Arp Schnitger organ in Noordbroek (Nld)

The organ in Noordbroek, built in 1695-96 by Arp Schnitger, is housed in a medieval church of enormous dimensions. The church was built in the Romano-Gothic style in the 13th century as a Cross Church with vaults and has wonderful acoustics. Every visitor is impressed by both the interior and the exterior view. The church resembles a peasant sort of Cathedral and is located on the edge of the elongated village of Noordbroek in the Dutch province of Groningen.

Albertus Antoni Hinsz restored the organ in 1752. In 1768 Hinsz built new wind chests for main organ and positive and enlarged the lowest octave to a full chromatic bass octave. The registers Quintadena 16, Vox humana 8 and Dulciaan 8 were added by him. He also expanded the organ case and replaced the keyboards in order to be able to play the lowest octave fully.

In 1809, Heinrich Hermann Freytag expanded the organ case further by adding pedal towers on both sides of the organ case and changing the pedal registers. Freytag made new pedal drawers and new bellows. The organ was given new carvings by Mattheus Walles.

In 1855-1856 Petrus van Oeckelen made improvements to some registers in the positive and changed the Quintadena 16' into a Bourdon 16'. He also replaced the reeds of the Dulcian 8.

The restorations of 1955 brought the shape of the instrument back to the state of 1809 (Freytag). Cor Edskes was responsible for the work. Restoration work on the organ case was completed in 1974. The organ received a Werckmeister III tuning. Some minor improvements and maintenance were done by Winold van der Putten in the following years. In 2001 the bellows were renewed by Winold van der Putten. Mense Ruiter serviced the organ in the period 2014-2015.

The organ has 24 stops according to North German scale, of which six reeds. The sounds are of a special beauty with a silver transparency. The special character of the organ is beautifully reflected by the grandiose acoustics of the church. Many organists chose this organ to record concerts on CDs. It is therefore one of the most beautiful organs in the Groningen organ garden.

Hoofdwerk C - c3

Quintadena       16’
Praestant           8’
Holpijp              8’
Octaaf               4’
Speelfluit           4’
Quint                3’
Octaaf              2’
Mixtuur           IV-V
Trompet            8’
Vox Humana      8’
Rugpositief  C - c3

Fluit douce      8’
Praestant        8’
Spitsfluit          4’
Octaaf             2’
Sesquialter      II-IV
Scherp             III-IV
Dulciaan         8’

DRY samples

A few years ago I chose the organ of Noordbroek with its striking sounds as the Theme for a congress of organ builders. I got to know the sounds well and they were examples for me when voicing the pipes of my house organ. Now the opposite case occurs that I can compare the tones of the samples with my pipe organ. The tones have to be voiced with a volume that fits the living room but while retaining the character and then my pipe organ is an excellent benchmark.

The samples were recorded by Jiri Zurek with eight microphones (four times stereo). The microphones placed a short distance from the pipes recorded the tones of the pipes with their striking properties as semi-DRY samples. Although they are semi-DRY samples - some of the reverb can be heard - that is no objection, because the typical characteristics of the tones are clearly audible. The other samples do not contain anything that is of interest to me and I have not loaded them.

I have tackled the voicing of this organ in an exceptional way, especially aimed at the sounds of this organ. I don't always use the same routine with pipe organs also. In this way I can accentuate the properties, so that in living room volume they still sound similar to the sounds that I heard when playing the organ in the church. I am now writing a book about the voicing of the samples.

The Praestanten beautifully reproduce the North German Baroque sounds in a style that Arp Schnitger aspired to. Each register is a solo voice with great eloquence. Combined with the high mixture, a plenum with a silvery sound is heard. The Trumpet enhances the plenum and adds shine. The velvety sounds of the four-foot flutes are striking. The Vox Humana is a nice solo voice, with a modest but sweet sound. The transparent sounds give the Dulciaan a singing character. The Mixtuur and the Scherp are composed of high scaled pipes, which promote the silvery sound beauty.

Some of the pipes from the previous organ have been reused by Arp Schnitger. At that time it was normal to keep good material and to fit it into the new organ. Hinsz and Freytag also added registers with respect for the sound characters already present.

In 1955 the organ underwent a restoration with the aim of preserving the original Baroque sound.
Cor Edskes was the man who could best judge this and he was asked to lead the restoration as a consultant. The fact that the organ in Noordbroek is still a stylish representative of the baroque sound is due to the great knowledge and insights of Cor Edskes.

The beautiful acoustics of the Roman-Gothic church are unfortunately not captured with an IR image, but it can be ideally reproduced with the IR image of the Martini Church in Groningen.

The DRY samples made by Jiri Zurek testify to the high level of his craftsmanship, which is not surpassed by anyone. It is an art to reproduce with each sample a tone with its own character that still harmonize with each other like the voices of a choir.

Pedaal C - d1

Bourdon              16’
Praestant             8’
Gedekt                8’
Octaaf                 4’
Bazuin               16’
Trompet              8’
Cornet                4’