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21st-century Bach

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I don't watch television much and if it wasn't for iPlayer, I would have missed JSW's performance of the B minor P&F from Amorbach on Sunday on BBC4. Was this the first of the new series, or have I already missed some? Anyone know what other organs will feature?

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I don't watch television much and if it wasn't for iPlayer, I would have missed JSW's performance of the B minor P&F from Amorbach on Sunday on BBC4. Was this the first of the new series, or have I already missed some? Anyone know what other organs will feature?

 

Yes, I 'accidentally' watched this. I'd like to know that too.

 

More importantly, when are they going to release the DVD of Series 3? We seem to have been waiting ages.

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Well, what did fellow forumites make of this evening's offering? Personally I thought JSW's playing splendid as ever (even if the NBA text does suggest a slower speed for at least the prelude). However, I'm afraid I just cannot warm to the Waltershausen organ. I've never heard it live, admittedly, but nothing I've yet heard makes me inclined to make the effort.

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Well, what did fellow forumites make of this evening's offering? Personally I thought JSW's playing splendid as ever (even if the NBA text does suggest a slower speed for at least the prelude). However, I'm afraid I just cannot warm to the Waltershausen organ. I've never heard it live, admittedly, but nothing I've yet heard makes me inclined to make the effort.

 

I liked it, especially the 32' reed at the end. I think it just shows that you don't need a foghorn on 20" pressure to sound grand.

 

Just getting ready to watch tonight's instalment (at 11.20)!

 

I'd still like to know when Series 3 DVD is coming out. I am relying on someone here to let us know just as soon as that happens. What I can't understand is that, having done all the expensive recording and editing, why won't they finish the job by pressing some DVDs? It surely can't cost much more than has already been spent.

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Well, what did fellow forumites make of this evening's offering? Personally I thought JSW's playing splendid as ever (even if the NBA text does suggest a slower speed for at least the prelude). However, I'm afraid I just cannot warm to the Waltershausen organ. I've never heard it live, admittedly, but nothing I've yet heard makes me inclined to make the effort.

 

Waltershausen is a little off the beaten track but the organ is worth going to hear and play, if a little quirky. Its appearance in the lofty, galleried, oval church is stunning.

 

The organ is a magnificent testament to 18c ingenuity and invention in organ building. The layout is decidedly haphazard, requiring something like 90m of trunking to supply all the various windchests. The pipework is beautifully made, with fancifully decorated boots for the reeds and and turned stays for the rack boards. Some ranks are of very odd construction and tonal quality -overblowing flutes, quintadenas, doubled pipes (back-to-back with two mouths) and an incredibly keen string almost worthy of Wurlitzer. Although there are many undeniably novel and attractive stops, the overall sound does not really hang together, and the bold plenum, with its profusion of tierce mixtures, can become slightly wearisome after a while.

 

The organ struck me as a magnificent 'one-off' and that Johann Heinrich Trost had probably reached the end of the line in experimentation for his time. His style of organbuilding does not seem to lead anywhere (though Pierre L will probably disagree with me).

 

Not far away is Naumburg, and Zacharias Hildebrandt's masterpiece at St Wenzel, a magisterial instrument of great integrity, yet by no means lacking in colour and variety. If you are in that part of the world, it's well worth a pilgrimage to hear at regular 'Orgelpunkt Zwölf' recitals at noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year.

 

JS

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Waltershausen is a little off the beaten track but the organ is worth going to hear and play, if a little quirky. Its appearance in the lofty, galleried, oval church is stunning.

 

The organ is a magnificent testament to 18c ingenuity and invention in organ building. The layout is decidedly haphazard, requiring something like 90m of trunking to supply all the various windchests. The pipework is beautifully made, with fancifully decorated boots for the reeds and and turned stays for the rack boards. Some ranks are of very odd construction and tonal quality -overblowing flutes, quintadenas, doubled pipes (back-to-back with two mouths) and an incredibly keen string almost worthy of Wurlitzer. Although there are many undeniably novel and attractive stops, the overall sound does not really hang together, and the bold plenum, with its profusion of tierce mixtures, can become slightly wearisome after a while.

 

The organ struck me as a magnificent 'one-off' and that Johann Heinrich Trost had probably reached the end of the line in experimentation for his time. His style of organbuilding does not seem to lead anywhere (though Pierre L will probably disagree with me).

 

Not far away is Naumburg, and Zacharias Hildebrandt's masterpiece at St Wenzel, a magisterial instrument of great integrity, yet by no means lacking in colour and variety. If you are in that part of the world, it's well worth a pilgrimage to hear at regular 'Orgelpunkt Zwölf' recitals at noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year.

 

JS

 

This becomes quite interesting !

 

Waltershausen is among the things we still have that are the closest to what Bach really

had under his fingers and feet on a day-to-day basis, in his area; and we know that

if he did not play Waltershausen, he did at Altenburg, which is very close to it, and

warmly approved it.

The somewhat awkward layout is documented by the critics of A-H Casparini, one of

Eugen Casparini's sons, while working in Altenburg as a Trost's apprentice.

Trost built marvels, and then crammed them somewhat. Nobody's perfect, isn't it ?

 

When you visit such organs, you very soon realise the "baroque registration rules"

we were thought about in the 20th century do not hold the road at all there. Indeed,

they will throw you in the landscape illico presto.

 

The tierce Mixtures are very semblable to what obtained then in about 99% of the organs

in that area; this is one of the least original traits of a Trost organ. You still find them in Vilnius,

round 1780, in one of the last organs of that central german style.

 

And when you hear them for the first time, you think the organ is badly out-of-tune...

You need to be accustomed to that sound.

And...The organist must avoid to use them all the time, the neo-baroque way.

The polyphony is best rendered with octave ranks only: 8-4-2, 8-8-8-4-4-2,

and the like.

The mixtures are there for the climaxes, they are "strong" stops, not intended

to be heard for fifteen minutes in a big P&F. Even more, they sound best with the reeds.

 

Restrained registrations are needed also. Much organists who are not accustomed to

Trost organs make a soup, a huge noise without any lisibility. German organs are not

Ballerines, but rather teutonic-heavy, substantial. The foundation stops aren't intended

to be played alone, but in combinations, carefully made combinations you need to search

after by trials, avoiding to use too much stops at a time.

The aim was for colors, as much colors as possible, and yes, keen string tone included,

much keener that we would believe in a baroque organ, and Trost wasn't alone in this.

As for overblowing flutes, they were already described by Praetorius.

 

It is food for thought that, in a time when we believe we rever Bach, we cannot understand

his very organs!

 

"Not far away is Naumburg, and Zacharias Hildebrandt's masterpiece at St Wenzel, a magisterial instrument of great integrity, yet by no means lacking in colour and variety. If you are in that part of the world, it's well worth a pilgrimage to hear at regular 'Orgelpunkt Zwölf' recitals at noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year."

(Quote)

 

....But is it really in an original state ?

Had it really no tierce ranks in its mixtures ?

So much were removed during the 20th century that I barely believes it...

 

 

Pierre

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This becomes quite interesting !

 

Waltershausen is among the things we still have that are the closest to what Bach really

had under his fingers and feet on a day-to-day basis, in his area; and we know that

if he did not play Waltershausen, he did at Altenburg, which is very close to it, and

warmly approved it.

The somewhat awkward layout is documented by the critics of A-H Casparini, one of

Eugen Casparini's sons, while working in Altenburg as a Trost's apprentice.

Trost built marvels, and then crammed them somewhat. Nobody's perfect, isn't it ?

 

"Not far away is Naumburg, and Zacharias Hildebrandt's masterpiece at St Wenzel, a magisterial instrument of great integrity, yet by no means lacking in colour and variety. If you are in that part of the world, it's well worth a pilgrimage to hear at regular 'Orgelpunkt Zwölf' recitals at noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year."

(Quote)

 

....But is it really in an original state ?

Had it really no tierce ranks in its mixtures ?

So much were removed during the 20th century that I barely believes it...

 

 

Pierre

 

JSB inspected the organ at Naumburg, gave the opening recital and most probably had a hand in the tonal design. The records seem to suggest the mixtures contained only unisons and quints.

 

HW Mixtur 8rks 15-19-22-26-29-33-33-36,

OW Scharf 5rks 22-26-29-33-36,

RP Zimbel 5rks 19-22-26-29-33.

 

Whether this was JSB's preference or Hildebrandt's, or a surviving influence from the previous Thayssner instrument, we may never know. The tierce-less mixture sound at Naumburg may just be the exception to the rule in Thuringia at the time. That said, the HW has a separate Sesquialtera 2rks which could be added to the chorus, and the same is probably true of the individual mutations on the OW. Interestingly there is no third-sounding rank on the RP. (And we know that Hildebrandt was obliged to retain the RP case from the previous organ, another unusual feature).

 

Though less 'extreme' and less hotch-potch than Waltershausen, the Naumburg scheme is just as original, for example the pairs of flutes and strings at 8' and 4' on HW and RP, hence my earlier comment about greater integrity of tonal design.

 

Around 50-55% of the original pipework survives, with the remainder (including almost all the reeds) being painstaking historical reconstructions. Who can say how close today's sound comes to what JSB heard in September 1746? It's a pretty impressive aural experience nonetheless.

 

JS

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I believe series three is now available on DVD, it is on the Signum label (and they are calling it volume 1).

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I believe series three is now available on DVD, it is on the Signum label (and they are calling it volume 1).

 

Many thanks. I have just ordered it!

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