CD - 'The Rebirth
of Aeolian Pipe Organ Opus 1458'
Front and Back CD Booklet Covers
Images Courtesy of Poppy Records
Bob Taylor writes:
"Perhaps the greatest joy that comes to the collector of
mechanical music is the moment when he or she is able to share the
performance of a freshly restored instrument with others. For Paul
Morris, that moment is now manifest in a recently released CD that
contains 22 tracks of his Aeolian Pipe Organ. Previously, Paul’s
CD’s were recordings of a smaller instrument. Now, seven years of
detailed work show off his recently completed Opus 1458, a 3 manual
instrument sporting over 2,000 pipes!
What is significant about Paul’s installation is that he has
stuffed a fairly large instrument into a very tight space. The
reason I say it is significant, is that for the most part, it is
reflective of Aeolian’s attitude when they sold these instruments.
Yes, we are aware of the grandiose mansions that housed the giant
organs, but the majority of the instruments were installed in very
limited quarters. Thus Aeolian showed great skill in making the
instruments quite compact. Tuning Paul’s organ requires dexterity
combined with alternately crawling and climbing. The liner notes
tell Paul’s story, so I’ll talk about the CD.
The selections are mostly light, colorful music and the
variety is very easy to listen to. While the compositions are not
heavy classical, they still are expert renditions of beautiful
music. Artists such as Clarence Eddy, Uda Waldrop, Pietro Yon, and
Edwin Lemare are a few of the performers from a list of highly
acclaimed organists that are heard.
One selection, “The Song Of the Basket Weaver”, performed by
the composer, Alexander Russell, takes the listener on a journey
through many pipe voices. Melodies on the famous Aeolian free reed
clarinet modulate and mix with flutes and suddenly give way to a
full organ, and just as suddenly, the Vox Humana quietly repeats the
haunting melody. When I first heard this piece, I imagined a trip to
an Egyptian market, but after a bit of research, I found I was
thousands of miles off course! It seems that Russell did write about
his travels, but the fun is in the discovery of his destination,
which I’ll let the reader research.
Opus 1458 employs a different mix of voices than many organ
of equal size. The initial owner perhaps had a hand in the
specification. The normal redundancy of string voices is replaced by
several celeste ranks. The solo division is unique in that it has a
second clarinet rank. The strength of the pedal division is obvious
in the recording, and the cramped quarters have no bearing on its
The rendition of Drdia’s “Souvenir” performed by Emil Velasco
hints at early Theatre Organ technique. This composition is in most
piano roll libraries, but Opus 1458 gives the selection new life as
Velasco uses the oboe to introduce the melody and much softer voices
in an echo-like response that repeats each phrase. The Aeolian harp
is featured in each response and in the accompaniment. Later, the
clarinets join the accompaniment as a gentle crescendo gives way to
the melody’s return in the much softer Vox Humna with the responses
being offered by soft flutes. Many new voices join in as Velasco
concludes the relaxing and light “Souvenir”.
What the listener will hear, is the total lack of room
reverberation, which is typical of home installations. The
expression rendered by the fast acting swell shutters, brings forth
meaningful contrasts that add to the music. The orchestral qualities
of the organ mimic many instruments.
This CD is recommended for all who enjoy organ music, and
particularly those who want to hear how a residence organ of the
early 20th century performed. One track is Paul playing “Love Nest”,
to prove that the organ is more than just a roll player. Paul’s web
site will soon list this CD."
Kevin McElhone writes:
"The eagerly awaited first recording is now available of Paul
Morris 'new' three manual Aeolian Pipe Organ, called 'The Re-birth
of Aeolian Pipe Organ Opus.1458 Paul had had a two manual Aeolian
which I helped him to sell a few years ago, in order that he could
replace it with this instrument which took seven years from purchase
to fully restore and install in his home in Exeter, Devon, England.
The instrument is installed in a main chamber 20ft by 9ft 6
inches, with a pedal loft 20ft high. There are currently 9 ranks of
pipes on chest No.1, 10 on rank No.2, 5 in the floating Solo
division, a wonderful four ranks in the pedal division and three in
the Echo. There are also, in addition, a harp and some chime, giving
plenty of scope for full orchestral renditions of a wide range of
music. Full details of the opening concert were given in a recent
Player Piano Group magazine article.
There is an 8-page book included which gives the full
specification and history of the instrument, along with a
centre-spread of illustrations of nine of the Organists from the
period who recorded Duo-Art rolls featured on this CD. For those
that do not remember, the system automatically plays the notes
required but in addition controls the stops used and the swell
shutters to give a fully reproduced performance of the recording
made by the organist.
This recording starts with one of my favourite First World
War marches 'Over There', by George M.Cohan, a rousing start to any
programme sure to get the foot tapping. However, much of the
recording is given over to more subtle pieces which better show off
the nuances and colour combinations of this fine instrument. Many of
these tunes were only sold on the 176 note Duo-Art format and were
not available on the earlier 116 note and 58 note rolls.
I was not familiar with many of the titles which meant that
I was listening more to the instrument rather than just to the
tunes. Paul Morris has hand-played one track, 'The Love Nest' and
the rest are played by organists which include Archer Gibson, Uda
Waldrpp, Clarence Eddy, Edwin Lemare, Peietro Yon, Firmin Swinnen
and Charles Heinroth.
There are 22 tracks in all and I encourage all readers to buy
a copy, either for themselves or to give as a Christmas Present for
family members, to introduce them to this fascinating musical
Nelson Barden writes:
"The restoration of an Aeolian Residence Organ is an event
worthy of celebration. Paul Morris in Exeter, England has completely
restored Aeolian Opus 1458, and a CD of the finished instrument is
available. This is the second restored Aeolian in the Morris home,
the first being Opus 1431, a somewhat smaller organ.
Opus 1458 was built in 1920 for the mansion of Walter
Langshaw, a wealthy manufacturer in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The
original cost was $27,900, a considerable sum in those days. In 1966
it was removed to a local church, and then to storage in a New
Hampshire barn for fourteen years. In 2001 Paul Morris acquired the
organ, carefully packed it into a container and shipped it to
England. After seven years of restoration work, the instrument was
inaugurated in February 2008.
The most common size of Aeolian residence organ was two
keyboards controlling five to seven hundred pipes. Opus 1458 is
considerably larger, with three keyboards and nearly 1,900 pipes.
Today a church organ of this size and quality would cost about
$675,000 not including the roll player mechanism.
The CD of the Morris organ has 22 tracks demonstrating the
scope and caliber of the Aeolian Roll Library. Artists include
fourteen noted organists of the 1920s, as well as selections
arranged by the Aeolian Organ Guild. The tracks include
characteristic pieces, symphonic sketches, numerous songs and dance
music, all of them excellent examples of the salon music of the
Rollin Smith writes:
"After seven years of restoration [this] 88-year-old organ is
heard again in Morris's music room. Fortunately, the organ is
equipped with a Duo-Art player, so rolls actually recorded by live
organists can be reproduced. Twenty-two selections are to be heard
on the CD, only four of which are not played by an artist (that is
they were perforated directly from the score by draftsmen) and one,
Hirch's Love Nest, is played by Paul Morris himself - a piece that
begins with the notes of the musical scale: 1, 4, 5, and 8.
The list of organists whets the musical apetite of anyone
interested in late 19th and early 20th-century organ performance
practice; the names that once appeared in 'teens' and '20s' issues
of The Diapason and The American Organist are seen beside each
Clarence Eddy plays the Dawes Melody (an original work by a
Brigadeer General who later became vice-president that was later
made into the popular song, 'It's All in the Game'); Alexander
McCurdy plays a Schumann Sketch; Pietro Yon plays Boex's 'Marche
Champètre'; Chandler Goldthwaite, who had been the youngest
municipal organist in the country when he was appointed to the St.
Paul Auditorium, plays 'Saki' from Stoughton's 'Persian Suite' and
'Love Song' from Nevin's 'A Day in Venice'; Alexander Russell,
musical director of Wanamaker's two stores, plays his own 'Song of
the Basket Weaver'. Andrew Carnegie's organist, Walter Gale, plays
Gordon Balch Nevin's 'Will o' the Wisp'; P.S. Du Pont's private
organist, Firmin Swinnen plays his most famous piece 'Chinoiserie';
and 'The Millionaire's Maestro', Archer Gibson, plays Faurè's famous
song, 'Après un Rêve', and 'Le Tango du Rêve' by Malderen.
heard are Uda Waldrop, Kirk Ridge, Emil Valesco, and Charles
Heinroth. While not Bach or Franck, the music represents, for the
most part, original organ music that was standard repertoire in the
early 1920s, and, except for Gibson and Valesco, performed by
organists who never made commercial electric phonograph recordings."