Kuhn Organ Builders Ltd, 2007
Kath. Kirche Sta. Maria de Victoria
Kuhn Organ Builders Ltd, 2007
Restoration only 19 years after construction?
It is a very unusual task to have to carry out «restoration» work on such a young instrument. In this case, however, it concerns a very special organ. The design of the instrument and detail in its construction make it clear that the aim was to build an organ aesthetically appropriate for its historical case. The result was an organ displaying beautiful workmanship and also good tonal qualities.
Two decades of experience with the instrument did, however, reveal one basic defect. There was no Principal 8 ' stop forming the basis of the plenum and this was notably lacking in such a large church. The Hauptwerk, with its Rohrflöte 8 ' and Praestant 4 ' simply provided too little weight to support the numerous higher pitched stops. The organ's two reed stops were also unsatisfactory for the same reason. The Oboe 8 ' in the Hauptwerk and Posaune 8 ' in the pedal organ are very attractive stops, but did not provide the necessary gravity which the acoustics of the room require.
In order to achieve this gravity, in 2006 a modification of the instrument was decided upon. The Hauptwerk was given a new Principal 8 ' (from F) and a Trompete 8 '. These replaced the stops Quintade 8 ' and Oboe 8 '. The Oboe 8 ' was placed in the Positiv, instead of the three rank Scharf 1 '. A Posaune 16 ' was built into the pedal organ and the Bauernflöte 2 ' removed.
Our aim was to integrate the new stops well into the instrument, both in terms of craftsmanship and from a spatial point of view. This was not a simple task, considering the size of the pipes. Respect for the value of the 1987 Jann organ was at the basis of all our work on the instrument. From this point of view, the project can be viewed as a restoration in the true sense of the word, as this is the approach which is central to a restorer's work.
We are satisfied that the aims were wholly achieved and that the façade is even more fitting than before. Due to the wide scale of the 8 ' pipes Bb and B in the outer towers (before C and C# of the Praestant 4 ') more suitable spacing between the pipes is achieved. Of greater concern to the organists, naturally, is the improvement in sound as a result of the changes to the stop list.
The modification to the temperament of the instrument also served to improve its tonal characteristics. The original tuning system used (Kirnberger IIc) was dropped in favour of a system which is directly influenced by Johann Sebastian Bach. The American musicologist Bradley Lehmann proved last year that Bach had given a graphic representation of the tuning system on the cover of his «Well-tempered Clavier». For the first time this system has been put into practice on an organ.
The modifications were completed in 2007 with the fitting of a wedge-bellows system with Kuhn-designed bellows control and pumper system, as well as the replacement of pneumatic tremulants with mild tremulants. This resulted in a considerable further gain in the beauty of the instrument's tone colour.