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Everything posted by sprondel

  1. Oh yes! The Grauhof organ is a marvel in sound. There are some stunning recordings of Bach's grand P+Fs with Olivier Vernet which are really worth listening -- that's Bach on a truly grand scale. Michael Christfried Winkler, a former organist at the Kreuzkirche in Dresden, did a double recording of the piece on this disk (you might try to get some snippet from a web shop!). The first version is not unlike Weinberger's, only a little bit faster. For the second one, Winkler goes in at breakneck speed while turning up the Crescendo-Walze of the huge Orgelbewegung Jehmlich organ, and just before Tutti, about two-thirds through the piece, has the blower turned off; then he holds down the last chord until the last coughing bit of wind has gone from the Schwimmers. "Ah no, it's not meant to be played this way!" a former colleague of mine said. Of course not, but Winkler created a very exciting piece of music. Best, Friedrich
  2. I believe in possibility f): someone stuffed three data DVDs into the cut-up. They contain the full adminitrative files of the British Film Council so that, when all this -- what was it? Bovine excrement? -- will be over, they can readily start afresh where they were finished off. The digitalized movies the council had been funding were stuck into Bourdon E-flats of churches that were once used as shooting locations all over the country, of course. So no one there will be able to play St Anne until everything was put back in order. And they will have to find those files in your Bourdon first to verify all the hiding places! Best, Friedrich
  3. Huh! I, for one, am not. Whoever is playing should, once in a while, administer some punishing slap to his or her feet which seem pretty much to march along as they like, even if it means random parallels with the soprano. Besides, I have a suspicion that this kind of organist's yarn was put away with about 150 years ago, and with some reason, too. Certainly a nice instrument, however. Best, Friedrich
  4. Claudius Winterhalter's organs, wherever I heard them or had an opportunity to hit some keys, are excellent, soundwise as well as mechanically. Very little compromise there, if any -- and definitely worth knowing. Among other things, he offers a workable mechnical combination action, thought out very cleverly. Of the smaller companies in Germany, his is certainly among the best. NB: I hold no interest in his work other than that I like listening to a good organ sound. Greetings, Friedrich
  5. Interesting. I looked it up. There is only one possibility, the closing section in the end of the two main parts of the movement, and in this only the first six, with some licences the first eight notes in Vn 1. The relation to the Enigma is quite a bit hidden, since the Mozart movement is in 6/8 time. The fifth note is a syncopated fifth over the tonic, which relates pleasantly to the emphasized d in the Enigma. -- Some music! And for once in our ongoing discussions here, I am glad that I chose the violin instead of the organ -- played them both, and fun to play they were! Best, Friedrich
  6. It starts mute, the playing comes in only after c. 40 seconds. Strange as that may be. Best, Friedrich
  7. Quite so, as it appears. Dupré is reported to have, in his formative years, practiced literature for two hours a day, and improvisation for another six. Which, in due course, brought about such wonderful works as the Symphonie-Passion. There is Widor's famous saying about his student: "That was improvised? It sounded as if it was composed." I am not sure that this was meant as a compliment exclusively, but rather as stating a fact. When listening to the Motette recording of Dupré's improvisations at Cologne from the Sixties, I am under the impression that he, quite systematically, counts beats and bars, grouping them by two, four, eight etc. while going along, thus creating a highly ordered form, even up to the point of sounding academic. This impression is confirmed by his . I suppose that his grasp at musical form in improvisation was something to be practiced very hard, over and over again. Not that this was everyone's cup of tea nowadays. Most improvisers, as much as many audiences, like a more rhapsodic approach. As a listener, however, I for one prefer to know, or at least be able to take a good guess, where I was in a piece of music, be it improvised or not. Best, Friedrich
  8. I'll have to look it up, but if I remember it correctly the enclosure encompasses the upper end of those pipes as well. On top of the Swell box sits the blower and main reservoir, and behind its encasement the Swell enclosure goes up to contain the long pipes. Best, Friedrich
  9. Not very noticeable, as they are in fact not stopped but haskelled (bottom six, C to F). From f-sharp on the pipes are open and inside the box. The 16-foot reed of same division, however, has half-length resonators at least in the lower range. Best, Friedrich
  10. It may be true that, up to the "Romane", no French romantic score ever did mention "mixtures", "Pleins-Jeux" or anything like. However, I was under the impression that the word "Anches" could be read as referring both to reeds (proper meaning) and to the part of the soundboard that gets wind when the "Appel des Anches" piston is activated, and which usually carried, along with the chorus reeds, stops above 4', including Quinte, Doublette, Fourniture, Cymbale and/or Plein Jeu (and sometimes a more harmonically rich 4' as well). So, "Anches" needs to be interpreted depending on the instrument at hands. If it is specified as "Anches 8", the case is clear. If the score says "Anches 16, 8, 4" or just "Anches" there is room for interpretation: May this include the higher chorus ranks as well? Do they suit the music, room, and instrument? Even for Cavaillé-Coll at his most extreme -- perhaps the years around the Sainte-Clotilde organ --, there are very few instruments larger than an Orgue-de-choeur that do not include a full chorus. Saint-Roch did not have one on the Great, but there was one on the very complete Positif-de-dos (18 stops, including three chorus mixtures and a Celeste). These organs were built, loved, and recommended with their choruses. It would be a bit bold to infer -- as Pierre doesn't, but hints at --, from the scores of the French romantics, that the Pleins-Jeux were not used. Best, Friedrich
  11. In Cologne Cathedral, the transept organ for the main part has no roof at all. In the last rebuild in 2002, the entire instrument was lifted by about 2 m, thereby gaining much power and directness, as the vaults of the side aisle could reflect the sound much better now. Additionally, the space below the chests was used for a new, much more gerenous winding system. Projection seems to be the principal concern here. If you look at large North-German organs such as the revived Schnitger at St. Jakobi, Hamburg,you can see how very prominent the cornices are. They probably have a strong effect on sound projection. Not quite what you would expect from modern case architecture, though Gerhard Grenzing and case designer Simon Platt tried something quite like it here. Best, Friedrich
  12. Well, at least Cavaillé-Coll did think so, and said so, and the famous Reinburgs finished his organs on that type of action. (I do not know who did the finishing at Parr Hall.) So there is a musical reason to consider after all. Some historical Barker machines have been successfully quieted down by felt-lined encasing and the like. I do remember being shocked when listening to Dupré's own recording of his opus 36, 1 in Saint-Sulpice (clicke-clicke-clicke-clicke-clicke-clicke-clicke-clicke-clicke-clicke-oooooh-clicke-clicke-oooooh-clicke-clicke-oooooh-clicke-clicke and so on). But that has improved considerably since then. Best, Friedrich
  13. I'm just guessing here, but the one firm that pops up in my head who constantly built large organs with Barker levers might be Kuhn of Männedorf (Switzerland). IIRC, they used Barker action in their organ for Basle Minster in the 1950ies (recently relocated to Moscow and replaced by an architecturally interesting Mathis), as well as in other post-war projects. Kuhn also have an excellent report of restorations. There is small possibility that Marcussen kept working with Barker actions, but I am not quite so sure about that. The French firms turned to electric or e-p more or less completely, as did all major German companies (most of which went for t-p around 1900 anyway). One certain company which turns out huge French-style organs regularly uses Barkers as well, but they are too young to have an "unbroken history" with the times when Barker lever originated. Best, Friedrich
  14. Try for period instruments.(You know, I hate that edit in the pedal -- D, A, Bb, A, that's not music!) Best, Friedrich
  15. Not at all. Moreover, I liked the programming a lot. To include those Töpfer variations for a stop-by-stop introduction to a Töpfer-scaled organ is really a nice idea. Merkel is a new favourite of mine (in part due to Halgeir Schiager's sensational Simax recordings), and it was nice to find him here. To conclude the CD with Wiedermann impetuoso is nice too -- those tumbling-down octaves sound very excitingly with this chorus. And the Liszt, of course, is quite at home here. Very exciting crescendo in the end of the first build-up, stacking mixture upon beaming mixture! I wish we had some large Schulze left over here. There were two in Bremen (Liebfrauen and cathedral), but both were replaced by more fashionable builders around 1900 (Steinmeyer and Sauer, respectively). The cathedral organ had in the pedal a free reed 16-foot with wooden reeds, named "Riem" after the organist. The most important continental Schulze, of course, sat behind the monumental gothic case in St. Mary's, Lübeck. It must have been extremely beautiful and inspiring, even found its way into Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks" novel, and was virtually unaltered when it burned down in the 1942 air raid. (What is there now apparently is ready for the oven, or melting pot, respectively. They have a new and very fine organist now, Johannes Unger, so let' see what is going to happen.) This is to say that Doncaster and Armley are the only surviving examples on a large scale for the art of this once-famous organbuilding family. So I gladly take any chance to listen to it, hissing noises or not. All the more when some exciting playing and repertoire are included. Best, Friedrich
  16. Oh, MM, zat confirms my zuspishon zat a propper German aksent is hart to render wiz English spelling. So, Charles Brindley might have said after talking to Edmund: "I can give them my spelling, but I cannot giving them this" (pointing to the tip of his tongue sticking out between his front teeth ever so slightly). To make this a bit more on-topic: I like listening to Cynic's latest Doncaster recording -- rock-solid playing, an thrilling choruses indeed --, but the hissing noise from the trunks and/or chests is quite intense all the time, and becomes annoying as soon as registration goes down to pp level. Pity. I suspect the organ deserves better than that. Best, Friedrich
  17. I used to learn a lot from this essay: Robert Hill, ""Der Himmel weiss, wo diese Sachen hingekommen sind": Reconstructing the Lost Clavier Books of the Young Bach and Handel." In: P.Williams, Ed., Bach, Handel, Scarlatti: Tercentenary Essays. Cambridge, 1985, 161-172. Robert Hill's point of departure is the famous "moonshine manuscript" story about Bach secretly copying down keyboard music from his brother's collection and, being found out by an enraged Johann Christoph, losing it again. In short, when a young keyboard player was accepted as a student by a master teacher, he generally started two manuscript collections: one with cantus-firmus-related music for use in church, and another with free pieces, such as dances, suites, toccatas, variations etc. According to the student's progress, he copied pieces from his master's collection, paying the master a fee for each copy. Hence, a manuscript thus composed added up to a major investment from the student's side, and a return for the master. We know that JSB's brother Johann Christoph of Ohrdruf studied with Pachelbel at Erfurt. From what CPE Bach related to Forkel, the "moonshine manuscript" contained music by Froberger, Kerll and other South-German masters Pachelbel might have had met when living in Nürnberg, Regensburg and Vienna. So this may very well have been the collection Johann Christoph had copied, and paid for, when studying with Pachelbel. This would explain why he kept it locked-in -- it was literally worth a good amount of money, and Johann Christoph did not want the music to circulate freely, but if possible to sell it piece by piece, just as he had aquired it. The Bach family literally formed a large network for relating and copying keyboard and other music, and maintained contact to important figures in music around 1700, such as Pachelbel, Böhm, Buxtehude, Reincken etc. JSB himself very well might have been the single source for much of the North-German repertoire, which he copied when he was a student at Lüneburg (quite close Hamburg, Stade, Lübeck etc.) and a visiting musician with Buxtehude on leave (or not) from Arnstadt. Many North-German pieces turn up in the so-called Andreas-Bach-Buch, which was most probably collected by Johann Christoph of Ohrdruf, and the nearest connection to the North was the latter's gifted younger brother. Then, there is the story of the Weimar prince Johann Ernst who brought back, from his visit to Amsterdam, many scores of Italian concerto music, which provided a fascinating source for the like of Johann Gottfried Walther and his cousin JS Bach. Amsterdam was, around 1700, a centre of printed music -- illegally printed in many instances, but nevertheless invaluable for musicians in the area and visiting it. In a few words: You had to know people who knew people etc., and to keep ready paper, quill, and your money. Best, Friedrich
  18. This kind of concept reminds me of what Georges Heintz of Schiltach (Blackforest) did from the eighties on, if on a larger scale. The first organ with this kind of multi-purpose Résonance is in the Stadtkirche at Rastatt (not far from Baden-Baden). The stoplist doesn't begin to tell just how versatile and musical the organ sounds. Basically, for a Résonance division (Manual IV) Heintz built a divided swell box which contains the Bourdon, principals and chorus reeds of the Récit, and a smaller box for the more lyrical Récit voices (Manual III). The enclosed Résonance sits on either side of the Great (Manual I), taking the position of an 8-foot pedal division. In fact, it serves very well as one, and also blends perfectly fine with the Great and the actual Swell. The Pedal proper only has what the Résonance lacks: a wooden 16-foot Open, an 8-foot Bourdon and a 16-foot Bombarde. The Positiv is purely classical in sound and position, but is being played from Manual II as a French romantic Positif would be. The playing action is entirely tracker, including the couplers (of which there are many!). Three mechanical Appels (Anches / 2' / Plein jeu) complement the couplers. The builder, as well as the organist Hans Peter Eisenmann and the consultant Heinrich Richard Trötschel, were convinced that the organ did not need a combination action, and would last longer and work more reliable without one. The well thought-out stoplist and jamb layout, along with the couplers and Appels, allow for quite comfortable handling. But then, on one occasion I turned pages and pulled stops when a friend of mine played Elgar's entire organ music in one recital. I jogged my way through Opus 28, squeezing time and again through a very narrow gap between the bench and the Positiv case, and gave my friend a loud "quack" of the Hautbois (pushing it in a little late) in one of the Vesper Voluntaries. No pleasant experience altogether. (The "second" sonata was not half as hellish to manage -- for me, that is). Best, Friedrich P. S. Our host knows well this player (Michael Gassmann, formerly at Freiburg-Günterstal), and might well know the instrument, as it is in Baden (to where, I understand, he has family ties).
  19. Of course a stoplist doesn't tell anything about the sound -- even one drawn up as unimaginative, if quite generous, as this one. A good voicer might have made it a fine instrument -- with three principal choruses, all those flutes and three pedal reeds. But reading that stoplist, I would never have guessed the organ was less than ten years old. Rather about forty. It reads exactly like what was built in abundance by the Breils, Stockmanns, Kreienbrinks etc. of Germany back in the Sixties and Seventies -- Orgelbewegung organs for catholic churches (i. e. with a Céleste as the sonic equivalent for the incense). The architecture and front pipe scales, as visible in the photograph, would also fit into that image. Best, Friedrich P. S. Looking at the pipe count, there must have been some unification in the pedal. Probably Untersatz/Bourdon and the Prinzipals.
  20. Being neither a player nor British, I would nevertheless like to add one aspect. There is a specifically English way of functional thinking in a stoplist, which comes in even before the stoplist is written out, and which within the last one or two decades became more and more dominant internationally. To think of a medium-to-large organ in terms of Great, Swell, Choir, Solo, and Pedal, each division with its specific function, is a very English thing. Great: the main chorus, rather big flutes, some chorus reeds; Swell: the secondary chorus, a full reed chorus and some colour reeds, strings and accompanimental flutes; Choir: maybe another chorus, but mainly rather soft flutes and strings for accompaniment, a Cremona and maybe a high-pressure reed; Solo: the loud stuff, extreme colours; Pedal: substantial basses, but more often than not some unification as well. There are so many other ways of distributing choruses of principals, flutes, reeds, and strings over an organ, even if it is concert-style. For example, to put the secondary chorus on an unenclosed division and have two kinds of Swells, one of the Bombarde type, one more lyrical, and each with its own chorus, one slotted, the other one of string tone (as it was done several times, e. g., by Hans Gerd Klais in his day). There are the German romantic concepts of monumental organ tone based on two unenclosed Greats, as it was done by Ladegast, the Schulzes, or Reubke (father), a thinking that can be found in France as well, e. g. in Sainte-Clotilde, Paris, with its Positif up front and with full principal and reed choruses (with the Great divided on either side), put in front of a diminutive and lyrical Swell (as it once was). There is the late Werkprinzip. Speaking of which, don't forget the Echo and Brustwerk divisions people used to love so much forty or fifty years ago. By now, most large new organs in cathedrals and international concert halls follow the English Gt-Sw-Ch-Solo model, be they built by American, German, Austrian, Swiss, French or indeed British builders. This, of course, doesn't tell anything about the style of voicing or even scaling involved. It concerns a way of functionally thinking up a stoplist. Best, Friedrich
  21. Another one is. A knockout one, too -- splendid in all respects. Best, Friedrich
  22. It's not just you. I doubt that anyone can play convincingly, as well as understand, Reger' music who hasn't met, and openly fought, The Beast Within his- or herself. Best, Friedrich
  23. ... as well as an entirely unbroken rhythmic drive at comparably high speed, a flawless legato, and a remarkably simple registration, all resulting in an impressive arch of tension, leading from bar one to the dramatic, but still tastefully performed penultimative ritardando, fermata, and final ritardando. This, to my ear, definitely is a strength of this style of interpretation. It's neither Ootmerssen nor Koopman. But it is still great playing, in the way Germani or did it. Sorry, I like it. It is perfect and touching in its own way, as well as Heifetz's, Cortot's or Rachmaninov's performances are. Best, Friedrich
  24. I wouldn't say Reger did not write programme music. He did. There are his Böcklin tone poems, there is his romantic suite following an Eichendorff poem. And there are, of course, his chorale fantasias, which apply the very concept of programme music to the organ -- i. e. they take a pre-existing text (= programme, as in Liszt's "Les Preludes", in Franck's "Chasseur maudit" or in Strauss's "Zarathustra") and write music that, while being more or less formally sound on its own means, takes on a descritptive quality, interpreting and deepening the programmatic text. In other works, Reger apparently communicates something coming close to programmatic content -- the "Inferno" fantasia op. 57, the organ sonatas, the op. 73 variations, the op. 74 string quartet, the Symphonic Prologue etc. But he does not give any hint as to an exact meaning, if he ever had one in mind. Experiences of human suffering, of faith, of struggling with existence are at the core of most of his music, which makes much of it challenging but rewarding to listen. As for Brahms, writing chorale preludes clearly predates any definition and debate about programme music -- it was a baroque concept that, as all baroque music, aims at moving the "affecten" of the listener. Brahms takes the concept in the direction of Schumann's "Charakterstück", communicating a concentrated mood triggered by the chorale's text or overall character. By the way, as much as many of Brahms's organ pieces meditate on death, it needn't be his own. Some of his op. 122 apparently was written in his Düsseldorf years (mid-1850ies), when he, in his early twenties, was the messenger between his friend Schumann -- who lived at the asylum in Endenich -- and the Schumann family, friends and the musical world in general. Best, Friedrich
  25. Dear list members, from the German Orgelforum I had to learn that Wim Verburg, after a short and severe illness, died today. Many of you might know him from his incredible website www.orgelsite.nl as an avid organ lover, player, photographer, and even composer. He had a gift for making contact easily and kindly, as well as for communicating his love for the organ and his insatiable, and at the same time wonderfully relaxed, curiosity for everything concerning the instrument. Wim had married recently. He was only 44. Best, Friedrich
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