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Day 9 Pipe dreams Organ Tour of Germany | Petrikirche Stade Twielenfleth

Day 9 – Monday – May 16, 2011

Rain is in the forecast for the day. Petrikirche – a brand new organ by Woehl in French romantic style, with many beautiful 8 foot stops. This is the 3rd in this turn-of-the-century church; they decided that, with all of the historic German-style organs around, they’d do something different.

Walking through the organ is made very easy by the very spacious layout behind the facade, with ample stairways and accessible ladders…one can see every aspect of the beautiful design and thoughtful layout and engineering. I was very impressed by the swell boxes that open on all sides and the craftsmanship that went into this design. The organ has a bright sound with lots of different tone colors, particularly forceful reeds. As fantastic as the historic organs are we are seeing, this was a breath of fresh air, and well worth a visit. Juergen Sonnentheil played 2 pieces for pedal only – one of the Ecclesiastical Tangos by Guy Bovet and the Perpetuum Mobile by Wilhelm Middleschulte, made famous by Virgil Fox.

After leaving Cuxhaven we drove about an hour east to Stade to hear the organ at Sts. Cosmae & Damiani Kirche. made by Berend Huss and his apprentice Arp Schnitger (actually, Schnitger ended up doing most of the work). Vincent Luebeck was the organist at this church from 1674 to 1702. In the 19th century, along with some other changes to the specification to match the ‘tastes of the time’, it was decided to move the Rueckpositiv division from its traditional place on the balcony railing to a spot behind the main organ case, a kind of Hinterwerk. As a result, when they came to collect the tin facade pipes during World War 1, somehow the Positiv was overlooked and, as a result, retains its original 8′ tin pipes from Schnitger. The organ was restored by Juergen Ahrend in 1975, and the Positiv relocated to its original ‘Rueck’ position. Martin Boeker played a recital for us and it was wonderful.

After this, I hit the wall after non-stop pipe organs for 9 days straight, and with a small group, found a beer garden across the street from the church (Ratskeller Stade) where we sat down for the best lunch in Germany, with 3 excellent and different beers. Since my companions were two metallurgists, of course we eventually got talking organs, and I finally learned why pipe metal cast in sand makes a sound different from pipe metal cast on canvas. It has to do with the rate at which the metal is able to cool and the size of the crystals that are formed in the metal sheets. The metal cools faster in sand casting, and the crystals are much smaller, causing the metal to be much stiffer and thus less prone to developing upper harmonics; sand-cast pipes have a darker tone, since the walls of the pipes are stiffer.

Our little group almost cut Michael Barone’s next ‘class’ and arrived at the Wilhadi Kirche only at the end of the organ demonstration, during the excellent performance of a Mendelssohn Sonata. Here, first church’s organ dated from 1322, but in 1673 Arp Schnitger completed an new instrument that Berend Huss had been contracted to build but died during the project. This organ was destroyed in a fire in 1724, and Erasmus Bielfeldt built new the organ we see today, which was inaugurated in 1736. This organ was restored by Juergen Ahrend in 1990.

The last instrument of the day was in the tiny village church in Twielefleth, built by Furtwaengler in 1862 with 19 stops on 2 manuals and pedal. The organ is totally complete except for its facade pipes, ‘donated’ to the war effort in 1917. Restored in 1988 by Hillebrand, the organ has no enclosed divisions and has a sweet sound with several beautiful soft color stops. The group sang “In dir ist Freude in allem Leide” with the organ after Sergej Tcherepanaov’s short recital. He said good-bye to us here.

Tomorrow we meet up with Harald Vogel and change hotels, as our next destination is Bremen. The tour is almost done.

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