The above photo is of the lid painting on the 1658 de Zentis, the singular example we have today of Italian harpsichord making at its best.
THE BEST OF THE PAST
The function of this page is to share with my visitors examples of what I consider to be the best of the best from the past. To that end, I will limit the text to saying why I have selected the video, recording, painting or photo to include on this page. These are my inspiration.
The first time I heard a real organ was when Harald Vogel took my wife and I to hear and play the great organ in the Aa kerk in Groningen, Netherlands. Prior to hearing and playing the Aa kerk organ, all the organs I had played or heard sounded like they were trying to sound like a real organ. The Aa kerk organ sets a standard for organ pipe tone quality, a standard up to which every organ made since must be measured. According to my experience, the quality of the sound of the Aa kerk organ is so far better than anything made since the time Arp Schnitger made that organ, that all other attempts made thereafter come across like paste jewelry compared to the real thing. There are examples of organ making before the Aa kerk organ was made that are as good but none that are better.
Many might argue that the building is what makes the biggest difference for why this organ surpasses all others in tone quality. Were that the case, then replacing all the pipework with new made pipes should yield an equivalent quality of sound, but it doesn't...not even close. Organ makers since 1780 have zero idea how to make their pipes sound like those one hears in the Aa kerk organ, or any other organ made previous to it for that matter. In my discussions with organ makers over the past 45 years, I have come to realize that there appears to exist no real interest in making pipes that sound like the best from the past. Yet, I know from my experiments with organ pipe making that creating such a sound is altogether so simple that it beggar's the imagination why organ makers have so little interest making such a sound. And, believe it or not, making it happen is actually like child's play. This is all the more reason we need to have the examples of great organ building like what you can hear in the Aa kerk organ.
Gerd Jan Schipper is the organist.
Here is another recording of that same organ, this time played by Piet Wiersma.
Here is a recording from an old LP disc played by Klaas Bolt on the Aa kerk organ.
David Aaron Carpenter plays Bach's Prelude from his cello Suite No. 3 in C on this marvelous Stradivari viola, the "MacDonald", made in 1701.