Monday, 30 January 2012

The Grand Pipe Organs of the Grand Duchy - II

On December 4,  2007, Luxembourg Post released the second series of special    postage stamps  illustrated four pipe organs of the country. The issues are composed of 4 postage stamps with different face value plus extra addition value. The four pipe organs depicted are instrument placed in  Niederwiltz, Sandweiler, Echternach,  and Esch-sur-Alzette .

The church of Niederwiltz owns the very first Eisenbarth-organ built for Luxembourg, consecrated in 1997. A three-manual instrument of 39 stops, built on the lines of a synthesis between French symphonic-romantic as well as French classical style, incorporating a light reference to Spain and selective connotations of southern-German baroque sound ideals.

An organ with unquestionable orchestral potential, introducing a necessary esthetic renewal in the landmarks of northern Luxembourg. Among its many characteristic features are the double-mouthed Jubalflute 8’, a very efficient swellbox, excellent reed-voicing, altogether bathing in a resolutely lyrical surrounding of smoothly voiced principals and flutes, always close to the charming touch of mellow south German and Italian mixtures and mutation stops. A Festival has since been created around the instrument.

The organ of Sandweiler celebrated its hundredth birthday in 2006. Built by Müller Brothers of Reifferscheid (Germany) in 1906 with 17 stops in a German-romantic tonal optic. In the mid-seventies, the organ of Sandweiler was submitted, like many others, to a mainstream effort of “modernization”.

This was fortunately reversible in 1996,  with the addition of a swellbox and the enhancement of an initially rather basic colour scheme (works carried out by Gebr. Mayer of Feldkirch, (Austria), voicing by N. Blonigen). A one-off detail is the worldwide first construction of a Deimling-Bassoon 16’, as well as some quite rare romantic stops for this size of organ, which together give it this exquisite unique copper-warm timbre.The new luxuriously equipped console, designed as a contemporary allusion to old masterpieces, rules over electric transmissions. It is one of the most important, valuable and best-preserved organs for the German romantic tradition in Luxembourg and abroad.

The instrument of the Echternach Basilica is opus 1010 of Klais-Orgelbau (Bonn, Germany), a manufacturer with huge tradition worldwide. It was assembled in 1952 with Luxembourgish participation (Schilling, Cruchten).

Its tonal philosophy rises out of there formative “Orgelbewegung”, and could be considered as a large 4-manual rather neo-baroque ensemble with a few romantic ingredients (amongst them two swell divisions) and selective modernist additions, such as a cymbale as well as a mutation carrying the 7th harmonic.

In 1991 were added a horizontal reed division in 16’-8’-and 4’ as well as a 32’ Counterbassoon. The instrument now unites the delicate, smooth and brilliant original voicing with new dramatic accents for symphonic and modern repertoires.The original amphitheatre console in the very unique Klais style gives a supplementary signature out of an already legendary period of organ-building.

The organ of the St. Joseph-Church in Esch-sur-Alzette was conceived by G. Westenfelder and completed in 1977, without doubt one of his masterpieces. Sixty stops are housed in a contemporary allusion to the famous “Hambourg style” case-design layout, whose sections are optically easily assignable to each of the 5 divisions (4 manuals and pedal).

Each of the divisions is stylistically related mainly to one well defined sound ideology, thus building around a generally German/French baroque trend, with Spanish ingredients amongst the reeds, classical Cornets as well as lyrical foundation stops, also of the romantic period, a slender and nicely detailed ensemble forming a very personalized entity.

The fully mechanised key traction is astonishingly sensitive for an instrument of this scale. Seventeen stops came from the previous instrument (Haupt, Stahlhut), and have been delicately synchronized to the newly built tonal environment.

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