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Colin Harvey

Buxtehude On Period Organs

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Browsing around on YouTube, I found another couple of items I'd like to share.

 

The first is Bernard Foccroulle playing Buxtehude's Toccata in d minor very stylishly at Norden.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DROr7_YH7eo

 

Watching this video is very revealing. Things I have noticed is that he does manage to change stops himself and it looks very possible to use heels on the pedalboard. Bernard also does a lot of sliding between notes. Also notice the shove-coupler between the Brustwerk and Hauptwerk - a nice touch. Interesting to listen to the Brustwerk in relation to another discussion on mixtures without principals on this forum.

 

The other is Gustav Leonhardt playing Buxtehude's G minor prelude

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VrGQGi4lvA

 

Leonhardt is one of my favourite organists of all time - arguably my no.1. Every note he plays is so musical. Here, he is in spectacular and virtuostic form. Note how the Hauptwerk couples through to the Ruckpositive - a common feature of these organs.

 

There's much else round here to explore - enjoy!! I saw a brief clip of Leonhardt playing a Silbermann in black and white, obviously acting Bach in some film.

 

One other quick link of wonderous playing (of Sweelinck and not on an organ) has to be this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKkY3oSsCNg

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The pedalboard looks like a replica, with short octave, etc. I agree with Vox Humanam, it looks too new to be the original. It certainly isn't a radiating concave pedalboard....

 

Interesting to see how the player looks slightly too large for the console - I guess they must have been a couple of inches shorter in the 1690s...

 

I just discovered the following which demostrates all that was unique and brilliant about Glenn Gould, and also why some people can't stand him.

 

 

For me, a unique musical genius - I know one person on this board who reminds me just a bit of Glenn, especially when they play and the talent starts to hit home...

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The pedalboard looks like a replica, with short octave, etc. I agree with Vox Humanam, it looks too new to be the original. It certainly isn't a radiating concave pedalboard....

 

Interesting to see how the player looks slightly too large for the console - I guess they must have been a couple of inches shorter in the 1690s...

Almost everything you see there was made by Ahrend, who restored and, in large parts, reconstructed the instrument between 1981 and 1985.

 

The organ was built orginally in 1685/86, the Oberpositiv (playable from the Brustwerk manual) was added in 1692. About 20 stops were lost between 1847 and 1901 due to "improvement"; all front pipes were lost in WW I. The first efforts aiming at restoration were made by Furtwängler & Hammer in 1929/30, followed by another restoration after WW II by Paul Ott, with rather catastrophic outcome.

 

What survives from Schnitger and before (16th and early 17th century) are eight stops in the RP, five in the Werck, three in the Oberpositiv, four in the Brustwerk, and one (the 8-foot flue) in the Pedal. Everything else was reconstructed. A more detailed description can be found at

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

 

BTW: What you hear when Bernard Foccroulle plays on the upper manual is the Oberpositiv, not the Brustwerk. Both have rather interesting choruses.

 

Best,

Friedrich

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Almost everything you see there was made by Ahrend, who restored and, in large parts, reconstructed the instrument between 1981 and 1985.

 

The organ was built orginally in 1685/86, the Oberpositiv (playable from the Brustwerk manual) was added in 1692. About 20 stops were lost between 1847 and 1901 due to "improvement"; all front pipes were lost in WW I. The first efforts aiming at restoration were made by Furtwängler & Hammer in 1929/30, followed by another restoration after WW II by Paul Ott, with rather catastrophic outcome.

 

What survives from Schnitger and before (16th and early 17th century) are eight stops in the RP, five in the Werck, three in the Oberpositiv, four in the Brustwerk, and one (the 8-foot flue) in the Pedal. Everything else was reconstructed. A more detailed description can be found at

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

 

BTW: What you hear when Bernard Foccroulle plays on the upper manual is the Oberpositiv, not the Brustwerk. Both have rather interesting choruses.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

 

 

Thanks for the info. I wondered why the Brustwerk sounded so open and airy and unlike a brustwerk - now I know.

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I saw a brief clip of Leonhardt playing a Silbermann in black and white, obviously acting Bach in some film.

 

 

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

 

"The Diary of Anna Magdalena Bach" (1967)

 

MM

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Almost everything you see there was made by Ahrend, who restored and, in large parts, reconstructed the instrument between 1981 and 1985.

 

The organ was built orginally in 1685/86, the Oberpositiv (playable from the Brustwerk manual) was added in 1692. About 20 stops were lost between 1847 and 1901 due to "improvement"; all front pipes were lost in WW I. The first efforts aiming at restoration were made by Furtwängler & Hammer in 1929/30, followed by another restoration after WW II by Paul Ott, with rather catastrophic outcome.

 

What survives from Schnitger and before (16th and early 17th century) are eight stops in the RP, five in the Werck, three in the Oberpositiv, four in the Brustwerk, and one (the 8-foot flue) in the Pedal. Everything else was reconstructed. A more detailed description can be found at

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

 

BTW: What you hear when Bernard Foccroulle plays on the upper manual is the Oberpositiv, not the Brustwerk. Both have rather interesting choruses.

 

Best,

Friedrich

 

 

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

 

 

Another quality post from Friedrich.

 

I've been very fortunate indeed to have heard many Schnitger organs, and play some of them also, but it is never easy to know exactly which sounds are absolutely authentic and which are not. As with all organs, the problem is one of changing musical tastes (and musical range/pitch), and many organs which we would regard as Schnitger are a little wide of the mark; Norden being no exception.

 

I don't know whether Friedrich would agree with me, but I tend to look towards the Netherlands, and especially the Groningen area, for the most authentic-sounding instruments, and there is a very good reason for this.

 

The Schnitger phenomenon (and phenomenon it certainly is), is not just about one man and what he achieved, but about a tradition of organ-building, especially in the Netherlands.

 

Without wishing to over-gild the lilly, I think it would be fair to suggest that the Schintger "school" is the very highest point in baroque (and immediate post-baroque) organ-building, simply because nothing else ever sounds quite so thrilling and quite so rich. Even the magnificence of Haarlem in its altered form, falls well short of the spine-tingling qualities of Schnitger, for already, the towering tonal architecture of Schnitger had given way to something broader and perhaps even a little more romantic in concept; the musical equivalent say, in the difference between Bach's earlier works, and the more dramatic/expressive chromaticism of the great keyboard Chromatic Fantasy & Fugue.

 

The Groningen region of the Netherlands was perhaps sufficiently isolated as to be almost autonomous, to the extent that they had, and still have, their own ways of doing things. (The same is possibly true of East Frisia, where other important Schnitger organs survive)

 

It wasn't just Franz Caspar Schnitger who followed in the footsteps of his father, but other great organ-builders such as Albertus Anthonie Hinsz, who not only took over the Schnitger workshop and tools of the trade, but also married the widow of Franz Caspar Schnitger. Hinsz had worked closely with the master, and in his own output, Hinsz produced quite magnificent instruments in his own right. Being responsible for the maintenance of certain Schnitger-built instruments, Hinsz effectively preserved them in the tradition in which he had been immersed, even when changes were made to the instruments. That stated, Hinsz did modify his in-house style to some degree as he got older, and the later organs have less upperwork.

 

The sole justification for these magnificent Netherlands instruments was that of accompanying the congregations in the singing of great metrical psalmody, which they do with gusto to this day. (It is wonderful to hear!) Consequently, the style of organs built in the Netherlands did not have to comply with the musical dictates of changing musical fashion, or the need to accompany 19th century choral music.

 

As Hinsz and Frans Caspar Schnitger had succeeded Arp Schnitger, it was the organ-builder Heinrich Hermann Freytag who then continued the Schnitger tradition; albeit with slightly more refinement, and of a less robust character than those of Hinsz.

 

It is very interesting to compare the organs of the Groningen-school with those in the UK and elsewhere in Europe in the second half of the 19th century. There may have been a softening of the tone in the Groningen region, and perhaps the introduction of mild, unenclosed string registers, but it is not difficult to hear the tonal pedigree, which goes right back to the 17th century and beyond, and which includes the legacy of the Schnitgers; father and son. In fact, there is nothing about these later instruments, and perhaps even those of the organ-builder Batz, which would have deeply upset any self-respecting baroque composer.

 

It is that continuity of purpose, and the unchanging role of the instruments which makes the Netherlands so interesting, and I suspect that the ways of this long-tradition have been passed down the line without excessive changes of direction. That a virtually ruined Schnitger organ, at the Martinikerk, Groningen could be rebuilt and restored is remarkable enough....a real labour of love on the part of Cornelius Edskes and the organ-builder/restorer Jürgen Ahrend, and a considerable art in itself. That the end result is so good as to gain an immediate international reputation for tonal excellence, and to be almost unrecognisable from the comparable article by Arp Schnitger, says it all.

 

Nevertheless, in the passage of time, changes have been made to the old Schnitger instruments; to the consoles, to the pitch, sometimes to the voicing, sometimes to the stop-list and often to the compass. However, nothing ever seems to get ruined in the process, and not many countries can claim that. Musically, it means that the organists of to-day, if not quite able to enjoy the perfectly preserved article, are at least able to get very close to what was heard in the 17th and 18th centuries, and when Bernard Edskes builds a copy of a Schnitger organ, it is the nearest thing to musical time-travel.

 

With a few very notable exceptions, that would be simply impossible in the UK, and of course, conversely, there will be a time when organists will ask, "I wonder what sort of sound Herbert Howells had in mind?"

 

By then, would anyone know how to make organs like that? Would that be a kind of progress, or simply a loss of tradition?

 

MM

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

 

Another quality post from Friedrich.

 

I've been very fortunate indeed to have heard many Schnitger organs, and play some of them also, but it is never easy to know exactly which sounds are absolutely authentic and which are not. As with all organs, the problem is one of changing musical tastes (and musical range/pitch), and many organs which we would regard as Schnitger are a little wide of the mark; Norden being no exception.

 

[snip]

 

It is that continuity of purpose, and the unchanging role of the instruments which makes the Netherlands so interesting, and I suspect that the ways of this long-tradition have been passed down the line without excessive changes of direction. That a virtually ruined Schnitger organ, at the Martinikerk, Groningen could be rebuilt and restored is remarkable enough....a real labour of love on the part of Cornelius Edskes and the organ-builder/restorer Jürgen Ahrend, and a considerable art in itself. That the end result is so good as to gain an immediate international reputation for tonal excellence, and to be almost unrecognisable from the comparable article by Arp Schnitger, says it all.

 

Nevertheless, in the passage of time, changes have been made to the old Schnitger instruments; to the consoles, to the pitch, sometimes to the voicing, sometimes to the stop-list and often to the compass. However, nothing ever seems to get ruined in the process, and not many countries can claim that. Musically, it means that the organists of to-day, if not quite able to enjoy the perfectly preserved article, are at least able to get very close to what was heard in the 17th and 18th centuries, and when Bernard Edskes builds a copy of a Schnitger organ, it is the nearest thing to musical time-travel.

 

With a few very notable exceptions, that would be simply impossible in the UK, and of course, conversely, there will be a time when organists will ask, "I wonder what sort of sound Herbert Howells had in mind?"

 

By then, would anyone know how to make organs like that? Would that be a kind of progress, or simply a loss of tradition?

 

MM

 

A very interesting post. I would like to make 2 points further to this:

  1. Matching new material to old material is an extremely difficult job and very few people ever get it exactly right, or indeed, are encouraged to try (especially in England) but for a few notable projects. I remember talking to a renowned expert who inspected Naumberg and a few others who had an insider's view on the project. It really was a magnificent project, painstakingly getting every material detail right - including painstaking archaeological work restoring the frame back to its original state but not completely excising evidence of later additions. I know many projects wouldn't have bothered with this sort of thing but it brought its own rewards, like finding that the old evidence of joins lined up exactly and so they could be sure they had got the frame right.
     
    However, when it came to the new pipework while the key things, like the scaling, pipe construction, etc, are as close as could be found, a few detail differences were introduced: the number and depth of the nicking is not the same and the attack of the pipework is just ever so slightly different - but only someone who really knows what they're listening to would know. Tonally, the organ hangs together and is an outstanding experience but they stopped short of going the full 100%. The rest of the project has gone through each detail so carefully, one can't help but wonder whether the treatment of the new pipework being very slightly different to the old is intentional. I guess the question would be: Why would they do this?
     
  2. An organ which will give an authoritative experience of what Herbert Howells had in mind. I think over the past 50 years, we have experienced great uncertainty about what our organs are supposed to sound like and this created a serious threat to Britain's rich heritage of romantic and symphonic organs. Over the past 150 years, we have experienced a period of unprecedented technical revolution on the organ, which charming backwaters like rural Holland largely managed to escape. I think that the organ reform movement needed to happen and make the development of the organ turn full circle and re-establish itself as an artistic creation, something 150 years of technical development had the unfortunate by-product of almost excising, whether by accident or purpose.
     
    Converse to my second sentance, alongside the reform movement of the past 50 years, came a growing awareness that organs serve a historical and musicological purpose alongside their purely functional purpose, especially those organs linked to important musicians. The discipline of historical restoration has only come about in the past 40 years and now supposedly "traditional" names like Harrison & Harrison are leading the way in this country. There is a need for custodians of organs - both organists and the councils that are responsible for their upkeep - to be aware of the differing needs and factors on their organs and to act responsibly for their future.
     
    Although the tide has turned and there is now an awareness of these issues that wasn't around 60 years ago, there is still a long way to go. I am very aware, even from this board, that there are many PCCs and organists who still strive to have that mixture altered or celeste added to more extreme action like wholesale replacement with an electronic imitation, in the name of functional requirements for today's needs. There are also organ builders out there - even some fairly major names - who I wouldn't trust to put forward good advice about the future of an organ and who I wouldn't count on to do any work sensitively or intelligently. That is alongside the difficulty of communicating these issues to gain the interest and support from a largely ignorant public and the difficulty of securing funding.
     
    But the tide has turned and the picture is far rosier than it was 30 years ago. But there is still a need to be vigalent and to improve what is still an uncertain picture.

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Over the past 150 years, we have experienced a period of unprecedented technical revolution on the organ, which charming backwaters like rural Holland largely managed to escape.

 

 

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

 

Two corrections to note. In my previous response (now edited), I claimed that the organ-builder Hinsz had married the widow of Arp Schnitger, when it was, in point of fact, the widow of Franz Caspar Schnitger.

 

A rural backwater?

 

If the Dutch found one, they would build a dyke or two, and have flowers growing there within a few weeks.

 

Why else did the New Orleans authorities turn to them for help after the floods?

 

The rural thing is only an image......they control the oil-prices while pretending to grow tomatoes.

 

MM

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I've always wondered what the Buxtehude organ works would sound like on a vast instrument like he had in St.Marien. Most recordings nowadays are on (much) smaller instruments in even (much) smaller churches.

 

Maybe Stralsund comes somewhat close?

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A rural backwater?

 

The rural thing is only an image......they control the oil-prices while pretending to grow tomatoes.

 

MM

 

Well, that's increasingly becoming the Russians.

 

Worth noting that about 90% of internet connections in the UK are routed through the hook of Holland though.

 

But 100 years ago?

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I've always wondered what the Buxtehude organ works would sound like on a vast instrument like he had in St.Marien. Most recordings nowadays are on (much) smaller instruments in even (much) smaller churches.

 

Maybe Stralsund comes somewhat close?

 

At least one of them sounded perfectly respectable on the organ of Wells Cathedral (David Ponsford/Exon Audio, c. 1972). The acoustic was quite warm and the organ bright and clear. Perhaps the Pedal Ophicleide was the only inauthentic tonality featured.

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Well, that's increasingly becoming the Russians.

 

Worth noting that about 90% of internet connections in the UK are routed through the hook of Holland though.

 

But 100 years ago?

 

 

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

 

Taking a wild guess, I'd like to bet they cornered the market in water-pumps.

 

Totally off-topic I know, but I wonder how many people know the origin of the term "Big Apple?"

 

The Hollanders have a saying equivalent to out own "Not worth a jot or a tittle (sp?)"

 

They say, "Not worth an apple or an egg," and when Peter Stuyvesant looked back across the land he had bought at the end of the Hudson River, he said, "That's a big apple."

 

MM

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