E.
M. Skinner, 1913) was 77 ranks; the 1956 Aeolian-Skinner "rebuild" was 160
ranks, and basically only the pipefront, the console shell, and some
windchests were retained -- much to the chagrin and fury of E. M. Skinner,
who was still alive and active then. It really was a new organ. It acquired
its almost mythic status because it was the last organ built by G. Donald
Harrison, the Englishman hired by Skinner in 1928 as his putative
successor. Harrison died on a hot summer night in June 1956 after spending
the day at the church working with the tonal finishers; there was a transit
strike, so he walked twenty or thirty blocks uptown, and died watching
television. The changes that were made to the organ not long after his
death, and again and again through the next forty years, were very
significant, to the point that today's failing organ is no longer
considered to be an Aeolian-Skinner. One welcome change has been to the
building rather than the organ: St. Thomas used to be covered with those
Guastavino tiles that look like stone and succeed in suppressing live sound
to a remarkable degree, and St. Thomas used to look much better than it
sounded. With the removal of those tiles -- the same thing happened to
Riverside Church -- the room has become much friendlier to organ and choral
music.Had this been done fifty years earlier, the Dupré recording would
have been even more memorable.
On Sun, Apr 19, 2015 at 1:45 PM, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]>
> Getting a bit into the organ weeds here ...
> The St. Thomas Church organ that Richard recorded was somewhat modified
> from what Mercury recorded in 1957 (and, in fact, in 1956, the organ had
> been extensively modified from its original construction). There was a roof
> leak in 1966 that damaged the organ, requiring repairs. And then there was
> a renovation that somewhat changed the sound. Richard's recording of Ms.
> Hancock is very detailed, some of the best hearing of what that organ's
> higher-pitched pipes sound like. It also fits very nicely with the Dupre
> pieces, because they are thickly arranged (ie many notes sounding in quick
> succession), and a closer-in perspective prevents the notes from being
> buried in a muddy echo haze.
> The St. Thomas organ is being replaced. In fact, in this video the church
> produced featuring former Newsweek editor Jon Meecham:
> a dismissive tone is taken toward those who loved the old organ. Note that
> when Meecham gets talking about the organ, the Mercury Widor recording by
> Dupre is in the background.
> I was just in the church on Friday. There is construction going on all
> over the place. Despite the hustle and bustle on 5th Ave, and the
> construction, it was surprisingly quiet and peaceful in the chapel. I was
> happy to see the old organ before it gets ripped out.
> -- Tom Fine
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard L. Hess" <
> [log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2015 4:09 PM
> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Quality pipe organ recordings
> I can recommend "Organs of New York, Vol I" Judith Hancock at St. Thomas
>> Church on the HESSOUND label.
>> Actually, the two Dupré pieces on it were re-released on the Priory Label
>> out of the UK, but it appears to have gone out of print.
>> I have not heard this one:
>> While this is a Christmas album, recorded by moi at St. Thomas in 1982
>> --the hiss is organ windchest noise, not tape hiss--the mastering engineer
>> still tried to remove a bit of it.
>> It has some nice snapshots of the organ and the noted choir is in good
>> Both the ProOrgano and the JAV recordings I've heard were good. I don't
>> know if ProOrgano is still carrying the Dorothy Papadokos recordings at The
>> Cathedral of St. John the Divine, but she did a great job in that wonderful
>> space. She left since there was no organ to play after the fire maybe
>> fifteen years ago.
>> For Theatre organs, the late Tom Hazleton Pipes of the Mighty Wurlitzer
>> at the San Sylmar organ in California.
>> On 2015-04-19 1:21 PM, John Schroth wrote:
>>> Good question - I should have been more specific. Classical mostly
>>> although I might have an interest in picking up some theatre as well.
>>> Kind Regards,
>>> John Schroth
>> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
>> Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
>> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.