Text from the booklet of the CD: "Organworks of Dietrich Buxtehude volume 4" (MDG MD+GL3424) by Harald Vogel
All photos from Geert Jan Pottjewijd
1696: Building of the organ by Arp Schnitger, the pedal situated behind the organ.
1730: Repairs by Johann Jürgen Schnitger
1752: Repairs by Albert Antoni Hinsz.
1768: Alterations by Albert Antoni Hinsz. Enlargement of the lowest octave. The organcase made deeper. New manuals. Enlargement of Hoofdwerk by Quintadena 16'
and Vox Humana 8'. Rugpositief + Dulciaan 8'
1809: Alterations by Heinrich Hermann Freytag. Enlargement of the case at either sides and placing of the Pedal behind this enlargement on new windchests.
Mixtuur on the Pedal replaced by Gedekt 8' and new Bazuin 16'. New bellows. New frontpipes.
1855: Changes by Petrus van Oeckelen. Octaaf 2', Sexquialter and Scherp of the Rugpositief replaced by Prestant 8' (discant), Viola da Gamba and Fluit 2'.
1894: Repairs by J.F. Kruse.
192x: Alterations to the Dulciaan by Holtman & Leemhuis.
1958: Restoration by S. Graafhuis and C.H. Edskes. Rugpositief reconstructed to the situation of 1809.
1974: Repairs by S. Graafhuis.
1983 and 1996: Repairs by Veger & van der Putten.
1998: Restoration of the manual keyboards.
2014/2015: Restoration of the 4 windchests by Mense Ruiter.
09.05.2014 first concert bij Leonore Lub and Peter Westerbrink on the restored
Specification ( O=Older than Schnitger, S=Schnitger, F=Freytag, H=Hinsz, E=Edskes):
||2 2/3' (O,S)
Photo Piet Bron. Source:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/pietbron Click at the photo to
Text from the booklet of the CD: "Organworks of Dietrich Buxtehude volume 4" (MDG
MD+GL3424) by Harald Vogel
1695-1696: Arp Schnitger built the organ in the architecturally
significant, uncommonly large church in Noordbroek during 1695-96. It was
Schnitger’s first major undertaking in the province of Groningen after his
rebuilding of the large Martini organ in the city of Groningen and supplying
of pedal towers (32’) for the same instrument. Later Schnitger developed a
very extensive business in Groningen, building six new organs in the city and
eight new instruments in the province and taking on numerous rebuilding projects
and repairs. Today there are still nine organs in and around Groningen in a
state of preservation reflecting the style of the Hamburg master Schnitger -
more than in any other region of comparable size.
The Noordbroek organ originally had a total of twenty stops on the Hoofdwerk,
Rugpositief, and Pedaal. The Pedal was set up behind the main case, as was the
pedal in not - too - distant Uithuizen, where the original design is still
preserved today. Here the pedal pipes are free standing - without a case and
protected only by wooden side walls - under the vault. The Schnitger organ in
Cappel still has this pedal design, a design he employed when the vault over the
organ provided for a good distribution of the sound throughout the structure.
From the previous organ in Noordbroek Schnitger took over only the two flutes of
the Rugpostief and the Quint 3’ of the Hoofdwerk.
These stops have a special tonal quality and must have been the works of an
important master. Only the planned documentation of the Noordbroek organ may
allow us to establish clarity about their exact origin.
Schnitger’s usual design for village organs assigned a short octave to the
manual keyboards (without C sharp, D sharp, F sharp, and G sharp) and a broken
octave to the pedal (without C sharp and D sharp). The development of high
playing standards among organists in the province of Groningen during the
eighteenth century brought the desire for keyboards with a full compass in the
bass. (The high attainments of Groningen organists are described in the Hess
collection of specifications, among other sources.)
1768: Thus in 1768 Albert Antonius Hinsz, who had taken over the
Schnitger workshop from Franz Caspar Schnitger, built new Hoofdwerk and
Rugpositief windchests with a full range of 49 keys from C to c”’. He also
added to the stops, three of which are still extant today. From his base in
Groningen Hinsz worked on almost all the organs of the area and built over sixty
new instruments in the Netherlands between 1731 and 1785. Of his twenty-three
new organs in Groningen, eight are preserved.
1806-1809: Hermann Heinrich Freytag, like Hinsz a Hamburg native,
carried out the only other redesign of the Noordbroek organ during 1806-9.
Freytag had succeeded Hinsz, and his shop continued in Groningen until 1869.
His classicistic organ fronts and superb voicing represent the highest level of
European organ building around 1800. Shortly before he began work on the
Noordbroek organ, Freytag had renovated the organ in the village of Noordwolde
near Groningen, an instrument still well preserved today. His work on the
Noordwolde organ, an instrument dating back to the first half of the seventeenth
century, gave him the opportunity to study the tonal qualities of the Groningen
organ style of the early baroque period. The voicing and solid construction of
the front pipes in Noordwolde must have made a favourable impression because
Freytag used them as his model for the new front pipes he built in Noordbroek.
The corrosion damage to Schnitger’s Noordbroek tin facade pipes seems to have
been substantial enough by 1800 to have necessitated their replacement. Thus
today in Noordbroek we see lead pipes with the pointed mouth-form typical of the
early seventeenth century, but built by Freytag shortly after 1800: a stylistic
copy, as it were, from a period predating the Schnitger organ.
Freytag’s redesign also involved the addition of side pedal towers to the
front; they were set up right next to Schnitger’s Hauptwerk case. This design
along with its deep-set pedal windchests was also employed in Noordwolde; it
lends the main case different proportions and renders it similar to the front
structure of the Schnitger organ in the Groningen Aa-Kerk. Freytag also
modernized the case by the addition of new Hoofdwerk- and Rugpositief cases, and
vases and ums on top of the cases in the style of that period. Since the
Rugpositief also has rich carvings dating to 1768, the front has a
multistylistic character. Even so, the clarity of Schnitger’s design
Freytag’s four new wedge-bellows behind the organ succeeded Schnitger’s
pedal placement. This bellows system is still in operation today end lends the
sounds beautiful “breathing’ quality. Freytag retained the existing stops
with the exception of the new Gedekt 8’ in the pedal replacing Schnitger’s
1855: In the nineteenth century the only alteration was carried out by
the Groningen organ workshop of the van Qeckelen family in 1855. The three high
stops of the Rugpositief were replaced, and a pedal coupler was installed.
1958: Since 1855 the Noordbroek organ has remained essentially unchanged,
the only exception being the replacement of the three Rugpositief stops from
the nineteenth century with new stops in the style of the original
specification. C.H. Edskes and S. Graafhuis completed this task in 1958.
Thus the Noordbroek organ retains its original sound to an unusual extent due to
the fact that only minor changes were made after 1809. Along with the Aa-Kerk
organ in Groningen, the Noordbroek organ numbers among the most important
documents of organ culture in Northern Europe and is excellently suited for the
performance of the organ music of the North German masters. It is unfortunate
that the windchests are no longer in a good state of repair: they are not
Sirtight and need to be reglued. The current wind pressure is 80mm/ws on the
bellows, but repairs could return it to its original measure, as was the case in
the recent resealing of Schnitger’s Aa-Kerk windchests. Plans for technical
repairs and a structural restoration of the Noordbroek organ loft are being
prepared in connection with a thorough organological documentation of the
Instruments,Works, and Registrations
The two Schnitger organs in Noordbroek and the Groningen Aa-Kerk reflect the
continuity of eighteenth and nineteenth century developments, but did not
undergo thorough renovation transforming their basic original design. The old
stops of both instruments are in an extraordinarily good state of
preservation. This means that the exclusive use of ranks from the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries (including the beautiful Noordbroek front principals of
1809) produces a homogeneous tonal picture.
Every thorough renovation entails a loss of old material. Organ restoration, as
it has developed during the last twenty years, has been distinguished by a
marked increase in historical knowledge, craftsmanship, and musical understanding
in matters of voicing. The first phase in the attempted restoration of
historical organs in Northern Germany, beginning around 1930 and continuing into
the late 1960s, was marked by limited historical knowledge, insufficient experience
with old building practices, and a misunderstanding of sound aesthetics
dictated by the antiromantic orientation of the neobaroque ideal. Almost all the
restorations of those decades brought with them unnecessarily large losses of
material. In most cases these efforts fell short of even a satisfactory degree
of technical operational reliability.
Fortunately, organ builders were more careful with the old instruments in the
Netherlands and especially so in Groningen. During this phase of development the
Schnitger organs in the Groningen area were not restored. Only the Groningen
Martini organ was rebuilt and equipped with electric action during this phase,
in 1938-39 to be exact. Seven important Schnitger organs, instruments that had
not undergone substantial modification during the previous decades, were
presented at the Groningen Schnitger Conference in 1969. At the time the
Groningen organs offered an important point of orientation in the planning of
ways to remove the damage resulting from the attempted restorations of the
historical organs of Northern Germany.
The successful restoration projects of the past twenty years and in many cases
second restorations, have ameliorated the situation so much that it is now
possible to undertake a complete recording of Buxtehude’s works on instruments
of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries restored to their original form.
The selection of works recorded in Noordbroek and Groningen favors the “remote
keys” because both organs are tuned according to well-tempered systems. The
Aa-Kerk organ departs only slightly from equal temperament, thus lending the
F-sharp-minor and E-major preludes a mild character. The sound produced by
individual pipes, ranks in different combinations and the full ensemble is so
harmonious that the “sour thirds” of the neariy equal temperament do not
disturb. The “pulling effect” in the tuning can be heard very clearly in the
long chords and is produced by the mutual influence of the pipes which are
arranged in thirds on the windchest.
Along with this we have the extraordinarily fine acoustical circumstances in the
Aa-Kerk and in Noordbroek. The combination of presence and spacious sound in the
Aa-Kerk acoustics is ideal for the presentation of the North German organ
repertoire with its characteristic features of complex polyphony and numerous
rests which make reverberation and decay of sound integral parts of the music.
The registration of the plenum on this recording follows the practice of the
eighteenth century instead of the seventeenth century style of separately
registered divisions: the divisions are coupled to form a tutti. This
modification in registration practice was dictated by the current condition of
the Noordbroek and Groningen organs. In both cases original mixtures are available
in only one division; in Noordbroek in the Hoofdwerk and in Groningen in the
Rugpositief. Therefore, as a rule the pedal coupler has been employed for the