Impression of Gert: A type of sample set where many people (fans of 'soft' choral based organ music, including myself) have been waiting for: Beautiful tremulants and a warm reverb.
The excessive reverberation makes that simple music, like a choral with a solo-voice, sounds like on a CD.
The large amount of psalms and hymns as demo (including on this page) for this sample set can give a totally wrong impression: In practice, the Dom organ is almost never used for such music.
Utrecht has a professional organist Jan Hage who usually plays very different music.
Noteworthy is the beautiful tradition of a weekly free Saturday afternoon concert in the Dom cathedral.
The concert starts at 15:30 and spends about an hour, on the agenda you can see it is alternately filled with organ, choir, instrumental music or a combination thereof.
On Saturday April 28, 2012 I was, along with two sons, at such concert, a few impressions:
The program consisted of approximately 10 chorale preludes by Bach and a Preludium und Fuge in C-dur BWV 545.
Jan Hage played organ, Collegium Vocale Domcantorij (5 men and 5 women) sang in between the corals.
My place was in the front, somewhere between 1st and 2nd pair of pillars in a bank at the side, highly recommended.
The organ sounds very warm with nice reverb, but remained very clear and direct (not only in Rugwerk).
Quite strange: A large organ in a high space with an "intimate" sound.
The taboo on tremulant use is much less than I thought: Jan Hage used them abundantly.
I heard the Touzyn (with tremulant), also the beautiful Cornet with tremulant came along.
Also very nice: The Cornet (without tremulant) + supplement and a powerful accompaniment (inclusive reed) on the Hoofdwerk.
The organ can be very hard, very beautiful.
The choir was accompanied by the main organ, personally I think much nicer than a cold small chest organ.
The concert was worth repeating, I think obviously not alone, there were more than 200 people.
After this life impression I am even more impressed by the organ to love...
The cathedral was built between 1254 and 1520, then the construction of the nave is stopped.
With the tornado of 1674 the nave is destroyed, the tower and the church are separated.
The Domtoren, I can see it almost from my house, is the highest church tower in the Netherlands.
I climbed it, but because I did not like heights....
It is curious that you can still see the map of the original nave in the pavement of the Dom square.
The cruciform is now lacking the long portion (nave), and there is only the upper part of the cross.
The church is not really big, but it has an enormous height of 31,5 meter (see church inside with 360 degrees pictures).
The organ is centrally located (see map church, no. 8 is the organ) and sounds to three sides, this (along with big altitude) explains the intensive reverberation.
The organ has a long history:
In 1571 supplies the Utrecht builder Peter Jansz. de Swart the first organ, placed in the North Transept, it already has three manuals and pedal.
A large number of stops are taken from the 16th century organ.
The design of the cabinet represents the architect Tieleman Franciscus Suys (1783 - 1861).
In the finals they said: "round tone, the penetrating power and masculine and dignified tone of the pedal."
In 1865 there were adjustments by C.G.F. White (the follower of the company Bätz), including:
The originally white cabinet was painted over in imitation oak.
The Sesquialter of the hoofdwerk was replaced by a Cornet.
In 1911 and 1936, builder J. Koff did major changes, i.a.:
On the rugwerk the placement of a Hobo 8' in place of the Touzyn 8', and a Fernfluit instead of a Flute 2'.
On the hoofdwerk is a renewal of the Trumpet 8', the placement of a Violon 8' instead of the Woudfluit 2', and a Flûte harmonique instead of the Gemshoorn 4'.
At the bovenwerk the placement of a Clarinet 8' in place of the Vox Humana 8', and a Voix Celeste in place of the Roerquint 3'.
In 1975 completed the Utrecht builder Gebr. Van Vulpen a total restoration of original disposition, nice that they didn't remove the zwelkast (1936).
This Batz organ, with typical 'deep' tremulants, is seen by some as one of the finest romantic organs in the Netherlands.
Because the organ also contains many old pipes (12 of the 50 stops), it is more a cross between baroque and romanticism.
Former prime organist Jan Jansen about this organ:
"Het hoofdorgel is zo’n karakteristiek instrument: de klank is meteen herkenbaar.
Speel ik elders, dan denk ik: 't is wel mooi, maar de Dom heeft een veel briljanter plenum.
Op dit orgel passen zo veel verschillende stijlen.
Een derde van het pijpwerk stamt uit de zestiende eeuw: renaissancepijpen van Peter Janszoon de Swart vullen bijna het hele rugwerk.
Een ander deel is van de gebroeders Bätz, uit 1831.
Na die tijd is er nog een zwelkast op gebouwd: onontbeerlijk voor de Franse symfonische muziek en fijn voor het begeleiden van koorzang.
Mooie grondstemmen op alle klavieren: de volle, warme klank werd al geroemd door de Franse orgelbouwer Cavaillé-Coll.
Gelukkig is al dat moois bij de restauratie in 1975 allemaal intact gelaten.
Je moet er toch niet aan denken dat het instrument was afgebroken, zoals ooit wel is overwogen."
Most organs have a coupler of rugwerk to hoofdwerk, here's a coupler in the other direction.
Fortunately, both rugwerk as hoofdwerk have a coupler to the pedal (I know: in Hauptwerk 4, all couplers are possible, but I usually use only the couplers which are available on the layout).
The organ can be used for many types of music.
Old music is most suitable to the rugwerk with old pipes and a more direct sound than the rest of the organ.
In Hauptwerk you can choose a historic temperament.
Because of the mild nature and the deep tremulants, the organ is ideal for romantic music.
For real romantic music it is not handy that there are no soft strings (like Vox Celeste), there is a rougher Viola di Gamba.
As mentioned earlier, the organ is also ideally suited for (whether or not 'semi romantic') psalm and song arrangements where there are great possibilities for solo/accompaniment registrations.
In addition to the reeds, I find the Cornet (supplemented with Prestant) with tremulant beautiful, accompanied by the Principal 8+4 and Flute 8+4 of the hoofdwerk (listen to Cantilena).
When you go a step further, then you can accompany the Cornet (with tremulant) by the 8, 4 and 3 feet of the bovenwerk, with tremulant.
The latter is typically Dutch, most people with a developed taste in music loathe them, but I, occasionally, like it still.
Apparently my taste is not yet sufficiently developed ...
If you find the tremulant too strong, you can 'temper' it by coupling the 'tremulant keyboard' to keyboard without tremulant: Now some 'tremulant stops' and 'stops without tremulant' are mixed.
The same trick also works with reverb: for example, you can reduce the reverberation of the hoofdwerk when you couple the Rugwerk.
In the examples below I will introduce a number of possibilities for a solo-voice, but there are many more.
For a plenum, I find it beautiful to combine the 8, 4, 2 principals of rugwerk (brighter / more direct than hoofdwerk) with the 8, 4, 2 flutes of the hoofdwerk.
The pedal reeds are very powerful (this is caused by recording position?), It really is a 'threshold': pulling the Trombone8 or Bazuin16 or not?
The 'full work' sounds noble, also the voices 'mix' well, even if you pull all the stops (besides, for a 'clear' tutti it is better when you use not all stops).
I find this one of my nicest sets, but I am glad I own also sets with less reverberation (such as Freiberg).
The set is actually less suitable for me to prepare for the weekly services in our church.
Hint for Jiri Zurek: Give everyone who buys Utrecht (and ordered no other sets), also Menesterol, else they get a wrong image of the sample sets of Sonus Paradisi.
On the other hand, this set is very suitable to create nice CD-realistic recordings or to dream away in a big cathedral.
As an amateur (from French 'lover') it seems as if you are a real organist and you have the convenience of warm reverb: mistakes you do not hear so well, also sounds slow playing with this strong reverberation better than a fast piece. Especially on the bovenwerk are fast pieces not recommended, choose then the rugwerk.
The Cantilena by Rheinberger I normally play faster, but this organ sounds much nicer to do it slower.
In this piece I could not choose between the rugwerk Cornet and the Carillon of the bovenwerk, so I play the first part with the Cornet and the second half with the Carillon.
The examples of Wim Kamp comes from this book (psalm 130 is free).
I like psalm 72 (difficult to play...), a nice swinging rhythm.
For a sample set producer (and others who make a recording), it is very difficult to find the "right" position for the microphones.
You want it on one side as realistic (like the people in church hear) as possible, but on the other side as well as optimal (so that the organ sounds the best) as possible.
Someone who attended the recording mailed me that the microphones were located on 12 meters from the organ.
With this recording there is, as in the church, an increase of reverb from rugwerk (least reverb) to hoofdwerk to bovenwerk (most reverb).
On the bovenwerk the flutes and principals sounds rather 'woolly' and 'disappear' into the space, the reeds there are less affected and remain a clear sound.
The layout is both realistic and practical, I like we had participation (see Utrecht preview...) in the design.
Like the other sets of Sonus Paradisi, we missing here the sound of the tremulantmotor, pity.
Furthermore, the set sounds very realistic, thanks to the separate samples including tremulant.
There is even a 'Kalkanteklok' which sounds a bell to indicate that the 'orgeltrappers' (GvG: How to translate???) can start...
I hear a 'tick' in the 'middle c' of the Gemshoorn4 (hoofdwerk), a mistake? or realistic?
Due to the large reverberation and separately tremulant samples, the set requires much internal memory: Surround, 16-bit: 17.5 GB RAM, Stereo, 16-bit: 9 GB RAM.
With 8 GB of RAM, I think it's best to: Don't load the Rear samples, all single loop, pedal and 'sounds': 14-bit, the rest 16-bit, and don't load some stops.
I myself have 16 GB of RAM and use these two configurations:
Due to the large reverberation I find the set the best sounding with the Wet version in conjunction with headphones. Wet: don't load Rear samples, Pedal 16-bit, the rest: 20-bit, all loops.
For the speakers I use the surround version, I 'cut' the reverb of the front stops to 3 seconds (Hauptwerk does it gradually), again an idea of Anton Heger.
Now the front-speaker sound brighter and the reverb comes mainly from rear speakers. Another advantage: I can load everything in 16-bit with 16 GB RAM.
Because of the warm reverb and tremulant samples a fantastic sample set for a reasonable price.
So far, the most appropriate sample set for romantic psalm and song arrangements.
In any case, try the free demo version (see: Downloads - a "free stuff"), totally worth it!
Personally I think it advisable to have in addition a set with less reverberation (such as Freiberg).
Gert, May 2012