themadlatvian

Organ Music Demonstration Recordings - what's your best?

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I have got hundreds of organ LPs, and scores of organ CDs, collected over the years from frequenting the company of countless organists on their travels around the more obscure cathedrals and churches of Britain. (And countless pints of real ale in their company also.)

IMO the 'cathedral' organ presents the most demanding of tests for a hifi system, and only a small proportion of recording engineers are up to the task of properly putting onto record a reasonable representation of this most majestic of instruments.

I wondered which organ recordings any on the Wam would put forward as of demonstration quality? Clearly the requirements vary depending on the nature of the music and the instrument involved - there is a huge difference between an early Bavarian tracker and the mightiest Cavaille-Coll or Father Willis for example - but it still would be interesting to hear about your favourites.

I'll kick off with a recent acquisition of mine, a CD of the two superb Father Willis organs in Westminster and Winchester Cathedrals. What a stunning recording this is, and such virtuosity in the playing from David Hill! A number of pot boilers included true, but this will test your amp and speakers to the absolute limit.

41VpnrvX9eL._SL500_AA300_.jpg.c4e97cd7ef

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00005V43C/ref=oh_details_o02_s00_i00

:^

41VpnrvX9eL._SL500_AA300_.jpg.041d0beffb

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Super Wammer

my neighbour has built a full scale organ in his bedroom with tannoy speakers, awesome is very descriptive as it must be 10 foot high . to hear it is so amazingly real its way better than so many organ reproductions i have heard

thanks for the cd recommendation

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A colleague of mine used to build (and service) church organs ................................

another interesting fact is that there is no such name for the back of the knees :nup:

another interesting fact, but with more relevance - a 64 foot pipe can go down to 8Hz, how many speakers can cope with that :? none might be a guess

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A colleague of mine used to build (and service) church organs ................................

another interesting fact is that there is no such name for the back of the knees :nup:

another interesting fact, but with more relevance - a 64 foot pipe can go down to 8Hz, how many speakers can cope with that :? none might be a guess

Strangely enough I was listening to Liszt's 'Ad Nos' played on the Aeolian organ in Washington National Cathedral, and in the last bars the organist lets rip with the Grand Contra Bombarde, the bottom C of which is 64 feet in length, and does indeed produce a fundamental of 8hz. My speakers did quite well, but of course could not produce anything much of the true fundamental (not that you can hear it anyway - you would feel it), but replaying it on good headphones - Senns HD600s - at high volume was certainly a satisfying experience.

My subs do quite well with 32' stuff, which is much more common than 64' - only the organs of the Royal Albert Hall (Sub-bass) and Hull City Hall (Gravissima) have functional 64' stops in this country at the present time AFAIK.

:^

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I used to get the day off classes every year when the organ tuner came ... pipes are typically organised in 'sides' (eg C D E F# G# A# one side, C# D# F G A B the other) giving a broard, balanced sound from the whole case, alternatively some stops are organised in clusters (in a swell cabinet or grouped together eg choir or solo sections) so those stops instead of being ambient are more precisely located in space.

So it's not just frequency response that is a challenge to reproduce there's a spatial one as well

Quite a lot of recorded organ music sounds pretty bad actually. I'm a fan of the Rogg complete Bach (Harmonia Mundi) and Buxtehude (EMI) sets - consistent at least.

A decent organ note is hard to get from the 15in Tannoy GRFs where you trade the impact of the 300hz mid-horn for much lower amplitude (though far cleaner) low bass than you get in the non-horn Tannoy cabs. With some amps the bottom octave is simply not there! It's become one of my benchmarks of a good amp.

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Two spring to mind. The first is David Briggs playing Gloucester Cathedral's organ. The recording is unusual in that its a transcription for organ of Mahler's 5th Symphony, available on the Priory Label 9CD). It plumbs the depths like few others and has some amazing melodic sections which build into a complex musical journey, especially the Beethoven-ish arrangement of the main theme in the first movement which has been transcribed perfectly for the organ. The second has to be a selection of Lefebure Wely pieces played on Liverpool Cathedral's organ, including "carnival". I forget what label its on (I'll try and dig it up) but it was one of two CD albums of Lefebure Wely music played at Liverpool. Some monstrous bass in those tracks too!

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Two spring to mind. The first is David Briggs playing Gloucester Cathedral's organ. The recording is unusual in that its a transcription for organ of Mahler's 5th Symphony, available on the Priory Label 9CD). It plumbs the depths like few others and has some amazing melodic sections which build into a complex musical journey, especially the Beethoven-ish arrangement of the main theme in the first movement which has been transcribed perfectly for the organ. The second has to be a selection of Lefebure Wely pieces played on Liverpool Cathedral's organ, including "carnival". I forget what label its on (I'll try and dig it up) but it was one of two CD albums of Lefebure Wely music played at Liverpool. Some monstrous bass in those tracks too!

Don't know either of those, Paul. Thanks - will look them out.

:^

PS There seem to have been three volumes of Lefebure Wely organ music CDs from Liverpool Metropolitan. Samples sound very good - not a composer I am familiar with at all, so it promises to be a happy discovery!

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By coincidence I've recently been on the lookout for a good (sorry, in this case that means big, shouty, thunderous but also clear) performance of the Boellmann Suite Gothique. On the basis of a few online samples and its very low price I'm tempted by this one, but if anyone can recommend a better one I'd be keen to know

[video=youtube;ueU4CDjn3v0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueU4CDjn3v0

St Ouen's Cavaillé-Coll instrument doesn't have a 64-footer but it does have two 32's including an 'unusually powerful' Contre Bombarde. If you want to get an idea of what it can do jump to 5:25 in the above clip, turn the wick up and cue Vincent Price ...

The CD incidentally is http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abbey-Spectacular-Organ-Favourites-Rouen/dp/B001EOOBYW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345495096&sr=8-1

VB

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Don't know either of those, Paul. Thanks - will look them out.

:^

PS There seem to have been three volumes of Lefebure Wely organ music CDs from Liverpool Metropolitan. Samples sound very good - not a composer I am familiar with at all, so it promises to be a happy discovery!

The copy I have is this one, also on the Priory Records label (which seems to produce some fabulous music):

http://www.prioryrecords.co.uk/item.php?code=PRCD862

cover picture:

prcd862.jpg

I don't have the other two CD's (my mistake...there were three produced) but I can heartily recommend this one. Lefebure Wely was a composer of vast talent and his organ works are very fresh sounding with fabulous vitality and energy to many of the pieces, as well as other more subtle and romantic organ works. I also have an obscure LP (Gravure Universelle label) entitled Le Livre D'or de L'orgue Francais which has one side devoted to Alfred Lefebure Wely pieces (played on Lucon Cathedral's organ) which are more gentle than the fireworks of the CD above (cover is very apt!). Every organ fan should have that CD in their collection!

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By coincidence I've recently been on the lookout for a good (sorry, in this case that means big, shouty, thunderous but also clear) performance of the Boellmann Suite Gothique. On the basis of a few online samples and its very low price I'm tempted by this one, but if anyone can recommend a better one I'd be keen to know

[video=youtube;ueU4CDjn3v0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueU4CDjn3v0

St Ouen's Cavaillé-Coll instrument doesn't have a 64-footer but it does have two 32's including an 'unusually powerful' Contre Bombarde. If you want to get an idea of what it can do jump to 5:25 in the above clip, turn the wick up and cue Vincent Price ...

The CD incidentally is http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abbey-Spectacular-Organ-Favourites-Rouen/dp/B001EOOBYW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345495096&sr=8-1

VB

Great shout VB. I have a copy on LP played on the organ of Blenheim Palace, but the organ in that one you've highlighted is way more impressive.

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By coincidence I've recently been on the lookout for a good (sorry, in this case that means big, shouty, thunderous but also clear) performance of the Boellmann Suite Gothique. On the basis of a few online samples and its very low price I'm tempted by this one, but if anyone can recommend a better one I'd be keen to know

[video=youtube;ueU4CDjn3v0]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueU4CDjn3v0

St Ouen's Cavaillé-Coll instrument doesn't have a 64-footer but it does have two 32's including an 'unusually powerful' Contre Bombarde. If you want to get an idea of what it can do jump to 5:25 in the above clip, turn the wick up and cue Vincent Price ...

The CD incidentally is http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abbey-Spectacular-Organ-Favourites-Rouen/dp/B001EOOBYW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345495096&sr=8-1

VB

A lot of the finest French/Belgian organ music was written to be played on Cavaille-Coll instruments. The reeds have a totally different sound from English organs, so I suppose there is an argument that for an authentic performance you need to use such an organ. I prefer to think that the English sound is equally pleasing when played by a fine organist.

There are lots of good versions of the Boellmann available, but this one sounds as good as any.

:^

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Super Wammer
A lot of the finest French/Belgian organ music was written to be played on Cavaille-Coll instruments. The reeds have a totally different sound from English organs, so I suppose there is an argument that for an authentic performance you need to use such an organ. I prefer to think that the English sound is equally pleasing when played by a fine organist.

There are lots of good versions of the Boellmann available, but this one sounds as good as any.

:^

Hi John

just ordered a copy of this...should sound good on my transmission line bass drivers that im guessing go below 24Hz :)......Ill be having a mini bake off late autumn once ive built my matching midrange transmission lines....Ill let you know when etc & hope you can make it this time

Keith

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A well timed thread - I have just been to the Netherlands in search of organs (the musical variety) and spent time in Haarlem and Alkmaar attending recitals. The Alkmaar Schnitger organ is a fabulous instrument and the Muller organ in Haarlem is certainly spectacular visually, but has lost much of its 18th Century sound. Last year I spent time in North Germany visiting some of its great 17th/18th Century organs. Hearing Bach's trio sonata in e minor played on the Stellwagen organ of st. Jakobi in Lubeck was sublime: the music hung in the air like incense and the music, architecture and acoustic came together perfectly.

Of course, these old instruments don't have the sheer epic scale of sound of a Cavaille-Coll, but they do have a remarkable palate of sounds, often set in a beautiful acoustic. MDG and Oehms Classics are two labels that specialize in organ recordings of the North German School. They also issue SACDs and I would imagine they sound great in surround sound.

From MDG I can recommend a disc of the Schnitger organ in Norden (Arp-Schnitger Orgel Norden - MDG 906 1363-6). The instrument has a 16ft pedal, so the disc isn't about reproducing deep bass, but it excels at reproducing the acoustic of the Ludgerikirche. On Oehms Classics Joseph Keleman has recorded the organ works of Nicolaus Bruhns on the same instrument (Nicolaus Bruhns: Das Orgelwerk - OC 641). His interpretations are more measured than Ton Koopman's, whose Bruhns and Buxtehude I find too frenetic. A set I particularly enjoy is Harald Vogel's complete recordings of Buxtehude's organ works (MDG 314 1438-2), recorded on a number of period instruments.

AS you can tell, I like this repertoire and it is helped by the luminous sound made by many of the organs from the time.

Paul

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Hi John

just ordered a copy of this...should sound good on my transmission line bass drivers that im guessing go below 24Hz :)......Ill be having a mini bake off late autumn once ive built my matching midrange transmission lines....Ill let you know when etc & hope you can make it this time

Keith

That sounds really good to me, Keith. Hopefully I will see you this time with no domestic disasters!

:^

- - - Updated - - -

A well timed thread - I have just been to the Netherlands in search of organs (the musical variety) and spent time in Haarlem and Alkmaar attending recitals. The Alkmaar Schnitger organ is a fabulous instrument and the Muller organ in Haarlem is certainly spectacular visually, but has lost much of its 18th Century sound. Last year I spent time in North Germany visiting some of its great 17th/18th Century organs. Hearing Bach's trio sonata in e minor played on the Stellwagen organ of st. Jakobi in Lubeck was sublime: the music hung in the air like incense and the music, architecture and acoustic came together perfectly.

Of course, these old instruments don't have the sheer epic scale of sound of a Cavaille-Coll, but they do have a remarkable palate of sounds, often set in a beautiful acoustic. MDG and Oehms Classics are two labels that specialize in organ recordings of the North German School. They also issue SACDs and I would imagine they sound great in surround sound.

From MDG I can recommend a disc of the Schnitger organ in Norden (Arp-Schnitger Orgel Norden - MDG 906 1363-6). The instrument has a 16ft pedal, so the disc isn't about reproducing deep bass, but it excels at reproducing the acoustic of the Ludgerikirche. On Oehms Classics Joseph Keleman has recorded the organ works of Nicolaus Bruhns on the same instrument (Nicolaus Bruhns: Das Orgelwerk - OC 641). His interpretations are more measured than Ton Koopman's, whose Bruhns and Buxtehude I find too frenetic. A set I particularly enjoy is Harald Vogel's complete recordings of Buxtehude's organ works (MDG 314 1438-2), recorded on a number of period instruments.

AS you can tell, I like this repertoire and it is helped by the luminous sound made by many of the organs from the time.

Paul

Paul - it is very interesting to read this. I have a large set of CDs (I think from Brilliant) which is entitled 'Famous Dutch Organs' and I think it features some of the instruments you mention in your post. I will look it out and find out more details.

:^

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Paul - it is very interesting to read this. I have a large set of CDs (I think from Brilliant) which is entitled 'Famous Dutch Organs' and I think it features some of the instruments you mention in your post. I will look it out and find out more details.

:^

I'll be interested to hear about what you find. The Christian Muller organ in the St Bavo Church of Haarlem is absolutely spectacular visually, but Muller built a smaller organ in the Jacobijnerkerk of Leeuarwarden, which seems to have an even more sumptuous palate of colours. Look out also for the Schnitger organs in both the Aa-Kerk and Martinikerk of Groningen. Both sound magnificent.

Whilst in Alkmaar I bought a CD of the organ works of Scheidemann, played on the F C Schnitger organ there. It's a first rate disc - excellent value for £5.

Paul

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