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Pierre Lauwers

Baroque Organ Tone

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Alkmaar is simply lovely. Parts of its design are certainly idiosyncratic, but how well it all works. This might be as good a time as any to recall Stephen Bicknell's essay about Alkmaar which provides the specification and notes several points of interest (e.g. the reed Viool di Gamba, Cimbel composition, and of course the 22' Principal).

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Alkmaar is simply lovely. Parts of its design are certainly idiosyncratic, but how well it all works. This might be as good a time as any to recall Stephen Bicknell's essay about Alkmaar which provides the specification and notes several points of interest (e.g. the reed Viool di Gamba, Cimbel composition, and of course the 22' Principal).

 

Indeed it is. Strangely enough I remembered playing the organ just days before it was due for restoration. One heard almost nothing of the instrument as you played it in a glass greenhouse which I imagine allowed playing during winter months. Then the finished product some years later. I just feel that if the walls were plastered again, the acoustic and general ambiance would just make an even greater sensation.

I have valiantly tried to get an organ building friend to make a Viool da Gamba but alas the scale and design is so large (have you see it?), he has yet to have a commodious case in which to put it. What a sound. What a piece of architecture.

Organs for about 95% of their life (perhaps even more if we think about it), will only be seen as a piece of furniture and not heard. Therefore, for me, something of beauty must be created to house the beauty inside. It all just seems entirely natural.

Best wishes,

Nigel

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I have valiantly tried to get an organ building friend to make a Viool da Gamba but alas the scale and design is so large (have you see it?), he has yet to have a commodious case in which to put it. What a sound. What a piece of architecture.

 

I have yet to make its acquaintance, although I did find a picture: A 'snake swallowing a rabbit' it is!

 

As you say, instruments like Alkmaar are wondrous even when silent. It is humbling to think of the faith that inspired such projects, of the careful planning, the craftsmanship, and the sacrifices of time and money that went into them. These men cut no corners: They built for God and for the ages.

 

Oh! Here is the link to Stephen Bicknell's essay which I neglected to include earlier.

 

All the best,

Justin Fries

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It is a good idea to post this excellent paper here, Justinf; if you look

at the specification of the Mixtures Stephen gave, you cannot but wonder

why you ear so few tierces in the choruses on the recordings we have

from there....because this organ can sound very much like the Van den Eynde

you heard on the first post of this thread (tried an tested).

 

Pierre

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT

I thought long and hard about posting this. Pierre's comment about the divine old organ in Alkmaar prompted me to find this on the Web. I hope that you forgive it's personal side but I wanted you to see a most interesting instrument that historically links so many strands of ecclesiastical as well as musical history. So all that far outweighs my part in it all.

 

Queen Dorothea's Chapel

 

This is an organ with a facade from 1570 and 1626. The Positiv is actually in the base of the organ and speaks through the wood and the cracks! There was a fine and scholarly restoration by the genius builder Mads Kjersgaard in 1996 to put it all back together again. Hercules von Oberberg built the unique castle chapel in 1568-70 for Queen Mother Dorothea who died the year after. It is one of the most important Royal places of worship to be founded upon Lutheran lines - having no Roman Catholic foundations. It is thought that the design and appointments within it were detailed to her and the architect via a sister who remained in Northern Germany.

The organ has two manuals. The metal levers operate the stops for the OBERWERCK and little stops by the keyboard for the POSITIV.

 

Oberwerck

Principal

Grob Gedact

Qverpfeife Discant

Octava

Nachthorn

Super Octava

Sedecima

Mixture

Trompet

 

Positive

Octav Flöite

Super Octav Flöite

Qvint Flöite

Zimbel

Regal

 

There are short octaves and manuals Obwk F -a2 and Pos C -a2

Pitch is A = 625 !!!!

Meantone tuning (which is heard in a tutti)

 

There is a Tremulant, Fuglesang (one approaches the upper part of the organ with a small watering can before a concert. Byrd can hardly sound better!) and a Cymbelstjerne.

 

The decoration, organ and the chapel as a whole, is a memorable experience and one I really thought that you might appreciate - even if it makes you giggle to see a Punch & Judy-style of changing stops. It is Friday after all!

 

Best wishes,

N

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Thanks, Nigel. This organ really deserves it.

The link to the video does not work for me.

Is it my system or the same for everyone ?

 

(Post edited) OK, now it works. Splendid, and we even have

the registrations explained!

 

Pierre

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Some quick notes about Alkmaar:

 

The tierces are especially important in the Tertiaan and the 2 Sexquialteras, both of which are at 16' pitch (the only ones in the world?). The message is clear - the Sexquialteras are meant as tierce mixtures and not as solo stops (conforming to Mattheson but not the neo-baroque ideals. After the first restoration in 1949 the Sexquialteras were at 8' pitch and were often used as solo stops, among others by Rene Saorgin in his Buxtehude recording for Harmonia Mundi). The cimbels are exclusively solo stops in the North German tradition, and work especially with the Trompets of Rp and Bw.

 

The nave of the church has been re-plastered since the 1986 restoration of the organ.

 

I have personally crawled around the Hoofdwerk windchest and can confirm Nigel's comments about the scale on which the organ is built. It is breathtaking in extremis.

 

The Van Covelens organ in the quire will celebrate its 500th birthday in 2011. This will be marked in grand style with the inaugural Grand Prix d'ECHO competition, the participants of which will comprise the finalists of the ECHO-member competitions in Alkmaar and Freiberg (2009) and Innsbruck (2010).

 

Greetings

 

Bazuin

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Oh, what a gem, Nigel. Thank you for sharing this with us. I stumbled across a site with some more information on this instrument and others in Denmark, including the 1610 Compenius in Frederiksborg Castle. I see OHS has a CD featuring both, although I'm not sure I could listen to the Compenius Baroque reeds for very long without getting a bit irritable.

 

Here is the Van Covelens organ at Alkmaar. No audio, alas.

 

All the best,

Justin Fries

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"the Sexquialteras are meant as tierce mixtures and not as solo stops (conforming to Mattheson but not the neo-baroque ideals. After the first restoration in 1949 the Sexquialteras were at 8' pitch and were often used as solo stops"

 

(Quote)

 

Hear, hear !

Here we are; the chore of one of the main miscomprehension of the "Reform" about baroque organs.

The "Neo" people never understood what the Sesquialtera in the flemish organ was meant for. They

used it as a Solo stop for bottleneck effects.

But these stops -which came, like for Schnitger, from the Niehoff school originally, also the brabanter

Renaissance organ- are part of the Principal chorus. It was, like Bazuin writes, the Cimbel (with Tierce)that was

the Solo stop.

At Alkmaar, many organists did not even try to add a Terzian or Sesquialter in the chorus. They were

still blocked in Dupré's view: "Le Plein-jeu ne contient jamais de tierce", period.

 

Now there is something else about Alkmaar which deserves thoughts:

 

http://miami.uni-muenster.de/servlets/Deri...gelstimmung.pdf

 

Read in particular the chapter 6.....

(Apologies it is in german, but a choice rarely obtain with such important material. A least it is

not like a Schnitger contract in Plattdüdtsch!)

 

And Oh -We are far from the end!- I found this while seeing the Compenius organ video:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOmcV7nueL0...feature=related

 

The last Sterzing we still have, in Erfurt! Sterzing, a builder known to Bach!

 

Pierre

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And Oh -We are far from the end!- I found this while seeing the Compenius organ video:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOmcV7nueL0...feature=related

 

The last Sterzing we still have, in Erfurt! Sterzing, a builder known to Bach!

 

Your quick fingers beat me the punch on the Stertzing. We are lucky to have this instrument: It was moved in 1811, and two years later its former church burned to the ground in war. Here are some more details in German and in English with sound clips.

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Bach made the reception of the Stertzing of the Augustinerkirche,

(This one was destroyed during the 19th century)

same town (1716 III/39). We still have his report !

("Fleissig nachkommen" he wrote)

 

Pierre

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There was an equivalent to Alkmaar in Königsberg, eastern Prussia

(Now Kaliningrad, Russia): The Mosenberg organ from 1718:

 

IM HAUPTWERCK MITTEL CLAVIER

 

Principal 16'

Rohrflöth 16'

Octav 8'

Spielflöth 8'

Hohlflöth 8'

Viola di Gamba 8'

Quint dule 6'

Octav 4'

Offenflöth 4'

Kleinflöth 4'

Rausch Quint 3'

Super Octav 2'

Waldhörnschen 2'

Tertz 1 4/5'

Mixtur 8, 9 bis 10 Fach

Tromet 16'

Lituac oder Hautbois 8'

 

IM OBER-POSITIV, ALS UNTERSTE CLAVIER

 

Quinta dena 16'

Principal 8'

Gedackt 8'

Octav 4'

Wiedflöth 4'

Flaut d'allemande 4'

Scharff Quint 2 2/3'

Super Octav 2'

Gemshorn 2'

Tertz 1 4/5'

Sifflöth 1'

Mixtur 4 bis 5 Fach

Fagot 16'

Krumphern 8'

 

IM BRUST-POSITIV ALS OBERSTE CLAVIER

 

Jula 8'

Quinta dena 8'

Principal 4'

Flaut dule 4'

Rohr Quint 3'

Octav 2'

Waldflöth 2'

Tertz 1 4/5'

Cimber Mixtur 3 Fach

Scallemour oder Vox curiosa 16'

Vox humana 8'

 

IM PEDAL

 

Sub Contra offen 32' (ouvert, donc)

Principal 16' Von englischer Zinn

Borduna 16'

Flauducen Bass 8'

Violonello 8'

Spitz Quint 6'

Octav 4'

Nachthorn 4'

Quintaden scharff 4'

Feldflöth 2'

Zind 2 et 3 (avec le latin "et". Correspond au "Rauschpfeife": 2 2/3-2)

Bauerpfeife 1'

Mixtur 6, 7 bis 8 Fach

Posaune 32'

Bombard 16'

Dulcian 16'

Feld Tromet 8' (" En fer blanc, et en Montre"!!!)

Basson 8'

Scalmei 4'

Cornet 2'

 

ACCESSOIRES:

 

-Tambour

-Chant d'oiseau (Rossignol)

-Tremulant 1)- manuels, 2)- Pédale

-Ange volant

-(plusieurs) anges bougeant

-2 Cimbelstern

-Hauptventil pour tout l'orgue

-Ventil pour chaque clavier et la Pédale

 

ET......

 

-"Sine me nihil"

-"Noli me tangere"

 

SOURCE: "Der Dom zu Königsberg in Preussen, eine Kirchen und kunstgeschichtliche Schilderung", August Rudolf Gebser und Ernst August Hagen, 1835).

 

Halas reduced in ashes during WWII (was no more in original state).

 

See the third picture from top here:

 

http://www.casparini.0nyx.com/Koenigsberg/koedom.htm

 

....And note the Weissblech Trumpet in the façade of the Brustpositivs!

 

See here about Mosengel:

 

http://paxel1677.republika.pl/forqueray/jo...photograph.html

 

Pierre

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Some quick notes about Alkmaar:

 

The tierces are especially important in the Tertiaan and the 2 Sexquialteras, both of which are at 16' pitch (the only ones in the world?). The message is clear - the Sexquialteras are meant as tierce mixtures and not as solo stops (conforming to Mattheson but not the neo-baroque ideals. After the first restoration in 1949 the Sexquialteras were at 8' pitch and were often used as solo stops, among others by Rene Saorgin in his Buxtehude recording for Harmonia Mundi). The cimbels are exclusively solo stops in the North German tradition, and work especially with the Trompets of Rp and Bw.

 

Bazuin

 

I am enjoying all this; hunting down videos and recordings! A sentence from one and something from another makes the senses leap and the hands to delve amongst the CDs and books. Thank you all for keeping me in the warmth of the study and out in the garden and the cold!

 

But here is a TIENTO using a 16ft based Sexquialtera in a solo chorus. I don't think Alkmaar has them all!

Best wishes,

Nigel

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Nigell, this is beautiful, no doubt; but you could play exactly that

on a french organ with the Positif jeu de Tierce, an octave lower.

The point is, that a Sesquialtera which repeats to 5 1/3'- 3 1/5'

was not intended as a solo stop -even if it can be used that way-.

The 18th century organ was rapidly evolving, and the builders,

next to imitative new tones, experimented much with mutations

and Mixtures with means that dealt with the tonal design as a whole

-In Alkmaar like in St-Maximin, Görlitz, Königsberg or Leipzig-.

 

Pierre

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Nigell, this is beautiful, no doubt; but you could play exactly that

on a french organ with the Positif jeu de Tierce, an octave lower.

Pierre

 

I am sorry to say that you couldn't. Wrong scales. Wrong octave and wrong position in the case. Anyway, I posted this to allow readers the opportunity of hearing what a huge and vibrant combination it makes. I will try to find a chorus piece from the same organ that uses it as you say. I did this hurriedly and tore my hair out (what is left) in ripping a track off a CD and then sending it as a Video. I am not hi-tech.

 

Have a jolly weekend. I will see what further delights are lurking on the web for posting!

 

Best wishes,

Nigel

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
The point is, that a Sesquialtera which repeats to 5 1/3'- 3 1/5'

was not intended as a solo stop -even if it can be used that way-.

 

Pierre

 

The reason why I prefer to differ, Pierre, is that if the sounds and stops are there I think an organist is at liberty to use them in any musical way he/she thinks fit. If it combines with their vision of the piece and suits their 'orchestration' - so be it. Hard and fast rules in registration of any age are, in my opinion, a good guide, but certainly not to be taken as Law. The only Law in registration is 'to use ears' I suggest. It is of course good that scholarship and understanding are part of the equation but individual taste must prevail or else I feel that the player cannot adequately and fully project their reading of a score to us. If it works - use it.

 

Using my newly found skills at ripping and posting I give three examples of the use of our beloved 16ft Sexquilatera from the same organ as before.

 

First of all in a Bicinium Choral setting. Jesus Christus, unser Heiland

 

Secondly where it features in the 3 part Choral arrangement with pedal Cantus firmus. Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren Do listen to the skewer of a last chord. This is why I adore an unequal temperament - some more to my liking than others, of course.

 

Lastly in a Plenum Toccata in C minor

 

I hope these examples give an impression of this gloriously colourful stop in four diverse sound-bites (the first being the TIENTO in an early post from the same exotic organ).

 

All the best,

Nigel

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The main thing I have learned from this thread, and indeed from some others, is that used in the right way by the right people You-tube can show you wonderful playing of wonderful music on wonderful organs and this is, in itself, a great education. Thanks to Pierre, Nigel and others for taking the time to search out the links that they are continuing to post here. Like some others, this is a thread well worth continuing with and some of the disagreements between members can be educational, fun and irritating all at the same time!

 

Blessed are those that don't have to spend time preparing service music (or, if you live in Wales, sermons!) for tomorrow and therefore have the time to search out these links!

 

Malcolm

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"The reason why I prefer to differ, Pierre, is that if the sounds and stops are there I think an organist is at liberty to use them in any musical way he/she thinks fit. If it combines with their vision of the piece and suits their 'orchestration' - so be it. Hard and fast rules in registration of any age are, in my opinion, a good guide, but certainly not to be taken as Law. The only Law in registration is 'to use ears' I suggest. It is of course good that scholarship and understanding are part of the equation but individual taste must prevail or else I feel that the player cannot adequately and fully project their reading of a score to us. If it works - use it."

(Quote)

 

Of course, here we deal with the liberty of the interpret to use the organ at will.

But see what happened at Alkmaar: the original Sesquialteras were bastled with

by people who "knew better than F-C Schnitger what a baroque organ was", and this

we need to avoid.

My own position is: of course the interpret may do what he wants, feels, or finds right,

so long as the instrument is respected as it was built by another artist, that is, its builder.

 

And yes, I like very much this Toccata. For me too this "sounds right" !

 

Pierre

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT
Nigell, this is beautiful, no doubt; but you could play exactly that

on a french organ with the Positif jeu de Tierce, an octave lower.

Pierre

 

The reason why I say it would not be the same is the Positive Jeu de Tierce is because that collection of stops is designed to be more intense, more directional, not so loud, and not at all-enveloping. Here is the same organ with the Positive (as you suggest it might or should be). However, I find that such a sound needs a Fond d'orgue registration that acts as a vast harmonic canvas for this intense solo - the whole made even more intense by the drawing of the Tremblant. I actually am frightened by the beauty of this sound and wonder seriously if it should be posted.

Chant d'Amour

 

Here endeth the line of Sexquialtera/Jeu de Tierce posts from me. Honest!

 

Best wishes.

Nigel

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