Douglas Marshall at the Trinity Church Opus 1. DAVID JOHNSON: Trumpet Tune in A Major; HANDEL: Concerto for Organ in B Flat Major; BACH: Prelude and Fugue in D Major; SOWERBY: Carillon; FRANCK: Grande Piece Sym. – 5 Hymn Preludes – Circles Int. DVD + CD

by | Feb 10, 2006 | CD+DVD | 0 comments

Douglas Marshall at the Marshall & Ogletree Organ of Trinity Church, New York City – Opus 1.  DAVID JOHNSON: Trumpet Tune in A Major; HANDEL: Concerto for Organ in B Flat Major; BACH: Prelude and Fugue in D Major; SOWERBY: Carillon; FRANCK: Grande Piece Symphonique; Five Short Hymn Preludes – Circles International Triple Track Double Disc (Video DVD + CD) SMD-051, 73 minutes ****:

This two-disc album might seem a bit confusing at first blush, but it provides a variety of sonic and visual delights that should attract not only pipe organ fans but any music lover also interested in cutting-edge technical matters. This is not just one but twin pipe organs located at the opposite ends of the Trinity Church on Wall Street, so the DVD disc – with six-channel Dolby Digital  sound – provides some excellent spatial music-making in all the selections. The original organ was ruined on 9/11 because the church is only 600 feet from Ground Zero.  What is heard on these discs is the Opus 1 –  a unique interim organ without pipes – of Linux-based digital design which is completely scaleable, updateable and powerful. This 21st-century instrument has qualities which organists have always hoped electronic organs might have, but never did.

There are two separate but connected organ “clones.” Both are playable from both front or rear consoles, separately or together. The 85 stops of recorded digital sounds at the rear organ are entirely different from the 85 stops at the frontal organ, so when working together there is a total of 170 voices in all.  The specs of these two discs is almost as unusual as the digital organ – this is where the “Triple Track” designation comes from.  Besides the standard stereo CD, the DVD includes both a 4.0 or 5.1 surround sound track for each of the above selections, plus a visualized abstract design accompanying 21 minutes worth of the music – using Marshall Yaeger’s patented Kaleidoplex equipment to provide advanced kaleidoscopic images moving along in sync with the music. The selections with the kaleidoscope images are the Trumpet Tune, Bach’s Prelude and Fugue, and the first three of the hymn preludes. The setup menu is unusual in offering a choice between 4.0 playback if you only have four speakers, or 5.1 playback if you have the whole HT setup. The major work here is the Franck Grande Piéce – the spatial play of themes between the front and back of the church is quite thrilling. There is really no “digital”  giveaway to the organ’s sound – it seems perfectly authentic and with a very clean and etched sort of timbre even when a tremendous number of notes are being sounded simultaneously.  A most interesting album, and its appeal should be widened since it doesn’t require a hi-res player – just a standard video DVD player.

– John Sunier

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