Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas, Manila [TrackList below] – Douglas Lawrence, organist – Move MD 3136, Disc 1: 48.4 min. (2 discs, 2nd with interviews & QT movie) [Distr. by Albany] ****:
This double CD from the innovative Australian label Move is currently the only recording available of the truly unique bamboo pipe organ in the Philippines. I once had a recording of a few selections on the organ, but it no longer comes up at Amazon. A photo taken in 1890 of the organ does appear, and it looks very basic, with added trumpet pipes the most distinguishing characteristic. An Augustinian monk built the original organ almost two centuries ago and it remains the only one of its kind in the world. The bamboo there is harder than normal and when properly seasoned (the current priest describes the process in detail, involving bodily fluids) creates the unique sound of the historic instrument. He points out that the bamboo didn’t work well for the many Spanish-style horizontal trumpet pipes, so those are now metal. The organ was fully restored in 1975.
Having the audio extras and the eight-minute QuickTime movie on a separate CD is a good idea. The history of the organ is given by Father Leo Reiner, the current priest at the St. Joseph’s Church where the organ is installed. The audio interviews conclude with six minutes each of the bells of the church and then the noisy streetscape sounds of Manila outside. The movie is a bit slapdash, but it is interesting to see the various ranks and pipes up close. One is the Birdcall Stop, which shows seven metal pipes sitting in a container of water.
The program on the first CD consists of the types of works which might have been performed on the organ over its long history. Some of the organ’s stops sound much like a standard pipe organ, while others sound like a massed grouping of Andean musicians playing their panpipes. For the final selection – Handel’s Organ Concerto No. 1 – the Manila Chamber Orchestra conducted by Bernhard Emmer was brought in. This should provide a most interesting contrast to any recording you may have already in your library of the first Handel organ concerto. Praises to Australian organist Douglas Lawrence for assembling this unusual CD album.
ZIPOLI: Sonata for Organ and Cembalo
PACHELBEL: Musical Meditations on Death
GALUPPI: 4 movements
J.S. BACH: 5 selections
L. COUPERIN: 2 Sarabandes, Branle de Basque, Chacone
HANDEL: Organ Concerto No. 1 in G minor
— John Sunier