Trip to Ypres
We were welcomed to the cathedral by Paul Andriessen, the organ builder who is responsible for the maintaining the organ, and Jan Dhulster who was to demonstrate the instrument. Paul Andriessen gave a brief description of this 1931 instrument built by Jules Anneessens of Menen. (Grand Orgue 16 16 8 8 8 8 4 4 2 51/3 1V V 8 4 Positif Expressif 8 8 8 4 22/3 11 8 Récit Expressif 16 8 8 8 8 8 4 22/3 11/3 111 16 8 8 8 Pédale 16 16 8 8 8 4 102/3 16). He described that the pipes were made of zinc, the actions pneumatic and the tuning was to equal temperament, we have no Werckmeister here! he said. We were later invited by Paul Andriessen to climb inside the organ and it became apparent that, in fact, the pipework trebles were of fine quality pipe metal with a high tin content. Only the front pipes and basses were of zinc, although the 16ft pedal pipes were of good quality timber. The soundboards were constructed on the one pallet for each note design, with a wind supply for each rank. The trebles were rolled slot tuned with all languids and flues generously nicked, a voicing which looked surprisingly English. Stop control was by rocker tablets, each tablet having a small knob above it so that a combination could be pre-set.
The organ demonstration given by Jan Dhulster was an improvised symphony Lento Scherzo Adagio Toccata in the French style starting with soft shimmering strings and then building through the choruses showing every facet of the organ. It was a dazzling display of colour and cross rhythms, which filled the building with a warm rich sound, the pedal basses being particularly full in tone. The improvisation finished with full organ as the pedal Bombardon 16ft was added, the final chord taking some six to seven seconds to die away in the sympathetic acoustic of the cathedral. After the demonstration, several members enjoyed playing this fine romantic style organ.
We were greeted by the Chaplain, the Revd. Ray Jones, who spoke about the church. The organ, which possibly came from a country house, was given in memory of a lieutenant who died in the war. It stands in a tiny chamber behind the south choir stalls and bears no maker's name, but recent opinion strongly suggests Bevington circa 1880. The organ was demonstrated by our President and in total contrast to what we had just heard in the cathedral we found ourselves listening to a typical pleasing Victorian village church organ. It is a single manual instrument with tracker action, the specification being:-
Open diapason 8
Stopt flute 4
Bell Gamba 8
Stopt diapason bass 8
Stopt diapason treble 8
Pedal Bourdon - one octave also playable on the manual
final visit of the day was to see the historical Van
Peteghem organ in
The organ was built in 1778 by Pieter and Lambert-Benoit Peteghem and has escaped any modification or revoicing, making it unique among Belgian organs. Organists of international repute take part in the recital series given each summer. The specification was given to us, but is repeated here because of its historical significance.
Great (C-e3) Positif (c-e3) Pedal (Echo)
Bourdon 16 Gedekt 8 Bourdon et Flûte 8+4
Montre 8 Prestant 4 Echo de Cornet 111
Bourdon 8 Flûte 4
Prestant 4 Nazard 3
Flûte 4 Doublette 2
Nazard 3 Tierce 1 3/5 Tambours
Doublette 2 Fourniture 11 Tremblant royal
Quarte de Nazard 2 Cornet 111 Tremblant doux
Tierce 1 3/5 Trompette 8 B/D Rossignol
Fourniture 111 Cromhorne 8 Shift Coupler
Trompette 8 B/D
Voix Humaine 8
Clarion 4 B
should be explained that the pedal/echo is controlled by
15 small wooden studs and is intended to play a simple
melodic line only, perhaps plainsong, and not a bass
part. Father Vormezele, the parish priest at the time,
was suffering from tuberculosis, but put in hand the
building of the organ and paid for it. He died two
days after it was first played on
Dirk Coutigny, the organist of the church who is also Director of Ypres Chamber Choir, demonstrated that this is the perfect instrument for French baroque music by playing movements from the Organ Mass on the 8th tone by Michel Corrette (1709-95), followed by three short pieces by Abraham Van den Kerkhoven. Few of us can have heard such authentic sounds, from the Voix Humaine to the brilliant choruses. It was an unforgettable experience.
Our President, Andrew Cesana had everything under perfect control except the dull wet weather. On behalf of us all Michael Cooke expressed our grateful thanks to him for arranging such a memorable trip.