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Everything posted by sprondel

  1. Dear Pierre, I wonder which organ that would be, and what "not long ago" means here. Can you help with some more specific intormation? Thanks in advance, Friedrich
  2. Right now, I am listening to the splendid playing of Fernando Germani that was recorded in 1959; it was all Bach (BWV 565, 564, 582). It is (or was) available on an EMI-forte CD, along with some more Bach and Franck from Selby Abbey recorded in 1961 and 1964. It is awe-inspiring how Germani overcomes the dry acoustics and makes the organ sound rightout spectacular. He applies a flawless ultra-legato and shapes the musical line by the most subtle phrasing. It sounds as if Germani had inhaled hugely and then, over 13 minutes of the passacaglia, sang out the piece like one beautiful, dramatic tune on one single breath. Playing as concentrated as this I have only once experienced myself, when Olivier Latry was playing in the Muenster, Freiburg. It makes you feel you were inside the musician's head and were allowed to listen to him thinking the music. But I digress ... I will be looking forward very much to listen to the RFH organ once it will be back in. Best, Friedrich
  3. Heck! And the brass is always late! Good thing Mr. Nobile browses through the middle section so quickly. This way, the Trumpet and Trombone players can't have more than one pint or two before re-entering even later. (Or do brass players made of sand develop drinking habits different from those of their colleagues in flesh and blood?) Enchanted, Friedrich
  4. No, you are not. How does a mind work in which the Vierne Finale is represented like this? And then -- have you seen the video on <http://www.nobile.com/html/video.html>? In German we say "Organistenzwirn" to this kind of ... um ... sound. And the video makes me feel sea-sick just from watching. Why does he treat the poor console like that? Hurrying to the railing: Friedrich
  5. Yes, and the Gedeckt 8' + Roerfluit 8' combination on the Bovenwerk appears to put a thoroughly execrable tendency to romanticism into the scheme, admirable as it appears to be otherwise. Or is it just a typo? Because I would have expected a 4-foot State Chimney Flute in that position(actually an 85-pipe unit to be extended to 2 2/3, 2, 1 3/5, 1 1/3 and 1 -- it is a large space after all). Suspicions, suspicions. Wondering, Friedrich
  6. No, but it is always hard to obtain exact regulation in mixed actions. I vividly remember spending two days with a Schuke representative in a III/59 concert hall instrument. Two Pedal soundboards, tracker action, electrical coupling. At some point I lost count in how often I slowly pressed the pedals to each single note. Even this experienced organbuilder had to compromise in this instance. With mixed actions, to my experience, the best you can do is a mild but noticeable difference in the attack, which, in big registrations, sounds somewhat woolly. Takes all the aggressiveness out of the music. Best, Friedrich
  7. In Germany back in the 1950ies, Herbert Schulze had the idea of enclosing most of the manual divisions except the principal choruses and, strangely, reeds. If I caught your idea correctly, you ask for enclosure rather of the stronger stops, such as reeds or a Cornet. But then, how much is really gained in a two-manual organ that has an enclosed division anyway? I would rather suggest to put the stronger reeds on the Swell then, along with the Cornet décomposé and a rudimentary chorus; the Great then could take the main chorus and a Cromorne. There is another possibility: to build a basically one-manual organ with "Wechselschleifen" (sorry, I don't know the proper English term). This means that you have two groves for each note, grove one being played from Man. I, and grove II from Man. II. The sliders can be pushed into three positions: off / Man. I / Man. II. On such a chest, each stop can be played either on I or on II. With all stops enclosed, and maybe a set-off Diapason in the open, an organ like the following one could be quite versatile as an accompaniment instrument: Manuals I or II 8' Diapason (unenclosed) 8' Gamba 8' Bourdon 8' Open Flute (1-12 from Bourdon) 4' Principal 4' Rohr Flute Nazard 2' Gemshorn 17th Larigot Mixture IV 8' Trumpet 8' Cromorne Pedal (unenclosed) 16' Bourdon 8' Open wood 4' Flute 16' Basson II/P, II/P, II/I Best, Friedrich
  8. I am afraid I can't say how much the electrical assist is used. What I can say is that coupling manuals II, III, and IV to I would not make much sense since the Brustwerk (IV) sounds so delicate that it would not have any effect. (Except you would want to create some special effect by applying the "Transpositeur" -- minus one tone -- while coupling the BW to another manual, of course.) Two manuals together, however, are perfectly manageable, be it for a large Bach chorus with I+II or for a "full Swell to Great" effect with I+III. How a French GPR feels on the long run I can't say. I would be most interested in what you might have to tell about the organ. It certainly is a one-of-a-kind instrument. The acoustics are very special: warm, but not very reverberant; the second dome, connected to the main space by a circular opening in the main dome, gives a remote and soft echo effect. Best, Friedrich
  9. I don't think "size" and "number of stops" mean the same thing here. Tere are organs of 60 or more stops with light tracker actions, and there are those of 40 to 50 stops that have quite heavy actions. The difference is that the former ones were built for churches, and the latter ones for concert halls. In reverberant acoustics, moderate scaling and lighter pressures do the job; in dry rooms, they don't. I know of a recent concert hall organ (the hall being not very large) by a prominent builder that has a completely reasonable layout. Three manuals (15/14/13 stops, none with more than one 16-foot and 3 full-scale 8-foot flues), pedal (14 stops); manuals 2 and 3 in swell boxes, sitting in the middle above each other, the Great chest divided C/C# on either side, pedal distributed in two chambers left and right (not divided diatonically), short suspended actions, electric pulldowns for the couplers. But there is a little drawer in the attached keydesk, in which you find a switch. With this device, you can switch from mechanical to electric action. The default setting is electric. When looking at the specification, you can easily guess the reason: heavy wind pressures (100/95/90/115-130). The scaling is generous in order to overcome the dryness of the room; the soundboards need to be short but deep due to narrow concrete chambers. Officially, though, the organ goes as a tracker. There still seems to be quite some ideological thinking when it comes to tracker vs. electric action. In the Frauenkirche, Dresden, I found the action of the Kern organ being admirably light and responsive -- in a four-manual, 70+ stops instrument with a pressure of 90 mm throughout. I even spoke with one organist who thought that the Récit action was a bit too crisp -- a deeper and smoother touch, he said, would have been better for playing the romantic repertoire. When planning a new organ, tracker would always be my point of departure. It depends on the individual circumstances if, from there, electric action should be taken into consideration. Best, Friedrich
  10. Perhaps, "Lee Blick" and "madorganist" should prepare for a heavy load of junkmail advertising cialis or pills that enlarge various parts of their respective bodies -- in case they filled in the form attached to the outcome notice (especially the 2male" / "female" pulldown menu). Best, Friedrich
  11. 29 out of 30. I am embarrassed. :-) But !!!! Is this "study" for real, or is it some hoax fishing for e-mail addresses and other personal information? Mind, it's not really hard to pass that test, with most wrong notes belonging to a different tonality. And then (quote): "Please supply us with the folowing details ..." If on a University website the spelling is incorrect, I tend to feel that nagging doubt ... Best, Friedrich
  12. By the way, and in order to add a little to this absurd thread, I visited Rome after Christmas 2004, and happened to visit St. Peter's Basilica just when there was a service in the quire, with organ accompaniment. It was a strange effect to stroll down the vast nave, East to West, with the higher frequencies steadily losing in power. When I arrived at the West end, the only music left to hear was the bass line. So, if I was to draw up a stoplist for an organ there, it would have plenty of reed and mixture tone, along with doubled or tripled 4-foot principals in some divisions for a good singing line in the choruses. The space would be great for one or several truly grand Cornets of huge scale, and for bright and articulate reed choruses (not in the American manner, more along French classical lines). I would try to provide variety in this department -- colourful, beaming solo voices, bright ensembles -- rather than in the basses. 16-foot and 32-foot tone, in such a space, just works fine by itself, be it a Violone or an Open Wood. Variety in tone must take place above that level. And there are some things you usually don't put into a stoplist. E. g., the scaling should be done with a good deal of treble ascendancy; the departments providing choral and congregation accompaniment should be placed low and must be provided with a type of casing that projects the sound well towards people. Shallow cases, overhanging roofs, that sort of thing. But let's be honest, this place was not intended to house an organ in the first place. Best, Friedrich
  13. True, and I liked very much what I was able to hear of Boisseau's and Cattiaux's tonal work. The new Chamades, at least ot my ears, sound much more noble than the old ones; and the overall character of the organ seems to have regained some of the Cavaillé-Coll warmth. By the way, it is marvellous what C-C's pedal flues can do in that space. To an Englishman, they must appear modest as scale and pressure are concerned. But they sound more than appropriate there, quite noble and with an energy that is, strangely, as quiet as it is powerful. Best, Friedrich
  14. It very much depends on the traditions from which the organ and the music comes, respectively. Pierre is right in that French chorus reeds, be they of baroque or romantic origin, were not intended to do anything in a principal chorus. In the classical organs, the "Grand Jeu" (chorus reeds, Cromornes, Bourdons, Prestants, quintes and thirds, Cornets) was to be used as an alternative to the "Plein Jeu" (principals and mixtures); in the romantic ones, the reeds dominated the Pleins Jeux in the symphonic Grand Chœur. In baroque intruments from Northern Germany, the chorus reeds are sometimes quite round and refined in character, with closed shallots, and were drawn to replace the principals of the same pitch. On the Norden Schnitger, e. g., the Werck (Great) and Oberpositiv make a grand and noble chorus out of Trumpets 16, 8, and 4, Quint, Octav, Rauschpfeiff, Mixtur, and Scharff; the matching pedal then is Posaune, Trommet 8, Trommet 4, Rauschpfeiff, Mixtur. The flue stops simply aren't needed, and if drawn, they would consume too much wind without having an effect on the sound. In listening to modern instruments, with their bright mixturework, I often found it useful to have a not-too-heavy 8-foot trumpet on the Great that blends with the main chorus. It helps the voice-leading in polyphonic music, emphasizing the unison line without bringing the overall volume to the point of being unbearable. Best, Friedrich
  15. Olivier Latry has recorded a CD with Vierne's Second and Third (BNL 112741, very well recorded). The playing, of course, is marvellous, and he deals admirably with the Notre-Dame organ -- the recording was made in 1988, before the restoration of the instrument. Apparently, Latry not only gets along very well with what has has been done to the organ by Synaptel, but really enjoys the possibilities of the computerized action; his Messiaen set is testimony to that. I wish he would go for the complete Vierne there now; what he recorded of the First for the 1994 Sony CD "Récital à Notre-Dame" sounded really spectacular, and now with the superior recording technology of the Deutsche Grammophon there could be extraordinary results. Another question is, would Vierne be a repertoire the DG would like to accept in their catalogue? Best, Friedrich
  16. Gillian Weir recorded it for Priory at the Aeolian-Skinner/Phelps in The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. Very good playing, fantastic organ. The same is true for Mark Dwyer's recording for JAV at the Church of the Advent, Boston; here, the recorded sound is a bit more convincing. Best, Friedrich
  17. There is no complete set of Bach's organ music on CD where you would find everything played equally satisfying. Herrick is wonderful (though expensive), very clear and elegant and with good instruments (mainly Metzler) but quite classicist. Bowyer plays very, very musically, on mostly Danish neoclassical instruments. Personally, I would not go for Marie-Claire Alain, but try out her most recent set, which was recorded using important historical instruments. There is fairly complete set at CPO with Gerhard Weinberger, playing on important historical organs in Thuringia and Saxony from Bach's time, some of which Bach most probalbly knew. You should also give Rubsam a try, who recorded the most important bits of Bach's organ music, and the Art of Fugue, with Naxos, partly on historical organs, partly on organs contructed quite strictly along historical lines. The Trio sonatas, for example, sound incredibly beautiful on the Groningen Schnitger. Rubsam's tempi and general approach, I admit, leave room for discussion. But the CDs are a bargain, of course, and very well recorded. If you want your hair truly raised, try out Guillou -- before you buy it, of course. His set is far from complete, and I don't know which recordings are still available now that Dorian isn't in business any longer (or so I gathered). Best, Friedrich
  18. Both the Latry and van Oosten recordings are on amazon.co.uk. I do not know the Latry set, but everything I have heard from this musician was so great that I would order the CD immediately. Best, Friedrich
  19. My first choice would always be Ben van Oosten at the big Rouen Cavaillé-Coll. His techinque is superior, he is imaginative, and he knows how to treat that organ. The recording was done in 1998 by Dabringhaus & Grimm (2 CDs, MDG 316 0847-2). Then there is a two-CD set of the pieces at Motette, played by Bernhard Buttman at an impressive three-manual, 80-stop 1998 Klais in Bochum. The acoustics are a bit less gerenous here, since the location is the concert hall and auditorium maximum of the Ruhr University. Buttmann plays very well also, and some people claim to have become tired of hearing the Rouen organ again and again in recordings. To them, I can recommend this set. There are more sets on the market, but these I know best, and I can recommend them with no drawbacks at all. Best, Friedrich
  20. In Germany, the Helmholtz system is used. What is also generally accepted is that, as you have pointed out, the lowest keys of the manual and pedal keyboards are always C, thus the "normal" pitch of both is 8-foot pitch. I remember discussions with some organists and/or builders from the USA who claimed that the pedal starts always with CC (16-foot pitch); consequently, every pedal part in a organ score should be read like a doube-bass part in an orchestral score, i. e. as sounding all'ottava bassa. This is obviously a habit coming from the age of thorough bass playing, and it is everyone's implicit knowledge that the voice leading in a Bach prelude only works if the pedal line is based on 16-foot tone. But then, even Bach allowed for 8-foot pedal playing -- so to speak non-transposed --, e. g. in his trio sonatas and some of the chorale preludes. This again enhances the assumption that for him, too, the pedal keyboard was starting with a C, and that it was the character and texture of the actual music that indicated the pitch required. Best, Friedrich
  21. Well, it's never too late as long as there are Steinmeyers left in the world. And Germans, of course. Glad neither of them have "ended up" so far.
  22. Oh – and be the hypothetical question asked which US builder compared best to what has been done in Germany over the last four decades, I would say it's Fritz Noack, who actually was brought up an organbuilder in Germany. Take his two-manual organs of moderate size, 20 to 30 stops: There is, on a high level of craftsmanship and musicianship, your average German church organ as built between 1960 and now. Only the case architecture would be mostly modern over here, with less references to historic styles even in a historical surrounding. Best, Friedrich
  23. First, the term "boutique builders" – a term I never liked, as it has a pejorative undertone ("Here's the organ vernacular, and there is your boutique stuff") – simply does not apply in the European organ world. Most European builders build organs in a style that would qualify as "boutique" in the US: carefully crafted in every detail on a very high level of craftsmanship, fully encased in self-contained cases; tracker action and slider chests as a rule (everything else being the exception), little borrowing or extensions, careful on-site voicing, the pipework sometimes being tuned to some unequal temperment. Pipes, especially reeds and front pipes, are often built by specialized firms, as are some parts of the action and, of course, electronic parts. Most builders follow more or less their own line of work, especially long-established firms like (in Germany) Klais, Beckerath, Schuke and many others. Others have specialized in historical styles, such as Ahrend (North-German) or Goeckel (French Romantic). In Germany, there was a heavy bias in the last two-and-a-half decades towards French romantic sound resources (or what one took for those), which has been fading for some years now; instead, German romantic style has become popular in new organs. Since it rose form the dead in the 1950ies, the North-German Baroque style never went quite out of fashion all over Europe, but over the years was copied more and more strictly, as were all historical styles. Insights coming out of restorations of historical instruments took an important role in this development. Another important factor is the education of organists, who during their studies travel more and more in order to get acquainted with organs of all over the world. Organbuilding "down under" follows more or less Anglo-Saxon lines with some influences from Scandinavia; in Eastern Asia, large organs are usually imported from France, the UK, Germany, the US and other Western countries, as only few builders have established their own shops there. I am sure others will add to this raw outline, or correct my views, but this is it now. Best, Friedrich
  24. There are three large Steinmeyer organs from before World War II still playing: The organ in the Christuskirche, Mannheim, built in 1911; the large organ in the Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway, built in 1930 and to be restored soon; and the organ in St. Lorenz, Nuremberg, built in 1937 and restored recently by Klais. Another old Steinmeyer still exists, the three-manual organ from the Schuetzenhaus, Meiningen, that was examined and accepted by Max Reger; in 1920 the organ was transferred to the Weihnachtskirche in Berlin-Haselhorst, where it can still be played and heard. The big Steinmeyer of Passau cathedral, built in 1928, is long gone now, which is a shame. It appears as though Steinmeyer, about twenty years after World War II, became out of favour with the German organists. They had built some large instruments in the 1950ies, such as the organs in the Meistersinger Hall, Nuremberg, the Ottobeuren monastery church, the Stadtkirche, Karlsruhe, and Vierzehnheiligen. The latter was replaced by a big and reportedly very loud Rieger in 1999; Ottobeuren was renovated by Klais recently, and loudened quite a bit, as I was told. The big 1960 Steinmeyer in Hamburg, St. Michaelis, a five-manual tracker-action instrument on a grand scale, was a success, but I know of no other example of a mechanical Steinmeyer of that portions. Their last major work was carried out in 1988 with Kleuker of Brackwede: the organ for the Zurich Tonhalle, designed by Jean Guillou. The organ has been revoiced since by van den Heuvel. CDs: Nuremberg (Meistersingerhalle) and Vierzehnheiligen can be heard in Werner Jacob's recording of Reger's op. 52 fantasias (Christophorus CHE 0091-2). Ottobeuren in its original state was played by Karl Richter in 1958 in his recording of the "Dorian" Toccata and Fugue BWV 738, and the "Sei gegruesset" Partita BWV 768 (this spectacular recording was reissued by Teldec as 4509-97901-2). The Mannheim organ can be heard in Vol. 1 of the Motette Reger series (MOT 11501). The Karlsruhe Steinmeyer appears in Christian-Markus Raiser's recording "Romantische Orgelmusik" (Hänssler CD 98.342). The recordings that are the most interesting are those of Steinmeyer organs from the 1950ies. They have bright and sparkling choruses, many of which include thirds, and lean but not shrill chorus reeds; the foundations retained their romantic colouring, even in Orgelbewegung times. There is much brightness to the sound, sometimes bordering to shrillness; but the grand registrations sound also quite fiery and exciting. Maybe this emotional quality in te sound was too much for the Orgelbewegung organists, who strove for an objective kind of playing, and for more brightness and foundations rather neutral than poetic. Best regards, Friedrich
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