Arp-Schnitger-Orgel Norden Vol. 1 - Luchterhandt / Janssen

Arp-Schnitger-Orgel Norden Vol. 1 - Luchterhandt / Janssen

MDG Scene  906 1363-6

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental

Weckmann / Byrd / Buxtehude / Johann Sebastian Bach / Schlick / de Arauxo / Scheidt / Böhm

Agnes Luchterhandt (organ)
Thiemo Janssen (organ)

The famous Arp Schnitger organ in Ludgerikirche in Norden, is the largest and most import in East Frisa.

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Reviews (1)

Review by John Miller - December 12, 2007

Fortunately, Arp Schnitger (1648-1719), the most famous of North German organ builders, left a legacy of many fine instruments which have survived the depredations of time. The second largest extant is the one featured here, situated in the Ludgerikirche in Norden. Sympathetically restored, after a chequered history through wars and changes in fashion, by Ahrend between 1981-1985, the organ sections cluster about the corner of the chancel and the nave. It radiates sound in three directions; the Gothic choir space is filled with resonance from the Oberwerk and develops a cathedral sound, the Hauptwerk makes its mark in the transept, and the pedal tower is directed toward the Romanesque nave. The MDG recording engineers have made use of this spatial separation in their excellent recording, moving the microphones between the chancel and the nave to suit the music.

Rather than invite a famous guest artist for this recital, MDG have the husband and wife organists at the Ludgerikirche, who are also jointly charged with the care and maintenance of this precious instrument. They are thus uniquely qualified to know the organ's quirks and strengths, and to select stops and combinations of tone colours which work well together. Agnes Luchterhandt takes the first half of the programme and Thiemo Janssen the second part, and both clearly love taking this instrument for a drive to show it off to best advantage.

The programme is devised to display the organ's capabilities. Ahrend restored the original mean tone tuning of Schnitger, allowing it to play all the commonest major key triads with great purity of sound. But this would have limited it to music from around the period of its construction. Some compromises were, therefore, made in the refurbishment so that these later works, written in more remote keys, would also sound well. Apart from illustrating the power and fire of the departmental combinations, with sizzling mixtures, majestic reeds and strong pedal division, much of the music concentrates on the organ's delightful chamber aspect, with toothsome solo registers, such as magic flutes which float and gurgle, quietly noble diapasons and even chirping birds, as heard in the Buxtehude Canzona in C. Managing to avoid the hackneyed areas of the organ repertoire, there are some very fine pieces on display as well as the organ itself, deriving from Spain, England and the Netherlands as well as Germany. It is particularly good to have three Buxtehude works, in this year (2007) of the 300th anniversary of his death, and his brilliant and exciting Toccata in D minor - hardly less dramatic and thrilling than the famous one attributed to JS Bach - makes a fine ending to the recital.

MDG make a speciality of recording organ music, and their engineers therefore have great experience. The PCM recording is in their 2+2+2 speaker format, but works equally well in a 5.1 system. It portrays both the power and the intimacy of the organ and places it nicely in the church acoustic, so that the intriguing spatial separation of the divisions is readily apparent. There is a minimum of action noise, but some of the 'chuffs' forming the attack of the pipes is authentically preserved. There is plenty of bass for a subwoofer to work on, so there is no need to tie the cat down, as the deepest notes of the pedal department come from 16' pipes, rather than the 32' or even 64' pipes of later organs. A demonstration-worthy recording, therefore. It makes one want to immediately repeat some of the tracks to hear more of the galaxy of varied and delightful colours of the seemingly inexhaustible palette of this big Schnitger.

A very well-filled disc at 72 minutes, with excellent notes typical of MDG, including a history of the organ, its specifications and even the registrations used for each piece, enabling other organists to try similar schemes. Indispensable as a musical experience for organ fans, with sonics from both the instrument and the engineers to amaze any music lover.

Copyright © 2007 John Miller and


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