3 Manuals and Pedal, 48 stops, built 2020 (Hendrik Ahrend)
The term "Bach organ" can be interpreted in three ways: It can be understood to mean an organ on which Johann Sebastian Bach worked as an organist, an organ on whose disposition and tonal design he was involved, or an organ that meets the wishes and demands he handed down for a "schöne und große Orgel" (beautiful and large organ). In the case of the "Bach organ" built in 2020 in the Dreieinigkeitskirche in Regensburg, it is the latter. An organ whose tonal design is based on the well-known preferences and demands of J.S. Bach and which is excellently suited for the reproduction of Bach's oeuvre, but on which the music of other styles and epochs can also be played wonderfully due to its carefully planned disposition and high quality.
The organ-building workshop of Jürgen Ahrend in Leer, which was commissioned with the construction of this organ, can look back on great experience in the handling of baroque instruments; it achieved world fame through the restorations of, among others, the Arp Schnitger organs of the Jacobikirche in Hamburg, the Martinikerk in Groningen (NL) and the Ludgerikirche in Norden. The experience in historical construction methods and sound concepts gained in these projects forms the solid foundation on which the new organ could be built.
So what makes a Bach organ? An examination of three representative organs with which Bach was involved in one way or another can provide some clues: The organ in the church "Divi Blasii" in Mühlhausen, where Bach was organist from 1707 to 1708 and for whose comprehensive renewal and expansion he had worked out a concept, which was then also implemented in 1709; the Trost organ in the castle church in Altenburg, on which he played the service even before the organ was accepted on 6. September 1739 and which he mentioned very praiseworthily; and finally the famous Hildebrandt organ in the Wenzelskirche in Naumburg, which was accepted by Bach together with G. Silbermann. From Bach's comments on these representative Thuringian instruments, the following constituents for a Bach organ can be deduced:
- A sufficient and stable wind, both for the large pedal stops and for the arbitrary addition of the fundamental voices
- Gravitas, also through large reed stops, in the sense of "fullness and depth"
- An expressive sound concept with a view to the various construction forms of the "Unterscheidlichen" (distinctive ones)
- Taking seriously the individuality of the single voices and the possibilities of arbitrary coupling to ever new timbres
- Coupling for all manuals
- Appreciation of the bassoon sound
- Mixtures containing thirds in all divisions.
Taking into account all these aspects, the Thuringian organ building tradition and the experience of the organ building workshop with baroque instruments and construction methods, a disposition has thus been created which ideally combines the characteristics demanded by Bach, taking up and combining elements of such famous organs as the Hildebrandt organ in Naumburg, the Treutmann organ in the Grauhof monastery or the Wiegleb organ in Ansbach.
Viola Da Gamba 8'
Terz aus 2'
Unda maris 8'
Terz aus 2'
Vox Humana 8'
Tremulant geschwind (fast)
ECHOWERK (C-f''', schwellbar)
Flauto en Echo 4'
Tremulant gemächlich (slow)
III/I, II/I, III/II (manual sliding coupler), I/P, II/P (Note: all couplers are coupling through)
The recordings were made in 24bit/96kHz without any filtering. The processing of the samples was done with our self-developed processing tools, with special mention of our special noise removal process. This is optimized for the characteristics of organ pipe tones and allows for an unprecedented quality of noise removal without affecting the sound characteristics.
The sample set faithfully reproduces the organ with its features in Hauptwerk. It has some special features, which are explained below:
The set contains "direct" and "ambient" samples. Ideally, these should be routed through separate pairs of speakers to get the best effect. Using the sliders on the Controls page the levels can be adjusted separately.
The organ has two tremulants. The fast "Tremulant geschwind" affects the Oberwerk (2. manual), and the slower "Tremulant gemächlich" affects the ECHO (3. manual). The sample set uses special tremulant samples, i.e. every pipe in the Oberwerk and ECHO is also sampled with tremulant. This method provides the best possible natural tremulant sound for organs with a lot of reverb. However, it also has disadvantages: First, the vibrations of the individual pipes are not synchronous, each vibrating independently, and second, the speed or depth of the tremulant cannot be subsequently adjusted.
In the Hauptwerk setting "Original Tuning," the organ sounds in its proper tuning. This is a slightly modified version of the Bellingwolde tuning (Schnitger & Freytag organ of the Magnuskerk in Bellingwolde, 1797). The distinctive key characteristics of the Bellingwolde tuning reflect the affects and the most used keys in J.S. Bach's organ works better than the so-called "Bach tunings" in use today. For the Bach organ in Regensburg, this temperament was slightly modified in favor of the key of B major at the expense of E-flat major.
The random detuning built into Hauptwerk cannot be used for this set, as Hauptwerk still does not ensure that related front and rear samples are tuned synchronously. The result is usually not very pleasing. Therefore, the corresponding parameters in the sampleset are set to 0, so that Hauptwerk's "random detuning" setting has no effect. Instead, the sampleset contains its own pseudo-random detuning. Here the degree of detuning can be adjusted with the sliders on the Controls page, the values are randomly determined for each pipe, but unchangeably set in the definition file. The adjustment is done separately for reed and labial stops.
The virtual console consists of different screen pages optimized for touch screen operation. All screen pages are created in very high native resolution, so that the maximum resolution of the monitor can be fully used even with high-resolution screens. The following screen pages are available:
This page is not intended to operate the sample set, but to give the organist an impression of the real console. Here a photo of the console has been provided with moving stops. However, the lettering is difficult to read on this page. This screen page is also ideal for the MIDI assignment of the keyboards.
This contains all controls except for the keyboards and pedal. Great care has been taken to ensure that the page is very legible. This screen page is ideal for operating the sample set with a single touch screen. The arrangement of the stops corresponds to the original. On this page, the assignment of the stops to the manuals has been color-coded to facilitate orientation for the organist.
Stop panels (left/right)
The stop panels are designed for use with two touch screens, so that the left and right pages can be displayed respectively. These two pages are available in both a landscape and portrait layout, with Hauptwerk automatically selecting the appropriate layout.
This page is used to adjust various settings. These are the balance between the recording channels, the random tuning setting, and the volume of the various sounds. The volumes of the noises are preset (about 70%) to correspond to the actual volumes. The maximum position of the controls corresponds to +3dB. All settings on the Controls page are automatically saved and restored the next time the sample set is loaded.
This sample set requires a powerful Windows-PC or Apple Mac-OS computer with 64-bit operating system and the Hauptwerk™ software (Advanced version, 5.0 or higher). For best results a powerful CPU (e.g. a modern quadcore CPU) and sufficient main memory (RAM) are essential. The memory requirements in MB for the sample set are specified in the table below for the most important sample loading options (loading with compression):
The compression used by Hauptwerk when loading samples is lossfree, i.e. loading samples compressed does not result in any loss of quality. It results however in an increase in CPU load of about 15% during playing. The best quality is obtained when loading the samples in 24-bit resolution, loading in 16-bit will cause a small but noticeable loss of quality. Since these options can be selected for each stop separately it is possible to individually adjust the options to match the available RAM.
Approximately 15 GB of free space is needed on the harddisc to install the sample set.
Here you can view the licence conditions for our sample sets.
The sample set is delivered exclusively as a download (approx. 15 GB). The download consists of several files, which together form a splitted archive. For installation in Hauptwerk, these files must all be located together in one directory. Then select the file "...part01.rar" for the installation. Hauptwerk will automatically install the complete set in one go. Detailed installation instructions for your Hauptwerk version can be found in the Hauptwerk Main User Guide. You can access it from the Help menu in Hauptwerk.
During the installation you will be shown the license agreement, which you can also find in this booklet. You can only proceed with the installation if you accept the license agreement.
This sample set is protected by the iLok system. A valid license for the sample set is required to install and play the organ. For this purpose you will receive an activation code by mail after purchasing the set. The mail also contains the instructions for activating the license. Only after activating the license in the iLok License Manager the sampleset can be installed.
You can find a number of pieces recorded with this sampleset on the Contrebombarde website.
Here is a link to a playlist featuring this organ.
Ralph Looij together with Christian Brembeck have produced a fine introduction video with this sampleset playing pieces by Bach and his contemporaries.
Please also watch this fantastic stop presentation video by Paul Fey!