Organ Music for January 2

by Dr. Dennis Keene

As many of you know, we are hearing the first sounds of the new Manton Memorial Organ. Built by Pascal Quoirin of St. Didier, France, it is the first French-built organ ever installed in New York City, and will no doubt be one of the most significant organs of our time. During the Fall the organ was assembled here, the mechanisms all put together, and the glorious organ cases installed. The next and final phase – the tuning and “voicing” (the tonal regulation) of all the 6,183 pipes – began in mid-December. From now until the end of March, more and more pipes will be heard, week by week, as they are tuned and voiced.  The organ will be gradually growing to its full size. We look forward to an extraordinary Holy Week this year, and, beginning May 1, the official inauguration of this magnificent instrument. Details of the inaugural events can be found in the Voices of Ascension brochures located in all the pews. In these next few months, we invite you to join us each Sunday at the 11:00am service (come early for the Preludial music at 10:50!) as we discover all the new sounds, week by week.

At the Prelude

Flute Stops

Second Movement from Pastorale
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

This tender piece, so appropriate for Christmastide, sounds ravishing on the Flûte allemande of the Echo division. This special set of pipes was modeled after the Flûte allemande stop of a 1663 organ in Juvigny, France, which was restored by Mr. Quoirin in 1990. It has a uniquely delicate, poetic timbre.

Puer Natus in Bethlehem (A Babe is born in Bethlehem) from Orgelbüchlein
J. S. Bach 

This brief chorale prelude is played on the Flûte traversière of the Grand Orgue division. This is one of the fullest, roundest flutes on the organ, and it works perfectly to convey the dark, nocturnal atmosphere of the piece.

In dulci jubilo (In sweet joy) from Orgelbüchlein
J. S. Bach

Sometimes this piece is played quickly on bright sounding stops, but I prefer to play up the “sweet” side. So I have chosen two flutes from the Echo division: the Bourdon 8’ and the Flûte allemande 4’ for the hands and a principal stop for the tune in the pedal.

Trio de Flûtes (Trio played on flute stops) from Suite du Second Ton
Jean Adam Guilain (ca. 1680-ca. 1739)

The French Baroque composers loved to compose pieces that would show off particular timbres of the organ. Here is a three-voiced piece that alternates between the Bourdon of the Grand Orgue division and the Flûte conique of the Positif division.


At the Postlude

The Grand Orgue Bombarde and Trompette en chamade

Dialogue from Suite du Premier Ton
Jean Adam Guilain

Those of you who were here last weekend heard one of our two trompettes en chamade briefly in the services. Trompette en chamade stops are powerful sets of trumpet pipes which are mounted horizontally to give them more brilliance and presence. As you can see, we have two sets, one on each side of the chancel facing each other. The set on the right is not yet voiced (I’ll use that set on Easter!). The set on the left was voiced before Christmas. It is part of the Grand Orgue division. It is particularly brilliant in tone. As I write these notes, the Bombarde 16’ of the Grand Orgue division was just voiced. Since it is a 16’ stop, it plays an octave lower than the 8’ Trompette en chamade, and it is also one of the most powerful stops on the organ, particularly in the bass register. Together they make a most imposing sound, as you will hear in this movement.