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Bruges Cathedral new organ/Alesund restoration


David Drinkell
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I noticed in a recent number of 'Choir and Organ' that Skrabl has built a new organ for the cathedral at Bruges. When I played in a concert there in 2007, the organ was a competent example of a European maid-of-all-work in a fabulous early 18th century case on the west wall, controlled from a detached stop-tab console on the gallery beneath. An old copy of 'The Organ' has an article by Freeman showing this case on the screen at the crossing, but things have been re-ordered since. The Skrabl organ looks to be in a transept, minimal casework (not unlike what you see in a Pearson church) and detached, mobile horse-shoe console. It seems like a similar sort of instrument to that which was there before.

 

Has the west end organ been replaced with something more in keeping with the case, maybe with tracker action?

 

The cathedral maintained a wide-ranging series of organ concerts - two organs of different types would be very handy!

 

I also notice that Rieger has restored the big 1945 Jorgenson at Alesund in Norway, putting on a fifth manual in the process. I've always found Jorgensons to be rather gormless - this one wasn't a patch on the Steinmeyer at Trondhjem, even given the mangling that the latter had suffered - but my experience is probably not wide enough for me to venture a valid opinion. (The Marcussen in the Borgundkyrkje in Alesund is a stunner, though!).

 

Can anyone furnish enlightenment on either of these?

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Re Bruges - apparently there are two organs now - the famous one on the west gallery and another - an '1800s/1950s' Conacher from Bradford which Skrabl (according to my source at any rate) has now elecrified and installed nearer to the 'service action'. The Cathedral Organist Ignace Michiels could no doubt tell more - or perhaps one of our Bradford board members

A

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I looked up the details of the Bruges case (in Michael I. Wilson's "Organ Cases of Western Europe"). Built 1717-19to stand on a marble screen of 1679-82 which divided the quire from the nave. In 1936, both the screen and the case were moved to the west end and pedal towers were added, stylistically in keeping and crowned with the figures of David and Cecilia which had been on the outer towers of the main case. It's a very convincing enlargement.

 

Thank-you for the information about the new organ.

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Regarding the Bruges organ, have a look on the NPOR at A00002 (Sandy Baptist Church) - the organ has an interesting provenance, prior to subsequent "attentions" of various West Yorkshire firms. I understand that this instrument was on the point of becoming yet another contract for a skip hire company, when a former Conacher employee (who had known the organ in its Barnsley days) managed to kick-start the rescue process which has now come to fruition.

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  • 7 months later...
Guest Hector5

My wife and I happened to be in the Cathedral in Bruges in time for the Saturday night mass and heard the Conacher, played by Ignace Michiels, the Organist of the Cathedral. The Conacher sounded very well indeed, although it clearly has had a good bit of spit and polish by Skrabl who have done a splendid job. I spoke with Ignace Michiels following the mass and understand that the Conacher was bought by the province and installed at the west end of the cathedral on the south side. The cathedral is undergoing some restoration for a couple of years and for whatever reason the Klais cannot be used. From what I understand, as soon as the restoration of the cathedral is complete, the Klais will be brought back into action. I played the organ a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the instrument. Perhaps not politically correct (according to some), with electric action etc - it is a well-polished sound and not at all limiting in terms of it's capability to tackle a wide range of organ literature. The Skrabl site shows the organ, but the original specification sheet appeared to be written in Martian, and is now inaccessable for whatever reason. It's meaty sound, topped off by (possibly) a new Mixture - a superb swell box which renders full swell down to an absolute whisper. As you can imagine, the organ sounds even better still thanks to the acoustics of the cathedral as well.

 

Happy new year to all.

 

Paul Isom

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My wife and I happened to be in the Cathedral in Bruges in time for the Saturday night mass and heard the Conacher, played by Ignace Michiels, the Organist of the Cathedral. The Conacher sounded very well indeed, although it clearly has had a good bit of spit and polish by Skrabl who have done a splendid job. I spoke with Ignace Michiels following the mass and understand that the Conacher was bought by the province and installed at the west end of the cathedral on the south side. The cathedral is undergoing some restoration for a couple of years and for whatever reason the Klais cannot be used. From what I understand, as soon as the restoration of the cathedral is complete, the Klais will be brought back into action. I played the organ a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the instrument. Perhaps not politically correct (according to some), with electric action etc - it is a well-polished sound and not at all limiting in terms of it's capability to tackle a wide range of organ literature.

 

Thanks - I didn't know it was a Klais. I wasn't greatly impressed with it, but mine was just a passing acquaintance. I was with the Cathedral Singers of Ontario in 2007. We gave a concert in the Cathedral. I conducted and played an organ piece, Ian Sadler accompanied and played another organ piece. It was a case of going in and doing it without time to do anything other than a brief warm-up for the singers. I picked up a booklet of concert-listings and fully agree with you about the range of music presented.

 

Incidentally, the nerxt day we sang in the Great Church at Breda, and they wouldn't let us use the organ at all. I thought this was mean, considering that we had one of Canada's best recitalists (Ian Sadler) with us and he had actually given a concert on the beast before.

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