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Organs In Holland


pcnd5584
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Firstly, many thanks to all those contributors who kindly recommended instruments to visit in Holland.

 

I had a good trip and this time, I did manage to get inside Sint Bavo's and have a look at the organ.

 

The trip was a reconnaisance mission, in order to assess suitable venues for concerts to be given by a school choir (for which I shall be accompanist) during a tour, which is due to take place in July.

 

The choir are not greatly experienced, but they are enthusiastic and well-trained. Their repertoire includes such fare as Stanford's Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis settings in C and B-flat, S.S. Wesley's Blessed be The God and Father and a number of other standard items.

 

Clear sight-lines (or somewhere to put a camera, a flat-screen monitor and miles of cable) are important. Since I will have neither registrants or page-turners with me, I have suggested to the school's D of M that kaleidoscopic changes of registration may not be possible. I have also requested that there is no Rutter - upper limitations of clavier-compass seemed to me to be a good enough reason for avoiding any music by this composer....

 

The advice I need is this:

 

Can anyone suggest suitable venues at which a concert (of sacred music) under the above conditions would be viable, please?

 

It is possible that I shall be required to play some solo items, but this is a purely secondary consideration.

 

We did look at Sint Nicolaas at Monnickendam - however, I have a sneaking feeling that the console must be actually inside the instrument - or, worse, behind it. Certainly, there was no evidence of it in the body of the church - just the spectacular case hanging from the west wall. There appears to be a further problem insofar as the building is suffering greatly from subsidence.

 

Any information (or contact details) will be received gratefully.

 

Incidentally, MM, I took your advice and purchased a CD of Jos van der Kooy playing major repertoire on the Sint Bavo organ. Amongst other things, the Liszt Weinen, Klagen.... and the Reger Praeludium, in D minor are stunning. Whilst I was not conscious of any overt attempts at mimicking the action of a good swell-box, the playing was expressive.

 

I was also surprised at the sound of the tutti - almost English in its fullness! No thin, snarling reeds, here. Those on the Grootmanuaal sound almost like Hill Posaunes - sexy!

 

I have to say that I found the sound of the instrument superb - but I still think that the limitations of the compass are a handicap. Quite how Jos van der Kooy achieves what he does - even with registrants - is impressive. I was also surprised to learn that the pipe-work of most of the mixtures dates from the 1959-61 restoration, by Marcussen. This included two large mixtures which were additions to the original scheme. Even on this instrument, this is therefore, surely not an 'honest' historical restoration. Did they know what the original mixtures sounded like? Also, why add two multi-rank compound stops to the scheme - these cannot surely be placed on the original soundboards?

 

Apart from this, as I said, I was greatly impressed by the sound of the instrument!

 

:o

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Firstly, many thanks to all those contributors who kindly recommended instruments to visit in Holland.

 

I had a good trip and this time, I did manage to get inside Sint Bavo's and have a look at the organ.

 

(snip)

 

The advice I need is this:

 

Can anyone suggest suitable venues at which a concert (of sacred music) under the above conditions would be viable, please?

 

It is possible that I shall be required to play some solo items, but this is a purely secondary consideration.

 

We did look at Sint Nicolaas at Monnickendam - however, I have a sneaking feeling that the console must be actually inside the instrument - or, worse, behind it. Certainly, there was no evidence of it in the body of the church - just the spectacular case hanging from the west wall. There appears to be a further problem insofar as the building is suffering greatly from subsidence.

 

Any information (or contact details) will be received gratefully.

 

Incidentally, MM, I took your advice and purchased a CD of Jos van der Kooy playing major repertoire on the Sint Bavo organ. Amongst other things, the Liszt Weinen, Klagen.... and the Reger Praeludium, in D minor are stunning. Whilst I was not conscious of any overt attempts at mimicking the action of a good swell-box, the playing was expressive.

 

I was also surprised at the sound of the tutti - almost English in its fullness! No thin, snarling reeds, here. Those on the Grootmanuaal sound almost like Hill Posaunes - sexy!

 

I have to say that I found the sound of the instrument superb - but I still think that the limitations of the compass are a handicap. Quite how Jos van der Kooy achieves what he does - even with registrants - is impressive. I was also surprised to learn that the pipe-work of most of the mixtures dates from the 1959-61 restoration, by Marcussen. This included two large mixtures which were additions to the original scheme. Even on this instrument, this is therefore, surely not an 'honest' historical restoration.

 

Apart from this, as I said, I was greatly impressed by the sound of the instrument!

 

:)

 

===============

 

Monnickendam is a fine instrument, but voiced in a very "open" way with some rather strong tierce sounds. The organ-case is just gorgeous. The console is indeed inside the instrument, I believe it is side-saddle, but I may be wrong about that.

 

There are quite a lot of newer organs in Holland in new churches; especially outisde Noord-Holland and into the areas most affected by bombing during WW2.

The truly historic (and most original) instruments seem to be in the more rural areas such as Brabant, Friesland and Groningen, among others.

 

The Rotterdam area is a possibility, and of course, Den Haag. Nowhere is very far from anywhere, and one can drive across Holland in a couple of hours, or catch a train and be anywhere very quickly.

 

St.Lauren's Rotterdam has the magnificent new Marcussen organ of course, but even in the surrounding districts of Amerterdam, there are many fine organs in newer churches.

 

Concerts are almost everywhere in Holland, and I would recommend that you have a long, hard look at the "Het Orgel" site, which has listings and details of just about everywhere that music takes place.

 

I had to chuckle about the reaction to St.Bavo sounding like a good Hill organ in many respects. It's very interesting to listen to the sound of Sydney Town Hall and compare it to the Bavo-orgel......they're not a million miles away tonally.

 

Jos van der Kooy is a perfectionist, and I don't think I've heard a bum note from him....ever.....yet he seems so relaxed and easy-going in the flesh.

 

My one regret is that the "creeping Full Swell" trick wasn't demonstrated, but it really is utterly convincing.

 

Of course, it's worth the journey just to walk into the side-entrance at Haarlem, turn left and just gape open-mouthed at the visual feast. I've been there maybe thirty times or more, and I still pause briefly to gasp at the beauty of that organ-case. It's strange to think that the organ has never been owned by the church, and was originally never heard during worship. It was very much the property of the town, and remains so to-day.

 

As for the additional Mixtures, the restoration committee had a lot to answer for, even if they managed to create the finest organ in the world in the process of "restoration."

 

I don't think Marcuseen have ever invited to "restore" anything else in Holland!!

 

MM

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Thank you, MM - there is much to consider, here.

 

In case you are wondering, yes I did have to go and sit in a café after seeing the organ in Sint Bavo. This was for two reasons: firstly to thaw-out, since it was considerably warmer outside than in the church and secondly, because I was ever-so-slightly awe-struck by the sight of the organ case.*

 

Nothing anyone says, with the greatest of respect, can ever prepare one for this experience.

 

*If anyone would care to explain how I can post jpegs on this board, I have a number of digital images of the case, taken from several angles, which I would be happy to share.

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I toured the Friesland area of Holland with an adult choir - some time ago - based in Sneek. We had a good deal of local support (including a reception at the local Town Hall) and managed a day in Amsterdam too! I seem to remember the organ in the main church there (St Martin) being quite impressive - Schnitger 'plus' - see link below:

 

http://www.hwcoordes.homepage.t-online.de/as/as_sne.htm

 

 

AJJ

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Can anyone suggest suitable venues at which a concert (of sacred music) under the above conditions would be viable, please?

Hi dude.

 

Here are a couple of ideas for concert venues, both churches and both quite large.

 

I have been to Amsterdam on three occasions for a short break and, for the last two, I have made a habit of going to morning service (11am, IIRC) at the church of St. Nicholas, opposite Amsterdam's main railway station.

 

The sight of the church from the public transport interchange area outside the rail station is this:

 

nk-exterior.jpg

 

The organ inside is, I think, a large 3 manual. I have heard this played during church services (they take account of the tourists at this church: the service sheets are printed in Dutch, English and a couple of other languages as well!). In the nave, a number of panels - one of which looks like this (click here) - portray parts of St. Nicholas' life. Here is the organ:

 

nk-organ.jpg

St. Nicolaas (Nicholas) Church, Prins Hendrikkade, Amsterdam

Built by Sauer, 1899. Worked on by Sauer (1904). Maintained by Bernhard Koch (1914/1921/1928/1931) and changed a bit by Adema/Schreurs (1960). Restored by Verschueren in 2000/01.

 

This organ sounded accoustically superb at the last service I attended there (November 2004). I had a chat with the organist after the last service I went to there and I think he was Scottish. I might have been wrong though on that point but his English was word perfect.

 

In the South of Holland, a slight journey by train (just under 80 minutes including 1 change) will take you to the town of Breda. A bus is best for getting to the town cente here: the park - known by the locals as the "National Park of Breda" - :) - takes 15 minutes walk end-to-end. In the town centre, a short walk down Grote Markt is a side road called "Nieuwestraat". At the far end of this pedestrian-only street is a church (it is, unbelieveably, not marked as a cathedral - it should be!). This church is called the "Grote of O.L.V Kerk te Breda" (Great Church of Our Holy Lady, Breda). A considerable amount of time and money was put into restoring this church between 1904 and 1999 and it shows both outside and inside.

 

breda-organ2.jpg

 

For some reason, the church interior here reminds me of pictures I have seen of St. Bavo, Haarlem. The organ of this church - seen above at the end of the church - has been altered many times over the years and has, in that time, become an organ of 4 manuals and 53 stops and it claims to be the biggest 4 manual mechanical-action organ in Holland (according to the church's website). Superb organ in all accounts. I will give you a short history of this one in Breda when I can find the book on its history.

 

The last major work in Breda came from Flentrop in 1969 but a good portion of that organ is older: the chair case dates from 1534 (Hendrik Niehoff?) when it was constructed as the church's organ at that time!

 

Even if you don't sing in Breda then the church is still worth a visit: miss it at your peril!!!

 

Dave

 

Photos in this post are my own work: © 2004.

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Even if you don't sing in Breda then the church is still worth a visit: miss it at your peril!!!

 

If you're going/coming to Breda let me know - I live there ;-)

John Scott quite likes the Flentrop organ - but it'll probably not be available as there's much going on in the church.

 

Our Cathedral church (just a few hundred metres on the other side of the marketplace) could be an option, unfortunately the great organ is way too small and in a bad state (working on that ....), but we also have a small Hill organ though :)

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Thank you both!

 

St. Nicholas, unfortunately we have already done! About three years ago - however, the organ is fantastic - I really enjoyed playing it!

 

Breda sounds more possible - I will pass all this information on to my colleague.

 

:)

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For some reason, the church interior here reminds me of pictures I have seen of St. Bavo, Haarlem. The organ of this church - seen above at the end of the church - has been altered many times over the years and has, in that time, become an organ of 4 manuals and 53 stops and it claims to be the biggest 4 manual mechanical-action organ in Holland

 

 

===================

 

Sorry to disappoint, but Breda most certainly isn't the largest 4-manual mechanical-action organ in the Netherlands!!

 

I think that particular distinction goes to the Grote of Sint Laurens, Rotterdam, by Marcussen, with over 80 speaking stops which include a lot of big mixtures.

 

OK, you could argue that it has servo-assisted mechanical-action, but I found that particular device rather disagreeable and switched it off.

 

MM

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