50 Years

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Cassette and CD Reviews - Fair Organ Preservation Society

CD Reviews

by Michael Morris

I am pleased to bring you details of some more fine CDs. With all the organs the owners have taken great care to ensure that they are playing at their best - it does not make sense to charge good money for a sub-standard product!

New CDs can be sent to me for review at 10 Church Lane, Barnwood, Gloucester GL4 3HZ. Please include historical information and a good photograph if possible.

[Please note that prices shown for carriage are usually inland only and you should check if you are ordering from overseas.]

Astrid Plays The Music Of the Streets, Vols 1 - 8 are being released in several batches by Francis Stapleton of 17 Howard Road, Newbury, Berks. RG14 7QG. Tel +44 1635 40277. Each CD costs £9 by post, or £8 from the organ.

It is believed that 48 key ‘Astrid’ was built in 1923 from parts of a Remond DuWyn Dance Organ. The rebuild, which created a new street organ was carried out by the Rotterdam organ builder and renter Jan Roos, using parts of the dance organ front and a few of the pipes. Duwyn had bought a large amount of pipework and actions from other Antwerp organ builders. The melody violins appear to be Mortier, the accompaniment Bursens and some of the action DeCap.

This widely travelled organ, which performed at the Tal-y-llyn Railway in 2002, will be giving a classical concert at Towyn Wharf Station at 7pm on Sat. 2nd Aug. 2003 - a lovely location to hear this very melodious street organ.

The recordings were made by Graham Spencer of Royalmusic at Francis Stapleton’s premises where although cramped for space but assisted by sound deadening insulation, ‘Astrid’ sounds very natural with no undesirable acoustics to cause annoyance when listening to them. The organ’s interesting history can be found on the CD insert. Its recent past includes work by previous owner Peter Griffiths who replaced the original cello bass with a stopped octave flute which gives the organ a very rounded bass. He also added Bourdon Celeste to the melody; which has added much tonal colour to the music.

Vol.1 is devoted to arrangements by Carl Frei. There are 25 tracks of which 10 are composed and arranged by the great organ builder and arranger.

Vol.2 comprises 34 tracks of books that came with the organ when purchased by Francis Stapleton; it is thought that all these books are arrangements by Dick Gillet.

Vol.3 is made up of arrangements of eleven books each from from Gerard Razenberg and Dick Gillett.

Vol.4 is named ‘Classical Concert 1’ and contains a very pleasing selection of arrangements from Tom Meijer, Jan Roos, Carl Frei and Nick Dean.

Vol.5 “Classical Concert 2’ is a further fifteen tracks including ‘The Gondoliers’ by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Vol.8 ‘Popular Melodies’ contains an enticing list of tunes including selections from Al Jolson, Glenn Miller, 3 medleys to sing along with and plenty of well known toe tapping pieces.
Volumes not mentioned will be released in due course.


The well balanced recording once again shows just how versatile this interesting instrument is with musical arrangements from Jan Kees deRuijter, Tom Meijer, Louis Somers, Steve Clarke, Frans Baum and others not listed on the notes. 'The Thieving Magpie' is a good example of a piece that has very delicately performed portions rising to stormy sections all of which come across very well without any embarrassing 'woolly' phrases.

This recording is well worth concentrating on with no distractions and paying attention to the beautiful countermelodies and 'twiddley bits' - it is interesting to note the subtle additions to the 'Dambuster's March' that make a good tune even better. Ian Crisp Presents Het Kleine Juweel (The Little Gem) Volume Two), is another excellent CD of this 56 key Elbert Pluer Dutch Street Organ built in 2001 at Bussum, near Amsterdam. The CD lasts for a very generous 72 minutes and can be purchased for £8 from the organ or £8.75p from Ian Crisp at: The Cottage, Green End, Weston, Hitchin, Herts. SG4 7AL.

The 24 tracks are played via the Casio digital music system using the 56 key Limonaire scale. Like the previous volume, this recording was made by Graham Spencer of Royalmusic and is again to a very high standard. The colourful sleeve complete with a fine photograph is very well presented being the work of John Brent of Rustington, West Sussex.

'Het Kleine Juweel' should appeal to all members who like Dutch Street Organs, having a very well rounded sound which ranges from very well controlled percussion, cheeky piccolos to the bass pipes that add a splendid depth to the music. the last track, 'Winter Storm Concert Waltz' is a remarkable piece that uses the abilities of the arranger and organ builder to produce a wonderful finale.

'De Harley Crossley Plays the Music Of The Streets Vol. 1' is another CD from Francis Stapleton. The purchasing details are the same as for 'Astrid'. This CD's claim to fame is that it is of the first organ to be recorded at the GDSF with the express intention of making a complete programme of music for sale. To achieve a recording free from generators, passing vehicles, and whistles, the CD was made on the Tuesday prior to the show with co-operation from exhibitors who kept silent during the recording session!

Arthur Bursens built this 52 key organ in 1968 when he was 79 years old and it was originally owned by Norman Hobbs who travelled it until his death in 1991. When purchased by Francis Stapleton in 1998 it was in a very poor state and was sent to Richard Dean who did a splendid restoration job. The pipework has a variety of characteristics with sounds varying between those of street and fair organs due to the varied sources of parts from other Belgian organ Builders.

The quality of the generous 27 track, 73 minute recording is very good, the organ being in an excellent state of tune. I must mention 'Sex On The Beach' arranged by Hiddo Van Oss, an extremely catchy night club tune with lyrics which are probsably best left to the imagination. Tom Meijer's 'Beatles Melody' is another particularly pleasing book played very sympathetically. In case you wondered, 'Harley Crossley' is named after the well known canal artist who painted the organ front with canal subjects.

'In Concert With The Leach & Overington Organ', Vol 3 is another splendid recording of this 1999 home-built organ, available for £10 plus £1 normal postage or £1.50 recorded delivery from: A. H. Overington, 'Avelings', Newpound, Wisborough Green, Nr. Billingshurst, W. Sussex. RH14 0AX.

As mentioned in KF1-03 this CD was recorded by Graham Spencer at the same time as Vol. 2 and I am pleased to report that the quality of the recording and the state of tune of the organ are just as good and the 52 minute CD is every bit as enjoyable.


Review © 2003 Michael Morris

Originally published in edition 2 of The Key Frame 2003.

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