Day 5, Thursday, May 12, 2011:
Today was the first day at our new hotel, the Faehrhaus Hotel, in Norddeich, a seaside resort town just north of the city of Norden. I think the breakfast buffet was even better than that at the hotel in Hamburg, which is saying something! I am getting spoiled on the smoked salmon every morning, but after all we are close to the North Sea.
We were on the road 9am, and the first instrument we saw was the famous and unusual Schnitger at the Ludgerikirche in Norden proper, built in 1692 and beautifully restored by Juergen Ahrend in 1990. I had always wondered why the case is a bit oddly designed, as the CD booklets I have of the instruments how it to be a bit cock-eyed. Now, after my visit to the church, I fully understand. The first section of the building dates from the 13th century, a very simple nave with low ceiling. To this a transept was added in the 14th century, with a higher ceiling, and finally in 1445, a lavish choir was appended, with an even higher, pitched roof. As a result of this,
Schnitger’s organ stands on a balcony on the right/south side of the transcept, with main case (containing Hauptwerk, Rueckpositiv and Brustwerk) at a slight angle so as to project across the transcept and, to a degree, into the Nave, facing somewhat northwesterly. The pedal case is ‘around the corner, facing west, speaking into the transcept. The Oberwerk (added later by Schnitger) is flat against the choir’s south wall, and is played from the same 3rd manual as the Brustwerk, with ventils controlling wind to each division.
Thiemo Janssen explained how you have to take care registering the organ depending on where the congregation is positioned in the church. He also explained the use all of the balcony ‘boxes’ around the church, basically they elevated pews in which rich members of the congregation sat.
Janssen went with us to Sankt Bartholomaus in Dornum and demonstrated the organ there, built in 1711 by Gerhard von Holy, a student of Schnitger. The organ was reconstructed by Ahrend in 1988 and is the source of pride for the congregation. The church was built between 1270 and 1290 and is decorated with beautifully carved ornaments.
We then drove to Marienhafe, where I had a very pleasant lunch with Isaac Lee from Singapore (a Junior at the Eastman School) and our tour guide Ulrich Feldhahn. I have noticed the extremely low cost of beer in Germany, 75% less expensive then in the USA!
The organ at the Marienkirche in Marienhafe, also by von Holy, dates from 1713, and is tuned in a modified mean-tone temperament. This is a very complete two-manual instrument, but with only a pull-down pedal, no independent stops. This did not seem to be in any way limiting, musically. Winfried Dahlke played for us. This church was built in the 13th century and originally was one of the largest churches in East Friesland, but it fell into disrepair and in 1829 was partly demolished, leaving just a section of the original nave as the current church building.
The final organ of the day was in Osteel, at Warnfriedkirche, built in 1619 by Edo Evers and restored by Ahrend. It has a beautiful sound with its tuning for early music.
Tonight we have dinner on our own and can get to bed early
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