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sprondel

New organ in Trier’s Constanine Basilica

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Dear members,

 

let me bring to your attention a large new organ in Germany. It was built by the firm of Eule in Bautzen. The inauguration was held on the first sunday in advent.

 

The Basilica is one of the largest buidings in Europe that still goes back to Roman times, as well as one of the largest protestant churches in Germany. Rebuilt after WW II, it was re-designed as a vast, somewhat sober space for contemplation and service that nevertheless conveyed an intense atmosphere by the combination of bare brick walls, open rafters und clear lighting. One of the window clearings serves as a chamber for the first post-war organ, a small but beautifully effective instrument by Schuke of Berlin. Clearly, there was much left to be desired, especially considering the grand, clear acoustics of the building. In 2006, plans for building an instrument for a more international and romantic repertoire took shape. Now, the new organ will be played alongside the Schuke, and hopefully ears continue to remain open for the musical qualities of both.

 

The Eule firm, apart from being one of the leading organbuilding firms in Germany today, may have qualified for this organ with the Mercator-Orgel, the first organ in Germany that successfully brought the virtues of the English concert-hall instrument into a new German concert venue. However, as it is with concert-hall instruments, their impact very much depends on the management of the venue. This is not the case with a large church organ that will be heard in service.

 

A fairly detailed stoplist of the new instrument can be found here. There are three enclosed divisions, a Positive somewhat German-romantic in character, a Récit mostly on French lines, and a Solo following English models. Here you will find the December music programme in PDF, containing some pictures of the casework (which has caused lively discussion) and glimpse of the attached and detached consoles. The sound, as could be heard in the opening service over the WWW (alas, no longer online), seems to be very convincing, colourful and grand, if not overwhelmingly loud. This impression was confirmed by a report (in German) of a concert given by Bernhard Haas, Daniel Roth and Thomas Trotter this last sunday.

 

I think this newly-built organ is remarkable not only as an instrument that seems to justify a visit, but also as possibly one of the last major, newly-built organs for a protestant church in Europe, at least for the next few decades. Furthermore, in this concern as well as musically, it follows a road that was paced by, among other instruments, the large organ in Magdeburg cathedral, built by Schuke of Werder. Having had more than a word in the design of the organ, Barry Jordan is organist there, keeping up an ambitious music programme under often challenging circumstances.

 

(Oh those Tubas. They keep coming.)

 

Best wishes

Friedrich

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I'm pleasantly surprised how English sounds, especially tubas, are finding increasing interest in Germany. How well do these fit in with traditional German voicing?

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I'm pleasantly surprised how English sounds, especially tubas, are finding increasing interest in Germany. How well do these fit in with traditional German voicing?

I’m not sure if it is about voicing – at least not in cathedrals or other spaces of that dimensions. I suspect it’s more about balances. The Trier organ should have enough flesh and bones to balance a Tuba, and in the little service excerpts I heard it sounded fine. On several occasions I have heard the Mander Tubas at Freiburg, and they made a splendid impression with the Rieger and Marcussen pipework from the sixties (having been reworked and refined by the brilliant Beat Grenacher of Goll, Lucerne). In both cases, I expect you would find the voicing on the German side – at least in what I think you might mean: lively and articulate rather than smooth.

 

In the acoustics of a concert venue, I think your question is all the more relevant, as there is no reverberation to even out differences in style. For the Eule in Duisburg, the voicers went to study organs of H, N & B and Harrison & Harrison, and I think they succeeded in bringing this type of voicing to their own organ.

 

Best wishes

Friedrich

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I've heard it said in several places that continental voicers were just itching to have a go at a big diapason or a proper tuba. From what I understand, no one judges the organ at Bath Abbey - Tuba and all - because it's foreign, but rather on how well it does the job of an English cathedral organ.

 

It's nice that Henry Willis & Sons have been commissioned to supply new tubas for the monumental Steinmeyer at Trondhjem. Henry III wrote that he had been approached regarding the originals (which were destroyed while in store following the unfortunate sixties rebuild) but 'the traditions of my firm' made it impossible to supply pipes to someone else (although he did supply plans and voicing advice).

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Anyone who hears the Bath organ in its liturgical role played by current Sub organist (for an amazing 40 years) Marcus Sealy will understand why it is a rather special beast. In my experience it fares less well with players for some vsiting choirs who perhaps only have a short time to get used to it and who register maybe rather by habit than by ear. I have heard a some superb recitals by a few on the 'top notch' circuit who also bring put the best in it including of course Peter King the DOM.

 

A

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I’m not sure if it is about voicing – at least not in cathedrals or other spaces of that dimensions. I suspect it’s more about balances. The Trier organ should have enough flesh and bones to balance a Tuba, and in the little service excerpts I heard it sounded fine. On several occasions I have heard the Mander Tubas at Freiburg, and they made a splendid impression with the Rieger and Marcussen pipework from the sixties (having been reworked and refined by the brilliant Beat Grenacher of Goll, Lucerne). In both cases, I expect you would find the voicing on the German side – at least in what I think you might mean: lively and articulate rather than smooth.

Yes. Having heard (on recordings) the 'new' (2002, I think) tubas in the Cologne Cathedral organ (at least the ones in the Transept Organ), I do think they sound more 'lively' than most traditional British ones. I assume this was done in order to work better with the more strident (compared to British) German sound.

 

Sorry about all the parentheses!

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Well, Magdeburg's tuba IS an English one, having been supplied by our gracious hosts. But the voicing of the rest of the organ is modelled on that of Friedrich Ladegast, so possibly not what is generally considered as "German". It works splendidly.

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